It’s been a full week in these parts generally, but it’s been a full week for me personally, too, so I haven’t kept on top of everything the way I ought to have, so this is my chance to catch up on a few news items you likely didn’t miss, but that I felt warranted a degree of attention and commentary, the latter of which may qualify this posting as an installment of "Kyle Gets Contrary." These are they:
- We’re creeping closer to wall-to-wall football, so I should begin at the beginning, with the Red and Black’s season-opening opponent. I recently compared the Bulldogs’ games against the 2011 Boise St. Broncos and the 1982 Clemson Tigers, but I missed one crucial connection: both schools were under NCAA investigation at the time. The Country Gentlemen, of course, were facing allegations that ultimately would carry consequences, while Boise State has gone before the infractions committee over what may be the dumbest set of infractions ever.
- In theory, the biggest news in the SEC this week was Mike Hamilton’s resignation as the athletic director of the Tennessee Volunteers. The real news was that he was allowed to exit somewhat gracefully with a timetable and a measure of face-saving, rather than run out of town on a rail after being tarred and feathered. Bruce Pearl elevated the men’s basketball program to new heights, but, when his situation soured, the handling of it was botched in Knoxville, while every single aspect of Lane Kiffin’s association with the Big Orange was an embarrassment. How Hamilton was allowed to walk away without a public excoriation, I’ll never know.
- Speaking of being run out of town on a rail, am I the only one who feels more than a measure of sympathy for Bill Stewart? The guy was fiercely loyal to the West Virginia Mountaineers (which is more than might be claimed for more than one other high-profile WVU coach), he more or less maintained the program without too much in the way of a drop-off after the abrupt departure of Rich Rodriguez, and, for his troubles, he was unceremoniously shoved out the door and saddled with the indignity of a designated successor not of his choosing. Yes, he reacted selfishly and stubbornly in the face of his slow-motion ouster, but this much must be said for the smear campaign he attempted to orchestrate: he was right. Given the choice between a loyal son of the state (sic) who (however mixed his motives may have been) sought to spare the institution the considerable embarrassment of elevating a man of highly questionable personal judgment to its highest-profile position on the one hand, and said man of highly questionable personal judgment on the other, it seems less than clear to me that Coach Stewart was the one who should have been sent packing.
- Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: I hate Auburn. That said, I have a legitimate national security question concerning Trooper Taylor’s chest-bump of Barack Obama; namely, how was he able to get away with it? It reminded me of the 2008 incident in which Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes---plural---at George W. Bush. Whatever one may think of President Bush, or of al-Zaidi’s political position, the fact remains that an assailant was able to hurl not one, but two, shoes at the president of the United States before being pulled to the ground not by a bodyguard, but by a fellow journalist. He intended only an insult, but the fellows in charge of protecting the presidential person from all assailants, foreign and domestic, couldn’t have known that and shouldn’t have taken the chance; al-Zaidi should’ve been face-down on the floor with a knee on his neck and a .45 in his face before his second shoe was removed, much less airborne. On a much lesser scale, Coach Taylor certainly meant no harm, but, from the Secret Service’s perspective, how is a good-sized guy’s decision to make a full-body lunge at President Obama not cause for the dudes in the black suits to take him to the ground until his intentions were confirmed as merely idiotic rather than hostile? I’m sorry, but these are tumultuous times, and, regardless of whether you agree with a particular president’s policies, dufi ramming themselves into the chief executive are not to be taken lightly. Am I the only one who wonders why the Secret Service didn’t go all Nick Fairley on Trooper Taylor?
- When one door closes, another opens: A.J. Harmon, see you later; Isaiah Crowell, welcome to Athens.
- While the Texas A&M Aggies were celebrating an historic dual three-peat and the Florida Gators were finishing just two points behind the national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs’ head track and field coach was left to describe the NCAA Outdoor Championships as "a humbling experience" about which no one "would say they reached their goals." The Red and Black women finished in a 40th-place tie with six points, while their male counterparts ended up in a snarl at 54th with three points. The Athenians were left to boast that the men’s track and field team scored at the NCAA Outdoors for the 14th straight season. I don’t mean to rip on the above-quoted Wayne Norton, but, honestly, shouldn’t the Bulldogs be better at track and field than this?
- While we’re on the subject of sports at which the Classic City Canines ought to be better, Florida is bound for the College World Series, Vanderbilt is bound for the College World Series, and South Carolina has built a baseball powerhouse in Columbia. Baseball is the Bulldogs’ oldest varsity sport. This business of being decent every other year has to stop.
- On the face of it, the University of Georgia Athletic Association thanking local law enforcement for its diligence appears to make approximately as much sense as Anthony Weiner expressing his gratitude to Andrew Breitbart for his thoroughness, but, when you think about it, it’s a smart move. Given the zealousness (to put it mildly) of the Athens authorities about ringing up student-athletes for every ticky-tack violation most of us never even knew was a crime---emerging from an alley? really?---it certainly can’t hurt for the powers that be in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall to try to establish a better working relationship with the Clarke County fuzz. While I doubt that Bulldog players will ever be cut the same level of slack Gator lettermen are given in Gainesville---and while I wouldn’t want extreme leniency to undermine the rule of law---I wouldn’t mind it if the two sides got on good enough terms for 20-year-olds caught with an open beer can on a city street to get off with a warning.
- Now that his collegiate career is over, Russell Henley is well on his way to joining Bubba Watson on the list of former Georgia golfers who remain big names in Bulldog Nation. Henley helped the Americans retain possession of the Palmer Cup in their battle with the Europeans, and, along with Watson and fellow former Bulldog Christo Greyling, Henley will spend next weekend participating in the U.S. Open.
You are now up to speed, even if I was somewhat behind the times. Consider yourself fully briefed, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday evening.