Shane: Everything but the kitchen sink

By Shane from Centerpoint

It’s June 21st, Father’s Day. In spite of the fact that I’m sitting on my deck protected by a roof and ceiling fan, it seems like one of the hottest days (to officially begin the summer) in Birmingham Alabama that I can remember. It’s so hot I can see the creosote boiling on the crossties that line my wife’s planter in the backyard. I’m sitting in my chair watching my Boxer Boom-r, who’s smart enough to be heading inside. I have no doubt that he’ll probably go stand over one of the outlet vents to super-cool himself. Anyway, heat like this mainly makes me think of two things: the beach and pre-season two-a-days.

Those of you who grew up in the South will fully understand the beach part. It’s a southern tradition that, at some point during the summer, Dad would reserve a week’s vacation to haul the family down for some “fun in the sun” on the Gulf Coast. To a young athlete like myself the greatest thing about the beach was the fact that, between the ocean and the pool, I was cool for an entire week.

The second thing that extremely hot temperatures like today remind me of is the fact that a very large group of young athletes across the south will be paying a tremendous price to prepare themselves mentally and physically to compete at college football’s highest level. Punishment of that type is a football player’s “right of passage”. The act itself is brutal, but the reward for paying the price comes in the form of victories on the gridiron.

In honor of Fathers Day, I raise my glass to all the fathers and sons out there who paid the price to play the game. That blazing inferno called a practice field has broken some of the best. After all is said and done, a summer afternoon practice in the Alabama sun will definitely separate the men from the boys.

While I’m on the subject of hot, I might as well turn up the heat on a few sports–related issues that have been on my mind.

Yes, Florida Gator head coach Urban Meyer has two national title belts around his waist, but it is beginning to look like the inmates are running the prison down in Gainesville. With a two-deep squad of arrestees, Meyer may be veering down a dangerous path. Parents of future players may become leery that Coach Meyer may be surrounding their young sons with a group of thugs. Along with extremely poor GPA’s, Urban’s perceived lack of team control may heavily damage the very thing that he does best – recruit.

Message to the entire SEC — enough of the whining and wailing about cheating! Everybody get a grip! There are enough great players for every team to be competitive. Besides, people outside the South are growing weary of the soap opera drama that goes with each story. Talk Radio loves it, but the man on the street wants to win it on the field. So do the coach and his players.

New Auburn Tiger head coach Gene Chizik has done a poor job of taking a leadership role since his arrival on the Plains. To this day the public face of the Auburn football program has been the Looper and Trooper Show – the one with the now–famous statewide “limo tour” and subsequent “toilet paper tossing event”. Seriously, at times Chizik almost gives me the impression that he is subordinate to his two assistants. The scary part to the Auburn faithful should be that neither assistant is ready to take on Nick Saban. I’m not sure Chizik is either. Actually, I’m still waiting for Chizik to make a major move.

I wish Tennessee’s fearless young head coach Lane Kiffin would just say what’s on his mind. Actually that’s really the main problem with this absolute clown. I tell you what, he’d better have a great staff and he’d better win games on the field because he has made a total mockery of the University of Tennesse’s legendary football program. In my “football” mind, only something like an SEC crown or a big BCS win by year two or three could wash away all the classless, sometimes childish perception of Volunteer football that Lane has created for the nation to see. Parents of future players should love this guy. We already know he can teach their sons how to lead the SEC in breaking the rules. So far it’s been really difficult to take this man seriously, mostly because he’s done nothing so far to deserve my respect.

Well, I’m about out of opinions for now, yet my original topic, the heat, is always going to be in overdrive when the Alabama sun shines all day in June. I don’t know how many days there are until kick-off, but I can sense that there are young players everywhere fighting this oppressive heat while trying to gain the “edge”. As for me personally, I’m going to follow my dog’s lead and step off this 94 degree porch into a 70 degree haven.
—Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.