Friday, July 29, 2005

SEC Media Days

Kickoff is right around the corner and I just returned from Birmingham and the SEC Media kickoff as all 12 coaches flanked by two players met the media in a three-day event. The following are thoughts I had as I listened to 12 of the nation's premiere CEOs meet the media:

Wed. July 27 -

Urban Meier, Florida - Will definitely instill the discipline needed in a program that lost its focus under Ron Zook. Meier talked of the family of a football program and how he expects his coaches to do lots of hands-on instructing with the players on and off the field. I thought it was interesting that he thought he did too many Gator Club functions in May and would rethink that next year. Meier will definitely return this program to the Steve Spurrier Glory Years!

Phil Fulmer, Tennessee - More conversation centered around the on-going barbs thrown at Fulmer by Alabama fans as the UT coach reported misconduct by former Tide assisntat coaches in Memphis. Fulmer relayed that the conduct was going on in his state and affected how he could recruit those players to be future Vols. This situation also was taken to a personal level when Fulmer mentioned that he and his family had been threatened as someone who had been able to obtain his cell number to make the threats The coach was also bombarded with questions about the numerous offseason brushes with the law by Tennessee players.

Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss - Orgeron comes to Oxford from the National Champion USC program of that last two years where he was the D-Line coach. He was only too happy to allow me to hoom him up with the "Sports Bash" on ESPN Radio where he was interviewed by Amy Lawerence. Oregeron is excited to be in Oxford and the Louisiana native seems to have a tireless work ethic whic he will instil in the Rebels players.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina - I cannot tell you how much fun it is going to be to cover the Gamecocks and the Ol' Ball Coach this year. He is one of my all-time favorite sports celebs and could be a stand up comedian if he wasn't so talented in drawing up plays. When Spurrier revoked some scholarships given to in-state players by the former regime, the South Carolina Coaches Association took him to task. Spurrier said his idea was to give the scholarships to threeemore talented walk-ons. In mainstream college FB, you give your schoalrships to your 85 most talented players. It seems quite odd that a coaches association would be so narrow-minded as to insist that Spurrier keep three kids with his program just because they are from the Palmetto State. There is something wrong with the logic of those HS coaches.adge

Thursday, July 28 -

Sly Croom, Mississippi State - The Bulldogs will be back to 75 scholarship, 10 short of the allotted 85. Croom comes in with lots of positive vibes and maybe the best RB you never neard of in Jerious Norwood. Look for MSU to upset someone you never thought of -- like the Dogs did with Florida last year.

Mark Richt, Georgia - Richt basically talked about how he would rebuild(?) the Bulldogs. However, with all of the returning talent, rebuilding will be minimal. Georgia has lots of talented players to build into the offensive scheme with losing Pollack, Thurman, and Davis.

Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt - The coach fell off a bicycle on his South carolina vacation and broke his collarbone. Vandy's sked is so the Commodores could be 5-1 through six games. Johnson spoke about how fortunate the 'Dores are to have QB Jay Cutler returning after he flirtted with turning pro.

Tommy Turbeville, Auburn - Turbeville talked about the disappointment of going 13-0 last year and not getting to play for a national championship. Auburn has a loaded cupboard and the talented to keep their level of play at the championship level. Oct. 22 at LSU will be intersting. Tuberville is great with the media. He worked radio row in the hotel, providing one-on-one interviews for all.

Fri., July 29 -

Mike Shula, Alabama - Shula wants the Tide to stay healthy, obviously key in that is oft-injured QB Brodie Croyle. Bama looks like a 7 or 8 win team as Shula feels certain he has upgraded talent in his three years in Tuscaloosa.

Rich Brooks, Kentucky - The monotone Brooks thinks his talent has been upgraded also as the 'Cats have been even more under the gun thanks to recruiting restrictions by the NCAA. brooks made no reference to UK starting true-freshman Curtis Pulley over Andre Woodson at QB, but many think with a slow start, this scenario could playout.

Houston Nutt, Arkansas - Lots of talk about the Hogs not making a bowl for the first time under Nutt as they finished 5-6. Nutt alluded to the fact that the chances wre there for this team to finish as high as 8-3, but were a play or two from making this happen.

Les Miles, LSU - The soft-spoken Miles takes a no-nonsense approach, but in a different way than Nick Saban. He talked about coming in with things basicallyset for him to achieve whereas at Oklahoma State, he had more of a rebuilding project.

The good news: Camps open across the country this week!! Don't forget to hit the link each week for my previews on the NFL and college FB throughout August!!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Be-Devil-ed Rays

The tension continues to mount in Tampa as owner Vince Naimoli and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ownership group have simply not been forthright with manager Lou Piniella. Rays ownership promised homegrown Piniella an increse in payroll so that Tampa Bay could try to compete with the Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Yankees in the AL East. Since this hasn't happened, Piniella has grown as impatient as a storm brewing off of South Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast. Naimoli has a jewel in Sweet Lou, who wanted the job to turn around this moribound franchise. He doesn't realize this so Piniella might be better off looking in other directions for 2004. Keep in mind Pinella is currently 1479-1381 as an MLB manager, 20th on the MLB's all-time list.

And now a look at how and why Piniella is about to become TBay's latest sacrifice---

1) The Rays were 0-6 on a current road tript hrough Minnesota and Chicago. This was the fifth time in history TBay has gone through two cities without winning a game.
2) TBay is on an 8-game losing streak where the Rays only batted .229 in the team was outscored 52-25 in the eight games and they also amassed a 6.35 ERA.
3) The Devil Rays are 8-35 on the road this season as this is the worst road record after 43 games since the invention of the 162-game schedule.
4) The Rays bullpen has blown 16 saves, 6 more than last season.
5) Tampa has the second youngest team in the major leagues...They have used 41 different players, including 20 pitchers which is only 4 off the major league record for the number of [itchers used in one season.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Vladimir Guerrero's .443 batting average in the month of June moved him into second place in the AL with a .340 average. Guerrero is one reason why the Angels could play deep into October as he provides leadership as well as statistical output for Mike Scioscia's AL West leading squad. Posted by Picasa

Halo Hot Streak

You wanna talk heat --- Summer Heat --- discuss Mike Scioscia's "Anaheim" Angels and the way they have been playing for the last few weeks. They have won 10 of 12 and 12 of 15 to vault into a 6 1/2 game advantage over Texas in the AL West. That 6 1/2 game mark is the Angels' largest after 80 games and the 49-31 mark is their best record after 80 games also. The Angels' .308 average in June was the best in the majors in June and their current .316 average with runners in scoring position is the best in the majors. Vladimir Guerrero batted .443 in June and Adam Kennedy checked in at a .435 pace. Utility-man Maicer Izturis is 18-for-47 since returning from the DL and owns a 10-game hitting streak. Don't forget this great pitching staff that has a 3.58 ERA, second in MLB, and the staff leads the AL with 577 strikeouts! The bullpen leads the majors in stranding runners as they have stranded 53 of 64. The Halos' plus-80 run differential is second in the AL behind Chicago's plus-82. Anaheim is second in the AL in road wins with 25 as, dating back to last season, they are 53-30, best in the majors.

Where Have I Been?

I spent June 22-26 on the West Coast watching the Angels blast the Rangers and Dodgers and then I made it down to beautiful Petco Park in San Diego On Thursday and saw the Padres lose a 4-3 decision to the Dodgers. Upon getting home last Sunday night, I have been writing my NFL and college FB previews for These will start running sometime in July. As soon as I get those completed, Air Time will return!!