5-at-10: Friday mailbag with a lot of UT football unknowns, an all-too-familiar UTC scene, A-Rod in the Hall

AP photo by Wade Payne / Tennessee running back Jabari Small (2) celebrates a touchdown against Bowling Green with his teammates during the first half of Thursday night's game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

First, let's handle our BID-ness on this pre-football frenzy Friday, starting with this week's Rushmores.

Rushmore of most universally identifiable three-letter abbreviations: Wow, way, Way, WAY more than I expected to sift through, and the sports angle to this when it comes to leagues also crowds the team picture because NFL and NBA are surefire. Two with sports relations but also societal relevance get eliminated as ERA - earned run average and the Equal Rights Amendment - and SEC - Southeastern Conference and Securities and Exchange Commission - have multiple options. The other two for sports are MVP - which makes a run on the main Rushmore too - and RBIs. TV feels like its own category too, you know. There also are people, especially presidents. The JFKs, LBJs, FDRs. And the current short-hand slang. LOL, OMG and a slew of others. As for the big picture, I'll offer USA, etc., FBI and CEO. (Side question: Is WWII, three or four letters?)

Rushmore of best sports moments for teenagers: A bunch from the tennis world, but Boris Becker at 17 at Wimbledon was the first one I thought of. Andruw Jones homering in his first two ABs in the 1996 World Series. (He would have been a teenage MVP if Wohlers hadn't hung that slider in Game 3.) Moses Malone, the first high schooler drafted into the NBA in modern times and the first teenager picked for the All-Star Game. And of course Bennie the Jet Rodriguez said Smalls' bacon in the documentary "The Sandlot."

Rushmore of modern Marvel movie characters (and the lil' 5-at-10, who will turn 14 early next week, had a say in this one): Iron Man and Thor are no-doubters. Like Cobb and Ruth. My son says Captain America and was intrigued by the suggestion of Loki, considering his see-saw turns from hero to villain. The toughest omission for me is Tom Holland's Spider-Man, who is off-the-charts likable as well as super.

Rushmore of Ted: "Ted" the movie, which was right on the edge in terms of timing to be made - and that will encompass Ted Bears - Ted Williams, Ted Roosevelt, and I love the suggestion of Ted Knight, who was glorious as Elihu Smails. And by all accounts, Knight loathed all the antics of the rest of the cast and crew in "Caddyshack."

My father would have been 80 today.

We will have an NFL survivor pool. Details to come Monday. Deal? Deal. Also coming Monday the first installment of a 5-at-10 bracket challenge that will run through football season. Deal? Deal.

Also, Chas had a couple of very fine and usable questions, but college football filled the bag in the 11th hour. Chas, I'll get back to the Paralympics stuff, especially.

Here's today's A2 on how a team approach and better leadership would serve us well if we want our kids in school and to have a complete college football season.

You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols last night, and while the scoreboard was clearly one-sided, was it a rout?

From a slew of you

Well, what did you think (about UT's win or UTC's loss)?

Gang -

There was a lot happening on our local scene, both at the 5-at-10 compound and on social media.

Good thing I made notes.

First, the observations about six days of college football, in no particular order, heading into full Saturday slate:

UT did not impress, on either side of the ball. To be fair, at least it was not a loss to Georgia State, but then against that Georgia State team of a couple of years ago would have beaten this BGSU team by roughly the same score the Vols did last night. If Milton was the best of a heated QB battle, and considering the way he threw against the worst back seven he will face, how bad were Herndon and Bailey?

Plus, Milton's reads on his throws were spotty at best. Heck, even the second-half TD pass was a bad read looking at the replay.

I am optimistic about the Vols getting to six wins and a bowl because the schedule certainly is gettable. And I will tell myself that UT held everything close to the vest with a coin-flip game with Pitt next week. But I was expecting much more than that.

And while my pick of going over was thwarted in UT's five-play second quarter, I had a much better day than this bettor, who put $220K on UT minus-35.5. Ouch-standing.

Speaking of expectations, uh UTC, what was that? More on the Mocs in a moment.

Friends, THE Ohio State is legit. LEEEEEE-git, and has Alabama- and/or Georgia-like numbers of next-level players. Yes, they were put into a pressure spot - that's a credit to PJ Fleck's coaching at Minnesota to be honest - but they responded like dudes. And if they get above-average to good QB play, that's going to be a hard bunch to handle.

Side note: Minnesota losing that running back who was plowing into and over THE front seven of THE Ohio State is immeasurable. Side question about the Gophers: Has Tanner Morgan been the Minnesota QB since Coach Hayden Fox was coaching at rival Minnesota State?

Gus Malzahn my have a forever home at UCF. Good for him. He's a super good dude, but it was time for an amicable AU-Gus Bus split.

From Big Ern


We took care of business with a team in the bottom 10. I am going to give us a plus because the Vols were learning all new formations, and coaching, plus under great pressure to look acceptable.

Joe Milton reminds me of another Joe, Pisarcik, an NMSU grad who played eight years in the NFL. However, that is not encouraging to me. I see why Michigan did not try to keep him. The ability to throw a football 75 yards is admirable in the punt, pass and kick competition, but not so special when your receiver is 50 yards away.

You know I said we could beat the Bowling Team with a tight end playing, well, we did. I will reserve true negativity until I see us play Pittsburgh.

Could S. Pittsburg beat Boiling Green? Have a great weekend, and bummer of a game for UTC.

Ern -

South Pittsburg? No. McCallie, maybe.

My comparison for Milton was more Jeremy Johnson. And that's not a compliment either.

Like Johnson, the former AU quarterback who looked the part and had a big arm, Milton looked like he could really be effective running the ball, but looked hesitant except when he was around the goal line. The increased number of runs in the second half looked called, which was a smart decision.

Hey, the mid-line spread can be great, but you have to have the right man running the point. And that is in terms of split-second decision-making when reading the unblocked end and a fearlessness when it comes to running the ball.

For example, Beau Nix reads that play as well as anyone. But he was not a willing runner.

Oh, when you have the right combination, it can be beautiful and downright impossible to stop. Malzahn had as good a one as I've ever seen early in his time at Auburn. And no it was not Cam Newton, who threw better than most knew while with the Tigers and made up for misreads by being the biggest and fastest dude on the field.

(Side question: Hey Fat Vader - and the rest of the crew - if we had a Rushmore of the most physically impressive and memorable SEC football moments, does Cam's run against LSU when he changed gears and left Patrick Peterson make it? I say yep. Right there with Herschel trucking Bill Bates. Others?)

No, the best I ever saw at the read and readiness to run was Nick Marshall. What a threat.

And Ern, I think that is a wise and fair decision to wait until after Pitt for a complete analysis of these Vols.

Side question: What is that line going to be? Pitt minus-5?

From TC

Vols didn't look bad. Inconsistent, but something to build on? Would like to have seen Hendon Hooker a little earlier? We will know a little more after Pitt.

Wow! Harris English on fire! Historic hole in one!

Did the PGA caution attendees about any "Brooksy" yells ?

My 2 cents worth. Still miss you on the radio.

TC -

Thanks for the kind words (and the book suggestion - in an earlier part of the email), my man.

Fair question about Hooker. And since Harrison Bailey got no clock - and that the basis of this offense is not in line with his skill set - I wonder how long he'll be on Cumberland Avenue.

I saw that story earlier in the week about Bryson being miffed because folks were calling him Brooksie and that the PGA Tour was putting the kibosh on it and threatening to kick fans out for mocking DeChambeau. And considering the cost of a Tour Championship ticket, that will curb some.

But it also got me thinking: How merciless will the European fans be with the Brooksie stuff come the Ryder Cup later this fall? If DeChambeau had an advisor worth his salt or a small clue how to handle heckling, he clearly would have leaned into it. Wear a Herb Brooks Mets jersey on the range. Or a Brooks Robinson throwback. Show everyone - Koepka included - that it does not bother you in the least.

Case in point: I share my hate mail with you guys and gals from time to time. No big whoop. Almost every time someone sends me something that crosses the line my response is very close to, "Thanks for reading and for the response. Have a nice day." And I can only imagine how mad that makes them because they wanted to a) have a fight or b) tick me off. And they got neither.

Now Bryson looks like a baby that needed the principal's office to make the mean, ol' fans stop.

Dude, you play golf for a living - a very good one - you've won. Chill.

From Jim

Winning also changes the atmosphere. Conversely, losing definitely totally changes the atmosphere. Explain again why we bailed on a spring season we were dominating? Also, when is basketball season?

Jim -

Back story: Jim is a long-time buddy of mine. He loves all things Mocs. I am almost 100% certain he was livid with last night's underwhelming UTC 30-20 loss to Austin Peay.

You're right, winning changes the atmosphere, and has to be the elixir that brings the kids to the yard.

Was having an exchange with Mean Gene Henley, who mentioned the increased number of students at Finley last night and how that makes the entire experience in college events so much better.

And with almost 9,000 at the game last night, the Mocs had a chance to make a statement. Sadly, that was not the statement they wanted or needed, and with the possible exception of homecoming, I'd be shocked if they get more than what they had last night at any home game.

That was a must-have, especially considering the overwhelming talent and depth edge the Mocs had everywhere but behind center.

And we spoke of this when UTC bagged the spring season despite looking like a true title contender then.

We all understood the rationale for the decision from the spring, but when you forego a possible title run for what is perceived as a better title run at a later date, well, that later date better be something special.

Thursday night at Finley was all-too-familiar for UTC fans everywhere to be viewed as anything close to special.

From J-Mac

We mentioned the PED thing earlier this week when a question was asked about the greatest living player when Mays passes away. Do you think that some PED users will get in or have to wait or the old-timers thing to get in? Also, A-Rod is eligible in 22 ... does he make it next year? I know he is rehabbing his image and has kept involved in baseball but ... he was suspended for a year. What do you think?

J-Mac -

I have given this way more thought than most.

I am for the PED users to be in because we have let less than desirable from all sorts of eras - the all-white era, the dead-ball era, the spitball/cheating era, etc. - into the Hall.

I understand the stance against it, but MLB was all but encouraging it until they weren't and the players paid all the price.

Plus, we don't know if Piazza or Chipper or whomever else in that era did or didn't.

But, as for A-Rod, the answer should be no and better be know. Because if A-Rod makes it and Bonds and Clemens don't then it's not about PEDs, it's about how those dudes are perceived by the media.

And that's unjust.

Same goes with the likable and charismatic David Ortiz.

Have a good weekend friends, and the Fab 4 needs a boost come Saturday. (Geaux Tigers.)

photo Jay Greeson