Archive for the ‘College Football’ Category

James-Franklin-Vanderbilt-Commodores-2012-football-570x374The Vanderbilt football team went 8-4 in the 2012 regular season. It was the first time that Vandy has recorded 8 wins since 1982. Their reward for their accomplishment is a trip to the Music City Bowl. If Vanderbilt beats North Carolina State in the bowl game, they will have their first 9-win season since 1915. This will be Vanderbilt’s 3rd trip to a bowl game in the last 5 seasons. It will be their second trip to the Music City Bowl. This will be the first time in Vanderbilt’s history that they will be playing in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons. This new success in the Vanderbilt football program has may fans excited about it’s future moving forward on West End.

The bowl selection experience is not as cut and dry as some fans might think. Vanderbilt fans are relatively new in this process due to the fact that before 2008, Vandy had not played in a bowl game since the early 80’s. Vanderbilt fans are starting to learn that in order to get into one of the bowl games played on New Years Day, it takes more than just a good football team. It takes a big fan base. Bowl committees are in the business to make money. When given the choice, they are going to choose the team that will put the most butts in the seats.

Because of this, the Gator Bowl passed on choosing Vanderbilt and invited Mississippi State to play Northwestern on New Years Day. Both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State have an 8-4 record. Vanderbilt’s SEC record was 5-3 while Mississippi State’s was 4-4. Both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State beat Tennessee and Auburn. Vanderbilt defeated Ole Miss while Mississippi State lost to their state rival. If you just judge by the numbers, you would guess that the Gator Bowl would invited Vanderbilt over Mississippi State. But that’s not what happened. Mississippi State travels better than Vanderbilt in term of their respective fan bases.

So how can Vanderbilt change the perception that their fans don’t travel. The first step must happen at the Music City Bowl. Vanderbilt fans must sellout LP Field (69,143 capacity), the site of the Music City Bowl. Vanderbilt will be going for its best record since 1915. The game is in its home city, Nashville. There is absolutely no excuse for a lack of fan support at the Music City Bowl. The old excuse used to be that if you put a product on the field, the fans would come. Well…the product is on the field. Let’s see if the fans come. The challenge has been sent to Vandy Nation.

Who should be ranked 1st in the nation right now.
Now….all of the rankings are current BCS Rankings as of November 17, 2012.
The teams will remain anonymous so that the game is actually fair. (Unlike real life…)
At the bottom vote for who you think should be ranked 1st after looking at the body of work of these teams.
Team A:
The Current Rank of Teams Defeated by Team A: #12, #13, #21,
The Current Rank of Teams that Beat Team A: No losses
Record: 10-0
Best Statistical Record To Date: Tied fo 1st in the Nation for Overall Points Against
Team B:
The Current Rank of Teams Defeated by Team B: #7, #8, #9,
The Current Rank of Teams that Beat Team B: #5
Record: 9-1
Best Statistical Record To Date: 3rd in the Nation for Overall Points Against
Team C:
The Current Rank of Teams Defeated by Team C: #12, #23, #24
The Current Rank of Teams that Beat Team C: No losses
Record: 10-0
Best Statistical Record To Date: 8th in the Nation for Overall Points For
Team D:
The Current Rank of Teams Defeated by Team D: #7, #21,
The Current Rank of Teams that Beat Team D: #8
Record: 9-1
Best Statistical Record To Date: Tied for 1st in the Nation for Overall Points Against
Team E:
The Current Rank of Teams Defeated by Team E: #18, #25,
The Current Rank of Teams that Beat Team E: No losses
Record: 10-0
Best Statistical Record To Date: 1st in the Nation for Overall Points For
Team F:
The Current Rank of Teams Defeated by Team F: #6,
The Current Rank of Teams that Beat Team F: #9
Record: 9-1
Best Statistical Record To Date: 22nd in the Nation for Overall Points Against

November 19, 2011. Jordan Rogers threw a pass to start the overtime period that was intercepted by Eric Gordon and returned 90 yards for a touchdown for Tennessee. Neyland Stadium went crazy as Tennessee Volunteer players ran on to the field to celebrate their 27-21 victory over Vanderbilt. It was one of the hardest losses for Vanderbilt to take. It was the first time in a long while that Vandy had been favored to win in this one-sided neighborhood rivalry. Yet once again, Vandy found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

To add salt to the wound, a tape surfaced days later with a recording of Derek Dooley saying after the game that “Tennessee always beats the sh&$ out of Vanderbilt”.

Here is a link describing the situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1En2uf5gdk

In the video you can see James Franklin’s response once he was made aware of this video. He says that he’ll discuss it next year.

Well….it’s next year. And again Vanderbilt is favored against their hated rivals from the East. At 6-4, they are in position to have their best season since 1982. At 6-4 they are in position to have a chance to play in a New Years Day Bowl. Such accomplishments seemed unimaginable only 2 years ago before Franklin arrived on campus. James Franklin is telling the media all of the right things about the video. But don’t be fooled. He is definitely reminding his players about the scene that took place in the UT locker room one year ago. About the pain they felt when they walked out of Neyland Stadium knowing they let one get away.

There is plenty of motivation for Vanderbilt to play hard Saturday. This game Saturday could send a message across the state. Tennessee is hobbling in with a 4-6 record losers of 5 of their last 6 games. They have not won a SEC game yet this year. They just lost in 4 overtimes to a Missouri team that Vanderbilt defeated 19-15. Reports on the radio are saying that Tennessee could not sell all of its share of tickets for the game Saturday and their head coach will more than likely be fired at the end of the season. But none of that matters Saturday because Vandy has only beaten Tennessee once (2005) since 1983. Stats & records mean nothing this week. The only thing that will matter is the score when the clock hits zero. Can Vandy get over the hump? Can Vanderbilt seize the day?

The Auburn Tigers are 1-7. The 1 win coming against the only so called “cupcake” on their schedule which in retrospect wasn’t much of a cupcake at all, Louisiana-Monroe. Without the 3-point overtime nail biting victory, the Auburn Tigers would be looking at a winless season heading into the New Mexico State game this Saturday. Auburn’s other non-conference early season foe was Clemson which they lost, 26-19. So it is not like Auburn lost to a true cupcake in their run to a 1-7 season thus far. But fans in Auburn, Alabama, 160 miles away from Tuscaloosa do not care about the integrity of scheduling non-cupcakes and not getting wins. Hindsight is 20-20, but Gene Chizik would have been better off scheduling the famous “Sisters of Mercy” to start the season instead of Clemson. At least he would have 2 wins by now instead of 1. But that didn’t happen and Auburn has only one win.

Texas A&M gave Auburn it’s 7th loss last Saturday as Johnny Manziel aka “Johnny Goode” aka “Johnny Football” passed for 260 yards and rushed for 90 yards while passing and running for a combined 5 touchdowns in a 63-21 beat down of the Tigers. Auburn hasn’t lost a game that bad since 1917. People in Auburn want Chizik fired immediately. But there is at least one financial restraint hindering or at least slowing down the process. Gene Chizik’s buyout drops from 10 million to 7.5 million on December 1st. Now you say that is only one month away. Well remember that Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas may also be looking for new head coaches. And that is just in the SEC. The market is good right now for new head football coaches heading into next year. Aubun will need to make sure to balance their holdout until Chizik’s buyout is reduced with judging the landscape of the coaching market in football. There will be good jobs available and there may not be enough good (‘good’ being the key word) head coaches to obtain all of the jobs. Auburn will want to make sure they land a good head coach to the right the ship.

It is not a secret that Derek Dooley is on the hot seat in Knoxville, TN. Now with the Tennessee Vols losers of three straight SEC games talks of replacing Dooley are becoming louder each week. Inside information is now starting to leak out from within the headquarters of the Tennessee Vols athletic department. For the most loyal and in-tuned fan, this may not be new news. But to everyone else, here is what is starting to leak out concerning Derek Dooley’s future as the University of Tennessee’s Head Football Coach.

The word is that Derek Dooley’s firing may come as soon as early next week. Even if he beats South Carolina this weekend, he could still be fired Monday or Tuesday next week. There has apparently already been discussions with Monday Night Football commentator Jon Gruden to replace Dooley as UT’s next head coach. Jon Gruden is a former NFL Head Coach with the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee from 1986 to 1987. Whether or not Dooley is allowed to coach the rest of the season is still unknown. Tennessee may decide to go the Ohio State route & announce a new coach while allowing the current coach to finish the season. Apparently it seems that the prospect of going 7-5 will not be enough to save Derek Dooley’s job.

There was 3:27 remaining on the clock in the 3rd quarter. The Tennessee Vols were up 20-13 on the Florida Gators. The crowd was into it. Florida had the ball 80 yards away from the end zone. Trey Burton would run right and then down the sidelines 80 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. It was Florida’s first touchdown in the second half and it all went downhill for UT from there as the Gators would go on to win for the 8th straight time 37-20. Florida scored the last 24 points of the game. They did this by capitalizing on major defensive miscues by the Vols.

On the play Trey Burton scored, there were multiple errors committed by the Vols defense. (Going into Jaws mode…first..cue up the YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ehSrSdjYWo) Let’s look at the tape. The Gators were in the shotgun with the strong side of the formation on the left (2 wide receivers, 1 tight end to the left). The lone receiver on the weakside of the formation goes in motion towards the strong side. Here is the 1st key error. The defensive back checking the receiver in motion tells the free safety to check him as he takes the free safety’s spot. This idea is ok by the DB but when Trey Burton fakes the hand off and runs through the line, the DB (now playing the role of free safety) takes a horrible angle towards Burton to make the tackle. No way Burton should beat him to the sidelines.

How did Burton get through the line untouched you ask? Check out the weak side outside linebacker (UT plays a 3-4 scheme, 3 down linemen, 4 linebackers). He basically gets whipped. He saw the play moving initially away from him and did not pick-up the left guard pulling down the line for the trap block towards him. What he was supposed to do was to attack the pulling guard creating a pile up making it hard for the fullback to find a hole to lead Burton through. The fullback was untouched all the way to the second level! That is absolutely unacceptable! The 2 middle linebackers pretty much had no chance as you see the weak side middle linebacker trying to fight through 2 blockers to cover the gaping hole left for Burton to go through. *Play the YouTube video if you haven’t played it yet* Finally, the poor angle by the defensive back allows Burton to run down the sidelines for the score. This was one of many situations where Florida took advantage of errors made by the Tennessee Vols.

So what happens now for the UT Vols. Where do they go from here? Of course they will say that there are many more games left on the schedule to play and there is still plenty to play for. But talks of Dooley’s replacement have already begun and a date with their lovely friends from the south (#5 Georgia Bulldogs) is looming in 2 weeks. Things could get ugly quick if Dooley doesn’t right the ship fast. A dominating performance against 1-2 Akron is a must. Next is the locker room. Dooley cannot lose control of the locker room. Despite what everyone else is saying, if Dooley wins the locker room, he may win his job. After that, a 7-win season. While this won’t guarantee his job, a 6-win season will guarantee his firing. A win over a ranked opponent would be nice. Derek Dooley is 1-8 against SEC opponents and 0 for against ranked opponents.

Yes we’ve only played 3 games in the 2012 season. But like I said in my previous article, the Florida one was crucial. The fallout is already being felt in Knoxville. Dooley has put the blinders on and find a way to do what he has not been able to do since his arrival at UT. Win a big game. I imagine by Halloween we’ll know if Derek Dooley will be the Tennessee Vols coach next year.

Gameday is coming to Knoxville and so are the Gators. Tennessee plays Florida on September 15 in their annual showdown Saturday. While this game will not be shown on CBS like normal, it still is as big as ever. The importance of the outcome of this game is biggest for Tennessee’s Head Coach, Derek Dooley.

Derek Dooley’s on the hot seat. For anyone living in the Volunteer state this isn’t new news. Everyone knows this is the third year of his deal and the year of no excuses. So far this year Dooley has past the “Third Year, What Have You Done For Me Now” test with flying colors. But now comes the game that is circled on the calendar every year. The game that folks in Knoxville haven’t celebrated afterwards since 2004. The game that can potentially be seen as the beginning of the end of the Derek Dooley era in Knoxville or be what solidifies him as Tennessee’s Head Coach for years to come.

Derek Dooley

If Derek Dooley beats Florida in Neyland Stadium, he will get a cotract extension. Look at the schedule. The win will make UT 3-0 with Akron coming to town, 4-0. Next is the meat & potatoes of the campaign. This portion includes a game at Georgia, at Mississippi State, home to Bama, and finally at South Carolina. Worse case scenario, UT is 4-4. But more than likely UT should come out of this stretch 5-3. The final leg is Troy, Missouri, at Vandy, and home to Kentucky. 3 of 4 wins here making the 2012 Tennessee Vols record 8-4. An 8-4 record with a win over Florida means Dooley’s back for a few more years. (Like it or not…..some in Knoxville still might not want him back)If Dooley loses Saturday, who knows what mayhem could come from this. A less than impressive Florida team coming into Knoxville lead by the un-predictable Jeff Driskel who has to constantly worry if Jacoby Brissett will replace at any point. Florida’s vulnerable and definitely beatable. They rank 107th in the nation in passing and 42nd in rushing. Their resume includes a 13 point victory over Bowling Green and a 3 point victory over a Texas A&M squad replacing NFL first round draft pick Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. Tennessee has the better athletes, the better players, the better team. But will they have the better coach? We’ll know a lot after Saturday.