JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: April 10, 2016

Former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is under fire already, going into his third season at the Big Ten school. (Photo: WKRN)

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Bob May . . .

MASTERS WEEK: During a 25-years or more span of being a sports columnist for the Nashville Banner and Tennessean, I was privileged to cover my favorite two sporting events on back-to-back weeks every year.

First were the Final Four games, located in various locations. Second was the Masters, located in the most beautiful spot in the United States, maybe the World. It is Augusta, Ga., home of the Masters.

For years I would come home after Monday night’s NCAA Championship Game, leave behind my winter clothes and pack my golf clothes. I always packed some foul weather gear for Augusta. The weather there had a mind of its own.

I was there when Jack Nicklaus scorched the back nine on Sunday to win his final green jacket at age 46, the oldest person ever to win the first major of the year. Golf Channel will have a Nicklaus documentary on his historic round at 9 p.m. Monday.

I was there in 1997 when Tiger Woods lapped the field with a record 18-under par performance, leaving the rest of the field with no chance to win on Sunday. It was one of Tiger’s finest tournaments in the majors.

I was there when Nashvillian Brandt Snedeker held the lead after an eagle on the par-5 second hole Sunday. That was until he dumped his tee shot in a fairway bunker on the short par-4 third hole. It was up against the lip of the bunker. It was the start of a nightmare round that took him out of contention. Snedeker’s post-game interview was touching. He tried to hold back tears, to no avail. When he was finished in the media room, the media gave him a loud ovation, some of them standing. It was the only time I witnessed that during all those years.

This week they are battling strong swirling winds. It is expected to die down for the final round Sunday. Whoever is the last one standing has earned the green jacket.


FINAL ROUND: Longtime veteran Tom Watson played his final Masters round Friday, missing the cut. Watson was emotional because he knew he would not play another competitive round here.

“It was a dream,’’ Watson said.

This is a place where dreams come alive, and also where dreams die.

Watson is a great historian of the game. He recognized Friday that it was the late Seve Ballesteros’ birthday. Seve was one of the most popular European golfers to play the Masters.


FRANKLIN TRIPS AGAIN: Penn State fans are wondering what football coach James Franklin is going to mess up next.

The former Vanderbilt coach is under fire already, going into his third season at the Big Ten school.

He chose for his program’s motto for this year: “No Talent Required.’’

Huh? Did that mean the fraternity boys could dress out on game days?

Franklin quickly deleted his tweet, but not before ESPN Big Ten reporter Josh Moyer saw it and reported it.

Moyer thinks Franklin blocked him on Twitter. C’mon James. You can’t be that dumb. Franklin must have been having a Vanderbilt flashback.

Myer later reported that Franklin blocked him on Twitter.

I’m not convinced Franklin will finish his first contract at Penn State.


MEMPHIS COACH SHOPPING: Memphis coach Josh Pastner cut ties with the Tigers and accepted the Georgia Tech offer to take over the Yellow Jackets program.

MTSU coach Kermit Davis was one of the first names to surface on the Memphis list.

They have had preliminary meetings, but no word on how serious either side is. At the best Kermit will get hired there. At the worst, MTSU should re-work his contract to avoid other schools from coming after him.

Beating 2-seed Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament was enough to beef up his credentials.


CORY BATEY GUILTY:  Former Ensworth and Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey was found guilty in the highly publicized retrial charging four Vanderbilt players with raping a Vanderbilt co-ed who was a member of the Commodores dance team.

Batey, who played at Ensworth before coming to Vanderbilt, was found guilty of aggravated rape, two counts of attempted aggravated rape, facilitation of aggravated rape and three counts of aggravated of sexual battery.

Aggravated rape calls for 15-25 years in prison. Sentencing is set for May 20. Former Vanderbilt tight end Brandon Vandenburg will undergo his second trial as will “Tip’’ McKenzie.

This is the darkest eye cast on Vanderbilt athletics that I have seen since arriving in Nashville in November, 1979.

I heard Batey turned down a 13-year offer from the prosecution. He may regret that. I see him getting the full time. What he did to the defendant was inhumane.


LOCALS AT AUGUSTA: Two Tennesseans fared well in the 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt contest for young golfers. They competed at Augusta National.

Knoxville’s Alyssa Montgomery won the 14-15 girls age group with 26.5 points.

Gallatin’s Kynadie Adams finished No. 8 in her age group of 12-13. She had 13 points, getting six points in both the drive and chip contests. She only got one point in the putting contest.


AMEN KILLER: Can I get an Amen? Augusta’s famed Amen Corner reared its ugly head on the leaders Saturday.

Halfway leader Jordan Spieth doubled No. 11. So did Rory McIlroy.

Spieth gained back a stroke on the Par-3 12th hole with a birdie putt. Both players struggled on the Par-5 No. 13, but scrambled for pars.

Spieth’s drive on No. 18 was wide right, in the trees and pine straw. He punched out through some trees and left himself a long putt to the hole located in the back of the green.  He came up short and left with a double bogey six. That left him a one-stroke lead over Smylie Kaufman, a LSU grad who was born and lives in Alabama. He turned pro in 2014.


Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Writers Hall of Fame. Contact him at

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