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SEC Headlines 2/5/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Recruiting success at Texas A&M: “The question now isn’t whether A&M is the top destination in Texas, it’s, “How did the Aggies get there?”

2.  Recruits don’t have to sign today.  And they don’t have to sign a National Letter of Intent to play football.

3. ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill: “In this day and age, the likelihood that a prospect will actually play for a position coach, coordinator or coach on the staff that recruited them for a span of three to five years is minimal.”

4. “If you think it was torture watching your son play in high school, it doesn’t compare to college.”

5. Point – former Rivals owner and current 247Sports CEO Shannon Terry: “I believe the recruiting industry has hit a bubble.” Counterpoint - Rivals.com crashes this morning - “insane traffic.”

6. Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer on talent in the Volunteer State.  “I think high school football in Tennessee in general has continued to get better and better, and Nashville and Middle Tennessee in particular, because of population.”

7. “The nagging question: even if (Gary) Pinkel’s recruiting is good enough to win the 2013 SEC East, will it be to win future editions of the SEC East?” Pinkel’s Missouri program makes further inroads in the Southeast this year.

8. Who will be Arkansas’ defensive coordinator  next season? ”Coach B told me that he was getting close to finding his guy.”

9. Razorbacks director of recruiting Chris Hauser: “Our philosophy is, you always have to recruit to what you believe in and the type of culture you want to create in your program.”

10. Florida safety Cody Riggs reportedly transferring. Started every game in 2013.

11. Western Georgia has signed former Mississippi State defensive lineman Quay Evans.

12. Lane Kiffin talks to Sports Illustrated about his first impressions of the Alabama program: ”It’s an absolute machine from when you step into that building until you walk out at the end of the night.”

SEC Basketball

13. Is Kentucky really the “most overanalyzed team I’ve ever seen in the history of the game, at any level, in any sport”?

14. Junior Jordan Green has developed into a leader for Texas A&M.

15. A streak breaks tonight.  A&M has lost five straight.  Mississippi State has yet to win a road game.

16. Alabama travels to Arkansas tonight. Both teams have lost two straight.

17. South Carolina hosts a surging Auburn team.  Tigers have won two in a row in conference play for the first time since the beginning of last year’s conference slate.

18. Tennessee-Vanderbilt won’t be televised tonight.

19. Our earlier roundup of Tuesday night SEC hoops.

Extra

20. Charles Barkley on Seattle breaking Denver’s codes in the Super Bowl: ”I went to Auburn. We’re not breaking a lot of codes down there.”

21. Flashback to 2007. Russell Wilson was a 2-star recruit.  Top-rated QB was Jimmy Clausen.

22. NFL strikes a deal with CBS for Thursday Night Football.

23. Want to go to Sochi for the Winter Olympics?  Check out these pictures of hotel rooms that are not exactly ready. But they do have a Putin picture in every room.

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Alabama’s Saban Not Thrilled With Question About McCarron, SI Cover

gfx - they said itNick Saban isn’t the world’s best soundbite when it comes to press conferences and media sessions.  In fact, he can be so prickly that reporters have to worry about setting him off.  He’s prone to blow a gasket over small or downright odd issues.

Yesterday’s meeting with the media provided a perfect example.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.  A reporter said he had two questions for Saban regarding that cover.  The first, “How does AJ look as a cover boy?” led Saban to interrupt… and make an ass of himself:

 

“Well, first of all, obviously, do you think I sit around all day looking at magazines or what?  I don’t even know what you’re talking about.  I mean, you ask a question every week that I don’t know anything about.  You need to come here and walk around and follow me around for like a week.  I haven’t seen a newspaper today.  I don’t know what’s happening in the world.  I watch The Weather Channel, alright, for 10 minutes in the morning while I have a cup of coffee so I know what the weather’s gonna be so we can practice inside or outside.  Alright, other than that… so I really can’t answer your question ’cause I have no knowledge of any of it.  I’m happy for AJ and I’m sure he looks great, but…”

 

Saban then belittled the reporter further by making fun of another question he’d asked, “like that’s all I’ve got to worry about.”

(Quick sidenote: Alabama fans can stop reading now.  Saban could slap a priest and Bama fans would say the priest was asking for it.  So Tide fans are not going to like the rest of this.  Best depart this post now.)

Saban is the best coach of our age and perhaps any other age as well.  He’s unmatched.  He’s driven.  He’s a perfectionist.  But he can also be a bully.

A reporter asked him a question about his star player being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  It was a silly little throw-away question, yes.  But coaches get those kind of questions all the time.  Most would know when their quarterback is on the cover of Sports Illustrated (and you can bet a man as controlling as Saban knew it about McCarron as well.)  Some coaches would have played along with such a question.  How do you think Mark Richt or Steve Spurrier would have answered, for example?  Some — who didn’t appreciate the question — would have still said, “I haven’t seen it yet.”  Only Saban would go out of his way to mock the guy asking the question.

That’s bullying.  He does it because as coach — even as a 60-something, 5-9 coach — no reporter is supposed to talk about.  The guys with the mics have to just eat it lest Saban and Alabama punish them or their paper or their station or their website by cutting access.  Personally, I think reporters should treat coaches as they themselves are treated.  If a coach is a jackass, a reporter isn’t legally bound to take it.  The coach is just a guy.  He just happens to have a million-dollar profession.  The reporter should’ve said, “There’s no need for you to be a jerk about it.”

If Saban were Joe Blow and he talked that way to someone on the street he’d likely eat a fist.  Because he’s on a riser behind a podium, well, that makes him special.  “You can’t be ugly back!  He’s the coach!”  Please.

As for Saban’s, “You should follow me around for a week” remark, the guy asking the question should have interrupted the coach and asked what time he should arrive each day.  Hey, the coach offered.  Take him up on it in front of everyone.

With so much media out there, guys are scraping for different angles and soundbites.  The McCarron question was completely harmless.  Silly, but harmless.  Saban could have brushed it off and moved on.  Instead, he chose to mock the guy’s question.  The reporter certainly showed more class in not telling Saban to sit and spin than Saban did with rambling, dismissive response.

Terrific coach.  But a jerk when he wants to be.

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SEC Headlines 11/20/2013

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Is Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron one of the best ever?  Sports Illustrated asks the question.

2. Does Johnny Manziel become the Heisman favorite if A&M wins its last two games?

3. Last time Texas A&M traveled to LSU was 1994. Tiger Stadium had 12,000 fewer seats back then.

4. LSU’s Jerald Hawkins and A&M’s Gavin Stansbury have been rivals since high school.

5. Aggies defensive coordinator Mark Snyder on coach Kevin Sumlin: “He’s a little bit like Justin Bieber when he goes out in Houston.”

6.  Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze on Missouri: “There are really no weaknesses in this Missouri squad.”

7. Does Missouri feel the pressure of having to win out to win the SEC East?  Gary Pinkel: “I will be really disappointed if we put all those kind of pressures on ourselves.” If the Tigers do pull it off, Pinkel will have some bonus money coming his way.

8. Kansas City Star on Missouri’s quarterbacks: “As well as Mauk played, he wasn’t consistently better than Franklin. There’s simply no debating that.” MrSEC: “Pinkel is wise to go back to Franklin…Playing Mauk could create a lot more troubles than it’s worth.”

9. As a player and coach, Steve Spurrier has been to six Sugar Bowls.  South Carolina has a shot at its first.

10. Why shouldn’t Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley be in the Heisman discussion?

11. Headline: “Tide not looking past Chattanooga to the Iron Bowl.”  Of course not, they’re only a 49-point favorite.

12. Of all the Georgia gut-wrenching losses since 1981 - which one tops the list?

13. Name of the play that beat Georgia Saturday?  Auburn coach Gus Malzhan calls it “Little Rock.”

14. Georgia took a late lead Saturday against Auburn on an Aaron Murray touchdown. Auburn linebacker Jake Holland believes he stopped him short of the goal line.

15. Murray doesn’t think Dee Ford’s game-ending hit Saturday deserved a targeting call.  His coach is not so sure.

16. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops on the Georgia QB:  ”Murray’s just a very special quarterback.”

17. Mark Richt says no black jerseys for Georgia Saturday against Kentucky.

18. Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels on wide receiver Jordan Matthews: “I don’t see any weaknesses.”

19. Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney on turnovers: “It’s been our Achilles’ heel all season.” Mississippi State’s defense has seven takeaways the last two games.

20. Progress for the offense at Florida?  Gators scored a first-half touchdown against South Carolina for the first time in five games.

21. Will either Florida or Mississippi State make a bowl this season?  MrSEC’s Josh Ward is among those with an opinion.

Practice/Injury Reports

22. Neither Jadeveon Clowney nor running back Mike Davis practiced Tuesday for South Carolina.  Clowney has bone spurs  in his foot.  Davis has an ankle injury.

23. The extent of Austyn Carta-Samuel’s leg injury is unknown but the Vandy QB says he’s ready to go: “There is nothing that is going to carry over into the Tennessee game that we have to worry about from my perspective.”

24. Arkansas cornerback Will Hines could be back in the starting lineup Saturday against Missisippi State. Hoping to return from a broken wrist suffered against Florida back in October.

SEC Basketball

25. No broken bones or ligament damage for Florida point guard Kasey Hill.

26. Auburn forward Chris Griffin taking indefinite leave from the team - personal family issue.

27. Suspended Texas A&M guard J-Mychal Reese will return to the lineup Sunday.

28. Our roundup of Tuesday night SEC hoops.

College Football/NCAA 

29. Two former Vanderbilt players sue the NCAA over concussions.

30. Time for the NCAA to review its concussion policy?

31. Any publicity is good publicity apparently.  Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy on the Sports Illustrated expose: “I think it helped us in recruiting.”

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Report: UA Staff Member Provided Impermissible Benefits To Clinton-Dix

mrsec-breaking-newsSuspended Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix received impermissible benefits from assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris, according to a report from TideSports.com.

Harris, who has been placed on administrative leave, was also found to have a connection to a representative of a sports agent, according to the report. From TideSports:

Harris made a short-term loan to Clinton-Dix in an amount less than $500 at some point in the summer, an apparent violation of NCAA Bylaw 16.11.2.2, which states that “an institutional employee or representative of the institution’s athletics interests may not provide a student-athlete with extra benefits or services, including, but not limited to … a loan of money.” Clinton-Dix has provided bank records to UA athletic compliance department representatives that show a withdrawal in the amount he said he repaid to Harris, TideSports.com has learned.

Alabama coach Nick Saban announced Wednesday that Clinton-Dix has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

“I don’t know for how long this will be, so don’t ask me that either,” Saban said.

Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated doesn’t expect the suspension of Clinton-Dix to last long. But that might not be the biggest concern for Alabama.

 

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Former Tennessee Running Back Arian Foster: “My Senior Year, I Was Getting Money On The Side”

Arian Foster TennesseeFormer Tennessee running back Arian Foster admits he took money his senior year in college.  In an interview for an upcoming documentary, he’s unapologetic about it, saying  ”you’re not going to convince me that there is something wrong with it,” and calls student-athletes “employees.”

According to Sports Illustrated, here’s a portion of what Foster said in the course of a four-hour interview.  

 

I don’t know if this will throw us into an NCAA investigation — my senior year, I was getting money on the side. I really didn’t have any money. I had to either pay the rent or buy some food. I remember the feeling of like, ‘Man, be careful.’ But there’s nothing wrong with it. And you’re not going to convince me that there is something wrong with it.

“There were plenty of times where throughout the month I didn’t have enough for food. Our stadium had like 107,000 seats; 107,000 people buying a ticket to come watch us play. It’s tough just like knowing that, being aware of that. We had just won and I had a good game, 100 yards or whatever You go outside and there’s hundreds of kids waiting for you. You’re signing autographs, taking pictures, whatever.

“Then I walk back, and reality sets in. I go to my dorm room, open my fridge, and there’s nothing in my fridge. Hold up, man. What just happened? Why don’t I have anything to show for what I just did? There was a point where we had no food, no money, so I called my coach and I said, ‘Coach, we don’t have no food. We don’t have no money. We’re hungry. Either you give us some food, or I’m gonna go do something stupid.’ He came down and he brought like 50 tacos for like four or five of us. Which is an NCAA violation. [laughs] But then, the next day I walk up to the facility and I see my coach pull up in a brand new Lexus. Beautiful.”

“I’m a firm believer that an employee should get paid for his work. And, 100 percent, I see student athletes as employees. Hiding from it is just cowardly.”

 

Foster’s comments come as part of the documentary called Schooled: The Price Of College Sports. It will premiere October 16 on Epix.

Foster’s senior year was 2008 – coach Phillip Fulmer’s last season in Knoxville.  Foster went undrafted in the 2009 NFL draft and signed as a free agent with the Houston Texans.

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LSU Coach Les Miles Talks Kent State & Oklahoma State Stories

On The SEC coaches conference call, LSU’s Les Miles is asked about the Oklahoma State stories published by Sports Illustrated. Miles also previews the Kent State game.

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SI.com Hits LSU’s Miles For Deemphasizing Academics At Oklahoma State

les-miles-pointsThey said, he said.

SI.com has released the second installment in its week-long expose of the Oklahoma State football program.  Second verse, same as the first.

Once again there’s quite a bit of focus on the Les Miles era in Stillwater.  And once again, Miles doesn’t hold up well under the microscope.

Among Sports Illustrated’s allegations:

 

*  Miles deemphasized academics during his tenure at OSU.  According to SI.com, “13 Cowboys who played between 2000 and ’11 told SI that they participated in some form of academic misconduct, and 16 others were named by teammates as also having had schoolwork done for them.”

*  One former OSU player, Fath’ Carter, said, “The goal was not to educate but to get them the passing grades they needed to keep playing.  That’s the only thing it was about.”

*  Carter also said the Miles brought in players who were “lesser students” and “things had to be put in place to help them.”

*  More damning, one academic adviser tossed Miles under the bus (a school bus in this case):  “There was never pressure (to cheat), but Miles was like most coaches who want to be somewhere else.  They’re going to do what they need to do for two or three years, and they’re not going to have to deal with whatever the fallout is.  So, no, he didn’t promote academics.”

 

Quite naturally, Miles denied the accusations.  “I always said, and I always meant, that academics was the most important thing.”  OK, but the coach did admit to telling his team, “Academics first,” while holding up two fingers and “Football second,” while holding up a single finger.  According to the coach he did that just once in “a moment of humor.”

As SI’s drip-by-drip, water torture of the coach continues, it’s doubtful Miles is feeling many moments of humor these days.

In Miles defense, a number of former Oklahoma State players came forward to rip the piece.  The snitches who told their stories to SI.com’s writers are being quickly discredited as well.  The Tulsa World claims: “of the 12 former players either pointed fingers or admitted guilt, nine either were kicked out of school, dismissed from the program, transferred for playing time issues or just quit.  Of those, several had criminal records.”

The never over-the-top Jason Whitlock has also come forward to eviscerate former colleague Thayer Evans, one of the co-writers of SI’s Oklahoma State piece.  Yesterday, Whitlock had this to say to Oklahoma City radio station WWLS-FM 98.1:

 

“Having worked with Thayer Evans at Fox Sports, having followed his work for some time, I am completely and utterly flabbergasted that a legitimate new outlet would allow Thayer Evans to be involved in some type of investigative piece on college football that tears down a program, and particularly one that tears down Oklahoma State when it is no secret what a huge, enormous, gigantic Oklahoma homer Thayer Evans is.  This is just incredible.  Knowing the lack of competence that’s there with Thayer Evans, knowing the level of simplemindedness that’s there with Thayer Evans, to base any part of the story on his reportign is mind-boggling…

When I learned Thayer Evans was involved, I just said, there’s no way I’ll read this because there’s no reason to trust this reporter on anything of any substance…

He’s simpleminded.  He’s a hack that can’t write.  This isn’t personal, I promise.  I have no reason to dislike Thayer Evans personally, and I don’t.  But I’ve read enough of his work (and) this guy isn’t qualified for this job and by now Sports Illustrated and anybody else should be well aware of this…

Let me end by saying this and I honestly mean this without malice.  It wouldn’t shock me if Thayer Evans couldn’t spell “cat” and I say (that) in all seriousness.”

 

Um, yeah.  That’s doesn’t sound personal at all.

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Sports Illustrated To Detail Alleged Cheating At Oklahoma State… Dating Back To The Les Miles Era

les-miles-osu-hatOh, great.  Another potential scandal.

In case you missed it over the weekend, The Oklahoman newspaper reports that an upcoming Sports Illustrated report “will detail a wide range of corruption in the Oklahoma State football program dating back to the Les Miles era.”  The report states that SI will allege academic fraud, players being paid by assistant coaches or overpaid for work by boosters, as well as “an OSU hostess program that provided sex for recruits.”

Wait.  What?  You mean colleges have large hostess groups — not host groups, mind you — in order to use sex to lure in recruits?  Shocking.

Sports Illustrated’s report will come in series form and is scheduled to being “within a few days.”  That way Oklahoma State and LSU fans will get to experience day after day of misery, rather than getting it all over with at once.

OSU president Burns Hargis — how come no college president is ever named Rocko or Big Tony… it’s always a Burns or a Porter — released the following statement:

 

“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims.  We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action.  We do not condone or tolerate improper conduct in our athletic programs.  OSU requires everyone affiliated with the university to follow the rules and adhere to the highest ethical standards.”

 

The Oklahoman also reports:

 

*  OSU has been told that 85% of the alleged events took place between 2001 and 2007.  (The NCAA’s statute of limitations is four years.)

*  Sports Illustrated told the school that there are no eligibility or NCAA concerns regarding current staff or players.

*  West Virginia University has already launched its own investigation into Mountaineer assistant coach Joe DeForest who will be accused of running a bounty/bonus program.  DeForest is in his second year at WVU.

 

Miles responded to a question about the piece on Saturday saying:

 

“I don’t know of any improprieties while I was the coach there.  I can tell you this: We have always done things right.  I really enjoyed my time at Oklahoma State.  I felt like I met a lot of wonderful people and we made our football team better.  We worked hard.  It has never been a place where you needed to cheat to have success.”

 

Yes, because recruits take one look around Stillwater and then mutter to themselves dumbstruck, “Heaven.”

Miles was the coach at OSU from 2001 to 2004.  While it doesn’t appear that any NCAA sanctions will befall the Cowboy program, Miles could find NCAA investigators paying a bit more attention to his Tiger program moving forward.

But if this one goes as all other scandals go, we can already predict the next few steps.  Miles will again deny any improprieties (likely using words, phrases or sentence structures that no one else in the 21st century uses).  Eventually he’ll choke off the story by saying he’s already answered questions on the topic.  LSU fans will claim that Sports Illustrated is nothing more than a tabloid with poor investigative journalists and an itch to damage Miles and the LSU program.  We’ll write about the story on MrSEC.com when it comes out and Tiger fans will attack us for even mentioning it (as it will prove that we’re part of the media cabal that’s working overtime to take down the Bayou Bengals).

And then some other school or player will named as part of another scandal, at which point we’ll all repeat this cycle.

As noted above — Oh, great.  Another potential scandal.

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NCAA Prez Under Fire For Losing Unwinnable Game

Penn State Abuse EmmertTalk about your thankless jobs.

With so many people worried about the heat members of the new college football playoff selection committee will take, there’s already an important figure in collegiate sports who’s got it far worse than any playoff panelist — NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Emmert took the reigns of the NCAA more than two years ago.  Today he’s been riddled with more bullets (verbal in nature) than Sonny Corleone at a tollbooth.  Coaches don’t like the NCAA because its rulebook is too thick.  Fans don’t like the NCAA because the organization is basically the police force of college sports and if their favorite school is cheating in some way, well, they don’t want them to get caught.  Media members attack the NCAA because that’s just what we do.  We look at big organizations and attempt to critique them, often in unfair ways.

And if happen to be the poor sap who’s agreed to sit atop the NCAA’s org chart — as Emmert has — then you’re the guy that coaches, fans and media members will target most often.

This week, Sports Illustrated is running a lengthy story on the overall failure of Emmert to reform the NCAA during his tenure.  (Of course, when he’s attempted to actually reform the rulebook, the changes have all been ixnayed after the fact by coaches and athletic directors who were not consulted).  Among the many negative reviews of Emmert and his team from SI.com:

 

“In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as the ‘King of the Press Conference.’  That’s not a compliment.”

“A portrait emerged of a (enforcement) department battered by turnover, afraid of lawsuits and overwhelmed by scandal.  One ex-enforcement official told SI, ‘The time is ripe to cheat.  There’s no policing going on.’”

“When talking to a dozen college officials to get a pulse on Emmert, many struggled to answer the question, ‘What has he actually accomplished so far in his tenure?’  Even the harsh sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ($60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four years) has painted Emmert in a bad light after he went on a television tour, which some perceived as a victory lap, to talk about the unprecedented action by the NCAA.”

“The NCAA failed to pass most of the initiatives Emmert has trumpeted.  Many agreed with the ideals behind Emmert’s ambitious agenda, including trying to give scholarship athletes a small amount of money to cover the full cost of school, and paring down the rulebook.  But the lack of results have highlighted the growing schism between have and have-nots in Division I and further polarized the athletic directors who feel largely ignored and highlighted how out-of-touch Emmert is with his constituents.”

 

Yikes.  It goes on from there and it gets no prettier.

Not to be outdone, The Sporting News put in some calls of its own to further pile on the easy-target NCAA president:

 

“Why does embattled president Mark Emmert still have a job?  The reason could be this simple: Firing Emmert could do more harm than good.  ‘If you force him out, you’re essentially telling everyone he has failed,’ one NCAA (university) president told Sporting News.  ‘When you’re dealing with (litigation), it’s not prudent to admit failure at the highest office.’”

*  “‘He is incapable of looking in the mirror and figuring out that he could be the problem,’ one administrator of a BCS school told Sporting News.  ‘A leader with a personality like that, it affects everyone he manages and it affects the way the organization is run.’”

 

The real problem might just be that reforming the NCAA is a goal that cannot be accomplished, a game that can’t be won.  Sci-fi heads, think “Kobayashi Maru,” the ultimate no-win scenario.

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Musberger Inks A Poster Of McCarron’s Girlfriend

Say this for ABC/ESPN broadcaster Brent Musberger: He seems to have a pretty good sense of humor.  After being dragged over some unnecessary coals for his “wow, she’s pretty” moment during Alabama’s BCS Championship Game win over Notre Dame, the announcer took the time to sign a poster featuring Katherine Webb — Tide quarterback AJ McCarron’s girlfriend — last night.  An Iowa State student brought the poster to the Kansas-ISU game, which Musberger was calling.

Musberger inked the bikini-shot of Webb with the words, “SHE’S A 10!” and his signature.

Since Musberger brought attention to the former Miss Alabama, she’s covered the Super Bowl for “Inside Edition,” posted for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and now she’s prepping for a celebrity diving show — no, really — that will air on ABC.  Webb has also made it very clear that she appreciated Musberger’s comments and did not take offense.

Good to see the announcer realizes just how silly the forced-controversy was as well.

 

brent-musburger-katherine-webb-poster

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