JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: March 2, 2014

Random ruminations wondering whatever happened to Doug Roth…

  • At long last the NFL combine has thankfully run its course.

    I know I have been able to sleep better knowing what Johnny Manziel's hand size is, how many times Antonio “Tiny'' Richardson can bench press 225 pounds, what everyone's vertical and standing long jump numbers are.

    I particularly enjoyed watching the offensive linemen run the required 40-yard sprint, or in their case, a 40-yard marathon. That is SO important, because you often see 300-plus pound offensive linemen sprint 40 yards to block someone or chase down a defensive back after an interception. Happens all the time.

    Players also provide pertinent scoop during lengthy interview sessions with coaches and general managers. It's where they find out a player's favorite color, what kind of tree he would prefer to be and why, and what songs are on his personal playlist. I understand on solid authority that the Titans culled any player who had a Justin Beiber song coming through his headphones.

    So what's next? Teams are lining up free agent targets, which players they covet, what holes they have to fill, what the price tag will be and how much cap space they have.

    We have to wait until May 8 for the annual draft. No wonder the NFL calendar is year around.

  • Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews went into the combine with reports that his lack of speed would drop him near the bottom of the top 10 projected receivers in the draft.

    He came away with his stock on the rise after running a 4.46 40. During the drills he looked fast and had some of the best hands on the field. I think the first priority is to catch the ball, then run.

    Some team is going to get a steal with Matthews. Not only was he the leading receiver in the SEC last season, he is one player a coach won't have to worry about after midnight. His character and maturity after staying in college four years makes him the complete package.

    You have to admire someone like Matthews who was a 2-star recruit on all the recruiting services and became Vanderbilt's career leading receiver in virtually every category.

    One NFL analyst said he particularly liked Matthews' “impressive route tree.''

  • Before this weekend's games, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had the SEC getting three teams in the NCAA Tournament.

    As it stands now, I think the SEC is Florida alone at the top with a 1-seed. Kentucky makes the tournament (Lunardi has them a 5-seed) but is too inconsistent to go deep in the field. Lunardi has Arkansas having some work to do to crash the party.

    Lunardi currently has Tennessee in a play-in game against Providence. Some of the other mediocre SEC teams could sneak in provided they get to the SEC Tournament Championship Game. The winner gets an 11-seed and plays 6-seed Texas.

    Lunardi said on ESPN that the Vols “need to run the table and avoid a bad loss in the SEC Tournament,'' to get in the NCAA field.

    Other Lunardi projections see Belmont and MTSU winning their conference tournaments and getting 13-seeds.

  • Goodpasture's Macy Reece was one of four area students to receive a Brandt and Mandy Snedeker Scholarship at last week's Pepsi Celebration of Champions ceremony.

    Macy was MVP of her District, Region and State tournament and an All-State player. She is headed to Auburn to play volleyball.

    Vanderbilt fans will remember Macy's father, Steve Reece, who played basketball for the Commodores and later coached basketball at Goodpasture, where he had former Kentucky player Ron Mercer, Vanderbilt's Drew Maddux and Sam Howard.

    Other Snedeker scholarship winners were Mt. Juliet's soccer and cross-country star Charles Earles; Beech High basketball and football star Parker Henry; St. Cecilia Academy's Emily Peters, who was all-state in cross country four times and a former state champion.

  • Belmont basketball coach Rick Byrd and MTSU's longtime track and field coach Dean Hayes took home well deserved awards at the Celebration of Champions.

    Byrd was named Sports Person of the Year. His team was playing a road game at the same time he was winning the award. Byrd sent a taped video acceptance speech. If there is a more honest and humble college basketball coach in the game than Rick Byrd, I would be shocked.

    Hayes won the Fred Russell Lifetime Achievement Award, for his 49 years as MTSU's track and field coach. He has coached four national champions, won 30 conference coach of the year awards, won 47 conference titles and is members of six Hall of Fames, including the Illinois and Tennessee state sports hall of fames and the Blue Raider Hall of Fame.

  • Well at least Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Richie Incognito has found a new outlet for his bullying self.

    Police were called to his house after Incognito allegedly took a baseball bat to his black Ferrari, putting a number of dents on the hood.

    Since he broke no law, there were no charges filed. Shortly after that it was reported Incognito has turned himself into a treatment facility. Obviously, he is a troubled soul.

  • Ensworth's boys basketball team tied a state record Saturday night at Lipscomb's Allen Arena when they defeated Memphis University School, 57-46.

    It marked the school's fourth straight state championship, matching that of Brentwood Academy's from 2003-06. 

    Senior guard Andrew Fleming was MVP with a game high 26 points in the title game. He played 28 minutes, was 5 of 14 from the field, 0 for 4 from the 3-point line. He was deadly at the free throw line making 16 of 22. He also grabbed six rebounds.

    Ensworth lost seven games early in the season before its football players joined the team. After that they only lost four games, finishing 19-11. D'Andre Ferby, who was the Tigers leading running back, added 14 points and was also All-Tournament with Jordan Bone.

    I don't know how much longer Ricky Bowers will coach both football and basketball at the school. There's no reason why he can't keep it going.

  • Will veteran QB Michael Vick be wearing green this time next season? Probably, but it might be the Jets green instead of the Eagles. Vick isn't getting any younger and over the past three seasons he has thrown 35 TD passes.

    That sounds good, but he also had 38 turnovers – 27 picks and 11 lost fumbles.

    • Former Pope John Paul II High School/Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate is a free agent and he hopes to remain in Seattle. As always, money will be the deciding factor.

        “I did the tough part, and that's performing on the field,” he said. “And hopefully I can call Seattle home for a few more years. … But we will see. Only time will tell.”

      • The NFL Network canned analyst Darren Sharper and my question is, what took them so long?
      • Sharper has now been charged with raping two women last year in New Orleans. He has also facing seven felonies in Los Angeles related to cases in which he was accused of drugging and raping two women he met in nightclubs.

        There are other investigations involving Sharper in Arizona, Florida and Nevada. He is being held without bail in LA.

        The 38-year-old former Pro Bowl better sharpen up his defensive skills. He's going to need them.

      Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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