The older I get, the more I seem to catch a good dose of cabin fever. After missing almost a week of school due to winter weather, our school system took another week off for "winter break". A few days in beautiful Charleston, S.C. helped, but I'm ready to go back to work. After struggling over what to write about today, I decided to mention several things that drew my attention this week.
First, some congratulations are in order for Ringgold High School and the girls' basketball squad. Under first year coach Margaret Stockburger, the Lady Tigers have improved from 0-22 a year ago, to 8-21 this season. That win total of a meager eight was highlighted by an upset win over Adairsville that placed Ringgold in the Georgia State Tournament. 8-21 and in the State Tournament; not bad at all for a team that lost to Northwest Whitfield 75-4 a season ago. Great job ladies!
It seems there may be some conflict brewing among SEC football coaches this year. There is a movement to create a rule that would allow defensive teams to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the forty second play clock. This would be a slap at fast paced offensive units, geared to get as many plays in as possible. Even though this is an off-year for rule changes in college football, a new rule that would promote player safety could be added. Among the coaches pushing for the new rule are Alabama's Nick Saban, who believes that up-tempo offenses cause more injuries because defensive players do not have time to get set. Among those against the rule is California's Sonny Dykes who said the movement is more about who wants to run college football, rather than player safety. (Ouch...take that Coach Saban)
Pitchers and catchers have reported to Major League Baseball spring training camps, with everyday players coming in by next week. The Atlanta Braves continue to spend money like they're the New York Yankees. Just this week they signed shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a five year deal, worth $58 million. Over a 17 day period, the Braves have signed players to $285.7 million in guaranteed money. The Braves are still one of the youngest and most talented teams in baseball, and they could win it all this season. Leading the parade was first baseman Freddie Freeman who signed a team record, five year, $135 million deal. Reliever Craig Kimbrel got four years and $42 million, while starting pitcher Julio Teheran picked up a contract for six years and $32.4 million. Jason Heyward signed a two year deal for $13.3 million. Even though they've already spent a lot of money, the Braves say they're finished yet.
College softball season is well underway as well as the college baseball campaigns. The Chattanooga Lady Mocs host the annual Frost Classic at Warner Park this weekend, with Tennessee Tech and Middle Tennessee State joining this year's field.
And finally, Associated Press writer Dave Campbell tells us, "This could be as good a time as there ever has been for an openly gay player in the NFL." Campbell is referring to the recent announcement by former Missouri defensive stand out Michael Sam, that he was gay. Sam is expected to be drafted in the first four rounds of this spring's NFL draft, becoming the first openly gay player in NFL history. With Sam's announcement coming way ahead of the draft, it gives the NFL a chance to make the "locker room" atmosphere ready. The league doesn't want another Miami Dolphins situation with a veteran player, (Ritchie Incognito) being written up for hazing a teammate. Now we must all wait and see which NFL team has the courage to draft Sam.
Come on spring!
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson, TN. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org