Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Atiba Prater …
NFL GAMES: Cross your fingers and hope we will be highly entertained Sunday on the AFC and NFC championship games. Four teams left, the two conference winners advance to Super Bowl LI.
AFC teams New England and Pittsburgh are not strangers to post-season playoffs and Super Bowls. The Patriots are taking the field in hopes of winning their sixth straight championship game. It would mark the longest streak in NFL history.
The Patriots heavily relies on quarterback Tom Brady while the Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger under center. Big Ben comes in with a 3-1 record in four conference championship games. The one game he lost was in 2004, to Brady and the Patriots.
The Patriots cleaned the Texans’ clock for the right to play in the title game. They won 34-16 despite Brady throwing a rare number of two interceptions.
In the NFC, it will be Green Bay against Atlanta. Offense is the key word for these teams. Atlanta had the NFL’s highest scoring team this season. The Packers are no strangers to playoff games and Super Bowls. They ranked fourth in offense this season.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan led the Birds to a 36-20 win over Seattle last week. Ryan threw for three TDs and 338 yards. They jumped out to a 29-13 lead and held on to a 34-16 final count.
If anyone is interested, I like Green Bay and New England.
VOLS AD?: The guessing game continues. Word is out that Peyton Manning and Jimmy Haslam are two of the people who will be part of a search committee that will help name the next athletics director on the Hill.
There’s no doubt in my mind those two men will favor former head coach Phillip Fulmer. Manning played four years for Fulmer and Haslam’s father, Big Jim Haslam, is not on the committee but you can bet his son Jimmy will listen to his father. I wouldn’t listen to the majority owner of the Cleveland Browns. He hasn’t proven he can hire the right people or get an AD who can draft players that can win championships. The Browns are a bad NFL joke.
I talked to a person who listened to a supposed Vols insider who asked nine Vols fans one question individually. If they could hire the next AD, would it be Phillip Fulmer?
The total was two votes for hiring Fulmer, seven against.
Here is my solution: Hire Fulmer as AD. Hire current Chattanooga AD David Blackburn as Associate AD with a lot of emphasis on being in charge of other sports, including all women’s sports.
To make this happen, Fulmer would have to agree to step down when he turned 70, just short of four years from now. Then he would hand the baton to Blackburn. If Fulmer wanted to remain, they could name him an ambassador for the school and/or chancellor. He would be making speeches and raising money for the department.
TOP 5 VANDY PLAYERS: This is a question that is subjective. There are no right or wrong answers.
I was recently talking to a former Commodores basketball star at lunch, asking him his top five former players from 1980 to last season.
Since 1980 was my first season in Nashville, I am not going back in earlier years. That eliminates household names such as Clyde Lee, Perry Wallace and Snake Grace. Most believe Lee is the Commodores best player in history.
My list was most difficult to whittle down to five, regardless of how many seasons they played or how many years they played in the NBA.
Being offensive minded, I placed Shan Foster, Vandy’s all-time leading scorer from 2005-08 on the team. He had 2,011 points and made the most career 3-pointers with 367. When Foster had a hot hand, not many opponents could stop him. Not that it matters, but he is also a talented musician.
The most clutch player I saw was left-handed guard Barry Goheen. He drained two 3-point shots in the last five seconds against Pittsburgh. They won 80-74 in overtime and made the Sweet 16. He made it happen when it looked like all was lost.
Matt Freije is on my five-man Mount Rushmore. Freije finished with a career total of 1,890 points. He was dangerous scoring inside and out. He was also a good rebounder. He played a number of years overseas.
John Jenkins was arguably the best pure shooter during his career. He had big time range on his jumper. He led the SEC in scoring in the 2011 season when he was a sophomore. After the 2012 season Jenkins was the first of three Commodores drafted by the NBA. Jenkins was taken 23rd in the first round by Atlanta.
Some may argue when I chose Billy McCaffrey and I can understand why. He transferred from Duke and 1993-94 was his only season on West End.
He led a team that made it to the Sweet 16 and a 28-win season. He made All-American in the first year he was eligible and was Co-MVP in the SEC. He had 133 assists on a balanced team and had 35 steals.
So how did I match up with your choices? Let me know what you think, at firstname.lastname@example.org or my FB page.
Joe Biddle is a sports columnist for WKRN.com. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at email@example.com.