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Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt instructs his team before the game. The University of Tennessee Volunteers opened the season wit the Georgia State Panthers at Neyland Stadium on August 31, 2019. / Staff Photo by Robin Rudd

Say what?

Hmmmmmmm, hypocrite Justin Fuente?

OK, according to this story during his Signing Day news conference with the Virginia Tech media, Fuente tossed in this little tidbit: Virginia Tech players entering the portal are no longer welcome at Virginia Tech.

Really, coach? Really?

This is the same coach that had to look at the Memphis players to tell them four years ago that he had entered the coaching transfer portal and took a bigger job/better opportunity for himself and his family.

This is the same coach who, by definition of the terms, re-entered the transfer portal and played footsie with Baylor in the last few months before deciding to return to Blacksburg.

This is the same coach who has accepted transfers to Virginia Tech, including running back Raheem Blackshear, a former starter at Rutgers. 

And, wait for it, this is the same Justin Fuente who played quarterback at Oklahoma, lost his starting job and. transferred to Murray State for a chance to play.

Convenient.

Hey, the grad transfer rule is completely fine, but the transfer portal still appears to include some unknowns. Auburn's leading rusher from 2019 entered the portal. So did Clemson's back-up quarterback. They will be far from the only ones before now and spring practice.

There are issues with the portal, and that's on the NCAA — what issue in college sports isn't? — not the kids looking for better opportunities or better relationships with coaching staffs.

I'm surprised no one in that room asked Fuente about transferring as a player and how that helped him, how entering the coaching transfer portal helped his career or if the AD leadership in Blacksburg has the same "look for another opportunity, you are not welcome back to Virginia Tech" mindset. 

And this is the biggest way in which my opinion has changed on college sports: the hypocrisy and crap preached by these coaches who demand loyalty and toughness and commitment for State U. and are cashing seven-figure checks and scanning the job market at every opportunity.

The biggest marketable asset in college athletes in football and men's sports is actually the name on the front of the uniforms. In most cases, fans cheer for and spend money supporting the school. There are maybe a handful — Coach K, Saban, Geno, Dabo and a few others — who have become bigger than their stars.

The rest of the profit-sharing workforce is the players who are getting paid with books and college credits.

And you guys know me, I have said for years that we undervalue education in terms of college athletics. It's $250,000 if you take full advantage of it. That said, how many coaches have a "Win your rivalry game, and get a free extra year of tuition" as a bonus in their contracts? Yeah, that would be none.

Now go one step further to a place that no one has truly discussed in a monster issue in this political cycle. If Warren or Sanders gets elected and makes college tuition go away, what will the athletes get to come and break their bodies and bust their tails for ol' State U.?

And maybe that's my biggest issue with the full-blown hypocrisy of Justin Fuente and the transfer portal and many other issues in college sports.

If you'd allow me to twist a couple of metaphors, college sports has embraced what's good for the ganders is not acceptable for the golden geese.

 

National Signing Day
 
National Signing Day has come and gone.

If you missed it, you're not the only one. We have to admit that Signing Day is in December; Clean-up Day is the first Wednesday in February. Put it in the books.

Some things that consistently remain the same, whether they have signing day in February or June, on campuses or in space, Georgia, Alabama and Clemson are going to collect talent like Derek Jeter's Rolodex. (Side question: Remember Rolodexes? For you kids under 30ish, it was the collection of contacts in your phone written on index-like cards and put into a flip file or spinning orb. Good times.)

The SEC is going to dominate the top half of the rankings. How much you ask? Well, according to the composite rankings from 247sports.com,  South Carolina moved into 18th in the country. The Muschamps are eighth in the SEC. And try this on for size: Auburn is seventh in the country, there are four teams 1-through-6 the Tigers will play every single season.
 
Another consistent part of signing day is TFP college football wizard David Paschall informing us of the comings and goings of note around the SEC.

And arguably the biggest news of Clean-Up Day is the continued overhaul job that Jeremy Pruitt continues to fashion in Knoxville.

OK, let's fall back to the second week of September. Pruitt was 5-9 in a season and two games in Knoxville, staring at the teeth of his schedule in Year 2, coming off inexplicable losses to Georgia State and BYU and hearing the concerned voices of one of the proudest fan bases in college football.  

Since then, Pruitt's grit has transferred to an 8-3 finish that included a Florida bowl win. His persistence turned into a top-10 recruiting class. His efforts have converted some doubters into dreamers and made Johnny Vols Fans everywhere believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer a train.

And to be truthful, I am surprised at his extreme strides in the last five months. Seriously.

The myriad of avenues of success Pruitt's Vols have found in those five months has been impressive.

They grounded out Mississippi State. They exploited scorefests in November. They have stayed on recruits and made 11th-hour switches or made sure longtime recruits stayed true to UT. (And if you think that's not a big deal, then do yourself a favor and don't look at the Clemson roster to see the five-stars that were once Knoxville bound.)

It's really hard not to like Pruitt's second full recruiting class.
He got a quarterback everyone in the country wanted in Harrison Bailey. (He's from Marietta, an area I am familiar with, and everyone I talked to and trust screams about Bailey's skills — physical and mental. I'd be kind of surprised if he's not deeply in the mix at QB.)

Pruitt added athletes on both sides. He reclaimed some in-state dominance with three of the top four in-state players and six of the state's top 10.

With the injection of talent — recruiting and transfers — the offense has a chance to be pretty star-studded (in recruiting terms) and the hopes for Year 3 are as realistically high as any time since Dobbs and Barnett.

And as odd as that sounds, try imagine reading that sentence on Sept. 10, 2019.  

 

X-citing

OK, I'll admit it. I'm going to give the XFL a shot this weekend.

Hey, I like football.

I also am going to make XFL picks. Hey, I like betting football. (And I am a glutton for punishment.)

And before we start, I think if you are keeping score at home, if the XFL has not or could not get lines set at major wagering houses or find a way to pay Fan Duel or DraftKings to set up fantasy options, then that's strike one against the XFL. Truly.

The NFL and college football are the most popular week-in, week-out sports because of our emotional connection to them.

We are not connected to the XFL because we do not know the players generally and we did not grow up rooting for the colors.

But we get connected to wagers and fantasy teams, and any way the XFL can expedite a connection is a victory.

As for the names and the odds, well, that's why we're here.
According to our friends at SportsBettingDime.Com and their site with XFL championship odds, we can point you in the direction of the players and teams expected to succeed.

The odds on the teams winning the XFL title are the Dallas Renegades (3-to-1) and the New York Guardians (+320).

Your MVP frontrunners are Josh Johnson, Landry Jones (yes, from Oklahoma), Cardale Jones (from THE Ohio State) and former Penn State QB Matt McGloin.

SEC names you'll recognize are Aaron Murray, Sammie Coates, Cameron Artis Payne and Antonio Callaway, among others.

One of the more intriguing prop bets offered at SportsBettingDimes.com is which of these familiar names will appear in an XFL game this season:

1. Chad Johnson: 4/1

2. Josh Gordon: 8/1

3. Vontaze Burfict: 9/1

4. Randy Gregory: 12/1

5. Johnny Manziel: 35/1

6. Colin Kaepernick: 50/1

7. Dez Bryant: 60/1

8. Antonio Brown: 75/1

9. Greg Hardy: 100/1

10. Marshawn Lynch: 250/1

11. Tom Brady: 5000/1

I'm in.

 

This and that

— Here's today's A2 view from some fat-faced jackwagon who is likely more upset than you are about the Hamilton County attorney and his minions feeling like it's A-OK to delete requested information from the local media. While they are debating the action's legality and the semantics, the only word I have for it is embarrassing.

— Signing Day came and went. Tennessee moved into the top 10 in the national rankings. Among states with the highest percentage of their high school players recruited by Division I schools, Florida and Georgia are 1-2. You may have guessed Louisiana as 3, but how long would we have to go before you offered Maryland and South Carolina as 4 and 5, respectively?

— Here's a story that makes me happy I am not on Facebook. A Washington principal posted something on her private Facebook account after Kobe Bryant's death. She has now been suspended for it. She wrote, according to that Yahoo story: "Not gonna lie. Seems to me that karma caught up with a rapist today," then ended it with a shrugging emoji. OK, we have covered the Kobe grieving process before, and hey, be sad if you are sad. And timing and decorum can always be questioned — and thankfully there are still a good chunk of us who try not to speak ill of the dead regardless. But would the same outrage be reached if, say, Kevin Spacey had died in a plane crash? Just asking.

— Early TV numbers for the 2020 State of the Union were way lower than the 2019 version.  

— Pickers gotta pick, right? (Just ask our man Buck Owens, who told us long ago that all we had to do was "Act Naturally.") And gang, how about those get-ups. Oh my.) We went 1-1 last night, hitting ETSU and missing LSU. Who saw Vandy getting off the skids against Will Wade's Tigers? Tonight, we'll walk with Tulsa minus-3 tonight against UConn. We're 23-19 against the number. Side question: How do you feel about Gonzaga (23-1 and 13-1 at home) minus-25.5 against Loyola-Marymount (8-15 and 1-8 away)? Leaning toward the Zags, to be honest.

— Speaking of UTC, you know the drill. When TFP ace sports columnist and college hoops guru Mark Wiedmer writes about college hoops, we read and link Weeds on college hoops. Here is Mark on the ETSU-UTC meeting last night in which the visiting Bucs rolled.

 

Today's questions

OK, we'll start here:

Will you watch the XFL? If not, what could it do to draw your interest?

Second, is Justin Fuente a hypocrite?

As for today, Feb. 6, let's review.

Babe Ruth was born today. So was Ronald Reagan. And Bob Marley.

Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the moon on this day in 1971.

Rushmore of most famous golf shots made by non-professionals. Go, and remember the mailbag.

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