Gang, excellent show Tuesday. In fact, great start to the week. And for all you newcomers who are cruising the interwebs looking for stuff on Derek Dooley and the tire fire that is your Tennessee football program, welcome. Feel free to swing by anytime, because as Bluto says in "Animal House," it don't cost nothing.
We're a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column that tries to answer every question, avoid politics if at all possible and refers to ourselves in the third-person plural. Keep an eye out for a slew of movie quotes, and as always, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.
Oh yeah, every Friday we have a mailbag where we answer your questions. Feel free to shoot along your query - we have a couple of spots open.
From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go.
The main topic of discussion across the state has been the status of Derek Dooley. Our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown has been all over this story and we've had that multiple unnamed sources have said Dooley will not return for his fourth year. We've also had Dooley saying UT AD Dave Hart told Dooley he has not made up his mind.
Here's what we know: The University of Tennessee has lost 180 SEC football games ever; Dooley has lost 18 of them. The Vols have been playing SEC football since 1933, which means Dooley has accounted for 10 percent of the program's SEC defeats in less than four percent of the school's SEC seasons. Talk about overachieving at underachieving. OUCH-standing.
Here's what else we know: Since reporting in Monday's paper that Dooley's future is grim, we've been told more and more frequently by people with various ties to the program that there's no way for Dooley to salvage his gig. So it goes.
We believe - and this belief is based on some pretty good intel - that the decision to cut bait has been made and the only reason that it has not been announced is to try to give the players every chance to beat Vandy and keep alive any bowl chances. And in truth, after the meltdowns that were Fulmer's firing (and the immediate loss to Wyoming in 2008) and the brutal timing that was Mike Hamilton saying the "jury is out" on Bruce Pearl two days before a Biblical whipping by Michigan in the NCAA tournament, this seems to be the fairest move to all involved. Kudos to Hart and his staff for actually thinking about the players.
And that's how it should be, because the fact that Tennessee - a 4-point underdog to the Commodores - needs every emotional edge to try to top Vandy to become bowl eligible is every bit as damning for Dooley as the river of unflattering numbers on his resume.
More SEC stuff
There is a great three-level divide in the SEC this year.
Sure, it appears unlikely that college football's best conference will have the BCS champ for the seventh consecutive season. As SEC ace David Paschall tells us here, Georgia and Alabama need some help in the final three weeks of the season.
Still, there are six SEC teams in the top nine of the current BCS standings - and of the combined nine losses of those six teams, all of them have come against each other.
So you may have a title game with Oregon and Kansas State or Notre Dame, and that's nice. And the BCS is what it is. The system has benefitted the SEC as much as any league - although in 2004 Auburn got jobbed.
Let's go to 5-at-10 correspondent Hyman Roth: There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada... made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI's on the way to the West Coast. That kid's name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn't angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen; I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!
Thanks Hyman, and yes, this is the business we have chosen.
And whether the SEC gets some help and gets into the title dance, there's still no debating where the toughest college football neighborhood is.
It's over here on this side of the tracks.
Side note: Here's the SEC team-by-team breakdown we did for today's TFP: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/nov/14/sec-ratings-and-rantings-of-nov-14/
Shout out to the Trios
OK, we had some serious topics so far. Let's lighten it up a little bit, huh?
Happy 48th birthday to Joseph Simmons. No, he's not the man you know better as Joe the Policeman from the What's Going Down episode of "That's My Mama."
No, Joe Simmons is Reverend Run from Run DMC fame. And if you think of the people that have changed perception of their industry, Run DMC is one of the forefathers of rap. In fact, their iconic duet with Aerosmith in "Walk This Way" during the early days of MTV (back when MTV played videos) brought rap music to the masses. Debate whether that's a good thing or not, but Run, D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay were the pioneers, and if you're roughly the 5-at-10's age - We're a MAN! We're 42! - then you went through several "Raising Hell" cassette tapes.
My Adidas, walking on the hard wood floors...
In honor of Run DMC, what is the sports Mount Rushmore of trios? We'll take Aikman-Smith-Irvin, Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz, Bird-McHale-Parrish and Jordan-Pippen-and the guy who slings popcorn.
This and that
- It was a fun night of college hoops in the Georgia Dome. Michigan State topped Kansas. Duke outlasted Kentucky. Each of those teams will be around for the long haul. But as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer accurately wrote here, this is barely a gauge. If the college basketball season is a meal at a steakhouse, November is even before the Bloomin' Onion. Heck, it's the peanuts in the bar waiting for your dining beeper to go off. Is this place beeper friendly? Yes, the 5-at-10 is beeper friendly. Side lament: Man, we wish we would have invented those funny-shaped dining beepers/flashers. Genius. Not like polio vaccine or TV remote control genius, but dang smart enough to hang up the working shoes for a career. Alas.
- It was a rough Monday night for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In a cold and steady rain his team looked sluggish. He injured his right shoulder and is questionable for this week's showdown with Baltimore. And, ESPN made a mistake on one of their graphics about Big Ben. In an effort to praise Ben's success with short passes (dinking and dunking), ESPN praised his "Drink and Drunk" style. Stay thirsty my friends.
- Hey, when you make your living with words, there's always a head-scratching mistake out there for everyone. What's the 5-at-10's biggest? Well, there's two. When we were a young reporter - been on the job like three months at the Newnan Times-Herald - we wrote about a Christmas basketball scrimmage at the local high school. In an effort to set the scene, we described the teams as "shirts-and-skins" only we left the 'r' out of shirts. Changes the description a touch, huh? The other one was eight years ago here at the TFP, and our sports page had said someone who was very sick was dead. That person had not died, but when they did pass roughly six months after the out mistake, Brad Shepard, who was on our staff at the time, quipped, "Heck, we had that story six months ago." Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you; cry and they think your a mama's boy.
- Monster trade in baseball Monday with the Toronto Blue Jays sending some prospects, the attitude formerly known as Yunel Escobar, some Molson and three bats, two balls and a weekend stay at Sky Dome to the Miami Marlins for Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. Good thing the Molson was in there or it really would have been a one-sided deal, huh? Seriously, one of the great benefits of a salary cap is the handcuffs it puts on teams from hitting the reset button with massive salary dumps. If we were a Marlins season-ticket holder, we'd have some questions, and they would have nothing to do with a phone bill. Who ordered this Code Red roster cleansing and who's refunding us on our season tickets?
We wrote earlier in the week that the top three names we've heard on the Vols wish list are:
1) Jon Gruden, 2) Bob Stoops, 3) Charlie Strong.
We are not into the rumor-gouging that has turned Gruden into a combo of Chuck Norris-Tim Tebow-Mike Ditka-Mother Teresa in the Volunteer state. Seriously, just because Gruden mentioned that Eric Berry went to UT does not mean he's head this way. That said, we know the powers that be in and out of the athletic department (wink, wink) are doing everything possible to try to land Gruden. Will it work? Don't know if anyone this side of Gruden knows, but they are leaving no stone unturned and no check unwritten.
That said, and we've listed the three names we've heard most frequently, if you take Gruden off the list since he's obviously every Johnny Vols Fan's No. 1 pick, here's your chance to make your case for who you want the next Vols coach to be. And if you are a non-Johnny Vols Fan, we know you want Derek Dooley to get just one more year. So for non-Johnny Vols Fans, who would you least like to see head to the 865 and awake the beast?
Have at it, and let's be careful out there.