5 at 10: Friday mailbag on UT football, sports books, inverted names and overrated defensive coordinators - SAAALLLLL!!!

5 at 10: Friday mailbag on UT football, sports books, inverted names and overrated defensive coordinators - SAAALLLLL!!!

November 16th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri

Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Before we start, want to thank the regulars and the newcomers for one of the busiest weeks we've had here. Nice job.

Plus, tip of the Tam O'Shanter to StuckinKent, who rightly said the Mocs would give Kansas a game Thursday night. The Mocs led by eight at the half and represented themselves quite well.

We're sad to report that Hostess - the genius folks who brought us the Twinkie and Cupcakes and Fruit Pies and countless other goodies - is closing its doors. As a chubby kid of that generation, this gets us where we used to snack. And who could forget the cut-out baseball cards on the back of the Twinkie box? Tear.

From the "Talks too much" studios, M-C-A, pick up the mic my man.

From CelticVol

Hey 5@10,? ?You're always talking about movies but never about books. I was curious to hear your top sports books of all-time?? ?C-Vol,

A perfect question from a UT fan to an Auburn alum in what our two fan bases will forever remember as the Fall of Suckiness. Because not only are the Vols and the Tigers historically bad (this is the worst Auburn team since 1950 and UT is 1-13 in SEC games since the start of 2011) but arguably our two biggest rivals - Alabama and Georgia - will play for the SEC title and the winner could be in the BCS title game.


And while we'll reinforce what C-Vol wrote last week - you can't cheer against your team... Period and under no circumstance - it's been tough for the Vols and Tigers this year.

We went to the Auburn-Georgia game last week, and we were quite proud of the AU fan base. Good crowd for the start. No booing. Great early atmosphere. Then the game started, and when it hit 21-0 the place started to empty. We'll be really curious to see how many are in Jordan-Hare on Saturday for the home finale against Alabama A&M. And if Tennessee loses Saturday against Vandy, the over/under of fannies in the seat for the Dead Coach Walking Bowl between UK and UT is 60,000.


As for the question, well, as usual, C-Vol delivers the goods. And while it would be super-tough to try and nail down a Mount Rushmore of sports movies, we had three sports books jump right in mind when we read this question. Here's our Rushmore of sports books:

Seabiscuit: Laura Hillenbrand's story is tirelessly researched and is the living foundation of the cliche "The book was way better than the movie." (Side note: Here book "Unbroken" is super powerful. If you have not read either, well, here's a strong suggestion that you should.)

Friday Night Lights: Before it was a good movie and a great TV show, it was simply an amazing book. Sure, Buzz Bissinger may have lost, but when he followed Permian High for a year, he found perfection.

Ball Four: Jim Bouton's behind the curtains account of the New York Yankees is funny and honest and in the end a love story that will forever be a classic.

Semi-Tough/Dead Solid Perfect: Pick up either of these from Dan Jenkins - the world's greatest living sports writer, by the way - give them as a gift, and thank us later. Each is side-splitting funny.

(Wow, this was harder than we thought considering A River Runs Through It, Season on the Brink, Paper Lion, The Boys of Summer and The Natural all fell short. So it goes.)


From Chas9

What's your Rushmore of sports names that read just as well forwards as backwards because they're essentially just two surnames? Murray Arnold or Arnold Murray?


Excellent question, but before we get started, let's pay tribute to Coach Arnold, who we have come to learn the last couple of days was a true hoops savant. Here's our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's view from today.

OK, interchangeable names. Back story: On the bus to and fro Campbell High School baseball games, we'd play the name game. The rules were simple: Someone starts with a name - it either had to be someone multiple people knew or someone famous, no my cousin Ester's hairdresser Millie Meter - and from there you could either match the first name or the last. If you started with Adam Scott, you could go Adam West or Stuart Scott. If you tried Scott Cole, that was illegal flip-flopping. Not sure why we wasted everyone's time, but there you go.

Rushmore of reversible sports names (and we tried to go with guys that were the biggest stars as opposed to the most interchangeable names):

Barkevious Mingo/Mingo Barkevious: As a surefire QB-crushing pass rusher this is equally intimidating backward and forward.

David Wright/Wright David: Either way dude is mashing baseballs, right?

Keegan Bradley/Bradley Keegan: Hey, Bradley Keegan sounds better for the No. 10-ranked golfer on the PGA money list. Keegan Bradley/Bradley Keegan made $3.9 million playing golf in 2012. That's a lot of coin either way.

Metta World Peace/Peace World Metta: As Shaq said, "Can you dig it?"

Anyone else want to play?


From Suds


You have a fondness for the draft, at least that's what we've heard. Here's two draft Rushmores for you:

  • What younger stars would have been your biggest draft busts -- like who did you think was going to be a stud and they flamed out?
  • If all pro sports other than the NFL vanished -- I would not miss baseball, seriously -- and the NFL then drafted the athletes who were now looking for work, who's your top 10?

Thanks, and thanks for the 5@10.


Thanks for the kind words and for swinging by, feel free to drop by any time, don;t cost nothing.

OK, wow, excellent questions. We'll start with the second part first (wow, shout-out to old-school Tic-Tac-Dough with Wink Martindale - and if there is a name-to-profession Rushmore, Wink Martindale being a Game Show host is so there).

Our NFL draft board of non-NFL pro athletes:

  1. LeBron James: At 6-foot-8, 270 pounds and with that speed, he could change the game at receiver. Or at safety. Or at defensive end. Yes, he's No. 1 with a bullet.
  2. Mike Trout: Built like a fullback, runs like a gazelle - dude stole 49 bases in 130 games this year as a rookie.
  3. Jeff Samardzija: The Cubs pitcher was a 1,000-yard receiver at Notre Dame.
  4. Joe Mauer: As a quarterback, Mauer was the top-ranked high school football recruit in the country his senior year.
  5. John Wall: Elite speed and fewer miles give him a slight edge over Rajon Rondo.
  6. Derrick Rose: His draft stock has dropped until we see how he responds to the knee injury.
  7. John Daly. Some team may need some help at guard or center. Dude is ready to pitch in. And he'd be motivated; he needs the money.

8-10. Any and all applicable hockey players that Spy and Deboman see fit to put here. There are certainly a slew of toothless enforcers out there that could make legit linebackers, and if the lockout doesn't end soon, may be headed in that direction.

As for the Rushmore of can't-miss-prospects-that-did:

Sports: Former Georgia Tech hoops stud Tom Hammonds; Former LSU pitcher Ben McDonald; Former Auburn running back Brent Fullwood; Former Braves stud Jeff Francoeur (who could be on the list above too considering he was first-team all-state at Parkview and committed to Clemson as a safety/wide receiver)

Entertainment: The Black Crowes; The Wallflowers; Ferris Bueller's girlfriend, Brendan Fraser.


From BackupQB

Got a mailbag question ... but I'm a week late. Hopefully, this is still relevant. I think numerous Johnny Vols Fans were excited with the hiring of Nick Saban/Kirby Smart disciple, Sal Sunseri (is it SALLLL or SUNSEERRRII?) ... we know how that worked out. I'm wondering about who do you think is the most overrated Defensive Coordinator? Watching the Bama vs. LSU game(yes, I'm a week late), I had flashbacks to "3rd & Chavis," where Johnny Chavis (granted, ALL TN fans would take Chavis right now today) goes into his "Mustang" package (side note - If Chavis runs the Mustang, is Sunseri's version called the 'Matador'?). McCarron had done NOTHING in the 2nd Half and carved the 'Mustang' like he was throwing routes on air. On the same night (granted a week late), the great Monte Kiffin's Defense gave up a school record(SC football dates of 1888) 730 yards (321 and 5 TD's to RB Barner) and 62 points! Yes, I know that Chavis has directed some of the best defenses in the game during his years in Baton Rouge and Kiffin invented the famed 'Tampa 2,' but can you think of anyone more over-rated?

BackupQB (aka June Jones)

This took some time.

First we had to decide whether we think John Chavis is overrated. Is he a good defensive coordinator? We think so, especially with good players, and he has had so many good players that he gets some of the credit for landing that many good players. But if anyone thinks Chavis is great, then they have not been a Johnny Fan of whichever team is employing him. At least once a season, his dreaded Mustang defense will turn a defense that has dominated a game into a defense waiting to be put to sleep. It's kind of hard to understand why someone with as much football knowledge and experience as Chavis has can't see that.

So if you have Chavis rated as a good DC, then he's likely properly rated or slightly overrated.

As for Monte "Abe Simpson" Kiffin, he has become wicked overrated in the last few years. He was underrated during his NFL days considering he is one of the founders of the Tampa 2, one of the great defensive innovations of our lifetime. That said, offenses have changed to attack the Tampa 2 and Abe Simpson Kiffin has not been able to keep up, especially in the college game with the spread offenses shredding the Tampa 2. Think of it this way: The dude that invented the first cell phone, one of those that the phone was as big as your keyboard and it came in a suitcase. Dude was a visionary and an innovator. But the suitcase cell phone is not appealing today. Neither is Monte Kiffin.

As for the names we'd like to toss out there: How about Rex and Rob Ryan? They are the defensive version of Lane Kiffin, in that they got a jumpstart on the ratings because their old man was a football visionary.

Another one: Any defensive coach under Nick Saban - dude runs that Alabama defense and if you think otherwise ask Sal Sunseri - SAAALLLLL!!! - how the view is from the coaches box. And yes, this means the jury is way, Way, WAY out on Kirby Smart in our eyes. We think Kirby could be a good head coach, but the debacle that is the Sunseri era - SAAALLLLL!!! - in Knoxville does not help Kirby. Plus, when the Alabama defense comes to the sideline and needs a frank talking to, it's Saban doing the speaking and Smart doing the head-bobbing.


From BoroVol

I just started reading your blog. It's good stuff. I am excited about Red Dawn too.

My questions are all about the mess that is UT football. Well, my first question is how many questions can you have in a question?

Because here's what I'm wondering -- How did we get this bad? How can it be fixed? The Dooley's gone talk has cooled somewhat -- why? Do you think Gruden will come? Do you think he could fix it? Can anyone?

And mostly, who do you blame for this?


Since this is your first question, we'll allow you multiple questions. And remember to swing back by, don't cost nothing.

We're running low on time, so we'll quick answer this and come back and explain with a little more detail. Deal? Deal.

How many questions? For you, 8.

How did it get this bad? Momentum. Momentum good or bad is powerful and the Vols are riding a world-bending trip of bad momentum.

How can it be fixed? Hire a rock star as the head coach.

The Dooley's gone talk has cooled... why? We have good knowledge his days are numbered. How many times do we need to say.

Will Gruden come? We don't think so, but two weeks ago we would have said, "No flippin' way." There have been too many stories - some of them complete fabrications - not to think there has been some contact and some interest. In each direction.

Do you think he could fix it? Certainly, but it's not going to be as easy as "Hey we got Gruden, we're in the SEC title game next December." We know Gruden is a great coach and the type of "Wow, that's a great hire" the UT brass need. We believe he'd be an ace recruiter - although we know Saban, Richt, et al. ARE great recruiters. But mostly, hiring Gruden or someone like him energizes the fan base to a late 1990s level and sweet buckets of positivity, Johnny Vols Fans everywhere need that.

Can anyone? Sure, there are few folks that can. Sadly Dooley was not one of them, because dude is smart and funny and impressive. UT football is too powerful not to be back. They just need to find the right captain.

Who do we blame? There's the moneyball, right? Wow. Putting it out there on who gets the blame, well, there are a multitude of mistakes and major bad decisions that have snowballed into this. And this is dreadful - UT is 1-13 in its last 14 SEC games, and that one win was an overtime win at home against Vandy that set off an over-the-top locker room celebration that serves as the high-water point and possibly the low-water point of the Dooley era. The Vols are a four-point underdog to Vandy for crying out loud, so no one person can carry the entire weight of this landslide.

Here's out Rushmore of UT Blame (in order):

Mike Hamilton: Not necessarily for firing Fulmer - there was a lot of background drama there including some power plays within the department - but for the complete decline during his watch. Plus, whether UT would be good, great or on probation (and maybe parts of each) if Kiffin stayed, the sinfully low buyout and the poor handling of the entire process made a really bad situation much worse.

Lane Kiffin: Not for leaving for USC; hey, that's dude's dream job and we're sorry but if you're dream job comes calling you listen. Period. We all listen. No, even if he hadn't left for USC, how much of that "dazzling" recruiting class is still around - Zach Rogers may be the best Kiffin recruit still standing - and if the Bryce Browns and Janzen Jacksons had stayed, how long would the probation have been?

Nick Saban: Look around. Other than the Cam Newton blip on Auburn's radar and the rock star that is Steve Spurrier, what SEC program is better today than it was before Lord Sabanator went to Alabama. The doldrums that have invaded the 865 are present across the league folks.

Dooley: This has been bad. Really bad. And yes, Dooley has not gotten a single good break other than Cordarrelle Patterson picking UT. The thing we likely did not give enough attention, credence, warning, what have you: That so many assistants left before this season. And they can have some blame too. So it goes.