Hello everyone. Yes, it has been a long time. That's why there was a map to the place slipped in with your invitation. Wasn't sure that anyone would remember where our little meeting place was.
So why are we getting together after all this time? Because there are a couple of things I felt the need to address.
So if you will all be seated we'll get started.
Nothing but "The Truth"
Having grown up just a little under a hour from Flint, these eyes have seen some of the best high school players this state has ever produced. I marveled at the skill and athletic ability of players like Jeff Grayer, Glen Rice, Andre Rison and Roy Marble, just to name a few.
As my friends and I watched these players dominate their opponents one thing was clearly evident. These guys were a step above all the other players in the state.
And because of their of ability to take over a game, each received a special moniker. We called these types of players "The Truth."
Players in this category make plays when their team needs them the most. They could literally will their teams to victory when it looked for certain that they were destined for defeat.
But we didn't toss the title around lightly. It was reserved for the best of the best.
Over the past several years I've seen a few other players who would fit nicely into this group. There was Matt Fraliex, a silky smooth 6-foot-5 forward who played for Caldwell County High School in Kentucky.
There was Kevin Weber, a 5-8 guard who turned perennial Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference doormat Engadine into a regional finalist. And there was Kurt Miller, a 5-9 guard who led DeTour to back-to-back trips to the state semifinals.
Upon my arrival in the Copper Country, I discovered another player who would fit in nicely with this exclusive club. That player is Chassell's Joe Larson.
Larson is one of the best offensive players I've ever seen. Anytime his team needed a big basket, Larson would knock it down.
From his text-book jumper to his slashing drives through the lane, Larson could score from anywhere on the floor. He was simply a scoring machine that nobody could shut down.
Larson's stellar career came to a close with a loss to Baraga in the district tournament. But despite the loss, Larson proved he was more than worthy of joining my gifted group.
He knocked down two free throws at the end of regulation to send the game with the Vikings into overtime. Larson then converted three more freebies in a row at the end of the first overtime to send the game into a second extra session.
Now that's coming through in the clutch. And it's just one of the many reasons why Larson has become a club member.
Larson was recently selected to the Class D All-State first team for his play this season. It was an honor no player deserved more.
This week the sportscasters and sportswriters here in our neck of the woods will vote for the All-U.P. squads. And if Larson doesn't make the Dream Team there should be an investigation.
He is as worthy as any player in the U.P. to be on that team. Leaving him off the squad would be a gross injustice.
For Larson is "The Truth," and that's no lie.
Tennessee you later
The past couple of years have not been good in Knoxville. First, there was the Lane Kiffin debacle.
Kiffin was hired to be the new head football coach to replace Phil Fulmer in 2009-10. Upon his arrival, Kiffin began throwing around innuendoes about other prominent programs in the SEC.
This did not sit well with the other schools in the conference and had Kiffin in hot water. Then after all the bluster, Kiffin didn't even have the stones to stick around and prove his worth.
He bolted for his former school, USC, as soon as former coach Pete Carroll left. But despite Kiffin's departure, the school is still under investigation for his recruiting practices.
Then came the news last Monday that head basketball coach Bruce Pearl had been fired from his position for the same type of infractions. That's two coaches in two years.
Something is amiss at UT. So who's at fault?
The coaches? Sure. They broke the rules. But there is someone else who should be held accountable for the shenanigans that have been going on at Tennessee.
That man is Athletic Director Mike Hamilton. After all, he's the man who's supposed to keep an eye on his coaches and their behavior.
The powers that be in Knoxville should say so long to Hamilton as well. He has made a mockery of Tennessee athletics.
With the football program struggling, and the basketball program in total shambles, Hamilton is partly to blame. Tennessee should fire him too and start over from scratch.
Firing Hamilton would put Tennessee in a precarious position. But at this point in time, it's the only move the school can make if it hopes to rebuild its reputation.
Still, it's going to take a while before the Vols reach the pinnacle of Rocky Top again.