JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: June 15, 2014

JOE BIDDLE: Alabama hands top-ranked Mississippi State its first loss (Image 1)

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Greg Zolman…

  • Texas A&M meets South Carolina on the football field this season for the first time since the Aggies joined the SEC.Both teams are predicted to land in the top 20 in preseason polls. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach gave his preseason view after spring games were played. He has South Carolina No. 10 and the Aggies at No. 14.

    Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin has been around South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier enough to gain some insight. And he smelled something fishy.

    “Coach Spurrier has been really quiet this summer,’’ Sumlin tweeted. “Which means that he thinks South Carolina is going to be really good.’’

  • For years I imagine a lot of us found Rick Reilly’s back page column in Sports Illustrated to be a must read. He was never dull, often unpredictable. Whether your agreed with Riles or not, you read it.He has announced he is leaving, but still doing some TV work. He says he is retiring from writing, taking time away from everything he has known to move to Dublin, Ireland. How long Reilly stays there is anyone’s guess.

    I got to know Rick over the years at sporting events we covered. For years we had a pickup basketball game at the Wheeler Road YMCA in Augusta, Ga. It was always on Saturday morning before we showered and went to cover the third round later that day.

    It was competitive, if not classic basketball. You did not want to run into golf writer’s Tim Rosaforte’s elbows. You avoided trying to go through one of his screens, unless your insurance policy was paid up.

    Reilly was younger than most of us. He was also quicker and feistier. The rest of us were just trying to run off the sins of Masters week.

    We first recognized Reilly had truly “made it,’’ in journalism when he showed up one year with his agent. He was hanging with a different crowd at Super Bowls and Final Fours. The rest of us were just a part of the herd.

    Reilly was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association’s Hall of Fame last week in Salisbury, N.C. It was well deserved and overdue.

    Riles stayed on top for years – made us laugh, made us cry, made us mad, made us react. If you compared him to a major league pitcher, he had the full compliment of pitches.

    I hope the rest of his life is just as fulfilling as it has been.

  • The Golden Nugget’s betting parlor has released opening odds on college football games.It predicts Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma being favored in every regular season games. Five teams will be underdogs in only one game. That would be Georgia, Baylor, BYU, Iowa and Michigan State.

    Alabama opens as a 6-point favorite against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Oklahoma is a 19-point favorite over Tennessee on Sept. 13. The Vols are seen as 17-point dogs to Georgia. Florida State is a 17-point favorite over Florida.

    Ole Miss is favored by nine over Boise State, which begs the question of what has happened to Boise State?

    Penn State Coach James Franklin’s team will be a 2½-point favorite over Central Florida in Dublin, Ireland.

    All those odds are subject to change late in the off-season.

  • It’s a sad day in Steelertown, after former Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Noll passed away Friday at his home. He was 82 and had been ill for some time.Noll won four Super Bowls and coached a number of NFL all-pros. He was not flashy or loud. He got good players and let them play the game.
  • The 39th annual Nashville Golf Classic was played Thursday at Hermitage GC, adding to the more than $1 million raised through the years for Special Olympics Tennessee.NGC President Barry Eldridge said Saturday that when the total figures are in, it should surpass the $20,000 check they gave to Special Olympics a year ago.

    “We always have a party the night before that is popular with our golfers,’’ Eldridge said. “Our tournament committee is all volunteers.’’

    They have already started planning to make the 40th annual tournament even more special. It is believed to be the longest running charity tournament of its kind.

  • Former Vanderbilt women’s golf coach Martha Richards has resigned as coach at Texas due to health concerns.The 45-year-old Richards was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 25. At 33, doctors discovered thyroid cancer.

    “I’m the poster child for going to the doctor,’’ Richards said in an article on the Texas website.

    The travel and stress of coaching an NCAA D-1 team was having an effect on her adrenal system. It prompted the former basketball player and golfer at Stanford decided it was time to go in another direction.

    That direction will be in the form as Vice-President of Business Development for BirdieFire, a golf statistics/live scoring/game management company based in Nashville. The company supports golf coaches and players at every level.

    She plans to live in Kansas City to be closer to family and friends, but said she will make several trips to Nashville during the year. Richards will attend the AJGA Tournament of Champions junior golf tournament to be held June 23-26 at Richland CC. She coached seven years at Vanderbilt, then another seven years as head coach at Texas.

  • Retired NFL quarterback Mark Brunell’s daughter, 22-year-old Caitlin Brunell, has been named Miss Alabama and will participate in the Miss American pageant in September.She beat out 47 other contestants to win Miss Alabama.

Former Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips’ stay as Florida’s wide receiver coach was short and evidently not so sweet.

Phillips resigned and reports are surfacing that it was because of alleged recruiting violations during a dead period. A picture of Phillips eating dinner with a high school recruit considering University of Miami popped on social media.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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