Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Ron Zook..
Two of my best friends in the sports-writing fraternity were inducted into the Tennessee Sportswriters Association's Hall of Fame Thursday night at Cumberland University.
I have spent a lot of hours through the years with Ron Higgins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Sam Woolwine, former sports editor and golf writer extraordinaire for the Chattanooga News-Free Press.
Both were richly deserving of the honor, as was Marion Wilhoite, a staple at the Columbia Daily Herald. Wilhoite is a Maury County legend. He grew up on the Columbia Military Academy campus and never left Maury County, where he continues to chronicle all the local sports there.
Higgins was born to be a sportswriter. His father, the late Ace Higgins, was the sports information director at LSU and Ron grew up in a college sports environment. I consider him one of the top college sportswriters in the country, a former president of the College Football Writers Association of America.
Woolwine traveled a more circuitous route into the profession, from the hills of West Virginia, to a four-year hitch in the Air Force to Chattanooga.
He graciously showed me all the ropes while covering my first Masters tournament in the mid-80s and it was there, while sharing a house with other writers, we formed a lifetime friendship. Sam is in the state golf Hall of Fame.
These men are accomplished writers, columnists and people. For me it was the fun, camaraderie and experiences we had on the road while covering sporting events around the country that is most meaningful. We've played golf, pickup basketball, uncovered the best hole-in-the wall restaurants in the South and beyond.
It's great to see them receive the recognition they deserve while they are still living and can share the honor with their families.
I'm more than proud to call both of them my friend.
Penn State's reputation took a devastating blow when it was revealed in an extensive investigation into the sordid Jerry Sandusky case that the school's legendary football coach Joe Paterno was more culpable in the cover-up for Sandusky's child sexual predator acts than we had been led to believe.
There may not be a more honest man in college football than retired Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden, the second winningest coach in history behind Paterno.
But when Bowden publicly said last week he thinks Penn State should remove Paterno's statue in the football stadium, it spoke volumes of the situation.
Bowden doesn't want victories forfeited. His motive was to save Paterno's family and friends from having to see the statue and listen to TV broadcasters discuss the Sandusky case and spotlight Paterno's failure to stand up for the dozens of young boys that were harmed for life by Sandusky's despicable actions.
It would be like picking a scab off an old wound and Bowden correctly thinks the school should put the situation behind it as quickly as possible.
So, does Vanderbilt need an athletics director or not? For years, they trumpeted what an innovative and successful move it had been throughout college athletics to eliminate the athletics director position. Then-Chancellor Gordon Gee blew the horn for revision in college athletics, but when he was hired to lead Ohio State, Gee admitted the Vanderbilt model would not work for the Buckeyes. He would have been run out of Columbus by bringing such a hair-brained idea with him. To date, I know of no other school to adopt the no-AD formula.
Ah, ha, but now we are told that Vanderbilt indeed needs an AD and they tossed out the reason why was because they have become so successful in athletics. We were told by the old/new AD David Williams that Vanderbilt would never join the SEC arms race, yet they have been busy as beavers building and improving facilities that have long been ignored. The private school has been unfairly asking its students to compete on fields of play in the nation's premier conference.
You know by now the United States Olympics team uniforms were made in China. That figures.
They are by designer Ralph Lauren, you know, the Polo guy. That explains why a men's blazer for the Opening Ceremonies cost $795.
The USOC needs to come down off its high horse and take a strong swig of reality. Why should China benefit? Are we incapable in this country of producing an Olympics uniform for our athletes? I don't think China buys its Olympics uniforms from us.
And why do our athletes have to wear a dopey looking hat that makes them look like flight attendants?
Peyton Manning just purchased a home in the tony Denver suburb of Cherry Hills.
He forked over $4.75 million for the 16,464- square foot house that includes 10 bathrooms. Ten bathrooms? Perhaps Peyton might consider buying some Flomax.
Peyton's place pales in comparison to former Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan, whose house Peyton and his family have been living in. It is a 35,000-square foot crib.
Peyton's house also includes a panic room. Everyone knows Peyton never panics.
He is due $18 million this season as part of his five-year, $96 million contract with the Broncos. That should be enough to make the house payments, no?
Big Ben Davidson was one of the most feared defensive ends in the NFL during his 11-year career. With his menacing handlebar mustache, chiseled 6-foot-8 physique and long arms, the rugged Oakland Raiders star was regarded as the physical specimen of his era.
Davidson died last week at age 72. He had been battling prostate cancer.
He loved Harley-Davidson motorcycles and rode across the country as a TV pitchman for Miller Lite beer. He came through Nashville and visited our WTN sports talk show on a number of occasions and was a gentle giant off the football field.
O.J. Simpson had a birthday recently and late night comic David Letterman was quick to report on the affair.
"O.J. Simpson celebrated his birthday with some friends in prison and they had a nice little party for him,'' Letterman said.
"Out of habit, after he cut the cake, he hid the knife.''
R.A. Dickey was on the mound Saturday against the Atlanta Braves. The Nashville native and National League All-Star finished the first half with a 12-1 record with a 2.40 ERA and 123 strikeouts. He also has a 0.933 WHIP. That is walks plus hits, per innings pitched. The average is usually around 1.4.
His only loss this season came against the Braves and he left the game Saturday in the bottom of the fifth with his team trailing, 5-3. The Mets rallied to go ahead in the top of the sixth inning, rallying from a 5-3 deficit to take a 6-5 lead, taking Dickey off the hook for a loss.
The Braves rallied to take an 8-7 win, their 10th straight.
Dickey was on Letterman after the All-Star Game, throwing knucklers at Letterman.
"I feel like I'm at the circus,'' Dickey laughed.
As for the All-Star Game, Dickey said: "I felt like I was on stage in a Broadway musical. It was wild.''
ESPN baseball analyst Jayson Stark insists Dickey is not a half-season wonder.
"He had a Cy Young first half, but to me he's not just a guy who got hot in the first half of the season,'' Stark said. "He has already proven he is the real deal.''
A couple of local Tennessee football players could be in Coach Derek Dooley's doghouse, but Dooley is being tight-lipped about the whole situation.
Brentwood Academy product Alex Bullard and Eric Gordon, who prepped at Hillsboro High, have some work to do to get back in Dooley's good graces, but he is not revealing what, if anything, they did wrong.
Bullard is a redshirt junior offensive lineman while Gordon is a redshirt junior defensive back.
Both are expected to be present for fall practice.
Brandt Snedeker has not made the cut in his three British Open appearances. The Nashville pro has averaged 74.1 in six rounds before getting quick trips back across the pond.
He qualified in two categories this year after making the season's third major in 2008, 2009 and last year.