Early in the football season, while watching the Texas Aggies play somebody or another, I was struck by what seemed a strange sideline dynamic.
A&M had fallen behind, and now under the gun coach Kevin Sumlin (or his similarly beleaguered OC Jake Spavital) pulled the team’s former ***** QB Kyle Allen, replacing him with another former ***** and three-time Texas state champ QB Kyler Murray.
You could tell that Allen was pissed, as he paced the sideline, smoke coming from his ears. Murray, more of a scatback runner who passes, was doing well. But, if I recall correctly, got nicked up on a play. So Allen, more of pocket passing guy, returned to the game, and, I believe, led the team to a W.
Back and forth those two guys went all year. Obviously both have had enough.
Allen announced a week ago that he was sayonara. Then yesterday the school confirmed that Murray bid College Station an adios amigos.
So, just a bit more than a season away from Kevin Sumlin being the coaching Flav o Flav of the month, and Kenny Hill being the next Johnny Football, disarray reigns. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Hill moved on after last season, which saw a stunning debut then precipitous decline.
Looks like the fabled 13th Man will be calling signals against U of L in the Music City Bowl.
And that Sumlin and/or Spavital shall be skating on the proverbial thin ice.
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The year end Sports Illustrated is out.
In addition to naming Serena Williams its Sportsperson of the Year, it hands out other accolades.
The zine’s Team of the Year is the Golden State Warriors, who have become must see TV as they rampage through the early stages of their post-championship season, which they commenced with 24 straight Ws.
In the SI piece, there’s an interesting sidebar, which shows the longest season beginning winning streaks in the other major professional American sports.
The ’82 Braves and ’87 Brewers opened their MLB seasons 13-0. The ’93 Maple Leafs and ’06 Sabres opened their NHL campaigns 10-0-0. The ’07 Patriots went 18-0 in the NFL before losing. And the ’96 Galaxy started the MLS season 12-0.
All those teams have one striking common trait.
None won their league championship that season. Only two of them even made it to the championship. Those Pats lost to the NY Giants in the Super Bowl. And the Galaxy lost to somebody in the MLS Cup.
The Brewers didn’t even make it to the playoffs, while the other three lost in conference final playoff rounds.
Which is to point out that hard charging Warriors are far from a sure thing for a repeat.
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In my stories about U of L’s hoops season, I’ve been all over Rick Pitino for his failure to show up for press conferences.
It’s not like he reveals much in those. Especially the mini-sessions after an L, when Pitino has that look that says, If you ask me a question, Kenny Klein’s gonna push a button and a hole is going to open up under your seat, and you’ll be swimming for your life through one of MSD’s famous passageways to the Ohio.
But the day before game pressers he used to hold regularly could be quite illuminating, especially when coach was in a good, talkative mood.
And, I recall listening to his post-game radio pressers when he was at UK, and he would actually talk about strategy and plays and key moments in the game.
Obviously it’s a new dawn.
Even if he says nothing of consequence, I believe he owes it to the fans to appear and take Fred Cowgill’s sound bite seeking inquiries. The Rick is making $5 mill/ season, paid for by the fans. Who thus deserve to hear him talk about the team. Even if he reveals nada of import.
But, leave it to this town’s best sports journalist Eric Crawford to put the issue in perspective. His post this morning points out that Pitino has been talking, and a lot, but not at the usual places. Read Eric’s piece here.
There’s also a story in the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, which debunks the significance of press conferences, and essentially considers them a waste.
Which is to say I stand chastised.
— Seedy K