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...
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?
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.
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!
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.
What's your favorite Christmas movie and why?
Thanks, and thanks for the 5 and 10 -- it is a lot of fun.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.)
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 ...