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Posted: Wednesday, December 7th, 2016, 8:16 AM
I'm seriously in the process of drafting a pledge for the upcoming off-season. I'm being 100% serious when I say that I refuse to be pulled down by the overall vibe around UT sports. We have to get past this. Butch Jones is UT's coach. It's time to rally around him and get on board and cheer for him to win the east next season. Being dismissive toward him ad nauseam isn't going to change anything. UT is my alma mater. I want them to win. I'm thrilled for the recruiting news from Tuesday. I refuse to call Trey Smith a tourniquet as some have. He's a five star player that was smartly recruited by Butch Jones and his coaching staff. I say we need to rally the troops and make a conscious effort to become rededicated as a fan base to this thing we call UT Football.

This isn't about Butch Jones. It's about us. It's about enjoying this day to day. Otherwise, why bother? If I'm going to make this about crusading against a coach everyday, count me out. Now, this doesn't mean I won't criticize because certainly I will, but more important I'm choosing to enjoy the great times. We've had a bunch of wonderful times in 2016. Honestly, the highs were all time high. I'm going to hold onto the good feelings. Call me crazy, but I don't want to be the guy with the show that just beats on Butch Jones and brings bad vibes. What I do on a daily basis is so much more than that.

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Toward that end, I want to create a pledge that states our core belief in OUR VOLS. I want to craft a pledge that is one that can galvanize us. We have to get over this malaise. Butch Jones is the coach in 2017 and if it all goes right for him, hopefully he can be here for a long time. This wouldn't bother me one bit. How about you? Would it bother you if Butch Jones is here the year after next? If this is you, I'd love for you to reconsider where you are today. Don't flush away the 2017 season by quietly cheering against your team next season because this is exactly where you're heading.

I hope you'll consider recommitting to the cause once we craft our pledge. This won't be a pledge centered around Butch Jones, but one that is made agnostic of any coach. I'm not a coach worshiper and never have been. Nor do I want to be a coach hater. Most times the coach with the best players is going to win and nobody wins them all.

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Trey Smith to Tennessee is huge for Tennessee. It's credibility. Butch Jones still has his fastball. Smith is the #1 player in America by some services and a 5 star player. Tennessee does have his sister on staff, but they were going against a couple of serious heavyweights for this young man. It's a pretty incredible get against that backdrop. Nobody reading these words today would've blamed Smith if he would've gone elsewhere. It's truly a great get for the Vols. Congrats to all involved in the process at UT for landing him.

Don't look now, but the 4-3 basketball Vols are playing some ball. Last night the Vols smashed Presby 90-50. Of course it's not a win that's going to land in any national outlet, but outside of UT's first game with Chattanooga, Tennessee has played some respectable basketball. The Vols shot 33 three balls last night hitting 16 (3rd highest in school history) of them. LaMonte Turner hit 7 three pointers while Bowden pumped in 5 three balls. It's fun to see these guys play so well. I hope this team can shock the world and get well above .500 on the season. A real measuring stick comes Sunday at UNC. The game is a weird 5 pm start on Sunday afternoon. We will be live on the app with another edition of the Smartway/Garza Law Firm Basketball Overtime. All those years we wanted the Vols to play the Tar Heels and now they're getting the chance. Why couldn't this have happened back in the Bruce Pearl days?'s Brian Christopherson joined the show yesterday and broke it down.

Scoping Nebraska:

Nebraska....Much improved from 6-7...

In 2nd season under Mike Riley.

Went 9-3.

Lost games 62-3 Ohio State
Black Fri Iowa 40-10

Nebraska @ 7-0 showed signs of leakage. Were losing 16-10 going into 4th quarter. Struggled w/ Purdue at home. Signs building up to spotlight games.

Nebraska lost a teammate punter Sam Fultz. Did they hit an emotional wall?

Lost heartbreaker to Wisconsin week before Ohio State kicked legs out from under them.

Nebraska: Tommy Armstrong wasn't 100% for Iowa. Expected to linger. How healthy will he be? 51% passer. His legs are his weapon. Backup QB has a wrist injury.

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Nebraska D has struggled with explosive plays. Will play well 80% of snaps.

Nate Gary, Sr. safety is NFL player. Two young corners are good on defense. No pass rusher up front. They have to blitz to get pressure thus the big plays. OK at LB, not great. Solid D but don't jump off the page. Have picked off passes and it's helped them win games.

Mentally needed a step back.

Mike Riley is 7-2 in bowl games.

Beat UCLA in Foster Farms Bowl as a 5-7 team.

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Nebraska Nation is confused on this season. Still optimism about Mike Riley. Running a different offense than they would like. They've had to change playbook. Aren't really doing what they want to do on offense. Schedule gets nasty the next couple of years. Michigan/Ohio State & Wiscy in 2018 on the road.

Nebraska has lost at least 4 games since 2002.

Looking for first 10 win season since 2012.

Some Nebraska fans are nostalgic for Old Big 8. Fans don't blame move to Big 10. They put that on the program itself. There was friction w/ Texas because they felt they ran the league. People don't miss Texas. The Nebraska/OU rivalry went away when they went into the league.

Nebraska expected to bring decent crowd. They thought they were Tampa bound and the Outback Bowl so there's a letdown. Plus the Iowa game was a gut punch for them.

For past 10 to 15 years, whenever Nebraska steps on a big stage, they go completely off the tracks. 10 to 12k fans expected. 12 hour drive for the fans.

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The weather in town has been as dreary as the mood surrounding UT football since the Vanderbilt game. At least some good news hit yesterday to brighten things somewhat.

1. It'll be interesting to see how much the Trey Smith commitment alleviates the criticism of Butch Jones. Big Orange Country certainly loves star gazing.

2. Tennessee basketball continues its gradual improvement. Another big measuring stick comes Saturday in Chapel Hill.

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3. Lane Kiffin and Jimmy Sexton taking a hard line on buyouts with Houston is a bit surprising. They obviously know there are other options out there they find palatable.

4. I'm not sure why there is a minor furor over LeBron James and others refusing to stay at Trump properties on the road. Athletes have made similar political statements about presidents of both parties over the years.

5. Villanova wins a national title and I still don't think they are getting their due. That is a fantastic basketball team.

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6. If Duke ever gets to full strength, it is hard to envision anyone beating them in March. The more I see of that team, the more I imagine them being near invincible with all hands on deck.

7. I'm intrigued to see if Bruce Pearl has turned the corner at Auburn. Road games at Oklahoma and UCONN later in the month will give a good indication of where they are.

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8. Seeing Syracuse and UCONN battle to the buzzer at the Garden Monday made me long for the days of the real Big East. What conference realignment has done to college basketball is criminal.

9. Arsenal caught a break and took the top spot in their Champions League group. PSG will regret letting that slip away from them.

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Sapphire is the perfect venue for your office holiday party. Contact Aaron@sapphireknox or Pat@sapphireknox for details.

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Take the pressure off the family cook with a gift card from Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken at 3101 Sutherland Avenue. Everyone will be glad you did.

Let's keep the momentum going for the Blankenship Field renovation project. Go to to donate.

We'll begin out annual partnership with Friends of Literacy soon. Keep your eyes open for details in this space.


Posted: Thu, Dec 8th, 1:53 PM
by Beano
He Said It!!: "It sounds like these two fan bases should get together, drink in a bar while the games is going on and talk about the old times. Probably be more entertaining than the game."'s Brian Christopherson on the kinship of mediocrity between the latter day Huskers and Vols.

Hate to see Matt Rhule go from my Temple Owls. He's very good. He's a real man's man. A real leader. Baylor is a mess. It will be interesting to see what the NCAA does in this case. Do they knee cap him in recruiting a la Lane Kiffin? The NCAA decides who wins and who dies in matters such as these.

My producer Brian Hartman tackles the Heisman Trophy 2016 style.

'It's not personal. Not at all. I think Louisville Soph QB Lamar Jackson is one of the more electrifying athletes that I have ever seen on a football field. He introduced himself to Heisman voters early in September, rushing for nearly 200 yards and passing for another 200 in a 62-28 win at Syracuse. Since it was on a Friday night, he was able to leave a pretty good first impression on many. Think of Michael Vick 2.0. From that point on, he became the Heisman favorite and no one else could really establish themselves as a close 2nd. But you can't give him the Heisman trophy.

First off, his team is 9-3. Did not win the ACC. Did not even win their division in the ACC. And didn't even win their own state. And it's the 41-38 loss to Kentucky when they last played that played a pretty significant role in my belief. Louisville was favored by 26 points vs their in-state rivals in their house. That's almost 4 TDs. Kentucky defense is rancid. They were on this day too. Except when they had help. From none other than Lamar Jackson himself. He did run for almost 200 yards along with 2 TDs. He threw another 2 TD passes. But he also threw 3 interceptions. Not a good ratio. Despite that, Louisville had the ball inside Kentucky's 15 with around a minute to play in a tie game. All they needed was a chip shot FG. Barring a disaster, Louisville was going to win anyway. Then Lamar Jackson delivered. He was surrounded by Kentucky defenders at the 10 yard line, and instead of getting down to protect the football and possession, he fumbled. Kentucky recovered. Then drove 65 yards in about a minute, to kick the game winning FG on the final play. On his final play of his regular season, Lamar Jackson fumbles. Leading directly to a loss against their hated in-state rival. Not the kind of last impression you want to give Heisman voters.

Even though he made quite a first impression. You can't give a Heisman award to someone who accounted for 4 turnovers in his last game. Which they lost because of his 4 turnovers. You can't give the Heisman trophy to someone who fumbled on his last play. Which led directly to a loss. As exciting as Lamar can be, ball security has been an issue throughout the season. This wasn't the first time he fumbled. I didn't mention that the week before, Lamar Jackson looked like the most helpless Heisman hopeful ever in a 36-10 loss at Houston. That game was televised by ESPN on Thursday night, so it was watched by many. He was swamped by Houston's defense all night long. It looked like he was being sacked every other play. Lots of doubt had to creep into the minds of many voters while they watched Lamar Jackson complete less than 50% of his passes and only rush for 33 yards on 25 attempts. The crucial fumble at the end of the Kentucky game should have erased all the doubt. You cannot give Lamar Jackson the Heisman.

As a sophomore, he will have another chance to take home the prestigious award. I hope for his sake, he corrects the fumbling issues that should prevent him from winning it on Saturday. Below are the 5 Heisman finalists and 2 more players I would have invited to New York....

Deshaun Watson Jr QB Clemson:
329/487 passing, 3,914 yards, 37 TDs, 15 INTs, 68% completion rate 196 rushes, 1,002 yards, 15 TDs, 5.1 yards a carry

Baker Mayfield Sr QB Oklahoma:
235/330 passing, 3,669 yards, 38 TDs, 8 INTs, 71% completion rate 74 rushes ,143 yards, 6 TDs

DeDe Westbrook Sr WR Oklahoma:
74 catches, 1,465 yards, 19.8 yards a catch, 16 TDs

Jabrill Peppers Jr LB Michigan (Don't ask):
27 rushes, 167 yards, 6.2 yards a rush with a long of 63 yards, 3TDs 1 INT for 11 yards. Why?

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Lamar Jackson Soph QB Louisville:
220/382, 3,390 yards, 30 TDs, 9 INTs, 57% completion rate 234 rushes, 1,538 yards, 6.6 yards a carry, 21 TDs

Here are 2 players I would invite to NY in addition

John Ross Sr WR Washington:
76 catches, 1,122 yards, 14.8 yards a catch, 17 TDs 8 rushes, 102 yards, 12.8 a rush, 1 TD

J.T. Barrett Sr QB Ohio St:
214/346 passing, 2,428 yards, 61% completion rate, 24 TDs, 5 INTs 194 rushes, 847 yards, 9 TDs

Deshaun Watson Clemson 12-1 vs Ohio St Fiesta Bowl national semi-final
Baker Mayfield Oklahoma 10-2 vs Auburn Sugar Bowl
DeDe Westbrook Oklahoma 10-2 vs Auburn Sugar Bowl
Jabrill Peppers Michigan 10-2 vs Florida St Fiesta Bowl
Lamar Jackson Louisville 9-3 vs LSU Citrus Bowl
John Ross Washington 12-1 vs Alabama Peach Bowl national semi-final
J.T. Barrett Ohio St 11-1 vs Clemson Fiesta Bowl national semi-final


Brian H Knox'

Final Thought: Butch Jones is recruiting like Rick Barnes at Texas while Rick Barnes is coaching like Butch Jones was supposed to be able to coach. We're in an upside down world. We need Butch to help UT hoops land a stud and perhaps Barnes to coach the football team. Words I never thought I would consider, let alone write.

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