Category Archives: Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

“He’s a Yale guy.”

I know that Booch’s personality and Tennessee’s proclivity for crapping the bed in the fourth quarter makes it easy to question the media’s anointment of the Vols as the SEC East favorites, but replacing John Jancek with Bob Shoop may go down as the conference’s shrewdest hire of the offseason.

The Vols ranked 36th nationally in total defense in 2015 but were middle of the road relative to the SEC. Within the league Tennessee ranked seventh in points allowed, eighth in yards allowed, eighth against the run and 11th against the pass. The Vols forced only 19 turnovers, totaled only 26 sacks and allowed 15 conversions on 21 fourth downs.

“Middle of the road” meaning seventh.  Shoop’s three Vanderbilt defenses finished sixth twice and fifth once in total defense.  (Vandy finished ahead of UT in total defense last season, as well.)

Tennessee’s 2015 defense was more talented than it showed and it won’t surprise me if Shoop has them playing closer to expectations this season.  If you’re a Georgia fan, that’s not good.

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The cost of doing business in Knoxville

UT’s total for settlements and attorney fees in athletics-related lawsuits in the past two years is roughly $4.5 million.

Then again, if it’s being paid with other people’s money, no big deal, right?

In the $2.48 million settlement amount, half will be paid by the athletics department and half by the Knoxville campus.

According to UT, the funds come from “income-generating activities” at UT such as licensing fees and other profits…

And if you’re wondering what it would have cost the school to fight the good battle to clear its name all the way to its conclusion, well…

In its settlement announcement, the university estimated that continuing the suit through trial, set for May 2018, and appeals would have cost as much as $5.5 million.

Such a deal.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, See You In Court

Thursday morning buffet

A few nibbles here, a few there…

  • Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione admits the math isn’t there for Big 12 expansion.
  • Does somebody at Tennessee need to step up and commend Drae Bowles for coming forward?  (Note that is not the same question as will somebody at Tennessee step up.)
  • Ole Miss hasn’t sold out its ticket allotment for the opener against FSU.
  • Here’s you a handy summary of all the preseason mags.
  • Academics vs. the jocks at Cal-Berkeley, not a pretty story.
  • Buyer’s remorse at Auburn can come on very quickly, it seems.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Big 12 Football, College Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

In Knoxville, it’s on to the next settlement.

The school settles with the eight women who filed suit about sexual assaults involving student-athletes for a tidy $2.48 million, getting a few things in return:  one, no admission on its part of guilt, negligence or unlawful acts; two, nobody in the administration from Booch on up has to face being questioned under oath and three, the plaintiffs agreed to withdraw two complaints they filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights last year.  Such a deal.

Hell, you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind, can you?

The kicker is this:

It is the third financial settlement involving the athletics department under the leadership of Dave Hart in two years.

I bet they’re getting real good with all this settlement experience.

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UPDATE:  I missed this on first reading, but it’s worth a special mention.

The settlement acknowledges that UT has agreed to stop giving out a list of Knoxville attorneys to athletes accused of misconduct. The university now refers student-athletes seeking attorneys to the local bar association.

Huntley Johnson strenuously objects.

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One reason to like Tennessee’s chances in the East

It’s not getting a lot of attention now, but there’s a part of me that thinks dumping Jancek and replacing him with Bob Shoop may turn out to be the best offseason coaching move in the conference.  Here’s what Ed Aschoff notes about UT’s new defensive coordinator:

Butch Jones’ hiring of former Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop was an outstanding hire. Tennessee’s defense was lagging before, but Shoop will bring a much more aggressive style to a unit that already has a ton of athleticism and speed. Tennessee’s defense had OK overall numbers in 2015, but it also helped the Vols lose three games in which they led by double digits. Shoop’s last five defenses, including three with Vanderbilt, ranked in the top 25 in total defense and forced a total of 120 turnovers. This past season, the Nittany Lions ranked 14th nationally in total defense (324.5 ypg) and 25th in defensive efficiency (69.2).

He’s got a good track record.  He’s got SEC experience.  He’s a major upgrade.  If the Vols break through this season, he’ll probably turn out to be the big reason why.

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In the end, will Georgia’s schedule be the difference?

David Wunderlich revisits his study of peer programs each SEC team will face in 2016 in order to come up with some win projections.  Here’s his methodology:

… I did a dead-simple estimation for this part. For every game against a team above its peer group, I gave that team a loss. For every game against a team below its peer group, I gave that team a win—this includes FCS opponents, as they’re not included in S&P+. And then, I had team would win half of its games against its peers. They’re toss up games, so let’s just make them coin tosses for now.

And here are his results.

Team Est. Wins
Alabama 11.5
LSU 11
Georgia 9.5
Tennessee 9.5
Florida 9
Ole Miss 7.5
Mississippi State 7.5
Arkansas 7
Auburn 7
Texas A&M 6.5
Missouri 5.5
South Carolina 4
Vanderbilt 4
Kentucky 3.5

So, even with Tennessee sporting a better S&P+ ranking than Georgia, both teams finish with the same number of projected wins.  One big factor for that is that the Vols have to punch above their class once, against Alabama, while Georgia doesn’t face a similar challenge.  Is that enough to make the difference in which team emerges as the winner of the East?

It might be.  The bottom of the division appears weak and you’d have to expect both programs get through that unscathed.  That’s four wins right there.  Historically speaking, Florida presents a similar challenge to both UT and Georgia.  That leaves the head-to-head matchup, which is in Athens this year, and the cross-division meetings where Georgia travels to Ole Miss and hosts Auburn while Tennessee has Alabama at home and Texas A&M on the road.

It doesn’t mean that Tennessee’s chances to return to Atlanta are totally dashed if it can’t beat the Tide, but you can make a decent argument that its margin for error is virtually wiped out if it doesn’t, especially if the Dawgs pull off a win in Oxford.

Georgia-Tennessee in Athens is huge, but the third Saturday in October may be shaping up to matter almost as much.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

‘Coach, they’re not going to do anything to you. It’s your son they’re after.’

According to Eric Berry, Monte Kiffin was so worried about his personal safety after Junior bailed on Tennessee that he wouldn’t leave his office until all the fires that had been set on campus were put out.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin