Insider Mailing: Donnie Tyndall Song Edition

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    Hey guys take a look at Alabama’s schedule next year. I think our schedule is easier than their’s because they play Wisconsin, at Georgia, and in the west. Here’s my questions: is their schedule tougher than our’s and can they lose 2-3 games due to it? -Tanner Owens

    Daniel: The non-conference schedules are pretty much a push. Tennessee has the tougher cross-divisional games (Alabama, Arkansas as compared to Tennessee, Georgia for Alabama). Alabama has the tougher division for sure, so I’d say, overall, Alabama’s schedule is tougher. I think they could certainly lose 2-3 games. There are just no gimmes in the West this year – I could see the winner from that side of the conference having at least two losses. Alabama will be talented because its Alabama. But there are questions on both sides of the ball and no Amari Cooper to bail the Tide out this year. I’ll never count a Nick Saban team out, especially with a freak like Derrick Henry on the roster, but they’re far from a sure bet in 2015.

    Houston: I need to see how their quarterback situation plays out before I’m ready to call for a terrible season, but it’s hard to see them maintaining their level of play from last year. They lose Sims, they lose Amari Cooper…Those two guys were the only reason they had a shot to play for a national championship in the first place when you break down their offensive production. A new starter at quarterback will benefit from playing Tennessee, LSU and Ole Miss at home, but a trips to Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn in the final game will be tough tests. I think 3-4 losses could be possible, but certainly not likely – they are still the most talented team in the country by a wide margin.

    Kevin: Alabama has the tougher schedule, though they are far better equipped to handle it and I’m not sure any team in the country feels the pressure less than Bama, because they live in that zone where the program just consistently wins football games. That all being said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Alabama with a few losses, Auburn and Arkansas will be the class of the division outside of the Tide, and I could see either of those not going Nick Sabans way. Ole Miss and Miss State should fall off a bit, and LSU will continue to be LSU, 9-3 for the Tigers in my opinion.

    Reed: Their schedule is definitely tougher. The SEC West is just a brutal division and the gap between its best teams and worst teams is really, really small. They don’t get to beat up on Vanderbilt and Kentucky (and South Carolina). Whoever wins the SEC West will definitely have at least one loss, and I’d be willing to bet they have two.

    What are your thoughts on Charles Mosley’s health/progression/career at UT after his injury? -@ALJenkins19

    Daniel: He progressed really well last fall – he was walking under his own power by the middle of the season. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do this spring. The plan is to start him on defense with the possibility of him trying some offense too. I don’t have many expectations for him in 2015, truthfully. He needed a season to really drop some weight and get in shape, and I’m not sure how much his injury allowed him to do that. It might be 2016 until he is truly ready to contribute. Imagine him and Kahlil McKenzie on the goal line in the near future though. Pretty safe to say the quarterback sneak would not be a good option for opponents.

    You are able to alter the result of one game in UT hoops history. Which would you choose? How would it have changed things? -@TVsWesBoling

    Daniel: I’ll go with the 2010 Elite Eight loss to Michigan State. Worst-case scenario: Tennessee makes its first Final Four ever and enters a new level of prominence in SEC hoops, becoming the seventh SEC team to make it that far ever. But I’m a more interested in what might’ve happened from there. It wasn’t exactly a stacked Final Four and I think UT would’ve had a legitimate shot against Butler in the Final Four and Duke in the finals.

    Houston: Yep, it has to be the loss to MSU in the Elite Eight. Get that team to the Final Four and ANYTHING can happen. Like Daniel said, that Final Four was far from stacked. Tennessee fans would have flocked to Indianapolis like locusts to a wheat field and the Vols would have had a very good chance to cut down the nets. Butler beat Michigan State by just two points in the semi-finals and then Duke beat Butler by two points for the championship – you are talking about ONE extra shot made per game and the Vols are NCAA Champions.

    John: I’m gonna veer off here. The Michigan State game is a great selection, but as much as that game hurt, and as much as it would have meant to reach the Final Four, at least the Vols didn’t simply collapse. They did just that against Greg Oden and the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2007 tourney, getting outscored by 18 in the second half on their way to heartbreaking one-point loss. Had they won, the Vols (a 5 seed) would have reached the Elite 8 and faced Memphis (a 2 seed), a team they beat by 18 earlier in the season. Hard not to play the what-if game after watching Ohio State dismantle the Tigers 92-76. So as good of a look as UT had at the Final Four against Michigan State, they had nearly as good of a look at it a few years earlier.

    Kevin: It’s hard not to look at that Michigan State game, but for the sake of variety i’ll go with the loss to Mississippi State in the SEC Championship game in the 08-09 season. Tennessee had overcome all sorts of adversity that season and frankly were limping in the conference tournament with a few bad conference losses under their belt. A conference title isn’t a huge deal in basketball, but it would have been a nice legacy for Bruce Pearl to leave behind, and might have sparked a run in the tournament, where one week later Oklahoma State ended the Vols season for good.

    Reed: I second the loss to Michigan State. A win there finally gives Tennessee at least a Final Four banner in Thompson-Boling. That, of course, would have made it even more painful to lose Pearl, but Vol fans would always have that Final Four to hang their hat on.

    Will Reigns take down Lesnar at WrestleMania? What’s your fav workout supplement? Hot dogs or burgers? –@TonyGeist

    Houston: Yes. Simple Whey. Burgers Fa Lyfe.

    John: 1) What? 2) Water. 3) Burgers. Like these thick-ass filet burgers that I love to grill beyond compare.

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    Hotdogs are for rookies.

    Kevin: I haven’t watched pro wrastlin’ in years, but can I just assume that Goldberg will win? That sounds right. My pre-workout routine is to put my workout clothes on and then play two hours of Call of Duty instead, no prejudice on the snacks.

    Reed: I have zero idea what the first one even means. My favorite workout supplement? Bacon and eggs – like a man. None of that powdery horse crap. Hamburgers. Every day. My pops has a saying that a burger a day keeps the doctor away. I don’t know if that’s true, but it IS a delicious way to live.

    If you were a beer, which one would you be? –@BucketHeadTN

    Houston: A ‘Black and Blue.” Blue Moon on the bottom and Guinness on top.

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    John: Oh, boy. I can feel it now. A bunch of hipsters will come down on me if I don’t throw out some type of hi-grav beer, but that’s just not how I roll. Because while I don’t drink beer a ton, if I am drinking a beer, you can bet your sweet ass that three or four more are to follow. Which is why I’m a Miller Lite man. It doesn’t slow me down when I’m drinking in volume. So y’all have fun at the Craft beer table. Tell Gunther I said hello. (And that his turtleneck is kickass.) I’ll be throwing down the MLs like they’re agua. So, naturally, if I were a beer, it’d be the one I’d drink. Miller Lite. Plus, back in the day, they had the best advertisement campaign going. Totally sports-centric. Always liked Bob Ueker. (I must be in the front row.)

    Kevin: I would be a Budweiser, always in style and a lifetime pass without judgment to college parties. Also I want one of those horses.

    Reed: This is the greatest question in the history of Insider Mailing. I’m a bit of a craft beer lover. Calf Killer Brewing Company (Sparta, TN) is one of my favorites. I try every beer they put out but don’t have a favorite – yet. Generally, I’d be an IPA. Nothing like a good one. Whenever I visit a local watering hole, I go down the list of IPAs and try every single one that I haven’t had before. But I also have much in common with IPAs – some people find me bitter and I’m definitely not going to please everyone. So IPA it is.

    Will there be a “Donnie Tyndall Song”? –@LoneNutVolFan

    John: Hmmm. There damn well should be. I think you’re on to something there, my friend.

    With Wharton and King leaving, does this add 2 scholarships for ’16 class? Explain how players leaving works w/ numbers. -@SCompton72

    Daniel: Yes and no. To make it really simple, there are two primary factors that go into how many players a program can bring in every year. There’s a 25-man limit on ‘initial counters’ (basically new scholarship guys brought in) and the roster can never exceed 85 total scholarship players. So Wharton and King don’t expand that 25-man initial counter limit, but it does open up spots on the 85-man roster. So I’m sure your next question is how Tennessee has signed more than 25 the last two years. It’s complicated, and we can’t explain every detail of it (UT isn’t real open with their scholarship numbers). But basically, they’ve been able to back count some to previous classes and then are using the strategy of blue-shirting players.

    Do you think the secondary Vols logos will get a facelift after they sign with Nike? –@richmond_325

    Houston: I’d say that’s a strong possibility. My guess is that quite a few things regarding Tennessee Athletics are in line for a facelift.

    Kevin: Listen closely to the whisper in the winds coming over the snow; “NIIIIIKE OF THE SOUUUUTH.” As soon as Butch Jones hits that 9-10 win mark, which I think will happen in the next two years he will be given the freedom to go nuts with the uniforms and logos because the man loves gimmicky branding like the rest of us.

    Reed: It’s time. I’d love to see the rifleman incorporated more and see the old school VOLS brought back as well.

    When is Houston gonna get married? -@ToddMawyer

    Houston: Todd. Shush.

    Reed: I don’t blame Houston’s bachelorhood on him, I put it on the various single women of Knoxville for not realizing they can marry such a local legend. Seriously, ladies. Also – you can buy a date with Houston and help folks learn to read in the process. Details here.

    John: I didn’t get married till well into my 30s and I have one of the best marital situations of all my friends. I think my man HK is destined for something similar.

    If Butch Jones had his own flavor of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, what would it be? –@gmannVOLS

    Daniel: Brittle by Brittle or The Battle at Brittle, Antonio Brown Cow, Sweet Neiko Cream(er)….Too bad Rocky Road Reid is out of the picture.

    Houston: Someone on Twitter said “Youngest Cream in the Country” and I thought it was the best possible answer. I was thinking an orange flavored version…perhaps “Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Critical?”

    John: Butter Pecan or I’ll Kick Your Ass (which makes zero sense). So maybe Cruitin’ Nut Cream Closer? Cream of the Crop Dough? Love the question. Wish I had more time to ponder. May tweet you up if I come up with anything else.

    Kevin: Cone Treat OptionDebord of the Pies, or Vanilla.