Joe Biddle’s Sunday Notes: December 9, 2012

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Webster Slaughter…

  • Newly minted Tennessee football coach Butch Jones claims he grew up a big fan of Tennessee football. It's somewhat strange that is the case as he grew up in Michigan, in the heart of Big Ten country.

    Perhaps his parents had a premonition that Jones would one day be the head football coach of the Volunteers.

    Thus, the first name of B UT ch. As Steve Spurrier would say, the Vols can't spell Butch without UT.

    Early speculation was that Athletics Director Dave Hart took the table scraps after other schools landed the coaches they wanted.

    Fans who were investing all their chips in the Jon Gruden fairy tale were barking up the wrong tree. Gruden is, and will continue to be, an NFL coach. He will stay with ESPN until he lands the NFL job of his choice.

    Louisville's Charlie Strong was Hart's first choice and he came within a whisker of landing him. Strong had a last-second change of heart and left Vol Nation in the lurch.

    Since the hire, I have talked to a media member who in the course of his career has covered both coaches. In his opinion he thinks Jones is the better coach.

    Time will tell. The biggest challenge is hiring a staff that has strong SEC recruiting and coaching experience. He has reached out to former Tennessee QB Tee Martin, who knows the SEC and is an up and coming young assistant. The coordinators are his top priority, especially defensive coordinator. He has already said the Vols will return to a four-man front and toss the ill-fated 3-4 disaster in the Dumpster.

    I would strongly recommend Jones and his staff hit the pavement at a fever pitch. They need to stop by every high school in the state, because a lot of high school coaches felt disconnected with Derek Dooley and his staff. Most coaches won't have any SEC recruits, but when they do, they need to have a connection on the Hill with a Tennessee assistant and B-UT-ch Jones.

    You can tell Jones has the work ethic and players will like playing for him. He will hold them accountable on and off the field and in the classroom.

    True enough, he enters the fray with a team that is fourth or fifth best in the SEC East. And next year's schedule is beyond brutal.

    It didn't bother Jones that he was UT's second, third or fourth choice.

    “I was my wife's third choice and that's worked out pretty well for 20 years,'' Jones quipped.

    He won the press conference. Now he has to take it to the field.

  • As expected, Johnny Football took home the Heisman hardware. How could you not look at the numbers, the fact that this was his first season as a college football player and the fact that he was a big part of a Texas A&M team that had not won 10 games in 1998. Included was an upset over top-ranked and undefeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

    There was speculation that a number of Heisman voters would not allow themselves to vote for a redshirt freshman. The only stated criteria for the Heisman award is simple: it goes to the best college football player that season. Not a career, not the best upperclassman.

    There were three worthy candidates. In any other season Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o would have won. I can't wait to see him at the next level. He should be one of the first players picked in the NFL draft.

    But Manziel's numbers were better than Tim Tebow and Cam Newton posted in their Heisman winning seasons. And he did it in less games than either Tebow or Newton.

  • How tough is it to watch Vanderbilt and Tennessee's basketball teams on the offensive ends?

    There are middle school teams that score more points the the Vols and Vandy are putting up in recent games.

    This young Commodores team will test veteran Coach Kevin Stallings' patience this year. His team was gutted by graduation, three of his players now playing in the NBA, two of them taken in the first round.

    I thought Stallings and his team underachieved last season. They had three NBA draft picks and won one game in the NCAA Tournament. That was against Harvard, an Ivy League school.

    The season is still young with a lot of room to develop. This could be one of the worst seasons for SEC basketball, if teams such as Vandy and Tennessee, can't score the basketball.

  • The passing of basketball coach Rick Majerus left a void in the profession that will not soon be filled.

    Majerus loved two things the best – coaching basketball and great meals.

    Majerus visited Louisville once and called a friend to make reservations at an out of the way restaurant with a reputation for good food.

    The part of approximately six people watched while Majerus ordered every appetizer on the menu, which numbered double digits. He shared those with the group, then ordered the best steak for everyone with all the trimmings, and capped the night off with desserts of their choice. He abused his body and his heart and it finally caught up to him. But Rick Majerus loved life to the fullest. RIP, big man.

  • Navy added another loss to Army's streak in the annual Army-Navy game.

    Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who played hid high school at Goodpasture, scored the winning touchdown on an 8-yard run to make it 17-13, Midshipmen.

    Reynolds had completed a 49-yard pass to Brandon Turner to set up his game-winning run.

    Reynolds was 10 for 17 for 130 yards through the air and added another 43 yards on 15 carries.

  • Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at 

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