▪ The NFL has voted to shave five minutes off overtime games. The league says the change is being made for player safety. If the NFL really cared about player safety, it would put an end to Thursday Night Football.
▪ Ten days away from the Belmont Stakes, it appears that Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee are the only two horses that will run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
▪ Only in Nashville do the fans throw a catfish on the ice during the Stanley Cup finals. It’s a Southern thing.
▪ Bryce Harper managed a pretty good punch to the face of Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland after charging the mound on Monday. Harper objected to being hit by a pitch. Strickland got in a decent shot, as well. Afterward, however, the late, great Warren Zevon would agree that Harper’s “hair was perfect.”
▪ The Bengals gave up 17 points on Monday night. Oh, sorry, that was the Reds.
▪ I admit to feeling kind of sorry for Tiger Woods.
▪ Street and Smith’s College Football Yearbook preseason preview is back. It replaces the Sporting News’ College Football Yearbook. Picked one up this week. It picks Kentucky to finish fifth in the SEC East.
▪ After going 8-5, Kirby Smart called his first year as Georgia’s football coach “disappointing.” In Mark Stoops’ fourth year, Kentucky took a major step forward and finished 7-6.
▪ Speaking of Georgia, Yante Maten’s decision to pull out of the draft and return to the Bulldogs is another plus not just for head coach Mark Fox but also for SEC basketball.
▪ If you missed it, former Owensboro Apollo star Eli Wright is transferring from Mississippi State. He averaged 3.5 points in 30 games as a freshman last season.
▪ The SEC Spring Meetings have started in Destin, which reminds me of the time I tried to make a joke in print about league presidents and athletic directors parasailing, working on their tans and having a wonderful time on the university’s dime in Florida. C.M. Newton didn’t think it was funny and told me so when I called him for comment on an unrelated story. Then, C.M. being C.M., he answered my questions.
▪ Cris Collinsworth tweet from Tuesday: “100 days until the start of football season!”
▪ There will be another Blackmon at Indiana. Vijay Blackmon, son of former UK guard James Blackmon and brother of former Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr., is joining Archie Miller’s Hoosiers as a walk-on.
▪ There have been plenty of great tributes written to Frank Deford, the legendary Sports Illustrated writer who passed away Monday at the age of 78. None is greater than Alexander Wolff’s remembrance on SI.com.
I grew up reading Sports Illustrated. Deford, Wolff, Curry Kirkpatrick, Paul Zimmerman, Gary Smith, Rick Reilly and many other great SI writers were among the reasons I wanted to get into the business.
My path crossed Deford’s on two occasions, first when I was writing a story on the 25th anniversary of the famous Kentucky-Texas Western NCAA Tournament finals in 1966. Deford covered the game for SI. I called him hoping to get his thoughts. I interrupted dinner with his family. He said he would call me back. That doesn’t always happen. It did with Deford, who could not have been more kind or helpful.
The second time came several years ago when Deford came to Lexington to give a talk at Keeneland. First, he was to come to the Herald-Leader to speak to the staff. I was assigned with picking him up at the Hilton downtown and bringing him to the paper. I did, and as we chatted on the way to Midland Avenue, I couldn’t help thinking one thing.
Wow, the great Frank Deford is actually riding in my car.