I'll be in Gainesville for the Orange and Blue Game Saturday. The question is what there will be for any of us to actually see. UF has had an unbelievable run of injuries this spring, and the coaches weren't going to take chances with veterans even before they started losing guys. There's no ESPN circus in town either. It's still a chance to see a few of the touted young guys get some work, and that's what I'm hoping to take from it. Meanwhile, we can all look forward to fall. UF may be on CBS as many as half a dozen times, and the network has picked up the Florida-Georgia rights for the next fifteen years.
I'm 35. On a logical level I know that's not extraordinarily old, but it sure feels that way today. Just as I got into the studio after coming back to Columbia from the PGA's Heritage event going on down on Hilton head Island, word came down that Danny Ainge had suffered a heart attack. I instantly shifted from a relaxed mood to a state of shock. This guy is one of the main cogs of the first basketball team I ever cared about. Fortunately Ainge is expected to recover, but the notion that he had a completely blocked artery and could easily have been gone at fifty scares the hell out of me. Ainge has always been in great shape. If his heart could be a ticking bomb, any of ours could. The Ainge news has to have kept even the most crazed Celtics fan from getting too upset about the fact Kevin Garnett may be out for the playoffs.
The news that John Madden is stepping down as NBC's analyst for Sunday Night Football shouldn't be shocking. He's 73 and travels around the USA by bus - you can see how that would get old. It's still hard to imagine the NFL without him. Madden's been a part of fall Sundays as long as I've been alive. Surely someone will get him to do a weekly pregame segment from his house or something like that, because he's too big a presence to just vanish. Cris Collinsworth should do a great job filling Madden's shoes. While his style's different, his willingness to be critical is something a lot of NFL analysts lack.I don't know if Alabama announcing Kenny Stabler is done as their radio analyst was a sympathy move to his old Oakland coach. One thing we know for sure - the saddest man in America today is Frank Caliendo.
While Madden will be missed, I'm not sure the same can be said for ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. A few years ago, an ESPN executive who's no longer with the company was convinced Smith was a superstar in the making. They gave him his own TV talk show, a radio show in New York City and later the ESPN Radio network, and made him a constant presence on their NBA coverage. Now, Screamin A's days with the network appear to be just about over. It'll be tough missing insights like Smith's criticism that a coach whose team missed a field goal in a playoff game should have kicked on first down so he would have four chances to try and make it, but we'll all pull through together. At least Smith hasn't had a moment like Canadian sports reporter Roger Millions yet. (Warning: foul language on that link) Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.