It's been an eventful week, huh, Mocs fans? CUH-razy.
Before we start, we have to wish our son Lee a Happy 5th Birthday. He is such a great kid. We are truly blessed. In fact, we'll give him the first word this morning. Here is his go-to joke: "What do you call a cow that cuts the grass?"
"A Lawn Moo-er."
Bows and says, "Thank yoooouuuuuu."
He gets his sense of humor from his mother.
From the "Talks too much studios," let's get to the mailbag.
You liked shiny things as a youth? You liked the Dodgers and Cowboys? You liked teams that won all the time? As much as it pains me to say this as a Tennessee fan, how did you wind up an Auburn fan and not an Alabama fan?
We liked baseball and the NFL before we fell in love with college football.
So, as a youngster in the late 1970s, we saddled up with the Dodgers and the Cowboys - they were on TV the most, they had sweet uniforms and they won more than they lost. It was a young sports fan's trifecta.
As we started to follow college football, our first crush was Georgia and Herschel Walker, but all of our friends liked Walker and the Bulldogs, so we needed to be different.
That led us in the early 1980s to a young freshman running back named Vincent Jackson and his leap over the top with Keith Jackson going nuts and a scrappy defense standing tall at Legion Field. It was love at first sight.
And Auburn's uniforms are pretty boss.
(Side note: If we had graduated high school during the time of the HOPE scholarship, we likely would not have gone to Auburn, though. We decided on Auburn in June after we graduated because we thought we were going to get at least a partial basketball scholarship to Georgia Southern. As it turned out the last scholarship of that signing class went to a kid GSU didn't expect to land - if we were lower fringe and a reach, this kid was upper fringe and waiting to see if an SEC school was going to offer. That kid was Charlton Young. Few years ago when he was on John Shulman's staff we had a good laugh with him about it. Things worked out pretty swell, this way too. Thanks Bo.)
I saw Trob play several games at South Pitt and UTC. Never saw a Diva but I could be wrong. Of course anyone at this paper is not going to go against UTC because of the need for future interviews. Also there is no way you wouldn't support a former student at the prestigious Baylor school over a Local kid from a mere public school not even in Hamilton County. Wouldn't want to upset the mountain folk around here would we? Just take any week in particular and count mentions of Baylor in the sports page compared to mentions of all other area high schools combined.)
Thanks for the question and the chance to respond.
We saw Terrell Robinson play several times at South Pitt, too, and when news first broke of his decision to leave the UTC football team here's what we wrote: "The puzzling thing is this seems so out of character for Robinson, a good student who was a warrior at South Pittsburg High School and was SoCon co-Freshman of the Year in 2011. But it is where the Mocs find themselves this morning; their QB decision made by the choices of the choices."
As for your claims about going against UTC, well, that's simply not true. First, almost every UTC fan we know wants more UTC coverage in the paper. And that's understandable. Secondly, when things go badly on the hill, the sports section has always held their programs to the task. Ask Rodney Allison. Or even John Shulman last year. We have no problem taking anyone to task, but how are we to blame UTC or Russ Huesman for trying to convince a kid not to quit and then eventually taking him back after the fact? If you want to discuss race or alleged nepotism then say it. Knowing Coach Huesman, we know for a fact that neither the color of a kid's skin or his last name has anything to do with whether he gets on the field. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but an opinion different from that is wrong. In our opinion.
Finally, as for the high school thing, well, over the course of the school year, Baylor may very well get more ink than any other school. But that's because they offer the most sports and they are consistently contending for state titles in almost all of them. It has nothing to do with whether we "want to upset the mountain folk" or not.
The TFP sports editor went to Campbell High School, a public school outside of Atlanta. So if we were going to be biased toward our alma mater, you'd be reading more about the Panthers.
And if you ask Vic Grider and anyone involved in the South Pittsburg football program, we'll bet they believe they get a fair amount of ink. Know why? Because they contend for state titles almost every year.
That said, thanks for the question and feel free to swing by our little F-O-I-B sports column any time.
In a week's time my pessimism has turned to optimism about the Vols. I'm now trying to hold down my expectations. Anyways this week I'd like to talk to you about Kris Medlen. Wow, Jay, this guy is dealing it. He is almost Maddux-like with his approach to his pitches. Do you think the Nationals are wishing they would've took the Braves approach with Medlen by limiting Stephen Strasburg's innings at the first of the year in order to save him for the end?
Also, I didn't realize how big of an effect the new rule on a player's helmet coming off would have in games. That rule is big especially when your quarterback's helmet gets taken off. This altered a few calls by the Clemson coaching staff when Tajh Boyd's helmet came off 17 times (Good Gracious get that kid a new chin strap!). If a player's helmet comes off, can the coach then call timeout to avoid the player having to sit out a play?
First off,let a little optimism run wild about your Vols. How long has it been since you have had a good feeling in September. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Encourage it. There's a very real chance they take a 4-0 mark into Athens and are playing for big things. Good times.
As for Medlen, what can you say? Dude has been the glue that has held the staff together for the last five weeks. He's been money - and he's saved a lot of miles on the bullpen. And, the Braves' plan of saving his innings on the front end with Medlen was genius. Genius.
Granted that gamble was easier for the Braves than it would have been for the Nationals, considering at the start of the season Medlen would have been considered the teams fourth, fifth or sixth starter. Plus, the Nationals have not had a winning record before this season, so hatching a plan of saving Stephen Strasburg's arm until the pennant race would have seemed a little silly in April. (Especially considering almost everyone thought the NL East was the Phillies' playground before the season.)
Still the Braves get major props for holding an ace up their sleeve. In fact, if Fredi Gonzalez had anything to do with that meeting, it's yet another well-played stroke for the Braves' second-year manager. Nationals' manager Davey Johnson and Pirates' skipper Clint Hurdle will run away with manager of the year voting, but we need to give Fredi G. his due. Dude has had a great year.
As for the helmet rule, we did not realize how often that happens in a game - and you're right, Tajh Boyd needs a new lid. Our interpretation of the rule is no, the player has to come out unless it's the final play of the first half or the final play of regulation before going to overtime. Of course, if the helmet comes off because of a play that draws a defensive penalty (i.e. facemask) then the player doesn't have to come out
I hate this about T-Robb, if his family was pushing him for this choice, maybe cooler heads will prevail and they will re-think this rash choice. I am sure there is still a window for T-Robb to come back . . . .
Jay- what are your thoughts on Jax St. game, match-ups, etc ?
We have this live lingering belief that the Mocs are going to play really well Saturday.
Two emotional scenarios that fascinate us about college and high school football teams: First, they almost always struggle after being told how great they are for an extended period; two nothing rallies the troops more than the opportunity to say "it's us against the world."
We believe the Mocs will embrace the head-scratching turn of events of this week and play hard. And well. Now it's fair to point out that the starting point of "it's us against the world" is almost always a crossroad, and a wrong turn can wreck a season. Here's saying the Mocs avoid that turn this weekend.
And since we've been consumed with a slew of other sports items and we're not up to speed on the playing habits of the JSU Gamecocks, we've asked for UTC football ace John Frierson's view on the matchups. Look for more in Saturday's TFP of course, but here's what he sent:
"It's been a tough week for the Mocs due to the Terrell Robinson situation, but they did catch a break when it was announced Wednesday that Washaun Ealey, the former Georgia running back, was suspended for the game. Even without Ealey, the Gamecocks have a lot of offensive talent.
JSU coach Jack Crowe has two proven guys at quarterback in Marques Ivory and Coty Blanchard and both will play (sound familiar?). Ivory's a big guy at 6-1, 235 pounds, while Blanchard is a lean 6-0, 180. Ivory is more likely to stay in the pocket and Blanchard is more of a runner.
However, don't forget that it was Blanchard who in his first career game in 2010 threw a pair of touchdown passes and completed the pass on the 2-point conversion to beat Ole Miss - a certain UTC beat writer's beloved alma mater - in overtime.
Last week at No. 8 Arkansas, JSU actually led 14-7 in the second quarter before losing 49-24. Receiver Alan Bonner was the star for JSU with eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown and two runs, including a 4-yarder for a score. Arkansas is known for its offense, but the Gamecocks put up 24 on an SEC defense - hard not to be impressed by that.
A very motivated Mocs team should take the field at JSU Stadium. The Mocs remember well their last trip there, in 2010, when they blew a 17-0 second-half lead and lost 21-17. Cornerback Kadeem Wise definitely remembers being called for pass interference on a desperation heave on fourth-and-8 at the UTC 24-yard line, which allowed JSU to cut the lead to 17-14 and go on to win."
I know that the 5 at 10 doesn't deal with hypothetical situations very often, but for the Friday mailbag... If Mizzou beats Georgia on Saturday evening, does that put Richt on the hot seat by the Dawg Nation? I know in the SEC a coach is only as good as his last win, and effort doesn't replace results, but with expectations high for the red and black, an early loss might wear thin with the fan base. Thanks and I'll look forward to your response.
There is a certain amount of every fan base that will put any coach not named Nick Saban on the hot seat after disappointing losses. (Of course it's been so long since the Tide had a disappointing loss, we don't know how they'd act.)
There would be a small fraction that would try to start the hot seat talk if Richt and Co. lose at Missouri. But in truth, that group has more than likely wanted Richt gone for a while.
Couple-to-three things about hot seats:
Because of the salaries and the passion and the interest and importance of college football in the South, everyone not named Nick Saban is on the hot seat whether they know it or not. That's just the way it is.
That said, there should be a sliding scale for coaches and their accomplishments. If a coach wins a national title he should get no less than a three-year reprieve from the hot seat. A conference title gets a two-year pass and a division title gets a a year away from it. Now this is barring a complete and total collapse (like 1-11) or serious rule violations or laws broken of course.
The other thing about college football coaches and hot seats, the best way to avoid them is to recruit your tail off. First, you recruit well, you're going to have some horses and be competitive most years (ask Saban). Second, if you have a star-filled recruiting class, that helps job security almost as much as winning.
Of course, we believe Richt's Dogs are going to be ready to play and this talk will be mute (like that Spy?) by Sunday morning.