Posted 07/08/2011 at 05:56 PM
--One year ago today, we had The Decision by LeBron James. In honor of this fact, I plan to 'take my talents' to Bud & Ally's on Scenic Highway 30-A tonight. If I were a bookie, the 'over/under' on my Budweisers consumed would be 12 1/2 'over' (minus-130).
--Conference USA is going to be strong (for C-USA standards, that is) in 2011. Watch out for this Tulsa squad. The Golden Hurricane went 10-3 last year with one of those losses coming in Week 1 on a Hail Mary by East Carolina on the game's final play. The other defeats came at Oklahoma St. and at SMU (by three). Tulsa returns 10 starters on offense and eight on defense, but it is going through a coaching transition with Bill Blankenship replacing the departed Todd Graham, who is now at Pitt. The Golden Hurricane have two of the nation's best-kept secrets in quarterback G.J. Kinne and WR Damaris Johnson. Kinne, a transfer from Texas, had a 31/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio last season. Johnson, who might be the country's premier special-teams player, scored 13 touchdowns in 2010. He had seven rushing TDs and a 10.2 yards-per-carry average. Also, Johnson had 57 receptions and four TD grabs, in addition to a punt return and a kick return for TDs. Tulsa has three huge opportunities to pull upsets in September when it plays at Oklahoma in Week 1, vs. Okl-St. in Week 3 and at Boise St. on the smurf turf in Week 4. The Golden Hurricane gets SMU and Houston at home later in the year and doesn't have to play So. Miss unless they meet in the C-USA title game.
--As you attempt to pick the SEC East this year, keep in mind these factoids: South Carolina doesn't have to play LSU or Alabama and gets Florida at home. The Gators have to play 'Bama and LSU (in consecutive weeks!) and go to Columbia to meet the Gamecocks.
--According to a CBSSports.com report earlier today, Georgia RB Caleb King is going to be ineligible this season due to academics. With Washaun Ealey opting to transfer several months ago, the Dawgs will be without their two leading rushers from 2010. This will put added pressure on prize recruit Isaiah Crowell, who will most likely be the starter at the Ga. Dome when UGA takes on Boise St. on Sept. 3.
--Eight years after getting called up to the 'Bigs' and helping the Marlins win the 2003 World Series, Dontrelle Willis might be getting his last chance when takes the hill on Sunday for the Reds. Best of luck to 'D-Train.'
--I was thrilled to see that Butler and Gonzaga have agreed to a two-year contract for a home-and-home series on the hardwood. Butler will come to Spokane this year (12/20), while the 'Zags will visit Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2012.
--I was disappointed to see that Yao Ming is going to retire (per Yahoo! Sports report earlier today). I was hoping he could make a comeback from multiple foot surgeries like 'Big Z' did for the Cavs (but at a higher Yao-like level).
--Chael Sonnen is favored in his return to the Octagon this October.
--The sports world lost some studs this week, including Lorenzo Charles, Armen Gilliam, Neil Dougherty, Dick Williams and John Mackey. RIP to each.