Gang, we can feel it in the air. You can too. Prep football kicks off tonight here in Tennessee, and the Vols and the rest of the college football world go to work for real in two weeks.
Forget Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Around here we have Winter, Spring Summer and Football. And no matter when the equinox is, football season is here.
University of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, right, talks with defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore during the first day of fall practice Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. The Vols open the season Aug. 31 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with North Carolina State in Atlanta.
Hey 5 at 10, I'm planing on making a lot of money on the Vols this upcoming football season. Which way should I bet in order to do so?
Couple of points here before we answer.
We have a long and occasionally rich history with sports wagering. Allegedly.
We have made the occasional run, especially in college football. Allegedly.
We were smoking hot last year picking games — we went 58-29-2 against the spread last year, and were 57-21-2 in games that did not involve Clemson. (Stupid Clemson.) This was for entertainment purposes only.
As we start corralling our investment strategery for the upcoming months, let's review what proved to be fruitful last fall.
We shared in the success Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma State enjoyed (together those three were 27-10 against the spread). We realized that Beamer ball at Virginia Tech was about winning games and not covering spreads (the Hokies were 10-3 overall and 4-9 against the number).
As we speed into this season, here's some of the things we like:
— Alabama is going to be involved in some games that are higher scoring than they are used to, especially early.
— Arkansas is going to score a lot of points.
— We think Pirate Lane Kiffin and the Trojans are going to look to light some folks up. (Back when we were allegedly picking games more frequently, we loved taking Steve Spurrier's Gators regardless of the number because he was good for an extra 10 points a game. We believe Kiffin and Co. will have a similar view.)
As for your question, and we know who you root for and what you're hoping we'll say, let's go with this. We can advise the smart play, at this moment, for almost all of the Vols games this year is taking the over. UT opened as a 6.5-point favorite over N.C. State, which returns the most experienced offensive line in the ACC, a 3,000-yard passer and the nation's top defensive back. That line screams scary. But with Tyler Bray and his slew of receivers, we'd gladly go over 60, and believe the total will be closer to 53.
It's here. It's all happening.
I’m full of questions for you this week. I’d like for you to compare the recruiting styles of Derek Dooley and Phillip Fulmer. Do you think Dooley recruits smarter kids? Did Fulmer tend to recruit more risky, on the borderline kids? What were your thoughts on news out of Foley, Alabama that an Alabama assistant coach has been trying to get a player from a Florida high school to transfer to Foley High School in order to improve his chances of academically qualifying? Also, do you think Jalen Reeves-Maybin's commitment to Tennessee last week will have any kind of factor in whether or not Jalen Ramsey stays committed to USC?
Wow, you unloaded an entire mailbag in one e-mail. Well-played, sir.
Alright let's break them down in order:
— Recruiting styles of Derek Dooley and Phillip Fulmer: Recruiting is a different arena today than it was five years ago, and is hugely different than it was a decade ago when Fulmer was one of the nation's best. Fulmer was a great closer and was one of the Kings of the living room, a moniker earned by closing the deal over dinners with mommas. Dooley and his staff do not embrace the traditional recruiting approaches that Fulmer mastered, and that's OK. Saban doesn't do the old-school way, either, and Saban's the best recruiter this side of that Uncle Sam poster that says, "I Want You." Dooley's process is more calculating and distant, but in an age where players are everywhere and more technologically adept than ever, phone calls are not enough any more.
— No football coach is trying to recruit "smarter" kids. They want football players that can help them win and stay eligible, in that order. (If any one thinks that order is backward, know that Spy was a physics major in college and he got exactly ZERO football offers.) That said, with the turnover and attrition on the roster Dooley faced in his two years, he could not afford many eligibility misses during the recruiting process. As for Fulmer, we believe that in the final years of his career, he may have reached a little on some guys, but of all the things some of his detractors (we're not anti-Fulmer at all by the way) can rightfully say, it's hard to knock Fulmer's career as a recruiter.
— There seems to be more and more high school football stars transferring before their senior seasons. Reuben Foster, the nation's No. 2 ranked player, transferred to Auburn High before changing his commitment from Alabama to Auburn. Darius Page is one of the nation's top prep linemen and he has transferred to Foley High. The same place D.J. Fluker, current Alabama All-American candidate, transferred to before his senior year in high school. On its face, we can understand any high school senior doing whatever it takes to become eligible for college. That said, it certainly seems fishy and we're wondering if the NCAA can do anything about it when the moves are happening on the high school level.
— We think Jalen Ramsey is locked and loaded for USC. That is unless the scholarship-strapped Trojans find a better player. (USC can only sign 15 or so, and they already are right at that number.) Getting Jalen Reeves-Maybin — who friend of the show Brad Shepard simply calls "The Hyphen" — was strong for Dooley. We always thought the best way to avoid the hot seat was win games (duh). The second best way is to recruit like crazy. If Dooley had a top-10 class in tow right now, his seat would be far less warm because a coaching change could wreck a potentially great recruiting class. We'll have plenty of time to break down this Vols class, but as we head toward the start of the season, Dooley needs to land a couple of big fish: Vonn Bell is one of them; and Derrick Green would be H-U-G-E.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o models the new uniforms during the team's NCAA college fotoball media day, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame will wear the new uniforms Oct. 6 in their game with Miami at Solider Field in Chicago.
Notre Dame released their Shamrock series uniforms for the game against Miami in Chicago. Hideous. I wondered if Bama or Tenn or anyone with any pride left is considering selling their souls for Adidas or whoever.
Thanks for the question and for stopping by. Here's another look at Notre Dame's aforementioned uniforms.
Gross. Seriously. They're not as bad as those awful things Georgia wore in the Dome against Boise State last year, but they're close. Wow. Our eyes are bleeding.
And before we praise the Tide, Alabama broke out some Nike Combat uniforms a couple of years ago with the houndstooth in the numerals. It was actually the most understated and cool thing Nike has done since those old-school white Nikes with the red swoosh and the triangle treads.
The uniform craze has touched everyone, and there is a growing notion that changing the uniforms will help sell big-name recruits. We don't believe that — changing uniforms is done to help sell different jerseys. Period.
In fact, this summer Rivals.com did a cool survey of 80 of the top college football prospects in the class of 2013 and one of the questions was, "What is the most overrated aspect of recruiting?" The results may shock you: Winning tradition: 19 votes; Jerseys/uniforms/school colors: 9; Facilities: 7.
We hope Tennessee does not go all crazy with Orange helmets and all-black uniforms and become the Volunteer Jack O'Laterns. But in an age of buzz, and in a time when athletic programs have to find new revenue streams, if they do, they do. (We just pray no one ever touches Auburn's uniforms.)
Jay, I have a suggestion for you. I was flipping through the on demand of my television provider and saw that they had all the Rocky movies available. After canceling all my plans for the next fifteen hours, I got to thinking about all the sweet 80's montages. What are your top five movie montage scenes? You could even focus it to sports if you wanted. Everyone loves a good training montage.
"In anything, if you want to go
From a beginner to a pro
You need a montage.
Wow. Excellent question.
We have wrestled with this in free moments for the better part of the last couple of days.
There are so many ways to go. We think we need a serious and we need a less-than serious/cheesy and we need a sports category if just because it was such a staple in the sports movie world since it allowed the director to encapsulate the season without spending time on every game. That said, before we get going too deep on this, none of the Rocky movies are eligible for two reasons. First, they would consume a majority of the lists. And second, which one would be No. 1? (We'd pick the Russia training scenes in Rocky IV, but then you have the L.A. "Eye of the Tiger" scenes in Rocky III. The L.A. scenes certainly lose points because that montage is consummated by the single dorkiest hug in movie history when Rocky and Apollo embrace in the surf after their beach race. It's an awkward blend of "Chariots of Fire," "The Birdcage" and "The White Shadow" TV show since Rocky and Apollo are wearing shorts so tight John Stockton would say, "Dang, them some tight shorts." ... Where were we?)
1) Hoosiers: As with most sports movie lists, "Hoosiers" can generally be found at the top. The highlight montage was a must — and excellently done —after Huskers landed Jimmy Chitwood, and stopped that ignorant four-passes-before-you-shoot stuff. Seriously, once Jimmy got there Coach Dale and the Huskers became the early 1990s UNLV and started running' and gunnin' a little bit.
2) Teen Wolf: Oh Scotty.
3) Karate Kid: If for no other reason than the song playing in the back ground was "You're the best around..." God bless you Daniel LaRusso.
4) Rudy: Sneaky great montage. In truth, since we all knew Rudy's story going in, we could have montaged a lot more of this one and had like a 43-minute movie and called it a day.
5) Major League: When the Indians hit their stride, it's cool. Only bad thing here is that the montage meant less Bob Uecker/Harry Doyle. Not cool.
Serious (and not surprisingly most of these are gangster inspired)
1) Jimmy "The Gent" capping the crew that pulled off the Lufthansa heist in "Goodfellas" with Clapton strumming in the background. Excellent all around.
2) Michael settling all the family BID-ness at the end of "The Godfather."
3) Julia Roberts' shopping spree in "Pretty Woman." This one is capped with a strong one-liner when she asks the sales woman that was rude about being paid on commission. (Side note: We have warning labels on records and are understandably worried about the influence of violence on young eyes, but we're OK with the Cinderella story with a hooker? Whatever.)
4) Tony's rise to power in "Scarface."
5) Ferris Bueller's museum montage. And this is for our friend Cameron Spy, who says he hasn't seen anything good today.
1) "Dirty Dancing" training session. Hey, we love Swayze — "Wolverines!" — but this was the movie version of the late end of M-A-S-H. Johnny from Dirty Dancin' and the final three seasons of Hawkeye Pierce set manhood back a decade. At least.
2) Footloose. See above, just add the thin tie and the spiked hair.
3) Over the Top. Which some consider this a sports movie but then remember it's Sly Stallone being the trucker/arm-wrestling version of Rocky Balboa. Major cheese bonus for having Kenny Loggins singing the theme song.
4) The dance montage in "Breakin'" — which is only slightly better than the dance montage in "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo." (Where does "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" rank on sequel names that are awesome in their awesomeness. We say second since Rambo was actually a sequel but it dominated so much it became the entire franchise. There was "First Blood," "Rambo" and "Rambo III," in that order. That's a boss sequel, considering the third movie took the sequel's name.)
5) OK, we have to include "Rocky III." See above and know that if Rocky and Apollo ever ended up getting an apartment together in New Hampshire (not that there's anything wrong with that) it all started on the beach in L.A. before the Clubber Lang rematch.
Thanks, 962, for wasting a solid three hours of my week. Great question. We're not exactly sure how we made it through without a single Jean Claude Van Damme reference, but it happened. So it goes.
A college football list, which programs are most likely to get the hammer in the next couple of years. Or the hammer and sickle, the way some at the college in Pennsylvania State perceive it.
We'd like to start by saying congrats on this week's winning entry about Platoon's glory as an ensemble cast. Well-played indeed sir. And we're going to have an ensemble cast playoff sometime before we kick the college season into gear (we lost track of time this week).
We think the Miami Hurricanes are about the be in the eye of the storm. The NCAA will deliver something worse than what USC got but not the big bomb, which from this day forward will be known as the Nittany Nuke. That's already in the works.
As for a top-five list, hey, we're game:
1) Miami (See above).
2) Oregon — The Willie Lyles situation has fallen off the radar, but when one booster (Nike) is that connected to a school there can be trouble.
3) Arkansas — This is a complete hunch, but when the bad news starts and reporters and NCAA investigators start looking around, trouble can be found. World class humanitarian Bobby Petrino peeled back the curtain.
4) Montana — The Alabama of FCS is in a world of filth muck. It's seedy and gross and could get bad. It also screams of a football culture that needs an attitude adjustment.
5) USC — Anywhere Ed Orgeron is, the NCAA is not that far behind.
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 ...