John Clay

SEC is finally getting the idea

John Clay
John Clay

Random notes:

■ Maybe, finally, the grid-crazed Southeastern Conference is beginning to pay attention to basketball.

Not that you like to see anyone lose their job, but Mark Gottfried's time had come at Alabama.

The Tide were headed to a third straight year without an NCAA bid. There was the mystery over Ronald Steele's sudden decision to shut down his college career. There was that embarrassing loss to Auburn before Bama couldn't beat visiting Kentucky last Saturday even though the Cats' Patrick Patterson spent most of the second half on the bench.

Who knows why the ax fell now, but at least league athletic directors are starting to raise the basketball bar.

A Final Four trip two years before couldn't save the erratic John Brady from getting pink-slipped in mid-season last year at Louisiana State. Georgia's Dennis Felton avoided a buyout last year when his Dogs miraculously won the SEC Tournament. He won't be so fortunate this time around. And the guess here is that Athletic Director Damon Evans won't wait until the season's final horn to deliver the news.

That strategy worked in football when Florida's Jeremy Foley fired Ron Zook so he could get right to wooing Urban Meyer to Gainesville. It worked last year when LSU let the world know it had an opening, one that lured Stanford Coach Trent Johnson to Baton Rouge.

Alabama can attract a good coach. Yes, football is king there. It will always be king there. But there are plenty of athletes in the area and enough crowd support to generate appealing conditions for a good, solid coach. And, let's be honest, it's not like the conference competition is all that tough. Not these days, anyway.

■ Hey, might Alabama alumnus Mike Davis be a good fit for the Tide?

■ Arizona is a nice underdog story, but the Steelers will deliver a crack-back blow to the Cinderella Cards come Super Bowl Sunday. Prediction: Pittsburgh 38, Arizona 14.

■ Bigger mystery will be the Bruce Springsteen song selection at halftime. My prediction: Working on a Dream, The Rising, and Born to Run.

■ In more than 25 years on the job, never been through a situation like last Saturday's in Tuscaloosa when Billy Gillispie and Ramon Harris did not come out for the second half of UK-Bama. In the end, have to agree with Harris' mother. Using the word "collapse" to describe what happened to Harris outside the Cats' locker room made the situation seem even scarier than it turned out to be.

■ Is there anyone in college basketball playing any better right now than Louisville's Terrence Williams?

■ Great stat: Oklahoma's Blake Griffin outrebounded Oklahoma State all by himself Monday night, 19-18.

■ One game you are Chandler Parsons, the Florida goat who missed the front end of a one-and-one that could have clinched the Gators' win at South Carolina, instead allowing the Gamecocks to triumph on a miracle play. The next game you are Chandler Parsons, the Florida star who makes seven of eight three-pointers and scores a career-high 27 points in the Gators' thumping of Vanderbilt.

■ Recession? What recession, says Tennessee, which could end up paying its new assistant football coaches a combined total of more than $5 million.

■ The Onion headline: "Oklahoma City waiting for NBA team to arrive."

■ And you thought Maryland's Gary Williams was sweating before now.

■ The fact that Kelvin Sampson is going to so quickly appeal his five-year NCAA suspension proves the former Indiana coach — now an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks — has no shame.