NSG 016: Lennie Acuff

lennie acuff

In the win now world of college sports, how many coaches have you heard of who have been at the same school for 18 years? Coach Lennie Acuff and the UAH Basketball team are showing it can still happen.


One good example is recruiting. Coach Acuff says he doesn’t recruit, he sits down with a young man to tell him about the opportunity he has for him. Not how great a player the young man is.

A few other take aways:

  • If you’re a person who thinks an athlete should be paid, check out what he reveals at 15:00 in the interview, about how college scholarships work.
  • Another great observation was “I think we minimize the value of a college education”, when talking about paying a college player.
  • His dad taught him that when it comes to living as a man of integrity, you must “Know Your No’s”. Know what things you will not do, not matter what.

Check out Charger basketball on the web.

You can find The New Southern Gentleman on Facebook. Or follow me on Instagram

Pot Smoking Football Players and Racist Frat Boys

Another day another story about a college guy doing something stupid.

Whether it’s a football player getting caught with weed or a drunk frat boy showing his ass by singing racist songs, we’re all left asking the same question, “What was he thinking?”.

How could a kid throw away a free college education? How could a kid not think there’s a better than average chance somebody has their iphone out and the video is going to end up on YouTube?

What we’re talking about is dealing with the age-old response that every guy, especially those between 18 and 25, have uttered when asked why he did something particularly stupid, “I don’t know”. If you raised boys or even spent time around boys, you’ve shaken your head when you heard those three magic words.

The truth is he really wasn’t trying to avoid taking responsiblity, he REALLY didn’t know why he did it. Or to put it another way, when you ask “what was he thinking?”, the answer is, he wasn’t.  I know this because science has finally caught up with the car rental industry and figured out that a guy’s brains doesn’t fully develop until around age 25. And the last part to develop is the part of the brain that performs 2 critical functions.

The first is impulse control.

College-aged guys have almost no self-control and certain industries know this and use it as a weapon against them. Primarily the porn and video game industry.

The second and I think more critical function is thinking about long-term consequences. 

This is why you see a report every year during spring break about a guy getting seriously injured trying to jump in the hotel pool from his 3rd floor balcony. His brain is not developed enough to automatically do a risk/reward analysis of what happens if he misses the pool.

One interesting side effect to all of this is college aged guys are actually more sensitive to peer pressure than your average 15-year-old. In fact a 20-year-old guy is 50% more likely to do something risky if 2 friends are watching than if he were alone.

Now, just to be clear, this is not an excuse. 

What I’m saying is it’s a reason. And that means we can educate guys about where they are in life and what they are dealing with. Then  give them the tools and skills to make good decisions.

So the next time you hear about college guy being sandwiched between two mattresses then tossed out of second story, frat house window  you’ll have a pretty good idea why.

NSG 015: Mac McAnally



In this episode, I have a conversation with musician, songwriter, and all around good guy, Mac McAnally.

If you look up the word “professional” you should find a picture of Mac. Not just because of his ability as a musician, which has been verified by other studio players voting him CMA musician of the year 7 times, but because of his attitude. Mac told me he gives 100% every time somebody hires him to play or sing on a recording because he knows it’s that person’s dream.

He’s done his best for artists like Alabama, Sawyer Brown, Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett. Plus tons of other folks you’ve never heard of, but they all get Mac’s best.

Mac’s also had a pretty good run as a songwriter:

  • “Old Flame” by Alabama
  • “Down the Road” and “Back Where I Come From” by Kenny Chesney
  • My personal favorite, “It’s My Job” by Jimmy Buffett

Mac’s philosophy of life is pretty simple: he’s trying to make life better for everybody he comes in contact with.

It All Started When We Said Boys And Girls Are The Same

The year was 1973 and as far as I know none of the boys in this picture were on Ritalin or been diagnosed with ADHD. I’m one of the guys in the picture so I know there were a lot of them who would have been on Ritalin today.

So what happened?

I think it all started when somebody decided that boys and girls were the same. Which sounds good, but this thinking has had unintended consequences. The biggest being boys are now expected to act like girls.

Which means boys aren’t allowed to play ball or roughouse at school, which means they don’t get to burn off excess energy created by testosterone, which means they can’t sit still in class, which means the teacher wants them tested for ADHD, which means they get tranquilized AKA put on Ritalin, when all they really needed was to run amok for 30 minutes every day.

How did we get here?

The 1960’s and early 1970’s were a time when our country was grappling with how to solve inequality in two big areas: racism and sexism. Along the way somebody decided that saying boys and girls are different was code for saying girls are substandard (full disclosure I have two daughters so I’m a huge cheerleader for equal opportunity for women).

But different does mean better or worse, it just means not the same. Like the way dogs and cats are different but one is not better than the other. OK that’s a bad example because everybody knows dogs are superior to cats. But you get my point.

So what’s my point? Let boys be boys. Let them:

  • Wrestle
  • Play king of the hill
  • Play pick up and smear

If you do, you’ll end up with fewer boys walking around like zombies and you’ll also end up with men who can handle life.

NSG 014: Micah Whitson

Micha Whitson

Micah Whitson is co-founder of Old Try , where they design and produce vintage letterpress prints and t-shirts emblazoned with iconic Southern images and phrases. In this episode Micah talks about his life, from growing up poor in the deep south to living in Boston. How he enjoys living in a place with lots of problems that he can help solve and the simple pleasure of doing something you love.

Also check out Old Try on Instagram


NSG 013: Troy Black

Chef Troy Black is a champion competitve bbq’er, author and teacher. But mainly he’s a dreamer. A big dreamer. Like the time he decided he could get corporate sponsorships for BBQ competition like NASCAR drivers. And he did.

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Troy has gone from cop to landscape business owner to Southern Living landscape expert to BBQ champion to author, teacher and chef.

Listen and you’ll be inspired to dream big and then figure out how to make it happen.

Learn more at www.cheftroyblack.com

NSG 012: Will Anderson

Will Anderson is an example of the next generation’s goal of combining entrepreneurship and doing good for others. He’s the owner of Salem Town Board Company , a company that builds handmade skateboards. But what sets Will apart is he decided to locate his company in one of the worst neighborhoods in Nashville and employ the young men who live there. Here’s how they put it “We exist to build boards people love to ride while creating jobs for young men who need them.” Processed with VSCOcam with 3 preset Will is an interesting guy:

  • He’s got a seminary degree
  • He’s the son of a Presbyterian pastor
  • He has some very strong opinions about evangelicals

There’s a good chance you’ll be challenged and maybe even ticked-off a little while you listen. But hang in there and you’ll find yourself dealing with why you think a certain group of people are the way they are. But the biggest challenge will be that you’ll no longer have any excuse for not getting your hands dirty to help solve society’s problems instead of just talking about it. Will and I talked in a coffee shop, so there is a bit of background noise. PS Here’s the CBS Sunday Morning story where I first heard about Will.

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The Resurgence of the Southern Gentleman

There was a time when calling a man a “Southern Gentleman” was not exactly a compliment. It was more of a nice way to say “redneck” or “hillbilly”.

To be fair, a lot of southern guys had given these folks plenty of ammunition to make such a broad generalization. George Wallace, Bull Connor and every cowardly idiot who walked around in a white sheet burning crosses and churches, had made it very easy to write off the South for good.

But a funny thing happened. We changed. New generations refused to adopt the racism and bigotry of previous generations. Mainly because of what happened to folks like me. When  I started elementary school in 1970, my class was the first to attend fully integrated schools from the beginning. That meant we sat together at lunch, drank from the same water fountain. Later it meant we sweated and bled together playing sports. We didn’t know any better than to think we were all the same because through experience, we knew we were.

Fast forward to today and there are southerners performing in every area of life so well, that when people see a guy Justin Timberlake from Memphis perform, they don’t think about segregation, they think “He’s from the South?”.

Not just him but TV chef Alton Brown, the Zac Brown Band, Tim Tebow, SEC football, Kentucky basketball. Then you add Atlanta being the place to be if you’re into Hip-Hop, Nashville not only for country music, but it’s starting to rival Austin for technology and creative content companies. The International Space Station is managed at Marshall Space Flight Center in my home of Huntsville, Al.

Now lots of guys are trying to figure out what it means to be a Southern Gentleman and how to become one. It’s cool to be from the south. Check out websites like The Bitter Southerner. Listen to bands like the Alabama Shakes, the Drive By Truckers or Jason Isbell.

Southern is cool. And the best way to help spread that message is for us and by us I mean me, to stop apologizing for stuff we didn’t do, thoughts we never had, and acts of racism committed by those that came before us. In other words, stop apologizing for being Southern.

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