JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: May 1, 2016

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Akili Smith . . .

TUNSIL A DOLPHIN: Is Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil the next Pacman Jones? We shall see. You put a first round pick with a lot of money on South Beach and it could be a recipe for disaster.

The Ole Miss player could have been the first one or two college players picked in this year’s draft. Instead a Twitter picture of him smoking weed while wearing a gas mask, coupled with his admission that he had taken money from Ole Miss coaches, took its toll on in the draft.

He could have dropped down more notches than No. 13 when the Dolphins called his name. Needless to say Tunsil comes in with baggage and more questions about his past, not to mention questions about his future lifestyle.

Tunsil has the tools to become a dominant left tackle. It’s all up to him.

 

RAMSEY A JAG: Brentwood Academy and Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey was taken No. 5 by Jacksonville.

While it leaves the Smyrna native in the state where he played high school football, a source at the Nashville Fire Department told me his first choice was to be a Cowboy.

Instead Dallas took Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott with the No. 4 pick of the draft.

The source said Ramsey really wanted to go to the Cowboys, that they were his team growing up and he thought they would take him.

Ramsey’s father is stationed at the Nashville fire hall on Harding Place next to the Metro Police Station South Precinct. He is a captain.   

 

 VANDY WALL: There are now two pictures to be painted on the West End building You Greek Me Greek.

Former men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings picture spot was still vacant the last time I passed it.

This past week, they will have to take women’s coach Melanie Balcomb off the wall and paint her replacement.

Balcomb said she resigned. I say she had the choice to either resign or get fired.

I often have claimed Stallings and Balcomb under-achieved, especially when it came to post-season tournament success. AD David Williams took his time, but finally came to the same conclusion.

Women’s basketball should be an annual national contender simply because it is an easier place to get academically qualified women basketball players than it is with the men.

 

SI COVER BOY: I can’t remember whether Sports Illustrated has had a sportswriter or sportscaster on its cover in its history.

But this week’s cover boy is sportscaster Craig Sager, known more for his dapper attire doing sideline NBA game reports for TNT, than his talent as a play-by-play or color analyst. His role is a perfect fit.

Sager is currently fighting for his life, as chronicled by the well-written SI story by Vanderbilt graduate Lee Jenkins.

Sager was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014. It’s been a long fight, helped in spades by support from his NBA family of coaches, players and others.

He knows the halls and rooms at MD Anderson Center in Houston by heart.

The former Northwestern cheerleader/aka Willie the Wildcat has earned names because of his outlandish, colorful clothing combinations.

 

Kevin Garnett drew comparisons to Sager with a Christmas ornament. He reminded Phil Jackson of a Good Humor Man and Charles Barkley as a pimp.

But most of all, Sager is a fighter. Against the odds he is determined to beat the disease.

He is not alone in the media world in fighting deadly diseases. NFL reporter Chris Mortensen is battling throat cancer and got a call from Peyton Manning telling him Peyton was going to retire and asking him to sit on the story for a day, which Mort did.

ESPN’s NFL reporter Ed Werder has been through years of cancer attacking not only his daughter Christie, but also her husband, who lost his battle with colon cancer in March.

They have notoriety due to their jobs. But none rely more on their threads to help them become a household name, than Sager.

 

TUBBY A TIGER:  On the surface, it seems an unlikely match. Memphis signed former Kentucky and Texas Tech Coach Tubby Smith to replace Josh Pastner.

Smith will be 65 this summer, hardly among the youngest coaches in the biz age group.

Tubby signed a five-year contract, with no rollovers in it.

If he’s smart, and that he is, Smith should hire former Tiger great Anfernee “Penny’’ Hardaway as his top assistant.

Hardaway finished this past season with a 32-2 record and Memphis East’s seventh state title. Hardaway is from Memphis. He is Memphis basketball.

It would be a perfect place for Penny to fit in as an assistant and take over when Smith decides to retire.

There has been no news as to that will happen, but it would be a win-win situation for both men and the Tigers program. It’s no secret Tubby dislikes recruiting, especially the AAU basketball scene.

Penny coaches his own travel team in the summer. He and Tubby would be a great combination and bring back the glory days of Memphis basketball.

 

Joe Biddle is a WKRN sports columnist. He is a member of the Tennessee Sports Writers Hall of Fame and can be reached at joebiddle11@gmail.com

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