We're starting the new year with a question for the group: We need a new name for the launch center. Mama McNabb had her run. Al Davis' time has expired. We got R-U-N-N-O-F-T by the 7-Up people.
So who's next? Is there a tribute we owe or a person/thing/team we should mock? Thoughts?
So, for at least one more day, from the "Mama McNabb stage at the Al Davis studio" here we go.
First off, let's welcome back some of our new friends from the Great Northwest. There were more than a few Washington fans who took umbridge to the fact that the 5-at-10 said Tennessee is a better program than Washington. They are more than welcome to take offense to that, but we stand by that statement. Everyone make them feel at home (BIspy put your shirt on, and jefe get your feet of the table), and as always we love the feedback.
That said, we should have done a better job of conveying that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers Peter Sirmon leaving the UT staff for the same jobs at Washington certainly appears that the Huskies' current situation under head coach Steve Sarkisian has more upside and/or more stability than the current situation in Knoxville. Sarkisian is a hot-shot coach who has Washington coming off back-to-back bowl trips, and he needs defensive help (allowing more than a third of a mile to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl made that clear). Wilcox and Sirmon will certainly deliver that.
On Tuesday, Derek Dooley met with the media for the first time in 37 days. It was a reminder of a few things:
1) Dooley needs to get in front of the camera more. He dominates news conferences like they were Kentucky. Oh wait, scratch that. He dominates news conferences like they were Cincinnati.
2) Dooley's message of excitement and his Kevin Bacon in "Animal House" statement of "All is well," were believable, but so is the fact that his two best assistant coaches high-tailed it for Washington. And yes, they are from the Great Northwest (Sirmon is from Washington; Wilcox is from Oregon) and we don't know how much they were offered (but money-whipping assistant coaches has never been a problem for UT). On its face, though, the move seems to be as much about Tennessee as it does about Washington, especially for Wilcox, who turned down the DC gig at Texas last January. (And, yes, we know there are a ton of Washington fans debating whether to send another round of e-mail insults about how U of W stacks up against Tennessee, but even they have to admit that Texas is a better program than Washington. Or maybe they don't. That's why we love college sports, so much.)
The 5-at-10 feels the truth is most often found in the middle. Things may not be as dire in Knoxville as some believe, and there are countless reasons beyond program tradition and even money for coaches to relocate. But things are not as rosy as Dooley made out Tuesday, either. In fact, Dooley recognized as much, acknowledging the outside fret and public perception woes facing the Vols before adding that the program is in "the last 22 months, on as good a foundation as we could ever do." OK, but the last four years have been the low-water point for the Vols of the modern generation, so saying the Vols are in the best place in the last 22 months is not unlike picking a Republican presidential candidate. Yes, this may be the best of the lot, but it's the best of a pretty bad lot, so calling it the best seems hollow. Like picking the best Rob Schnieder movie. (And "The Waterboy" is an Adam Sandler movie that Schnieder appears in.) Let's move along.
3) Dooley discussed some interesting items in regard to the roster. The PR nightmare that was the DeAnthony Arnett transfer fiasco has been put to bed. Da'Rick Rogers appears to be in good standing. And there likely will be some roster moves next week when spring semester starts.
Here's hoping that Dooley addresses those directly next week, if for no other reason than that seems to be the arena he's most comfortable in.
If the college football season had names like the Chinese New Year (Year of the Dragon, Year of the Dog, etc.), this would certainly be Season of the Kicker.
How many big moments have been decided by wayward kicks this season? Alabama-LSU. Boise State not being in the title game. Oregon's loss to USC. Bowl loses for Georgia, Stanford and Virginia Tech hinged on overtime field goal misses. (We're certain there's more, but we had to stop and answer another hate e-mail from a Washington fan about how great Don James was and how their program is equal to Tennessee's.)
Alas, it has never been a better time to be a good kicker. There has to be teams lined-up for your services. So it goes.
On to the Winners/Losers Bowl-a-palooza Challenge. Here's the standings, and remember it's still wide open since missing a pick is negative points. It's not unlike double jeopard, where the scores can really change. Shoutout to our man CJoyner would rolled through the New Year's Eve bowls and steamed into 2012. Well-played indeed. At the other end of the spectrum, C-Vol has the inside track for the last-place prize. Well-played... or poorly played, however you want to view it.
These scores include the overtime thriller last night when Virginia Tech allowed Michigan to win the Sugar Bowl. Enjoy, and thanks for playing:
Cjoyner 25 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
Mrs. 5-at-10 23 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)
BigShot 19 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)
scole023 17 (Clemson, K-State, LSU)
ThatIDoKnow 17 (Clemson, K-State, LSU)
Jharvey 17 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)
Fan 15 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)
Addicted to Chalupa 13 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
Csmith 13 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)
5-at-10 11 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
WarEagle 9 (West Virginia, K-State, LSU)
TFP ace Patrick Brown 9 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
McPell 7 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
Snix 7 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
OTWatcher 5 (Clemson, Kansas State, LSU
Dawg 7497 3 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)
BamaMan 3 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)
FE to the C 1 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)
Spy -1 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
CHS -1 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)
Joe -1 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)
Jroberts -3 (Michigan, Clemson, Kansas State, LSU)
ToughSkin -4 (West Virginia, K-State, Alabama)
Bblackmon -7 (Michigan, Clemson, Kansas State, LSU)
Jefe -7 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
Uch -7 (Clemson, Kansas State, LSU)
MemphisExile -9 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
BlueOval -9 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
Believer -13 (West Virginia, K-State, Bama)
Cvol -15 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)
Let's breakdown the first round of the NFL playoffs, and know this: The 5-at-10 may take out a loan on some of his picks this week. (Excuse me, those picks are for entertainment-only of course. Nevermind, and move along officer.)
We'll discuss the Falcons by themselves tomorrow, and there are a couple of NFL questions already in Friday's mailbag (and there's still some room, however, so even if you want to know our thoughts on Steve Entman, the most-underrated college defensive lineman of all-time, send them along).
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. You know this, we know this, Washington fans know this, heck, there's a reasonable chance that even Joe Buck knows this. With that in mind, here's our free investment advise for the weekend:
Pittsburgh minus-8.5 at Denver (Total 34.5): Get the Steelers as soon as possible, because this line will only go up. There's no way this is not a 24-7 final. Or 30-7. Hey, we've never been pro-Tim Tebow or anti-Tim Tebow. He seems to be a great kid who works harder than everyone else and inspires his teammates. He also does not throw the football very well. And intangibles and grit are not enough against a Steelers defense that is awesome in its awesomeness. Think of it this way: Tebow and Co. managed 3 points against only a partially motivated Chiefs team that was banged up last week. Is there anyway to expect them to generate more than that against a win-or-go-home Steelers club?
Cincinnati plus-3 at Houston (38): Buy the half and give us the Bengals. Quick. Texans rookie T.J. Yates and his injured shoulder will make his first playoff start. Granted Bengals rookie Andy Dalton will also be making his first playoff start, but Dalton has been Cincy's QB1 from training camp. Yates started the season as Houston's No. 3 quarterback and has been forced into duty because of injury. Side note: We like the under in this one, too.
New Orleans minus-10.5 against Detroit (59): Tougher call here, because both quarterbacks had big-time years. Did you know that Detroit's Matt Stafford and New Orleans' Drew Brees are two of the four quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 5,000 in a season, and they did it this year and they're facing off in a first-round playoff game? Strange huh? That said, there's another group of four that Stafford is a part of - there are four quarterbacks making their NFL playoff debuts this weekend. And here's saying that three of them will go home with losses.
This and that
- OK, Kentucky trailed at halftime to Arkansas-Little Rock last night before cruising after the intermission for a 73-51 win. On a scale from "Mr Rogers" to "Nuclear meltdown" where do think Wildcats coach John Calipari's halftime speech ranked?
- The Lady Mocs went to Knoxville last night and got to see how dominant the UT Lady Vols can be.
- Boise State reportedly has offered Chris Peterson a five-year extension. Good move to lockdown a guy that is always on the short list of the names tossed out by the big-time programs when jobs come open. That said, let's see how the Broncos do without Kellen Moore and a group of seniors that contributed to 50 wins in a record-breaking four-year run.
- Gene Bartow died Tuesday after a bout with stomach cancer. He was 81. Bartow was a renowned and familiar figure in college hoops and won 647 games in 34 seasons. He's a college hoops hall of famer. And he handled arguably the toughest job in college hoops history - taking over for John Wooden at UCLA in 1976.
Let's continue off the interesting points raised by some of our new friends from the great state of Washington.
Where does UT rank in the sphere of college football? Consider tradition, consider current state of affairs, consider fan base, bankroll, and chance to contend for a BCS berth. Consider whatever you want, but rank the following football programs in order from best to less than best, and tell us why:
Tennessee, Washington, Clemson, Boise State, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Miami, Arkansas, Stanford.
Yes this list eliminates some of the obvious big boys such as Ohio State, Alabama, USC, et al. But this is the next level of folks. Discuss, and thanks to everyone for the feedback.