JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: Feb. 28, 2016

SEC College Sports Generic

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to “Tiny’’ Archibald . . .

TOURNAMENT TIME: Basketball is a tournament sport, whether we are talking about high school or college hoops. If you have never been to the high school state tournament in Murfreesboro, I would suggest you carve out some time and attend a session or more.

And we will have the OVC Tournament at Municipal Auditorium with Rick Byrd’s Belmont Bruins trying to get the automatic bid into the Final Four field. If they lose in their conference tournament, only the winner goes to the Big Dance.

We also have the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena, which always draws a large contingent of fans from across the 14-team conference.

The champion gets an automatic bid and I think this tournament is as wide open as it has been in recent years. That means Kentucky is not an automatic as they have been most years.

Bracketologist Joe Lunardi had projected six SEC teams to make the tournament, but with some recent losses, he has narrowed it down to five teams. That could change as some teams can still get hot and play their way in. That’s what makes that format exciting.

If you haven’t been to the tournament, hang around outside the ‘Stone and tickets will be available for reasonable prices as teams get eliminated. If Kentucky loses, you can bet on thousands of tickets being for sale.

I remember one year in Birmingham, the Big Blue got upset and it looked like the Daytona 500 on I-65 North to see who made it back to their Old Kentucky home first.

CULTURE WAR: There has been a huge interest in what has been going on in Knoxville with a Title IX federal lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee. It is centered around some football players charged with sexual assault and rapes.

An unusual press conference held by 15 head coaches of men’s and women’s sports espoused solidarity for fighting what is perceived as a culture gone wrong on the Hill.

No one in the media knows all the facts, but it seems since a Florida State female got a huge financial settlement with the school over a case involving Heisman winner Jameis Winston, it has prompted more Tennessee co-eds to come forth with similar charges.

STRONG IN TROUBLE:  It’s not only college athletes under the spotlight when it comes to sexual charges. Coaches are not immune.

Texas football coach Charlie Strong, who came really close to taking the Tennessee job, avoided being involved in a divorce case in Louisville, where he formerly coached.

Louisville trustee Jonathan Blue had filed divorce papers on wife Tracy Blue, citing his wife’s behavior “inconsistent with being a role model and responsible caretaker’’ for the couple’s children.

In other words, Blue charged that his wife was having an affair with Strong and asked for copies of Strong’s e-mails, texts and other correspondence with Tracy Blue.

There were charges she had bought him clothes and an expensive watch, but the couple settled the divorce before Strong was subpoenaed.

Don’t think rival coaches won’t use that information against Strong in recruiting. He had one of the top recruiting classes in the country this year, but has underachieved expectations since replacing Mack Brown in Austin.

WILT THE MAN: Former Kentucky star Anthony Davis plays for a small market team that struggles to compete with top NBA teams.

But the New Orleans Pelicans forward put up a 50-point, 20-rebound game recently. Those are huge numbers under the circumstances.

The late Wilt Chamberlain averaged those numbers for a season one year. Now that is impressive.

NO EXCUSE: I was shocked to see former Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck was charged with driving while intoxicated after his vehicle hit a pole and went into some trees.

Bulluck told the officer he had two beers. I bet that was the first time the officer ever heard that.

Bulluck should have been smart enough to call a taxi, a Uber ride, a limo even.

He had just gone to a father-daughter dance at a local high school a couple of nights before his arrest. His actions were not an example for young people to follow.

PRAYERS WANTED: Former Nashville Kats and Arena League star Darryl Hammond is still fighting ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

He is currently in Intensive Care and needs prayers. He was an Ironman in the Arena League, but ALS takes no prisoners.

SHINY PENNY: Former Belmont basketball star Brian “Penny’’ Collins has been named National Junior College Athletic Association’s District 7 Coach of the Year.

The Columbia State coach’s record is 54-11 and he has been in the national tournament the last two years.

He is ready to go to the next level and it will be sooner rather than later.

OH, HENRY: Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry is a freak. He put up measurements and numbers at the NFL Combine that defy odds.

The 6-2-foot 5/8 inches running back weighed in at 247 pounds. He ran a 4.52 seconds 40-yard sprint and had a 37-inch standing vertical. He broad-jumped 10 feet-10 inches.

He had almost identical numbers that Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller had at his Combine, and Miller is a linebacker/defensive end.

LINE OF THE DAY:  The best line to come out of the NFL Combine came from Ohio State linebacker and projected top 3 pick Joey Sosa.

The Ohio State product heard the most bizarre question. “Will you put pressure on your future son to be a first round pick?’’

Sosa’s answer topped the question.

“I got to marry a tall, athletic girl and breed football players I guess,’’ he said. “Oh, man. I never thought about that.’’

Joe Biddle is a Sports Columnist. He is a member of the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame and Sports Columnist for the Banner and Tennessean for 31 years. Contact him at     

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