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UT's Cordarrelle Patterson runs against Troy at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Feeling the Draft

It's official, Cordarrelle Patterson is taking his big-time name and bigger-time skills to the NFL after one season in Knoxville. We all knew it, and maybe even realized it as early as the season opener when CP torched N.C. State cornerback David Amerson. Patterson, receiver Justin Hunter, quarterback Tyler Bray and defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore have elected to forego their final season with the Vols.

To that we say, so long. Yes, Patterson and Hunter would have been excellent pieces in new coach Butch Jones' spread (and thinking of Cordarrelle in space is making CelticVol CorGiddy). But it's time to start anew.

In fact, there were several big-name players starting anew or staying put Wednesday as the declarations for the NFL draft picked up speed.

Here are some of the highlights:

• As our SEC ace David Paschall tells us here, LSU has been hammered by early defections with 10 players from the 2012 team - and 2011 Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu - entering the NFL draft. In fact, we bet Bill Belichick is trying to pull some move where he can just draft "LSU" and get the whole package. It would be a world class steal since leaving Les Miles' Tigers are two likely first-round defensive ends (Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery), two fringe first-round defenders (safety Eric Reid and defensive tackle Bennie Logan), a high-motor linebacker in Kevin Minter who made a ton of tackles in the SEC and will be a starter in the NFL, a play-maker, toke-taker, Hall-of-Fame-nickname-staker in Mathieu and arguably the most talented punter in the draft in Brad Wing. Yeah, that's losing a lot.

• We all know about the level of success Heisman winner Johnny "Football" Manziel had at Texas A&M this year, but Aggies tackle Luke Joeckel and Damontre Moore will skip their senior seasons. And Joeckel and Moore could very well be the first two names called this April.

• Alabama's waiting word from tackle D.J. Fluker, corner Dee Milliner and running back Eddie Lacy. After quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley have announced they are returning, if the Tide gets all three to come back for 2013, the NCAA needs to just allow Alabama to practice through the fall and the best team from the rest of college football can play the Tide in the BCS title game next January.

• Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is coming back for his senior year, and if he has a healthy Mr. Sammie Watkins next year, the Tigers will be the team to beat in the ACC.

• We love the draft. You know this. And as loudly as seven consecutive BCS titles screams the SEC's dominance, try this number out: 15. That's the over/under we'll set for SEC players drafted in the first round, which means there's a real chance that out of 32 first-round picks, the SEC could have half of them. So the SEC had as many elite, NFL-caliber players as the rest of college football combined. Ouch-standing.


AFC picks

We opened the playoffs with a strong start picking games, going 5-1 against the spread. Remember, these picks are for entertainment only, and if things continue to roll, don't spend all that entertainment in one place.

We picked the NFC games yesterday, going with the Packers plus-3.5 and the Falcons minus-2.5. Here's our view on the AFC games:

Broncos minus-9 over Baltimore (and over the 46): You can almost cue up the Jim Nantz voice now:

Jim Nantz: Welcome to chilly Denver friends, where it's the story of rebirth against the final chapter of a Hall of Fame career. Peyton Manning and the Broncos vs. Ray Lewis and the Ravens, right here on CBS. Let's welcome in Phil Simms and get his thoughts, Phil.

Phil: Thanks Jim, and man, tone down the cheese a little bit. If you had ever played for Bill Parcells like I did, he would have beaten you with a chair. Speaking from experience, when you have a terrifying Hall of Fame linebacker on your team, your do everything you can not to let him down, and I'm sure Joe Flacco is scared to death. Sure he's got an old-school Joey "The Nose" Flacco kind of name, but Ray Lewis and his buddies can make you sleep with the fishes.

Jim: So you like the Ravens, Phil?

Phil: Goodness no. You know Peyton plays for the Broncos right? If you had ever spent anytime with Bill Parcells like I did when we won two Super Bowls, you would never say dumb stuff like that. Man it's cold.

Patriots minus-9 over Houston: OK, let's review what we know:

Gary Kubiak vs. Bill Belichick - Huge edge Pats

Tom Brady vs. Matt Schaub - Huge edge Pats

Dome team in New England in January - Huge edge... "Hey, Honey, where's our mortgage payment, we need to invest some entertainment."


Baseball's guilt by omission

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From left, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens

We think Jayson Stark asked some very interesting and cogent questions this morning about the baseball Hall of Fame voting that left us with a blank class despite the presence on the ballot of several players regarded as some of the best to ever play.

Going by the numbers, there's a real argument that the best left-fielder, one of the three best right-handed pitchers and the best hitting catcher of all-time were on the ballot in Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza and none were elected.

As Stark questioned, it's time to discuss what the Hall of Fame is going to be. Is it a shrine that is to be guarded and only the shining moments and all-star players with all-star character are allowed in? Is it a living museum of the all-time moments - good and bad - and all-time greats - whether they were good or bad people?

The steroid era happened. We all turned a half-closed eye toward it and ignored it as home runs flew out of ball parks and records fell and baseball returned to favor. Those in the game, those governing the game, those managing the game, those covering the game and those following the game allowed the steroid era to happen, and now can we pretend it didn't? Can we close our eyes again, this time really tight, and wish that Hank Aaron was still the home run champ and we didn't know anything about Brian McNamee?

Of course not. Just like we elected the best players from the segregated era and the dead ball era and amphetamines era, we're going to have to realize that the best of the steroid era have a place in the history of the game. And if they have a place in the history - none of the records of Bonds, Sosa, Clemens, Piazza et al. have been erased - they have a place in the Hall.

One more question: Why was Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens good enough to be voted MVP or Cy Young by a lot of the same folks voting for the Hall then but not good enough now? It's not like the steroid rumors and stories just popped up in the last 12 months.


This and that

- The Tennessee Vols hoops squad and their coach Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin took one on the chin in their SEC opener against Ole Miss last night. Here's our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown's report. It appears that chas9's early diagnosis that the Vols may have a really hard time getting into the tournament is pretty astute. Yes, it's only one SEC loss, but here's saying that the Vols and the Rebels are going to be linked at that 5-6 spot in the league, and if they are together on the bubble in two months, Ole Miss owns the tie-breaker having gone to Knoxville and winning handily.

- We're swinging by the studio to join Jim Gumm around 3ish today on ESPN Radio 105.1 and Butch Jones is scheduled to call in around 3:30. Feel free to listen in, because as they say in Animal House, "Don't cost nothing."

- Brian Kelly reportedly has interviewed with Philadelphia. Hey, he's got a better chance of beating the rest of the NFL than he and the rest of the coaches in college football do at beating Nick Saban and Alabama right now. In truth, Kelly interviewed and then left the country... sounds like some one feels like they deserve a raise from the Golden Domers, no?

- Ted Roof is headed back to The Flats to be Georgia Tech's defensive coordinator. Roof is from the A-T-L metro area, was an All-American linebacker at Tech and has had an up-and-down run as a coach the last few years. Here's saying this will be a pretty good fit, considering Roof is a major upgrade from last year's debacle and coaching defense for Paul Johnson will give Roof a load of autonomy.

- Troubled Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain, who was linked to some serious crimes in the last year or two, was pulled over in Alabama for his tinted windows being too dark. Not unlike Latrell Sprewell getting arrested on New Year's Eve for having his stereo too loud, having your windows too dark is like flashing a neon sign on your car that reads, "Hey, Cop, look at us!!!" Well after getting cited for his windows being too dark, Rolando signed the ticket with a nice message to the officer that sounded like "Luck Y'all" but included the grandmother of all dirty words. Stay Classy Ro.

- Not to be outdone some goofball named Austin Presler was arrested earlier this month in South Carolina for breaking into a convenience store at around 2:30 a.m. Presler apparently stole some beer, some smokes and some snacks before walking less than a mile to where he was staying. Presler was caught, but it was not crack detective work or security cameras or what have you that nabbed him. Nope Presler, who is more Fredo than Michael to be sure, left a trail of Cheetos crumbs that he was snacking on as he made his getaway from the store.


Today's question

Let's flip it and reverse it. As long as you remain in the boundaries of the family-oriented, interweb-based sports column, ask us anything you want (that's not guaranteeing you'll get an answer mind you).

Plus we need at least one more mailbag question any way.