It's Mailbag Friday, so that means mail. And Bag. And answers — whether you like them or not.
From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...
Michael Patrick of the Knoxville News Sentinel
Lane Kiffin waits in the hallway, Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 waiting for television stations to kill their live feed of his press conference.
I’d like to go hypothetical on you this week. Let’s go back to January 9, 2010, and let’s say that Pete Carroll takes his NCAA whipping like a man and stays on at USC. Let’s also say Lane Kiffin stays at UT and assembles what many considered was going to be the #1 recruiting class in the country. As of now, we would be in the middle of year 3 of the Lane Kiffin era. If this happens, what is the state of the program right now? Are we in the middle of an SEC Championship hunt or in the middle of an NCAA hunt much like what ‘The U’ is going through right now or BOTH?
First off, never shy away from going hypothetical in the 5-at-10 realm. After Tennessee and Georgia and maybe certain parts of Alabama our two most visited states are the state of confusion and the state of hypothetical.
We spent a lot of time trying to balance our answer to your hypothetical proposition. Here's what we came up with:
If Pete Carroll had stayed at USC to take the punishment, which ultimately cost AD and chief Carroll supporter Mike Garrett his job, he would not have been at USC long anyway. The new AD hire was Pat Haden, and he would have fired Carroll. He never would have hired Kiffin — in fact, the 5-at-10 believes that Haden will run Kiffin the first chance he gets. Haden would have looked hard at USC alum Jeff Fisher, and if you're a USC fan, that would have been a pretty good deal. (It still may happen, but whether it does before Kiffin and Ed Orgeron get USC in more NCAA hot water is yet to be seen.)
Without having the USC job to skedattle off to, Kiffin would have remained in Knoxville, and the fevered pitch that he created among the Johnny Vols Fans everywhere would have only grown. Whether you love Lil' Lane or loathe him, you have to admit dude could create some excitement, and the Vols fans almost across the board bought in. Sure there are a lot of UT backers that are saying after the fact that "He was never a good fit," and "He was a punk," and those statements are true, but he had the fan base energized.
As for the state of the program, it's hard to think the Vols would not be more talented this morning if Kiffin was in the midway point of year 3. Bryce Brown likely would still be on the roster, and that would be a major upgrade in a position of dire need for UT. Janzen Jackson — for better or worse — still would likely be the roster, and we all know what he brings. So would David Oku, Jerod Askew and even Darren Myles. In fact, according to rivals.com's rankings, seven of the top nine players in Kiffin's 2009 class are no longer on the roster.
Tennessee defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, who was former head coach at Mississippi, cheers on the Volunteers during an NCAA college football game against Mississippi on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman) ** MAGS OUT **
Plus, there are the players that Kiffin might have landed. He and Orgeron were on good with all-world freshman defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who has enjoyed a monster first year at LSU. And who knows how many more.
So the answer to the first part of your question, is yes, the Vols would be in contention for an SEC title this year if Kiffin has stayed, considering that the SEC is pretty mediocre and if you win the East, you are by definition contending for the title. If Kiffin had stayed would the Vols have the fire power for LSU or Bama? No, but remember, Kiffin took a collection of rejects, outcasts and Jonathan Crompton to Tuscaloosa two years ago and almost beat the eventual national champion. The offense, with Tyler Bray, who Kiffin hand-picked by the way, and Bryce Brown would be noticeably better today if Kiffin were still calling his youngest son Knox and still on speaking terms with his brother-in-law.
That said, none of it would matter because the Vols would be so far in the NCAA doghouse it would take six weeks for light to get back there when the door opens. This summer of hand-wringing about Bruce Pearl and the basketball program would have been a tea party compared the stress of a football investigation of Kiffin and Co., if Kiffin and Co. were still on UT's payroll.
In fact, here's saying that with the way Kiffin knowingly thumbed his nose at the NCAA during his eventful 13 months in Knoxville, the NCAA investigators may have looked at a couple of recent controversies and said:
"What's happening at Ohio State? Really? Wow that's bad, but don't bother us right now, we're looking at Baby Face Kiffin."
"Wow, a Miami had a rogue booster give benefits to 70 or more players and refers to himself as the next Uncle Luke Skywalker? Really? That's trivial stuff compared Al Capone Orgeron and the rest of the boys in K-town. Give OSU some secondary violations and make Miami sit some players, we've got real things to look into."
So, after a very non-Reader's Digest breakdown, the simple answer C-Vol is your team would be better, but your program would be much, Much, MUCH worse. Because if a river of NCAA violation land on you and you clear the deck, the rebuilding is painful. And look at the bright side, at least the rebuilding has already started. (And you'll get the chance to giggle when Haden runs Kiffin out of SoCal.)
Photo by Jae C. Hong/Associated Press Alabama head coach Nick Saban poses with trophies during a news conference after the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Texas Longhorns in the NCAA National Championship game.
David Paschall had an excellent story this week about Nick Saban this week. A fine piece of journalism, I say. He started the story with a mention of the SEC's Mount Rushmore of coaches and Saban is forcing his way there. Well, he's right of course.
My question for you is two-fold: Who is your Mount Rushmore of SEC players and which four SEC coaches would make the Mount Rush-least (as in the worst, see what I did there — you can admit how much you like it)?
Thanks, and enjoy the 5-at-10 it's a nice way to start the morning.
Something told us that you, the chief Johnny Tide Fan that we know, was going to enjoy Paschall's Saban story. And it's hard to argue that Saban is the measure stick for all other coaches out there and Bama is the measuring stick for all other programs out there. And you know where the 5-at-10 went to college and how hard that was to type, but it's true, and the truth is the truth. At least that's what Harvey Updyke says.
Anyhoo, as for the Mount Rushmore of players, that's tough because there are so many and so many different eras. We'll caveat this by saying it's players we've seen — in person mind you — so you're talking about from 1978 or 79 on. As for some of the previous generation guys like Joe Namath, who was 29-4 in three years as a starter and won the 1964 title with Alabama, and Steve Spurrier and the beloved Archie Manning and so many more, well, they can all be in the pamphlet we hand out before the tours of the SEC Mount Rushmore
Herschel Walker is a no doubter — dude never lost to an SEC opponent. Bo Jackson is a no brainer because he's Bo Jackson. We'd go Tim Tebow. And here's our dilemma, who's No. 4? Peyton Manning set a lot of records but never won a national title or a Heisman, which really means he was just a rich man's David Greene, the Georgia QB who broke a bunch of Manning's career marks. There's Alabama's Jay Barker, who all he did was win, but he loses some luster if for no other reason than that 1992 title team was so good from top to bottom.
Forced to make a pick, we'll take Danny Wuerffel, who won a Heisman and a national title for those great Gators teams under Spurrier. But know this, if Trent Richardson stays on his current pace — which likely would mean a Heisman and areal good shot at being a big part of two national title teams — well, break out the chisel, because Richardson will make his way on the mountain.
As for the Mount Rush-Less of coaches, well, that's tough. Let's move quickly:
Ray Goff: Who was dealt a stacked hand after the Dooley era at Georgia — and with Dooley as his AD to boot — and managed to do very little.
Lane Kiffin: He's not the worst coach to ever coach in the SEC — he's a much better coach that Sly Croom or Doug Barfield or Coach O — but Kiffin arguably did the most damage in the shortest period of time in SEC history.
Curley Hallman: The former LSU coach who let Jamie Howard keep throwing and throwing in a 1994 30-26 loss. And if you think it's too rough putting a coach on the Mount Rush-less for one game, well, consider this: LSU led No. 11 Auburn 23-9 entering the fourth quarter. Howard threw five — yes FIVE fourth-quarter picks — and three were returned for touchdowns. Add that to the fumble return for a score that day and Auburn scored zero offensive TDs and gained 165 yards and won 30-26. He finished 16-28 in four seasons at LSU, and there's no reason with the in-state talent at LSU's doorstep that the Bengal Tigers should be bad.
Jennings "Ears" Whitworth: There are several options for No. 4, but since an Alabama fan asked the question we'll go with Ears who was a less than stellar 4-24-2 with the Tide. While that may have been the low point, Ears was replaced by some whippersnapper named Paul Bryant, and if memory serves, that turned out pretty well.
Rusty Staub is greeted at home after his first-inning, three-run homer against Oaklands A's in fourth game of World Series, October 17, 1973. Greeting him are Felix Millan, (16), and Wayne Garrett (11). Looking on are umpire Paul Pryor and A's catcher Ray Fosse. (AP Photo)
Noticed your points about the changes in viewers for the World Series (35 million in 1973, compared to 14 million last year). My question is why? What has changed? And what was the last World Series you really remember watching every game of?
Heck, the changes are too numerous to calculate in baseball as well as society.
In baseball, the relief specialists have become so common that using five pitchers in postseason games is common. That only adds to the pace of play problem. And pace of play is a problem — last night's thrilling 2-1 Texas win still took more than three hours, meaning that there has been eight runs scored in 18 innings and it has taken 6 hours, 10 minutes to play. Not good.
The society problem is even more pertinent. Watching Game 2 last night with 5-at-10 Sr., there were back-to-back commercials for the iPhone 4, which among other things can find you the closest locksmith, move meetings and remind you to pick up milk, and the new Audi which reads your signature and claims to make 2,000 decisions a minute. A phone that talks to you and runs your day-to-day world and a car that makes 2,000 decisions? Really? Is this type of society that wants to appreciate the debate between bunting a runner over or the flaws of hitting the pitcher 8th rather than 9th?
Of course not. There are 12,000 channels and 12,000,000 internet options that serve the instant need for whatever we want. And the pace of baseball does not factor into that need. Well, that is unless our car or our phone tell us to watch.
Boston College's Luke Kuechly (40) runs the ball in for a touchdown after an interception in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Central Michigan, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009, in Boston. Boston College won 31-10. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Question for Friday mailbag:
To date, college football's tackles leader is Boston College's Luke Kuechly (16.5 per game). Only one other big six conference school has anybody in the top ten tacklers, and that school has TWO. Name the SEC school with this formidable talent.
Without even looking, it has to be Kentucky. It has to be.
Being among the tackle leaders at any level takes an impressive combination of talent, will and stink-pants offense.
And we know for certain that Danny Trevathan has all three — especially the last one. Wow, the UK offense is down right brutal.
(Sidenote: We looked up the stats to see who No. 2 was, and we're sure Winston Guy is also flush with talent and will and the stink-pants offense.)
And Guy is a defensive back. What does it say about your offense — and your defensive line — when a defensive back is among the top tacklers in all of college football? Ouch.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, second from right, talk to reporters after taking part in talks between representatives of the basketball league's owners and players, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
You've been trying to poke at me recently but your petty games do not work. MJ is twice the player LeBum will ever be and you know it. Your just showing your ignorance and trying to get arise out of me. Not going to work.
What did get a rise out of me was Bryant Gumble's recent comments about NBA commissioner David Stern being a plantation owner, which means the NBA treats the players like slaves.
What are your thoughts?
Glad to have you back, and LeBron says hello.
As for your question, this is a really sensitive area in sports because the race card carries a great deal of power and weight. And it's a subject the 5-at-10 is not really comfortable addressing — if you look at the photo we are white.
That said, there have been a lot of black sports celebrities come out and shoot down Gumble's comments, most notably our man Chuck Barkley, who told USA Today, "I thought they were stupid, disrespectful to black people who went through slavery. When (you're talking about) guys who make $5 million a year."
There's the rub. If this is about the labor situation, well, then Gumble just simple doesn't know what slavery entailed. There were no negotiations, no unions, no bargaining, no salaries in slavery. The NBA is facing a matter of labor unrest that is not all that uncommon among big businesses everywhere.
If this was about some Stern's overbearing, image-conscience tactics like dress codes and appearance demands, just stop it. These guys are making a mint, and their bosses are asking them to dress a certain way to show up at certain times. That's not slavery, that's having a job. And they are getting seven- and eight-figure contracts. For $5 million the 5-at-10 would show up dressed like a clown and eat cole slaw for an hour every day for a year (And if you know the 5-at-10, there's nothing we hate more than clowns and cole slaw).
The NBA like slavery? That's stupid. And, as Chuck would say, "Tuurrr-ible."
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 ...