SUN­DAY

The Covington News - - SPORTS - Gabriel Sto­vall is the sports ed­i­tor at The Cov­ing­ton News. You can con­tact him for story ideas or tips at gsto­vall@ cov­news.com. If you’re on Twit­ter, follow him @GabrielS­to­vall1 or follow our sports page at @CovNewsS­ports.

this, the Hawks are in full tank mode. Have been since they un­loaded the 60win team three sea­sons ago. They’re build­ing through the draft, through key free agency, through un­load­ing cap space. Great. But what does that mean with­out a star?

The Hawks need a ma­jor per­son­al­ity. A closer. A player who is the undis­puted face of the fran­chise that you can build around. And guess what? The 25 yearold Kyrie Irving wants a place where he can, “The Man.”

Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? So why isn’t a team like At­lanta on Kyrie’s list? Well, prob­a­bly for the same rea­son why no other start look­ing to trade or test the wa­ters of free agency is. The Hawks don’t like po­si­tion­ing them­selves to make splash deals.

Be­fore, cap space could have been the blame. But now, when your team’s best player is Den­nis Schroder, it’s the time to po­si­tion your­self to be a win­ner. Look, maybe the Hawks make the play­offs this year. With the way the East is set up, they could prob­a­bly do it with 35 wins. That’s not say­ing much. But if At­lanta is se­ri­ous about cre­at­ing a win­ner, here’s a chance.

Throw it all at Irving, Hawks! Let him know you want to be a win­ner and you want to build it all around him. You have noth­ing to lose any­way. You’ve al­ready lost it all, as far as ros­ter tal­ent goes. Take a chance. The worst he could do is say, “no.” But that would mean that the ques­tion was asked, at least. That’s progress. Out in the world of SEC foot­ball, Ole Miss made news once again. When I saw on Twit­ter that Hugh Freeze was out as the Rebels’ head coach, I skimmed by it and sur­mised that it was prob­a­bly re­cruit­ing stuff and/or the Hous­ton Nutt ven­detta fi­nally catch­ing up to him.

When I took an­other look, I did a dou­ble take. Es­cort ser­vice? Wow. Look, I’m not here to bash the man, but what Freeze did was re­mind us once again that your big sports plat­forms aren’t enough to per­mit you to do what­ever you’d like.

Some say Freeze’s is­sues were “no harm, no foul,” be­cause it was on his own pri­vate and per­sonal time and it didn’t hurt any­one tied to the pro­gram.

But it did. Although 18 to 22 year old young men prob­a­bly laugh it off, I bet you their par­ents were not. And coaches, for bet­ter or for worse, are seen as ex­ten­sions of parental guid­ance to the kids they re­cruit. If you as a par­ent can’t trust that the coach you’re turn­ing your kid over to for four or five years is go­ing to present him­self as a good role model, what rea­son do you have left to send your kid to that school?

I be­lieve Freeze will be fine, even­tu­ally. He’ll land on his feet from a coach­ing per­spec­tive. I mean, if Bobby Petrino pushed past his sins to land an­other big time job, any­one can. But I can’t help but won­der if the pres­sure of be­ing an SEC foot­ball coach at a school where the NCAA, and Nutt, are con­stantly breath­ing down your neck got to him.

Even if he did, coaches — and play­ers — on those plat­forms have to be able to prove that they can make bet­ter de­ci­sions for their own sake and that of all whom they rep­re­sent.

Fi­nally, as I write this col­umn, we are 20-some­thing days away from the kick­off of the 2017 foot­ball sea­son. And we’re even closer to the of­fi­cial be­gin­ning of the 2017-18 school year and fall sports sea­son.

I be­lieve vol­ley­ball and soft­ball games com­mence as early as the first week in Au­gust, which is less than two weeks away. Where did the sum­mer go? I have a feel­ing that this is go­ing to be a tremen­dous school year from an ath­letic stand­point, for our New­ton County stu­dent-ath­letes.

Please make sure you send me any ideas you for cov­er­age, or any ath­letes, teams or sports you’d like to see get more shine this school year. I’d love to hear from you!

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