This Week In The 'Drome: Two of my favorites, unlikely favorites, favorite targets, the NHL's favorite weapon and more
Edwards was the Sports Authority's executive director; Curry one of its sharpest critics. Covering sports business, I had the opportunity to meet and befriend both men.
Both were gregarious backslappers, and despite their opposing viewpoints, being gentlemen, they were friendly with each other. Edwards spent the last minutes before every meeting shaking hands with the people who chose to spend their morning watching the Sports Authority (often, the observers were just me and Frank) and he always made a stop to chat with Frank, the latter with his tell-tale Stetson and stacks of notebooks at his side.
Edwards saw Nashville's pro sports venues as economic drivers for a budding cultural and industrial juggernaut. And Frank saw the handouts to their tenants as cronyism and corporate welfare at its very worst.
Frank probably considered Emmett an unabashed booster — which he was. And I'm sure Emmett saw Frank as a real pain-in-the-ass — which he was.
But both men represented their sides of the philosophical question ably and well. Both were helpful to me. Emmett — while quietly suffering through lung cancer — always responded promptly to my questions. And Frank always seemed to know when I'd need his insight, forever calling me from a blocked number as if his identity were still secret to me.
They were both characters. They were both gentlemen. And I'll miss them both terribly.
The Week Behind
Chomped Just A Bit : It's a good thing Vandy doesn't play Texas A&M this year.
For one, if the 'Dores let Jeff Driskell run for 177 yards, giving him Florida's single-game rushing record for a quarterback, besting His Tebowness, then the Aggies' Johnny Manziel would put up roughly a bazillion yards against this squishy 'Dore defense.
And second, those Aggies travel well and they make a heckuva lot of noise what with their humping it (SFW, I promise) and what-have-you.
If James Franklin was all fired up at his quiet fans against Florida, a Dudley Field full of Aggies would put hair back on his head.
"I’m not calling anybody out,” he said. “I’m educating, and I’m very appreciative of the fans, how they’ve been behind us since we’ve been here. But I want more. Just like they want more from me and our team, I want more from them.
“… The students, we need them. We have our challenges — only 6,800 [undergraduate] students here. Twenty percent of our students showing up is not the same as 20 percent of 50,000 like some of these other schools have. So we have our challenges and it's much better, but it can get better.”
For starters, he said the fans should be in their seats 45 minutes before kickoff to create a “buzz” early in the game. He also wants the noise to be deafening when opposing teams line up for a third down or is backed up in its own end zone.
“Third down, we need a homefield advantage like we face when we go into other teams’ stadiums,” he said. “Third down — the place is going crazy. Not one person sitting down. Not one person with their mouth closed. I don’t care if you’re 95. I don’t care if you’re four. You’re screaming like crazy for the ’Dores.”
In any case, the Gator fans who came to Nashville, helping Vandy to a sell-out, got their money's worth with a pretty standard Florida win over Vanderbilt: a 31-17 victory for the suddenly-good-again Boys From Old Florida — close, but not close enough, and never really in doubt.
Good News, Bad News : TSU's still undefeated and now has an interesting question to answer: Do they play their potential postseason game in The Hole or at LP Field?
Meanwhile, down in Murfreesboro, Middle Tennessee won at Florida International Airport and University, but lost running back Benny Cunningham for the year, just as he was emerging as one of the Fun Belt's most potent offensive forces.
Garbage Time : College basketball practice opened this week and Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings says he has a bunch of Smurfs and that no one is allowed to get hurt or sick. So. Should be a fun year at Memorial Gym. ... One NFL executive said Bud Adams is the NFL's worst owner. Adams responds. ... Vandy has apparently backed out of two future games with Northwestern and also, apparently, Ohio State.
Is This Official SouthComm Policy? : The new-ish SouthCommies at the Washington City Paper have decided to refer to the hometown Redskins as the "Pigskins," eschewing what is, ya know, a really offensive and outdated nickname.
In that spirit, I may start referring to Vanderbilt as the "Rear Admirals Lower Half" or, perhaps, "Captains In Charge of Multiple Units" (Wikipedia explains). The University of Tennessee will become either the "Backdoor Draftees" or the "I Need This For My College Application." The Titans? Barring anyone who finds the use of ancient Greek mythological figures offensive, they are OK. Just don't abbreviate.
Cy Young to Newbery Medal? : Nashville's R.A. Dickey has signed a three-book deal with Penguin imprint Dial.
The first book, to appear in fall 2013, will be an adaptation of his memoir “Wherever I Wind Up,” which chronicles Mr. Dickey’s unorthodox athletic career and sensitive subjects including the trauma of sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
That will be followed by two picture books. The first, slated for spring 2014, will be titled “Knuckleball Ned.” According to the publisher, the book, “a comic story of staying true to yourself through adversity,” is in the early stages and still awaiting an illustrator. The adaptation of Mr. Dickey’s memoir will be aimed at 8- to 12-year-old readers, according to Dial, and it’s “too soon to specify how much of his story” Mr. Dickey will tell in the new version.
The Week Ahead
Hot Wings and Hot Chicken : After 10 days off, the Titans head to New York's Queen City for a game against the Bills.
Like the rest of their AFC East brethren, Buffalo is a parity-perfect 3-3, even though Ryan Fitzpatrick is probably still their quarterback.
The Bills have managed this despite being outscored by 55 points this season — which would be good news, except the Titans have been outscored by 90.
Looks like wily vet Matt Hasselbeck will get the start for the injured Jake Locker, and if he can manage to manage as he did against Pittsburgh, the Titans could come out on top.
As always, there are defensive concerns (like, say, not giving up 30-some odd points), but the Two Toner offense is looking ever more potent with Chris Johnson occasionally running for positive yards (still no touchdowns though).
Weather's always a factor at Ralph Wilson Stadium, as Buffalo is currently under 14 feet of snow (this may not be true).
Worthless Prediction: Got a feeling on this one: Titans 28-17.
Snore Eagle: Vandy is sold out again Saturday, because for some reason Auburn fans want to watch Auburn. Or maybe they just want to come to a city that features better attractions than a Walmart by an interstate.
It's been a long time since a national champion has fallen so far so quickly, but the genius of Gene Chizik left with Gus Malzahn and Cam Newton. Vandy is actually favored in this game somehow and the jokes almost make themselves there.
Anyway, there's no reason why Vandy shouldn't win, the vanguard on a run of relatively easy games.
Worthless Prediction: Eh, why not? Vandy 21-10. Chizik eyes the Bowling Green State job lustily.
Is Fair Fair, Fehr?: Nashville will get a bit of a hockey fix this weekend, as the very minor league Knoxville IceBears and Huntsville Havoc play at Bridgestone Arena, bringing a level of play only seen at Fifth and Broad when the Blue Jackets visit.
It will hardly satiate the hockey-mad, but this week, possibilities of a full NHL season emerged with the owners' latest offer.
Not to wade too deep into the details which make the Duckworth-Lewis Method look like pre-algebra in comparison (the details of the NHL's proposal are here, if you're so inclined), but essentially the deal cuts the players' share of revenue to 50 percent from 57, but has no salary rollback (the players who will necessarily take a pay cut will still get the full value of their contract with "make good" payments later on) and contracts are capped at five years (and anything longer still counts on the cap even if a player retires).
That all seems well and good — 50/50 certainly seems fair and is in line with what the other pro sports league use.
The players are loath to give back money — and justifiably so — but no one really expected this offer from the NHL, coming as it did on the heels of a leak that the league was using Mr. Death Panels Frank Luntz to craft its message.
What the offer did was catch everyone off guard, and that changed the conversation. The players have been winning the PR battle for more than a month, and now the owners have put out an offer which could supposedly give fans what they want — 82 games, sooner rather than later. Everybody moved off center — and that's not bad.
And no one really expected the players to say, "Oh, sure. Good. OK, full-season? When do you want us in camp?" — although the predictable response of "Where was this offer in July?" is a silly thing to say, too.
What the players actually came back with was three — or four? — offers: a menu of options. And Gary Bettman turned his nose up at it.
The NHLPA is being judicious in releasing the details of these proposals, but the fact is, none were close enough to what the league offered to keep Bettman and his owners in the room very long.
Yahoo's Harrison Mooney (my apologies for the abhorrent Canadian spellings):
The players surprised the NHL with three offers. According to Bettman, none of them even began to approach the 50/50 revenue split of the NHL's most recent proposal.
One reason for that: the union wants all contracts honoured. In breaking down the latest breakdown in talks, Donald Fehr made specific mention of the deals signed this summer. "We'll get you to 50-50 but you have to agree to honor the contracts you have signed," he reportedly told Bettman.
According to Fehr, and in direct opposition to what Bettman told Barry Murphy, the players want to make a deal. Apparently, the owners don't. Fehr:
"The reason I say 'apparently they don't' is that after the proposal was made, they did what they have done before: they take very few minutes, they don't think about it, they don't analyze it, they don't talk to the other owners, they take less than 10 minutes... all three proposals are rejected in their entirety. And secondly, the proposal that we recently got is their best offer."
So where are we?
I'm not as dour as some. Deals get done when there are deadlines and it appears the next one is sometime next week. Let 'em beat their chests and go to the mattresses, so long as they get back to the table.
In the meantime, enjoy the IceBears, I guess.
Hit me with your emails at jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com and listen Tuesdays (a day when there might be hockey soon!) between 6 and 7 PM on 102.5 The Game.