It's been funny watching Lane Kiffin try to get Tennessee going in the SEC by rebuilding out of Florida's trash can. He's pursuing Cameron Newton, the laptop thief QB dismissed from the team who was clearly not going to play ahead of John Brantley. Now he's landed John Brown, the defensive tackle out of Lakeland who never was able to accomplish anything in his UF career and was hopelessly behind academically when he had to leave this spring. I doubt Brown will ever play a meaningful snap for the Vols - watching him at practice and talking to coaches, he just wasn't that good. This signing screams Ed Orgeron at a very high volume. As Jerrell Powe can tell you, Ed really doesn't care too much if you have any business in college or not. The broader Oregeron's influence shows, the more convinced I am that the Kiffin era will be a debacle for Tennessee.
It's undisputed that Lou Holtz is a terrific speaker. That doesn't make him a good presence on television, and one of the reasons why is because he is either unwilling to be honest about certain teams or is simply not willing to be objective about them. Ever since Holtz left South Carolina he's focused primarily on emphasizing the Notre Dame portion of his career, which presumably is why he is predicting the Fighting Irish will go 11-1 and finish in the top ten. This might seem credible if hadn't made almost the exact same prediction last year. Notre Dame's 2009 schedule includes a number of winnable games against "name" programs that are currently terrible like Purdue, Washington and Washington State. They should unquestionably have a winning season. To say they will not lose to anyone but USC is ridiculous though. This same bunch found a way to lose to Syracuse last season. Now they'll be on cruise control against the likes of Michigan State? Sorry, no. Mark this down - Nevada will either beat or scare the hell out of Notre Dame in South Bend the first week of the year.
Alex Rodriguez is involved with Kate Hudson now. Didn't matter much to me when I heard about it, although if I was a Yankee fan I'd be annoyed. Dating a celebrity actress, particularly one who needs some positive press since she hasn't made a good movie since Almost Famous nine years ago, isn't the best strategy for someone looking to fly under the radar. Now Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports via twitter that Hudson and three Rodriguez hangers on are pouring wine on the field before his at bats. Maybe it's a Kabbalah thing left over from the Madonna affair, or perhaps A-Roid wants a reality show. How hard is it not to be aggressively weird in public for a month or two?
I mentioned Monday that I was curious to see how long it would take for a major sport to duplicate what the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury are doing by putting a corporate logo on their actual game uniforms. The NFL took the first step toward that yesterday, by allowing teams to put sponsor logos on practice jerseys. We'll see what kind of a price teams can get for this, since it will get the sponsor major exposure only on local TV news and in the papers for the month or so of training camp and possibly a little during the season. If companies bite on this limited opportunity in a down economy, count on the league eventually putting it on the real uniforms in games when the price seems right.
The hits just keep on coming with the current economy. It seems like once a week some venue I enjoyed is suddenly gone. This might not mean anything to you if you aren't from Tampa, but I was disppointed to see Valencia Garden has suddenly shut down. My grandparents took me there a bunch of times over the years. It's one of the few restaurants my grandmother would still eat at today. The food was good, it had nice atmosphere and it was an authentic Tampa place. Given the way things are these days, they'll probably replace it with a freaking Applebee's. Also, my buddy Cole Pepper had his sports director position at WOKV in Jacksonville eliminated in budget cuts by the soulless corporate weasels at Cox Radio last week. He's still deciding what course of action to take longterm, since his work for the Jaguar network isn't a fulltime gig. In the meantime, he's started a blog of his own - drop by and say hi.