From the "Talk too much studios," let's go.
OK, we knew that UT has struggled on the road. It happens for a first-year coach with two freshmen and a sophomore in his starting five.
Yes, we knew that Memorial Gym at Vandy is a tough, Tough, TOUGH place to play, especially in your first trip.
But, wow, that was a spanking the Vanderbilt Commodores handed Tennessee last night. The 65-47 win was not as close as the score indicates.
If Vandy can get points from anyone other than John Jenkins, the 'Dores are going to be tough. Tuesday night they got 23 from Jeffrey Taylor. Good night.
Still not sold on Vandy - we thought the 'Dores would be so, So, SO much better than they are - and we all know UT is flawed. The biggest takeaway from last night's game was the improved work of UT radio color analyst Bert Bertelkamp, who sounded like a nice mix between Bill Raferty and Rainman. Bert is prone to interesting basketball quips like Raferty and the occasional Rainman outburst like "Travel!" or "He's palming it!" or "Cutter!" or his trademark, "Money!" He was enjoyable to listen to last night, and there was a time we would have been hard-pressed to ever say that.
We're a week from signing day, the Christmas for college football recruiting junkies.
Full disclosure: We used to be one of those people. We used to be one of those folks that could tell you which three schools were fighting it out for the nation's 23rd-rated offensive tackle, and where he's leaning. But something changed in the last few years. Be it the overload of the hat dances - the ceremony where they put five hats on the table and pretend like they are going to pick each of them before picking their school of choice - or the post-signing day theatrics that have become a high-stakes game of can-you-top-this, our interest has faded.
Now, that said, the 5-at-10 is a) aware of the value of recruiting in general; b) fairly well-versed in the comings and goings on the recruiting trail (you have to remember what we do for a living, after all), or c) just as competitive and passionate as your normal SEC fan.
There are four things that overwhelm us every year as recruiting season winds down:
1) How incredible difficult this week must be for coaches who have to make their living in large part on these decisions made by teenagers. When the 5-at-10 was a senior in high school, we had a tough enough time picking between Hardee's and Fat Boy's, never mind juggling the sales pitches from recruiters like Saban, Trooper, Richt, et al.
2) As impressive as the SEC's streak of six consecutive national titles is, the most overwhelming year-in, year-out stat about the SEC is on national signing day. Come next week, Tennessee will likely finish somewhere in the top 20 in the recruiting rankings nationally. Maybe as high as say 12th, maybe as low as 17th or 18th. A solid class, no doubt, that 100 other FCS programs would gladly take. If UT finishes 18th nationally in recruiting, that will likely be good enough for eighth or ninth in the SEC. Read that again.
3) The system needs to be rehauled. This is fact, and we'll cover this more in Friday's mailbag.
4) Gang, remember these are rankings that are subjective and made by folks that spend more time hitting keyboards than hitting the practice field. Yes, Eric Berry was a five-star commit, but so was Chris Donald in the same class. Yes, Cam Newton was a five-star player coming out of high school, but Nick Fairley was a two-star offensive tackle. The last five top-ranked players in the country were, in order:
2011 - Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina
2010 - Ronald Powell, defensive end, Florida
2009 - Bryce Brown, running back, Tennessee
2008 - Terrelle Pryor, quarterback, THE Ohio State
2007 - Jimmy Clausen, quarterback, Notre Dame
What does that tell us? You guessed it. Recruiting is hardly a science.
The studio shuffle
Now that's Al's gone, there's no way to put the 5-at-10 into a box or in support of one person, place or thing over an extended period of time. That's not us. We'll continue to mix it up and change some things around; and here's hoping for a few more theme shows in the near future, like Thursday could be from the "They can't do that to our pledges, only we can do that to our pledges studios" and each of the 5-at-10 entries will be based on a quote from "Animal House. So it goes.
As for what we chose as the baseline name, the "We talk too much studios," which is a semi-familiar refrain in our Friday mailbag and in our day-to-day interaction, was finalized just last night.
We tried a lot of the suggestions - the Holly Rowe forearm shiver studio was excellent, as was the hometown touch of the Fat Boy's Studios (FYI: Fat Boy's was an awesome fast food joint with world-class chili dogs back in our hometown of Smyrna, Ga.) - but the Mrs. 5-at-10 made an awesome point when the discussion turned to basic studio names last night. It went a little something like this - hit it:
5-at-10: We're kind of stuck. What do you think?
Mrs. 5-at-10: It should be something that new comers can understand and regulars will appreciate.
5-at-10: Wow, great point.
Mrs. 5-at-10: You sounded surprised? Listen, take something that is a common theme - or even something like the draft... You love the draft. I know this - or a regular feature and name it that. That was the beauty of the Al Davis stuff.
5-at-10: You know we never really spoke with Al, right?
Mrs. 5-at-10: Wow, your readers are right, you do talk too much.
5-at-10: That's brilliant.
Mrs. 5-at-10: What? Shhhhh. Idol's back on.
This and that (Contract-edition)
- There simply is no explaining sports salaries. No explanation. Mack Brown is paid $5.2 million a year with a $100,000 annual raise to coach the University of Texas football team. Read that again. Brown has had big success at Texas, going 141-39 in 14 seasons, but the Longhorns are 13-12 in the last two years, and Brown just got an extension through the 2020 season. Yes, 2020, as in the year not the vision grade or the TV news show. Did we mention that Brown is 60? (And yes, Texas as a program kind of runs as a self-perpetuating program - heck they have full recruiting classes by August each year and they turn down kids have the country would hail as their top recruits. But if that's the case, that Texas runs itself, why does the lead dog need $5.2 million? Mack Brown is the second luckiest auto-pilot right behind the inflatable one in "Airplane.")
- Sweet biscuits and jam, that's a Princely sum. Or how about, Mother of all Fielder's choices. We'll be here all week. Seriously, it's in the contract that we are here all week. Nevermind. Anyhoo, Prince Fielder landed a nine-year, $214 million contract to play first base for the Detroit Tigers. Is there any skill out there that should be worth a nine-figure contract? There has to be, right? Curing diseases? Of course. Technological advances? Certainly. Pounding mediocre pitching for mid-market contenders? You betcha.
- Well, that's way more appropriate. The San Francisco Giants and starting pitcher Tim Lincecum agreed to avoid arbitration, where Lincecum was asking for a raise to $21.5 million for the 2012 season. Yep, cooler heads prevailed and the Giants and Lincecum were able to meet in the middle on a two-year deal that will be worth roughly $40 million. Hey, Lincecum is a hoss - as is Prince - and we always say get all you can when you can, but where is the logic in paying a starting pitcher roughly $667,000 per start? (Although that helps explain the $8 beer prices and $5 Cokes at most big-league ball parks. Hey, how about a shout out for the Lookouts, opening day will be here before we know it.)
- OK, you have to wonder if the Raiders are going to start putting some sort of temporary buy-out option in the contracts of their new coaches. Since John Madden left the Silver and Black for a broadcast booth and video game history, the Raiders have employeed Tom Flores, Mike Shanahan, Art Shell, Mike White, Joe Bugel, Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Shell again, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson. Oakland has reportedly hired former Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to be the team's seventh coach since 2003. Hey, we'll bite, if for no other reason than we believe in new GM Reggie McKenzie. Dennis Allen may not be as good as George Allen or Marcus Allen, but we're betting he's better than Woody Allen or Tim Allen.
Reader survey time:
How closely do you follow recruiting?
Let us know by putting yourself in one of the following classes:
1) We cheer for the players when they get on the field
2) We know who are team is signing, and where we rank compared to the rest of our conference
3) We've been to a high school football game to watch a prospect who is going to our school
4) We plan on taking next Wednesday off so we can watch the excitement of teenagers fax letters to universities. (Read that again.)
5) We respected Harvey Updyke's passion, even if his actions were misguided.