5 at 10: Friday mailbag

5 at 10: Friday mailbag

January 13th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports

From "the soon to be named studios" here we go.

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley reacts during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, in Knoxville, Tenn. South Carolina won 14-3. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

From Jharvey1984

Jay,

What are you basing your "public perception" on - message boards, call-in shows? I'm a huge Vol fan as is most of my family and close friends and none of us are too worried about how long it is taking. I understand that there is a recruiting element, but as far as I'm concerned, it should take as long as it takes to find the right guy. I would rather it take six months to find the right guy for the job than two weeks for a bad hire. the consequences of the latter would be heavier than any consequences suffered by the former, in my opinion.

Jharvey,

This was asked at the end of Thursday's discussion and was in reference to the sports editor's column in Thursday's TFP on the trouble facing Derek Dooley since they still have not hired a defensive coordinator. The column got a ton of feedback - some good, some bad - and please know that your feedback is always welcome - good or bad.

In this case, Jharvey makes a very good point. In fact, in most situations, we'd agree completely that talent rather than timing is of the utmost importance. Taking an extra day - or even an extra week if needed - in most cases to land the right guy is the smart play. Especially if that guy was coaching in a January bowl game or in the NFL playoffs.

But this is hardly most situations. Dooley is facing a huge, Huge, HUGE year in 2012, and there have been four assistant coaches make lateral moves - leaving for same jobs at different colleges - and one coach retire. It's hard to recall a mass exodus of this magnitude. So replacing these coaches as quickly as possible is very important; and by all accounts UT's new offensive line coach - former UNC coach Sam Pittman - was a nice hire that happened within hours of Harry Hiestand's departure.

As for "public perception," we should have been a little more clear in our column. Part of it is social media, part of it is feedback we get in the TFP sports department, part of it is talking with other sports writers in other markets and coaches at other schools, and part of it is hypothesis - the names that are being tossed around have not been overly eye-popping. Five coaches leaving after a disappointing season, and there have been only two hires made - that perception feels a lot like abandoning a trouble program and the way to quash that feeling is to hire a stud at the highest profile opening, and do it quickly.

(And you touched on this, but the recruiting factor is way more important than public perception. In fact there were reports that the Vols staff is so thin, they can't have the don't have enough coaches to have the full supplement on the road recruiting right now.)

As always, thanks for asking and for the feedback.

Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer signals number one after the Volunteers beat the Florida State Seminoles in the Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., in this Jan. 4, 1999 photo. The BCS consists of four bowls _ the Fiesta, Sugar, Rose and Orange _ with automatic bids going to conference champions in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC and two at-large spots. There is one goal: No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the final bowl game of the season. But,Fulmer wants a playoff _ along with dozens of others, including Ohio State's John Cooper, Florida State's Bobby Bowden and Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

From CelticVol

Hey 5@10,

Explain to me why Phillip Fulmer, who has a .741 winning percentage, 1 national title, 2 conference titles, a history of ace recruiting, and an unscathed record with the NCAA, can't get a college coaching job anywhere.

CelticVol,

We would have been able to use some kind of logic to explain this until recently.

Think about it this way, there are some misconceptions/preconceived notions/what have you about Fulmer that have forever tarnished his coaching resume. (And that resume is getting better and better and being remembered more and more fondly the longer Tennessee languishes.)

He battled weight concerns - and the unfair ridicule that came with that. He battled the modern trend of every fan base needing to have bigger and better and right now. (Heck, when Steve Spurrier left Florida, he talked about how the Gators finished No. 3 in the country and since they didn't win the SEC East, it was a down year.)

And some of those perceptions have lingered with Phil, who has not seemed overly aggressive in trying to land a job, which could be a factor for ADs wondering how much Fulmer wants to start over at a new program. There were always some silent whispers that without stud coordinators David Cutcliffe and John Chavis, Fulmer would be hard-pressed to match his sterling run in Knoxville.

All of these could have/would have been fair arguments until Kansas hired Charlie Weis for a job that Fulmer was reportedly very interested in.

With all the yahoos who have landed college gigs - Bob Davie got a job (New Mexico), Jim Mora Jr. got a job (UCLA), Terry Bowden got a job (Akron) - there's no explaining why Fulmer has not. That is if he was interested in any of those, of course.

Sorry, C-Vol, we don't have a good answer for you. Sigh.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, center, and fullback Geoff Meinken (10) celebrate after Luck scored a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. Stanford won 56-48 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

From McPell

5/10

We heard a rumor that you love the draft. So how about an early mock draft? We know all the underclassmen have not declared, but give us your best shot.

McPell,

Not sure who would spread rumors, but it is true: The 5-at-10 loves the draft. (You know this.)

The river of underclassmen that are entering this draft will dominate the activities of the first round. And, as you mentioned, there is still roughly 48 hours until Sunday's deadline to declare.

That said, let's give this a swing, and remember, this is very early - and the first of many mock drafts as the process continues to build to April. We'll do a top 10 (and the order is more or less a guess-timate) and if we have time we may get to the back half of the first round later today.

Giddy up:

1. Colts - Andrew Luck, Stanford. This will happen and will be the story of the draft.

2. Rams - Matt Kalil, USC. Perfect talent-need match.

3. Vikings - Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State. The Vikings have dozens of holes, but spent a No. 1 on a QB last year and have Adrian Peterson, so RGIII and Trent Richardson don't fit.

4. Browns - Robert Griffith III, Baylor. The Browns pray it works out like this.

5. Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, LSU. An aging secondary needs a lift. Claiborne is that and then some.

6. Redskins - Trent Richardson, Alabama. Need a QB, but after the big two, there's no one close to value here. Could trade down; could push another needle into the voo-doo doll that looks like Matt Barkley, who really hurt the 'Skins by coming back to USC.

7. Jaguars - Riley Reiff, Iowa. Receiver is a huge need - and this seems a little high for Alshon Jeffery.

T8. Panthers - Quitnon Coples, UNC. And the Julius Peppers stories can begin.

T8. Dolphins - Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama. Another team that needs a QB, but will look elsewhere. Dre will test off the charts.

10. Bills - Luke Kuechly, Boston College. Another team that needs a perimeter threat at receiver. Bills also need a play-making linebacker for a defense that is starving for play-makers.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates with his team after the BCS National Championship college football game against LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans. Alabama won 21-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

From BamaBlood

5-10,

First time writing, but love the column. Thanks.

Did you see the Birmingham News ranked the BCS championship teams? It was pretty interesting. They had this year's Alabama team at No. 11, which seems ?a little low.? What do you think the best BCS champ is?

BamaBlood,

Thanks for pointing this out - and costing me a good 30 minutes of reading this thing inside and out.

(Here's the link for those interested, (Where does Alabama 2011 rank among BCS-era national champions?).

We concur with the claim that Miami 2001 was the best of the BCS era. And it's not really that close, especially in talent. As we wrote last week when asked about the best defenses of all time, that Miami team had first-round picks sitting the bench behind other first-round picks on the defensive line, in the secondary, at running back and at tight end. Wow.

We agree BamaBlood, that No. 11 is too low for this Alabama team. There's a boatload of NFL talent, and the Tide boasted the best defense of the last 20 years.

We also think 2010 Auburn was too low - we think they were 10th, but since the link was down, we're not sure - considering that there was nothing that came close to stopping Cam Newton.

Here's our top 5 (with two add-ons)

1) Miami, 2001 - Too talented

2) USC, 2004 - Offense was overwhelming; defense was underrated

3) Alabama, 2009 - Look back at the waves of talent and depth that team had. Impressive.

4) Texas 2005 - Vince Young was a great college player.

5) Florida 2008 - Tebow and Brandon Spikes were among the best leaders of the last decade, and they were on the same team.

6) Ohio State 2002 -Unbeaten and stunned a stacked Miami team.

7) Auburn 2010 - With Cam Newton, these Tigers could have played with any team on the list.

8) Alabama 2011 - Same as above, except change "Cam Newton" to "this defense."

9) Tennessee 1998 - Seems like longer than 13 years ago, huh.

10) FSU 1999 - Remember how good Peter Warrick was? Wow, dude was good.

Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King (12) pulls in an 80-yard touchdown reception in front of Michigan State safety Isaiah Lewis (9) during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game Monday Jan. 2, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

From OTWatcher

Love the 5@10. There's been a ton of talk about college football playoffs this week. I love March Madness, but don't think that will work for football.

What's your view on the playoff talks and what will happen?

Thanks.

OTWatcher,

This has been the second-most tiring storyline in sports this week. We have said from the start that a playoff is a better way to determine a champion, but we're scared of a college football playoff because we don't want it to ruin the best regular season in all of sports.

Here's what we wrote about an eight-team playoff last month http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/dec/03/greeson-regular-season-still-big-power-polka-playo/, although NCAA president Mark Emmert said he would support a four-team playoff and nothing more. (That said, the NCAA won't have the final call here - it will belong to the university presidents and the BCS folks. So keeping flapping you gums Mark.)

We'd like to look at a plus-1 situation if it was only needed and give it a little flexibility. This year the plus-1 would have been on the front end - Oklahoma State and Alabama playing to see who got to play LSU. In some years, the plus-1 would be after the bowl games - think 2004 with matchups of four unbeatens with USC-Utah and Oklahoma-Auburn and the winners playing. If there are two clear frontrunners in a season, then there won't be a need for a plus-1. That seems fair.

But know this, once it starts, there will never be a chance to get that playoff toothpaste back in the tube. And also know this, right now it's the No. 3-ranked team that is complaining, well, if there's a four-team playoff, the No. 5-ranked team (and its fans, boosters and elected officials) will bemoan the unfair system. Heck, we have 68 teams in the college basketball tournament, and there are always coaches and teams saying they were robbed by not getting invited.

As for the the most-debated story this week, Holy Buckets, there's no debating that the Tim Tebow overkill has dominated sports news this week to a point of saturation that we interrupt this answer to announce that SportsCenter has just started an hour-long special "Tebow: Boxers or Briefs." Sweet biscuits and jam, the Tebow stuff is beyond control right now. Maybe it's because we're from the SEC and we've had several years to get accustomed to the good player/great guy/strong Christian total package that is Tim Tebow, but wow, here's guessing that even Tebow's mom sees another ESPN talk show discussing her son and flips the channel. It's beyond imagination. And sweet bibles, bullets and bootstraps, if the Denver Tebows win at New England this weekend, there will be a new ESPN channel - ESPNT - by the Wednesday morning that is devoted to nothing but Tebow.