Well, I am—quite obviously—running behind. I have yet to get my thoughts together on the BCS Championship Game—which President-elect Obama still thinks needs to be sacked in favor of a playoff—and the conclusion of the 2008-09 football season.
I’m going to blame it on the uncontrollable projectile vomiting that accompanied the realization that the Florida Gators had been crowned national champions…
I know, I know, I am supposed to pull for the SEC, and as a general rule I always do. Had the Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs, or any other member of the SEC won, then I would be overflowing with my congratulations to the team in representing the conference on the most visible stage in the country. There’s only one problem with this general rule of mine, it has one exception:
I have never and will never pull for the Florida Gators in any sporting event. No way, no how, no sir.
Without re-hashing what I have already said, I hate to lose to many of the SEC schools (most notably Alabama) but I don’t “hate” those schools. With Florida it is different. I realize this will label me as a sour-grapes sort of poor sport who blames Tennessee’s poor performance this year on every one but the Vols. It is petty, it is juvenile, it is silly.
Frankly, I don’t care…
Furthermore, had the thousands of classless thugs folks that I had to deal with during my three trips to Gainesville for games shown a little more class, then this wouldn’t be the case. Of course I doubt the Gators care what I think either. Thus, I’ll congratulate the LSU Tigers for a nice win against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the Georgia Bulldogs for their besting of the Michigan State Spartans, the Ole Miss Rebels for up-ending the Texas Tech Red Raiders, The Vanderbilt Commodores and Kentucky Wildcats for managing to win their bowl game when few gave them much of a chance. To all of you, congratulations. As for Alabama, well, thank you for representing the conference in the BCS, despite losing to a tough Utah Utes squad. The Utes are a solid team and there is no shame in the loss.
Florida, however, can suck it…
Alrighty, I suppose that’s enough venom for the moment. Then again, maybe not.
"You'd have to be out of your friggin' mind not to want to play for the Gators," • Urban Meyer commenting after the Gators victory over the Oklahoma Sooners
• Via Go Vols Xtra: Meyer sees no end to Florida’s reign
Nice to see that Meyer isn’t smug about it all.
Fortunately, Lane Kiffin doesn’t seem to be the type of guy who really cares about impressions and opinions. He spent his week giving the current members of Vols football squad the proverbial “Come to Jesus” experience as he has made it clear that he expects a lot from his players not just on the field, but in the classroom as well. He drove this point home by showing up unannounced in a few classrooms around the Hill and by dismissing Darius Meyers and giving Brent Vinson one chance to straighten-up. Other sources indicate that, in addition to these “visible” actions by the Blackjack General, there have been other disciplinary actions taken to shore-up various shortcomings by players. Both Ramone Johnson and Demetrius Morely have also been mentioned as having been “encouraged” to find more focus. I have a feeling that there will be more heard on this subject in the coming months leading up to the Orange and White game this spring.
All of this is fine by me. Sometimes you have to do a little housekeeping when you are trying to make changes.
Speaking of changes, Mike Griffith posted a particularly interesting piece on the perceptions of various members of the national sports media on Kiffin’s selection as the new head coach at Tennessee. The general consensus is that no one really knows how things will turn out.I found the response of ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski to be particularly insightful:
"I don't know what to think. I know he's hiring a great NFL staff - his dad from Tampa and Orgeron from the Saints. He's going into one of the most impatient places there is. The whole thing is a chemistry experiment to me. It will be fascinating to see how it plays out. It's one of the few hires where most people don't have a feel for how it will work out. It's one of the greatest calculated gambles I've seen in a while. If it works, Mike Hamilton looks like a genius. If it doesn't, they fired a pretty good coach.''
• Via Go Vols Xtra: National Media sounds off on Kiffin hire
Personally, I find the reactions in Griffith’s piece refreshing for two reasons. First, it is nice for once to hear the media talking-heads admit that they don’t know everything about everything—I guess they all forgot to pay the bill on their crystal balls due to the economic downturn. Second, and most importantly, I like the fact that Kiffin represents a paradigm shift for Tennessee. When given a choice between a hamburger or pizza, Smiling Mike appears to have chosen the Billy Barou (Nachos) with extra queso and hot sauce.
Thus far, when it comes to staff selections, Kiffin has been keeping up his end of the bargain.
As a result, the Vols are seeing a serious up-swing in their recruiting fortunes as National Signing Day approaches. According to Scout.com’s Jeffrey Stewart*, it appears he has the right people out in the field knocking on doors—giving Tennessee a chance at a fabulous finish which seemed unlikely not long ago. At present the Vols have 17 commitments, but the No. 4 wide receiver, No. 4 running back, No. 4 tight end and No. 2 offensive tackle in the nation are all making visits in the coming days. At worst, it’s now looking like a top 20 class. Basilio has a nice breakdown (courtesy of “X”) for those interested.
Oh, and despite the fact that Mike Hamilton’s little chemistry experiment is not a cheap one, UT announced that ticket prices will not be going up in Neyland Stadium this fall.
Note to self “Butts in the seats = Good”[caption id="" align="alignright" width="91" caption="Fulmer in the ACC?"][/caption]
Meanwhile, rumors are flying all over the place about the possibility of the Great Punkin being considered for the head coaching job at Boston College, after coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired on Wednesday for interviewing with the New York Jets. Fulmer has been a good friend of Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo from their time together as grad assistants on the Tennessee staff in the early 1970’s. DeFilippo was instrumental in Fulmer’s decision to hire Dave Clawson prior to the 2008 season:
Ultimately, Fulmer settled on Clawson, who had interviewed the year before for the Boston College head coaching job. BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo was a graduate assistant at Tennessee in the early 1970s when Fulmer was getting his coaching start, and the two have continued to talk over the years.
DeFilippo's endorsement of Clawson carried a lot of weight with Fulmer, who was even more intrigued after he met and talked football with Clawson. A dandy playcaller himself when he performed those duties under John Majors from 1989-92, Fulmer liked the idea of bringing some new blood into the program. And that's not a knock against Cutcliffe, either.
• Via ESPN.com: Clawson, Volunteers planning to beef up running game
Many fans and media observers feel that Fulmer would be near the top of possible candidates outside of the existing Eagles staff members, especially considering the importance of loyalty in the mind of DeFilippo who has no problem following his instincts. There has been no official word at present, but the possibility has begun to gain some traction in the press and the Blogosphere. Whether anything comes of these rumors remains to be seen.
Oh, and the BasketVols lost to Gonzaga in overtime, snapping the Vols’ 37-game winning streak. That pretty much sucked.
Up next, the Georgia Bulldogs, Saturday at noon—likely without Tyler Smith (sigh…). As is my usual practice (and time permitting), I plan on jumping in the game open thread over at Rocky Top Talk—if you haven’t participated in one in the past, they are fun and you should give it a try. Tell Joel I sent you.
I should post more on Bruce and the Barbarians (as well as the fact that Pat Summitt is only five games away from her 1,000th win), but—as I said from the outset—I’m still in catch-up mode. We should be in full basketball mode here at the Gate by sometime next week.
Go Vols, Beat the Bulldogs!
Image Courtesy of: UTSports.com
*Scout.com membership required to access article
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