It's about 5:45 a.m. and we're trying to finish up the mailbag, but we were struggling to navigate the TFP site. We believe that all-around ace Stephen Hargis' story about Jon Gruden mulling Tennessee's offer has melted the interweb.
Plus, the chase of the next UT football coach has occupied a sizable chunk of our week. So it goes. All the coaching talk did lead us to a great line from a Notre Dame fan, who said after learning that Monte Kiffin was going to retire at the end of a terrible season working for his son Lane at USC, "Apparently Monte wants to spend less time with family." And who can blame him for that.
From the "Talks too much" studios, let's do work.
I can’t focus this week for trying to keep up with this merry go round called the Tennessee coaching search. I don’t know what to believe. The names being thrown out there are all over the board. I just want it to be over.
Another search I’m trying to keep up with is the Auburn search. I’ve heard everything from Gus Malzahn to Bobby Petrino to Charlie Strong. But the one name I’ve heard that would absolutely be a homerun hire for the Tigers is Jeff Fisher. Knowing that you’re an Auburn fan, I realize that you will say that more than likely this will not happen but I also realize that you would probably be thrilled if it did happen. In Tuesday’s 5@10 you listed the former AU alums who are heading up the search. For arguments sake, let’s say Bo Jackson calls up the 5@10 and says this, “5@10, we’re closing in on signing Jeff Fisher but we’re $5,000 short. It’s all up to you. Can you help?” What do you do?
P.S. I’ve got to give props to ‘Stephen A.’ Hargis for revealing Derek Dooley’s failures recruiting our tri-state area. I was baffled after reading that article. How do you completely ignore such an integral area for recruiting purposes and maybe more importantly, the effect it has on your fan base?
We want it over, too. Seriously. For both Auburn and Tennessee.
No doubt Jeff Fisher would be an absolute dinger hire for any college team. As for your hypothetical, we'd look Bo dead in the eye and say,"Let me get my checkbook." Then as we were praying the check cleared and that the Mrs. 5-at-10 never found out that we just cut a 5K check to land some guy with a big-time mustache (he'd have to keep Brian VanGorder on the 'stache staff), we say, "Bo, we got a couple questions about this: First, other than having a son on the team, why would Jeff take this job; secondly, what did you and Mac and Chuck Barkley do with all your millions to come ask a family-oriented, interweb-based sports columnist for 5 grand?"
If it was down to 5K to land Fisher, we'd do what we could to make it happen.
Stephen A. Hargis has had a big week, there's no doubt. The Dooley recruiting stuff, the prospects in the state saying they would like to talk to Jon Gruden and then the big hammer in today's newspaper.
Now it's important to know the following two things about the UT-Gruden deal: First, the offer is verbal, so if/when the non-denial, denials start coming and someone says, "There has not been a contract offered," please know we expected this. And Stephen wrote the A1 story accordingly.
Secondly, there is a big bridge needed to cover the gap between offering a job to Jon Gruden and landing Jon Gruden.
As for the recruiting stuff and the inattention to our area, well, we were flat-out stunned by that to tell the truth. And the fact that Vonn Bell came to have his Best of Preps picture made Thursday in all-Alabama gear screams of the inattention to the area in some ways.
What about Ellis Johnson to UT?
Thanks for swinging by, and feel free to drop in any time — don't cost nothing.
Ellis Johnson is going to be a great hire as a defensive coordinator somewhere. Right now, though, he's more unhireable (yes, we likely made that word up) as a head coach than Bobby Petrino. Wait, strike that, since we think Bobby Petrino is likely going to get the Auburn job, he's plenty un-unhireable (yes, we definitely made that word up).
How about a college football unhireable Rushmore (and this is crazy considering none of these four guys have a chance to get a head coaching job next year and guys like Jim Tressell and Bobby Petrino have been rumored to be coaches of interest at a few jobs):
Ellis Johnson, who took over a conference champion Southern Miss team and turned it into the worst team in the country;
Derek Dooley, maybe some of you have heard about his recent coaching escapades;
John L. Smith, who reminded everyone what the L stands for;
Jon Embree, the former Colorado coach who has fiddled while that once-proud program has imploded.
Jeffy's question was one of several about folks who may or may not be persons of interest for the UT job if Jon Gruden does not work out. And until we heard of the stuff our ace Stephen Hargis uncovered Thursday afternoon, we thought the Gruden thing had sailed.
The other candidates behind Gruden really are anyone's guess at this point, and since everyone's named everyone at least once.
That said, one of the late-rising names is UNC coach Larry Fedora, who was 8-4 in his first year with the Tar Heels. After the backlash and the hard feelings and venom that were spilled when Lane Kiffin went one-and-done in Knoxville, would the Vols try to do the same thing and hire Fedora after one season at UNC?
Interesting times. And scary. And exhausting.
Dude, it's been entirely too long since you had a contest. I need a contest. I like to win stuff.
I've officially tuned out all the coach search stuff. My head and my phone can't take it anymore. So let's talk important stuff: SEC title game... who you got, and more importantly, match up SEC coaches with movie gangsters?
And you still talk too much.
We're planning on trotting out the Third Annual Mini-Bowl Bowl Contest next week. More to come on that, and we just wrapped another successful year of Can You Beat Jay? contest on the TFP website. We're flush with contests.
SEC title game, hmmm. We'll take Alabama and lay the 7. Something feels like this is the game that Alabama goes all William Wallace on everyone in sight in the Georgia Dome.
Wow, great question about the gangsters. Outstanding even.
Saban — Michael Corleone. Complete and total package and everyone reading this — whether you're a Bama Backer or a Johnny Vols Fan or a soccer fan — knew this one.
Mark Richt — Tom Hagen. Appears to be above it, but Richt knows how things get done.
Steve Spurrier — Bugsy Siegel. Smooth dude. Brilliant. And, while not a spread guy, his innovations and offensive genius at Florida moved the SEC from the wishbone to the top of the mountain. Spurrier's offense did for the SEC what Siegel's masterpiece — Las Vegas — did for gambling.
Will Muschamp — Tommy D (Joe Pesci's character from Good Fellas). Let's just say they have a similar temperament and a similar fondness for curse words. BOOM!
James Franklin — Nino Brown from New Jack City. Guy is smooth and willing to do what it takes to get stuff done. Plus, he's surprised everyone by how quickly he has found success.
Kevin Sumlin — Ace Rothstein from Casino. Ace made a great living and survived the Vegas wars because he could pick winners. Who is picking more winners right now than Sumlin, who pick the Texas A&M job from a slew of suitors and picked Heisman-frontrunner Johnny Manziel as his starter before the season. Winners. WINNING.
Hugh Freeze — Virgil Sollozzo. New guy trying to make a name for himself. Freeze is known for his offense; Sollozo was good with a knife.
Dan Mullen — Because of the phyiscal resemblance we wanted to go with Silvio Dante from the Sopranos, but that's not a movie. We'll go with Tom Reagan, Gabriel Byrne's character in Miller's Crossing. Think about it, Reagan does some world-class gangstering, but he's frequently forgotten about because he's not in the Godfather or Goodfellas or the Sopranos or what not. Same with Mullen, who is doing some big-time coaching but it's easy to forget about him because he's in Starkville.
Les Miles — This was the toughest one. We almost went with Ben "Bugsy" Siegel, because Siegel hated his nickname almost as much as Miles hates the moniker "The Mad Hatter." In the end, we went with Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction. Both are excellent at their jobs and are handsomely rewarded. Plus, can't you see Miles look right into the camera and say, "Just because you are a character doesn't mean that you have character."
Gary Pinkel — Henry Hill, the focal point of Goodfellas if for no other reason, than in the end, Hill is in Witness Protection living on the outskirts of the edge and really a non-factor in anything having to do with the business. That's a perfect description of Missouri's first year in the league. Of course, they did deliver the death blow to Derek Dooley, so there's that.
Here is a question for Friday.
Just like Gary and Wyatt in Weird Science you can create the living being of your dreams. Unlike the two characters you've already found your soulmate in the Mrs. 5@10 so you try to create a new coach for Auburn. Assuming the biggest requirements for a new coach are:
1) Recruiting ability
2) Knows his X's and O's
3) Motivates / inspires
4) Works well with the media (puts your school in good light)
5) Develops assistants (avoids burn-out)
By percentage how much do add of each to get to a 100% and what existing college coaches do you draw it from?
1) Recruiting ability -- 30% Chris Peterson (if he can get players to come to Boise, just imagine what he can draw to the plains.)
2) Knows his X's and O's -- 30% Chip Kelly offense, Nick Saban defense
3) Motivates / inspires -- 25% -- Bill O'Brien - the worst hand ever dealt a first year coach
4) Works well with the media (puts your school in a good light) - 10% Les Miles his quotes have their own website http://www.thequotablelesmiles.com/
5) Develops assistants (avoids burn-out) - 5% Steve Spurrier - does any coach golf more and still win?
Anyone want to guess which question we spent the most time on this week? Yep, winner winner, chicken dinner.
First off, Weird Science is such an under-quoted movie. We need to work to change that. She's into Malakas, Dino.
We may or may not have emulated the Gary and Wyatt scene from Weird Science with a bra on our head as we tried to answer this question. (You try being a 42-year-old guy — We're a MAN! We're 42! — and explaining to the Mrs. why you have undergarments on your head sitting at your computer.)
OK, let's get to this.
First for the percentages
1) Recruiting ability — at least 50 percent, and maybe more. You can staff out the rest and let coaches coach, but the head guy has to be a closer in recruiting. Look at the teams atop the polls. It's about the Jimmys and the Joes more than the X's and O's in the college game.
2) Knows his X's and O's — We'll say 15 percent for defensive coaches and 20 for offensive head coaches. You need to have a sound philosophy on each side and pick your coordinators accordingly. You can't be a Nick Saban, defensive-minded guy and go get Tony Franklin, the disconnect would be problematic. Just ask Tommy Tuberville.
3) Motivates / inspires — 20 percent. There has to be at least one time a season that the head dog comes into the room, speaks to the team and the coaches and the entire program is ready to charge up Bunker Hill. We're not expecting Win one for the Gipper speeches every Tuesday, but there's going to be at least one make-or-break moment every year. That's when the elite head coaches bring the hammer.
4) Works well with the media (puts your school in good light) — 5 percent. Today's fan bases love the program and blame the media. That's how it goes. Besides, media types need the coach way more than the coach needs the media nowadays.
5) Develops assistants (avoids burn-out) — 5 percent. Hey, we want assistant coaching turnover every three-to-five years. There will be no more Mark Richts — guys that stay places 15-plus years — and entire staffs sticking together because the demand and the expectations are too great. In fact, we'd love to have a coach stay around at a power program and have the success that an Urban Meyer did even if burnout was coming. That was six great seasons before the burnout. That's a good trade.
As for the people to fill each of those roles:
1) Recruiting ability — Saban. Dude is a machine, and we had one area coach share with the TFP that when Saban was recruiting one of his players, he found himself starting to take notes of Saban's pitch because it was so inspiring and spot-on.
2) Knows his X's and O's — Bobby Petrino. Hey, none of us want him over for dinner, but dude is a football savant and a play-calling ninja. He's Spurrier 2.0 — read that again.
3) Motivates/inspires — Bill O'Brien's a good one. So is Saban (although his motivation mainly deals with shipping you to I-AA if you are not excellent). We'll take Urban Meyer, because other than the SEC title loss to Alabama in 2009, the Gators delivered in a lot of big games in his time.
4) Works well with the media (puts your school in good light) — No one is better than Les Miles. Miles could walk into the press room naked as a Jay bird and nobody would bat an eye. In fact, forget Manny being Manny, we got Les being Les, and that's worsth more.
5) Develops assistants (avoids burn-out) — Richt. Dude has maintained and has made some staff turnover while still keeping his guys motivated and improving. Seriously, how underrated is Mark Richt considering the guys he's outlasted in his decade-plus time at Georgia?
Hey Jay, love the FOIB dig keep it up.
Since Matty Ice and Mike Smith showed up in the ATL the falcons have obviously improved but still struggle in the spotlight. My question is how related do you think the lack of playoff success is tied into their lack of success against the Saints. The two games against them are always the biggest in the regular season and we haven't had much success in the Smitty Era. Even at 5-6 the game tonight is huge if for no other reason than boosting their psyche. Also, after the Falcons beat the Saints (and they will), how far do you think that goes toward lifting their confidence heading into the playoffs.
Keep up the awesomeness,
P.S. feel free to throw this out if they lose, but they won't
Thanks for the kind words and love your Falcons confidence. Wow, and you nailed it.
We have not really thought about the connection of struggling in the spotlight and struggling against the Saints, but we can see that point.
We can also see that last night's win was more than another notch in the left column.
This team has felt disrespected all year. That's fine and good and common for teams not named New England or who do not have a QB whose name sounds like Dayton Tanning.
The biggest part of Thursday's 23-13 win over the Saints was your last sentence — confidence. They stepped on the stage that is Thursday night — NFL guys all love being the only game on, be it Thursday night, Sunday night or Monday night — and delivered.
And not only did they deliver, they dished out a defensive performance that should give every Johnny Falcons Fan hope for these playoffs. The Falcons are not going to be able to outscore every team to get to the Super Bowl. And last night they showed they can win a 23-13 slugfest against an elite quarterback.
In a season all Johnny Falcons Fans hope will be filled with big wins, Thursday was pretty doggone big.
And you called it. Nice job.
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 ...