JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: Oct. 23, 2016

(Photo: WKRN)

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Santonio Beard. …

VANDY BEATS TSU: Vanderbilt ran cross-town rival Tennessee State ragged Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium.

It was much more than the Ralph Webb show against TSU. Webb did post 125 yards on nine carries. The Commodores also got impressive gainers out of Khari Blasingham and Darrius Sims, as well as chunks of yards on the ground. Blasingham ran for 100 yards on 14 trips against TSU and Sims, Vandy’s top kick returner added 50 yards on five carries.

The Commodores were pumped up after coming off a SEC road win over Georgia last week. They carried that adrenalin and confidence forward against TSU, an OVC team that came in the game with a 5-1 record.

Vanderbilt out gained TSU 358 yards to 125. TSU was slowed by penalties and turnovers, which negated possible points. Vanderbilt on the other hand played it safe, finding giant holes in TSU’s run defense.

Vanderbilt dominated the second half, to even its record to 4-4. Coach Derek Mason’s team needs to win two games to become bowl eligible. The have SEC road trips to a hot Auburn team and Missouri, which won Saturday. They close out with home games against Ole Miss and rival Tennessee.

They are 1-3 in SEC games, so a bowl game will not come easy.


HOT SEATS: Texas Coach Charlie Strong has landed on the hottest of coaching hot seats. It is officially nuclear.

The 24-21 loss at Kansas State Saturday is enough for the Longhorn honchos to give Strong a pink slip. When it will be official is the only question remaining. It was the fifth straight loss for Texas at Kansas State and dropped the Longhorns to 3-4 on the season.

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was 9-4 overall last season, but only 4-4 in SEC play. His non-conference wins were over Southern Miss, Northwestern State, Troy and Louisiana Tech. They were 1-4 against Top 25 teams.

Mullen was 2-4 overall, 1-2 in the SEC going into Saturday’s game at Kentucky, a team that was 3-3.


NFL RATINGS DROPPING: The NFL has always considered itself bulletproof, but TV ratings have dropped last season and even more this season.

There is no one pat answer as to why. They want parity in the league and it has finally come true. Exciting matchups have been few and far apart.

Peyton Manning no longer plays and took some ratings with him in retirement. New England’s Tom Brady is getting long in the tooth and didn’t play the first four games.

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is losing velocity on his passes and not the quarterback he once was. Tony Romo is still out in Dallas but Mississippi State product Dak Prescott will be difficult to dislodge when Romo is healthy.

It’s a quarterback league and the fewer quality quarterbacks there are, the less ratings they will bring.

Another reason is the number of games they play on Monday and Thursday. They have double-headers and much of the nation that has to work or go to school the next morning can’t afford to stay up all night watching the nightcap.

Other reasons are the current social media protests of our National Anthem, started by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. A few more players on some teams have followed. Those former and current men and women who are veterans and policemen and other lawmen take knelling for the National Anthem as a flagrant protest aimed at them.

Add it all up and you get lower ratings.


VANDY MURAL: Thanks to an outside donor, the mural on the side of the building currently occupied by Verizon near campus will be updated, no thanks to Vanderbilt, who poor-mouthed and refused to pay an artist to paint current head basketball coaches.

They wonder why their fan base is the smallest in the SEC.

The artist is upgrading their current basketball coaches in Bryce Drew and Stephanie White.


PAPA JENNINGS: The father of Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings is Bennie Jennings. His son was the recipient of a Joshua Dobbs’ last ditch Hail Mary touchdown to beat Georgia. Jauan played quarterback at Murfreesboro Blackman.

His father is a Tennessee State Trooper and also works as a game official at the annual TSSAA Basketball State Tournament in Murfreesboro. Bennie played college football at North Alabama and tried out for the NFL.


HEISMAN CANDIDATES: You have to consider Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson when you look at current Heisman candidates. If the dance stopped today, he would win in a landslide.

Saturday he threw for three touchdowns, ran for another as the Cardinals beat ACC opponent N.C. State, 54-13. That gave Jackson a 10-game streak of having a passing score and a rushing score.

The CBS Heisman Watch has seven media members. All seven voters had Jackson on top of their ballot this week. He had 35 points. Second place was Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers. He had 20 points.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at