Cheap Shots, Bon Mots, and Not So Deep Thoughts
Post-Winter Olympics withdrawl has finally dissipated. Yes, I watched it all. The ice hockey was incredible, with not a single fight to be seen. Hockey without fighting? If only the NHL could get a clue. And then there was curling, my new curio. Don’t ask me why, because some things should remain a mystery within the weird fabric of life’s obsessions. But, I loved it.
So out of the fog of Vancouver memories, and while still within the midst of the business end of the European football and NHL seasons, I’ve come up for air to check on the goings on of Tennessee Volunteer football.
“Sources” have told The Manhattan (Kansas) Mercury that Bryce Brown will wait and see how he fits into coach Derek Dooley’s system, and then will make a decision on whether or not he will remain in Knoxville. The “story” comes out of Manhattan, Kansas because Bryce’s older brother, Arthur Brown, is transferring to Kansas State from Miami. Arthur Brown played his high school football in Wichita, which explains why a player might transfer from a football school to a basketball school. As far as Bryce’s alleged comment, this could be a bunch of whooey fueled by a brother going back home, regardless of some who treat this as a factual story, and don’t link to sources verifying that there ever was such a statement. I say its a rumor unless otherwise verified as WMD (they were never found either).
Or, perhaps Bryce thought that Coach Derek Dooley got a little too rich too fast. Dooley’s contract was announced as a 6-year deal, earning $1.8 million in 2010, an increase from his $400,ooo salary in Ruston last season, where he held two jobs (coach and AD). Salary for all 10 coaches this season totals $4.526 million, down from last season’s $5.325 million for Kiffin’s crew. It’s believed that Tennessee’s staff salary will rank in the top 10 nationally. For internal comparison, Bruce Pearl’s salary this season is $1.9 million. For external comparisons, Dooley’s $1.8 million is less that that of his counterparts at Florida, Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Georgia, and Ole Miss. Someday, perhaps Dooley and the Vols will upset that apple cart.
Matt Simms, the Vols’ recent junior college transfer, is healthy and ready for spring practice. Simms, the son of NY Giant great Phil Simms, had surgery on his throwing hand which Matt injured last year, ending his season at El Camino College. The upcoming battle this spring for the QB spot, likely involving Simms, freshman Tyler Bray, and returning Vol Nick Stephens, is enough to make you want to actually pay attention to football in March and April.
Spring practice starts March 18, when the first of 14 practices will get underway at 4:00 pm. Spring practice ends with the Orange and White Game to be played at Neyland Stadium on April 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 pm.
Looking ahead to summer, the SEC Media Day for Tennessee will be July 23 in Hoover, Alabama.
Looking further ahead, the Vols have yet to secure a commitment for the 2011 class. For comparison, LSU has nine commits for 2011.
Looking back (don’t – somebody might be gaining on you), over the past five seasons, Tennessee is a paltry 5-17 (.222) against teams that finished in the Top 25 of the AP or coaches’ final season poll. Bad? Perhaps. But, that’s good enough for 6th place in the SEC. Ole Miss, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Vandy, and Mississippi State have worse records. In fact, only two SEC schools have a winning record: Florida (14-9) and LSU (13-11); Alabama is 3rd with a 10-12 record.
This fall, ESPN will begin televising college football games in 3-D, available to home viewers. That’s right, no more special event broadcasts in movie theaters. But you’re going to need a new TV to make this a reality in your own living room. And to think that it was only a couple of years ago that I finally bought an HDTV. Oh well, it’s only money.
Three SEC schools will be playing at the same time on January 1, 2011. The Capitol One, Outback, and Gator Bowls will all kick off at 1:00 pm on New Year’s Day. Hold dinner, honey, until I’m fully recovered from looking at double picture-in-picture.
I guess our AD conducted his “gut check”, or maybe he just stared at his own navel for a while, or better yet, perhaps he reads this blog. In any event, our fine institution will revert to a three-strikes-and-you’re-out drug policy as of July 1. For the past couple of years, athletes were given four chances before being dismissed. Three positive drug tests had been the rule before UT added a fourth strike in 2007 for a positive marijuana test. Still too many for me, but at least UT looks a little less like a Haight Street halfway house going into the 2010 football campaign.
Only one week to Spring Practice. Every year, it feels strange to think that helmets and pads will be donned before the leaves of spring are unfurled. Strange or not, above all else, I’m looking forward to reading about reactions to Dooley’s style from the sideline, the beginnings of a very important contest for quarterback, and all the fresh new recruits making their debut within a tradition bigger than they yet know.