You can’t spell Butch without UT.
I’ll say one thing about the newest Tennessee football coach. Butch Jones owned the press conference last week.
OK, Middle Tennessee. Are you ready to go bowling?
Oops, I didn’t mean Middle Tennessee, as in MTSU. The Blue Raiders were bowl eligible and are one of the few college football teams in America not invited to a bowl game.
Who is the SEC’s Coach of the Year?
It would be easy to say it’s Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. But nothing is easy in the SEC. Ask any football coach about that.
Now the spotlight shines on Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart. He will be the person most responsible for trying to stop the bleeding on the Hill.
While Tennessee was inventing ways to lose at home to Missouri, Vanderbilt was making up a 17-point deficit to beat Ole Miss in Oxford.
If the present trend continues, Titans Coach Mike Munchak and Tennessee Coach Derek Dooley can meet at a designated coffee shop on their way to file unemployment papers.
Circumstances could not have been any bleaker than they were last weekend when Troy came within a whisker of upsetting Tennessee. A day later, it was Da Bears who blew into Music City and handed the Titans what was arguably their most embarrassing loss in franchise history.
With Tennessee, Dooley is all but dead man walking. When Troy took a lead late in their game, sources report a number of folks sitting in the President’s private box engaged in some hush-hush conversation.
If true, it’s doubtful they were discussing East Tennessee’s beautiful fall foliage. Nor do I think they were making plans for a future golf trip.
If the men of Troy had been successful, I think Dooley would not be coaching this week against Missouri. I would think even Dooley would agree.
The Vols must run the table for the decision makers to give Dooley another year. The first thing he needs to do is send defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri packing. He may be a great position coach, but he has been an abject failure as a coordinator.
While Sunseri may, or may not, have a perfect scheme is up for vigorous debate. But his inability to teach it to Tennessee’s players is plain as day. Most shots of Sunseri I have seen during TV games show him yelling to his players. Obviously the results prove he is not getting his message through.
If they should dump Dooley some time between this week and the end of the season I don’t see a slam dunk candidate to replace him. And even if Tennessee is of mind to pay Nick Saban type money for Dooley’s replacement, I’m not sure anyone who can get the job done would take it.
A new coach would be starting in fourth place in the SEC East with sound programs in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida with a wide gap between them and the rest of the SEC East. Trust me when I say those programs will not surrender their status without a street fight.
Tennessee is not the job it once was. Some fans and media wearing orange tinted classes claim it is a top 10 job. Please. I will tell you it’s no longer a top 25 job. They have to recruit nationally, as South Carolina and Clemson have locked up what was once a fertile Tennessee recruiting state. Georgia and Alabama get the cream of the crop in their states, while Tennessee has seen in-state recruits such as Alabama All-American Barrett Jones and ex-All American linebacker Dont’a Hightower left the state. Current recruits Max Staver and Jalen Ramsey of Brentwood Academy chose to go to Florida and Southern Cal respectively. Top 20 teams invade Tennessee and take the best players home with them.
As for Munchak, he has more rope. He grew up in the organization, as a player, offensive line coach and the last two years as head coach.
Twenty-five years ago, owner Bud Adams would have fired Munchak after the Bears massacre. The 89-year-old Adams is a more kinder, gentler sort, and not as quick on the trigger.
It will be worth watching to see the plot thicken at Baptist Sports Park, as well as on the Hill.
When South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was tackled by Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers and defensive back Eric Gordon, it became obvious something had gone wrong with Lattimore.
It was gruesome to watch on TV. His left leg was pointing in different directions. Lattimore had gone through extensive knee reconstruction in 10 months to be able to play this year. That occurred on his other knee, and he knew this one was season ending.
At that point it didn’t matter which team you pull for. It didn’t matter how much you hate South Carolina.
No one likes to see what happened to Lattimore happen on a football field.
“Oh, man, it just absolutely took my breath away. I was watching it and it just breaks my heart. I just hurt for him and his family and teammates. This is a guy who represents all the good things that college football should be about.’’
That quote wasn’t from South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier. It was from Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney, South Carolina’s most hated rival and vice versa.
Marcus Lattimore is special. The night before the Tennessee game, Lattimore spoke to his team. One of the things he told them was to always play every play as if it is your last one.
As medical people worked on Lattimore, players from both teams came out on the field and surrounded him. Many took a knee in prayer.
The news was not good although not as bad as was painted in social media outlet, Twitter. He did not have a broken femur as tweeted.
Doctors reset a dislocated kneecap, but he has multiple ligament damage, the extent of which has not been released,
Hopefully, Lattimore will take a redshirt year to rehab and play two years from now. He was projected as a high round NFL draft choice. These type injuries will lower his stock.
“He is such a good young man,’’ South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier said. “Good things are going to happen to Marcus. I don’t know exactly where or how, but good things are going to happen to Marcus Lattimore.’’
Lattimore crossed my mind when I was writing in the LP Field pressbox after the Titans game Sunday.
There were three or four youth football teams playing each other on the field, after the Titans game. I don’t know their ages, but they looked like ants from the press box. I guessed they couldn’t have been more than 10 years old.
Do parents need to subject kids that young or younger to football? It is a contact sport.
At any age, injuries are going to happen. Pediatricians tell you a child’s bone structure is not fully developed until much later, putting them more at risk for injuries.
You also should be cognizant that kids are subjected to concussions and we are seeing what they have done to college and NFL players.
Let them play other sports, like soccer, swimming, tennis, basketball, golf until they are fully developed and then they can choose to play football or not.
Too many youth coaches and parents live out their failed athletic youth through their children.
We saw what happened to Lattimore. It could happen to your child. Think about it.
What is the rush for them to compete in football? What if that was your son writhing on the field instead of Marcus Lattimore? Is it worth it?
I saw something last Saturday I never recall seeing before.
Vanderbilt’s football team didn’t play its best game, yet managed to beat Auburn at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Things are rocky on Rocky Top.
Three years into Derek Dooley’s attempt to put Humpty Dumpty back together again reached its’ shakiest point late Saturday night in Starkville.
Tennessee’s football team has another opportunity Saturday to gain national attention. The Vols have had a week off to lick their wounds from the seven-point road loss to Georgia.
I wonder who had the worst hangover Monday -- our Ryder Cup team or the Titans?
At least the Titans have 14 more games to play. The Ryder Cup team has two years to stew on the Medinah Massacre.
The team in two-tone blue finished September at 1-3, no better, no worse than predicted.
While everyone is focusing on who the Titans quarterback will be this Sunday in Minnesota, they need to be focusing on finding someone who can tackle opponents.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray’s matador defense has given up a total of 151 points in four games as the Titans rank next to last in the NFL in total defense.
Out of one side of his mouth, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell preaches about protecting the (NFL) shield at all costs.
Out of the other side of his mouth, Goodell allows these traveling circus clowns disguised as NFL replacement officials, to continue to make a mockery of the game.
With the real NFL officials locked out, NFL games are left in the hands of lower level collegiate officials who every week continue to bring attention to themselves by their myriad of mistakes.
If Goodell continues to allow this to happen, he is not only putting the players’ health at risk, you have to add the coaches to the list of victims.
Seriously, some of these coaches are going to stroke out on the sidelines. Did you see the confrontation New England Coach Bill Belichick had as he tried to stop line judge Esteban Garza from leaving the field after Baltimore kicked what we believe was the winning field goal as time expired Sunday night?
You’re Derek Dooley. You’re Tennessee’s football coach. What do you do?
You see your team come apart like a second hand suit in the fourth quarter of a 37-20 loss to rival Florida.
You see your highly touted quarterback suffer a mental meltdown. Tyler Bray sprayed the ball all over the field in the second half, but few of his passes wound up in the hands of the intended receiver.
You caught Bray’s best pass of the second half, but you were standing well behind the sideline stripe. Nice catch, but you risked a celebration penalty when you spiked the ball. But, hey, it was all over but the booing by then.
James Franklin has his work cut out for him.
He is not unlike every Vanderbilt football coach that has tried to unlock college football’s Rubik’s cube.
I watched Franklin stand erect as a statue while a driving rain peppered him during the fourth quarter of the 23-13 non-conference loss to Northwestern.
Franklin refused to wear any raingear. He took the punishment, his eyes staring straight ahead.
His team is now off to a dreaded 0-2 start and had chances to win both games.
The predominantly orange clad crowd in the Georgia Dome exhaled a chorus of relief after Tennessee toppled N.C. State, 35-21, in the season opener for both teams.
Vols Coach Derek Dooley’s seat cooled considerably while N.C. State’s Tom O’Brien’s seat was noticeably warmer than when he arrived in Atlanta.
Preseason expectations were high in Raleigh. Their fans were banking on a strong secondary and the play of senior quarterback Mike Glennon.
In Knoxville, expectations ran the gamut. Truth be told, no one knew how their heroes would play in the season opener, much less beyond that.
Dooley has taken a lot of heat, but reasonable fans were willing to watch this season play out before rendering judgment.
After the Vols had picked Glennon off four times and receivers ran by NFL cornerback prospect David Amerson, Vols fans were breathing easier.
I don’t know about you, but this year’s opening week of college football is the most exciting I can remember.
In the SEC alone, there are a handful of games that will serve as trendsetters for the rest of the season.
Locally you have Vanderbilt hosting No. 9 ranked South Carolina at a Vanderbilt Stadium. The stadium has undergone the most off-season improvements since the early 1980s when Maryland opened the Commodores home schedule. It was an electric night capped by a Vanderbilt win.
Tonight you will see new lights. A state of the art scoreboard. New field turf. It won’t take fans long to notice.
ESPN is televising the 6 p.m. start tonight. A blimp will be hovering overhead.
South Carolina has designs on winning the SEC East. A loss to Vanderbilt tonight will toss the Gamecocks out of the hen house.
Friday night in the Georgia Dome, Tennessee takes on ACC member N.C. State.
This is a special time of the year.
Football is in the air and Friday night, Lebanon High christens its new football stadium against Franklin County.
The Blue Devils would rather forget Week Zero (I will never understand that math) against state powerhouse, Mt. Juliet.
There is nothing like the first game in a brand new stadium. The popcorn tastes better. The band has some extra pep in its step. It’s a great spot to run into friends you haven’t seen this summer.
The new Lebanon High School has a lot of similar features that Mt. Juliet used when it built its new school. If only the Blue Devils football program could become as competitive as Mt. Juliet’s.
Football isn’t the only thing to get excited about around Middle Tennessee.
Goodlettsville’s Little League team is undefeated in the Little League World Series, the first time since 1974 an area team won its first two games in the event. Their next game is Thursday against Texas, also winners of its first two games.
Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin attended Sunday’s game against California and it was as good a game as you can find. Goodlettsville had to rally to take a 9-6 decision.
Corbin said the atmosphere surrounding the Little League World Series is similar in a lot of ways to the College World Series.
He also said if you are a baseball fan, the Little League World Series should to be on your bucket list. I would agree.
I remember how important playing Little League baseball was when I was that age. Every time it looked as if that day’s game was going to be rained out, I watched the sky closer than any certified meteorologist ever did.
If it was rained out, my whole day was ruined. I had to wait another week to play a game.
We never got to Williamsport. We did travel 15 miles or so to Erwin to play their All-Stars. My buddy Johnny Leach hit a home run as a train was passing just beyond the outfield fence. Spectators claimed the ball landed in one of the coal cars and I always contended it was the longest home run hit in Little League history. Think about it. He hit a ball from Erwin to Kansas City, or wherever that car came to rest.
Moving to Hendersonville, Steven Fox captured the U.S. Amateur crown at Cherry Hills CC in Colorado Sunday, winning a 36-hole match-play marathon that required an extra hole before engravers were cleared to put Fox’s name on the Havemeyer trophy.
It didn’t come easy for Fox, a senior at Chattanooga. He was the No. 35 seed in the 36-man field and dodged a number of bullets to reach the finals. He becomes only the second player in history to win from that position.
Down two holes with two to play, it looked bleak for Fox. But he would record back-to-back birdies to catch Cal’s Michael Weaver. Weaver could have closed Fox out with a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18. It appeared to be destined for the cup, but it spun out.
Even Fox gasped when the putt failed to drop. He finished Weaver off on the playoff hole with yet another birdie putt.
So Middle Tennesseans have had a lot to cheer about. And we still have a full football season ahead of us.
With each passing Major golf tournament, the odds of Tiger Woods passing Jack Nicklaus as the all-time leader in Major championships grow longer.
This is not the Tiger that once had the PGA Tour by the tail.
This is not the Tiger Woods that, when he showed up at a Major, everyone in the field didn’t think they were playing for second. They knew it.
Woods has been possessed with becoming the all-time leader in winning Major tournaments.
There are only four a year – the Masters, U.S. and British Opens and the PGA Championship.
This year, Woods failed to register a single round under par on weekend rounds in all four Majors.
By JOE BIDDLE
To this point, I must admit the London Olympic Games have been most enjoyable to watch.
I can’t remember a recent Olympics that had as many unusual human-interest stories as this one.
Seriously, does it get any better than having a legally blind archer set a world record in the men’s individual archery ranking round?
That’s exactly what Im Dong-Hyun did, despite the fact he can’t read a newspaper at arms length and he can only see blurred colors and lines at the target 76 yards away. He cannot see anything out of his right eye.
Then there is the Blade Runner, 25-year-old South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius, who runs on a set of carbon blades.
Pistorius had both legs below his knees amputated, but he qualified for the 400-meter semifinals, an incredible accomplishment by any measure. He will compete in South Africa’s 4x400-meter relay team Thursday.