JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: Dec. 22, 2013

 Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Samari Rolle …

  • Belmont played an impressive first half Saturday, but Kentucky's inside advantage and Belmont's failure to keep pace from the 3-point line resulted in a 93-80 loss at Rupp Arena Saturday.

    Coach Rick Byrd's team saw Kentucky go ahead for the first time in the game, 50-48, early in the second half and the Cats cruised to the win.

    The Bruins were hitting their 3's in the first half, but Kentucky turned up the defensive heat after that and freshman Julius Randle led UK with a career high 29 points, 10 rebounds while Willie Cauley-Stein added 16 points and seven rebounds. Belmont was beaten on the boards by a 42-25 margin.

    Belmont sophomore Craig Bradshaw had 22 points on 8 of 19 from the floor. He added five assists and only one turnover. Drew Winder chipped in with 21 points, six rebounds. He was five for nine from beyond the 3-point line. Evan Bradds had 12 points off the bench.

  • According to Real Time RPI's website, the SEC is ranked sixth in the country. The Big 12 is first, followed by the Big Ten. The Atlantic Sun is No. 26 followed by the Ohio Valley Conference.

    Florida is ranked No. 17 through their first 10 games and they are No. 35 on strength of schedule. LSU is No. 20 with a SOS number of 30.

    Missouri (24), Kentucky (36) are the only two SEC teams in the top 40. Arkansas is No. 60, Vanderbilt is No. 78 with Tennessee No. 95.

  • Today's game featuring the 5-9 Titans and the 4-10 Jaguars may not mean much to most NFL fans, but with third year Titans Coach Mike Munchak's future on the line, that should be enough to motivate the Titans to go all out on the field.

    Other points as to why the Titans should be inspired to play: They would get their first AFC South victory for the season. They could prove to CEO/President Tommy Smith they have not thrown in the towel. They could earn payback for the Jaguars beating them at LP Field when the Jags were 0-8. And Titans players on the fence for the future have a chance to improve their stock.

  • College football players strive to be invited to play in a bowl game.

    But how thrilled do you think that Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette were when they accepted an invitation to the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bow?

    It was played in the Superdome Saturday. It is the home field for the Tulane Green Wave during the regular season. And putting a second Louisiana team in the bowl game doesn't add to its credibility.

  • Peyton Manning is a worthy winner of Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year honor.

    What impressed me the most was how Manning treats the equipment guys and other staff personnel on his team. He still stays in touch with the Colts staff and has a strong relationship with those in Denver who are rarely recognized.

    Peyton is also a serial note writer, according to SI writer Lee Jenkins, who wrote the lead story in the magazine. He still remembers the letters he got from some coaches when he got recruited. Bobby Bowden was one. Most of then sent the usual form letters with a stamped signature.

    Manning writes coaches and players who have retired, including widows of coaches and player who pass on. Jenkins writes that Peyton writes his children every six months without fail. When teammate Brandon Stokely's father died, he got a hand-written note from Peyton. Stokley got another thank-you note after he had stayed at Stokley's house.

    He responds to strangers that write him. He writes kids battling cancer and a 63-year-old Indiana man frightened by impending neck-fusion surgery, the same procedure that Manning endured.

    Peyton gives most of us thoughtless males a bad reputation. No wonder countless numbers of parents have named their sons Peyton.

    Sportsman of the Year? Hands down.

  • It's still hard to believe that one of my all-time favorite Tennessee basketball players died last week.

    Dyron Nix died of natural causes at the age of 46. He died at his home in Stone Mountain, Ga.

    Nix became a crowd favorite with his athleticism and energy he brought to the game. He played from 1985-89 and led the SEC in scoring (22.2 points a game) in 1987-88. The 6-7 forward finished eighth in career points (1,877). He was fourth in career blocks (142) and double-doubles (34).

    The current Vols players need to get some film on Nix and learn from it. He was tough, physical and skilled. Nix loved competition. He played high school ball in Fort Walton Beach, also home of Florida's Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel.

  • Pete Rose saw what Yankees free agent Robinson Canoe got from the Mariners and looked at it this way. Yes, Canoe agent Jay Z got Canoe a 10-year, $240 million payday, but Rose pointed out there is a catch.

    “Jay Z got him a big raise, but he got him an extra 30-day vacation – and it's called October.''

  • I think the NFL is going overboard on protecting its players. You can't hit opposing quarterbacks helmet-to-helmet, despite the fact that the QBs sometimes lower their head, causing the illegal hit.

    The same goes for running backs and defenseless wide receivers. Now they are going to protect punters through the play.

    I agree that many punters do not look or play as physical as other players. But I remember a San Diego punter named Darren Bennett, who was playing Australian Rules Football in his home country. He and his wife honeymooned in California and Bennett set up a tryout with Chargers GM  Bobby Beathard.

    He was supposed to also visit the 49ers, but after watching Bennett send American footballs into orbit, he signed Bennett that day. Bennett would scoff at a rule protecting punters. He was a muscular 6-5, 235-pounder who delighted in racing downfield and flattening a punt returner.

    He played in 159 NFL games and is in the Chargers Hall of Fame.

    Fair to say Darren Bennett gave more punishment than he received.

    Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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