HOOVER, Ala. — Morning folks. Hey, remember the mailbag, we have a few spots open.
From the satellite offices of the “Talks too much” studios, smiling is fun; frowning is work. Smile, it's more democratic.
SEC media daze
We're halfway home in what Steve Spurrier dubbed “talk season” on Tuesday. The SEC media event outside of Birmingham has been a blur and a load of work.
Butch Jones took the stage Tuesday, bringing with him three experienced leaders and a truckload of buzz words. Jones even took some ribbing on social media about some of his familiar phrases. He spoke of the “power of one” and discussed the rebuilding effort. All of it's true of course, and fair, and even realistic.
The message has carried through to the team, as well. Linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive end Curt Maggitt carried the message and even added some polish and shine to the technique.
Johnson on the upperclassmen despite the bevy of talented youngsters on UT's roster: “We're only going to go as far as this senior class can take us.”
Maggitt, speaking on Press Row on Tuesday, spoke of the excitement — both his in returning from injury and the team's for the start of camp.
Here's a list of things we believe about these Tennessee Vols after time to reflect on half the league speaking:
The players care for and enjoying playing for Butch Jones. We are 100 percent that has not been the case since Fulmer.
The young stars will amaze — in good and bad ways at times. That's how it goes with inexperienced talent.
Replacing the entire offensive and defensive lines is a chore. We believe the offensive line will be better than some believe; the defensive line, despite the return of Maggitt from the injuries that cost him the 2013 season, will be a work in progress.
There will be no tears shed for Jones and the Vols from a cutthroat league. As several coaches have mentioned that this is an unforgiving league. There will be little quarter offered for a UT team that plays a top-10 national schedule.
As for the rest, there are several unknowns beyond the youth and which slogan Jones will embrace next.
We naturally have two beliefs, though.
First, if Jones continues to recruit at this level, he can use whatever slogans and catch phrases he wants. Dude will bring the Vols back to prominence if he continues to add big-time talent. Want to know how Alabama dominates the college football landscape? They acquire more talent than everyone else. Heck, Steve Spurrier said Tuesday that Nick Saban is the greatest recruiter in the history of college football.
Jones has impressed on the recruiting scene, both on a public scale and behind the scenes. One UT beat writer told us a story about the recent commitment of Kahil McKenzie, one of the nation's top defensive line prospects in the 2015 class and a professed lover of bucket hats. So what did Jones and Co. do: They took photos of a slew of famous folks from Peyton Manning to Jon Gruden to attractive co-eds in a UT bucket hat like McKenzie's. That's crafty and successful.
Second, we believe it's time to ease the soft-shoe buzz speak that sounds more Jack Handey than Jack Lambert.
There's an impractical and very challenging line to draw in the PR approach for each coach. Saban down plays the most talented team in the country. Spurrier spins tales and talks about callin' ball plays and saying “I don't know 'bout 'at.” That's their approaches and we've come to expect and understand them.
Jones is crafting his approach and his persona publicly, in a lot of ways it's happening the same way he is crafting his football team. There are positives and stuff to believe in and build on — brick by brick even — but when Vandy and Mississippi State are talking about getting to Atlanta and winning SEC titles, hearing Tennessee talk about progress and the Power of One becomes magnified.
Yes, it's a testament to how far the Vols program has to come from, but it also starts to become a ringing reminder that the light at the end of the tunnel could be a train.
Wow, that got long, huh?
OK, quickly, Derek Jeter made a classy and star-worthy exit at his final All-Star game. We expected that.
He went 2-for-2, including a double to lead off the first in the AL's 5-3 win. NL starter Adam Wainwright said afterward that he wanted to “pipe” a couple for Jeter to give him a good look. Cool move in an all-star exhibition that is for the fans.
Except that it's no longer an exhibition. It now decides who will host the World Series. Crazy.
What's the worst rule in sports? The fact that something as meaningful as home-field in the World Series — where Game 7 would be played, and in 23 of the last 28 Game 7s, the home team has won — hinges on the outcome of the All-Star game is ludicrous.
Much props to TFP golf ace David Uchiyama for handling a ton of local golf news and notes. In fact, there's so much in the paper and elsewhere online that it's too much to link.
What we will do is give Uch a voice and relay an email he sent last night:
-- Encourage folks get off the couch and watch next generation of guys they'll see on TV instead of a garbage British Am. Bring a folding chair and a water jug!
--- I count 23 of the top 100 Ams in the WORLD playing this week. *Rankings based on the service that the SGA uses and not the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
-- Standing-O to the Chattanooga Golf community
Southern Am volunteer director Tim Haralson (the local coordinator) told me than a little more than 200 people have volunteered to work the tournament this week. Some started their shifts on Sunday and others will work until well after the last putt drops on Saturday.
SGA executive secretary Buford McCarty (he's a big-time big-wig) told Uch: "The fact we have about 200 volunteers is amazing. Incredible.
"We had 30, maybe 40 last year. It's at least three times what we normally get."
Kudos — to Uch and the local folks who love the game.
This and that
We're planning on doing a better job of checking back in today. We've been covered up with a slew of duties in Hoover. We do need to tip the visor to Grateful Dawg's suggested punishment for Nick Marshall (suspending him for the Georgia game in November). Well-played.
All-around TFP ace Stephen Hargis has news on UTC sports moving to 96.1 The Beat.
OK, as the lines continue to be drawn on the opinions of Johnny Manziel, two more guys come out in support of his full-speed lifestyle. Deion Sanders and Jim McMahon have joined Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson as saying Manziel deserves a pass for his partying ways.
Several things out there today.
Bud Selig also enjoyed his final All-Star game last night. He will retire in January.
What grade do we give Selig, who has helped baseball through one of the roughest eras of its history and battled steroids and cheating perception? He also has been at the wheel as the game's popularity has continued to decline. Discuss.
Also, who you got in the British? We need to know because by this time tomorrow, Tiger will already be 4 over.
Over/under on UT wins at 6. Whatcha' got?
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 ...