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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pearl Brings Excitement Back To UT Basketball

Its hard not to get caught up in the excitement of UT basketball. After all, Vols fans don't have a bowl game to follow in the aftermath of the disastrous 5-6 2005 University Of Tennessee football season. We at least have a coach and team that plays hard and dictates the tempo of the game to the opponents.

Its still early in the season and we have yet to begin SEC conference play, but you have to say that it is fun to watch University of Tennessee basketball again. Its been a long time coming. Bruce Pearl is the man of the hour across the state of Tennessee. Vols fans are getting more for their money out of Pearl than they get out of their football coach and his efforts are showing rewards already in the short time he has been on campus at UT.

Here are a few more articles from the major newspapers across the state and other sports outlets:

  • Vols Beat Texas

  • Vols Dial Long Distance I Upset Win Over Number 6 Texas

  • The Memphis Commercial Appeal Does Not Even Mention Tennessee's Win On Its Online Edition

  • KNS:Vols Upset Texas

  • Bruce Pearl:This is a great win for Tennessee Basketball

  • Vols Stun Longhorns

  • Its a shame that the largest newspaper in the 2nd largest metro area in the state of Tennessee does not carry the news of such a huge victory. Do I smell some jealousy from the Bluff City?

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Upside Down Sports World at Tennessee

    What does recruiting matter at UT? The Vols have stacked nationally ranked top 5 football recruiting classes on top of another for the past 7-8 years. What do the Vols have to show for these great recruiting hauls? Z-e-r-o Southeastern Conference titles since 1999. Remember we play for championships at UT, not meaningless victories over Kentucky, Memphis, or Vanderbilt.

    In the wake of the 2005 "Train Wreck at Rock Bottom" season, the Vols recruiting fortunes have taken a strange but expected turn for the worse. Read Ron Bliss's column, A look at Tennessee recruiting: Strange days, indeed. Bliss points out the changes in recruiting outlooks at Tennessee. The Vols football team is currently ranked 53rd nationally and 10th in the SEC in football recruiting behind the likes of Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Mississippi State. Now, there is a lot that is going to take place between now and national signing day that will hopefully change the Vols' recruiting fortunes and frankly recruiting is about filling needs rather than winning some meaningless artificial recruiting guru rankings.

    On the other hand, Bliss mentions the change of recruiting status for the Vols basketball program, led by new coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl's first recruiting class at Tennessee is ranked 12th by one recruiting service and 16th by another. Both of those services believe that Tennessee had a better recruiting haul than national powerhouse and SEC opponent Kentucky. Pearl, in just his first 8 games as the leader of the Vols' hoops team, is showing why he has been a winner everywhere he has been in his career. If Bruce Pearl can continue to recruit top notch talent, meld that talent into a cohesive unit, improve their skills, and win at Tennessee, some great times are head for Tennessee fans.

    Funny how a perennial downtrodden basketball program has turned its fortunes around with good coaching. While on the other hand, the roles seem to be reversed with the UT football program.

    Saturday, December 10, 2005

    All Time Program Rankings

    Going back to the early years, but only looking at current IA schools, these are the rankings/ratings for the top programs. What is your opinion of these rankings?

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    Discuss in the Forums

    Titles since 1891

    Here's the list of the most successful programs since 1891 by the RW ranking system. There were a few shared titles. See the detail below for the years.

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    Here's the summary:

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    Looking at Fulmer under RW Rankings

    Here's a look at Fulmer's rankings as Head Coach. Overall, the averages are excellent.

    He has had some great seasons. What these numbers fail to show is how close UT was to earning multiple MNCs during his early years and including 2001.

    Now, take a look at the split before and after the MNC in 1998.This is where things start to get a bit uglier. You can see the huge difference in the variation between CPF1 and CPF2. CPF1 was a consistent high performer. CPF2 is erratic and unpredictable. The red lines indicate the range of expected values for future seasons. As you can see, CPF1 expected a 1-20 ranking. CPF 2 expects a 1-71 ranking.

    This is where the upward trend is truly visible. It would have been near impossible for CPF to stay where he was the first 6 or 7 years, but he is now performing below a level that is acceptable by one of the highest paid men in college football. 2006 should be an interesting season.

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    All Time UT Retrodictive Chart

    Discuss this post in the Forums
    This image shows how we've fared over history by Ray Wait's system. We were not ranked by his sytem until 1902, so the early years have no data points. Note that the best run by his system was the late CJM, early CPF timeframe from 1989-1999 where we finished 4th, 9th, 12th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 3rd, 8th, 3rd, 1st, and 12th.

    Ray gives us the title in 1938 and 1998, with 2nd place finishes in 1956 and 2001. We finished 3rd in 1950, 1951, 1985, 1995, and 1997.

    Our average ranking since 1902 is 28th.

    If you cut out the pre-SEC years, our average ranking is just shy of 20th.

    In a future post, I'll include a comparison of different teams' rankings through a similar time period.

    If you look by coach, CPF has performed the best under this ranking system.

    Rank Coach

    RW Rank HC
    13.62 Fulmer Average
    15.50 Dickey Average
    15.95 Neyland Average
    17.25 Barnhill Average
    17.29 Battle Average
    26.25 Wyatt Average
    27.19 Majors Average
    27.98 Grand Average
    30.00 McDonald Average
    42.00 Robinson Average
    44.00 Fisher Average
    48.00 Britton Average
    49.67 Levene Average
    52.40 Banks Average
    54.33 Bender Average
    58.80 Clevenger Average
    59.00 Stone Average
    67.00 Crawford Average
    71.00 Depree Average

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    Jason Allen's Injury Puts NFL Career In Jeopardy

    Jason Allen was one of the greatest players to come through the University of Tennessee football program. Allen was a fine ambassador of the program and proudly displayed what a student-athlete is supposed to be. Jason Allen did everything and more that was asked of him. An unfortunate injury may have ended his professional playing career" before it even began.

    A medical professional who posts on a Tennessee Titan's message board as "Bongo59", has stated on a few occasions that Allen's injury may prohibit him from living out his dream of playing in the NFL. "Bongo59" works as a medical consultant with the NFL and the Tennessee Titans. He is a regular poster on Tennessee Titans message boards and provides regular scoops. His flow of information is not always popular with all posters, especially when it flies in the face of what they believe. In most cases, Bongo's information is solid.

    "Bongo59" states that the nature of Jason's injury does not bode well for fulfilling his dream of playing in the National Football League.

    "OK very simple to understand.................Bo's hip was completely dislocated out of the socket....(ball of the joint out of the socket)........the blood supply to the Femoral head (ball of the socket) is through the ligamentum teres.............if torn there is a loss of blood supply and resultant avascular necrosis.......that is a career ender...................Allen had a dislocation but the joint never jumped the acetabulum which is the socket the femoral head ( ball)fits into but he did tear his ligament and lost blood supply to the head of the femur.............meaning he is in severe danger of AVN............the docs are trying to work this issue up now...........his MRI was not good news and it is to be confirmed by PET scan this month.............bottomline..............he will not be drafted this yr because of this injury one will chance it.........and put serious money on the block...........Grant had a minor Fracture of the acetabular socket that did not effect the structural integrity of the joint or its motion and had no effect on the blood supply to the femoral head.........the bone healed without incident and no long term damage..................Priest Holmes had the same injury last yr.........i hope this helps."

    One has to wonder, that amidst reports that a few underclassmen on the UT football team may look at making themselves eligible for the NFL Draft, if Allen's decision to return for his senior season and his injury may have an impact on their decisions.

    Retrodictive Rankings

    I've been hunting for a solid way to compare/contrast teams, coaches, etc... back to the beginning of Football. I believe I have selected the most realistic of the retrodictive systems.

    Using Ray Wait's retrodictive system, not his predictive system, I will be publishing some interesting comparisons of UT teams to each other. I will also be looking at other programs for some valuable perspective. I hope you find these entertaining. If you do, please drop in on Ray's site and thank him for his work in putting his system together. If you read his site, you will see that he credits David Wilson for coming up with the basic system first. Ray got there independently and David added some tweaks based on Ray's work. Anyway, history aside, be on the lookout for some new analyses based upon this system of rankings.

    Tennessee made their debut in 1902 ranked 19 out of 73 teams. Not a bad way to start, eh?

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    A tale of 2 Fulmers

    If you compare the record of CPF up to and including his MNC versus his record since, the results are STAGGERING! Before beating B-daddy in the Fiesta, Fulmer was sporting a winning percentage of 85% not including his 4 wins and 0 losses in 1992!!! Since that time, he is averaging only 69.6% of games won. To put that in perspective, coach Dickey won 70.7% of the games he coached and Coach Battle won 71% of the games he coached. Interesting, eh?

    Gazing Into My Crystal Ball...The Future....Is......

  • Lets gaze into the crystal ball and see what the future holds for the Vols, coming off a very disappointing 5-6 record in 2005. What does the recruiting season look like? Where are the nation's best football players taking their football talents and plying their trade for the next few years?

    Looking down the list, you don't see the name Tennessee listed next to their names under the already committed column. You have to look all the way down to number 67 to see Jacques McClendon listed as already committed to Tennessee and he is still visiting other schools.

    Rocky Top has been in a downward trend as far as winning percentage and margin of victory go, in the past 7 seasons, despite hauling in some of the very best talent in the nation on the recruiting trail in recent years. That was when UT won more games than they lost. If Rocky Top can't work with the best talent in the land, what will Rocky Top do with lesser talent as it looks like they will get after the Train Wreck at Rock Bottom 2005?
  • SEC awards handed out by ESPN

    ESPN hands out awards in the SEC

    "While most people drank the Kool-Aid being served at Eastern Division favorites Tennessee and Florida during the preseason, Georgia quietly went about its business."

    The orange Kool-Aid was quite tasty, but it left you with a huge hangover by November.

    "Biggest disappointment
    For all his success at Tennessee, Phillip Fulmer never seemed to get the credit he deserved for his consistency. A down year for the Vols was an eight- or nine-win season. That all changed this year. Picked No. 3 nationally in the preseason, Tennessee bumbled to its first losing season in 17 years by losing five of its last seven games and finishing 5-6. Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders resigned after the loss to South Carolina, and Fulmer purged most of his offensive staff. The Vols even lost to Vanderbilt for the first time in 23 years. When you factor in all the off-the-field trouble involving Tennessee players that occurred before the season, it was nothing short of a nightmare on Rocky Top."

    I don't know that I can add any commentary on top of that little summation. The lone Vol on their All-SEC team? LB -- Kevin Simon, Tennessee

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    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Hold Onto Your Seat,1406,KNS_294_4297852,00.html

    The Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that UT season ticket holders will contribute or else give up their seats. The UT Athletic Department said in a released statement that there will be no grandfathered tickets on the east and west sidelines behind the team benches.

    Season ticket holders who have had their on the sidelines behind the benches will have to ante up with the contribution, have their seats moved to one of the end zones or transfer their seat to a family member. However, they will get a discounted rate from the VASF.

    Recently, UT Athletic Director, Mike Hamilton, had said that sales of the new club seats were going well and that everything with the project was moving along smoothly. You can bet that we are seeing the effects of a 5-6 season and staying home without a bowl game. How much longer can the UTAD continue to bleed the fans, who support the program financially, while Phil Fulmer continues putting a poor product on Shields-Watkins Field inside Neyland Stadium?

    Hey, its the Christmas season. Tis better to give than receive...right?

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    A private lair?

    So is this the super secret base of the Horde? Maybe we ought to show Chuck & Ron how to use it and then they could create their own and have the true Vol fan paradise they long for.

    Ranking the UT Coaches All Time

    I’m personally tired of hearing how CPF is the best coach of all time. This absurdity is spouted with regularity by the CPF apologists who want everyone to quit criticizing him so the won’t lose their practice passes and insider status. News Flash: Every season CPF stays in charge without making necessary changes to improve the program, the less your practice pass is worth. This doesn’t mean recycling coaches in the coaching version of the FRS (Fulmer Relocation System). If you don’t know what that means, go to the OuterMonVOLia forums and ask for a definition. What changes does he need to make? He needs to hire some talented assistants who are on their way up, not a tired assistant on his way out. He needs to unleash his new offensive coordinator to install a new, high powered offense that makes use of the talent that he (yes, CPF gets the credit in my book) has brought into the school. I don’t buy that the talent has fallen. I argue that the coaching has REALLY fallen.

    Here’s the truth. You cannot argue with the facts. Neyland won more games than CPF will coach (unless he makes the changes). This data is sorted by winning percentage. Neyland set the bar so high, that only 3 coaches other than he and CPF are above the program average of 67.3% of games won.

    My Top 5 Rankings:

    1. The General. No case necessary, as he owns 23% of the program’s all-time wins.
    2. Barnhill: Look at what he did elsewhere! If he had been a bit younger, he could have followed Neyland with similar success. Instead, he did a great job keeping it together until the General could come back and continue his work.
    3. Fulmer: He took the talent Majors brought in and did great things. Sure he was a handful of losses from 4 MNC’s instead of 1MNC… but at least he used to be good enough to get us close. The longer he coaches without making dramatic improvements, well, that’s a dead horse I don’t need to beat anymore.
    4. Majors: If he hadn’t been stabbed in the back, I am fairly certain he would have earned his second MNC (and first leading the VOLS). He had the pieces the year he was fired, and just needed to let them gel. Majors would have beaten Florida in 1993 and had us playing for a title in the Sugar Bowl.
    5. Dickey: Only because Battle completely collapsed.

    © 2005

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    The Book of CPF

    In the literary world, there are five essential parts of a plot: The Introduction, the Rising Action, The Climax, the Falling Action, and the Denouement. This concept can be applied to any movie, book, TV show or play. I like to think this concept can be expanded and applied to every definable cycle. With that in mind, I delved into the cycle that is the head coaching tenure of Phillip Fulmer at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

    The Auspicious Introduction

    CPF (as we will call him from this point forward) was offensive coordinator under head coach Majors starting in 1989. Majors liked to hire the most talented coaches he could find. Consequently, his turnover was rather high. Many of his former employees went on to successful careers as head coaches at the college level, or some level of NFL coaching. CJM developed players for the NFL and coaches for both college and the NFL.

    In 1992, CJM missed some games due to health reasons. CPF filled in on an interim basis and went 3-0, with victories over SEC opponents Florida and Georgia. Johnny felt the knife halfway into his back at this point. When he returned from his hiatus, he won at home over Cincinnati 40-0, and on the road over LSU 20-0. He then laid three successive eggs at home vs Arkansas and Alabama, and on the road at South Carolina. He won out over the sisters of the poor and knocked off BC in the bowl game, but by now his fate was sealed. CPF had knifed CJM squarely in the back, and begun his reign as head ball coach. All hail Dickey, ruler of all things VOL, abandoner of tradition, embracer of the almighty dollar.

    The Rising Action

    CPF chose David Cutcliffe as his offensive coordinator and kept Marmie as his defensive coordinator. He felt “safe” with these two. CPF charged through his first season in what would become his trademark fashion: He beat everyone but Florida, then got creamed in the bowl game. 1994 was a bit tougher, as he had to go through a few QBs early on, and dropped 3 out of 4 (4 out of 7) before being saved by Tennessee’s annual trouncing of the sisters of the poor.

    In 1995, CPF selected Chavis as his new defensive coordinator. This move cost UT the national championship this season. In the Vols only loss of the season, Florida put 62 points on Chavis’ defense, and exposed his mustang as “the package of choice” for any opponent with a passing game. If the Vols had schemed for this game (a somewhat foreign concept under CPF), this would have been the first of 3 consecutive national titles. The Vols had enough talent this season to beat Ohio State in the long spikes bowl.

    In 1996, CPF led the Vols away from the title yet again. He realized that losing to Florida wasn’t enough to keep a title from Knoxville, so he dropped a game against weak sister Memphis. This put him into the Citrus Bowl where he felt much more comfortable. Therefore, CPF deviated from his pattern by winning two bowl games in a row.

    In 1997, UT narrowly avoided a national title by squeezing defeat from the jaws of victory against Florida. With Senior quarterback Peyton Manning, and a roster full of future NFL stars, the Vols got STEAMROLLED in their bowl game vs Nebraska, 42-17. Like 1993, this was a trademark early CPF year. The talent was there for a third national title, but CPF blew it again… but his winning percentage ROCKED!!!

    1998 was the year UT was supposed to be “down”. We lost all universe, future hall of famer (but not good enough to win a Heisman) quarterback Peyton Manning. We had some nobody from bammerland in to lead the team, and expectations were low. Sure, we still had enough talent to beat the 2005 Tennessee Titans, but we didn’t know that then. This was a perfect setup to the perfect season… one that even coaching couldn’t stop. Fate decreed that Syracuse would choke, the Florida kicker would choke, and the Arkansas QB would trip on the ghost of Cedric Houstons to come. Fate also drove down to Tallahassee and broke their QB to seal the deal. This brings us to…

    The Climax

    Despite all the recent articles portraying the 2005 preseason as the indicator that the empire was falling, the signs began appearing as early as prior to the 1998 National Championship win over Florida State. Remember that a climax involves the main character receiving new information (Cutcliffe resigning to take over at Ole Miss), the main character accepts the information and then ACTS on this information (which determines whether or not he gains his objective). Now we all know the action was Fulmer hiring Randy Sanders as offensive coordinator, but the objective? I look at the objective as becoming the greatest head coach ever at UT, therefore I’d have to say his choice led to failure. The Vols finished their title run by beating a depleted Seminole squad, and they say CPFs head grew three sizes that day.

    The Falling Action

    1999 saw lofty expectations (again) lead to average results. The Vols regained their tradition of losing to Florida, and proceeded to drop “Fate’s make up” game against Arkansas. CPF capped it all with his trademark beat down in the bowl game, as in taking the beating. When it comes to bowl games, CPF is a catcher and not a pitcher.

    2000 looked like an aberration at the time. The Vols started 2-3 before the annual sisters of the poor salvation. They finished 8-4, marking CPF’s worst year since 1994, thanks to the trademark bowl bend over.

    2001 was another year where the pieces were almost there for a national title run. The talent was exceptional, but the coaching was typical. Fate tried to do her part by moving the Florida game to the end of the year. CPF tried to make up for that by losing to Georgia in game 4 of the season. The Vols won out, earning their way into the SECC game. This is the point many call the “jumping of the shark” by CPF. He had a chance to get into another BcS national title game. He led LSU at halftime. LSU came out with a backup QB and TB in the second half and beat the #2 Vols. That was the day I decided not to go back to the Georgia Dome until things changed. CPF may have made the same decision, eh? He didn’t go back until 2004. The Vols took out their frustrations on a Wolverine squad that made black strap molasses look like white lightening. CPF pitched for once.

    2002 was another “aberration”, as the Vols limped to a mediocre 8-5 record. The only thing worth mentioning is that this is the year the “Peach” performance reared its head. The Vols go into a 2nd or 3rd tier bowl, massively favored, and fail to show up. This is about the time when many decided to jump on the fire Randy Sanders bandwagon. I held off for a few years. I’m a coaching conservative compared to my farsighted brethren of MonVOLia.

    2003 was a blah kind of year, with a 10-2 Vols team (due to losses to Auburn and Georgia) overlooked by all the bowls who recognize a good team when they see it. Thus, the 2nd Peach bowl debacle occurs. UT goes into Atlanta and gets creamed by an ACC also-ran.

    2004 was a set up. The Vols dropped games to Notre Dame, and Auburn (twice), made a visit to the Georgia Dome, and finished a respectable 10-3. The expectations were low based upon 2003 and the quarterback situation. What the experts failed to take into account was that Randy Sanders had not had time to screw their heads up yet.

    2005: The year of false hope. The Vols enter into the season as one of several contenders for a match with USC in the title game. The pre-season is generally listed as the reason for this team’s failure, but it had been building since 1998. The lack of discipline had cropped up in various incidents and events. These are well documented in recent media articles (see past events involving Omari Hand, Troy Fleming, etc…) and so I won’t rehash them. The 2005 Vols set new records for futility by an offense. They were so bad they made the 1988 Vols look explosive! The lowest scoring UT team since 1964, this team gave the message boards plenty to talk about. Half the team refused to play when Ainge was in the game. The Clausen half refused to listen to the coaches. This truly was a team divided, due to multiple factors. Discipline was lacking, coaching was woeful, and the California Pickle mark II drove in the final stakes.

    The Denouement?

    While his predecessor sent many coaches on to bigger and better things, CPF has kept the same ones around indefinitely. The only changes have been those almost forced upon him. We anxiously await the 2006 Volunteer squad. With new (old) offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe in place, the fans are anticipating improvement. While the bar is buried in the sand, exceeding it should be certain. On the other hand, raising it for future seasons may prove more difficult than expected. The UT staff has consistently taken talented players and coached them down. Thus, they rely upon incoming recruits they have not screwed up yet to contribute greatly to the team’s success. This year’s recruiting class looks to be the worst ever. Unless the new (old) coaching staff can correct the mistakes of the past, 2006 will be another disappointing year. With CPF is in charge, the Vols may never reach the top again. That’s why I hope the 2006 season is CPF’s denouement.

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    © 2005

    A few charts for you

    I’ve updated two graphs to share with you. The first graph illustrates the winning percentage for the 13 full seasons of CPF’s tenure as head coach via a trend analysis. I won’t get all geeky with you, but the red line is the trend and it is not going in the right direction.

    The second graph is more
    damning of the program. This indicates the average margin of victory via trend analysis over the 13 years of CPF. Things sure started off great, but the only place to go from here is negative territory. With the sisters of the poor at the end of our schedule, this is inexcusable. Of course, so is losing to one of the sisters.

    © 2005

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