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Of This and That


How about that? A Super Bowl that went down to the wire, sort of?

I kind of expected it. Why? When Cincinnati plays in a Super Bowl, it’s usually a close game. In both losses to San Francisco, the Bengals kept it within a touchdown. Ditto last night. Credit the Rams for the long drive to take the lead.

Generally speaking, however, the Super Bowls, which should be the NFL’s bell cow, have been duds. The first two weren’t close. Super Bowl 3, where Joe Namath guaranteed a victory for his AFL New York Jets over the established NFL Baltimore Colts was a decent game. A few years later, the Colts beat Dallas in Miami on a last-second field goal by rookie Jim O’Brien, but the game was a comedy of errors, essentially a stinker.

There were the two games between Pittsburgh and the Cowboys that were fairly close, both games being decided by four points. I recall Scott Norwood’s last-second missed field goal that propelled the New York Giants past the Buffalo Bills by one point.

Those, and perhaps a few more of them, were the exception, rather than the rule, which is curious because you’d figure the NFL’s “big game” would mostly be white-knucklers instead of games where you are flipping over the Masterpiece Theater by halftime. Why Masterpiece? Because there really isn’t anything else on during the Super Bowl.

Don’t look now, but the Tennessee Vols’ mens basketball team has won seven SEC games in a row after Saturday’s 73-64 victory over Vanderbilt. There are a lot of people bellyaching about how inconsistent this team is, how dry the offense has been, etc., etc., but this team, while puzzling at times, has a win over a top-five team in Arizona, beat North Carolina and, among their six losses, most have been to nationally-ranked teams.

This team’s offense has come to life lately and Josiah-Jordan James seems like a guy is playing like the five-star he was purported to be. He’s driving the bucket and taking charge. Zakai Ziegler, too, is coming on while Santiago Vescovi remains the rock he’s always been this season. This team has a huge challenge Tuesday night when it hosts Kentucky, a potential one-seed. Don’t forget top-ranked Auburn down the road. If Tennessee does make that run, it will have earned it.

District basketball tournaments are about to begin this week. I’m not a big fan of how splintered the districts are across West (and Middle) Tennessee are. Carroll County teams will be headed to Martin, Linden and McEwen for district basketball battles this year. Let’s face it, we’ve had it pretty good here in Carroll County. Many times, the district and regional tournaments were held at Huntingdon, West Carroll, or Bethel. When I was in Martin, teams had to go to Bruceton, Gibson County and Trenton. It could be worse. When I was in high school, we had to play a regional tournament game in Lewisburg. Folks, you can’t get there from here. There is good news, though. West Carroll hosts the Class A region this year.

I looked, with a curious eye, at the TSSAA’s new mandate where all football teams next season will play a Thursday night game. My knee jerk was, “why?” I know why most teams do it. Some schools have to share fields and so, to alleviate the traffic, they schedule games on Thursday night. Then I found out that they are doing this because of a shortage of officials. That’s a shame. Statistics show that retention among officials is low, largely because they don’t like they abuse they get from fans. Sure, booing the ref is a time-honored thing in sports, but the verbal abuse has gotten pretty bad lately. I hear it on the sidelines each week. Who in their right mind would want to put up with that? Folks, keep in mind these guys are people, just like you. They have good and bad days and they make mistakes. It’s not personal. I heard a commercial about sportsmanship and the officials the other day. The narrator says that we can’t have the stars without the stripes. Let’s hope it never comes to that. Keep that in mind as you cheer your team on in the post-season tournaments this year.

Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox, which airs from 4-6 p.m. CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB, 95.9 FM, Camden, Tenn.

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