My favorite long weekend of the year is once again upon us. By the time you read this, I will be joining the rest of the Kentucky Sports Radio crew in our rented White Cadillac DTS (amazingly the car Alamo gave us) headed towards Catlanta for the SEC Tournament. This is now the 20th SEC Tournament since I began going annually in 1989 and every year it is always great. This year the crew is renting a house in Atlanta for the first time….a new endeavor that puts Mosley, Hubby, the Turkey Hunter, etc in one house at one time for the first time in tourney history. We have a lot of features planned for the SEC Tournament blog on this site, in my view the best time of the year here on KSR, and it should be a great few days. However in order to fully celebrate this 20th anniversary, below is the list of my 20 favorite moments from the last 20 years….some on the court, most off the court, some serious, some absurd. Without further ado, we begin the countdown of the Top 20:
(20) — Since 1996, my SEC Tournament attendance has been with a group of guys from high school, college and law school that over the years have morphed into the Kentucky Sports Radio crew. While covering UK is a hobby of the vast majority of the group, there are Tennessee fans as well (Macon Vol Fan and Payne for instance), thus making female watching the only unifying factor that can bring the whole group together. Thus each year we engage in a ritual known as “Ranking the SEC Dance Squads”, that has been known to generate the highest of controversy. During the first few days of the tournament, we watch the routines of the young ladies that are too unathletic/hot to be on the cheerleading teams and put together are top 12. The ratings vary from year to year, but some things are consistent. First, LSU and Arkansas always bring it….second, Ole Miss is always bitterly disappointing…..third, like its basketball team, Vandy occasionally makes a surprising run. This year, early indications are that Mississippi State may be one to watch (especially now that the cheerleader whose mother Macon Vol Fan used to harass has graduated), so place your bets now.
(19) — The only tournament that I did not attend in the last 20 years was the one that was actually the closest, the 1994 affair in Lexington. I remember watching this tournament on television, after a foot of snow shut down Lexington and knocked the cable out, only to watch Andre Riddick put on a dominant performance with 10 blocks, most against LSU stiff Geert Hammick. The final block led to a visibly frustrated Geert looking into the camera, shrugging his shoulders and mouthing “what can I do?” Still the greatest non-choking Rasheed Wallace day of Andre Riddick’s life.
(18) — The 2002 SEC Basketball Tournament in Atlanta was easily the worst tournament from a basketball perspective in the past 20 years. Mississippi State beat Alabama in the finals and no one cared outside of Rick Stansbury’s parents. The Cats that year were seeded in the #2 East position like this year and thus played at 9:45 on Friday night. That draw (which I like) always puts the crew in an odd spot, for besides Mosley and Macon Vol Fan and I, the rest could care less about the other games. They thus are left moaning about watching bad games and asking my continually, “when does UK play again?” Such was the case in 2002 with my friends Brett and Trevor as they waited endlessly for Kentucky to take the court. As game after game went by and the Cats didnt play, Brett and Trevor began to sip some Kentucky bourbon, thus making them thoroughly rowdy for the Cats game late on Friday. The Cats took the court….proceeded to get stomped by South Carolina….and Brett and Trevor proceeded to get angry. Trevor yelled out “I have seen LSU play 14 TIMES THIS TOURNAMENT and now Kentucky is out…..I hate you Alabama!” Besides being nonsensical, this comment got the Alabama fans attention and Brett and Trevor found themselves nose to nose with a random old man for Alabama screaming about who had “less class” (Trevor also told the fan he “smelled like Birmingham’s armpit” which also didnt make sense, but is kind of funny). At that moment we learned a lesson that will be applied this year….when the Cats play late, make the non-die hards slow down on all beverage consumption.
(17) In 2001, the tournament was in the newly constructed Gaylord Center in Nashville and a young Mosley, Vol Fan and I showed up early to see the new digs. Our seats were at the top (we have improved greatly since then) and we went to our seats to see our section empty, with one exception. For in the vast structure of the Gaylord Center, only one seat is truly obstructed….Section 221, behind a pole. There in that seat set the most pitiful fat man who looked just like Milton from “Office Space.” As we walked up, he was planted (with nachos) in his chair, staring at the ticket he just bought from a scalper. He looked at us and said, “I dont think this is fair….you cant see out of this seat.” We just shrugged our shoulders and set down, taking up five seats each since no one was there. Rather than move however, Milton stayed behind that pole for the entire tournament, never once considering moving one seat over to the empty one next to him. As every game went on, Milton just stared at the pole….reminding us all that patience is indeed not always a virtue.
(16) — Last year in Atlanta was the first tournament with our new radio show. Rob and I arrived in Atlanta ready to do the show live from Jocks and Jills across from the Georgia Dome. Hubby came along as our producer and we walked into a packed bar on Thursday morning ready to begin. Now some who have been around me know that at times, I can have a hair trigger for a temper….especially at people who seem to be inept at what they are doing. Case in point this day, as we walked in the door, asked where we were going to be set up and the Assistant Manager insisted that there was no show happening at the bar. Insisting that he must be mistaken, I calmly asked him if someone had just forgotten to tell him….he said no, and using the 0-80 temper I can occasionally show, I then proceeded to have a mini-rant. He then gave the calm reaction of asking us to kindly leave, thus giving Rob and Hubby the chance to punch me in the face with their collective stares. Having no place to do the show at this point, we went into panic mode and tried to find a place where we could call long distance and broadcast to the masses. Our three collective heads came up with the best option we could think of….a Fraternity house at Georgia Tech. We drove across town, knocked on the door and proceeded to walk into the basement of a stinky, nasty frat house that literally had dried puke on the floor. Because (shockingly) the Sig Eps at Georgia Tech did not have a working radio studio in their basement, we were once again unable to get our equipment to work and we left to go with the next best option….broadcasting (I am not kidding) over a speaker phone in our hotel room, while paying hotel long distance rates. The ensuing show on 1570 AM was quite possibly the worst broadcast in modern radio history, complete with a drunk Tomlin giggling throughout, Rob trying not to throw me off the balcony during commercial breaks and the random sound of Hubby flushing the toilet every 30 minutes over the air. It was a day that will live in radio infamy and was summed up well by Gregg Doyel, who was a guest that fine afternoon, when he said, “Never in my life have I been more embarrassed to be a part of something than I am today.”