Hope everyone had a great Fourth and you were more responsible around the hot dogs than Joey Chestnut. (Yes, Chestnut won the annual hot dog eating contest with almost 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes. He consumed almost 19,000 calories in 10 minutes, or roughly the amount you and Spy eat in 10 days.)
Having a Wednesday holiday is strange, no? No we head back to work and it's Thursday. Hey, don't forget about the mailbag.
From the "Talks too much studios" here we go...
Let the hype begin
Our UT ace downtown Patrick Brown reports that the final few members of the Vols' 2012 football signing class have reported for school this week.
The final wave included arguably the most-hyped UT recruit since Eric Berry. Junior College receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is enrolled in Knoxville, and the physically gifted receiver already has some folks talking of 180-degree UT revival with Patterson, Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter comprising potentially one of the nation's most dynamic receiving trios.
Ah, potential. It's a crazy word, that potential. Some have said it's French for "you're not worth crud yet." Others think it's either the kiss of death or the hope of spring.
Still, it can be the reason for believing or the reason for being irate. It's the most cruel of judgement bars, this potential. Did you reach your potential? Did you surpass it?
Or did you fail to realize your potential? It can be the most painful of questions for every athlete at any level to answer.
The word potential has many meanings and inferences as it does possibilities.
Take Patterson, the freakishly big and frighteningly fast receiver who posted video-game stats and eye-popping youtube clips during his time at Hutchinson Community College. Does that have the promise of SEC stardom? Yep, you guessed it - potentially.
He's 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. He's tough enough to have 31 rushing attempts last year and fast enough to average 50 yards on 10 kickoff returns last fall. (Yes, 50, as in 5-0.)
But it could potentially be fool's gold. The last five-star junior college receiver the Vols welcomed was Kenny O'Neal, and despite a world of potential, O'Neal had about as much on-field impact with the Vols as you did.
O'Neal like Patterson was loaded with potential, and his failings were magnified by the hope that he brought.
And while potential can be a divisive coin during July debates about college football, the intensity of potential increases at each level of college football.
For whatever potential, Derek Dooley assembles - and he's already trying to calm some of the expectations of Patterson - the win-loss judgements could be multiplied by unreached potential. Whether those expectations are too high or not can be inconsequential, especially in the SEC where fan bases need to have something to hang their hats on. For the Vols Nation, a proud and passionate group that has withstood the worst four-year run in modern history, the promise of Patterson is something new, something hopeful and something explosive that could change 5-7 in a blink of an eye.
Coaches face the uneasy conundrum of potential in recruiting. At big-boy jobs like UT, you have to go and get five-star guys filled with potential. They could be Eric Berry or Chris Donald or Janzen Jackson or Bryce Brown. They could be stars or they could be busts, but they bring with them potential of being great.
For without potential, there is no hope - although, without potential, there would be a great deal less disappointment, too.
For Dooley, Patterson's individual potential is part of a promising passing game that swings the possibilities from the Vols being one of the nation's elite offenses to being one of the nation's biggest disappointments.
So it goes for a team that could win 10 games and talking about a possible BCS bowl or a team that could very well be looking for a coach come December.
That's a lot of potential - and potential disaster.
Another MVP on the move
Other than some tennis and a little baseball, there were few actual sports happenings on the Fourth. Granted we played some really bad golf, but that happens some times.
As for off-the-fields, sweet buckets there was news.
Most notably, Steve Nash agreed to a sign-and-trade deal to become part of the L.A. Lakers. Nash, a two-time league MVP with the Suns, apparently has put his rivalry with the Showtime bunch on hold in his pursuit of winning a title.
Nash's addition to the Lakers improved their chances at another title - friend of the show RJ Bell and his pregame.com site say the Lakers are an 8-to-1 pick to win it all with Nash. (They were 12-to-1 without him.) As for the Nash signing, we're a little underwhelmed to be truthful. Dude is undersized, which means he can't check OKC's Russell Westbrook. He's not quick enough to stop Tony Parker or Rajon Rondo. Nash is best offensively with the ball in his hands and running the pick-and-roll, which is great for Pau Gasol, but weren't the Lakers going to trade Gasol. Plus, the Lakers have this guy named Bryant - Jellybean's boy - who likes to have the ball in his hands every now and again, too. So it goes.
The basketball-side of the Nash deal, aside. There is trouble afoot in the NBA, no? The movement of stars to form mini-constellations at a select few NBA viewing sites makes the current NBA so top-heavy Dolly Parton is stunned.
Seriously, who beyond the super-talented Heat, Thunder, Bulls, Lakers and Spurs would you say has a realistic chance to win the whole thing?
Along those lines, the two teams with the most upward mobility from the ranks of the dregs are the New Orleans Sterns, who have assembled a baby-big-three in Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers, and the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets, who have a superstar point guard in Deron Williams, an all-star shooting guard in Joe Johnson and are still trying to land Dwight Howard.
Still, if you're the GM of the Milwaukee Bucks, what's your marketing pitch? "Hey come see your Bucks play some really great teams." Or, "Hey, these Bucks have way nicer uniforms than Sikma and those guys." No thanks.
The costs of college have sky-rocketed. This is not news. But answer us this, which SEC school is the richest?
No not the richest athletic program, although this is a family-oriented, Interweb-based, sports column, after all. Which SEC school has the biggest endowment?
It may surprise you.
According to the National Association of College and University Business Owners, 75 colleges have more than $1 billion - yes, billion with a 'B' - in the bank. This list is not new, it's just the first time we've seen it, so we thought we'd share. Here are the richest.
1) Harvard - $31.7 billion
2) Yale - $19.4 billion
3) Texas - $17.14 billion
4) Princeton - $17.11 billion
5) Stanford - $16.5 billion
No other school has an endowment of more than $10 billion. As for the wealthiest SEC school, well, if you had Texas A&M, give your self a high-five. The Aggies have about $500,000 shy of $7 billion, which ranks 10th nationally.
This and that
- The Preds lost Ryan Suter. Sad day, and right when we started to know some of their names, too.
- In doing our research this morning (shut it Spy) we saw that on the top-10 of trending topics at Yahoo.com was "Mermaids don't exist" at No. 8. Really, doctor? Somewhere, there should be some unicorns screaming at their PR people and saying, "How are mermaids getting all this buzz? Call someone NOW!"
- Crazy story that interim Arkansas coach John T. Smith is facing bankruptcy after some land deals that went bad. Wow, tough offseason for Johnny Razorbacks Fans everywhere. First you have to can a morally bankrupt coach only to land an actually bankrupt coach.
- Tiger sprints into the weekend riding a wave of positive momentum after winning at Congressional last week. Here's saying he plays well again this weekend. (He has the potential, you know?)
- We're planning on being on with Chris Goforth today around 2 p.m. on 1370 AM here in town. Swing by if you have the chance.
Steve Nash was a two-time MVP and is a very good basketball player. But when all is said and done, is he a Hall of Famer? (Probably since he won the two MVPs and all.)
But if you had your picks of all the point guards in the last 25 years - from today to 1987, Nash barely cracks the top 10. Magic, Stockton, Kidd, Gary Payton are four quick picks. Then the wave of guys - Rondo, Parker, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook - from today with unworldy athletic skills.
Plus, Nash loses some points in our eyes for being a system quarterback. He was good - but worlds from being an MVP - in Dallas before catching lightning in a bottle for a four-to-five year run operating Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun style.
In fact, what's your Rushmore of people who caught lightning in a bottle and were the absolute bee's knees for a three-year stretch in an otherwise good-to-OK-but-far-from-great career?
We'll take Nash, Jim Carrey (who had a Babe Ruth in 1927 year in 1994 with "Ace Ventura," "Dumb and Dumber" and "The Mask"), Debra Winger (who had "Officer and a Gentleman," "Terms of Endearment" and "Urban Cowboy" before falling off the grid) and Will Clark.