All That and a Bag of Mail: Predicting SEC Coaching Hires
"Why is ESPN afraid of Stephen A.? A race issue or is it bigger? i.e. Revenue he produces, etc?"
This is a great question.
I think it's more of a race issue than it is the revenue he produces. There are a thousand people in sports media who could be given Stephen A. Smith's job and produce similar ratings and revenue. So I don't buy that this is a Charlie Sheen or Howard Stern type situation where the guy makes so much money for you that he's above all the rules. (Clearly, Sheen wasn't above all of them, but he was above just about all of them. Stern may truly be above all rules.)
Read my piece from yesterday on Stephen A. Smith dropping a "nigga please," and ask yourself this question, would Skip Bayless -- or any other white person at ESPN for that matter -- get to make a video telling us he spoke "fastly" -- nice word choice -- and we misunderstood him?
Of course not.
Can you imagine what an incident this would be if that was ESPN's response, putting a white guy in front of a camera and hectoring us about our misimpression about what he said?
Yet, so far, the only decent-sized online media entities that I've seen write anything at all about this are The Big Lead and OKTC. (This is defining "decent-sized" expansively. Which my wife tells me I'm quite skilled at doing).
Props to the Dan Patrick show for discussing it on air today. So far DP is the only national entity to discuss this story at all.
You know no one at ESPN is touching this story, but it's surprising that CBS, SI, Fox Sports -- aside from Jason Whitlock who is Tweeting about it --, NBC, and Yahoo, all of them are silent.
I can think of three hypotheses:
1. The n-bomb scares so many major media companies that they don't want to write about it when it's being uttered by a black person. The only time it's okay to write about is when a white person does so in a racist manner.
2. Most white people are afraid to talk or write about anything involving race for fear of being called a racist for doing so. (Your average white person fears being called a racist more than he or she fears death. This is not an exaggeration.)
3. Lots of people in sports media are loathe to argue that someone else in sports media needs to be reprimanded or fired.
We're quick to toss coaches on the hot seat, but almost never self-critical enough to toss media figures on the hot seat.
As for me, I actually think it's more insulting that Stephen A. Smith won't own up to what he than what he said is insulting. I'm a First Amendment guy, I think you should be able to say or write any word you choose at any point, regardless of your race. It's also impossible to offend me. Anytime someone is offended by what I write or say my response is pretty simple, I'm offended that you're offended.
Try this some time.
It blows the person who is offended's mind.
The person who is offended doesn't know how to handle this response. Follow it up with, "I'm sorry, I didn't know we lived in a country where my job was to make sure that I never said or did anything to bother you. Oh wait, we don't? Deal with it."
That's fine on an individual basis, but ESPN's on a racial fault line here, that's not the company's position. ESPN's position on race is that the intent of a word choice doesn't matter. We know this because they hung that poor ESPN.com editor out to dry after he used a cliche headline that has been used a billion times -- "Chink in the Armor" -- and happened to pair it with an Asian basketball player.
That editor lost his job for an unintentional racial slight.
Now Stephen A. Smith keeps his job for saying what he intended to say?
You know what my response is to that?
Mrs. Jefferson's got my back.
"You've touched on it before but if you personally had to choose between Gruden or Petrino for UT, who would you prefer?"
This would be my list for the Tennessee job if I was AD.
1. Jon Gruden
2. Chris Petersen
3. Bobby Petrino
4. Charlie Strong
6. Dan Mullen
If you have to go any further down the list than these six names, I don't think it's worth firing Derek Dooley.
I'm serious about this.
If you can't get a stud replacement for Dooley, it makes no sense to fire him right now. If UT fires Dooley and hires Kirby Smart, I'll lose it. The UT program isn't in good enough shape right now to take a flier on an unproven head coach. Especially not one that looks good because he's in the penumbra of Nick Saban's greatness. You think Saban's team will miss a step if Smart leaves? We already hired Nick Saban's linebackers coach and promoted him to defensive coordinator. How has that worked out?
Alabama has the best defense in the country and the Vols have the worst defense in college football if you just look at conference stats.
No thank you.
I'm tired of hiring William Faulkner's typist and expecting him to produce "Absalom, Absalom!"
Vegas should offer a prop bet on this because I think it's much more difficult to predict these coaching hires than it is to pick four winners against the spread. Especially since Arkansas, Auburn, and Tennessee will have several names that overlap on the list.
Okay, here goes in the order you asked. (You can also check out my list of the top 16 coaching candidates. The four names are just about guaranteed to come off this list.)
Arkansas: Charlie Strong.
He just makes too much sense. You've got an AD in Jeff Long who understands that you have to spend big to hire a coach. You need a guy who doesn't have even a whiff of scandal, and you need a guy who you know can win.
Strong offers zero risk and he could come home to Arkansas.
Kentucky: Sonny Dykes
He fits well.
Kentucky, after all these years, still just wants basketball on grass. They want high scoring games and a team that can go 7-5. If you can manage both of these you're a hero. I think Dykes can manage both. Plus, Kentucky was paying Joker nearly $2 million a year. That's a massive raise for Dykes. (My other option here is Gus Malzahn. Same style of football, but he's only been at Arkansas State for a year. Would he jump? Not sure.)
Tennessee: Jon Gruden
He's the most likely candidate because the Vols are going to go after him hard and offer him as much money as they possibly can.
See my above list if they swing and miss with him.
Auburn: Bobby Petrino
If Auburn hires anyone other than Bobby Petrino, I'll lose all faith in the Tigers willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Nick Saban has built a dynasty in your state. You better go find a stud to at least challenge him. Petrino hasn't had great success against Saban, but he was at Arkansas. With Auburn's recruiting base and cough, money, cough, he'd be much more competitive. Plus, he'll win fast.
This is a no brainer.
"How long do you think it will be before you move to ESPN?"
Take the over.
As in, never.
There are several reasons. First, ESPN hates me because I'm too honest when they screw up. Lots of people pull punches to curry favor. Not me.
Second, I'm not taking a pay cut to be told what I can and can't say. ESPN offers great exposure, but most of their talent -- and I like a ton of ESPN's talent -- isn't that well compensated in the grand scheme of things.
If I can make more money than I could at ESPN and have complete creative control over everything I do, why would I ever give that up to go to ESPN?
So the answer is never.
"How can you have as many brushes with the law as Honey Badger, and still consent to a search when you have ten bags of weed?"
See my advice above.
Never consent to a search.
He's an idiot.
Amy Massengill Tweets:
This storm is terrifying.
There are only three appropriate responses:
1. Choose which child is your favorite as you'll probably only be able to save one of your children.
2. Buy 4 billion gallons of milk.
If the grocery stores are already out of milk, buy your own dairy cow and practice milking her for the next five days.
3. Watch, "The Perfect Storm."
Then dock your boats. Don't try and be a hero.
4. Move South.
Actually, you should just follow number three.
Finally, a bunch of Mississippi State fans want to know what I think of State's chances to upset Bama.
Uh, it's not happening.
But at least your local strip club believes. Pic courtesy of this guy on Twitter.
Yep, that's a camo six pack.