Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How bad have you got it?

How big a fan are you. Give me some feedback. Leave me a comment and tell me what have you done for your team that your friends or family have said "Ok you have gone too far." I have a couple. I will share one now and if I get some response from you guys I will go further. So my first one.. well let me introduce you to my three year old bluetick coonhound. What? You actually ask yourself what a tennessee fan would name their hound? Ladies and Gentleman meet 'PR' COOTERS SMOKEY MTN RIVER DREAM. Or as I call him ...Smokey.

The ONE thing I would change this Football Season

There has been quite a bit of talk about the changing of the line of scrimmage on the kickoff. That most people say, will be the one thing that will have the biggest effect on the outcome of the season.

I disagree.

The one thing that will have the most effect on the season, is the one thing I want to see changed. The one thing that will keep some teams from never having a chance of even being in the hunt, and at the same time keep some teams in the hunt all year without deserving it. That one thing? What you haven't already figured it out.

It is the first College Football Top 25 Poll.

This is the single most penalizing aspect of the football world.

If a team starts out in the top 5, then loses a game early, they might drop to ummm 7, maybe 8 or 9. But lets say a team starts out at 17 they could win five or six straight and not crack the top 10. See where I am going with this? There is too much emphasis put on this early ranking. And all this, when no one has even played a game. I don't understand how you can give that much credit to where you finished the year before. Things change, coaches come and go, players change.

I propose that the first poll not come out until after the fourth week of the season. Then you know who has what and who is performing. Last years accomplishments would not play as big a role and teams that start strong could be rewarded. And would also make it a little more prevalent to schedule some good non-conference games early. This would take out the ol' Roody Poo's from the equation. Just my opinion.. For what it's worth.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My racing roots and feelings about Smoke

Well.....I have just heard MY BOY Tony Stewart drop an "S" bomb on national TV during the post race interview, and could not be more proud. Ok Ok lets go back a few years.

I grew up twenty minutes north of Talladega International Motor Speedway as it was known. When the teams would come in each year to race, if you went out to eat on Friday or Saturday night at Top O' the River in Anniston you were going to see many race teams or drivers in there. So racing was a popular thing where I grew up. I got to know Davey Allison when I was just out of high school, only to have my hero die a tragic death a year later. I lost interest in racing until a young sprint Driver came on the scene and charged to the top of the standings in a rainbow colored ride. But started losing interest in Nascar again when it started to become a political, good looks, corporate business. I started going to dirt track races at the Talladega Short Track. I fell in love with this down and dirty competition. I started helping and eventually Crew Chiefing on race cars on the Dirt Circuit. In 2004 I was approached by Talladega Short Track to become their Head Pit Official. I accepted it and began a career as a weekend race official. It was in 2004 I was introduced to someone that would reinstate my interest in the top racing league. I had to control the mobs of fans that paid $45 dollars a ticket in an effort to get close enough to get close to one man. Tony Stewart. One year before Stewart would be Boo'd for comments about the fans in Alabama. This year he received Rock Star status. Mobbed by fans as he was trying to drive a dirt car for friend and Chevy dealer Gary Kilpatrick. After he completed his match race I got the opportunity to spend the rest of the night hanging out with "Smoke" and getting to know the real Tony. Have since been able to spend time with him at the race track and on a personal basis. He is by far one of the coolest guys I have ever met. Down to earth, just one of the guys. But that is part of why people do not like him.

When he runs into bad luck or has a wreck, and someone sticks a microphone in his face he will tell you how he feels. He will tell you exactly what is on his mind. Like my daddy used to say, "Don't ask me a question if you don't wanna know the answer." He is a true racer. You can find him in a dirt Late Model or Sprint Car probably three or four nights a week in addition to his Nascar responsibilities. He is passionate, determined, and committed. He is an old school type driver. Which is why he catches a lot of grief from others. But you can draw a lot of comparisons, between Tony and Dale Earnhardt. Hard nosed, intimidating, move out of my way or I will move you out of the way. But in a fan base that still lifts "Big E" to a status of God, Stewart will be labeled as a crybaby, whiner, and troublemaker for some time. I applaud Mr. Stewart, for being true to himself, and true to his convictions, and passions that put him behind the wheel to begin with. In a day of corporate sponsors and ownership, he is still true to himself and his fans. Never sellout Smoke........Please.

Inky Johnson begins coaching career

Gentry Estes of the Chatanooga Times Free Press wrote this great article about the emotional and Inspirational leader of the Vols Inky Johnson. Thought it was well worth sharing.

KNOXVILLE -- There was Inquoris Johnson, jogging through hills, sprinting past former teammates on a hot summer afternoon.
Quarterback Erik Ainge, resting his repaired knee on a stationary bicycle, observed with one thought: What am I doing here?
"He kind of makes the whole team feel like that," Ainge said. "I have more respect for Inky Johnson than I do for just about anybody that I've ever met."
The Inky Johnson story, once a tragedy, has become an inspiration for Tennessee's football team.
Nearly a year after suffering a career-ending injury on the field, Johnson will serve as a student coach for what would have been his senior season of eligibility.
He will be on Tennessee's sideline for all games and is expected to do more than simply cheer others onto the field.
"He's a demanding leader for them," UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. "He'll call on them in a hurry as far as what he expects them to look like. Obviously, he doesn't want anybody feeling sorry for him.
"I'm proud to have him as part of our staff."
Fulmer later called Johnson the best cornerback on last season's team, and the Volunteers' defense never fully recovered from what occurred in the second game.
While making a tackle in the final minutes of a narrow victory over Air Force, Johnson severely damaged his "right brachial plexus," a network of nerves from the spinal cord that controls sensation in the shoulder, arm and hand.
Emergency surgery was needed to repair blood vessels, and additional surgery at the Mayo Clinic helped the cornerback begin to retain normal function in the right side of his body.
During his recovery, Johnson has been a consistent presence at the football complex, even when it became clear he wouldn't play again.
"It's a great inspiration for us," said linebacker Jerod Mayo, Johnson's current roommate. "Losing a lockdown corner like that is real tough, but his attitude on the field is what really got us through the day. Even with him out there now, it's really helping the young guys and helping me."
Soon after the incident, Johnson showed at football practices with his arm bandaged. He encouraged teammates before home games, receiving cheers from fans who noticed his presence.
"I didn't just want to be at home, just sitting around," Johnson said. "I wanted to be around my teammates, my classmates, my coaches, the trainers and everybody."
UT players and coaches marveled at Johnson's positive attitude and remarkable resiliency in spite of extraordinary adversity.
They still do.
"Talk about sacrifice and commitment," Fulmer said. "He could have lost his life. He fought through that. He could have had a real bad attitude about the injury. He hasn't done that one bit. He could blow away his academics. He hasn't done that.
"He could have been bitter at the football team or the program. He certainly hasn't done that."

Media days through Orange colored glasses

I sit here on Sunday morning looking at various video interviews from media days. I have watched Coach Fulmer, Erik, Jerod, along with the other coaches and representatives from the SEC. I am thinking back over them and trying to decide, "What are the highlights?" What stands out about this years circus. I have decided that the biggest thing that sticks out is that nothing really stands out as the Must See event.

Sure, everyone wanted to lay eyes on the Bionic Coach(see the Kool-Aid article). Not sure what everyone wanted to see. Would he get kissed? Would he wear a purple shirt? Would he spend his mic time talking about his close ties in Baton Rouge, and what he accomplished at LSU? Nah we have seen and heard all of those before. I know we wanted to hear what he was going to do to set the standard for discipline at the all new and improved structured U of A program. But once again it was something we have seen before, last year as a matter of fact, nothing. In borrowing from the Mike Shula book of punishment, "We are handling this matter in house." In other words, lets get practice started and see how the three players perform, how big of a role they will play in our game plan, then we will make a decision as to when and if we will punish them. Nice . Check and make sure their faces are not too sticky. You know that ice cream melts fast this time of year.

Do wanna comment on maybe one of my favorite interviews from the week . And we stay at U of A. Simeon Castille said that the one moment that haunts him from last year came from his day in the shadows of Neyland. Erik made a very bad throw that sailed a good ten feet over the head of the intended receiver. Right to the waiting Castille. As he made his way up the sideline he met a determined Ainge on the eight yard line. Heckuva lick that prevented a touchdown, motivated the defense to hold the tide to only a field goal. A touchdown could have possibly led to a different outcome for the boys in crimson. Simeon said to this day he cannot watch the play, but promised if the opportunity comes again he WILL SCORE. He guarantees it. Job well done Erik.

Other than that it was really anti-climatic. Spurrier took a shot at Miles. Miles downplayed his rants. Johnson announced Vandy is moving forward. Croom bought himself a little time. Richt ummm. was he there? Oh yeah he talked about the movie he was a part of. Urban well he just had to show up. Tubberville is still trying to be the Hide and Seek champion. Brooks made sure we had been introduced to Woodson. Nutt asked if anyone would let him borrow their cell phone for a couple of minutes. Coach O ripped his shirt off and this is what he said.....(Why could he not do this) come on coach, give Bruce Pearl a call and ask him what playing to the cameras and fans will do for your program. Missed a golden opportunity here coach, tell em Jo Jo. Then there was Coach Fulmer. No Lawyers. No deposition. No plaque giving him the most players arrested in the off season award. In fact some complained he was ...Boring. Read where he was described as old school. Compared to Vince Dooley, show up, tell a couple of stories about your top players, then fend off uncomfortable questions. Like how did you handle the situation of getting Tee Martin ready following the career of Peyton Manning. Hmmm that was ten years ago. Maybe we slipped in some time warp or something.

Interesting tid bits in Eriks Interview. Talked about how the captains decided instead of just doing summer workouts and 7 on 7 drills they would have practice. Himself, Jerod Mayo, and Jonathon Hefney got together and drew up the plays and drills to run full mock practices. When the coaches came back from their "Coaches Retreat" and were informed of what the players had done, they mulled over making that the standard in years to come. I LIKE IT!!! Coaches can have NO involvement in summer programs. If players are taking charge, they are building leadership, teamwork, and unity. In a year where the no-huddle is going to require a comfort level among participants, this is very comforting to hear.

so in closing.......Kinda ho-hum not a lot to talk about. Maybe that is good. Tired of talking about it. Ready to see some ACTION!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Moving song that could apply to any of us.

Just saw this video. It caught my attention because of the Tennessee reference. But as I listened I started to cry thinking about my nephew that is a United States Marine. He is just 20 years old, so it hit home to me. I know it will many of you. Tell me what you think of it.



Saturday, July 21, 2007

General Neylands Maxims of Football

Tennessee's version of the great coach that built the foundation that our program has stood on was General Robert Neyland. General Neyland graduated from West Point where he was a star pitcher, and football player in 1916. A great baseball prospect he was offered contracts by many teams including the Boston Red Sox who also owned the rights to a young Herman Ruth. Also known as "Babe." He served in WWI and was an Aide to Douglas MacArthur then the Superintendant at West Point and became an assistant football coach. He left to become the Professor of Military science and the head football coach at the University of Tennessee in 1926. He held the army rank of Major, and coached the Vols for nine years before being called back into service to Panama for one. He retired to coach football full time and had two undefeated seasons in 1938 and 1939. He was called back into the service of the army once again in 1941 and retired for a second time in 1946. As a Brigadier General he coached the Vols until 1952. Finishing his career with 173 wins in only 213 games (81%) with six conference titles and four national titles to his credit. Two things carry on the legacy of General Neyland, the stadium that bares his name and his "7 maxims of football."
The stadium was not just named in his honor. HE DESIGNED IT. The designs that he drew up included all of the expansions that have brought it to the size it is today.
He was famous for his notes and thoughts on motivation and simple knowlege that when looked at seem so simple, but when looked at after a game, if you achieved them, you did something great.
Some of these thoughts became his "7 Maxims of football" while others became simple folklore among the Orange nation. Such as before a Florida game he said "Some teams dash out on the field with tears in their eyes to do or die for alma mater" he said"if you go out there with tears in your eyes, you wont be able to see the ball. I want you to see it." They went on to win 13-12. The other two best examples of the greatness of Gen. Neyland came from Coaching peers. To argue the satement that "great players make great coaches" Alabama's Wallace Wade said of Gen. Neyland: "He could take his and beat yours, or he could take yours and beat his." After going undefeated in 1938 and 1939 Jock Sutherland the head coach from Pittsburgh who had won the national title two years earlier, said the vols could "beat any team in the country, and that goes for pro teams as well. General Neyland's work at Tennessee exceeds anything I have ever seenin all of my football experience. There are no flaws in the Tennessee team." One of his Maxim's stated that the team that made the fewest mistakes would win. To reduce the number of mistakes he limited his teams to two dozen offensive plays and four basic defenses. He also insisted "No offensive play should be used in a game until it has been rehearsed 500 times."

Seven Maxims of Football

The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.

Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE.

If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.

Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.

Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE.

Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.

Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes

Not ready to drink the Kool-Aid

I live in the Birmingham metropolitan area of Alabama. Which most Bama fans want you to believe is "Tide Country." Although I will agree we are in the middle of enemy territory, on a daily basis I see more and more orange "T" tags on the front of cars or vinyl stickers displayed on the back window of a pickup truck. And can proudly say the numbers in attendance at the monthly Birmingham Big Orange Club meetings are growing. So why am I talking about these minor details in the big crimson scheme of things? Because most delusional fans think that the whole country is in awe of their "Bionic Coach." That is how I will be addressing him from now on. The Bionic man was, if you remember, the "Six Million Dollar Man." Rebuilt to be bigger, stronger, faster, super human even. The Bionic Coach was not rebuilt, was not improved, was not refined, or even New and Improved for Longer Lasting Flavor. But when he left LSU he was one of the highest paid coaches in america. Aside from a shared National Title, had been respectable as a head coach. I said it, Respectable. You cannot call him dominant due to his record. In big games he has faltered. In his time at Toledo, MSU, and LSU against big name, high profile, even Conference opponents he posted the folowing losing records against these opponents:
Opponent Record
UAB 0 wins 1 LOSS
Auburn 2 wins 3 LOSSES
Colorado St. 0 wins 1 LOSS
Florida 2 wins 3 LOSSES
Iowa 1 win 3 LOSSES
LSU 0 wins 1 LOSS
Michigan 2 wins 3 LOSSES
Navy 0 wins 1 LOSS
Nebraska 0 wins 2 LOSSES
Penn State 2 wins 3 LOSSES
Purdue 1 win 3 LOSSES
Stanford 0 wins 1 LOSS
Texas 0 wins 1 LOSS
Va Tech 0 wins 1 LOSS
Washington 0 wins 1LOSS
Wisconsin 1 win 2 LOSSES

Nick also "boasts" a stellar 3-6 bowl record (50%) and a losing NFL coaching record of 15-17 (46%). Yet after posting only two ten win seasons in his career, with all the hype of the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, the Bionic Coach makes his "Triumphant Return" to the SEC ranks. Along the way once again becoming one of the highest paid coaches in NCAA history. To bring fear to the opposition..........No..........not really.
In my opinion he is a "good" coach. But the SEC is top heavy in "good" coaches. Is he a good recruiter, yes, Great Recruiter. Are we trembling in fear, no. Were we trembling when the "OL Ball Coach" returned, yeah a little, and he is at SOUTH CAROLINA!!!
The season kicks off in less than six weeks. I am ready for some football. I have had my fill of hype, trash talk, and delusional dreams. I am ready to stand along Peyton Manning Pass in the shadows of the great Neyland Stadium, shake the hands and high five each of the beloved men that put on the Orange and White, and coach them to greatness. Leave there and walk around the corner to watch the Pride of the Southland marching band make their parade to the stadium, stopping to "Salute the Hill" along the way. Then file into one of the Greatest Stadiums in College Sports, watch my Vols run through the T to the thunderous cheers of 110,000 screaming people in Orange! I am ready folks. It is time!