A LITTLE THIS, A LITTLE THAT.... I’ve got a lot on my mind this week, so let’s get started.

With Danny Wimprine graduating and DeAngelo Williams likely on his way to the NFL, the University of Memphis simply can’t afford to lose Tommy West, who’s been central among rumored candidates for the Ole Miss head coaching vacancy. As well as West has fit in Memphis, the allure of the SEC (read: more money) has to be dancing around in West’s mind. Could be time for the deep-pocketed U of M boosters to step up, just as they have for one John Calipari.

What the Colts’ Peyton Manning is doing to Dan Marino’s single-season touchdown record has my mind wandering to the 1998 baseball season. That year, Mark McGwire destroyed a 37-year-old single-season home run record by hitting 15 percent more than the 61 Roger Maris smacked in 1961. For Manning to equal such record-shattering status, he’ll have to toss 55 scores this season (Marino hurled 48 touchdown passes in 1984). And here’s a chicken-or-the-egg question for you. Do all the receiving weapons Indianapolis suits up make Manning’s job easier . . . or does Manning’s brilliance create so many receiving weapons?

College football has exactly what it deserves, with another BCS fiasco in which an undefeated team (Auburn) is on the outside looking in when it comes to the “national championship game.” Until a playoff system is devised -- why not just a two-week, four-team playoff?! -- I’m hoping for three undefeated teams . . . every season.

In the aftermath of Hubie Brown’s sudden retirement, there was a lot of grumbling that the 10-man rotation Brown utilized with such success last season had run its course. Players, according to this vibe, were ready for more minutes, and now. I asked the Mavs’ Jerry Stackhouse -- a career 20.9 ppg scorer -- how he’s adjusted to coming off the bench for Dallas. “There are times it’s hard,” said Stackhouse, “because I’m really amped up just before the game starts. But I still feel like I can score and make plays once I’m in the game. And defensively, it’s a matter of effort and energy, whenever you’re playing. I’ve never considered myself an easy win on defense. I feel I can get into my guy pretty much every night.” Stackhouse came off the bench to drop 20 on the Grizzlies in the Mavericks’ 92-85 win.

Having taken some time to “reflect” on the November 19th Pacers-Pistons riot in Detroit, I can’t help but think Stephen Jackson (30-game suspension) and Jermaine O’Neal (25 games) got off light. In hockey, it’s known as the “third-man-in” rule. Say what you will about Ron Artest’s reaction to his beer shower, it was Jackson and O’Neal joining the fray that turned what was an ugly scene into a veritable riot. Artest is a powder keg, and the longer the NBA keeps him employed, the more prone it is to R-rated incidents. But I could see a somewhat reduced sentence -- say 50 games -- considering he was reacting (poorly) to an egregious violation of spectator decorum. But Jackson and O’Neal? That’s gang mentality, folks. And it can’t be punished severely enough.

Here’s some perspective on DeAngelo Williams and what he’s done for Memphis football. Entering the GMAC Bowl on December 22nd, Williams has rushed for 3,942 yards in his three-year U of M career (the next most in Tiger history is Dave Casinelli’s 2,636). Here are the alltime rushing leaders at a few other Mid-South schools, with each total having been achieved over four seasons. Tennessee: Travis Henry (3,078). Arkansas: Ben Cowins (3,570). Ole Miss: Deuce McAllister (3,060). Vanderbilt: Frank Mordica (2,632). Not only is Williams the greatest running back in Memphis history; he’s the greatest college running back in Mid-South history.

I had a conversation with Art Garcia of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before the Grizzlies-Mavericks game November 27th. Garcia said FedExForum compares favorably to the much-lauded American Airlines Center in Dallas (which opened prior to the 2001-02 season). He noted that the incline of seats here in Memphis is not as steep as those in Dallas, as the AAC was designed to accommodate an NHL team in addition to the Mavs. This is somewhat ironic, as one of the only complaints I’ve heard about FEF is that those season-ticket holders sitting in the premium sections closest to the floor are having difficulty seeing over the heads and shoulders of those in front of them. Not the fans the Grizzlies want to have antsy about their seats.


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