This Week’s Host: The Power T
(That’s German for "2")
This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by none other than The Power T, who has served up a heapin’ helpin’ of questions for we "Volggers" to consider. Being that I am all about riding the coat-tails of others (and the fact they haven’t kicked me out of the Roundtable ... yet) here are Gate 21’s thoughts on all that is this week in the world of Tennessee Football.
(Questions in Sort-o-Teal-like color)
1) A position of strength for the Vols this fall should be wide receivers. Which 2 guys will emerge from the pack to start the opener against UCLA alongside Lucas Taylor? Why?
First of all, I think that Lucas Taylor is going to be a starter -- probably from start to finish. He is the most tested and reliable of the receiving corps this year. As for the other spots, well, it gets more difficult there.
The conventional wisdom would be to go with Austin Rogers and Josh Briscoe (not to be confused with Briscoe Darling) -- both have had significant playing time and key catches. They were solid down the stretch (especially in the overtime win against Kentucky, where Rogers saved the day with a huge 2-point conversion catch), however, they both had a few key weaknesses which hampered their overall production. Both had some big drops at key moments, and both appeared to have some shortcomings at times when it came to field awareness. That said, both of these upperclassmen now have an additional year of experience under their belt, and will no longer have to live in the shadow of the amazing and talented Robert Meachem.
The "Other" Briscoe
That said, I really like what I saw from Gerald Jones in his limited playing time last season, and something in my gut tells me that this talented sophomore will secure -- at a minimum -- 50% of one of the remaining starting spots. Based upon what I understand Dave Clawson’s offensive model to be, it seems that Jones would make a perfect fit -- especially when it is time to go deep.
I am a huge fan of using the Tight End as an additional passing threat (something that I have a feeling we may see under Dave Clawson’s tricked-out-offense), and I hope that we end up using Jeff Cottam more in that role to complement and build upon the strengths of this year’s receivers -- thereby making the Vols less one-dimensional and tougher to defend against. Either way, it seems to me that -- despite losing a gamebreaker like Meachem -- the receivers will be much stronger as a unit this season on the whole, largely due to experience and having more than just one go-to receiver. I feel this is especially true considering that, with Jonathan Crompton under center, it is fair to assume that opposing defenses will now have to honor the possibility that No. 8 may come running at them "Straight Outta Crompton" as well as throw to one of the wide-outs.
2) Which game on the schedule do you, as a fan, need Tennessee to win for your own sanity and happiness? Why?
For me, it’s a matter of whether the question is "Which game Tennessee simply cannot lose?" or "Which game Tennessee most needs to win?" While those appear to be the same, they really are quite different.
In terms of not losing, the choices are obvious: UAB, Northern Illinois, Wyoming, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. With the exception of the game against the Kentucky Wildcats, lose any of these games, and it is probably a sign that Tennessee is in serious trouble for the rest of the season. The Kentucky game is more a matter of keeping Tennessee’s 22-game winning streak -- dating back to a 12-17 loss in 1985 -- against the Wildcats. Kentucky is a good team, as they proved last year, so that one is hardly assured. Of this group, I think the game Tennessee can least afford to lose would be the game against Northern Illinois -- if the Vols lose that one, well ... they suck (I just call ’em like I see ’em).
In terms of games Tennessee most needs to win, as my last post made clear -- by my mind Tennessee’s biggest rival has always been and will always be the Alabama Crimson Tide (yeah, call me old-school). Thus, that one always matters. The other candidates would be the Florida Gators, Auburn Tigers, and Georgia Bulldogs.
From my perspective, not having the benefit of yet seeing whether the Vols actually know what they are about or simply lay down and die when you look at them sideways, I think there’s a strong chance that Tennessee loses to Auburn regardless of what I hope for. Having lost 3-in-a-row versus the Tigers, I’d like to see this year's contest end in a win, but that might be a stretch.
As for Georgia, well, they look to be hell-on-wheels this year, but they have an absolutely brutal schedule -- a fair part of which occurs before the 11 October game in Knoxville. I think Tennessee will have to bring it versus the Bulldogs, but I think that one is winnable. That said, though I do not want to see the Vols drop one to the Dawgs, I wouldn’t curl up in a fetal ball and drool for days if we lost.
As for Florida and Alabama, that’s a tough one. Since these two represent the Vols’ biggest rivals in my eyes, losing either one of these would rank right up there with having a colonoscopy with a fire hose, I’d just as soon win them both. Losing to the Gators -- especially after last year’s 59-20 annihilation -- will unquestionably ruin my sunny and pleasant disposition. This is especially true since I’ll have had to listen to those god-awful Florida fans for 4 hours, which in itself is enough to cause a body to lose the will to live.
That said, since Tennessee is inching closer and closer to evening the all-time series versus Alabama (currently Tennessee is 38-44-7 all-time), and the fact that I think Bama is beatable this year, I would have to say that a loss to Alabama would be a much greater disappointment. Losing to the Tide would make it that much harder for the Vols to even things up versus the Bammers any time soon. Thus, predictably, it’s Bama by a nose.
3) What are your thoughts on the 8-win clause in Coach Fulmer’s new contract that automatically rolls his contract over another year if he wins 8 games in a season?
Well, I am a homer. I like coach Fulmer, and I always have. Until someone can show me a the coach that they think is going to do a better job, I am not inclined to try and replace Fulmer just because people are getting tired of his tenure as coach. That being said, an automatic renewal of the contract is a bit much in my book -- especially at the 8-win level. If the contract provided for an automatic extension at 11 wins, or maybe even 10, then I suppose it would make more sense to me. Of course, if you just had a 10 or 11-win season, it would be unusual for you not to get an extension automatically.
I can understand why Coach Fulmer would feel a bit threatened and uncomfortable -- especially after John Adams’ piece earlier this year calling for his head. Thus, he asked for some security, which Mike Hamilton provided. No revelations there.
My gut tells me, however, that there is a story behind the story here. I think it is reasonable for Fulmer to ask for some guarantees, I also think it is reasonable for Hamilton to ask for some in return -- which I bet he got, but only via a personal promise from Fulmer. My guess is that Fulmer probably gave Hamilton the 2 magic numbers -- the number of years and/or wins after which he plans to retire. Let’s be honest, Phillip Fulmer is not exactly a young buck, and I don’t see him trying to be the next Joe Paterno. My guess is he told Hamilton his exit strategy, and Hamilton agreed to that idea by giving Fulmer enough security to make that happen. If all of my speculation is accurate then I have less of a problem with the deal.
Again, purely speculating, I’m willing to bet that Fulmer has his eyes on General Neyland’s all-time wins record at Tennessee, and then maybe a year or two more, but not much more. I honestly think that Fulmer is growing weary of the dog-and-pony show which revolves around the football program and is generally expressed most vociferously by those who scream for his head if the hot dog they order at the stadium doesn’t have enough chili on it. I think the hiring of Dave Clawson plays into this. I strongly believe that Coach Clawson was hired not just as the Offensive Coordinator at Tennessee, but potentially as the next Head Coach at Tennessee. That hire has all the marks of Fulmer taking steps to name a successor.
From my perspective (which, in case you haven’t noticed, is worthless) and based upon what I’ve seen so far, I think that Clawson has the potential to be the next head coach, but who knows what will happen down the road. I can say that, of all of the staff coaches Fulmer has had during his tenure, Clawson is the only one that I could ever see as assuming the mantle as head coach at some point in the future.
There are a few ironic things about this deal though. Most notably, all of the whiners and complainers who have moaned and yelled to have Fulmer fired for the last 400 years, can thank themselves for this contract. Had they given Fulmer a little more credit (and thus a little more comfort when it comes to his job security) then I doubt Fulmer asks for this deal. More importantly, unless there is something that Fulmer can point to which makes his feelings of peril credible, I doubt that Mike Hamilton agrees to it.
Thus, all of you who have been caterwauling to have Fulmer fired can pat yourself on the back -- you just got him a sweetheart of a deal!
The other ironic thing is that, again all of the anti-Fulmerites (you do realize that they chased Moses and the Israelites through the desert and all ... oh yeah, it’s in the Book of Hank, Chapter 41) have been de-crying this new contract as a travesty -- the worst thing since the free substitution rule, akin to stealing babies in the night, sleeping with pigs, and worshipping a statue of Bear Bryant. The fact of the matter is, however, this contract actually makes it more likely that Fulmer actually could get the axe.
For the first time in his career at Tennessee, there is a benchmark in his contract. The contract simply speaks of an automatic-extension if he wins 8 games -- it is silent with regard to what happens if he does not. Failing to hit that mark -- as a practical matter -- would make it nearly impossible for Mike Hamilton to defend Fulmer, because in that situation Fulmer would have failed to meet the only quantifiable benchmark in his contract. While I realize that the extension does not call for him to go if he wins 7 or fewer, the reality is that his departure would likely be the result.
So, everybody lighten up a bit...
In the end, I am neither angry nor elated at the new contract -- mainly due to my speculative suspicions. It is not what I would have agreed to if I were Mike Hamilton, but it is not un-thinkable.
Of course, Mike Hamilton never really asked my opinion...
4) What is your favorite gameday recipe, whether for tailgating or in your own kitchen? Explain why in delicious detail.
My trip to any game in Knoxville consists of: 1) Driving from Eastern North Carolina to Asheville after work on Friday; 2) Driving from Asheville to Knoxville with my Father on gameday morning; 3) Returning to Asheville immediately after the game (which is late for those 8:00 p.m. kickoffs); and 4) Driving back across the State of North Carolina on Sunday. Considering I travel about 6 1/2 hours each way to come to the games, I don’t get to spend a lot of time tailgating and so forth. Thus, like Will at SESB, my gameday fare is somewhat less grand than that enjoyed by others.
Up until the pretentious jackasses that run McAlister’s Deli closed it down, I used to go to Sam & Andy’s religiously on gamedays and enjoy a Kielbasa Sub on dark bread with spicy mustard, mayo, and provolone. They’d steam it up for me and throw a pickle in for good measure, until it was a work of art. Those sammiches were a Vol fan’s greatest dream -- and a cardiologist’s worst nightmare. Of course, once the Carpertbaggers hit town, that all ended.
Be that as it may, there is one recipe which jumps out to me as being particularly appropriate for stank-nasty football gamedays:
I suppose most folks enjoy a good margarita every now and then -- especially when celebrating with friends. Mixing up a batch of the good stuff, however, takes time, effort, numerous bottles of mixers and tequila, cups, ice, salt, and a sombrero. The "Magna-rita" solves all these problems and is great for gamedays. Even better, it’s super-easy to make and -- most importantly -- dirt cheap. To make one of these beauties up, you simply:
Take one 40 oz bottle of of your favorite Malt Liquor -- the distinguishing whino gentleman generally prefers "Magnum," but feel free to use you own favorite brand, such as Colt .45 (just like Billy Dee Williams) or Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull. Actually, now that I think about it, you could use any kind of alcohol you can find: from a 1972 Dom Perignon to a 3-week old half-empty bottle of Ripple -- heck, if you got enough of those little alcohol wipes and squeezed them hard enough, you might even get enough sauce that way.
Next take one large bag of Skittles candy, and pour them out on a table, in a bowl, on the floor -- wherever, but make sure to save the bag.
Now pick out all the lime flavored Skittles and put them back in the bag, securing the bag tightly.
Jump up and down on the bag for about 3-4 minutes, or bash the hell out of the bag with a tire iron until the lime Skittles are broken into pieces.
Now pour the sort-o-lime flavored dust into your 40, and give it a swirl or two with a straw, a pocket knife, a coat hanger, stick, or whatever you can find.
Drink and enjoy.
for a "Big Orange Magna-rita" substitute orange Skittles for lime
for those of you craving the salt around the edge of your Magna-rita, simply steal a few salt packets from McDonalds (or an actual salt shaker from McAlister's) and rub them around the mouth of the bottle after licking it a few times.
Most "Magna-rita" drinkers find that they enjoy this drink more if they drink 5-6 of these in rapid succession -- such as over a period of approximately 30 minutes or so.
5) You have a tag team championship match against the Legion of Doom coming up. Which current Volunteer do you choose as your tag team partner? Why?
Well, this one is a tough one. I’d have to say that -- if limited to the current members of the team -- I’d go with either Tennessee Center, Josh McNeil (6’4" / 280), or Defensive Tackle, Dan Williams (6’3" / 310), both of whom are some serious specimens when it comes to the smackdown. I’d take that action any day of the week.
If not limited to current players, then I’d take the Great Punkin himself -- who has been known to mix it up in the wrestling ring in the past -- against even the most dreaded Mark "the Man Beast" Mangino.
Phil Battling it Out!Of course, I know absolutely nothing about wrestling (which is about the extent of my knowledge when it comes to football as well).
The Rest of the Roundtable:
Having wasted your time on my largely meaningless, juvenile, and insignificant thoughts for this week, go check out what the other roundtablers (who actually know what they are talking about) have to say (in no particular order):
- Fulmer's Belly (in poetic verse)
- The Power T
- 3rd Saturday in Blogtober
- World According to MoonDog
- SouthEastern Sports Blog
- Rocky Top Talk
- Loser With Socks
Images Courtesy of: TV Root.com • LSU Freek
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