5-at-10: Titans next head coach, MLB Hall class set to be announced, NBA points-fest

FILE - Mike Vrabel responds to questions during a news conference after the Titan's NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
FILE - Mike Vrabel responds to questions during a news conference after the Titan's NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Sign up for the daily newsletter, Jay's Plays of the Day, to get sports betting recommendations for the top games of the night and the week ahead.

Head Titan

So Mike Vrabel was a good NFL head coach. Heck, some could make a strong case he was better than that in his time in Nashville.

But Vrabel is out, and in truth, after hearing the back-and-forth about the early interactions and the strained relationship between the former Tennessee HC and Titans' GM Ran Cauthon, who was hired this time last year, the writing was on the wall.

So the NFL insiders are reporting that former Cincinnati OC Brian Callahan — son of Bill, no relation to Tommy Boy Callahan, executive at Callahan Auto Parts, where they make some the best brake pads in the world — will be Cauthon's hand-picked HC.

That makes sense.

Vrabel was good. Very good.

But the relationship between GM and HC is arguably as important as any in the NFL realm.

It also allows — and forces — Cauthon to take the lead of the rebuild of a Titans bunch that is already behind the 8-ball in so many ways.

First, there is no identity about this Titans offense, which makes Callahan even more attractive.

He worked for Zac Taylor, who has navigated the Bengals to contender status in arguably the best division in the sport. Sure, landing Joe Burrow to be your QB1 is a great place to start, but the Bengals were competitive this year with Jake Browning subbing for the injury-plagued Burrow in 2023.

Callahan is going to need to a) find a similar coach-to-QB1 connection, and b) figure out how to do with arguably the worst collection of skill pieces in the NFL.

The Titans for close to the past decade have been built around Vrabel's tough-minded defense and Derrick Henry's "If you want some, come and get some" running style. It worked, especially in a watered-down, post-Peyton Manning AFC South.

Henry is a free agent and almost assuredly toted his last rock for the Titans.

He's on the franchise's all-time Rushmore, and should have his number retired as soon as he hangs up his cleats.

But considering the miles on his all-powerful odometer, parting ways with Henry is the smart call for Cauthon and Co.

Still, it adds to the offensive overhaul in front of Callahan.

That process starts with deciding if Will Levis is a second-round find or a second-tier QB1.

The Titans do have the No. 7 pick in round 1, but that should inspire little confidence considering the draft history from Tennessee, especially at the game's most important position.

Tennessee has drafted a QB in the top 10 three times in the last three decades since taking Steve McNair No. 3 overall in 1995.

That trio — Vince Young, Jake Locker and Marcus Mariota — is largely forgettable folks.

Cauthon clearly thought Vrabel was the problem, and that was his right and part of his job.

Now the Titans have a new coach.

So Ran, it's not on you to provide the new coach with a better collection of players.

Otherwise, the next guy doing the deciding, firing and hiring of a head coach won't be you.

Big night for two NBA big stars

So Joel Embiid scored 70 last night as the 76ers pounded the Spurs.

Man, 70 is a lot of points.

(Side note: You know how we discuss player-dominance in his era and against his peers? Well, here's another flat-line eye-popper that does it again: Wanna guess how many of the 14 70-point games in NBA history Wilt had? Answer in the This and That.)

Embiid's career-high night passed Wilt's all-time 76ers record of 68 points in a game. (Side note, part: Wilt's 100-point masterpiece was done with the Philadelphia Warriors, not the 76ers. So there's that.)

Embiid also has now scored 30 or more points in 21 consecutive games. Only James Harden and some guy named Chamberlain have longer streaks in NBA history.

And while we are bouncing boffo numbers at you, while Embiid was getting to 70, Karl-Anthony Towns was on his way to 62 points.

In doing so, KAT became the first NBA player to make at least 10 3s, at least 10 2s and at least 10 FTs in a single game.

KAT's shooting line was amazing: 11-of-20 from inside the arc; 10-of-15 from outside the arc; 10-of-14 from the line.

And somehow the T-wolves lost to Charlotte despite KAT's efforts.

Go figure.

No Hall for you

So the MLB Hall of Fame class will be announced tonight at 6 p.m.

Wait, let's clarify, the next collection of really good-to-great-to-even-Hall-of-Fame-worthy players that were selected by an ever-confusing collection of voters using an ever-vague criteria will be announced tonight at 6 p.m.

I can hardly wait.

Let's cover what we believe to be true heading into tonight.

— Adrian Beltre will be part of this class, and he dang well deserves it. Beltre's numbers are all-time great, not just for a third baseman but for one of the best non-PED-implicated right-handed hitters of the last quarter-century. Dude has the third-best WAR at third (behind only Schmidt and Eddie Matthews) and won five Gold Gloves while collecting more than 3,100 hits and 477 homers.

— The watered-down process likely will continue this cycle, too. Joe Mauer is projected to get into the Hall on his first time on the ballot. Mauer is closer to deserving — in my opinion — that the cavalcade of very good the Veterans Committee has anointed over the last few years. (Yes, looking at you Harold Baines. And you Ted Simmons.) Still, it's hard not to play the "Whatabout Game?" when the current electorate is far more inviting than the previous regimes and guys like Murphy and Mattingly are still waiting.

— Todd Helton's candidacy, judging from the ballots that have been released, is going to be really, really, REALLY close. Again, I think there is only one non-PED dunk in this class, and it's Beltre. That said, if Helton makes it, UT would become the second SEC school with a grad in the MLB, the NFL and the basketball halls of fame. So there's that.

— This could be the first Hall of Fame voting referendum on the 2017 Houston Astros' sign-stealing escapades. Carlos Beltran is on the ballot again, and he likely will be short again. (As well he should, unless of course we formerly change the name to the Hall of Very, Very Good.) But let's pose this question, can we: If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — two of the five best baseball players I've ever seen in person — are being kept out for "cheating the game" during a time when PEDs were not formerly against the rules, should every member of that Astros bunch be viewed through a similarly harsh "cheating the game" prism?

— Finally, and the one that means the most to me is whether Andruw Jones continues to climb toward the 75% threshold.


This and that

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall with some college football news and coverage of the latest UT QB star to commit to the Vols. Being comped to Trevor Lawrence, especially at that age, is mighty high praise.

— This stat blew me away. It is dubbed the silver tsunami, and according to this, 11,000 Americans — on average — will celebrate their 65th birthday per day in 2024. Wow, social security is about to get bombarded.

— I think we need more Jason Kelce in our lives. Here's an interview with the little girl the All-Pro center lifted up and introduced to his brother's semi-famous squeeze. That said, it would be a tad unsettling to have your third-grade daughter picked up by a 300-plus-pound, hair-covered, shirtless dude who has been offering barbaric yalps while chugging back cold ones, right?

— R.C. Slocum is the interim AD at Texas A&M. So there's that.

— Wilt Chamberlain had six of the now 14 NBA games in which a played scored at least 70 points.

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning, Ernie.

True or false, you would not vote for anyone other than Adrian Beltre if you had a Hall of Fame ballot.

True or false, you'd let a shirtless Jason Kelce lift up your preteen daughter to get the chance to meet Taylor Swift.

True or false, Brian Callahan will win in Nashville.

True or false, the Titans have their QB1 in Will Levis.

True or false, the NFL needs to change the "fumble through the end zone" rule.

You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs; leave some T or Fs.

As for today, Jan. 23, let's review.

On this day in 1977, "Roots" debuted on ABC. Feel like we have done the Rushmore of TV miniseries with "Roots" and "Lonesome Dove" the two far left selections.

John Hancock would have been 287 today.

Rushmore of the most famous "signatures" and be creative.

Upcoming Events