published Monday, November 5th, 2012

5-at-10: Sal Sunseri's real first name, college football madness and the coaching search starts

5-at-10: Sal Sunseri's real first name, college football madness and the coaching search starts

A ton to get to, so from the "Talks too much" studios, giddy-up...

Law changes

Apparently the state of Tennessee has outlawed tackling — and made third-down stops a class-C felony. And let every man, woman and child know that the Tennessee Titans and the Tennessee Volunteers are willing to follow those laws to the best of their abilities.

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    Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) celebrates with Julius Peppers (90) and Tim Jennings (26) after Urlacher returned an interception for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, in Nashville.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Titans were humiliated Sunday by the Bears in a 51-20 decision that was not that close. It was 28-2 after the end of the first quarter, and the Bears had something like 56 yards of offense because the Titans wanted to show how charitable they are in every phase of the game. (Maybe the Titans thought Superstorm Sandy hit Chicago and they wanted to make the Bears feel better.)

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    Troy's Eric Thomas dives for the endzone as Tennessee's Justin Coleman falls in the fourth quarter.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Vols escaped Saturday with a 55-48 win over Troy that felt as safe and secure as a time-share investment with the Madoff folks. Each team posted more than 700 yards and the Vols got the game-winner from Marlin Lane with 85 seconds left to play.

Maybe our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer is on to something when he suggested that everybody's coach-crush Jon Gruden may be able to coach both Tennessee teams. Or maybe the Titans and the Vols will get into a bidding war over Chucky's services.

Either way, there likely will not be a bidding war over Sal Sunersi's services in the near-to-immediate future, and certainly not as a defensive coordinator.

Sweet buckets of missed tackles, opportunities and assignments, the defensive numbers from Saturday will make those that bleed orange, bleed orange from their eyes. (And if you watched the game with a Tennessee fan, you now know that Sal is Sunseri's middle name — his full name has to be "Stupid A-- Sal Sunseri" because it was repeated over and over again by Johnny Vols Fans everywhere.)

Troy got 34 first downs, 721 total yards (496 passing and 225 rushing) and converted 10-of-19 tries on third down. And this was a Troy team that lost to Florida Atlantic last week and had never scored more than 34 points against an SEC team before Saturday. Troy topped the 34-point plateau with a TD midway through the third quarter and it was the fourth consecutive possession in which the Trojans scored a TD — something that had not happened since 2008.

This was Troy, which is 0-15 against SEC teams since beating Mississippi State in 2001. And had it not been for some record-setting work by quarterback Tyler Bray (530 passing yards — the second most in SEC history — and five TDs) and receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, the Trojans not only would have won Saturday, they would have routed Tennessee.

Afterward, the players were openly happy to get a win. We get and appreciate that — the pressure of being 18-23 years-old and carrying the weight of a fan base as big as the Vols Nation can be overwhelming, and the win did snap a four-game losing streak.

But the questions about the future of the Dooley administration went unanswered Saturday and the future still looks as cloudy and uncertain as before. Stupid Sunseri — but his friends call him Sal.

————

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    Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon (4) tries to break tackle from LSU safety Corey Thompson (12) in the second half of their NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Alabama won 21-17.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

What a weekend

Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in. Yes, college football delivers the goods every weekend, and the head-turning, remote-clicking craziness that was Saturday night was magical.

Let's review five things that we gleaned from Saturday's high-speed, high-energy, high-reward roller coaster:

— We had a good friend and Bama fan text us after Saturday's dramatic win over LSU that featured AJ McCarron leading the Tide to a late, season-saving TD in the 21-17 win at LSU: "Do you think they will give McCarron the Heisman tonight or wait until the ceremony?" We think they will wait — and we also think Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein still has a say in the matter — but McCarron certainly had his Heisman moment late Saturday night in Death Valley.

— The growing groundswell of potential BCS backlash is kind of scary and kind amusing. There's a real chance that the top four teams in the current BCS standings (http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/polls?poll=4) will finish the year unbeaten, which means Alabama will no doubt finish No. 1 and the talks are that Oregon likely will pass Kansas State for the No. 2 spot and a shot at the Tide in the title game. (There's also the real possibility that Louisville and probated THE Ohio State University will be unblemished.) That means Notre Dame would finish fourth and play K-State in the Miss Congeniality Bowl. (And any fan of those three teams not named Alabama, if you think style points are not part of this, well, you're wrong. And you should know that. This is the system we're in and the business we've chosen. So escaping with a triple-overtime win against Pitt when Pitt's kicker missed what should have been the game-winning field goal hurts your case in the beauty contest that is the current BCS. Sorry, that's the way it's played and you know this.)

— Anyone who thinks Oregon is not going to put points on the board against any team — including Alabama — is wrong. The Ducks can slap score, and remember that Saturday's 62-point showing against USC was the first time Oregon needed to keep churning up points. And the Ducks did it on demand.

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— Around the SEC: Florida looked flawed — or disinterested — against a Missouri team that comes to Neyland on Saturday. (Side question: Missouri scored 7 against Florida on Saturday, that means the Tigers should be expected to score 31 on Sal Suneri's UT defense, right? That's the rate of exchange, UT plus-24, considering Troy got 24 on Mississippi State and 48 on the Vols.) Auburn won a game, which is of minor consequence. Texas A&M continues to be a great story, and Kevin Sumlin looks to be a great hire (although letting Johnny Football run wild is a pretty easy coaching call; what's that play — "Johnny Football scores on two, on two, ready... BREAK). Georgia looked a lot better than we expected and put Ole Miss away impressively.

— The Fab 4 (plus 1) picks from last Thursday continued to smoke. We had Oregon minus-7 (although that line grew to right at 10 in some places, which made a rather meaningless two-point try by USC quite meaningful for those who had entertainment on the Ducks, who won 62-51) and even advised to play the over 70. We had Washington plus-5, and the Huskies won 21-13 (we also advised playing the under 53 because Cal's best player, receiver Keenan Allen, was out). We had Clemson minus 13.5, and the Tigers rolled Duke 56-20, and Vandy minus-7 in advance of the 'Dores' 40-0 win over Kentucky. We missed Louisiana-Monroe, who was a 10-point favorite and lost to La-Lafayette in a La-La-La upset. So it goes. With the 4-1 mark (we were 6-1 if you got the bonus over/under picks, but we're not counting them), we're 35-15-2 against the spread on the season. That's a clean 70 percent — if you had wagered $100 on each of our picks this year you'd be plus-$1,830 — and that's not too shabby. And if Carlo or Mo Green or any of the other reps from the Five Families want to know where you're getting tips for your entertainment investments, leave us out of it will you.

————

Coaching market now open

Let the games begin. Kentucky fired Joker Phillips — a UK alum who has spent 22 years with the Wildcats as a player and coach — on Sunday, roughly 24 hours after Vandy put a 40-0 smackdown on UK in a half-filled Commonwealth Stadium. (Seriously there was less than 20K in attendance Saturday, or roughly 5,000 fewer than the Wildcats drew last month for Midnight Madness, which included some lay-up drills and a scrimmage. Read that again, and here's saying the UK AD Mitch Barnhart does not include that on sales pitch.)

So UK cans Phillips, who Barnhart was close friends with, and gets the jump on the selected names that may or may not be on everyone's short list.

Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart, who beat UK in September, will get a call. So will Gus Malzahn. There will be a bunch of hand-wringing and posturing about Bobby Petrino. (OK, we'll bite: Hire him at your own risk, but you know what he is: An offensive genius who is hard to work with and when he leaves — and they all leave — he's leaving with the village burning in his rearview mirror.)

Barnhart, who posted Phillips' firing in an open letter on the interweb, may not be able to convince some of the hottest names out there to head to Lexington without money whipping them. Seriously, if you are a football coach riding the career ascent, do you really want a short-term stop in Lexington where the best you're going to do is finish fourth in the East and the last coach to use UK to a stepping stone to a better gig was Bear Bryant?

So this makes some of the hotter names seem like reaches. Would Taggart come after turning Western Kentucky into the second-best team in the state behind Lousville? Doubtful. He, like other big fish Malzahn, La. Tech's Sonny Dykes and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart (hey, it's an SEC opening, so we all know his name will get mentioned at some point), surely will have bigger hooks with better bait to bite.

So that leaves some names that may be reaches or may head-scratchers:

Petrino (unemployed): Barnhart has said Kentucky is not interested. Petrino would jump at this gig just to get back in the game — and he would have success next year if injured QB Max Smith returns 100 percent. (We almost said a second chance, but it would be more like a 14th chance for Bobby Two-Timer.)

Phillip Fulmer: The former UT coach was interested in the Kansas job, so he may be fine with going to a basketball school for a final day in the sun. Sweet buckets, Fulmer to UK would pump a whole bunch of life into the UT-UK rivalry, no?

David Cutcliffe, Duke: Another guy that has found success at a hoops-first locale. Here's saying Cutcliffe would listen if for no other reason than he'd love another crack at the SEC, and at 58, he has the security and knowledge of knowing that in five years, he can call it a career if it doesn't work.

Dan Quinn, Florida defensive coordinator: Guy is doing work with the Gators and in his early 40s, this could be a home run. Remember the longtime former Gators defensive coordinator that was skipped for a few jobs? Yeah, Charlie Strong turned out OK for Louisville, huh?

Because it must be mentioned:

Joker Phillips in 2-plus years at UK — 12-23 overall, 4-19 in the SEC, 0-1 in bowl games;

Derek Dooley in 2-plus years at UT — 15-19 overall, 4-17 in the SEC, 0-1 in bow games;

The coaches are 1-1 against each other.

————

This and that

— Mizdirection won the Breeders Cup. And yes, horse racing is a rare entry into the 5-at-10. That said, Mizdirection is co-owned by Jim Rome, the national sports talk radio host and former ESPN talking head. Here's saying Jim Everett did not bet on Mizdirection. Here's the clip of Jim Everett going after Rome, who called him "Chris" for much of his NFL career http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxoC8znWrD0&feature=fvwrel.

— Bobby Hebert was ejected from the press box at Tiger Stadium during the Alabama-LSU game for too much cheering. No real comment needed here, other than we expect the volume got Hebert just as much as what he was cheering because dude is tough to understand.

— There are a few big-name baseball free agents out there, including Josh Hamilton. Hey Braves, go get Hamilton and move Jason Heyward to center. That would be awesome.

— There will be a 14-year-old Chinaman playing in the Masters this April. Guan Tianlang, who is in the eighth grade, won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to punch his ticket to Augusta National http://www.cbssports.com/golf/story/20820174/chinese-eighthgrader-youngest-to-qualify-for-masters and did it with some big-time golfing slacks. What were you doing in the eighth grade? We barely had the chutzpah to ask a girl to hold hands, never mind putting a peg in the ground on the first tee at golf's mecca with millions of eyes on you. How far right is that first tee shot going. "Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, and Guan never slices."

— Big offensive showing for the Mocs on Saturday. We refuse to say, "Wait till next year," simply because that has become such a foul refrain for Johnny Mocs Fans everywhere, but the returning pieces for Huesman and Co. are pretty impressive, no?

————

Today's question

It's a free-for-all Monday, so enjoy the platform.

Need some starting points, OK:

If you had your pick between the quarterbacks who have the top four single-game passing totals in SEC history, who are you taking between Eric Zeier (544 yards in 1993), Tyler Bray (530 on Saturday), Rohan Davey (528 in 2001) and Jared Lorenzen (528 in 2000)?

Did Sal Sunseri just make another bad defensive adjustment or did he just order breakfast? We think the former.

After record-setting performances Saturday, and what figure to be huge Novembers for each, what are the odds that Bray, Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter return for their senior seasons? We put them at Bray — 1-in-5 (and that may be low considering the stock of other highly ranked quarterbacks Matt Barkley, Logan Thomas, Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson appears to be slipping); Patterson 1-in-15; Hunter 1-in-20 (dude is the highest-ranked receiver by Kiper and McShay and has a first-round grade; plus after injuring his knee last year, he knows the possible ramifications of coming back)?

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 ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
BIspy4 said...

I know it was probably past your bedtime, 5, but the Falcons are somehow 8-0. There are no style points for winning. Just ask Bama.

And what is up with the state of plackicking in college football, especially in the state of Georgia? Tech's kicker clanks two (two!) extra points. GSU's kicker missed three chip shot field goals, all from within 30 yards, in a three-point loss - at home - to Appy and Georgia's had its share of kicking stumbles, not that I care because I do not.

So who you got in the VanGorder Bowl this weekend?

November 5, 2012 at 11:34 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Glad to hear you're feeling better, and kudos for popping back up (and getting help from the cheerleader no less).

There are no style points for winning in the NFL; there are in the Chase for the BCS though.

The early line is Georgia minus-15 at Auburn in the VanGorder Bowl, and gang, if you can get that today, take it. Take and smile and plan on what you're going to spend your winnings on.

Spy, did you see the Goodwill picture above? It's from a friend of ours down South. It's glorious and tragic at the same time.

— 5-at-10

November 5, 2012 at 11:47 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

If Josh Hamilton would take a four year deal, go get him. If he wants a ten year deal, avoid like the plague. Money is not the issue here, it's the years. He's been hard on his body, and consistently misses huge chunks of the year. He'll be virtually washed up five years from now. Don't make the ARod mistake to get him.

November 5, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
chas9 said...

Today Kevin Sumlin has the same number of SEC wins as DD has in three years. A&M will give Bama a serious game. Maybe UK can hire the Aggies' Kliff Kingsbury.

KY and Joker had a stinky weekend, but was Tennessee's any better? In addition to giving up a zillion points and yards, they let the Men of Troy go 10 of 19 on third down tries. And the Vol defense wasn't tired, because Troy dominated time of possession. That's TROY. This seals Double D's fate.

For Vol fans who think if The Kiffins were still around, the defense would be better, take a look at the points and yards The Other Trojans gave up Saturday. Together with the Titans debacle, it was the weekend defense took a vacation. Mark's column today says it well, and The 5@10 is right on, except for thinking there's any doubt Tom Dooley is going to die.

I'll take The Pillsbury Throwboy's 528.

And Wardameagle!

November 5, 2012 at 11:50 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Ten Ring, my hat is off for your accurate prediction of two Alabama fumbles to my zero. Signal Mtn. was a bust for each of us, even if the match up with Page was one hell of a game. We both scored with in predicting K-Town at +80K, which totaled 84K and change.

This week the enterprises will call upon the Giant Smart Pill Machine...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/post/oak-ridge-and-nvidia-unveil-titan-supercomputer/2012/10/28/78bf2e98-2110-11e2-8448-81b1ce7d6978_blog.html?hpid=z4

As for tensions after Troy, I'd say Professor Dooley, who like a terrorist, is using Sal Sunersi as a human shield. The only problem with this analysis being Dooley doesn't scare anyone.

One body may not be enough! It was Dooley, who gave the final go ahead for the 3-4, a junk defense rarely successful in college or the pros.

As to Joker's plight, his was an ugly firing with lacking any grace what so ever. Quality Assistants working in quality programs should let this opportunity??? pass.

Question of the day: If player X is signed by Coach Y who is then fired by Team Z, does Team Z still have a duty to player X?

November 5, 2012 at 12:55 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Didn't Paul Simon have a hit in the 80s called "Call Me Sal"?

No way Justin Hunter comes back next year. If CP and Bray are projected to go in the first round, I think they'll leave for sure as well.

Many thanks to Wofford for blowing their game with Samford on Saturday. Is it safe to say that if the Mocs beat the Terriers on Saturday, they will get in the playoffs (assuming a win over Elon the following week)?

The Lakers finally got their first W after dropping their first 3.

November 5, 2012 at 1:23 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Yes, 5, the Auburn sign on the Goodwill box is inspired. Unfortunately.

November 5, 2012 at 1:40 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

I have to speak up (clears throat), but I have to ask what is up with Aaron Murray this year? He doesnt look as sharp as his previous two years and if he continues to play like that Bama will have our yoohoo's in a sling by halftime. The only hope we have of beating Bama is if our Defense shows up like they did against Florida...and to make sure Murray doesnt throw any passes. Did I mention Gurley is the man latley? i may have to hang my Kimbo man crush up...

November 5, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

5 & Spy -the fans still costumed as empty seats in the Loveliest Village on the Plains attest to the truth of that photo. Still, a win is a win. I'll take it and turn off the cell phone next weekend to avoid the onslaught of delighted UGA texters showing off their reservations for the ATL.

November 5, 2012 at 1:47 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stuck —

Agree. But we agree on that approach for just about all baseball contracts, including Pujols.

9er —

Concur.

And the Pillsbury Throwboy is an outstanding nickname.

FE to the C —

Tough night at Signal. Tough night.

Stewwie —

Yes, Simon had a hit with that. Heck, Sal Bando and Sally Field are threatening a lawuist for dragging their name through the mud.

We don't think any of the Vols' three comeback.

Spy —

To paraphrase the barber shop guys in "Coming to America" — yeah that sign is good, good and terrible.

Oso —

Gurley is a hoss. A stud among studs, and he's so good t hat he makes Keith Marshall a stud freshman in his own right forgettable.

And unless Aaron Murray plays like Aaron Rodgers, the Bulldogs have little shot against Alabama.

McPell —

Win's a win. And of course the 5-at-10's annual family AU get together is.... Saturday. When the Bulldogs are likely going to drop half a hundred on BVG. Sigh.

Is it basketball season yet. See, Chas9 is nodding.

— 5-at-10

November 5, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

I hear him nodding, and our family get together is Thanksgiving - Bama, with the relatives from the B'ham area. If UGA drops 50, will Saban call off the dogs after 60 and put the 4th string in? I may need some Bradley county sour mash to make it through.

November 5, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay-

didnt you think the USC-Oregon game was just like the UTK-Troy game ? . . .only with better teams ?

November 5, 2012 at 3:34 p.m.
jgreeson said...

McPell —

If we could get Alabama minus-28 right now over Auburn, we'd take it and start buying Christmas presents. Seriously.

Bradley County sour mash? Is that anything like PawPaw Greeson's homemade "wine" that used to come mainly in two flavors — peach and hair-curler.

Jomo —

Similar type games, but USC-Oregon was the result of two excellent offenses. UT-Troy was about one excellent offense and one historically bad defense.

Stupid Sal Sunseri.

— 5-at-10

November 5, 2012 at 3:42 p.m.
chas9 said...

The wannabe Titans have given up the NFL worst 308 points. They need to rename the team. Any suggestions?

November 5, 2012 at 3:49 p.m.
Livn4life said...

Everyone knows Sal's name is Salmonella and after Sat. his middle name is Mudd. That was said tongue in cheek from the Booth. Something has got to give and that will mean someone goes. Here's believing if the Vols go out and hold up against these last three, Dooley stays and Salmonella goes. On other situations: I heard that Petrino's motorcycle was turned away from a Pilot Station...something about Haslam didn't want to talk with him. It was last seen headed in the direction of Lexington for what that's worth. The rotation of the actual college coaching carousel will by no means be as exciting and entertaining as all the assumptions, rumors, and series of someone told me who knows the cousin of the daughter of the man who walks Hart's dogs weekly, statements. I'm strapping in and looking out 'cause it ain't gonna be pretty.

November 5, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Did I just see a Samuel Mudd/John Wilkes Booth/Sal Sunseri triangle reference? Well played, Livn. Jay, youve got a smart crowd in these parts.

November 5, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Let's start with the Tennessee Turnstiles.

In fact, this will be Tuesday's question. Put it on the board, yes.

Livn(Large) —

We see what you did there and we like it. In fact, the he said, he said of the coaching machinations will melt a keyboard.

962 —

We is a learnt bunch, ain't we?

— 5-at-10

November 5, 2012 at 4:45 p.m.
Livn4life said...

Grees. I'm just trying to make it through. It ain't over til it's over but man I am almost over sweating out wins like last Sat. It feels like Salmonella or somethin' in my stomach...oops gotta run literally....PEACE ALL, GO VOTE or something....

November 5, 2012 at 5:47 p.m.
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