What an incredible first day at the Masters. Fred Couples looked really good when I watched practice at Augusta National on Tuesday, and I mentioned on air he could be a factor. Didn't expect him to be the day one leader at six under though, much less that he's be a shot ahead of Tom Watson. Phil Mickelson came out of nowhere to be a factor after stinking all season. Oh yeah, there was Tiger Woods too. The fact Woods both shot under 70 on opening day and had two eagles in a round at Augusta for the first time in his career is impressive stuff, without even considering all the nonsense surrounding him lately. I ignored the ridiculous new ad Nike put out with Woods on Wednesday night during yesterday's post, but it is worth showing you just how manipulative and cynical the ad is. The voice of Tiger's father is edited to make it seem like it was being addressed to his son, when he was actually contrasting his personality with that of Tiger's mother. Assorted Tiger silliness aside, it looks like we're in for a terrific weekend of golf.
Tennessee continues to lose players since the arrival of Derek Dooley as head coach. The latest to bail out is Nick Stephens, the only experienced quarterback on the Volunteer roster. This means UT will head into the coming season with either the thoroughly unimpressive JUCO transfer Matt Simms or true freshman Tyler Bray under center. They'll be behind a line missing its top lineman and without UT's supposed elite running back, because both those guys have quit too. Half way through spring, there's beginning to be a buzz that Dooley's "Saban the Sequel" routine is really wearing thin quickly with both players and those around the program. That kind of stuff works much better if you have a national championship to sell as opposed to a 17-20 career record.
Great to see that Butler was able to keep Brad Stevens at the school for what could be the longterm thanks to a twelve year contract extension. Even though he likely will never see anything close to the end of that deal, it makes sense for both sides to stay together and continue to build off this season's accomplishents. It's also a reminder to the "big time" schools that buying a coach isn't nearly as easy as it used to be. If Stevens is happy at Butler, he can make more than enough money there to turn down big bucks from a school like Oregon where they'll be looking to can him in three years if he doesn't win big. Who's going to take Phil Knight's money to come coach the Ducks?
I'm not sure how it could have ever occurred to umpire Joe West that he should publicly blast the two teams whose games he umpired as his beginning series of the year, but he chose to do just that. West called the Yankees and Red Sox "pathetic and embarassing. They take too long to play." I should be referring to Joe West as either "suspended umpire Joe West" or "fired umpire Joe West" by the next time I write, or something is seriously wrong here. Umpires are supposed to be neutral arbiters of the rules. How can West possibly work games again for either team he has chosen to go on record blasting? There is simply no excuse for this. If West wants something done about the "problem" of slower play and feels he is being ignored by the teams, he should take it up with his supervisors. Pitching a tantrum about it like this can not be tolerated.
There are some really bad ideas out there right now, whether we're talking fake tattoo sleeves, deadly sandwiches, or LeBron James comedy movies. Spring football games aren't quite as awful as any of those, but they're not very good either. If you're at your team's this weekend, more power to you but don't get worked up about whatever you see. I'll see you back here Monday - keep an eye on the Twitter feed at heathradio if you want to know what's got my attention between now and then.