Greetings from Tennessee. I'm on my way to Nashville to cover the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament beginning today. I always enjoy this event, but right before it the SEC always seems to go out of its way to come off looking really silly when it announces the yearly awards. This year was no exception, as John Wall was voted Player of the Year by the same group of coaches that then somehow did NOT vote him Freshman of the Year. At least that could be spun as a desire to spread the award wealth around to multiple kids, but there's simply no justifying Kevin Stallings as Coach of the Year over John Calipari. These are the facts:
1. Calipari and Stallings matched up twice, with Calipari's team winning each of them
2. Kentucky finished two games ahead of Vandy
3. Both teams were in the NIT last year, so it's not like Calipari had a ready made team waiting for him
4. Calipari's doing what he did largely with freshmen, while Stallings has experienced players galore
Stallings did a fine job, but this is just about as absurd as him winning the award three years ago. That year Billy Donovan, who has still never been voted Coach of the Year, won his second straight national title. But how could an achievement like that possibly impress anyone compared to Stallings going 10-6 in conference play?
Did you know Paul Hewitt has been basketball coach at Georgia Tech for a decade? Somehow it just didn't seem all that long to me. What's extraordinary about that tenure is Hewitt has lasted ten years and only has one winning ACC record in that time span. Now it appears his job may be in jeopardy. Hard to argue with that line of thinking, because there's no reason GT shouldn't be better than that with the city of Atlanta to recruit to and their program's history.
One of my favorite traditions in sports is the playing of CBS's One Shining Moment" NCAA tournament clip montage at the end of the Final Four. The decision a few years back to have the team be able to watch it together as a group on the floor was brilliant. Seeing UF's kids enjoy the moment together in Indianapolis when they won their first one was a lot of fun. Since 2003, the version of the song they've played was recorded by Luther Vandross. It's believed to be the last thing he recorded before the stroke which subsequently killed him. Vandross was one of the alltime great voices, yet CBS has decided to change to a new version by Jennifer Hudson. Hudson's a talented woman and I'm sure she does a fine job with the song, but this is stupid. Is this supposed to be a hook to get a younger audience to watch? It's going to run after midnight - good luck with that. Sometimes things don't need to be messed with - this was one of them.
Also falling in the category of bad ideas: Robert DeNiro will play Vince Lombardi in a movie chronicling his run with the Packers. We all know how good an actor DeNiro is, but I hate movies where someone famous whose face we know this well tries to convince you they're someone else. For every "Ray", where Jamie Foxx pulled it off, there are many more "Nixon"s. Anthony Hopkins is a terrific actor, but no matter how much face putty they put on him he still did not remotely resemble Richard Nixon. It's distracting, because instead of focusing on the storyline you wind up critiquing the star's impression of the famous person. Casting DeNiro as any football coach seems like a stretch to me - as this football coach, it's ridiculous.