What is the immediate future of Tennessee football?
I'm talking two, three years down the road. I have a nagging feeling that Tennessee could become the new Nebraska. A fallen power. Nebraska will never win three national championships in five years. Those days are over.
I'm wondering when the Huskers will challenge for the Big 12 North again. As recently as early this decade, Nebraska was still dominating the division.
Tennessee has won three SEC East titles in the past seven years. That's not bad, folks. Will the next coach do that? The school has the facilities and interest and budget to win big. How does it get that back in one of the most competitive atmospheres in the country?
• Good to see that Steve Spurrier has officially declined interest in tap-dancing on Phil Fulmer's grave, er, in the vacancy. After all, you can't spell Steve Spurrier without UT.
• Before that the Old Ball Coach took a few final jabs at his favorite target. After South Carolina beat the Vols 27-6, Steve Spurrier said: "I'm used to hearing 'Rocky Top' about 10 times. Did they play it at all? I can't remember any of it. Usually you hear that song -- maybe they only play it after they score." Ouch.
• USC has become a victim of its own excellence. The Trojans dropped from fifth to seventh this week in the BCS standings despite shutting out Washington 56-0. Apparently the pollsters and computers aren't impressed with the Pac-10 conference.
Since the BCS standings debuted, USC is 3-0 having outscored Washington State, Arizona and Washington by a combined 142-10. In that time USC has lost 7.5 percent of its BCS average (.8165 to .7551).
Three of the six BCS computers have the Pac-10 ranked no higher than fourth (Billingsley, fourth; Sagarin, sixth; Colley, seventh behind the Mountain West).
"The more we win, the worse we get," Pete Carroll said.• BYU needs Utah to beat TCU on Thursday to have any chance of winning its third consecutive Mountain West title.
Where is BYU quarterback Max Hall going to be?
"Can't miss 'The Office,' Hall said before changing his story. "I don't know. I will probably pay attention to it. I will probably watch it."
• Greg Robinson has won three Big East games in four seasons at Syracuse. Two of those are over Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe. Might want to add another name to the hot list.
"This isn't about me," Bama's coach said.
Uh, yeah it is, Nick. It's all about you walking out on LSU for the NFL. That in and of itself isn't bad. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance for a huge promotion?
The mistake is coming back into the belly of the beast (Death Valley!) and trying to deflect the attention. Check this comment from the SEC meetings earlier this year. The guy doesn't exactly expect a welcoming committee.
"All I know is when we had a staff meeting about who goes on what bus, who rides where and all that kind of stuff, it was pretty unanimous in our staff that when we go to LSU, nobody's riding on the bus I'm on," Saban said.• The pandering went down to the last day for Mr. Hope and Change. Barack Obama continued to tell us what we wanted to hear without offering any substance.
"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football," Obama said during a Monday interview. "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide a national champion."
That will resonate with Joe Six Pack, which is the point of Obama's entire campaign. Hope and change are empty terms. I'm betting Mr. H and C knows as much about college football as the average cricket player.
How are you going to select the eight teams? What about the ninth team? What about the bowls? Where are the games going to be? You might want to check with the Rose Bowl, Pac-10 and Big Ten.
A lifetime of Washington experience counts more than charisma and empty promises. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, John McCain gave us 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison, I believe we owed him at least four in the White House.• Mystery team of the week. Unbeaten, No. 1 in total defense in a major conference, tied for 54th nationally in total defense. Answer below.
• Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette became the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He joins a list that includes Tony Dorsett, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne.
• More Tennessee:
One of the more striking aspects of Phil Fulmer's firing is the support showed by his players.
“I just feel like I just lost one of my ribs and my kidney or something,” safety Eric Berry said. “I feel like I just lost a family member. Nobody has died, but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”
"That right there wasn't very stand up of Tennessee ... He should go out on his own terms," offensive lineman Ramon Foster said. "If you're on the other side of the fence we hope you're happy."• Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's letter to alumni:
This afternoon, Coach Fulmer announced he will step aside at the conclusion of the football season. I want to express my sincere gratitude for everything he has done for the University and our program.
Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletic department. He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee and look forward to him continuing to be a part of our family.
I hope that you will come and show your appreciation for Coach Fulmer at the Wyoming and Vanderbilt games as well as the Kentucky game on Nov. 29 when we celebrate “Phillip Fulmer Day” in Neyland Stadium.
We will begin a national coaching search immediately. We have a great University, world-class student-athletes, a tremendous fans base and first-class facilities. As a result, we will attract some of the nation’s best candidates. We will introduce a new coach to you over the next several weeks.
Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee football.
• Kentucky wishes Randall Cobbs could clone himself. In his first career start, he threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 win over Mississippi State. Cobbs also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.
He also caught a team-high three passes as a receiver and returned a few punts.
"If I were our field goal kickers, I'd be worried," offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.• Texas Tech is your mystery team of the week.