Because no battle is ever won, he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools. - William Faulker, “The Sound and the Fury”
That was written by Mississippi’s “greatest author,” who I also thought was kind of overrated. Which, it turns out, could easily apply on multiple levels to the Ole Miss football team. On a national stage and with a No. 4 ranking, the Rebels completely imploded, falling 16-10 at South Carolina last night. It may or may not be true that no battle is ever won, but for Ole Miss, this one was certainly lost.
Mainly it was lost for two reasons: QB Jevan Snead had a miserable game, going 7 for 21 for 107 yards while being pressured by the Gamecocks’ defense all night. And Houston Nutt’s game plan reminded you of why he was barely a .500 coach with a backfield of Felix Jones and Darren McFadden at Arkansas. Nutt seemed unable to accept that the passing game just wasn’t working, and waited until the fourth quarter to turn to running back Dexter McLuster. He ran for 68 yards in the final quarter, but by then it was too little, too late.
So how much credit should we give Steve Spurrier now? After all, it was the biggest home victory in South Carolina’s 116-year history (which says as much about their general ineptitude as a program as anything else), and the Gamecocks are likely to be in the Top 25 next week. At the same time, Ole Miss was overrated - we all knew it - and it was just a matter of time before someone exposed them. Was South Carolina just in the right place at the right time to take advantage of Ole Miss throwing up all over themselves?
We can also debate about how overrated Danica Patrick is as well - both as a race car driver and in terms of her hotness. Personally, I think she’s a bit of a “two-face” who sometimes looks like the most attractive transsexual of all time. But she’ll pose in a bikini at the drop of a checkered flag, which I guess is better than seeing Tony Kanaan in the SI Swimsuit Issue.
So for all of the hubbub about her making a switch to NASCAR in recent weeks, it’s pretty anticlimactic that the INDIANAPOLIS STAR is reporting that she’s decided to stay in IRL, signing a three-year contract extension with Andretti Green Racing. To be fair to Patrick, she did show much more consistency this season - she’s currently fifth in series points, and she’s even shown improvement on the road courses where she’s always struggled.
Perhaps within the next three years she’ll achieve her dream of winning the Indy 500, and the media will slavishly declare her the greatest female driver of all time while Shirley Muldowney sits in a quiet room, watching “Heart Like a Wheel” on a constant loop while plotting Patrick’s death.
Finally, you have to consider Raiders’ QB JaMarcus Russell overrated since he was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft a few years ago. But anyone who has watched him play over the last few seasons would have a hard time calling him “overrated” since you would have to draw one conclusion: he sucks at being a quarterback, even if he can throw the ball 200 yards while laying flat on his back. (I may be exaggerating here.)
But here’s the scary part: according to Oakland passing game coordinator Ted Tollner, he’s exactly getting worse. Tollner admitted this to the media at practice, which means that either: the team is officially sick of Russell’s awfulness (including a 35.2 completion rating this season) and used Tollner as the messenger; or Tollner is speaking out of turn, and is going to have a meeting this morning with head coach Tom Cable’s right fist.
“We’re working through trying to get a confidence level with everybody involved from routes, from his footwork, his decision-making, the protection and all of it right has left us all extremely disappointed because it’s very easy to pick one guy,” Tollner said of Russell, the Raiders’ third-year quarterback and a former No. 1 overall draft pick who completed only 7 of 24 passes for 109 yards in a Week 2, 13-10 victory at Kansas City.
“It never is quite that way. It’s a package of things. For his position, when you’re playing as poorly as we did last week, a lot of it falls on the quarterback. That’s what happens in the game.”
Of course, the most amazing part of this story is that Ted Tollner is a coach with the Raiders. Before I read this story, I thought that he had died a few years ago. Then I remembered that I was mixing him up with another failed former USC head coach, but doesn’t change the fact that he’s hardly the bright, innovative mind that has been thriving in the NFL. Then again, this is the Raiders: if Tollner wasn’t running a bed and breakfast last season, he’s got a step up on previous assistant coaches. Remember, Chiefs fans: this team beat you last weekend.
- If you’re a Kansas City Royal and you manage to get yourself tossed from a game on the bench, isn’t that somehow a win for you? I mean, it’s pretty much a free pass to head back to the clubhouse and take a nap. Hopefully, Zack Greinke and manager Trey Hillman enjoyed their sleepy time while the rest of the team slogged through a 10-3 loss to the Red Sox.
- Hey, did you know that there’s a heavyweight title fight this weekend in Los Angeles? I forgot, and I’m a boxing fan living in Los Angeles. But for the eight people who haven’t given up on the heavyweight division, here’s a profile of Vitali Klitschko, who is fighting Chris Arreola for the title and is the only non-bum in the whole division.
- Talk about adding insult to injury - literally. The NFL has fined Steelers’ safety Tyrone Carter $5,000 for a hit against Bears’ tight end Greg Olsen that left him with a bruised thigh.
- Chicago Cubs fans: you might have seen the last of free agent pitcher Rich Harden after he decided to shut his season down early with fatigue in his right shoulder. Something tells me you won’t be getting all choked up about this.
- The trouble continues for the Binghamton basketball team, known around some parts as “UNLV East.” After having one player flee to Serbia after leaving a guy in a coma during a bar fight and another arrested for stealing condoms from a Wal-Mart, now starting point guard Emanuel Mayben has been charged with selling 3.4 grams of crack cocaine. Another day in the rough and tumble world of the America East Conference.
- The Arizona Cardinals announced that they have sold out their home game this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, leaving the Raiders and the Lions as the two teams whose home games are scheduled to be blacked out this week. Which is probably for the best for everyone.
- A youth baseball coach in New Jersey is trying to avoid jail time after he headbutted a rival coach during the post-game handshakes. Something tells me this wasn’t a dispute over who was going to pay to take the two teams to Chuck E. Cheese’s.
- A man in Wichita has been arrested in connection with a burglary at a sports bar that included autographed Babe Ruth baseballs and a Mickey Mantle rookie card. It’s fair to say that the cops have “grilled” him about the case. See, because it’s a sports bar, and they “grill” food…never mind.
- Australian Rules Football is always good for a bit of violent off-the-field comedy, but this latest story is a doozy: Michael Hurley, a star player for the Essendon Bombers, was arrested on Friday morning and charged with assault after allegedly kicking a cab driver in the groin after fleeing on a fare. Remind me never to go to Australia.
- Lindsay Lohan is going to be hosting a series of concerts this weekend in conjunction with the Formula One race in Singapore. Again, let the words “Lindsay Lohan” and “Singapore” rattle around in your brain as you conceive of the variety of ways that this story ends with her getting caned by authorities.