Each day I ramble through the sports news just to see what is happening, and even though I am not very interested in most of what I see, there were a few items lately that stirred my interest. Let me share some of these with you.
I see where Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant is asking that the team let him have a say in the hiring of their new head coach. Now I will admit that I am not an NBA fan but this really interests me. Mr. Bryant, who will be entering his 19th season with the Lakers at age 35, feels that he deserves some input in his team’s decision as to who will lead them next season. I see this as just another example of how players in all sports are gaining too much influence and power in running sports organizations. Kobe is being paidd very well to play, $24 million per year, so he should just do so and let the team’s front office officials hire the coach.
Former Georgia head football coach Jim Donnan was recently found not guilty on 41 counts of fraud. I understand that he turned down a plea bargain, that would have included some jail time, before his trial began. That shows great confidence in the legal system as well as a staunch position of innocence. It turned out well for him and I am glad that he was exonerated.
Allen High School in Allen, Texas has a problem with Eagle Stadium, their 18,000 seat football facility. The stadium opened in 2012 and cost a staggering $60 million. They have now been notified that it will be closed for the 2014 season. The reason given was that “design flaws at the stadium’s concourse level contributed to cracking with some support structures not made in a way that would sustain the weight anticipated on that level.” Allen, the reigning Class 5A Division I State Champion, will play their home games at other sites this season. The city is 23 miles north of Dallas. $60 million for a high school stadium just goes to prove what we have heard—-high school football is BIG in Texas!
The Southeastern Conference has voted to maintain its 6-1-1 football scheduling module for the foreseeable future. This news was not met with much agreement by the other power conferences who felt that the SEC should go to a nine-game conference schedule and thus play more games within the league. These conferences have a nine-game format but their leagues are not as strong as the SEC. Anyway, it’s none of their business!
The 6-1-1 model means that a team will play all six teams in its division, one permanent non-divisional foe and one rotating non-divisional opponent. One concern expressed by some SEC folk is that the permanent opponent does give some teams a decided advantage. Georgia’s permanent foe is Auburn, LSU’s is Florida, and Tennessee’s is Alabama while Ole Miss plays Vanderbilt and Mississippi State gets Kentucky. Now wouldn’t it look like Ole Miss and Mississippi State have a big advantage?
The rotating part of the schedule lends to some odd results. Georgia will not make its first trip to Texas A&M until 2024. The Dogs get Alabama at home in 2016 but don’t go to Tuscaloosa until 2020. I hope that Georgia fans enjoyed seeing LSU in Athens last season because they won’t be back in Sanford Stadium until 2025.
I keep hearing, on talk radio mostly, that people want to see the “cupcake” games eliminated on the major conference schedules. They want to see a tough opponent every week. I don’t see that as a good idea for two major reasons. First, the major schools need a couple of lesser foes during the season so that the players can hopefully get a rest and so that the coaches can give some of their back-up players some needed experience. Players get beat up over the long haul and need a less-stressful game from time to time.
Secondly, these games are very important to these Division II schools. I know that Georgia Southern beat Florida last season, but seldom do these schools upset a major opponent. If they do; however, it is a big-time boost to their program. The major reason that they need these games is for the large financial payout that they receive for getting beat up. A 1$ million Saturday afternoon can fund a small-school program for a long time.
Lastly, I saw an ESPN Too Early After Spring Practice Top 25 football ranking today. There were 7 SEC schools listed in this Top 25. They were #2 Alabama, #4 Auburn, #8 Georgia, #10 South Carolina, #13 LSU, #14 Texas A&M, and #19 Florida. This of course means nothing as demonstrated by Auburn’s 2013 season when nobody had them ranked in the nation’s Top 50 in the pre-season yet they wound up in the National Championship game.Just too early to tell as anything can happen.
By the way, according to this Top 25 list Auburn plays 6 of the Top 25 and Georgia plays 4. Did I say something earlier about being fair? Just kidding!