My new year’s resolution was to stop writing columns criticizing local journalists. I realize it’s repetitive and, to some, annoying.
But this morning I decided to check out the most recent Tiger Basketball podcast at the Commercial Appeal.
There’s always next year.
One might have assumed that columnist Geoff Calkins would go easy on Tubby Smith’s squad after they reeled off wins in 4 of their past 5 games and appear to be making some headway on the recruiting trail.
We all know the perils of making assumptions.
Less than 3 minutes into the recording, Calkins made it obvious that when it comes to the topic of Tiger hoops, he remains slightly unhinged.
Here are some of his hot, dare I say fevered, takes:
On the team itself, which currently sits at 13-7 (4-3) and in 4th place in the AAC: “The team sucks.”
This comment was offered in a broader context about why attendance is down, but it’s still jarringly negative.
On Tubby Smith’s attitude regarding attendance: “You’d think the frigging head coach would be interested in promoting the program. He doesn’t give a flip.”
For the record, Tubby Smith appeared on AM 560 this week to promote the upcoming game. He appears on that station fairly regularly from what I can tell (most of the time I’m busy at my day job and co-hosting @The1pmShow on AM 730).
Calkins on Jamal Johnson, the true freshman guard who has been in recent 3-pt slump (2-13), but had been shooting .324 from distance going into last week, including 6 in one game and 4 in another: “The worst shooter.”
Wrong, and mean to boot.
On what he seemingly hopes will happen after the upcoming game against highly ranked Cincinnati: “If this goes badly, it could be a psychological turning point for the fan base.”
For a long time I argued that I think Geoff wanted Tiger basketball to succeed. I no longer believe that. I now think he’s got too much invested in Tubby Smith’s failure.
On the University distributing 2,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN tickets at no charge to the recipient: “They’re stuffing the ballot box.”
Funny, I don’t remember Geoff ever accusing the Grizzlies of “stuffing the ballot box” for distributing free tickets, something the professional franchise does regularly.
In fact, the Grizzlies hang banners (Marc’s entourage, Chandler’s Charms) to celebrate giving away free tickets!
Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN happens to be a sponsor (probably not for free) of the Tiger program and was the presenting sponsor of the UConn game, which was played during the night of an ice storm. Smith thanked the company for helping provide the tickets for the Cincinnati game during his appearance on AM 560 this week.
And hey, the University has to do something to combat the hysterical, biased, fevered coverage they’re getting from the guys at the Grizzlies flagship radio station.
Calkins did offer some optimism at the end of the podcast: “The year has not been a disaster.”
You could almost hear the disappointment in his voice.