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VU’s Franklin Vows To Outwork “Nicky Satan”

gfx - they said itSEC Fan Truth #311:  If the coach of my favorite team says something brash and jerkish, anyone calling him on it is an ass (and probably a fan of some other team, too).  But if another school’s coach says something brash and jerkish, anyone not calling him on it is an ass (and probably a fan of that coach’s team, too).

We know then that Vanderbilt fans will rip into us for taking the Dores’ brash, mouthy coach to task… just as we have done in the past with Steve Spurrier, Dan Mullen, Lane Kiffin, Urban Meyer, etc, etc.  Doesn’t mean Franklin’s a bad guy.  Doesn’t mean we at hate him.  Just means Franklin has a history of saying things that rub everyone — everyone but Vandy fans — the wrong way.  Kinda like Spurrier, Mullen, Kiffin, Meyer, etc, etc.

While speaking at a high school in Macon, Georgia — with television cameras in the room — Franklin said the following about Alabama’s coach:


“There’s this guy down at Alabama.  I think his name is Nicky Satan.  You guys have probably heard of him before.  I’m going to outwork him.  I’m gonna outwork him.  And that’s kind of our plan every single day.”


Franklin’s done a tremendous job in Nashville.  He’s taken the Commodores to back-to-back bowls, he’s won nine games in a season, and he’s recruiting better than Vandy’s ever recruited before.  But to steal a line from the movie, “Patton,” sometimes he doesn’t know when to shut up.

Is calling “Nicky Satan” the worst insult ever tossed?  No.  And VU fans will be quick to say that their coach was only japing.  (If you have to look up japery, you didn’t go to Vanderbilt.)

Perhaps he was just joshing, but like all those folks listed above who’ve flapped their gums in inappropriate ways at inappropriate times, we ask: “Why go there?”

And for the record, no, Alabama is not Vanderbilt’s schedule next season.  So unless Franklin meets up with Satan, er, Saban in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, this was about as safe a barb as Vandy’s coach could have tossed.

Who knows?  Maybe Franklin’s been following the button-pushing act of Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson and wanted to get in on the act.  But to call a guy “Nicky Satan” at a high school banquet?  Grow up.

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Bama #1; Six SEC Teams In The New Top 25

The new AP Poll is out and Alabama jumped to the top of the rankings.  The Tide’s 41-14 win over #8 Michigan — that’d now be #19 Michigan — was enough to push Bama past Southern Cal and old SEC pal Lane Kiffin.

The SEC landed five teams in the Top 10 overall and six in the Top 25.  But wait, there’s more.  An additional five league teams were among those receiving votes.  That means 11 of the SEC’s 14 teams received at least one vote in this week’s AP poll.  (Our condolences to Kentucky, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt fans.)

At any rate, here’s how the SEC fared in the AP voting after Week One:


1.  Alabama

3.  LSU

7.  Georgia

8.  Arkansas

9.  South Carolina (tied with West Virginia)

24.  Florida


Also receiving votes were Tennessee (which came in at #27), Missouri (#36), Texas A&M (#37), Mississippi State (#40), and Auburn (tied with MSU for what would be #40).

UPDATE — Nick Saban’s team has also claimed the #1 slot in this week’s USA Today Coaches Poll.

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Hogs’ Long Needs To Worry About A Coach, Not Recruits

There’s an old saying that goes a little something like this: “It’s not about the Xs and Os, it’s about the Jimmys and Joes.”  Translation: Players are more important than coaches.

There are quite a few Arkansas fans today who buy into that line even though they’re last coach just proved you don’t have to have five-star guys to win double-digit games in a season.

This week, we’ve stated repeatedly that Razorback AD Jeff Long needs to take his time in replacing Bobby Petrino.  By all indications, that’s what it looks like he’s going to do — use an interim coach this season while conducting a long, thorough coaching search in the hopes of finding a long-term solution to the school’s current problem.

Each time we’ve touted the “take your time” approach, we’ve received a number of emails from Hog fans who believe that going the interim route will destroy/crush/annihilate/end Razorback recruiting.  “The school will lose out on the 2013 class and it won’t be making valuable connections to this year’s high school juniors and sophomores, either,” they claim.

And to their point we say… so?

Petrino provides two examples of why fans should be more worried about the man at the head of the program than the kids who may or may not ink with, arrive at, develop for, and stick with said program.

First, Petrino proved that Xs and Os can mean more than Jimmys and Joes.  Under their ex, the Hogs finished in the bottom half of the SEC just about every year in terms of signing day rankings.  Good coaches know how to win and they know how to recruit to fit their needs.

Second, Petrino also proved that making a hasty hire can eventually blow up in a school’s face.  Arkansas and Long — the same guy who’s getting praise for ousting Petrino now — are the same ones who snuck into Atlanta and absconded with the Falcons’ head coach in the middle of the NFL season.  Despite many warnings about his character, Long and his school and its fans went all-in with Petrino.  And then they found out the hard way why people were sending out warnings.

Arkansas fans need to pay attention to their recent history and understand that finding the right coach is much, much more important than landing a good recruiting class or two.

Question: Would UA be better served by grabbing Garrick McGee to come in right now, save the season, and recruit… or by waiting til year’s end and hiring Nick Saban?  Or Les Miles?  Or Bob Stoops?

No, we don’t believe Arkansas will land any of those guys, but the point should be clear — hire the right coach and the recruits will come.  Might the Hogs take a short step backwards by waiting and making a patient decision?  Possibly.  But the long-term gain of finding the right coach to recruit and win and do it the right way for the long haul should far exceed any short-term pain Hog fans would have to endure.

Long has already proven that when he sets his mind and his boosters’ money to landing the coach he wants, he gets him.  There’s no reason to believe that UA — at year’s end — can’t identify and land a man with a proven track record (a positive one, this time).  Do that, and the Hogs will recover and succeed long-term.

But rush things in order to save a recruiting class?  Well, good luck.

In January of 2010, Lane Kiffin hit the eject button and left Tennessee for Southern Cal less than three weeks before signing day.  Panic set-in in Knoxville.  Then-Vol AD Mike Hamilton announced he would have a new coach by the week’s end, placing a wholly unnecessary deadline on himself and the search process.

The Vols had planes criss-crossing the country in search of someone who could save their recruiting class.  The AD was interviewing a candidate in one place.  Another member of the UT brass was interviewing a different candidate in another spot.  All while a key booster was meeting with yet another candidate somewhere else.

Tennessee’s search looked like a jumbled, panicky mess.  No wonder coach after coach turned the Vols down.  Why would Will Muschamp, Kyle Whittingham, or Troy Calhoun have wanted to jump into a rushed, shotgun wedding?

As a result, the Vols wound up hiring a coach with an overall losing record who’d just finished a 4-8 campaign at Louisiana Tech.  And while the jury’s still out on Derek Dooley, the evidence so far seems to be piling up against him.

Oh, but Tennessee saved its recruiting class.

Arkansas fans should pay attention to their own recent history as well as that of their neighbor to the east.

Finding the right coach is more important than saving a recruiting class.  Much, much more important.

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Turmoil At UT As Fans Turn On Dooley, Stories Of A Divided Team Leak Out

The Derek Dooley Era at Tennessee would last no longer than two years if many Vol fans had their say.  Saturday’s loss at Kentucky — the first UT loss to the Wildcats since 1984 — has set off a wave of rumors and bad will that threaten to undo the Vols’ latest rebuilding job before it truly gets started.

So what’s all the turmoil?  Try this:

* After the loss to Kentucky, more than one outgoing UT senior claimed that some members of the Vol squad care more about their stats than the team.  They suggested that not everyone wanted to play this past Saturday.

* Some Volunteers weren’t ready to volunteer for duty at a “lesser” bowl game according to one upperclassman.  “Why play hard in Lexington if the reward is simply a trip to Memphis or Nashville?”

* Rumors abound that the suspensions of four backups prior to last week’s game led to a near revolt among players as practices in Knoxville devolved into little more than walk-throughs.

* The team lacks adult supervision from within.  Only 14 seniors were on Dooley’s squad this year.  Of those, none were standouts.  (That’s a by-product of the 18 players lost during the Phillip Fulmer and Lane Kiffin transitions.)  So the younger players on the team — and the team was made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores — had no proven, elder leaders to follow.

* With no veteran leaders, players began to follow the best players on the team and unfortunately for UT fans, players like quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Da’rick Rogers aren’t believed to have the best attitudes on the squads.

* To make matters worse, Dooley himself helped to create an air of negativity by spending a heckuva lot of time in the press ripping his players.  Reports from those close to the program say more than once players were ready to walk away from Dooley’s program as a result of being thrown under the coach’s bus.  (Like him or not, there’s not much about Derek Dooley’s demeanor that reminds one of his father, Vince.)

Suffice to say, Vol fans aren’t happy.  Even though they should have known this was coming.

The Tennessee media and many across the SEC — including this site — expected two straight years of so-so football as Dooley tried to dig out from the mess created by his predecessors.  But college football fans aren’t much for patience, even when they’ve been told they’ll need to have some.

Now, many people are calling for Dooley to be fired immediately.  “Why prolong the obvious,” they ask?

For one, because a long-term view suggests that UT’s best bet is to stick with Dooley for at least one more season and allow him to further stabilize the program from a roster standpoint.  Tennessee will have depth and experience for the first time in three years in 2012.  And the Vol coach is likely to bring in his third-straight Top 15 recruiting class next February.

To blow him up now would mean more turnover, further attrition.  In other words — a deeper hole for the next guy to dig out of.  Before hiring Dooley, Tennessee tried to throw money at Will Muschamp and even gave a call to Jon Gruden.  But Gruden had no interest and Muschamp told the Vols they would be looking at a three-year rebuilding project (he knew what he was talking about).

So what would potential hires say to new AD Dave Hart if he asked them to become the school’s fourth head coach since 2008?   Probably something similar to what Muschamp said.

There’s nothing on his resume — other than his last name and a connection to Nick Saban — to suggest that Dooley is the right guy for Tennessee.  But that doesn’t mean he won’t become the right person.  Certainly his first two seasons were negatively impacted by the work of his predecessors (though some troubles were exacerbated by his own poor moves).

But even if Dooley isn’t the right guy for Knoxville, Vol fans had better hope Hart doesn’t listen to their complaints and follow the lead of Kansas and Memphis and fire his coach after two seasons.  There’s a reasons those programs are Kansas and Memphis.

If Tennessee were to fire Dooley now, it would only set back the school’s rebuilding efforts.  Again.

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UT Players Tweet That They Want Black Jerseys For Saturday

Two years ago this weekend, Lane Kiffin recorded the biggest victory of his one-year Tennessee coaching career with a resounding 31-13 thumping of #22 South Carolina.

He did so with the help of some black jerseys that seemed to fire up his team.  (Nevermind that nothing matched in the ghastly white helmet / black jersey / orange pants combination.)

Now a pair of Vols have tweeted their desire for another “black out” game, once again with Carolina heading to Knoxville.

Da’Rick Rogers:  “just a little something to spark the team when we need it the most … black jerseys for halloween!!”

Tyler Bray:  “Volnation needs to blackout Neyland stadium.  That would really show your support in this must win game.”

Da’Rick Rogers:  “I know yal want a black out! All black everything.  Ha and the orange power T.”

Apparently someone in the UT athletic department got to Bray because moments after that exchange, he tweeted the following:

“Just to clear things up we want our fans to wear black.”

Uh, that’s not what Rogers said.  In fact, Rogers’ initial tweet could be taken as news that the team has already been told they’ll be outfitted in black.

As we said yesterday regarding Kentucky’s new black unis… if everyone wears special black duds, what’s really special about wearing that color?

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Dooley: “I Can’t Change What Happened”

For all the Tennessee fans who’d like to get their hands on Lane Kiffin, there’s one guy who’d love to be at the front of the line — Derek Dooley.  The alleged scofflaw tactics of Kiffin and his staff have once again left UT’s current coach answering questions about potential violations he himself had no hand in:

“You never want anything to come out on your program that somebody might perceive as negative.  But you know what, I can’t change what happened.  All we can deal with is make sure everybody understands taht this wasn’t under our watch, and it wasn’t involving a coach on our staff and it doesn’t involve a player that’s been in our program.”

Dooley also stated that he hopes the NCAA “is going to stay consistent with what they’ve done, which is, ‘Let’s target the people that make these mistakes, not the programs.’”

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Dooley Took Lessons From NCAA Hearings

A couple of weekends ago, Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley was summoned to Indianapolis.  Even though he had no hand in the football violations under Lane Kiffin’s watch or the basketball violations under Bruce Pearl’s, the NCAA wanted Dooley (and UT basketball coach Cuonzo Martin) in the house for educational purposes.

And Dooley says he did do some learnin’:

“I do think when you see how one bad choice or one bad decision can impact so many different lives, it resonates with you.  I think it was also sort of a good reminder of how the landscape is changing.  It really is — moving away and putting more and more responsibility on the head coach to really have comment of the whole shop.  It’s challenging to be able to do that, but that’s the landscape right now…

(After the hearing) I had a long meeting with the coaches and I wanted them to kind of get a feel for what I felt in Indianapolis.  They’re the ones in the field more than me.  You’re constantly trying to promote an atmosphere of compliance.  You want to balance the — I don’t want to use the word pressure — but you’re pushing your coaches to perform and pushing them to get results in recruiting.  But at the same time, you’ve got to make sure they understand it’s never at the expense of the rules.  That’s just something you’ve go to constantly do.”

Tougher, harsher NCAA sanctions against programs and individual coaches — head or assistant — might help fend off the lure to cut corners and cheat.

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Kiffin’s Graveyard Expands

It seems Lane Kiffin is the Typhoid Mary of the sporting world.  Just a quickie observation here regarding the one-time SEC lightning rod:

Mike Hamilton hired Kiffin in November of 2008.  Kiffin departed Tennessee in January of 2010.  Hamilton resigned at UT in June of 2011.

Mike Garrett hired Kiffin to Southern Cal in January, 2010.  In July of 2010, Garrett was ousted from his job with the Trojans.

Kiffin keeps getting hired, but the men who hire him sure don’t seem to last very long.

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Hamilton To Resign At Tennessee

WBIR-TV in Knoxville is reporting that Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton will resign at 11am ET this morning.  Hamilton has been UT’s AD since 2003 and has been in hot water since his hiring of Lane Kiffin went South in January of 2010.

While Hamilton has been a whipping boy in the state of Tennessee and around the nation, his undoing was certainly aided by other men:

* Had Phillip Fulmer not had two losing seasons in four years and Neyland Stadium not seen massive attendance drops, Hamilton would not have had to replace him.

* Had Lane Kiffin not left for his “dream job” at Southern Cal just one year into his Tennessee tenure, Vol fans would be rallying around their coach as he prepared for a date with the NCAA this weekend.

* Had Bruce Pearl not lied to NCAA investigators about a barbecue at his house, Hamilton’s most popular hire would still be on the Vols’ bench.

That, of course, only shapes the situation.  It was Hamilton who chose to hire Kiffin and Pearl — as well as recently-fired baseball coach Todd Raleigh.  The buck stops at the top.

But now Hamilton is leaving the post and he’s doing so just days before Tennessee meets with the NCAA committee on infractions this Friday.  The UT administration dumped Pearl — in part — so the school could tell the NCAA that it had rid itself of the main rulebreaker.  It’s possible then that UT’s administration decided axing Hamilton would send a similar message.

Now Tennessee can tell the NCAA that the coaches who did wrong and the man who oversaw them are all gone.  “So don’t blame us, ‘kay?”

It will be certainly be interesting to see how the NCAA handles its punishment of UT now that Kiffin, Pearl and Hamilton are all gone.

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Dooley Says He’s Watching What UT Is Paying Recruiting Services

Everybody does it.  When it comes to hiring recruiting services to provide videos of players and contact information, that’s pretty much true.  Every school pays them for info and game tape.  (In Oregon’s case and a few others, questions have arisen regarding what else the services might have provided, but that’s a different story.)

Tennessee — traditionally — has had one of if not the highest recruiting budget in the SEC.  As one of the “big six” programs in the league, the Vols have competed with Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and LSU while having the weakest in-state recruiting base of the bunch.  So it makes sense that they would spend the most money on outside services. 

But according to Derek Dooley, he’s careful about what he spends and where he spends it:

“We’re not trying to be cheap, but also there’s a little bit of fiscal responsibility in not being grossly excessive.  It’s easy in these kinds of programs because you’ve got so many people and plenty of money not to have that oversight.  That’s where excess can happen.

There’s obviously no abuse and we’re getting good return on investment.  I think every year we need to revisit it, and that’s what we’ve done.”

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Tennessee’s pay-outs to recruiting services has risen from Phillip Fulmer to Lane Kiffin to Dooley.

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