Whitehaven football coach Rodney Saulsberry responds to Friday’s vandalism incident

DISRESPECTING DA HAVEN --- Vandals forced their way into Whitehaven Stadium late Friday night and spray painted obscenities on the Tigers' newly-installed astroturf. The ariticial surface was added last summer. (Photo courtesy of Whitehaven High)

DISRESPECTING DA HAVEN — Vandals forced their way into Whitehaven Stadium late Thursday night and spray painted obscenities on the Tigers’ newly-installed astroturf. The ariticial surface was added last summer. (Photos courtesy of Whitehaven High)

Whitehaven High football coach Rodney Saulsberry fielded a text message early Friday morning from his boss, Vincent Hunter.

Unfortunately for Saulsberry, it wasn’t a message to wish him well against Fairley in the teams’ annual neighborhood rivalry game.

Hunter contacted Saulsberry to inform him of a vandalism incident school officials believed took place late Thursday night at Whitehaven Stadium.

Hours after the Tigers’ final organized practice in preparation for Friday’s home game against Fairley, vandals made their way inside the stadium and spray painted obscenities on the midfield logo as well as in the West end zone, the Tigers’ sideline and part of the track that surrounds the field.

The incident on the stadium’s newly-installed astroturf sent shock waves throughout the Whitehaven community, most notably among Whitehaven and Fairley alumni, Saulsberry said.

“I got calls from Fairley alumni and they were disappointed and discouraged,” Saulsberry told MemphiSport on Saturday. “Honestly, I was extremely upset and disappointed. This stadium is more about the community than Whitehaven (High School). We have to have pride in our community, to rally around each other, to value each other’s property. I got a call Friday morning, so it had to happen sometime Thursday night. It couldn’t have happened Friday morning because people had to be at work.”

Saulsberry informed his team of the incident moments before Friday’s game. A majority of his players, he said, were upset after learning about an occurrence that was the center of conversation throughout the contest.

Consequently, the reigning Tennessee Class 6A champion Tigers took out their frustration on the team they sensed was responsible for the disturbance surrounding their annual Week 2 rivalry game.

Whitehaven, the area’s No. 1-ranked team, generated 478 yards of total offense and pulverized Fairley, 63-8, in a game that was was effectively out of reach after the first quarter. By halftime, the Tigers had amassed 370 yards of offense and built a 47-8 lead to invoke the running clock rule throughout the second half.

For Whitehaven (2-0), which extended its undefeated streak to 17 games, Friday’s win over Fairley was its tenth in as many seasons since Saulsberry took over as head coach. While he wouldn’t say specifically whether he advised his team to run up the score against the Bulldogs, Saulsberry urged his players that a message had to be sent regarding the school’s “Respect Da Haven” catchphrase he thought of weeks before the start of his second year on Whitehaven’s sideline.

“They were upset,” Saulsberry said. “I just made a point to tell them to take pride in their home. I said, ‘You can show

After informing his players before Friday's game of the field incident in which vandals spray painted the Tiger's midfield logo, top-ranked Whitehaven embarrassed Fairley, 63-8.

After informing his players before Friday’s game of the field incident in which vandals spray painted the Tiger’s midfield logo, top-ranked Whitehaven embarrassed Fairley, 63-8, in their annual neighborhood rivalry game.

them how to respect your home by the way you perform on the field.’ I told them, ‘You’re going to be doing this all night, showing them why they should respect your house.’ You can take it how you want it.”

Though much of the spray paint damage has been removed, school administrators on Friday contacted district officials about devising a plan to restore the field back to its original condition. Whitehaven unveiled its newly-installed astroturf during a public ceremony last September, becoming the third Memphis-area public school to get an artificial surface after then-Memphis City Schools Supt. Kriner Cash announced a plan to raise $6.6 million to convert 12 area fields.

Still, while the artificial field was a significant upgrade to a stadium that was in need of numerous renovations, Saulsberry said Friday’s incident nevertheless has affected those with ties to the Whitehaven community.

“Some people don’t see no other way of showing pride in their school,” Saulsberry said. “You want to have school pride, but you don’t want to have school pride by vandalizing other people’s property. That’s a criminal act. As a greater community, it’s better when everyone cares about one’s success, and that’s what we’re trying to teach these kids through football.”

The Tigers, winners of 31 of their last 32 outings, won their first state championship in school history last year, a 36-35 overtime win over perennial power Maryville.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

MSL: Labor Day Weekend Show 2013

BOM MSL 2012HOUR 1:

(Segment 1) Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter give their 2013 predictions for the Liberty Bowl and BCS National Championship. Also, the guys recap the week’s big stories during the Starting 5.
(Segment 2) The guys try to talk to Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews. Also, Ole Miss Athletics host and Memphis Redbirds field emcee Maria Garay calls in with her College Football Gossip Report.
(Segment 3) Jeff Hulett from the Church Health Center calls in to preview Rock for Love 7.


MemphiSport Live


HOUR 2:

(Segment 1) Hang Up & Listen.
(Segment 2 & 3) The guys try again to talk to Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews. Also, TV/film critic and Oscarologist Greg Akers joins the show for his monthly recommendation and for the new segment called Nashville Sucks. Plus, Woohoos and Boos.

MemphiSport Live

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @MHUNTER_FOX13

Justin Timberlake wants to play the Riddler in Ben Affleck’s Batman movie

Justin timberlake GrizzliesWhile speaking on Fresh 102.7’s Jim and Kim Show in New York City, music superstar and Memphis Grizzlies owner Justin Timberlake revealed that he would like to play the Riddler in the upcoming Batman film.

JT shared his aspirations when the hosts asked him if he would be interested in playing Robin alongside his friend Ben Affleck:

“Not a chance in hell. I ain’t playin’ Robin. I have no aspiration to ever be a superhero in a movie. Now VILLAIN! I’ll tell you the villain I want to play more than anything because I grew up loving Batman, funny enough, is the Riddler.”

To hear the full Timberlake/Batman conversation, click here.

Email: kevin@memphisport.com
Twitter: @cerrito

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VIDEO: Wale mentions current and past Grizzlies players in a new Juicy J song

Rapper Wale recently collaborated with Juicy J on the hit song “Bounce It”, and according to the rapper out of Washington, D.C. he has tickets to Grizzlies games whenever he comes to Memphis.  If you start listening at around the 1:45 mark, you hear Wale state that he gets his tickets from Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, or Josh Selby when he is in town.

The song came out nearly five months after the trades that sent Gay to Toronto and Selby to the Cavs.

Now that Gay and Selby are no longer with the Grizzlies, Wale will have to rely solely on Gasol to get him the highly coveted Grizzlies floor seats.

Watch Wale shout out the Grizzlies:

Twitter: @churtj09
Email: cj@memphisport.com

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VIDEO: Mike Miller is taking Zumba classes to prepare for the upcoming Grizzlies season

When the Grizzlies signed free agent acquisition Mike Miller, nobody thought he would be taking Zumba classes to help him condition for the upcoming season.  New Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger has mentioned multiple times that he wants to play a more up tempo brand of basketball, and maybe the Zumba classes will help Miller keep up with this fast paced tempo.  If so, fans could see more of their favorite Grizzlies taking aerobics classes like Zumba.

Watch Mike Miller in Zumba class:

Twitter: @churtj09
Email: cj@memphisport.com

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Thursday night’s game could have grand implications for Ole Miss and Vanderbilt

Ole Miss and Vanderbilt will go head to head in Nashville this Thursday night at 8:30 on ESPN. Both teams are riding on the highs of bowl game wins, recruiting successes, and young, confident coaches. But only one team can win this week. And that one team that does win, could go on to have a much more successful season than Thursday’s loser. Some thoughts…

Vanderbilt:

Vanderbilt Football is seeing more success right now than it has ever seen before. There’s really no way around their dismal history, but Coach James Franklin has them on the right track. Back-to-back bowl appearances, a nine win season in 2012, and impressive victories (over Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Auburn) are all things that have fans in an uproar of excitement heading in to the 2013 football season. However, their matchup with Ole Miss to start the season is one of epic importance. The Commodores have had the Rebels’ number the past few seasons. And while Ole Miss hasn’t exactly been a picture of football beauty lately, folks in Oxford aren’t taking so many consecutive (3) losses to Vandy too well. Last year’s heartbreaker at the hands of the ‘Dores has Ole Miss looking for revenge.

Photo by Justin Ford

Photo by Justin Ford

A loss to Ole Miss puts Vandy at 1-1 heading into their game against South Carolina. They go into that game at 2-0, I think Vandy puts up a fight, but if they go in 1-1, I just don’t see them being able to even smell an upset. So, when UGA comes to Nashville in late October, Vandy will likely be a fine 4-2 instead of an impressive 5-1. But then they hit a tough patch with UGA and TX A&M* to pull back to an even 4-4. Then they head to Florida where they drop to 4-5. After a victory against Kentucky, the Commodores go to Knoxville trying to get bowl eligible, but I think UT will refuse to let that happen in Neyland. Vandy faces a must win against Wake Forest if they want to finish 6-6 and get to a third consecutive bowl. I imagine they will get that win, but 6-6 is not what Vandy fans had in mind going into the season.

Now, if Vanderbilt does beat Ole Miss, a lot of things change. They head into UGA 5-1 and potentially sneak an upset over either UGA or A&M* putting them at 6-2 with four games left. They still lose in the Swamp but have more confidence heading into Knoxville and end the season 9-3.

The difference in a 9-3 and 6-6 season is huge. One is a Cotton Bowl type season; the other, a Compass Bowl season. I know Vandy and its fans want more than 6-6. I know this team wants to go to a higher level than it’s ever been to before. The key to taking that next step all revolves around beating Ole Miss.

Ole Miss:

Ole Miss is on the rise. Ask anyone with knowledge of the game the trajectory that Ole Miss is taking in the next few seasons, and you will only hear “up.” Hugh Freeze is doing wonders in Oxford both on the field and on the recruiting trail, but most people think that the Rebs won’t be able to truly compete in the murderous SEC West for another year or so. Like Vandy, the difference in a win and a loss this Thursday is the difference in a big season and a disappointing season for Ole Miss. Here are my envisioned scenarios for both outcomes.

If Ole Miss loses to Vandy, they start the season 1-3 with losses at Texas and Alabama. They head to Auburn in early October and

Photo by Justin Ford

Photo by Justin Ford

will have a dog fight on their hands on the Plains. Guz Malzahn knows how to win and knows that he already has some talent to use. If the Rebels walk into a volatile environment at Auburn with their heads hanging low, then I don’t foresee the outcome being pretty for Freeze and his boys. The Rebels then go home 1-4 to face TX A&M* and then LSU. If Ole Miss starts the season 1-6 like it should in this hypothetical situation, it will take a miracle to win the next five, especially heading to Starkville for this year’s Egg Bowl. You don’t think Dan Mullen remembers having squandered the opportunity to squelch Ole Miss’ bowl hopes in 2012 in Oxford? You think he lets that happen again in 2013? No way. If Ole Miss loses to Vandy, there is a case to be made that the Rebels finish 5-7 and the hopes in Oxford get straightened back out heading in to 2014. Those hopes would still be high given Freeze’s recruiting successes, but they certainly wouldn’t be as high as they could be.

Now if Ole Miss beats Vandy, they head into Auburn with a 2-2 record, but with their heads held high and beat the Tigers. I then think the Rebs head home and beat Texas A&M* before losing an all too familiar heartbreaker to LSU. With a 4-3 record, Ole Miss runs the table and ends the season 9-3.

Again, like Vandy, the game this week has the ability to literally make Ole Miss’ season one for the ages or break their season down to a learning experience with a lengthy offseason to regroup.

Prediction: Ole Miss 27 – Vanderbilt 17

*The Texas A&M games for Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are both very much up in the air at this point due to the unknown status of Johnny Manziel.

Warner Russell is a regular contributor for MemphiSport and The Wise Guise. Read his non-sports stuff here. Follow him @uncle_warny.

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MSL Interview: Batmobile owner Jerry Lawler comments on Ben Affleck as Batman

Photo courtesy of www.twitter.com/TunicaMS

Photo courtesy of www.twitter.com/TunicaMS

Jerry “The King” Lawler joined Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL to talk about purchasing a Batmobile, Ben Affleck playing Batman, the opening of the Jerry Lawler Museum and Art Gallery at Resorts Tunica, and what he plans to do to commemorate the one year anniversary of his heart attack on September 10.

AUDIO:

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Click here to download Jerry “The King” Lawler’s interview from the August 24, 2013 MSL

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Click here for more MSL interviews.

MemphiSport Live

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @MHUNTER_FOX13

 

MSL: 8.24.13

MSL court

HOUR 1:

(Segment 1) Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter recap the week’s big stories during the Starting 5.
(Segment 2) Jerry “The King” Lawler joins Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter to talk about purchasing a Batmobile, Ben Affleck playing Batman, the opening of the Jerry Lawler Museum and Art Gallery at Resorts Tunica, and what he plans to do to commemorate the one year anniversary of his heart attack on September 10.
(Segment 3) Shenanigans.

 

MemphiSport Live


HOUR 2:

(Segment 1) Hang Up & Listen.
(Segment 2) The guys talk Memphis football with a former Tiger.
(Segment 3) Woohoos and Boos featuring a discussion about whether or not Coach Fuente will accept Arby’s offer.

MemphiSport Live

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @MHUNTER_FOX13

Arby’s offers a case of sauce to Memphis coach Justin Fuente

A few days after a candid photo of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier at Arby’s was posted online,University of Memphis football coach Justin Fuente joined Kevin Cerrito on MSL (Sports 56/87.7 FM).

During the interview, Fuente was asked “If someone caught you being excited at a fast food restaurant, which one would it be?”

Fuente didn’t say Arby’s, but he did mention a special place in his heart for Arby’s sauce.

Now Arby’s has responded:

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 9.53.43 AM

Will Fuente accept the offer?

Click here to hear what fast food restaurant Coach Fuente said he and his family frequents often

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @MHUNTER_FOX13

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Top Five Memphis Football Storylines For 2013

memphis-tigers logoThe start of the 2013 college football season is a few short days away, and there is an air of anticipation in Memphis. Getting to this point has taken longer than expected, but the University of Memphis Tigers are finally in an automatic bid conference (even if it is just for one year) and hopes are high for this year’s squad.

It is tough to pinpoint exactly where this optimism is coming from, but there is a lot to be excited about this year for Memphis football fans.

However, Memphis is still a program that has not ended the year with a winning record since 2007, has failed to make it to a bowl game since 2008, and is making the leap to a much tougher conference.

Here are the Top 5  Memphis Football Storylines for the 2013 season:

The move to the American Athletic Conference:
At last, the Tigers have joined the big boys of the FBS, and now all Memphis has to do is win their conference and they get into a BCS game.  If they remained in Conference USA they would have had to go undefeated and be conference champions to even get a sniff at a chance to play in a BCS bowl. Also, there is the reunion with two of the Tigers archrivals, Louisville and Cincinnati.  Fans cannot wait to see how well Memphis does in its inaugural year as AAC members.

Building on the momentum from the end of last season:
The Tigers ended the year on a three game win streak, their longest win streak since 2008 (the last time Memphis was bowl eligible).  This win streak was thanks in large part to their running game which averaged 174.8 rushing yards per game in the Tigers’ final four contests, including a 275 yard performance against Southern Mississippi in their Conference USA finale.  Memphis also beat a Rice unit that went on to win the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Can they carry the win streak over to this season?

Quarterback battle between Jacob Karam and Paxton Lynch:
It has been five years since the Memphis quarterback who ended the year as starter, played in the first game of the following year as starter.  The last quarterback to do that for Memphis was none other than Arkelon Hall, and since that time it has been a proverbial carousel of starting quarterbacks for the Tigers. After setting school record last season in accuracy, many people expected Karam to be the quarterback to break that trend, but Lynch has emerged as the man who is going to lead the Tigers offense on opening day. If Lynch struggles, Karam could be thrust back into the starting lineup.  This will be something to keep an eye on all season.

Coach Fuente’s second season:
After winning more games in his first year as head coach than the Tigers won the previous two seasons combined, Fuente got a one year extension and is the type of coach Tigers fans have dreamed of having.  His fiery personality, mixed with a desire to get the most out of his players every single play, has fans believing that he can carry Memphis from the cellars of the FBS to a more respectable level.  Many felt like the Tigers overachieved last year, and hope that Coach Fuente can continue to build on last season’s success.

Bowl watch 2013:
Finishing the year with a winning conference record and being just two games away from bowl eligibility last season has many fans thinking about a possible bowl berth this year.  Mentioning Memphis and bowl eligibility does not seem like such a farfetched idea for the first time in a while.  After all, if Memphis would have beat FCS foe UT-Martin in that unusual season opener (the contest was delayed three hours), and if they could have found a way to finish a remarkable comeback on the road against Marshall, the Tigers would have finished last year as a bowl eligible 6-6 team.  It is not going to be easy, as Memphis should be the underdogs in most of their games this year.

CJ Hurt covers Tigers football for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from games throughout the Mid-South.

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