published Friday, December 14th, 2012

5-at-10: Mailbag on UT’s new coaches, Christmas movies and watchable bowl games

Great week gang. Simply great. Play nice today, we’re leaving around 1 to head to the in-laws in Alabama. Giddy-up and we’ll check back periodically.

From the “Talks too much studios,” let’s deliver the mail...

From CelticVol

Hey 5@10,

Boy am I glad that coaching search is over.  I wonder if Dave Hart knows how much pain and heartache he put the VolNation thru over these last 3 weeks.

It has been painful watching our head coaching job get turned down several times in these last 3 weeks.  We wanted someone who covets our team and our school and I think we found that in Butch Jones.  I feel that VolNation was spoiled by Phillip Fulmer and his love for the university.  We always knew that Fulmer would never leave us because he was one of us.  With Derek Dooley we knew that his ‘dream job’ was Georgia and with Lane Kiffin we knew his ‘dream job’ was USC.  Whether he meant it or not, Jones stated that Tennessee was his ‘dream job.’  Everyone wants to dismiss this quote but what if it really is his dream job? 

The guy exudes confidence and has won at his previous two stops which is more than our previous two coaches can say.  Another differentiating factor separating Jones from Dooley and Kiffin is that he’s not following in the footsteps of a famous football coaching father.  I realize that Jones faces several obstacles in this job but what do you think his biggest obstacle is to overcome in leading Tennessee back to the mountain top?

CelticVol,

There are not words to describe the feeling of peace we have now that Tennessee has finally made its hire. 

Like you, we believe Butch Jones can be successful at Tennessee. He has won at each stop and he was won titles at each stop. A history of head coaching success is encouraging — and something neither Dooley nor Kiffin brought to the Hill.

There are a slew of hurdles in front of Jones. The roster is not SEC-acceptable at this moment. (The offensive line is good; the running game improved greatly in Jay Graham's first year as RB coach; the front seven is thin; the secondary is ghastly; special teams are brutal; and the primary pieces of an elite passing game appears headed to the NFL.) The rest of the league is downright stout and only getting better. The schedule on the horizon is brutal. 

These things we all know and on which we can agree. That said, those are not his biggest obstacles. Here are the two things Jones has to address ASAP:

First, the belief in the program and his direction. A lot of Tennessee fans we know were original surprised at the hiring of Jones and have come on board. We commend them for that, because like we said last week, the hiring process is like your children dating, and just because they picked someone that was not your first choice doesn't mean you're not going to invite your kids to Thanksgiving. This is our team for crying out loud and as long as they didn't hire John Wayne Gacy or a Kiffin, you have to be on board. (And yes, that includes Petrino, although it would have been a difficult pill to swallow.)

The feeling has turned since this time last week, when word got out and the masses were stunned. Those feeling had as much to do with the search — if Jones had been UT's first offer and had accepted it, the raw emotions would not have happened. But he wasn't and they did.

So Jones, who seems likable and does, as you said, exudes confidence, needs to start winning. Now. He needs every victory, no matter how small. Be them on the recruiting trail — which would be extra nice — or in impromptu speeches around the state, the guy needs to get the Big Orange Machine rolling in the right direction. That's of paramount importance, and we think the spring game — the first chance to see Jones and Co. on the grand stage that is Neyland — will be bigger than a scrimmage.

The second obstacle also will be addressed in spring and this one has not been mentioned a great deal because of all the emotions and drama that was the search. Jones and Co. are a tempo offense that embraces a power spread. And as an Auburn grad who watched the 2008 debacle as the Tigers moved to a spread — that was the season that brought the brutal 14-12 win over Tennessee and the forever-ugly 3-2 win at Miss. State on Wes Bryum's bases-clearing double with two out in the seventh — that transition can be overly difficult.

We have heard that Jones is willing to mesh his style with the roster, and that's the overwhelmingly wise play during a time of transition. Implementing the spread is a chore, and one no unlike transitioning to a 3-4 defense, and we all saw how easy that was for Sal Sunseri — SAAALLLLL!!! There will be speed bumps until the offense is up to speed.

And it truth, that magnifies the need for good will and each offseason win Butch can grab.

————

From Hostile

Butch needs to learn that he is NOT at Cincinnati. Everyone out of diapers knows that Willie was fired at UGA-----then Stoops ran him off at Oklahoma-----and he did horrible at Auburn. 

What a joke of a hire. And he not that good of a recruiter.

Finebaum and Buck Belue at 680 the Fan in Atlanta are laughing their (tails) off at this.

It is time to fire Cheek and Hart. Vol fans are about to give up!

WILLIE MARTINEZ?????

Hostile,

Thanks for the email and for checking in at the 5-at-10. And remember, feel free to swing by any time, don't cost nothing.

We mentioned earlier the need for every Johnny Vols Fan out there to feel good about their program and this hire, and we think they should. That said, they need talking points of success and positive points of emphasis to discuss over the holidays. (Seriously, as an Auburn grad, we're going to get some earfuls from the Georgia and Bama folks in the family this Christmas. Happy Holidays and where's the Tylenol?)

To ease your reservations about Jones and a large part of his staff from Cincy coming along, here's a counter point. Sure, those guys have limited experience in the cut-throat ways of the SEC, but those guys are following their boss into the Lion's Den. Wouldn't it be more worrisome if there were only a couple of guys willing to come to the 865? We say you bet.

That said, the Martinez hire was a head-scratcher at first for the 5-at-10. Willie is a stand-up guy and there are a slew of folks we respect that have a lot of respect for him. He however has struggled in last couple of stops. Was that scenes or Willie or talent? Hard to know. He'll get the chance to work with a bona fide NFL guy in Brian Randolph next year, so there's that.

Willie and Jones had worked together in the past, and that helps. As Jones looks to transform the program, he needs guys that are well-aware of his style and strategies. When reworking a program and rewiring the players, a coach can hardly be trying to teach the coaches too.

All told, we like Jones' staff — and keeping Jay Graham was a no-brainer, slam dunk — we just don't see that "holiday dinner talking point hire" that Johnny Vols Fans would have embraced like a bike on Christmas morning. Tee Martin would have been that hire, but he elected to stay in L.A.

Just win Butch, everything else is background noise.

————

From Sandy,

What's your favorite Christmas movie and why?

Thanks, and thanks for the 5 and 10 -- it is a lot of fun.

Sandy,

Thanks for the question and for swinging by — feel free to any time, it don't cost nothing.

We got this question last weekend, and that's why we have been looking for input this week. Hey, we're a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column, and to keep true to the sports part of this, we need a tournament. So here's the eight-team field (seeded, of course):

1) It's a Wonderful Life

2) Christmas Vacation

3) A Christmas Story

4) Home Alone

5) Love Actually

6) Die Hard

7) Miracle on 34th Street

8) Scrooged

The movies left on the outside looking in are still fine films — Elf, Ernest Saves Christmas, et al. — and to each his own. But we had to draw the line somewhere and that line was at Scrooged.

1 vs. 8

Scrooged starts fast — star-studded cast and Bill Murray has some great moments. But come on, It’s a Wonderful Life is UCLA in its prime and it’s such a heavy favorite that we get Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg talking at length about Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed being the best 1-2 combo ever.

2 vs. 7

Gus Johnson on the call, and he gets a a little too excited early. “YESSSS, Virginia there is a SANTA CLAUS IN THE HOUSE.” Still, the nostalgia and the magic of Christmas miracles have nothing on Cousin Eddie and the reality — whether we want to admit it or not — of the miracle that we all get through family Christmas relatively unscathed. (With the help of Jack Daniels, of course.)

3 vs. 6

Bill Raftery on the call, and he’s stunned by John McClane’s onions. Over and over, A Christmas Story builds a lead and over and over McClane keeps coming back. Down 2 in the final seconds, McClane’s 30-foot 3 at the buzzer delivers the first upset of the tournament. We should have seen it coming, though. Sure, Ralphie and the Gang can shoot the eyes out of it, they are Fragile (Fra-GEE-lay).

4 vs. 5

Marv Albert of the call, this was expected to be the closest of the first-round games. It becomes a blowout when Love Actually blows through Kevin McCallister freaks out before the first media timeout. Technicals follow, and while Kevin and the Home Alone gang rally late, the hole is simply too deep.

1 vs. 5

It’s a Wonderful Life is simply too strong. It’s got some of everything, and while Love Actually’s subtle humor — there are some fall-down funny parts — keep in close, no Christmas movie closes strong that George Bailey getting bailed out by the town of Bedford Falls. Atta Boy, Clarence.

2 vs. 6

The stars balance out — Clark Griswold vs. John McClane. The secondary stars are equally genius — Cousin Eddie vs. Hans Gruber. Christmas Vacation gets a slight edge in the wives and the kids. Die Hard has the excellence of Paul Gleason — “We’re going to need some more FBI guys.” When the matchup is this even and the smallest things can make the difference, we’ll go with Christmas Vacation because it’s Christmas.

1 vs. 2

It’s fitting the title game comes down to the two best. There’s the tradition and prestige of It’s a Wonderful Life; there’s the connection and the real-life feel of Christmas Vacation (and let’s be honest, we all have someone we’ll see in the next two weeks that has Cousin Eddie tendencies). But Christmas is about magic and angels and feeling better, and if you don’t feel better after watching It’s a Wonderful Life, then the only thing we have to say is “Bah Humbug.”

Winer: It’s a Wonderful Life  

————

From Run JMC

Jay,

Obviously Tuesday's story about Laura Herron drew more buzz than intended. Not necessarily about her day to day routine as much for the following paragraph:

"Herron is at the helm during an interesting time for the Southern Conference. Last Friday the College of Charleston voted to leave for the Colonial Athletic Association, and Georgia Southern and Appalachian State may be on the move sooner rather than later."

While the CoC story is nothing new, the fact that the "often rumored" jump of Georgia Southern and Appy State to the FBS has gotten the local rumor mill fired up.

Aside from Frierson's sources being legit (I never doubt his creditability), it does open a lot questions which I do not expect you to have the answers for, but fun to play with.

What conferences would GSU/ASU be best suited for? Contrary to Spy's belief, The Sun Belt would be a challenging conference given the number SEC giant killers and those who scare them.

What upgrades would need to be made for Kidd Brewer and Paulson Stadium to begin to look remotely like Jorden-Hare, Stanford, and Neyland?

Once said upgrades are complete, how soon before they start hosting big-boy teams? I know that sounds funny BUT...this year SMU host Texas A&M (yes, THAT A&M) and from "personal" experience, Ford Stadium only seats 32,000 (that's 10,000 more than Finley!) and Louisiana-Monroe hosted Baylor (yes, THAT Baylor) at 30,427 seat Malone stadium. Thus it is possible (though HIGHLY unlikely) that we may see Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia or Florida one day playing at either the Rock or the Marsh.

More importantly, how will fans react once the "sticker-shock" sets in? Here's what I mean. SoCon game regardless of team is $15.00. A "typical" SMU or UNT game will be $45.00 for the just the nosebleed section. Factor in an A&M or Georgia as your home team opponent and we are "literally" talking over $95 just for the nosebleed seats. Lets face it, loyality can only go so far when your checkbook is involved. Then again, I still don't see how people pay what they do for admission into "Jerry's World" when we're 6-6 but that's another debate.

JMC —

The more we’ve thought about your question, the more we have wrestled with the different possiblities. Those possibilities only get more confounding when the mess that is the Big East is added to the equation.

We still maintain that geography and the cost of getting to Boone and Statesboro — and as Astropig pointed out last week, the amenities when you get there — are bigger hurdles than most are willing to admit for ASU and GSU to make a monster leap.

That said, the looks and views to bigger and potentially greener pastures is always going to be there. In fact, if the football playoff becomes 16 teams or bigger, and all of the FBS teams share in the pot, then there’s going to be a drastic shift in conference alignment. We can only see this going two ways in the long term:

1) The college football playoff is done like the current basketball tournament and the masses share the pot. This would behoove the move of the GSUs and ASUs and even the UTCs of the world to look into the bigger level. This is what the NCAA would love to have happen, but it will be against the wishes of the power conferences such as the SEC and Big Ten, since they would have to cut more slices into the money pie that is big-time college football. If this does happen, there will really only be two levels of college football — Div. I and the teams playing for the chance to get in the tournament and Div. II and teams playing non-scholarship football. So you’re going to either need to go big or go home.

2) The other is the big boys break off and have a Super 64 or whatever they want to call it and keep the power dollars of the college football realm. That would mean the Sun Belt and those leagues — and the teams looking to move up — would be battling for control of the middle Earth of college football.

As for if they could compete, we believe eventually, yes, they could. ASU and Georgia Southern have more tradition than a La. Tech or some of the other giant killers out there. We agree with Spy that if either moves in the near future, the Sun Belt would be the likely landing spot. Would it be tough? Sure it would, but geography is more important than difficulty in this type of move. (And don’t you know the powers that be at GSU and ASU are watching to see how South Alabama adjusts to the transition.)

There would be stadium upgrades, but not on a grand scale. We think GSU/ASU would embrace the tradition and the home-like feel of their current set-ups. Plus, monster stadiums and arenas are overrated, and as more and more people watch games on TV, a sold-out 40K stadium is going to be way better than a 2/3 filled 60K stadium even if the same number of tickets are sold.

And the only way for the big-boy programs to come calling in any way shape or form is to be in a FBS league. That’s the first step, then the other hurdles can be discussed.

As for the sticker shock, well, the big group you have to have on your side to consider this type of move is student support. And since each of those schools draw a slew of students — and those tickets are paid for in fees — the sticker shock will not be as radical as you may think. The loyalty that will be truly strained will be that of the donors on the front end. There is no doing this without big dreams, big buy ins and big bucks.

But the pay out can be through the roof. Heck, 20 years ago UTC won at Boise State, which was in the process of moving up. Now, with the Big East crumbling, there is talk that Boise State could do the unthinkable and be a football independent and still make money. That’s staggering, and it started with big dreams.

Hope that answer was a little fuller

—————

From Chas9

For the Friday bag: How many bowl games will you watch? List them in order from most to least compelling. if it's more than ten, just list your top ten. (I'm watching six at most. Title game, Cotton, Fiesta, Chick, Capital One, Sugar. Could watch others if I find myself alone in a room with crazy old Aunt Doris or my worthless brother-in-law.)

How weak is The Rose with Wisconsin? At least a Badger's a cool mascot.

9er,

This is spot on, but since we’re nearing the 4,000-word mark, we’re going to move quickly.

We’ll watch more than 10; but we’re addicted and we’ll tell the family that “It’s for work.” And since we’ll likely have some entertainment riding on most of the games, well, there’s that.

The Rose is awful, which is a shame because that one normally is fun to watch. That said, the Barry Alvarez factor at least adds some intrigue.

With that in mind, here’s our list:

1) BCS title game (Duh)

2) Cotton (Johnny Football and Oklahoma... good times)

3) Chick-fil-A (The Tigers will win; it’s a New Year’s tradition at the 5-at-10 compound)

4) Fiesta (Oregon in crazy unis against K-State. We’re in.)

5) Sugar (Interesting position. Charlie Strong turning UT down now puts Johnny Vols Fans in the position of wanting Florida to win. Not sure how we feel about that.)

6) Maaco Bowl (Boise State vs. Washington in a game that should be really good.

7) Sun (We like Paul Johnson; we don’t like Lane Kiffin. A true vested interest in this one. That’s all you can really ask for really.)

8) Belk (Hey we want to see how Butch Jones’ former team fares against Duke)

9) Captial One (We’re kind of forced into watching Georgia, which we believe is going to lay the wood to Nebraska. Big tme.)

10) Music City (It’s Vandy and James Franklin. That’s enough.)

And 1 more: The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (If for no other reason than to see if Navy wears those awesome helmets from the Army game.)

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

8
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chas9 said...

In what part of God-forsaken Alabama do the in-laws reside? And will the big dinner table more resemble the Fokkers or Christmas Vacation?

Yesterday I projected that The Vols would not shock the Shockers, but they did just that, to the relief of all who bleed orange. UT will win every game in which Trae scores 25. And who knew there was a Makanjuola on the squad? Can you spell or pronounce it? Didn't think so.

Superstar Stokes fouled out after 18 minutes of play.

Mighta been a little home cooking at work, since the zebras whistled almost twice as many fouls on Wichita as on Tennessee. The Knoxville boys hit 17 more free throws than their foes, but won by only 9.

USA Today had a story last week on what it costs (not including bonuses) in head coaches' salaries to win a big time college football game. Kansas paid Weis $2.5 million for one win, a serious rip-off.

The best bargains were Rutgers' nine wins at $83,333 per, and N. C. State's seven at $133,746 each.

December 14, 2012 at 10:20 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay, first, I hope you have a safe drive in the "Newfoundland" of the USA. That said, thank you very much for really breaking this down. I realize there are those bohemith schools that would not want the "wannabe" programs as they see it cutting into their racket. But as you pointed out, the NCAA would like nothing more than to have everybody go big or go home.

For fun Jay if you are interested, I have an idea for a mid-level power fantasy conference concept if and when UTC were to make the leap into the FBS fray.

In the meantime, I got you some inside local stuff.

I'm sooo Dallanoogan, the 5 at 10 knows this.

I'll be mailing you the exclusive "local" sections about this from the DMN Jay but here's an update.

Hamilton took the money and ran. This is a downer here in Nolen and Ron's world but not a shocker. 1) His baggage 2) Given the multiple injuries from the last two years, they were not willing to offer a five year extension at the asking price he wanted in the event he may not be able to live up to his end of the bargin. This was from Calloway (He's the Dr. B of Dallas after all) and other local sources on an off on the radio. 3) He did not allow to even have them counter-offer.

The real rub though comes from the fact he went straight to the Angels. That would be the same as Payton Manning going to Alabama his senior year or BJ Coleman going to Georgia Southern. That is our biggest "regional" rival down here.

As of this morning, we have officially lost Napoli, Young, and now Hamilton.

December 14, 2012 at 10:28 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We're headed to Lake Martin, an awesome spot that's roughly midway between Birmingham and Auburn down 280.

And Kansas got seriously ripped off if you consider what Weis went through in groceries, too. Heard he swallowed a lot of aggression, along with a lot of pizzas. And to show you that schools are not concerned with bargained wins as much as wins total — NC State had the second-best exchange rate and they still fired their coach.

That was a nice win for UT last night.

JMC —

We believe Hamilton is going to have some tough times. Dude has what, 5 homers in 150 career ABs at the Angels' park. Plus, let's assume the L.A. lifestyle could be a bit more tempting to a fellow with those kind of demons than say, Arlington.

— 5-at-10

December 14, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

How wrong is it that I would rather have seen UT hire a John Wayne Gacy than another Lame Kiffin? Even Petrino seems morally upright compared to him. What Petrino literally did to his blonde "special assistant", Lame figuratively did to his brother-in-law, if you catch my drift. This is a family rated enterprise after all.

December 14, 2012 at 11:26 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

I'll be frank Jay, if what you predict is true, Hamilton is about to become the mother of all hypocrites claiming to be washed in the blood of the lamb.

I, and several others, have overlooked a lot of his demons considering the man basically needed a babysitter 24-7 and the fact the Rangers basically gave him his "rebooting" as it were.

I do believe karma will intervine and it will be ugggglieee.

December 14, 2012 at 12:51 p.m.
Mayor said...

It goes without saying tommorrow is truly a huge day for "The Ridgeland Community" the paper has done great work this week with the coverage.

Go Panthers!...Beat Sandy Creek

December 14, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

JMC,

I have no reservations that Southern won't dominate the Sun Belt. To give you a perspective of the fan base, on the fans message board today someone started a thread that there was no mention of Southern's game on ESPN 2 tonight on espn.com, yet Western Kentucky's hire of a new coach was mentioned and that in order to get any recognition, it was past time for GSU to be in the FBS.

You know, not that Motorcycle Bobby Petrino getting a new gig, at Western Kentucky, is noteworthy. Noooo....

The fan base is clamoring for FBS, fueled by the new president. There are still so many questions, such as where is the funding not just for 22 football scholarships but for 22 women's sports scholarships going to come from, and the school also has had more women (to which I can certainly attest, having annoyed so many of them in my time there) than men. The school conducted a feasibility study and here are some snippets from it, dated 2009:

"With 22 additional football grants-in-aid allowed under the rules ... and the companion additional 22 grants-in-aid for female student-athletes ... (the athletic department budget) would be $14,200,000. This budget represents about a 40 percent increase....

"In addition, the Georgia Southern University Department of Athletics budget is low among its peers in NCAA FCS for most sports other than football. ...

"Student Enrollment would rank in the mid-to-low range among the lowest of the possible peer and conference FBS institutions. The Alumni Base would rank among the lowest of the possible peer and conference FBS institutions. The Athletic Budget lags significantly behind FBS schools compared in this report, ranking below all schools except Louisiana-Monroe."

There's also a stadium expansion, football practice facility and a new basketball arena to fund, to the tune of $100 million. Are the legions of teachers and IT guys now being generated by Georgia Southern going to bankroll that?

Yep. FBS fever. Catch it. Anybody wanna ask UMass how that's working out for them?

December 14, 2012 at 4:57 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Spy you are a hoot! (complement-wise) As much as I love football, unless you are Tennessee, Ohio State, Alabama or some other school who has a near national following, moving up to FBS status based on a "single" sport can be more devastating to the entire department on the grounds that sport has to generate enough revenue to support itself thus freeing other funds for the other sports in the department. Otherwise..

I one time "joked" to myself about the thought of UTC going to the SEC in women's basketball since they obviously can compete at that level. However, the devastation with the other sports would literally destory the entire athletic department in a nuclear fallout.

December 14, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.
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