We're going into the most lopsided Iron Bowl ever and the UT-UK game is so meaningless that they could let the whole shebang ride on the coin flip and the only people that would notice are those that have the Vols on their parlay sheets (for entertainment purposes only of course.)
We almost feel obliged to wear a black armband as a sign of morning. Hey we could call this day Black Friday. think that would stick?
What a strange week this is. I honestly forgot that Tennessee was playing Kentucky this weekend. It’s like the game has a taken a backseat to the coaching search. I’ve got a couple of comparison questions for you this week. 1) Can you compare the talent level Dooley has left to the talent level Fulmer left? Is it better or worse? 2) Can you compare the perception of the Tennessee job now to what it was when Fulmer left? Judging from your readers comments on Monday, the Tennessee job is 4th or 5th best in the state.
We had a slew of UT questions this week, and we'll summarize most of them in the following paragraph.
We think it's 50-50 at best whether the Vols land Jon Gruden as their next coach. As for the timetable, if it's Gruden it will be sooner — like within the next week or so — rather than later; if it's not it likely will be mid-December since a lot of the time so far has been spent negotiating with Chucky. No we have no idea why Gruden would leave a cushy TV job for the 335-days-a-year grind that is coaching in the SEC, but we do know that uber-successful coaches are wired differently than the rest of us. That should cover it.
Oh, yeah, if it's not Gruden, we think the list from there (in order of likelihood of them being the next UT coach) goes Charlie Strong, Bob Stoops, Jimbo Fisher, Butch Jones. That definitely should cover it.
As for C-Vol's question, as usual, it's a savvy one. Let's take the second part first.
The national perception of the Tennessee job is fractional what it was five years ago. UT was an A-lister not that long ago, and maybe even a top-five job in the country as late as 2004 when Fulmer's team made its fourth SEC title game appearance in eight years. Ah 2004, before Urban Meyer revived Florida and Mark Richt had won his second SEC title. Before Saban left LSU and Miami to turn Alabama into a juggernaut and before Spurrier moved South Carolina beyond UT. The Vols were a power player in the SEC, but that's before the SEC became the country's premier power conference, and the mass movement forward by the rest of the league — and the self-destructive tendencies of Tennessee — have left the Vols in a painful slide. In eight years, turmoil within and improvements around the league have cause UT to go from one of the top five jobs in the country to barely one of the top eight jobs in the SEC in less than a decade. And that's sad.
As for the roster, well, that depends greatly on whether the new coach can convince several of the Vols' draft-eligible pieces to return. If Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Ju'Wuan James and Tyler Bray return, UT's offense could be special. It's unlikely Hunter and Patterson will be back since they are first- or second-round picks. Still a rock star like Gruden may be able to convince them to come back for one more run.
And if you think you want Bray to leave, well, that's your right since the kid has been less than stable outside the lines and has yet to deliver a marquis win on the field. That said, if Gruden or an offensive-minded guy that embraces the passing game comes to Knoxville, here's saying he'd have Bray's full attention, and not unlike Jon Crompton with Lane Kiffin, struggling and underachieving QBs often benefit the most from coaching changes. And that would be especially true for Bray, who committed to Kiffin and had enrolled in school and was set to attend his first class the morning after Kiffin announced he was leaving UT. Bray — and anyone who follows our daily writings knows we're hardly a Bray apologist — was dealt a tough hand from the start. Plus, the pieces are in place for the Vols offensive line to be pretty salty, especially if the new regime retains the services of Sam Pittman.
The new coach will inherit a defense that can not help but be better. A.J. Johnson will be back, as will Brian Randolph. Plus, Sal Sunseri — SAAALLLLL!!! — will not return, and all three of those facts are huge, Huge, HUGE benefits to the Vols defense.
That said, Kiffin's 7-6 year in 2009 was on the back of a slew of Fulmer holdovers that stepped up. Guys like Eric Berry and Montario Hardesty and Crompton and Denarious Moore and Dan Williams. In fact, there were six Vols picked in the 2010 draft.
Derek Dooley did not have that same luxury, considering most of Kiffin's only signing class from the 2009 has long since moved along. Sure several of the players in the 2010 class committed to Kiffin like Bray and James among others, but that technically was Dooley's first class. So, of the 22 members of Kiffin's class were reviewed — a group that included two five-star players in Janzen Jackson and Bryce Brown and nine four-star kids — three-star receiver Zach Rogers likely had the best career.
Dooley has left the shelves a little better stocked, but that depends on how many of the juniors come back. And it depends on how many of the players decide to stick it out for the Vols' fourth head coach since October of 2008.
C-Vol, we respect your passion and the love Johnny Vols Fans everywhere have for their team. But know this: Even if Jon Gruden comes in with a slew of NFL assistants, unless they bring some talent or a recruiting class that looks a lot like Alabama's 2008 haul, there's a ton of rebuilding to be done.
President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, center, and Malia, right, carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon, " at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. After the ceremony, "Cobbler" will head to George Washington's historic home in Virginia to be part of the "Christmas at Mount Vernon" exhibition. National Turkey Federation Chairman Steve Willardsen is at left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Dude, love the 5-at-10. Seriously good stuff.
Tennessee made the call right. Tell me they made the right call. (And tell me there's a solution in the works.)
I'm sure you'll have a bunch of people asking about UT football, so I has a question about Thanksgiving. Why does Thanksgiving get jipped compare to the other holidays?
Thanks for taking the question and love to listen to you on SportTalk and Goforth's show.
Thanks for reading and for the kind words.
Thanksgiving is awesome, but you have a fair point that it kind of has the feeling of Flag Day — if Flag Day was on a Thursday and you had permission to consume 2,500 calories.
Why does Thanksgiving have so little holiday street cred? Christmas music is every and every show on every station will have some sort of Christmas theme. Now Thanksgiving is as much about the shopping and the selling as it is about the stuffing and the swelling. And that's sad.
For crying out loud, Halloween, Mother's Day and even Valentine's Day get more exposure than Turkey Day. Maybe the others have better publicists — we know those evil-workers at HallMark have parlayed Valentine's Day and guilt into the most overblown holiday ever. Maybe the supersized and obese state of our country makes it tough to celebrate gluttony and going back for thirds on a grand scale. Maybe the need for Christmas economically has taken control of Thanksgiving, which was made a Federal holiday in the 1930s in large part to help stimulate the economy.
A big part of it is the lack of a go-to Thanksgiving movie or event.
Fourth of July has fireworks. Labor Day is the end of summer. Halloween has the whole scare factor. And Christmas, well, Christmas is the LeBron James of holidays and has it all.
On Thanksgiving, the TV is turned to footbal, and that makes it no that much different than a lot of fall days across the country. And how exactly would you celebrate gluttony on film or in song. Maybe a play off the 2 Live Crew classic, only we'll call it "Me So Hungry (oh oh, me so hungry)." Or maybe not.
Here's what we know. We love Thanksgiving. And we love Black Friday, too.It's all about leftover turkey sammiches on white bread with mayo. And plenty of Black pepper. That's the Black Friday part we're talking about. Is there another Black Friday out there?
For your top five list (or the Friday mailbag)...Name 5 college football games (past, present, or future) that you would like to attend in person and why.
Wow, this was an excellent question, and in truth there are a couple on the list that we were able to attend in person. We have two lists — an Auburn list and an overall list.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik holds the trophy for quarterback Cam Newton after Auburn defeated Oregon 22-19 in the BCS championship NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow)
1) 2010 BCS title game — and with the current state of the program, it's also known as the Auburn's last national championship of our lifetime
2) Iron Bowl, 1989 — We were there for Alabama's first visit to Jordan-Hare. The Tide was No. 2 in the country and 10-0 and suffered a 30-20 loss to the Tigers.
3) Punt Bama Punt — Auburn historic and iconic 17-16 win that was determined on two blocked punts returned for TDs in 1972. Of course we were a couple months past our second birthday, so we may have smuggled in a different type of bottle from the tailgate.
4) Iron Bowl 2010 — The last time Auburn went to Tuscaloosa was a 28-27 comeback win for Cam Newton and company. We're not expecting anything similar Saturday. Although Auburn may make a late charge for a TD in a 47-7 loss.
5) Bo over the top — When freshman Vincent "Bo" Jackson dove in from the 1 to top Bama 23-22 in the Bear's last Iron Bowl.
Honorable mention: Auburn at Florida 1994 — We were at this one too, when an unbeaten-and-still-on-probation Auburn was a 17-point underdog and stunned No. 1 Florida 36-33 on a Patrick Nix-to-Frank Sanders TD in the final minute. We got cussed out by an elderly woman in a Florida tanktop. And yes, she was wearing blue jean shorts.
Overall list (in no particular order)
1) Flutie's Hail Mary — Not as much national significance, but that was the moment college football got its hooks into a young 5-at-10.
2) USC-Notre Dame in 2005 — the Bush Push game
3) Army-Notre Dame in 1946 — A 0-0 tie between two of the top five dynasties in the history of college football. Army was unbeaten from 1944-46. After the tie, Notre Dame did not lose another game until 1950.
4) Nebraska-Oklahoma in 1971— A 35-31 Nebraska win in a game so good, sports writing legend Dave Kindred wrote: "They can quit playing now, they have played the perfect game."
5) LSU-Alabama last year — The Tigers' 9-6 win was the ultimate defense street fight. And it was the ultimate game in which first downs were meaningful.
With the holidays approaching, there are some pretty big movies that will be making their debuts this winter. Are there any that you are getting pretty stoked about beside Red Dawn? I know critics are claiming that Lincoln is doing well in theaters despite historical evidence to the contrary.
With a 5-at-10 Jr. who's 5 and a 5-at-10 Princess who is 2, we're more likely yo see Wreck it Ralph in the theater before Red Dawn 2012.0. WOLVERINES.
The Mrs. 5-at-10 is pretty stoked about the Twilight conclusion. We'd rather than to convert third-and-3 running the option against the 1977 Steelers than watch that, but so it goes.
We think Lincoln will be an excellent movie that will yawn its way to several Academy Award nominations.
Here's out list of movies we like to see in the theater if we went to the theater.
1) Red Dawn 2012.0. You knew this was No. 1. We knew this was No. 1. Heck, the Mrs. 5-at-10 knew this was No. 1 (anyone want to take bets about whether the 5-at-10s see Red Dawn 2012.0 or the Twilight finale (which we think is called "Twilight: We're allergic to our shirts and that skinny girl is pouty")?
2) Argo. Does this count since it was released in October? And who would have guessed that O'Bannion from "Dazed and Confused" would be an A-list power player behind the camera in Hollywaood?
3) Killing Them Softly. We have skyscraper hopes for this one. Another one that will challenge Lincoln and Argo come next spring when Oscar is on the line.
4) Skyfall. We're cool with Bond, James Bond. And we've heard good things. Daniel Craig is on track to give Connery all he wants in the "Best Bond ever" contest.
5) Wreck it Ralph: Hey, we may as well get jazzed about it, right?
Here's an idea for a top 5 list - You're king for the day, other than putting the letter letter I in the word team to shut up high school coaches across America, you can move five teams from their current conferences to another. You cannot move the entire SEC West out.
This was such a great top 5 suggestion that we moved it to the mailbag.
OK, we're king for a day, so we're going to get move five teams. Well, moving college football teams is only one thing so, and we have to address the letter suggestion. Here's our double top five, with a top five in 10 words or less in each so this may be the first ever, back-to-back 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10. And we're attempting this without a net.
1) Add an 'i' to team: Yes, high school coaches everywhere are cringing.
2) Add an 'r' to Colonel: It's already there in the pronunciation.
3) Add an 'a' to Knoxville: Then when we say Ka-Noxville, people won't think we're Rainman.
4) Eliminate all silent 'p': Pneumonia, psychology and pneumatic would thank us.
5) Change the 's' to a 'z' in gritz: Why, because we're so street. Word.
We're going to move these by conference, and know that the goal is to get to four Super football conferences with at least 14 teams apiece. Plus, the current money maker is in football because leagues are selling the broadcast rights. The next money horizon is leagues with their own netowrks and since they will have already sold the football TV rights, basketball will be a valuable TV filler on the SEC Network of the future — and no one wants to watch Ole Miss-Auburn in hoops.
1) UNC, Duke, Va. Tech, Kansas to the SEC: Reset the football divisions, become a hoops superpower
2) Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Virginia to the B1G: Hey, we threw geographic boundaries out a long time ago
3) Florida State, Miami, Clemson to the Big 12: They can have only 12 since their name is Big 12
4) Boise State, BYU and any of the other West Coast teams we're forgetting in our turkey-induced hangover to the Pac 12: This is the easiest pick of them all.
5) All other stragglers into the Good, Dependable Independents league: They get one bid into the 16-team football playoff.
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 ...