Today is Wednesday, December 7, 2016
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'Dores headed to Omaha
'Dores headed to Omaha

Off to Omaha -- that is Vanderbilt baseball team’s destination, home of the College World Series.

“It’s not easy," Commodores Coach Tim Corbin said after his team smothered Stanford, 12-5, in a winner-take-all game at Hawkins Field Sunday. “I’m proud of how they came back from last night."

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A lot to cheer about in Middle Tennessee

This is a special time of the year.

Football is in the air and Friday night, Lebanon High christens its new football stadium against Franklin County.

The Blue Devils would rather forget Week Zero (I will never understand that math) against state powerhouse, Mt. Juliet.

There is nothing like the first game in a brand new stadium. The popcorn tastes better. The band has some extra pep in its step. Its a great spot to run into friends you havent seen this summer.

The new Lebanon High School has a lot of similar features that Mt. Juliet used when it built its new school. If only the Blue Devils football program could become as competitive as Mt. Juliets.

Football isnt the only thing to get excited about around Middle Tennessee.

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A Texan to his toenails

K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr. was talking on the telephone Friday with a Nashville friend and business partner. They were discussing the death of former Oilers coach Bum Phillips.

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A yardstick game for UT

Tennessee fans looked at the Oklahoma game as a measuring stick to determine just how far second year coach Butch Jones has taken this program.

The Vol Nation is hungry for success, after dismal results produced by former head coaches, Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley.

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Boodbye to 'The Stick'
Joe Biddle
Boodbye to 'The Stick'

The 49ers gave the proper eulogies for Candlestick Park last week.  Locals called it the ‘Stick. Visitors referred to it by any number of unflattering adjectives.

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Bracketology. Smacketology.

My NCAA Tournament bracket was really bad after the first two rounds. How bad was it? It was so bad that when I tried to feed it to the shredder, the machine rejected it.

While the state of Ohio placed four teams in the tournament field, they are sending all four teams to the Sweet 16. That is playing some hoop.

Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati and Ohio all advanced to the next round.

Tennessee did not fare as well. Far from it.

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Bud's at it again

Maybe Bud Adams cant help himself.

And you cant teach an old dog, new tricks.

The Titans owner didnt learn from his last misguided order. That missive was for the Titans to take Texas quarterback Vince Young with their first round pick of the 2006 NFL Draft.

Bud may have been the only one in the Titans building that wanted to take Young. The head coach didnt want him. The offensive coordinator didnt want him. The general manager didnt want him.

That didnt matter to Bud.

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Can we chill a little?
The Tennessee Titans clubbed the Carolina Panthers Sunday.

It was impressive, 30 to 3 impressive.

Chris Johnson ran for 130 yards, caught four passes for 44 yards and showed signs of the Chris Johnson Titans fans have been searching for.

Wide receiver Damian Williams continued to earn the starting role he was given Oct. 2. Williams caught five passes for 107 yards with a 41-yard touchdown reception being the highlight.

From the local media coverage Monday, one would surmise the Titans are Super Bowl shoo-ins. Will they ever lose another game?

One publication promoted its columnists opinion on Page 1-A and he didnt even cover the game. It must have been a slow news day.

Hey, it was the Carolina Panthers. Can we chill a little? Its a team that has two wins this season. Its a team that came out flat and paid the price. It has happened to the Titans this year. It happens to all but the elite NFL teams. Neither the Titans, nor the Panthers are in that conversation.

But I need more proof that this is a Titans team that has truly seen the light. We will see if that is indeed the case when they play the Falcons in Atlanta Sunday.

Atlanta Coach Mike Smiths team has taken on his persona. They will bloody your nose. The next move is all yours.

Smitty was a defensive coordinator at Tennessee Tech before Brian Billick saw something in him he liked and took him to the NFL. Smitty was a blue- collar linebacker at East Tennessee State, never played a down in the NFL and doesnt begin to compare resumes with Titans Hall of Fame player and current coach Mike Munchak.

Smith gives his team chances to win games. Although they lost a tough 26-23 game in overtime Sunday to New Orleans, Smith went for it in overtime on a fourth-and-one from his own 29. It came up short, but too often Smith has punted in those situations against the Saints, only to never see the football again.

I stand behind our coach, behind our players, Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton said. I would have done the same thing. If we convert, our offense drives down the field and we score to win the game.

You can bet the Titans will get the Falcons best shot Sunday. Two 5-4 teams stand at a crossroads in the season. The winner fights to have a respectable season.

The loser, well, 5-5 is just what it appears to be.

If the Titans come up short in Atlanta, it erases all the positive vibes they earned in Carolina. They cannot afford to stay around the .500 mark and hope to catch AFC South leader Houston.

And the playoffs are out of the question unless they win a division that is as bad as it has been ever since Peyton Manning got past his rocky rookie year in Indianapolis.

The Titans last seven games will tell the story of this season. Four of them are on the road. Four of the opponents have winning records. The only punching bag is 0-10 Indianapolis.

They finish up head-to-head with Jacksonville and Houston, two division opponents they lost to earlier.

They can write their own script. They know one game does not a season make.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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CJF loves him some CJF
Joe Biddle
CJF loves him some CJF

James Franklin loves him some James Franklin.

Now Penn State loves them some James Franklin.

Those Vanderbilt fans that hold a grudge against Franklin because he agreed to become Penn State’s football coach should get over it.

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College football finally arrives

Finally.

After talking, writing and drafting fantasy teams, the college football season is here.

And the surprises, they were aplenty.

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College hoops coaches with screws loose

I always thought college basketball coaches had a screw loose.

See Billy Gillispie. He lost the best job in the business, Kentucky, because he had a habitual drinking problem.

Or Bruce Pearl, whose bright future at Tennessee came crashing down after he told NCAA investigators he did not recognize some people in a picture they showed him. Not only did Pearl fail to identify one of his assistant coaches, he could not identify his own house. Cheatin and lyin dont pay.

Another fall from grace case was Louisvilles Rick Pitino, who came close to the firing line after his sexual fling with a woman in a Louisville restaurant. It made headlines all over the country. The female went to prison, but Slick Rick managed to keep his job at the expense of his reputation.

I believe their football-coaching brethren may be catching up in the demolition derby.

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Cuonzo's got to go

Despite the Vols choke job in Missouri Saturday, they will live to play again.  They may have one foot in the grave after losing a game that was there for the taking, but they can even the score March 8 in the regular season finale for both teams.

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Decision, decisions for the Titans
Joe Biddle
Decision, decisions for the Titans
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Dooley will survive another year at UT

If you are like most college football fans, you take your favorite teams upcoming schedule and go down the list.

You give out wins, losses and tossups and total them up for a best case-worse case scenario for your team. Its a great way to pass the time before that first kickoff and the season starts to roll downhill.

BeyondTheBets.com is one of several on-line sites that provide projections and let you decide.

There has been a lot of chatter among Tennessee fans as to how many wins Coach Derek Dooley needs to save his job.

Certainly current Athletics Director Dave Hart has given no indication as to what that number is, or if he even has a number.

One thing for sure: Dave Hart is looking for improvement in all aspects of the program and winning games is the best defense Dooley has.

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Eli Manning is an elite quarterback

It was Eli Mannings coming out party.

No better place to have it than in the House that Peyton Built.

Little Brother took the spotlight away from Big Brother.

And, for the record, Eli is an elite NFL quarterback.

It was played out before a packed Lucas Oil Stadium, whose fans were treated to one of the most competitive, exciting Super Bowl games since the idea was hatched 46 years ago.

During Super Bowl week, it was Peyton Manning who commanded much of the attention and press coverage generated prior to Super Bowl Sunday.

Eli grew up in Peytons shadow. Peyton was five years older, getting a five-year start in athletics. Five years is a distinct advantage when one boy is 12 and the other boy is seven. They used to compete in basketball where Peyton would beat Eli up.

The first time Eli won was a day when the game was tied and it was next bucket wins. Eli drove around Peyton and dunked on him.

Thats the day Eli knew he gained Peytons respect.

Eli grew into a hotshot high school quarterback at Newman High School in New Orleans, where Peyton set records but never won the big one.

Eli chose Ole Miss, where father Archie had been a folk hero. Eli beat Florida as a senior, a feat Peyton never accomplished at Tennessee.

While Peyton is at a crossroads in his decorated NFL career, Eli has risen to the elite class of NFL quarterbacks with two Super Bowl rings, one more than Peyton.

Peyton deserves some credit for Elis success. Most little brothers hate being picked on by big brothers. It does one thing, however, makes the little brother fight back, toughens him in the long run.

We see that toughness in Eli. We saw it in a playoff game when he got hammered. When he picked himself off the ground, he had grass and mud wedged in his facemask. His helmet was twisted half-way around his head.

While Peyton specializes in getting rid of the football before the posse arrives, Eli hangs in there until the last second, taking a smack-down in order to give his receivers a chance to get open.

Peyton often walked away from a game with his uniform clean as the Board of Health. The Giants equipment staff doesnt have enough stain remover to get rid of all the blood, grass and mud from Elis uniform.

With yet another come-from behind 21-17 victory Sunday, Eli has built a legend as the Comeback Kid. Games are never over until Eli says they are.

Will history reflect that Eli is the most productive quarterback in the Manning family? After all, he could have an extra five years to catch and pass Peyton.

I dont think Eli will have all the glitzy numbers that Peyton accrued as an Indianapolis Colt. Remember the Colts offense was built specifically for Peyton from the first day he stepped on the field. Peyton played home games indoors on artificial turf while Eli has to battle the elements of New Yorks raw winters. Swirling winds and icy blasts are tougher on a quarterback.

Where Eli can pass Peyton is on the NFLs biggest stage. Fairly or not, quarterbacks are often judged by how many Super Bowl rings they have. The game-winning 88-yard touchdown drive took nine plays. Five of them were passes completed by Eli Manning.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees gave Eli his props before the game.

I absolutely do think (Elis) elite. I have a lot of respect for Eli, Brees said. He plays in a tough market and handles himself with a lot of class.

It takes an elite quarterback to know one.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.
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Exciting opening weekend of college football

I dont know about you, but this years opening week of college football is the most exciting I can remember.

In the SEC alone, there are a handful of games that will serve as trendsetters for the rest of the season.

Locally you have Vanderbilt hosting No. 9 ranked South Carolina at a Vanderbilt Stadium. The stadium has undergone the most off-season improvements since the early 1980s when Maryland opened the Commodores home schedule. It was an electric night capped by a Vanderbilt win.

Tonight you will see new lights. A state of the art scoreboard. New field turf. It wont take fans long to notice.

ESPN is televising the 6 p.m. start tonight. A blimp will be hovering overhead.

South Carolina has designs on winning the SEC East. A loss to Vanderbilt tonight will toss the Gamecocks out of the hen house.

Friday night in the Georgia Dome, Tennessee takes on ACC member N.C. State.

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Finally!

It's been a long time coming for Butch Jones and Tennessee's football team.

You could see improvement in previous games, but every time they had a chance to win, they came up short. It was wearing thin.

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Fine coaching by Corbin

With a 7-15 record, eight games below .500, Vanderbilts baseball team was in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament field for the first time in seven years.

What happened after that makes this the best coaching job Commodores Coach Tim Corbin has done on West End.

Corbin overcame losing key players from the first Vanderbilt team to make the College World Series.

The pitching staff was young and inexperienced. Corbin could not have turned the season around if not for the job turned in by veteran pitching coach Derek Johnson.

They closed the regular season with a 10-2 record and carried over the momentum by winning their first four games in the SEC Tournament, placing them in Sundays championship game against Mississippi State.

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Fisher goes to the Rams

In somewhat of a rare departure in this era of take the money and run, former Titans football coach Jeff Fisher chose the fit over fortune.

In taking the St. Louis Rams offer, Fisher may have left some money on the table in Miami. He may have missed out on scenic sunsets and warm winters, but Fisher made the right choice.

You take a legal pad, draw a line down the middle and put the pluses and minuses down for both teams and St. Louis, downtrodden as it has been since 2007 (15-65), comes out on top.

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Flood gates are now open
Joe Biddle
Flood gates are now open

Now that we know the Final Four field, we now open the gates for coaching changes that come after the season is over.

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Foster is the bell cow for Houston

Any NFL team with playoff goals has to have important individual pieces.

On offense, you have to have a solid quarterback who can make all the throws and read defenses.

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Franklin has been busy
Joe Biddle
Franklin has been busy

Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin has been a busy man this past week.

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Fun at Cumberland -- Part II

The laughter erupting at Cumberland University’s Memorial Hall last Thursday (July 10) was proof something special was going on inside the historic landmark.
    
It was the induction of three sports columnists into the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame.

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Fun times at CU Thursday

If you want to hear some humorous stories from three of the best sportswriters in this state, Cumberland University’s Memorial Hall is the place to be Thursday night.
    
It is the annual Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame induction dinner.

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Gonna need more bricks

Joe addresses the ups and the recent downs of the University of Tennessee football program.

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Displaying Articles 1 - 25 of 102
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