Friday, July 23, 2010

Derek Dooley Stays On Point Through SEC Media Days

It's a time we all know and love down here in the SEC. Media Days! Where the head coaches and select players from each team are available to the media. Last year the big story was who did not vote for Tim Tebow in the preseason All-SEC team. It turned out Steve Spurrier had some member of the athletic department fill it out and left Tebow off. Also, everyone was very interested in what then Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin would say.

This year the big stories have been about agents as pimps and new Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell's first job working on a turkey farm (which was actually very funny as Caldwell said he was on the "inseminating crew").

Tennessee of course has Derek Dooley as the new head man on Rocky Top and he came prepared for the media gauntlet today. Dooley was first asked about his parents and what colors they would be wearing to games (real tough questions I know) since Dooley's father Vince was head coach and athletic director at Georgia for decades. I thought Dooley handled all questions quite well trying to keep the focus on what is going on now and what this season will bring instead of what his predecessor had done.

Dooley's biggest point had been the same he had talked about since he got the job, character. He wants his players to be accountable for their actions and be great representatives of the University of Tennessee and the community. “Certainly our image is not where we want it to be,” Dooley said. “All I know is that whether you have two incidents, four incidents, five incidents, either way, you don’t want any incidents in your program. So it’s important to do a lot of things internally to minimize the risk of those incidents.”

The biggest test of this policy came a few weeks ago after the brawl at Bar Knoxville in which safety Darren Myles was dismissed from the team and linebacker Greg King and defensive tackle Marlon Walls were suspended. Dooley said that the team as a whole felt responsible for what happened as the leaders of the team did not do their best at educating the players to take responsibility for their actions. This is something Dooley is looking to change on Rocky Top. Many know it is not going to happen overnight, but I think they are off to a good start.

Overall I thought Dooley did quite well at the podium. Being a former lawyer he knows how to work a room, is very engaging, and he thinks before he says anything. Which was good since the media kept trying to get him to take a shot at his predecessor.

While I think Dooley has said and done things the correct way so far, the real test comes this fall when he has to coach the Big Orange in Neyland Stadium. As always the SEC media days really signals the countdown to football season! So let's get rolling!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tennessee Vols Arrested After Bar Brawl

No matter who the head coach is, it looks like some Tennessee Volunteers just can't stay out of trouble. I was going to comment about the Lebron James circus last night, but Big Orange Country dropped this in my lap today.

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley has preached the role character will play in his football program. He will be put to the test today following an embarrassing early morning bar brawl Friday allegedly involving Tennessee football players.

Already, two players have been arrested and charged freshman receiver Da’Rick Rogers (a five star recruit) for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and sophomore safety Darren Myles Jr. for assaulting a UT police officer and resisting/fleeing arrest.

According to the incident report, Myles elbowed a UT police officer under the eye, then tried to run away through campus and was found hiding in the bushes.

Police are continuing to investigate, as two people were sent to the hospital as a result of the melee. One of those was an off-duty Knoxville Police Department officer who was at the bar and tried to break up the fight, according to police.

His reward was being knocked to the ground and kicked until he was unconscious by a group of people identified as Tennessee football players. He's being treated for a head wound.

Some of the other Tennessee players that were detained for questioning or may still be questioned in connection with the brawl, according to police, include defensive tackle Montori Hughes, defensive tackle John Brown, receiver Denarius Moore, safety Janzen Jackson and receiver Matt Milton. In particular, police are looking for more information on who was actually involved in the assaults.

The incident happened at Bar Knoxville on the strip (it was Liquid Knoxville through most of my years on campus). In my opinion it has never been my kind of place. I am not really the clubbing type, and there has always seemed to be some seedy things going on there.

At this point I am getting so annoyed and ashamed with the way these players are representing the football team and the university. Yes I know all the facts have not come out and there are two sides to every story, but you just cannot have players keep getting into trouble like this.

Another problem that may arise is that Tennessee football players received "VIP status" at Bar Knoxville and didn't have to pay a cover. NCAA rules stipulate that athletes aren't allowed to receive any extra benefits or special arrangements such as discounts at restaurants or bars. I am pretty sure no more players will be allowed to go to Bar Knoxville in the future.

If Dooley is a man of his word there could be some strong punishments for the players involved. I have a feeling that Myles is going to be gone since he had been charged back on April 18 with disorderly conduct after an incident at another nightspot near campus. It is tough to say goodbye to such a ballyhooed recruit but Rogers might have to go as well. As for all the other players, we will all have to wait till more information comes out.

Sadly, this story will not go away anytime soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Long Time Needed World Cup Report

Yeah I know I have been pretty quiet on my blog the last few weeks. There have been some new happenings in my life so there could be some big changes on they way that I don't want to mention here because I don't want to jinx it. Anyway, onto my World Cup rant!

Why can't I be this good picking college football games? Flashback to right before the World Cup got going and I said on my facebook status that I had Spain and the Netherlands in the Finals! Now all I need is Spain to win and I will feel pretty awesome about my picks.

I do think Spain will defeat the Dutch in the finals, mostly because of the way they seem to dominate the possession of the ball. In most matches the possession on the ball is pretty even between teams, however the Spaniards have done a great job at holding onto the ball and limiting the other teams scoring chances. Look what they did to Germany yesterday after the Germans had scored four goals on both England and Argentina. However I won't have a problem if the Dutch win since they do wear orange. I really like that whoever wins will have their first World Cup Title.

As for team USA, I think it is a good thing that we are disappointed in their performance. That means that people have really begun to care what happens to our boys in red, white, and blue. We are very strong in the midfield, but we have to get better scoring up front and of course have to do much better defending.

Sadly, what people have to realize is that soccer is still no where near the top sport in this country despite all the attention paid to Sam's Army during this World Cup. If the USA wants to get better on the international stage more top athletes in this country have to get involved in soccer.

For example, around the World kids grow up wanting to play soccer and soccer only. While here in the United States, soccer is still probably the fifth or sixth most popular sport. Imagine if our best athletes like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and more focused on soccer at an early age.

Of course what many Americans, including myself will take away from USA's effort in this World Cup was their grit and determination to keep fighting until the very end. I love watching everyone across the country react to Landon Donovan's goal in the waning seconds against Algeria to help us advance to the knockout round.

Now of course it is onto the officials. It has become so obvious that FIFA needs to start using some technology and get things right. I am not ever talking about correcting offsides or fouls, all I really want is for them to be able to quickly look at a screen and determine if it was a goal or not. So what if it takes an extra minute? Get it right! Of course FIFA makes Major League Baseball look progressive when it comes to making necessary changes. As for things like offsides and diving, is it asking too much to put a few extra pairs of eyes on and around the field to make sure it is not so obvious the referee missed the call?

That is all for me today! I am heading down to Charleston, South Carolina next week for the Shibley family reunion! Enjoy the World Cup Final and you know I'll be back soon and back talking college football!