Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NIT Fever

"Coaching casual" on the invitations has a variety of interpretations.

In about two hours, the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament get started when Ole Miss and Dayton meet (immediately followed by North Carolina and Rhode Island). Both games promise to be as compelling and rich as one would imagine them to be, especially to those with no rooting interest. "Live from Madison Square Garden on a Tuesday night, it's Ole Miss and Dayton!" has approximately zero percent appeal to those outside of Ole Miss, Dayton and degenerate gamblers. So, you might ask yourself, why am I reading about the NIT right now? Well, first, you have run out of other things to read on the Internet and have found yourself here, and second, Ole Miss is involved in a sporting event on a Tuesday night and I have nothing better to do than to think about it. So there.

But, since I only understand one team (Ole Miss) and vaguely another (North Carolina), I can't give an accurate breakdown of the matchups (my apologies to the Dayton and Rhode Island fans, I only have so much time and the large portion of that is devoted to doing nothing). So this breakdown will be based purely on the the picture above and the fashion sense that each coach chose to display, knowing that members of the press would be in attendance.

From left to right...

Roy Williams, North Carolina

By wearing a Tar Heel blue sweater vest and navy blue windsuit/track pants, Roy is announcing that he's won two national championships and he can do whatever the hell - whoops, sorry Roy - "heck" he wants to do. He's in the NIT, but his attire suggests he's watching an intra-squad scrimmage in Chapel Hill or perhaps an AAU game at a Nike camp. The man wants to win, but if he doesn't, so what. He's got a ring on his finger and a fat paycheck coming every two weeks. I think that attitude will translate well with his players and they'll show that same feeling into the finals.

Jim Baron, Rhode Island

Either the real Jim Baron had a prior engagement or the real Jim Baron is also the University of Rhode Island's Dean of Student Housing. Or Student Government. I think Jim was filled with nervous energy about Rhode Island's appearance on the New York stage and didn't want to seem to casual about it. And there could have been an academic conference taking place as well and he didn't want to go back to the hotel to change, which I think is an idea we can all appreciate. Jim's stiff, professional demeanor makes me a little wary about the Rams' chances. I think they'll play most of the game as if they too are wearing a suit. For you degenerates out there, I like North Carolina to beat them (and cover).

Brian Gregory, Dayton
Brian is wearing what I would assume most coaches would wear to an event like this. The Not Guilty Look - coat, dress shirt and no tie - says I wanted to dress up, but I'm not getting carried away (it also says I am not guilty of the crimes of which I stand accused). And because Brian is keeping it so real, I like Dayton's chances. The Not Guilty Look tells me he's approaching this time in New York just like he would any other game. He knows what his team is and is confident of their ability. Dayton is my pick to win it all.

Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss
Was Andy aware that this was a public event? The custom Ole Miss track suit with the Jordan brand t-shirt says "Where is the entertainment again? Over here? Oh, behind that curtain. Gotcha." I do not like Ole Miss' chances. And I think it's safe to assume that the charter plane isn't leaving New York until Friday, not because of the finals on Thursday but because Andy has a few dozen places to visit in Manhattan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

Urban Meyer maintains icy, unflinching death stare; burns reporter's house to the ground.
After lashing out at the Orlando Sentinel's Jeremy Flower for correctly quoting one of his players, which then spawned a Gulf of Tonkin-like skirmish with the media, Meyer met with Fowler privately so the two could have an airing of grievances. According to Fowler, Meyer apologized and said the discussion between the two was "constructive." But fear not, Urban Meyer fans. His rage is not burning any less bright after backing down to media pressure. If anything this incident just took it to another level, only now Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Volunteers (and probably Mark Richt and Georgia) will receive the focused aggression meant for Jeremy Fowler. And just think how badly Florida will beat both of those teams this year with a real quarterback.

LSU's spring game spawns a Montana/Young quarterback battle.
Jordan Jefferson led the White team (racists!) to a 24-9 victory over the Purple team on Saturday. Jefferson was Jefferson, completing 8 of 23 passes for 94 yards and one interception. And our old friend Jarrett Lee continued to showcase his unbelievable ability to throw touchdowns to the other team, as one of his 20 passes was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. However, 10 of his passes did find the hands of those on his team, including one for a touchdown. On a windy day, Les Miles said his team "put a premium on running the football." No word whether a premium was also placed on clock management, sound coaching decisions and remaining calm at all times.

South Carolina's sports marketing joins Ole Miss' as one of the SEC's elite.
Steve Spurrier has become the latest coach to install the "Wildcat" package as part of his offense. And, like so many schools, the formation has a nickname specific to South Carolina (like Wild Rebel at Ole Miss). After careful consideration, those in control of this name or at least getting the name out to the public have decided it should be known as the "Wild Cock." Now, maybe it's the immaturity inside of me and that I couldn't sit through a 7th grade Life Science class without laughing, but surely there's a better name from a marketing perspective than Wild Cock (hahahaha). Wild Visor, Wild Smirk, Wild No Quarterback, Wild I-Don't-Know-If-I-Can-Do-This-Much-Longer. Just a thought. Although, if the name survives until the fall, I very much look forward to hearing Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson discuss the successes and failures of the Wild Cock.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hoover Hot Tub Time Machine

11:00 PM
July 2010
SEC Media Days Eve
Hoover, Alabama
Wynfrey Hotel

Scene opens with Nick Saban, Houston Nutt, Les Miles and Steve Spurrier relaxing in the hot tub of the Presidential Suite, surrounded by the finest Italian marble and fixtures found in the Birmingham area.

Nutt: Nick, I gotta tell you, this is impressive. All this marble. Very shiny. Classy. Fun to stare at for long periods of time. If I had skates, probably could skate on it. Need to get some for the ranch in Oxford.

Saban: Well, Houston, I'm Nick Saban. I own this son of a bitch. Not by title, but I own it. Hell, I own the whole state now, and if I want marble I'll get my damn marble. I might even get marble highways coming in and out of Tuscaloosa.  (Tosses head back and cackles maniacally)

Spurrier: Nick, I have to ask, whatcha drinkin' in that gold goblet? I mean, I'm enjoying my margarita, really like the strawberry kind, but whatever you got seems to be the best of the bunch.

Saban: You wouldn't believe me if I told you.

Spurrier: Try me. The Ball Coach has seen and done just about everything. Why in 1996...

Saban: Bald eagles' blood mixed with silverback gorilla testosterone.


Spurrier: Les, why are you yelling? And can you take your hat off? We're in a hot tub. You're starting to weird me out.

(Takes an eight second swig out of a brown jug labeled "New Iberia XXX.")

Nutt: Bald eagles. So majestic. Free. Flying through the air. Thought about getting some at the ranch. Get rid of some of the snakes around the pond. Don't like the snakes. Hard to enjoy fishing with snakes on the mind. Can't relax. Slimy things slithering around. Dangerous.  (Appears to be deep in thought, then takes a sip of his of red wine through a crazy straw.)

Saban: Well, gentlemen, I'm glad you could join me on this fine evening before we face the media. I"m sorry not everyone could make it. Johnson thought he might have fun, so he declined. Mark thinks only the devil's work takes place after 10 PM, Mullen was busy getting his resume updated and Urban said something about holding a practice in the parking garage. I didn't bother inviting those assholes from Auburn and Arkansas, but if I knew who the hell the guys at Tennessee and Kentucky were I would have ask them to join us.


Saban: So you say. Gentlemen, (raises goblet) to a another fantastic year in the Southeastern Conference.

All take part in the cheers with glasses, goblet or, in Miles' case, jug. The booze, bald eagles' blood and Les Miles' insanity flow freely for the next few hours before all four men call it a night.

8:45 AM
July 1998
SEC Media Day
Hoover, Alabama
Wynfrey Hotel

Saban, Spurrier and Nutt groggily shuffle into the living room of the Presidential Suite. Saban is dressed in a Spartans Football shirt and khakis, still holding his goblet. Spurrier is wearing a Florida windbreaker, khakis, and trademark visor. Nutt looks like this:

And Miles is lying face down on the floor, naked, save for a Dallas Cowboys shirt.

Nutt: (rubbing temples) Bad idea. Bad idea. Should have stopped at half a glass. I know how I get after one. Gotta be better than that. Mistake needs to be corrected.


Spurrier: Now calm down there, Nick. We don't look so bad. I always did look best in Gator blue and orange. And this visor, so crisp and blue. Look how far I can throw it. (Throws it with good velocity into the bedroom.)

Miles: YYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! (Roars to life and on his feet. Notices the Cowboys shirt, but ignores his pantlessness.) DALLAS, DALLAS, DALLAS, DALLAS, DALLAS, DALLAS. JERRY, I'M COMING HOME. CHAN CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT ME!!! YYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!! (Sprints out of the suite, down the hallway and presumably out of the hotel.)

Nutt: Strange dude that Les. But intense. Love intensity. Gotta have intensity. Need it each day you go to work. It's what we preach to our young men. No days off on this level.

Saban: Come on, guys. We need to go figure out what the hell is going on here. I've got no Gucci and Armani, I'm wearing this awful green color and I SURE AS SHIT DON'T SEE ANY ITALIAN MARBLE IN HERE! WHEN I FIND THAT S.I.D., HE'S DEAD. DEAD. I TAKE NO PRISONERS.

The three head down to the lobby of the Wynfrey. When the elevator doors open, standing just 20 yards away are Phil Fulmer and Jackie Sherrill discussing new ways to cheat.

Spurrier: Fulmer. I thought we put him out to pasture. He was done. Finished. My easiest source of victories other than Kentucky and that smart school. I won the battle between good and evil. How can he be back?

Nutt: Read about the undead one time. Scary stuff. You kill 'em. They look dead. But they ain't dead. Come back and hang around. I'd watch out, Steve. Hocus-pocus stuff makes me nervous.

Saban: (Pointing across the lobby) Who the hell is that chunky, bald guy with those Alabama people? Does he think he's in charge now? I will show this @!#$%^&*%#@$ what in charge is. (Stomps off to savagely berate the man.)

Fulmer: (Spots Spurrier and waddles over to talk; Sherrill tags along) Steve, good to see you again. Hope everything is well with you.

Spurrier: Hey there, Phil. It's been a while. (Turns to Sherill) Jackie Wayne, how are ya?

Sherrill: It's just Jackie, Steve. Jackie.

Spurrier: Sure thing, Jackie Wayne.

Sherrill: Jackie.

Spurrier: Wayne. Jackie Wayne.

Sherrill: Ja-

Spurrier: Jackie Wayne. Got it. (Turns back to Fulmer) Hey, Phil, got a question for ya?

Fulmer: Shoot.

Spurrier: Have you lost some weight because nothing loses faster than... Wait, no, that's not right. Okay, have you lost some weight because you can't lose weight without orange... Awww, man. Hold on. One more try. Hey, Phil...

Fulmer: Yes, Steve?

Spurrier: Have you lost some weight because losing weight is easy when you can't spell... Dammit! None of those are right. I'm all out of practice. I used to have a whole list of these things memorized. Shouldn't have left Florida. I have no good jokes at South Carolina. None. There's nothing there. Nothing. (Begins mumbling incoherently to himself and gets back on the elevator.)

Fulmer: That was weird. Can't believe he didn't think of a Peyton Manning joke. Well, Houston, welcome to the league. I'm sure you'll find...

Saban: (Sprinting back over to the group) Houston! Houston! We've got to get out of here. Do you know how that bald man was? MIKE DUBOSE!!! He's destroyed just about everything he's touched, especially at Alabama. AND I TOUCHED HIM. I'M UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN I TELL YOU, UNCLEAN!

Nutt: Easy there, Nick. Deep breaths. That's what I always do when I get worked up. Learned that trick trying to coach Greg Hardy. Confused young man that Greg. Talented. Needs to work harder. Stay focused. More energy. Still a good Rebel.

Saban: Houston, listen to me. We've traveled back in time. It's 1998, not 2010. All that damn Italian marble must have done something weird to the hot tub. For the sake of our careers we have to get away from DuBose and Sherrill. They're as good as done.

Nutt: Now, Nick. That doesn't make sense. Time travel. Read about it one time. Can't be done. Even thought about building my own time machine. The guy at Ace told me they didn't have the parts. Neither did Home Depot. Nice people those folks at Ace. It's the neighborhood...

Tommy Tuberville appears.

Tuberville: Hey guys, just wanted to hand you my card. (Begins handing them out) That's got my home number, cell number, fax, home address, something called an email address and directions to my house. If you hear of any jobs, I'm always ready to listen. You never say no, right?  (Winks and walks away.)

Saban: (Throws card to the floor in disgust. Grabs Nutt's arm and pulls him into the elevator.) It's time to get back to 2010 so the king can still be the king.

Sherrill: Hey, that's my nickname!

Saban: I don't speak to the unemployed.

Nutt: I was unemployed once. Not fun that unemployment. Boring. Just kind of...(elevator doors close)

Fulmer: (Turns to Sherrill) Wanna hit up the buffet?

Sherrill: Can't. Gotta go make some living arrangements for some junior college players we have coming in. Found them a nice hotel right off campus.


Monday, March 22, 2010

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne signs a lifetime contract; pledges to remain in Starkville forever.
The man who secured his job status for the next ten years in the eyes of State fans when he mercifully put an end to the Sylvester Croom era decided that he would prefer to fire bad coaches at another school. Byrne resigned from Mississippi State and has accepted the same position at Arizona, where, judging from their big three sports teams, he won't be doing any firing in the near future (unless the basketball team misses another NCAA Tournament, which will cause rioting and mayhem throughout Tuscon). This news probably doesn't come as a huge shock to State fans since rumors about Byrne and Arizona have been floating around now for at least a month, but the loss may hit hard for some of them.

Ever since he canned Croom, Byrne achieved sort of a hero status among the MSU faithful. After all, this is the guy stood up and said "I don't care what it costs, we're not paying an overmatched, career NFL assistant coach to win four games anymore." He was young, full of energy and appeared to have a plan to make State into a well-run and successful athletic program. Now, whether he was on his way to doing that I don't know (I can only follow one team at a time), but he did find and hire Dan Mullen and, my personal favorite, told the angry, get-off-my-lawn, old man head baseball coach Ron Polk that his services were no longer needed (this eventually lead to Polk becoming outraged he didn't have any say in who the new coach would be, requesting that his name be taken off the stadium and saying something along the lines of "Now Tommy ain't got no job" when his choice and top assistant, Tommy Raffo, was not hired). With Byrne's departure, State fans now face the possibility of a member of the GOB (good ol' boy) network replacing him and that Dan Mullen's departure date from Starkville just moved up. If Mullen isn't comfortable with the new AD, I doubt he'll be there to see the start of Tyler Russell's junior season (not to mention he'll have no reason to show loyalty to the new guy). And while Greg Byrne was probably a little more hype than substance, he at least showed publicly that he would not put up with losing or falling behind.

Nick Saban declares coach of the year award should be named for him.
Not yet, but all in due time. Instead, Saban received the inaugural Bobby Bowden coach of the year award on Saturday. No, the award is not given to the coach who displays the most confused look on his face for the longest period of time (Bowden shattered all previous records with the same confused look for eight consecutive seasons), but to the coach that does really well at coaching football. Or something like that. I'm not sure if Saban can continue being horrifyingly angry for another 25 or so years, but if he does, I look forward to him angrily presenting the Nick Saban Coach of the Year Award to someone else in the year 2038.

Mark Ingram's father gets a reduced sentence for excellent cleaning work on the highways of the state of New York.
The Heisman trophy winner's father had two more years tacked on to his sentence after his 2009 attempt to jump bail to see his son play in the Sugar Bowl against Utah. The elder Ingram was to surrender in December of 2008 to start his sentence of seven years and eight months for money laundering and bank fraud. Even more unfortunately for him, he didn't even get to see the game as he was arrested in his hotel room before it started. A note to Ingram Sr.: Sir, crimes against the people of the state of New York on any level do not appear to be a successful endeavor for you. Do your time, get yourself together and perhaps then you can see your son play in person and not via television in a correctional facility or a hotel room.

Kansas basketball rides a wave of destruction over the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Well, well, well. We meet again. Several years ago, after yet another Kansas team failed me miserably in the NCAA Tourney (lost to Bucknell in the first round; No, I don't know who that is either), I swore I would never pick them again. I stuck by that promise even when the team that beat Memphis appeared so dominant. Then, for some unknown reason, I decided that this year would be different. This Kansas team really was the most complete team in the field. They had three or four NBA players on the team. No one could possibly match them. And then those assholes go out and lose to Northern Iowa. NORTHERN IOWA. NOT IOWA OR IOWA STATE. A DIRECTIONAL SCHOOL WITHIN THAT STATE. AT BEST, THE THIRD SCHOOL IN IOWA. A TEAM THAT HAD THE LOOK OF A MISSISSIPPI PRIVATE SCHOOL TEAM. WHAT. IN. THE. HELL. IS. WRONG. WITH. YOU?

Nothing would bring me greater joy in this life than if Kansas never won another game. Not just in the NCAA Tournament, but ever. Exhibition or regular season. EVER. No one team has consistently ruined more people's brackets like Kansas has. Roy Williams' teams always found a way to fall apart in March. And save for a John Calipari epic failure, Bill Self's teams have followed suit. I would say that no basketball program in the country has historically done less with more (the school has had more All-Americans than any other school). Every year since I can remember watching basketball, all I've heard is how loaded Kansas is. That they're the team to beat. And in my lifetime they've won two NCAA titles. Two. You know who else has won two? THE FLORIDA GATORS, a bastion of basketball tradition. And they did it in consecutive years. So hear this, I will not be sucked into Kansas' siren song ever again. I will hate them with every fiber in my being for as long as I shall live. I will take indescribable pleasure in their losses. I will weep with joy when they lose in March next year. And I will laugh to the point of tears when I see their sad players and fans after yet another horrible loss in the NCAA Tournament.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NCAA Bracket Breakdown By a One-Time Pool Winner

I hate and always will hate Chris Webber. I was 12 years old when Webber called the infamous timeout that his team didn't have. It cost Michigan a chance to beat North Carolina in the 1993 NCAA Championship game and it's a play that still follows Webber. But more, and absolutely most importantly, it cost me $250.

With the financial backing of my dad, I filled out a bracket for his office pool, selecting Kentucky as my champion (most everyone else picked North Carolina). Our bracket lead from the beginning all the way into the Final Four weekend. Then Kentucky took it upon themselves to lose to Michigan on Saturday. We were done, or so we thought. After doing the "what if" math, I discovered that if Michigan won on Monday night, we still had enough points to win. And so, when Webber called timeout, my dreams of winning $250, which is like $10,000 in 12-year old money, and a big-money pool were smashed.

Since that harrowing loss, I have never recovered. I've won an NCAA pool only once. It was in college and I think I won something like $30 or $40. Even though it wasn't much, as Jeff Spicoli would say, those were righteous bucks. Mostly because I finally won one of these damn things and could lord it over people, which is ALWAYS AWESOME. And despite my horrible lifetime record (1-16, I believe), I will always fill out a bracket, just to have a shot at rubbing my victory in the faces of my fellow pool members.

So, with a near-complete track record of failure, I present what you need to know about all the teams for this the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Teams to Avoid
If you saw a team playing last week in a big high school gym and the television feed wasn't in HD, they probably belong here. Also, teams that just plain stink.

UC Santa Barbara
North Texas - The Sun Belt should always be on this list.
East Tennessee State
Morgan State
Arkansas-Pine Bluff - Why in the hell won't the NCAA make the play-in game between two teams that would be interesting to watch? A play-in game between someone like Mississippi State (or any other bubble team) and Utah State would have been fantastic. Yes, Winthrop and APB are terrible teams, but they at least won their conference tournaments. How could you not be in favor of having something worth watching on a Tuesday night? This drives me nuts.
Robert Morris
Georgia Tech
New Mexico State
Florida State
Northern Iowa
Vanderbilt - This Vandy team should be a brand of toilet paper known for its softness.
Minnesota - Another play-in game nominee
Wake Forest
Florida - Play-in game nominee
Washington - Shouldn't be in.
Wisconsin - If they win a game, I hope it's 40-35.
Purdue - Injury to best player lands them here
Sam Houston State

Teams That Are Intriguing, but Will Ultimately Not Make You Look Smart
Every year I have some fantastic upset picks, like upsets that have a legitimate chance of happening. Except they never happen. I look smart (after all, that's what a bracket is really about, looking smarter than everyone else) for about 35 minutes until the underdog pick falls apart because they're just not very good. Then I am told what an idiot I am. DAMN YOU 2006 WINTHROP EAGLES. HOW COULD YOU NOT HOLD ON AGAINST TENNESSEE?

Old Dominion - According to EDSBS, this should also become a brand of malt liquor.
Cornell - They're so smart/scrappy/intelligent/well-coached/disciplined!
Gonzaga - Has one team lived off two tournament runs more than this school?
Texas A&M
Murray State
San Diego State
Richmond - Just thought I should write something here during this boring stretch of teams.
Oklahoma State
Notre Dame
St. Mary's
Michigan State - Please, please, please go out early.

Unexpected Teams to See in the Sweet 16
You would do best to totally ignore what I write here. Every year I try to name these Cinderellas and every year I fail miserably.

Baylor - I realize they are a three seed, but Baylor in the Sweet 16 still sounds weird
Utah State
New Mexico - See Baylor

High Seeds That Won't Quite Make the Final Four
These are good teams, but just don't have enough (or won't be lucky enough) to push their way into the last weekend. I'm sure at least two or three teams on this list will enrage me by their failures or failure to stay on this list.

Ohio State
Villanova - Stinking it up as of late.
Georgetown - John Thompson III following in his father's footsteps of coaching his team out of games.

Legitimate Final Four Contenders

I hate no surprise teams in the Final Four, and all number one seeds are boring, but here's the short list.

Duke - Kansas, the number one overall seed, would like to swap regionals with you.
Kentucky - They're a Final Four contender, but they're also a second round loser contender.
West Virginia - If they figure out how to shoot, which is not likely, I would hate to play them.
Kansas State

My final piece of advice to you is to ignore everything you've just read, avoid the go-for-broke upsets I so thoroughly enjoy picking, pick Duke to lose because we all like rooting for that and sign up for the Beast's NCAA pool.

Show your NCAA dominance here
Group ID: 113396
Password: seagal

The Belly of the Beast NCAA Tournament Pool

A new post is coming later today, but until that joyous hour occurs, take the time to sign up for the Beast's NCAA Tournament Pool. The lucky winner of this pool will receive the right to submit a guest post, provided that person can write complete and coherent sentences. And that person will receive the respect and admiration of tens and tens of people who both read and participate, which is probably far more valuable than a guest post.

The Tournament starts tomorrow, which means you should probably follow the link below now if you haven't already done so.

Here's your information:
Sign up here
Group ID: 113396
Password: seagal

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

Mississippi State finishes off Kentucky in the SEC Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
After watching State choke away another lead to Kentucky and lose in overtime for the second time in as many chances, I tweeted/twittered/twit that if I were a State fan I'd be on top of a building, throwing up one last time before I jumped off. I mean, holy roundhouse kick to the junk. That was a terrible way to lose a basketball game. Throw in that the prize between winning and losing was a trip to the NCAA Tournament or a first-round date with Jackson State in the NIT, and the pain jumps exponentially. I'm quite certain I would have woken up this morning face down in a drain pool, incoherently mumbling something about blocking out and a free throw violation. Then I'd spend the next few days wandering from one YMCA shelter to another, questioning why I even bother with sports at all. But that's just me. I tend to get a little carried away.

Initially, I thought the Bulldogs had done enough to find themselves in the Tournament. After all, they just outplayed the number two team in the country and to get to that game beat one team that was Tournament-bound and another that was a fellow bubble resident. But after a phone call with a Belly of the Beast correspondent, I became convinced State did not belong in the field of 64 (oops, 65. Can't forget about the play-in game.). Yes, State certainly has greater potential than Florida, and even Vanderbilt (who has to be one of the worst four seeds ever), but ultimately Florida took it upon themselves to, you know, show up for most of their games (two bad losses: South Alabama and Georgia). State did not, which explains the losses to Rider, Western Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn (a horrible, horrible loss), Arkansas and, in one of the worst efforts I can recall, the debacle against Tennessee on senior day in Starkville. If they had decided to show up in just two of those games, they're 25-9 and not playing Jackson State this week.

Ole Miss upsets Tennessee, plays its way into the Tournament.
Instead of a 10 or an 11 seed in the real Tournament, the Rebels find themselves as a two seed in the once-upon-a-time prestigious NIT where they will play Troy in the first round. These extra games (or maybe just game) will give the Rebels a chance to improve as a team, get used to life without Eniel Polynice (I think we've seen the last of him and his ulcer-inducing turnovers), work on some Chris Warren-Terrico White two-man game and give yet another uninspired effort. But, to their credit (although it seems insane to credit a team for actually trying), the Rebels did show up against Arkansas and Tennessee in their last two games, which I didn't think would happen. So watch out Troy Trojans, the Rebels are firing on 65% of their cylinders now!

Jeremiah Masoli looks forward to the 2010 season at Oregon.
The good news is that he's got a year to focus on the 2011 season. Oregon coach Chip Kelly suspended Masoli for the entire 2010 season after his quarterback pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary on Friday. Also falling under the blanket of suspension was running back LaMichael James, who will miss one game for his harassment charge, as will something like 15 other Oregon players. Or maybe more like four. Whatever the case, even Phil Fulmer is amazed at the Chip Kelly era.

Non-sarcastic note.

The Belly of the Beast has its very own NCAA bracket pool. The lucky winner of this pool will receive the right to submit a guest post, provided that person can write complete and coherent sentences. And that person will receive the respect and admiration of tens and tens of people who both read and participate, which is probably far more valuable than a guest post.

Here's your information:
Sign up here
Group ID: 113396
Password: seagal

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Planner

It's Friday which means the weekend and its sweet 48 hours of freedom are upon us. We all get the same number of hours, but how we use those is up to the individual. While this sounds like some sort of Lou Holtz motivational pitch coming your way, it's actually a guide to help you get the most out of your time over the next two days.

LSU's Terrance Toliver will need some help around the house.
Tolliver was recently involved in an always-a-good-idea bar fight and, in the process of sloppy punches and shirt-grabbing, broke his left hand. Yes, one of the very hands that helped him drop many a pass in 2009. So if you're in the Baton Rouge area in the next two days, your help in drawing a bath for him, unloading the rattan piece that will be arriving from Pottery Barn, re-landscaping the flower bed and preparing him for his court date would be greatly appreciated by Tolliver and the LSU staff.

Oregon's LaMichael James will be receiving visitors this weekend.
James, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge, is schedule to report to the Lane County Sheriff's Department this afternoon to begin his 10 day sentence (although jail time seems unlikely due to overcrowding). And if the District Attorney's crew has their way, Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will be following that very path, although Masoli faces a felony charge for stealing various items from an Oregon fraternity house and probably wouldn't get a sentence that light (assuming he's guilty of course). Kudos to Oregon for replacing Tennessee and West Virginia as the school with the largest collection of felonies and misdemeanors. So if you're in the Pacific Northwest over the weekend, you've got the chance to enjoy an up-close look at the American legal system.

Mike Leach could use a friend.
Leach is in Lubbock, Texas today giving sworn testimony in the lawsuit he filed against Texas Tech after the school canned him because of the whole Adam James media explosion. His day in court comes just one day after these videos emerged on YouTube:


Yikes. I enjoy a good, angry, brutally sarcastic delivery as anyone and the first video delivered the goods, but the second one not so much. I'm no coach, but alienating players and causing divisions within the team is probably not the best of ideas. Unless you're Ed Orgeron and you create groups that hate you, really hate you and compare playing football to being in a prison work camp. That's a good recipe for success. Anyway, if you find yourself in the vast field that is the Texas Panhandle in the next two days, Mike Leach could use a set of ears for his latest findings in pirate research.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Handicapping the SEC Tournament

Having largely ignored basketball this season, save for a few moments of rage inspired by Ole Miss, and the SEC Tournament getting underway tomorrow, I decree the hour of basketball discussion to be at hand. So for those of you curious as to how things should play out in Nashville or perhaps you approach life with a Bodhi-like attitude and gamble on college basketball, this is for you. Starting with the favorite and moving down the food chain, you'll get each team's chance of winning the tournament.

Odds of winning: The same as Rich Brooks creating new strings of profanity to admonish a player who fails to execute properly (if he were still coaching).

Despite two slip-ups on the road, Kentucky proved to be on a different level than everyone else. They have the guards and size to play any type of game. Slow them down and they'll pound the hell out of you with DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and the assortment of other 6'10" guys. Speed them up and they'll still pound the hell out of you, but now the guards will become involved. Even John Calipari can't get in the way of this team (at least in this tournament).


Odds of winning: The same as a Colquitt not punting for the football team.

Those are solid odds, not great (surely there's an end to the Colquitt punting dynasty, right?). Just like this basketball team, solid, but not great. With their athleticism and a sweaty Bruce Pearl, this is the only team that has a consistent shot to beat Kentucky. All of this is assuming that 1/3 of the team will not be arrested before the first game.

Odds of winning: The same as Woody Widenhofer returning to coach with Bobby Johnson.

Most likely not gonna happen, but there's a chance. Vanderbilt hates spending money on sports, no one with a career is going to go coach there and I'm sure Widenhofer is ready and willing (even though he's currently the head coach of something called the Alabama Blackbirds of the United National Gridiron League). All that has to be overcome is Widenhofer's age (70) and the small idea that the game has passed him by. Oh, and that he already stunk at Vanderbilt (15-37). So good luck, Kevin Stallings. You shall require it.

Odds of winning: The same as Urban Meyer not bailing a player out of jail this summer.

I suppose if Meyer really is taking time off he won't be the one coordinating with a bail bondsman, but we all know he's not going to give up that special privilege. It's a chance to scare a player into become faster so that one, he'll help Meyer claim the fastest team in America, and two, he won't get caught by the slow-footed police again.

Mississippi State
Odds of winning: The same as Dan Mullen bringing Jackie Sherrill around his football team again.

If you recall, Mullen allowed Sherrill to visit practice last April, which was fine as long as Jackie Wayne didn't take part in any coaching. And of course Sherrill immediately began committing NCAA rules violations by coaching punters for a brief period. Another lapse in Mullen's judgment would be the same as Dee Bost averaging 35 points a game this weekend.

Ole Miss
Odds of winning: The same as Houston Nutt not speaking in short. Quick. Brief. Awesome. Sentences. And using more than one compound sentence in a day.

I've never seen a football coach who relies on nothing but cliches be so entertaining when he speaks. He literally says nothing but I find all of it fascinating. Perhaps it's the twinkle in his eye or the flash of a shit-eating grin that occasionally slips out, whatever it is HE HAD ME AT HELLO.

Odds of winning: The same as Ryan Mallett adding agility and quickness to his quarterbacking package.

In other words, Courtney Fortson would need to throw up a 28-7-10 for four days in Nashville.

South Carolina
Odds of winning: The same as Steve Spurrier not being disappointed in everyone around him.

Steve Spurrier and Devan Downey have at least two things in common (possibly three if Downey enjoys golf): One, they give their team the best chance of winning. And two, they give their team the greatest chance of losing. If Downey is off, the Gamecocks don't have a chance because he's going to keep shooting and missing. If he's on, they turn into 1990s Spurrier when anything was possible.

Odds of winning: The same as more than 200 Alabama fans attending the SEC Tournament.

I'm not sure more than 20% of Alabama fans even know they have a basketball team.

Odds of winning: The same as a successful NFL career for Chris Todd.

If the league begins cracking down on all steroid/PED/goat testosterone/whatever and we're left with nothing but slower, mediocre players, I like Todd's chances.

Odds of winning: The same as a successful NFL career for Joe Cox.

If the league begins cracking down on non-ginger players, I like Cox's chances.

Odds of winning: The same as a cordial, hygienic, fully-toothed, non-gumbo-swilling LSU fan inviting you to drink and break bread in their tent without running your team into the ground accompanied by a slew of profanities.

I do not like Trent Johnson's chances this year.

Monday, March 08, 2010

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

So many things happened that it's almost impossible to adequately discuss them in a non-lengthy manner.
If there was an award for "Worst Weekend of 2010," March 5-7 would be our clubhouse leader right now. By at least eight strokes. Sure there were a plethora of college basketball games to consume, but most of them really didn't mean anything in terms of conference standings and just a handful featured teams trying to find a way to stay alive in the NCAA Tournament picture. One of those, and the one that I cared about, involved Ole Miss and its unbelievable ability to suck me back into hoping. The Rebels trailed Arkansas for just over 39 minutes before Chris Warren hit a three to give them the lead for good. To Chris Warren (scored 31 points) I say thank you, good sir, for giving a crap on Saturday and keeping the NCAA pulse from flatlining. To the Ole Miss team as a whole I say, STOP DOING THE SAME THING EVERY YEAR. JUST ONCE CAN WE SECURE AN NCAA BIRTH BEFORE THE LAST WEEK OF THE SEASON.

And kudos to fellow bubble teams Florida and Mississippi State for their losses. Florida battled Kentucky before eventually falling short while the Bulldogs elected not to show up at all against Tennessee (trailing at one point 17-0). Both of you added even more fuel to my hope that Ole Miss can make the Tournament, and at the same time increased the degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth that will occur when the Rebels lose to Tennessee in a brutal fashion in the SEC Tournament on Friday. So at this time I'd like to thank both of you and tell to go to hell.

The Academy Awards show grinds America to a halt.
There's nothing like pretentiousness oozing out of your television, especially when it's generated by a massive collection of high school drop-outs and those who have no education past high school. Now, of course I appreciate the talent possessed by many of these most important people of our time because I DEMAND ENTERTAINMENT AT ALL TIMES, but watching them socially interact, zombie-stare into a camera while attempting to read a teleprompter, laugh at jokes they don't get and pretend they aren't outraged when they don't win is almost impossible to do. If they aren't performing their craft (a great pretentious word), they cannot be watched. It's like watching a three hour interview with athletes. Except 98% of the people are white and have nothing interesting to say.

Taco Bell gives America another fine fast food option.
Behold, the Pacific Shrimp taco:

After some research (consisting of four seconds of using Google), I found that Taco Bell actually introduced this beauty last fall, but I just saw the first commercial for it last night, making it brand-new to me. Do I want one? You know it. Will I immediately regret that decision? Absolutely. But the allure of DELICIOUSNESS OFFSETS THE ACCOMPANYING FLAMING HOT DIARRHEA. It might even punch a hole in my colon but I don't care. I love Taco Bell and will sacrifice my body for the enjoyment of it. So there, now you know just how disgusting I am. I acknowledge that you're silently judging me right now, but in the good name of Pacific Shrimp tacos I will forgive you.

Allen Iverson continues to ke....
This post has been prematurely ended for a special trip to Taco Bell. After a possible brief stay in a local hospital, activities will resume.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Coach's Diary: Urban Meyer Edition

It's a little known fact that most coaches in every sport in every level of competition keep a diary. Here, they have a place where they can turn and reveal their innermost thoughts and reactions to both the smart and incredibly stupid things they do during the course of their job (We know they don't turn to their wives because she doesn't understand the complexities of sport, but a blank piece of paper sure does.). And, thanks to my stealthy skills in the field of breaking and entering, you, the reader, now have access to these innermost thoughts penned by some of the finest and not-so-finest minds in the world of sport.

9:25 PM

Dear Diary,

What a relaxing, fun-filled day today was. I slept in until 4:30, limited myself to four cups of coffee with only two shots of Five-Hour Energy added and stopped my offensive scheming at 20 new plays. I would have kept going but I ran out of protein goo packets. I prefer cinnamon, but all we had in the house was strawberry. Actually, I hate the damn things. But the doctor and the wife are on my case about diet changes. Oh, how I miss the Denny's delivery to the office. I wonder if I can get my GA's and student managers to sneak me some here at the house? At the very least I should make them run, then I could build them up and tell the college football world that we have the fastest and sneakiest GA's and managers in America. Because that's what we do at Florida. We do it all fast. And very sneaky.

Speaking of fast, that Joe Haden. We clocked him 4.33 in the 40 here. It was like watching Lane Kiffin's time in the SEC. You blinked and it was over. But now Joe is taking some heat (and our staff is getting it too) for his disappointing time at the combine. Those fools in the NFL said he only ran it in 4.57 and 4.60. I call bullshit. They should have asked us to use our stopwatches, as they are the most accurate in the country. We do nothing but first class at Florida. Found some scientist in Switzerland who claimed he built the world's most accurate stopwatch. Took a trip over and bought a dozen. Hell, if they had seen Joe's real time, there would have been a riot. He actually ran it in 3.79, but we bumped him down to make it seem more legitimate. And if they knew what Chris Rainey did, we'd lose all credibility (2.17 if you're interested).

The gall of someone questioning my word. Do they know who I am? I RUN GAINESVILLE. I AM URBAN MEYER. MY WORD IS THE LAW. Even I can run a 4.85 40. Just for all of this trouble I swear to you my first team is going to be the fastest in the country, my second team right behind them and even my third team will be ahead of every other team in the country. And taking a break? To hell with that. I'm going to grind everyone into a fine paste. A BLUE AND ORANGE FIRESTORM OF DESTRUCTION WILL CONSUME EVERYONE IN 2010.

Well, I'm down to my last pen after snapping the other seven writing the last paragraph. Plus the wife says she has some herbal tea she wants me to drink. Supposed to be the best, which is all I accept, so it's probably time to wrap this thing up. And I need to call Tim to see if there's anything he needs before I go to bed. What a great kid. If only I could trade my kids.......whatever their names are for him. I hope John Brantley is ready to be my buddy. Until next time.

P.S. Tell Addazio of plan to make GA's and managers the fastest in America.

P.S.S. Set aside 25 minutes tomorrow for practicing icy stare in the mirror.

Monday, March 01, 2010

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

United States hockey team sends Canada into anarchy and a rage that makes them pronounce "about" correctly.
Well, there probably was a smattering anarchy throughout the country after Canada won Sunday's gold medal game in overtime. I mean, we all know about those crazy bastards in Prince Edward Island. You just know mayhem ruled the evening there. Luckily, here in America, the only incidents that occurred were a few emotional bruises after the Team USA bandwagon jackknifed just before the finish line. I count myself as one of those slightly injured as there's nothing like international competition in a watchable sport to get me on the bandwagon. After all, who doesn't enjoy a Friday afternoon in which it's socially acceptable to hate Finland (Note: It's always acceptable to hate France.)?

Former Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead continues his 2009 stinkbomb at the NFL combine.
With no pass rush and no defenses to read, Snead managed to bump up the value of his draft stock. According to a few reports I read, he displayed solid footwork and nice accuracy throwing the deep ball, which, if you follow Ole Miss, has to be a misprint. A Jevan Snead overthrow of a wide open receiver forty yards down the field was about as sure death, taxes, DeAundre Cranston fouling out of a basketball game and Lane Kiffin smiling at himself in the mirror repeatedly.

Dexter McCluster's speed unleashes shock and awe among NFL people.
While he fell just short of the 3.85 seconds I had in the pool (actually ran a 4.58), he did manage impress scouts and the like with his time in the 20-yard shuttle, which is usually an indicator of quickness. I also find these to be pretty good indicators of quickness, since real players are involved and not fluorescent cones:

Michael Jordan buys Bobcats, will remain casually involved.
He really did become a majority owner of the Bobcats (which is an actual NBA team and not one of the NHL's 47 teams) and immediately set out to show that he can still play as he challenged one of Charlotte's talent-challenged guards, Gerald Henderson, to a game of H-O-R-S-E. Henderson won after a shaky start, proving to Jordan that he should not attempt another comeback and that he needed to get better players than Gerald Henderson.