JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: January 12, 2013

Random rumination while wondering whatever happened to Cliff Ronning. …

  • James Franklin's first Penn State team has an interesting schedule.

    The Nittany Lions open up against Central Florida in that football madhouse of Dublin, Ireland.

    Next comes Akron, Rutgers and Massachusetts before taking on Northwestern, Michigan in the Big House and Ohio State in Happy Valley.

    Franklin then has a home game against new Big Ten member Maryland. That's the school where Franklin was the coach-in-waiting before he took the Vanderbilt job. Shortly after Vanderbilt hired Franklin, Maryland fired its head coach Ralph Friegen and his assistants.

  • Attired in a Penn State blue and white striped rep tie, James Franklin won the press conference after enduring an emotional morning telling his Vanderbilt team he was taking the Penn State job and then flying to his introductory press conference as a Nittany Lion.

    Franklin was asked to explain how he handled the highly publicized legal case surrounding an alleged sexual attack involving five Vanderbilt players and an unconscious 21-year-old Vanderbilt student and worker on campus.

    He said that it was thoroughly discussed between him, the Penn State president and athletics director.

    “It was the most challenging thing I've ever been through,'' Franklin admitted. “Especially being a husband and father of two daughters.''

    He also said he grew up dreaming of playing at Penn State, and even attended a summer football camp there.

    “I thought I was good enough. I was not,'' said Franklin, who instead played at Division II East Stroudsburg State and earned a psychology degree.

  • The Titans search for Mike Munchak's replacement continues. I don't know how GM Ruston Webster's interview went with Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, but of all the candidates I have seen mentioned nationally and locally, he appears to be the best fit for this job.

    Webster's main competition seems to be Detroit. The Lions have a borderline elite quarterback in Matthew Stafford and a more talented roster top to bottom than the Titans. But where does living in Detroit rank when compared to Nashville's lifestyle?

    If anyone could bring Jake Locker around and playing up to his potential, it would be Whisenhunt. Admit it or not, this is the era of the passing game in the NFL.

  • Vanderbilt alum John Jenkins has played in 13 Atlanta Hawks games, with no starts. Jenkins is averaging 12.2 minutes a game off the bench. He is averaging 3.1 points, 1.7 rebounds a game. His 3-point percentage is 22.2 percent.

    Another ex-Commodore, Jeff Taylor has 8 starts in his 26 games played. Taylor is with the Charlotte Hornets and averaging 24.2 minutes a game. He is averaging 8 points (sixth on the team) and 2.3 rebounds.

    Belmont product Ian Clark has appeared in 8 games for Utah. He is averaging 8.8 minutes a game, hitting 34.6 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent on treys. He has 22 assists, 13 steals and 25 turnovers.

  • Among those attending new Tampa Bay Bucs coach Lovie Smith's introductory press conference was former Vanderbilt linebacker Shelton Quarles, who played for Tampa Bay when Smith was the linebackers coach.

    Quarles was standing on the tarmac when Smith's plane landed. He had just been named the Bucs head coach.

    “It was really exciting, but it was a little bit weird when I saw him,'' said the native Nashvillian. “I went to shake his hand and he said, “What's with that handshake? Give me a hug.' ‘'

    “I knew it was family then. It's good to have him back home.''

    Quarles is currently Pro Scouting Coordinator for the Bucs and has overcome a battle with colon cancer.

    He now devotes much of his time to warn and educate men to have regular colonoscopy exams.

    “I got the news and had immediate surgery,'' Quarles said. “Usually men don't get checkups if they are under 40. But I have had three years of checkups and I am cancer-free.''

    Quarles said men are difficult to heed the warnings.

    “The way men think, is that they're Superman, especially athletes.''

    The former Whites Creek High and Vanderbilt star was inducted into the 2011 Metro Nashville Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame. He resides in Tampa with his wife and three children.

  • Mr. NBA Jerry West is on a video talking to a group of young kids and instructing them on shooting.

    West said he had not picked up a basketball in two years, yet during the entire video, he never missed a shot. Must have made 20 or more in a row, shooting one shot on a low trajectory, one a little higher and then a moon shot with the flip of his wrist.

    The Hall of Famer, whose figure is used in the NBA logo, played for years with the Lakers and apparently his shooting eye is still as sharp as ever.

  • The New Orleans Saints are snake-bitten. This inability to win on the road has gotten into their heads and they play not to lose.

    Meanwhile New England could win in a Brooklyn parking lot in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

    They continue to lose players, but win games. Bill Belichick is money in the bank.

  • CBS Sports' 2014 Mock Draft has Titans picking inside linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama with the No. 11 pick while another writer has them taking outside linebacker Anthony Barr of UCLA at 11.

    Texas A&M QB Johnny “Football'' Manziel won't last past No. 5, unless he robs a bank before the draft. His footwork inside the pocket is amazing. Not classic stuff they teach, just natural quickness and vision.

    Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is pretty much consensus No. 1 QB going into the draft. I will be interested in seeing his weight and height at Combine. Looks undersized in upper body. Same for Manziel.

    I get the feeling teams that pass on South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney will regret it. Don't let his senior year fool you. He was targeted every game with 2-3 players on him. He can be next Reggie White.

    Best name in the Draft belongs to Alabama safety HaHa Clinton Dix. Wonder if he has a brother named HeHe?

  • Eagles WR DeSean Jackson had his South Philly home broken into.

    Missing were $250,000 walking around money, jewelry and a silver 9mm handgun. The leading wide receiver for the Eagles might want to invest in a burglar alarm, or a pit bull.

  • Titans WR Kenny Britt is ranked No. 10 wide receiver in free agency. Shouldn't be a problem for him to become a No. 1 WR on the team that signs him. Providing there is one willing to waste their money.

    Best tight end free agent is Saints Jimmy Graham. He is 27 years old and plenty of gas in the tank. Would look good in two-tone blue, but don't know if Titans would spend the money it would take.

    Texas running back Ben Tate seems the best free agent at that position, but running backs are a dime a dozen in the pass-happy league.

    Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at



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