Mailbag - Snow Days edition

As much as I love snow and winter, I needed to write something. When I have long layoffs, it feels like it is harder for me to get back in the groove once things crank back up. During basketball season, you can’t afford to be off your game – there are 5-6 stories to write every night.

So, it felt like a good time to crank out another mailbag. The great people who support the WC Sports Authority are always asking me stuff and I bank those questions, knowing there will come a time when I can get to answering them. I think those are called rainy day stories by the pros – I think I’m safe in assuming it works for snow days too.

I would’ve had this out Friday night, but I had quite the adventure in the afternoon that left me unable to do anything for hours. My cat, Cat Mahomes, decided today would be a good idea to make a break for the door and run outside while I was going to pick up lunch.

She stayed within a few feet of the door for a spell (she’s done this before and rarely ventures off the porch), but because my truck wouldn’t start, I needed my brother to come jump me off. When he pulled into the driveway, Cat Mahomes bolted into the woods beside (and behind) my house.

Cat Mahomes went MIA for four hours Friday.

As most people know, I wear shorts and slides 365 days a year, so I was ill equipped to give chase in my yard, which was still covered in snow. I went in after her anyway, thinking she would come quick because it was freezing outside. Boy, that was dumb.

It didn’t take long before my feet flew out from under me going into a ditch, leaving me flat on my back with my Tim Duncan slides flying off in either direction. Cat Mahomes gave me some meows that I could only decipher as laugher from a few feet away, then ran deeper into the woods when I got up in a foul mood.

By the time I got back to the house to put on clothes and shoes befitting a rescue search in 20-degree weather, she was nowhere to be found. I spent two hours walking up and down the ditches running between my yard and my neighbors, hoping she would pop back up.

At dark, I was pretty discouraged. It was getting colder by the minute and I was realizing I really had built an attachment to a cat that I inherited when I bought my house. I decided I would set up my Ring Doorbell beside some food outside in hopes that she would come running when she got hungry (and tired of being cold).

After another hour of staring at my phone for a live feed and whistling out my window, I was distraught. She wasn’t coming back and was probably freezing – two things no pet owner wants to think about.

Lo and behold, it wasn’t 30 minutes later when I got an alert on my phone about movement on my Ring camera. There she was, bypassing the food and heading straight to the front door.

After giving her a stern lecture about running off (and plenty of treats for coming back) and taking some Advil for my back that is probably going to be sore for weeks after that fall, I had a chance to start writing.

The moral of the story: Cat Mahomes is going to be facing door defense that’s tighter than the Patriots trying to defend Pat Mahomes from here on out and Ring cameras are awesome.

Here are your questions and my answers:

Who is going to win the elementary championships?

Gees, it feels like forever ago when I was covering the Morrison Ruritan 7-8 grade tournament finals and getting a glimpse at some of the best ballers in the county. The Dibrell Wildcats and Morrison Lady Eagles won the preseason tournaments and, so far, have shown nothing in the preseason that makes me think those championships were a fluke.

I’d probably make those teams the slight favorites right now, but there is no telling what can happen after this long layoff. With kids ranging from ages 10-14 playing, the improvement (and physical growth) can seemingly happen overnight. I think there a lot of teams in position that could be in the best on one night – which is all it takes in single-elimination tournaments.

For the Wildcats, I think the Morrison Eagles and Irving College Tigers have the counterattack that can be worrisome. Chance Whitlock is a gamechanger in the middle for Dibrell, but if Morrison or Irving College can make it a Run-N-Gun game that favors guards, it could be a coin flip.

On the girls side, some team is going to have to prove it can slow down Jayla Garibaldi before I pick against the Lady Eagles. If I had to guess, coaches Kyle Cannon (Eastside) and Kelly Eckenrod (Centertown) will have schemes ready by the postseason to try to ground the Lady Eagles.

Were you serious about running for alderman in 2024?

My family was curious over Christmas about my Facebook sparing with current alderman Sally Brock about running in 2024. It’s probably because they know me really well – I can’t resist making a good joke, even if it leaves me in an awkward spot afterward.

I’ve said it in the past and recently told multiple people asking me to run in 2022 that I’ve never been that interested in holding an office in Warren County (or McMinnville, I live in the city… barely). While these local races are the elections I actually enjoy going to the polls for, I’ve never had a hankering for seeing my name on the ballot when I get to the voting box.

Three years is a long time to think on it though. I got a lot of support from one snarky comment, but who knows if that translates into votes in 2024. My family is no stranger to being on ballots, so it’s not something I’d rule out.

As always, I encourage everybody who IS running in 2022 to use the WC Sports Authority to announce your intentions. It can be an incumbent or a challenger, it doesn’t matter. If you want to reach the community with your words, I’ll give you my platform free of charge. Just email me at!

Ever going to do a podcast about all the Tyler Sapp/Van Buren County stuff?

I think I said I would like to, but I don’t know if there’s much more to the story right now. Let’s see how everything plays out after the basketball season and into the spring. It was wild in the moment though.

Several people commented between Dec. 22-31 (and in the days after) about my top 10 list. For those who had issue, it was either I ranked something too low, too high or left things off that should have been on the list.

That’s not really a question, but I wanted to address them all together. The top 10 list has gotten progressively harder in the last 2-3 years. If I was ranking my top 10 athletes/teams since I started covering sports in Warren County, there is a good chance half of both those lists would come from teams/players who were active in 2019-2021. We hit a talent boom and I’m hopeful it continues.

I really do try to do my best with the list to get the full scope of local sports from that calendar year represented. It’s not easy – I went through my process on the recent podcast. To sum it up, I go through all my stories for the year and gather an initial list, which usually leaves me with 40-50 things. From there, I get down to 20. After that, it’s on to the top 10, where I then must rank those in order.

Sometimes I think back to how many times I teased Margaret Hobbs about the process of picking pageant winners. I would talk about how ridiculous it was keep whittling it down from 60 to 20 to 10, then to a final four (I think it’s four, maybe five?) before picking an overall winner. Well, that’s what I did in December and it was TOUGH.

That’s my way of saying that top 10 lists are tougher than David Letterman made them seem for decades and I won’t be judging any beauty pageants.

Do you really like Taylor Swift as much as it seems?

Probably more than it even seems. I'm not deciphering her codes for releases or can point to which song is for which ex-boyfriend (though I know a few), but her music has a way of finding its way onto every one of my playlists. In case you were wondering, my current favorite Taylor Swift song is "Exile," with Bon Iver.

Are the Pioneers going to turn it on in the postseason again this year?

Tough call. After back-to-back district titles, I’m sure some fans are a little disappointed at a 7-7 start, but I don’t really think that has any bearing on what will happen once Warren County starts playing District 6AAAA opponents (the Pioneers were supposed to start Friday against Franklin County – that game has been moved to Monday, Feb. 7).

It’s not easy replacing four starters, especially when two graduated with District MVP honors and the other two left with all-district plaques. Through 14 games, I don’t think coach Chris Sullens has completely settled in on who is going to be his best five by February (and I’m talking about the closers, not the starters).

From the outside looking in, I don’t know if there will be a consensus in crunch time. It’s more likely coach Sullens will find 2-3 guys he knows will be there at the end of each game, then piece together the other spots with who has the hot hand on any given night.

I know that’s putting a lot of pressure on the coach, but it’s no more than what Sullens puts on himself. Aside from junior Kaden Rutledge, Sullens is the only other main cog for Warren County that has been put through the pressure cooker of postseason basketball.

I’ll say this much from following the district teams through the first two months, regular season seeding is going to mean diddly squat by the tournament. I don’t there is much separation at all between the four teams – it’s going to be 1-2 possession games every single night.

The Pioneers are going to have to protect the ball and hit free throws at a high clip in clutch situations going forward. If they do those two things, I think they have the defense to stay close every night.

Why was Woodrow Wilson such a bad President?

Wow. What a curveball. I legitimately laughed out loud when I got this question because of how absurd and unready I was for it. Because of that, I’m picking it as my winner for the month subscription – crazy stuff! Somebody just knows my sense of humor it seems.

As for an answer, I have to say that maybe I should’ve paid a little bit more attention in AP US History. When I started trying to think of a good answer, I kept getting Wilson confused with Harry S. Truman (Did they both wear glasses? I’m going to say they did).

Because I felt woefully inadequate trying to even pinpoint Wilson’s timeline of when he held office (it felt like early 1900s – after Teddy, I think), I sent the question to my expert on US History and Presidents. This is what he sent me back:

“The League of Nations and the German uprising. (He) basically created the League of Nations and it was so toothless it couldn’t uphold the treaty Germany agreed to at the end of World War I.”

I’m just going to take his word for it.

Are you not going to push for a game between the Lady Pioneers and Lady Broncos?

I think the biggest reason I haven’t tried to make a matchup like that happen is it only benefits me. There’s no way to spin it to the coaches or schools without it really coming down to the fact it would be a huge story for my site. If I could somehow get the broadcast as well, it would be an all-timer locally. I like the coaches too much to try to influence them to do something that isn’t good for their teams but is good for me.

Also, I stopped pushing for a “Warren County championship” game a few years ago. For a while, I always thought it would be cool to see Boyd, Covenant and Warren County play a round robin around the holidays, but I realized it was never going to happen. None of the schools were interested.

I get why it’s something that would be popular this year. The Lady Pioneers are 15-2 and riding an 11-game winning streak, while Boyd started the season with 14 straight victories and is 16-2 overall. They’re both going to be fighting for district championships and have hopes of deep postseason runs (in their respective divisions).

If they decided to do it on their own, so be it. I would be in the front row like I was back in 2013-14 when the Boyd and Warren County boys squared off in the Watertown Christmas Tournament. If you’re asking me the odds of it happening though – I’d put it at around zero percent.

It’s fine. They both can be individually great this year without the “who’s better” debate hanging over their heads. They both have a chance to be special – they’ve already been for a couple months.

Which Ted Lasso character do you picture yourself as?

I loved this question too – it was my subscription runner-up (Maybe I can send a hat or shirt for it). Before I jump into the answer, I’m going to push for everybody to watch Ted Lasso. I’m not sure if AppleTV is still running a two-week free trail for iPhone owners, but if they are, you can finish both seasons in two weeks (I forced my parents to watch Season 1 and we ended up knocking it out in one afternoon). If it’s not free, well it’s still worth the money.

OK, so which Ted Lasso character am I? I immediately ruled out all the players – I played soccer for a couple years when I was a kid and I was terrible, so I can’t be Jamie Tartt, Dani Rojas, Sam Obisanya or Roy Kent (aside from the “fruity language”). I don’t picture myself as any of the women either, so we’re running out of characters pretty quick.

Here’s my answer: Trent Crimm. Really, could it be anybody else? Crimm is the go-to local reporter who tends to have the pulse of the people, where he can be a career maker or coach killer with one column. I even occasionally have the same greeting “I’m Jeff Simmons, the Warren County Sports Authority” (I know it doesn’t sound as cool as “Trent Crimm, The Independent”).

I could see some Coach Beard similarities too, though I’ve outgrown the nightlife he still seems to enjoy. What locks it in to me though is Crimm’s relationship with Coach Lasso.

Semi-spoiler here, so don’t keep reading if you haven’t seen the show and want to catch up!

I think I was a lot like Crimm when it came to former Pioneer football coach Tommy Johnson, who started with WCHS the same time I started reporting locally. If you went back looking through the archives, you’d probably find a similar story to the one Crimm first wrote about Lasso, ‘Wayward Ted,’ where he talks about how he may fail, but he’s not rooting for it to happen because he can’t help but like him.

I was the same with Tommy until his final day. I never knew if he was going to be the right man for the job, but I was always rooting for him to figure it out. He was just an absolute great guy, like Ted, and I wanted him to succeed – even if most of the signs pointed to him being over his head.

There are probably other parallels to what Crimm does throughout the show too, including asking antagonizing questions in press conferences (Just ask coach Dodgen at White County) and preemptively burying an incoming coach before their first game.

I’ve even had to write some stories I didn’t want to write because I knew it would reflect poorly on the subject I was covering (people I admired and respected), but I tried to let them know it was my job and it had to be done.

And, as of the final episode of Season 2, Trent and I are the same when it comes to our reporting – Independent.

Don’t we all want to think we’re as good and wholesome as Ted though?

C’mon, you really aren’t going to write anything about UT-Purdue and that finish? You know you want to sound off on that officiating.

I’ve put that game behind me at this point. I was very heated in the moment and even had a good conversation on the WCSA podcast about it that same night. I said something on there that has been my sticking point ever since – what’s the huge difference between 8-5 and 7-6? I don’t think anybody who watched the Vols all year would’ve suddenly thought, “Well, they did something big by winning eight games this year!”

If you suffered through the Jeremy Pruitt era and stuck with it, then you already saw all you needed from Josh Huepel and his staff to realize they have the X’s and O’s. Finding the Jimmies and Joes will be their challenge and winning the Music City Bowl wasn’t going to amp up recruiting much.

As for the refs, it’s just tough to see that rule enforced in that manner at that point of the game – he assuredly knew he was basically picking a winner at that point (all Purdue would need to do is kick a field goal if Tennessee didn’t score). Did he apply it the right way? Eh, I think it’s debatable – if his forward progress was truly stopped, then why did the ball move forward before he was down (and he only needed to go 3-4 inches more at that point anyway).

Here’s the thing that happened after (and it was as predictable as me bashing the refs): all officials lined up to tell everybody how he was right. Did they also want to debate how Purdue’s TE went sideways/backwards for 5-10 yards while being hit by three Vols before taking off down the sidelines for one of the game’s biggest scores? NO! Of course not. That call was right too – I mean it had to be, the whistle didn’t blow the play dead (even though UT fans found out whistle timing doesn’t matter for forward progress twice this season).

That’s what always irks me. Just admit when you screwed up. People won’t like it, but at least they’ll accept it quicker. Officials will not own up to it and even if they’re punished later for a screwup, we never know about it. Coaches are held accountable after every game. Teenagers have to explain some of their worst (and best) moments just seconds after the final whistle blows.

Referees? They’re long gone before anybody can question them (even if the occasional coach will go running after them). They aren’t going to explain themselves – they don’t have to.

I think it was pretty universal among pundits and PLAYERS that Tennessee scored on that play. You can check the Twitter receipts – even Dan Wolken, one of the most hated writers by UT’s fanbase, said he thought it was a score. Tennessee fans thought they were screwed and most Purdue fans were even saying they probably got lucky.

At the end of the night, casual and diehard fans who watched the game, NFL players who have played the game and media people who cover the game all thought it was probably a touchdown. Referees all were defending the shield, letting people know it was the right call. In the end, only one person’s opinion mattered.

It sucks when you watch any sporting event and realize the refs were the only ones that mattered when the game was decided.

OK, you said on Facebook you were going to rank the ‘Yellowstone’ Cast, so do it. At least give us a Top 5!

Don’t double dog dare me! I’ll do it. In fact, I was already writing it in my head when I posted it on Facebook. I’ll oblige their ask about the Top 5 and even do a Bottom 5 as well.

Before I do it, I want to say that this is my BEST and WORST characters on the show, not my favorite or least favorite. I think there’s a clear difference there – I may really dislike a character personally, but I know the show wouldn’t be as good without them (You’ll see below who I’m talking about). On the other hand, there are also characters I dislike AND I think their character does little to impact the plot.

I must admit that I haven’t been with Yellowstone since the start. I only jumped on the bandwagon before Season 4, so I binge-watched the first three seasons in about five days before watching each episode this season on Sunday nights. Therefore, I didn’t build an attachment to some characters the same way – cliffhangers were totally lost on me because I knew right away the answers to any questions a lot of people had to wait months for. I can pretty much guarantee coach Chris Sullens and I are going to argue about this list on a podcast in the next month or so.

Okay here is my list ---- SPOILER ALERT!!!!! If you haven’t watched the show and want to, then don’t read past here!

1. Rip Wheeler

The main conductor at Yellowstone’s Train Station! Rip Wheeler is the best character for me because he has a code – Loyalty to the ranch - and everything he does is true to it. That fierce loyalty leaves him as the man to dish out every form of cowboy justice (and sometimes take it), but he applies it even-handed. Sometimes, he even hates to do it (Damn it, Lloyd! I can’t believe you made Rip do what he did to you).

He’s as likable of a person as you could probably imagine when you take into account he’s killed dozens of people. I already knew going into the show that women were swooning over him and it didn’t take long to find out why – he pretty much embodies the perfect boyfriend/husband (especially for girls in the South). He’s fully devoted to her and she’s all he needs in life. He supports her in every way. He’s as good of a protector as you could ask for and he may even be romantic, in his own way. Even his jealous nature seemed to subside by the end of Season 4, when I was pretty sure he was finally going to kill Walker.

Rip is the ultimate Bad Ass on the show and, to me, is the most deserving of anybody to inherit the ranch. He wears the brand with the most pride and backs it up boldly and blindly.

2. John Dutton

The unkillable patriarch of the Duttons, played excellently by Kevin Costner. To me, his character is pretty much summed up in two scenes: the opening shot of the entire series and his running for governor speech.

He sets the tone for the whole show in the first scene, where he is sitting on the side of the road bloodied and hurt. Within three minutes, you know the show is going to be intense and Costner’s character has seen some stuff in his life. You also know he can show mercy, but vengeance will soon follow.

As for his speech about running for Governor, it felt like the show was letting its fans know who they are and how they think. While I’m sure there’s plenty of political crossover among the show’s millions of fans, Dutton’s “I’m the opposite of progress – I’m the wall it bashes against and I will not be the one who breaks,” line probably resonates on one side more than the other.

At some point, John Dutton is going to have to die because we need to know how (or if) the Dutton Ranch survives without him, but it’s going to take something epic to do it. Bullets alone can’t bring down John Dutton.

3. Beth Dutton

Beth won me over early in the first season when she ripped into Jamie in the stable and kept challenging him to be a man. When he caves and hits her, he asks, “How’s that for a man?” She absolutely destroys him with the line, “A man would have walked away.”

Beth’s joy for absolutely gutting people with words gives me endless delight. She’s emotionally damaged – for good reason – and sometimes she takes it to the very edge where I have to ask myself if I really agree with how mean-spirited she is or if she can really be this jaded, but then I remember how she watched her mother die (and those haunting final words) and that her brother signed her up to be sterilized. I’m not saying those things give her carte blanche to be the way she is ---- actually, yeah I am.

The Dutton kids take me back to my first chemistry lessons. Neutral atoms have protons, neutrons and electrons, which are the positive, neutral and negative forces, respectively. The Dutton kids are always shifting around from one charge to another, but once one assumes one role, another switches sides to keep everything balanced.

4. Jamie Dutton

Here is where I’m going to get the hate. I can hear it now – “Jamie is on your BEST list… How?” I get it – he’s despicable and unlikable in every way. Even when he seems like he’s with the family, nothing feels right about it. He just looks evil.

The show needs that guy! They need somebody to be the antagonist because, to be honest, the rest of the “bad guys” on the show come and go so quickly. Jamie is the only one who really looms as somebody who could definitely destroy the family ranch and legacy.

He passes my ‘Gladiator’ test for a bad guy. I always judge my bad guys off Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Commodus (which I didn’t need help to spell, thanks coach Fish!). If they can make me truly hate them, then they are an excellent character.

Jamie Dutton makes me root for his death, so I think it’s safe to say I hate him. That’s a great character.

5. Bunkhouse Guys

OK, I’m going to cheat a little with No. 5 and just group together the Bunkhouse guys (plus Teeter). If you forced me to take just one – and you can’t because this is my website – then I would pick Lloyd by an eyelash over Walker. Both are great characters for totally different reasons and it’s even better that they absolutely loathe each other too (the hatchet seems buried though – and I’m not talking about in Walker’s shoulder).

The Bunkhouse Guys provide quality entertainment every episode. Usually, the Gang is there for comic relief or to prove just how big a Bad Ass Rip is – they can try to fight him, but he’ll fight them all effing day. They all play a good part though and do a good job of looking like they genuinely like each other.

This has taken forever, so I’m going to try to be a little less long-winded on my Worst 5 characters list. Here they are:

1. Monica Dutton

What a wet blanket. All on her own, Monica has made Kayce (who would’ve been an easy Top 5 choice before Season 4) irrelevant. I just don’t get what she brings to the table anymore. She had one great scene when she first started teaching college and owned one of her terrible students, but otherwise she’s usually the damsel in distress needing to be saved.

Hey Kayce, listen to the wise words of Project Pat – Don’t Save Her, She Don’t Wanna Be Saved.

2. Jimmy

Leave him in Texas and move on! I’m totally out on him – I have no idea how he could have two girls fighting over him unless it was an argument about who gets to leave and who is forced to stay. I know they’re talking about doing a spin-off for the 6666’s – cool, do it already so I don’t have to watch it or Jimmy.

If I’ve learned anything from Jimmy (it’s not easy, I’m usually checking Twitter during his scenes), it’s that I need to move to a county with six single guys. He was somehow able to get a good looking girl just by scarcity in Texas; If McMinnville girls are just as desperate about finding one of the few single guys left in town, I’m your man!

Be warned ladies: if I find out you like Yellowstone and you like Jimmy, I don’t think we’re going to work out.

3. Barrel-racing girls

They’ve already been fired, but they are still around all the time at the bunkhouse. Sure, they’re easy on the eyes (Laramie especially), but it feels like they should be way more than that if they’re going to be characters. So far, one has served almost solely as the reason to cause multiple bunkhouse brawls between Lloyd and Walker, while the other was Jimmy’s early love interest (why she was even interested, I have no clue).

I did like how Ali came out swinging in the Season 4 finale. It had been too long since somebody hit Jimmy.

4. Tate Dutton/Carter

Kids just don’t have a place on this show. I could write more, but why bother? I don’t think anybody is tuning in and gets pumped when the kids are talking.

5. Thomas Rainwater

Dan Jenkins didn’t make it past the second season (and, by the end, he was an ally). The Beck Brothers didn’t even make it a whole season. Jamie’s Dad, who I call Coach Yoast because that is that guy’s name for now and forever, didn’t even gain a single yard of ground before he was taken out (You could argue he “freed” Jamie, but he tried to kill the Duttons and managed to kill precisely zero of them. That’s why Herman Boone coached the offense).

While all those bad guys came and went, Thomas Rainwater has survived. OK, so what are we going to get for him? My best bet is his character is going to try to manipulate Kayce now and pull the “I’ve turned your son against you,” card with John, but that seems like a longshot.

I could go with less Thomas Rainwater and more of his sidekick Mo, who seems like the real deal who gets stuff done.

My goodness folks. If you got all the way to the end of this, give yourself a pat on the back. Also, be sure to go back to your social media accounts and share it (single out your favorite Question and Answer too!). Thanks so much for the questions. Keep sending them and I’ll keep writing.

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