Gang, remember the mailbag Friday, and if you have any specific recruiting questions, fire away.
From the "Talks too much" studios, let's make the magic happen.
Maybe it's the influx of new coaching staffs across the SEC. Maybe it's the changing nature of the entire recruiting game. Maybe it's an outlier, an anomaly in the ebbs and flows of seven-figure adults and programs with eight- and nine-figure budgets having a large part of their futures decided by teenagers.
Whatever the reason, it feels like this college football recruiting cycle is as tumultuous and fluid as any in recent memory.
The trajectory of the recruiting cycles had moved toward earlier commitments and relative peace down the homestretch. This year, there's a sprint to the finish and a few SEC schools of area interest are poised to make some noise.
As UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here, Tennessee's coaching change was a big part of the changing names and faces in the Vols class. Nine players who were formerly committed to UT will not be part of the class next week. That's OK, and Butch Jones and Co. have done work replacing those guys and in a lot of ways upgrading from those guys.
Also of note, UT landed a commitment from MarQuez North on Wednesday night. North, a four-star receiver from North Carolina, is a big talent at a big position of need for the Vols. And if you are going to replace an all-world talent and an all-world name like Cordarrelle Patterson, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound receiver with multiple capital letters in his first name is an excellent starting point.
The work and effort Jones and Co. have put in landed North. It also got them back in the game with Vonn Bell, the five-star defensive back from Ridgeland.
If Jones can land Bell to go with the 11th hour addition of North, this class has to be considered a success considering the circumstances. If the Vols add any of the hodgepodge of big names the new coaches have made headway with — names like defensive end Carl Lawson or linebacker E.J. Levenberry or offensive tackle Christian Morris — this class has to be consider a smash.
Fab 4 Super pick
We had a spectacular season picking football games against the spread. As we've said a multitude of times, we make these picks for entertainment purposes only, so we hope you have been handsomely entertained.
We were 10-6 in the NFL playoffs, and we were 86-38-3 against the spread during the college football season. So, heading into the Super Bowl, we're 96-44-3 going. That's entertainment you could take to the bank. So, we're going to make four picks (plus one) on the big game Sunday.
• We'll take the Ravens plus-3.5. We not supremely confident with either team, mainly because we do not have a read on either team. Of our six missed playoff picks, we're 0-3 picking against the Ravens and 1-1 picking against the 49ers. Hey, does this qualify as research. We need a break.
• We'll say over the 47.5. This is simply because almost every game is zooming through scoring ceilings.
• We'll take the over 154.5 for the 49ers rushing total.
• We'll take under 2:15 for Alicia Keys' national anthem.
• We'll take under 7 seconds for the postgame embrace between the coaches Harbaugh.
We need some aspirin.
How did we get here?
As we put January in the books, and stare at the puzzling ballet that is February sports and weather and wonder, "how is the next month going to be more crazy than this one?"
Seriously, the array of strangeness and the bar full of bizarre that has permeated the sports world seems to be at an all-time apex. Let's review:
• The nation's best college football defensive player also was part of an online imaginary love triangle, trapezoid, hexagon, who knows what, that somehow got Katie Couric and Dr. Phil involved in sports and ultimately proved said linebacker, at best, is arguably the most naive celebrity in recent memory. That said, somewhere Mario Lopez's people better be working on his pitch as the star of the Lifetime movie of Manti Te'o.
• At one point this morning, there were five stories in the ESPN.com ticker that had the word "gay" in the headline. Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially since Rudy Gay was traded.
• We now all know that deer antler spray is apparently the next big thing in PEDs.
• Lance Armstrong, cycling's singular and signature star, has been completely pantsed. And somehow that's somewhat forgettable, no? (Of course it is cycling after all. Side note: We're not believers in adults wearing jerseys unless said jersey is handed to you by someone named coach, but cycling unis for cycling fans are plain silly. In fact, the top three sports that would be the absolutely worst to be a fan and show up in the jersey/uniform to support your team would be 1) Wrestling, 2) competitive swimming/diving — nice Speedo there Pops — and 3) Cycling.)
• A-Rod is mired in another PED mess. Seriously, wasn't there a time not that long ago, that we'd been willing to wager about anything that Alex Rodriguez was going to rewrite history. Now he's just another steroid footnote.
• Brent Musberger ogled a college kid's girlfriend on national TV, got railroaded for it and somehow the girl is now covering the Super Bowl and appearing in reality TV shows. Katherine Webb quickly moved to No. 3 in the hot girl in the crowd rankings to be discovered and go big-time. No. 1 is Courtney Cox, who was got her break when Bruce Springsteen pulled her on stage for "Dancing in the Dark" and No. 2 is Pam Anderson, who was shown on the Jumbotron at a CFL game multiple times with a Molson beer T-shirt on and a Molson executive was at the game and tracked her down, put her in commercials and, bang next thing you know it's Baywatch and Kid Rock.
This and that
— OK, did you see the story about Vandy coach James Franklin calling a certain Alabama football coach Nicky Satan? Here's saying that Nick Saban was more irked about the Nicky part than the Satan part. Here's also saying that the next time the Tide and Commodores face off, there will be no round left unfired. C'mon James, you can pick on ol' Orange Britches, but know your role and your realm. That's either big-time stones or big-time stupid.
— Chas9er has been saying that the SEC hoops hierarchy is Florida-space-space-space-and then everyone else. Well, proof-positive was the Gators' 75-36 destruction of South Carolina. Florida is the best team in the country right now.
— Consider us surprised at how little Harbaugh talk there has been this week. Granted the pregame shows with multiple, multiple hours of time to kill will make up for it, but still.
Remember the mail bag, of course, and let's go.
If you need a talking point, make a recruiting prediction. Or a Super Bowl guess.
If you want a question, try this: For years, the worst sports grizzly to poke with a verbal stick was Tiger Woods. Remember when Stephen Ames said Tiger was beatable and Woods put a 9-and-8 match-play thumping on Ames?
Before that it was Jordan. Before that was Tyson and so on. Well, now that Woods has faded some, who's the last athlete you want to talk smack about? We ask this after the thumping LeBron and the Heatles dumped on Brooklyn after some guy ran some lip service about James and Miami.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...