JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: Dec. 11, 2016

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Scott Draud …

TITANS TIME: It’s Titans time, starting Sunday at high noon. If they are to reach their goals and turn last season’s dilemma into a run for the playoffs, they need to play up to their potential.

They stand shoulder pad to shoulder pad at 6-6 with two other AFC South teams, the Indianapolis Colts and Houston. They lost both regular season games to the Colts and will play Houston in the final game of the season at Nissan Stadium. The Titans lost to the Texans earlier and need to return the favor at home.

Their backs are to the wall and the Denver Broncos will not make their challenge any easier.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has shaved his November mustache and he will be key today, especially with defensive nose tackle Jurrell Casey a game time decision. The defense is playing for the first time without cornerback Perrish Cox, who was more of a detriment than productive.

It may be rookie LeShaun Sims, a fifth round pick from Southern Utah. Don’t think for a minute the Broncos won’t pick on Cox’s replacement, whomever it may be.

That’s why Mariota and Co. need to pile points on the board against last season’s Super Bowl champions. Running back DeMarco Murray is nursing a foot injury and his presence is up in the air. Rookie Derrick Henry may carry most of the load.

Mariota has found unrestricted free agent wide receiver Rishard Matthews to be a favorite target.

I pick the Titans to pull the upset. Considering my past record it may be a burden for the Titans.

 

ARMY-NAVY CLASSIC: I always enjoy the Army-Navy football game. Neither is in the Final 4 College Football Championship teams.

The game produces men like Army assistant football coach, Mike Viti. He was a four-year letterman at fullback and team captain. After a tour in Afghanistan, Viti retired and embarked on Mike’s Hike for Heroes, where he walked cross-country to honor every soldier killed in action in Enduring Freedom.

Viti started walking in Washington state and logged 7,100 kilometers which is 4,400 miles. His journey ended when he delivered the game ball from last year’s Army-Navy game in Baltimore.

Viti is now Army’s fullbacks’ coach.

 

STREAK IS OVER: Not only is Army’s 14-game losing streak over with a 21-17 win, so is the college football broadcasting career of Verne Lundquist.

Lundquist was in the booth for the Army-Navy game and was emotional as he gave a classy farewell. He has broadcast Southeastern Conference games for years and college football will miss him.

He will still be a reporter on the 16th hole for the Masters Tournament and be around some college football games.

 

HEISMAN HOUSE: It’s time to make room for another roommate at the Heisman House. This season’s winner was announced Saturday night.

As a longtime voter on the Heisman Trophy list, I cannot reveal the player I voted for until after the ceremony. I can tell you I had three of the final five players who were invited to the ceremony on my ballot.

It was as wide open a contest as I can remember. In my mind there was not a player who clearly stood above others.

 

BATTLE OF THE BOULEVARD: Thanks to Lipscomb University Athletics Director Philip Hutcheson, I attended one of the best college basketball rivalries in this state.

That would be Belmont-Lipscomb. Back in the day the late Don Meyer had one of the top NAIA basketball programs in the country. After Belmont hired Rick Byrd and Byrd had time to establish his program, an intense rivalry began.

The two teams played in small gyms – Belmont in Striplin Gym and David Lipscomb’s McQuiddy Gym. The rivalry blossomed. One year, they held the game at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym and sold it out with more than 14,000 in the gym.

They were so crowded, you could smell the sweat when you walked in the gyms.

The Nashville Banner had a young writer fresh out of Vanderbilt, Buster Olney. I was sports editor at the time and could tell Buster was destined for greatness. He loved baseball and his first assignment was covering the Nashville Sounds, which he loved. He is now one of ESPN’s Major League Baseball’s top analyst.

After their season was over, Buster wanted to cover a bigger beat. I told him I wanted him to cover what we called city college basketball — Lipscomb, Belmont and Trevecca. His body language told me Buster wasn’t thrilled. I told him it was a purest form of basketball, two great coaches, good players and solid citizens. I told him one day he would thank me.

He loved basketball and the beat was perfect for him. He later grew close to Meyer, wrote a book about him and came to Meyer’s side after a near-death wreck and later when cancer took its toll on Meyer.

This year’s two games were close. Belmont won the first game, 64-62. A week later, the Bruins again prevailed, coming from 10 points behind to win 78-76 in overtime.

Lipscomb Coach is former Belmont point guard and longtime assistant coach to Byrd, Casey Alexander. He hasn’t had time to build his roster like he will have in the near future.

 

Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at joebiddle11@gmail.com.