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SOUTHERN CRESCENT BUZZ:

Each Monday on the SCBuzz Blog, I'll give you my Starting Five. That's five big topics that are especially noteworthy to me. So enjoy it all at once, or break it up into pieces if you must.

Enjoy!

Here's the latest Buzz:

1. Pulling the cover

Never judge a book by it's cover. You've heard that saying, right? Well it applies to more than just items you find on a shelf in a library.

The cover is the first thing you see on a book, whether you're trying to or not. And often if the cover is ratty and shabby, you'll pass up on picking up the book. On the flip side, if a book's cover is artsy, shiny and appealing, you'll pick it up.

Never mind that the contents of the book usually have little to do with the style of the cover.

Well, in the world of high school and college sports, football is usually the "cover" of an athletic program...for better or for worse.

That said, if you look at the "cover" of, say, Eagle's Landing, and you see that the wins have been scarce over the last couple of years, you might be tempted to judge your view of the total success of ELHS athletics based simply on its so-called cover.

Don't.

After Eagle's Landing hired Elliot Montgomery as the successor to Clay Crump last week, former Golden Eagles' AD and current Cross Country coach Claude Spinks dropped some knowledge on me.

Each year since the 1999-2000 school year, the Georgia Athletic Directors Association passes out it's Regions Director's Cup award as a way to recognize GHSA athletic departments for excellence.

Awards for individual sports exist as well. But here's what you miss about a school like Eagle's Landing when you judge it by its "cover:"

-Six region championships in the 2012-13 school year.

-A No. 13 ranking in the final Class AAAA Cup standings.

-A No. 10 ranking two years ago when the school won seven region titles and had five of its athletic teams make the semifinals of their respective state tournaments.

Said Spinks: "The overall quality of our programs don't get a lot of recognition, but we have been one of the top public schools in Henry County."

Other notables: Union Grove finished No. 15 in the final Class AAAAA standings and Eagle's Landing Christian -- which produced state champions in football and baseball this year -- finished No. 11 in the Class A category.

2. 7-on-7 success

They didn't come away with any championship recognition, nevertheless, Mundy's Mill football coach Greg Manior called his team's effort last weekend in the Toast of the Coast 7-on-7 tournament in Brunswick something to be proud of.

The Tigers finished 10-2 over all (they were guaranteed 10 games), and were one of just four teams left standing in the 20-team tournament before being eliminated by Pierce County -- a squad they'd already beaten earlier in the tourney.

Ware County, a 13-2 Class AAAAA runner up in 2012, was one of the teams that Mundy's Mill defeated. Standout running back Rodney Smith stepped back onto the field in live action for the first time in since tearing an ACL during the regular season finale against Ola.

Manior made me chuckle last week at the notion that so many teams didn't know who or where Mundy's Mill was.

"Some of these teams thought we were a private school up north somewhere," Manior said prior to the Brunswick showing.

I guarantee you nobody's saying that now. Check out upcoming features on rising junior quarterback Rodricus Gates and wideout Eric Tate. Manior's high on the QB-WR duo, and I'm starting to wonder if something special isn't brewing at the Mill.

3. Enough 'ring' talk, LBJ is king

Although the NBA season ended last Thursday, we're still infected with the "Who's The Greatest" bug. Of course the never-ending argument of who is the NBA's G.O.A.T. or who is even the King of the league right now will rage on until this time next year, when we'll just simply add another layer to it.

Sports editor Derrick Mahone gave us his slice of opinion last Friday.

Here's my take: Who's the greatest the NBA today? LeBron James, hands down, is the greatest player in today's game. Now, feel free to disagree with me. Call me an idiot. Whatever. But please, spare me one thing.

Don't use the ring argument, okay? By that I mean, let's stop trying to justify a players overall greatness by the amount of gaudy championship rings that adorn their fingers. It's just inaccurate. There are too many holes in the argument, and too many variables that need to be added.

For instance: Let's pretend that title rings is the end-all be all to a player winning the "greatest" moniker. Check this out:

Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor, Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson, just to name a few. All great players, right? All Top 50 all time, perhaps, correct? Future Hall-of-Famers, no doubt.

Grand total of championship rings: 0.

On the other hand:

Robert Horry (7), Michael Cooper, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr and Derrick Fisher (all with 5), Kurt Rambis, Will Perdue, John Salley and Horace Grant (all with 4). That's a grand total of 43 championship rings.

Yet what sensible basketball fan would even dare put the latter group of players in any kind of discussion with the ones who have naked fingers? Here's the kicker. LeBron James has two rings, and I don't think his Heat were a better team than the Spurs.

Yes, Kobe Bryant has the five rings. Yes, he has the killer instinct. But he's also got that ripped achilles. And I believe the question at hand is "who is the best player right now?" Kobe probably could give Rambis and and Kerr a run for their money one-on-one in his condition, but not LeBron.

Finally, stop comparing LeBron to Jordan. For two reasons:

  1. LeBron's skill set is not anywhere near that of MJ's. It's like comparing apples and pizzas. Jordan was a 6-foot-6 scoring guard. LBJ is a 6-foot-9 forward with point guard IQ and a two-guard's scoring ability. He's more comparable to Magic Johnson than Jordan.
  2. At what point did anyone hear LeBron say it was his ambition to be like or better than Jordan in the first place?

And as Wes Anderson, one of our Facebook readers pointed out, why stop at Jordan and James? Why not bring in the aforementioned Magic (whom I actually think is the best pure basketball player ever to play), Bill Russell (11 rings), Jerry West, etc.?

Whatever the case, if you want to give a credible argument for Kobe or Jordan or Bob Cousy for that matter over LeBron James, by all means, do so.

Just leave the rings out of it.

4. Dirty Bird digest

New Atlanta Falcons running back Stephen Jackson has a

pretty cool website and blog where he chronicles his time time in Dirty Bird land, getting ready for his first fall with the NFC runners up. His "Making My Way in the ATL" segment is pretty neat stuff.

5. Finally fall?

As a kid in school, I couldn't wait for the summer. Now, as a grown-up sports writer I have the same anxiety for the Fall. And it's not just about football either.

There is a point in the fall where the NBA, MLB, the NFL and college football are all going full throttle at the same time. It creates a smorgasbord of sports goodies for the causal fan or the diehard. But throw into that mix Friday Night Lights, high school softball and volleyball with a little cross country and an approaching basketball season mixed in, and it's like sensory overload.

So excuse the fact that I'm already looking ahead -- especially when it comes to Southern Crescent football. I'll round out this week's Starting Five with five games Southern Crescent football fans may want to put on their "I've gotta see it" lists:

1. Lovejoy vs. Mundy's Mill, 8/30: As happy as Greg Manior is about Mundy's Mill's summer success coming off of first-season momentum, he knows that none of it means anything if it doesn't translate to "W's" in the season. Lovejoy's going to be breaking in new faces all over the field offensively. This one should be closer than last year's 44-6 Lovejoy drubbing.

2. Union Grove at Whitewater, 9/20: Last year, Whitewater came into Union Grove and smoked the Wolverines to the tune of 39-0. Union Grove never looked like that team again as it went on to a 10-2 season, losing narrowly in the playoffs to eventual Class AAAAA runner up Ware County. You'd have to think Union Grove would love nothing more than to go to Whitewater and return the favor.

3. Stockbridge at Dutchtown, 10/18: When these two teams locked up last season, Dutchtown was 5-2 and Stockbridge 5-1. It was expected to be a battle for region title positioning. But the Tigers used the 45-19 blowout to solidify itself as a serious state title contender. New Dutchtown coach Kevin Jones wasn't on the sidelines to see that one. But you can believe he'll prepare his team for the rematch as if he were.

4. Dutchtown at Riverdale, 9/20: Talk about a natural rivalry. The Bulldogs easily disposed of a Riverdale team that came into the game ranked No. 6. Both teams have new coaches with fire in their bellies. And, by the way, the Riverdale coach, Terry Herrod, is the old Dutchtown d-coordinator. These teams were getting after it against each other real good, complete with a little trash talking, a couple of weeks ago at Lovejoy's 7-on-7 Passing League. This one should be fun.

5. Griffin at Stockbridge, 9/27: Stockbridge made history in 2012 when then-senior kicker Andres Guillen booted a 28-yard field goal to give the Tigers -- and Henry County -- their first ever win against the powerhouse from Spalding County. The Bears bring their show to Tiger Stadium this year. Any time two equally loaded region and state title contenders square off in midseason, look for fireworks.

That's it until Wednesday folks. Thanks for reading!

-Gabriel Stovall