Greetings from Birmingham, where I'll be covering SEC basketball media day today. Somewhere else in town, SEC referee Marc Curles will be going about his day job as a financial planner. The conference announced yesterday that he and his crew won't have another assignment until November 14 as a result of the crappy job they did in the Arkansas-Florida (and presumably LSU-UGA as well) game. Curles spoke to ESPN's Mike Fish about what happened Saturday, and hopefully the people who are unloading on him will read what his explanation and realize they're being ridiculous. NFL officiating isn't consistently good, and college refs are a step down from those guys. It's an extremely hard job, and there aren't too many people who do it well. Frankly, even judged against his college peers Curles doesn't appear to be one of them. That doesn't mean people should be harassing him at his workplace or believing he's Tim Donaghy part 2 though.
FSU is on the road in Chapel Hill tonight for a matchup of teams winless in the ACC to this point. History is on UNC's side - Thursday night road games have tripped FSU up even when they were much better than this team is. Bobby Bowden's had a week and a half to get ready for this one, but his guys are seriously beaten up. DT Budd Thacker's apparently now gone for the year, there's likely no Dekoda Watson at LB tonight - this is very bad news for the Noles. A loss here and it becomes a virtual certainty that FSU's bowl streak will end. There'd also be no chance at a winning conference record, and there are just two home games left for them to try and regroup in this second half of the season. A win won't necessarily save the day for Bobby, but a loss tonight will be devastating.
Bad week to be a high profile sports TV personality, with ESPN's Steve Phillips having his affair with a 22 year old employee turn up in the New York Post. That would be bad enough, but according to the Post she went berzerk and began harassing his wife and son. I've never understood why ESPN hired Phillips in the first place. He's a former Mets GM who was viewed as having done a terrible job when he was dismissed. He's not a beloved former player, nor is he particularly controversial the way Bobby Valentine was when he was on air. On top of all that, Phillips was suspended from the Mets over sexual harassment issues. ESPN has had a lengthy history of controversy on that subject, including the dismissal of Harold Reynolds over an alleged episode of it. My guess is we've seen the last of Phillips as well, although they won't be in a hurry to announce that.