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Swampland Sports Six-Pack for the week ending 8/19/07

Posted: Aug 21, 2007

Your weekly filter for the top sports stories around the South

1. Although college athletics has become (mega) big business, there are a few reminders every now and then that it’s still a game for ‘kids’ and that the best coaches tend to be good ‘teachers’. Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl recently took his team to the Czech Republic and Austria to play against international competition, but also to learn history. The players were even required to give reports on what they learned to an accompanying history professor from the University. The most moving part of the trip was when Pearl and the Vols toured the Terezin Concentration Camp in the Czech Republic. Pearl wrote about his family history and what this experience meant to him in a wonderful piece for the Knoxville News Sentinel. The lesson he taught his players about freedom will be more valuable than any lesson on zone defense or passing the ball.

2. With a new coach and a more experienced Tony Romo, optimism is running high in Texas regarding the Cowboys. Dallas has been very solid (mandatory warning that the preseason never means that much) in beating Indy and Denver by double digits. Romo has looked very comfortable in leading an efficient offense while the Wade Phillips’ designed defense would appear ready for a huge year. The Cowboys seem happy to be led by the less strict Phillips instead of the old-school Bill Parcells. The key to the Dallas season may be how much the lesser amount of discipline affects their onfield performance. If Phillips can keep his team focused, the ‘Boys will definitely be a favorite to win the NFC along with the Saints and Bears.

3. A team in our area with a little less optimism would be the Miami Dolphins. This storied franchise, which has had such a stronghold on the fans of South Florida for so long, seems to have slipped greatly in recent years. From passing on signing Drew Brees to not drafting Brady Quinn to the many coaching changes, the Dolphins have been a rudderless ship. The key to this season (and next) will be if new coach Cam Cameron and new QB Trent Green can resuscitate a struggling offense before their aging defensive leaders (Thomas, Taylor, Holliday) become less effective. With an improving AFC East, this task looks to be extremely difficult for Cameron and crew.

4. With the college football season only two weeks away, we’re reminded that fans all over America will be pulling for Virginia Tech this season. The team will definitely serve as a rallying point for the community that was struck by tragedy last April. Maybe secondary to their meaning in the western part of Virginia is the fact that this Hokie squad is the ACC favorite and could contend for the National Title. With one of the best defenses in the country and a workhorse running back in Branden Ore, the key to Virginia Tech competing for the BCS will be the play of quarterback Sean Glennon. He was developing into a decent starter last season before his nightmarish Chick-fil-A Bowl when he committed turnovers on 4 consecutive possessions in the 4th quarter, and Georgia came back to win. How Glennon responds this season could be the difference in Virginia Tech having a National Championship season

5. You will notice an interesting rule change in college football this season when the kickoffs are moved back to the 30-yard line. This change was seemingly made to create more excitement for the fans, and many coaches think it will dramatically change the game. While I like the idea of more exciting plays within a game, many critics believe this rule change will cause more injuries and adversely affect the game. It seems to me that if the ball is kicked off from the 30-yard line to the other 5-yard line, it’s the same as if the ball was kicked to the goal line under the old rules. Consequently, I don’t see the problem and think it’s good for the fans, who are asked to pay more and more each year, to see more excitement in the game they love.

6. A couple of pieces of good golf news happened last week in North Carolina. Tiger Woods announced he will design his first American course in the beautiful mountains near Asheville. What a big score for the western part of Carolina and its economy. Having a pitchman like Tiger will pay huge dividends for golf in that region. Additionally, Nashville native and former Vanderbilt golfer Brandt Snedeker got his first PGA tour victory by winning The Wyndham Championship in Greensboro. Look for big things in the future from Snedeker who has already won over $2.5 million in his rookie campaign.


Patrick Snow

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