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Insider Mailing: Rick Barnes Edition

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“How many of the nine returning players stay and how many leave?  I feel with the foundation of Hubbs, Punter, Mostella, Owens, McGee, Moore, Reese, and Carmichael, there is potential of a good team with a few pieces that Barnes will add. Also, will Barnes go JUCO, 4* or 5* high school guys, or 5th year transfers?” – Drew Lee

“Are you worried about basketball recruiting with several of Barnes’ players signed at Texas or can they be released?” – Todd Mawyer

Reed: First up, it’s unlikely the two man 2015 class he signed at Texas, the tops in the Big 12, will follow him to Knoxville at this point. Kerwin Roach is from Houston and has stated he’s sticking with Texas after the Smart hire. Eric Davis, Barnes’ other signee, is also reportedly sticking with Texas.

Tariq Owens would have been a solid fit in Barnes’ system but, after meeting with Tennessee’s new coach yesterday, he will seek a release. It’s still too early to say how many players might look to jump elsewhere. Willie Carmichael mentioned transferring as soon as Tyndall was fired – so he’s one to watch.

Barnes was still working through one-on-one interviews with players yesterday so we should hear more on that front soon. Punter, Moore and Reese only have a year to play so they might be more likely to stay put and play their final year in Knoxville. Hubbs could have left last year but ultimately decided to stick with the Vols after Cuonzo bolted to Cal. He’ll be playing for his third head coach in three years no matter what he decides but the Vols desperately need him back.

As for who Barnes will target, he has three scholarships to work with right now. He said that he won’t fill them just to fill them but will also bring some players in. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes after a couple JUCO players or grad transfers to help out immediately and also adds a couple high school prospects to the mix. He stated on Memphis radio yesterday that “we’re not in a rebuilding process here” but also that he didn’t know much about the roster. This roster needs help in a bad way – as it stands it will be the worst in the SEC next season. Don’t be surprised if he finds some talented guys to sign this spring (the spring signing period starts April 15th).

Houston: Barnes said he won’t actively recruit the two he signed to Texas (Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few guys that he’ll be able to get in on.

Obviously, Rob Gray is a primary target. He’s visiting Memphis next weekend, so we’ll see what happens there.

Tyrone Taylor (currently committed to Wichita State) is another option at point guard, while guard Kobe Eubanks and forward Jalen Brown – probably long shots –  are two other guys to keep an eye on.

Another interesting player is Drexel guard Damion Lee, who will graduate this year with a year of eligibility remaining. He is looking to transfer to a place that will offer him immediate playing time under a coach who can help him develop his game….seems like a good fit, no? Here’s an excerpt from a recent SBNation article on Lee:

“Lee, a 6’6″ small forward who averaged 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and two turnovers per game for the Drexel Dragons, is a dynamic forward with a lot of interest in his services. He also shot 38.5% from beyond the three-point line.”

“Could you see a scenario where Dormady wins the #2 job then Jennings and Jones redshirt this year? Next year if Dobbs comes back for his SR year they redshirt Dormady and let Jones or Jennings handle the back up duties and in 2017 we have a battle of 3 red shirt sophomores for the starting job? Or do you want to keep that separation in year of class and maintain if one guy is clearly ahead. Course all would be moot with an injury or Dobbs declaring early. Thanks guys love the site and show.” – Shawn

Daniel: Thanks for the kind words, Shawn. I think your scenario is plausible, but, in my mind, the most likely situation is that at least one of them leaves within the first year or two. If Tennessee gets Jarrett Guarantano in a couple weeks, I’d say the likelihood of at least one of them not making it all the way through goes sky high.

In my opinion, their best chance to keep all three on campus is to have Jones or Dormady be No. 2 behind Dobbs this year, have the other one redshirt if possible and then move Jennings to another position. I actually asked Mike DeBord yesterday about if they were committed to keeping Jennings at QB for the long haul and he said he’s there “indefinitely,” and that lines up with Jennings’ wishes going back to the recruiting process.

“Is a defensive line full of single digit jersey wearing, mean, quarterback killers scarier than watching HGTV with your wife for a whole weekend? Asking for a friend.” – T.J.

Daniel: Have to say, I’m a huge fan of the single-digit defensive linemen, and I think it goes back to watching Florida just murder Tennessee’s offensive line/quarterbacks for so many years. I have a mental association that when I see several single-digit linemen on the field, it’s on for the opposing team.

Scarier than handing the wife the remote for the whole weekend though? Not sure I’ll go that far. I love my wife like crazy and lucked out in many regards, but some of her TV choices are horrendous. I’m just now recovering from her recent four-week Gilmore Girls Netflix binge that left the theme song resonating in my head.

Houston: As long as they’ve legitimately earned the single digit, then yes….and Tennessee’s defensive line in 2015 should terrify SEC offensive coordinators. Havoc-wreakers.

Reed: Great question, T.J. But my wife and I have very similar taste in TV (Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, The Americans, Homeland, Justified, etc). I also like HGTV. Yes. I know. But I’ve purchased a couple houses in my day and am planning on building another in the next year so I’m always looking for ideas.

So, definitely. Single digit wearing QB murders are scarier than HGTV. The only thing my wife watches that I can’t handle is…Downton Abbey. And they’re most definitely scarier than any brit TV show. I can’t wait to watch this defensive line maul folks this season.

Kevin: The thing about HGTV is that no matter how much I protest it being on, after ten minutes of House Hunters I’m somehow always incredibly invested in these people’s real estate decision. The defensive line unit on Tennessee has an opportunity to be legendary this year, and part of that is the attitude associated with D-line monsters wearing single digit numbers. I’m excited to watch that group play next year.

Bob:  First off, that Volunteer D-line will be hell to pay next season…plain and simple.  Can’t wait to watch them show out!  Scarier than watching HGTV though?  Not possible, primarily because watching HGTV isn’t scary at all, particularly if you discover the shows behind the network green door that is House Hunters!  Of course, I’m a little partial to HGTV for all sorts of reasons, but shows like Flip or Flop, and Rehab Addict have some fantastic information to improve your home, presented by some, let’s say….”telegenic” female talent.  Trust me:  check those titles out and you’ll never be scared to “co-view” HGTV again!

“Should I cut the cord and get Dish’s Sling TV? Why should a sports fan cut the cord at all?” – @danielmcinturff 

Reed: I’ve really looked into this. You can pay $25 a month and get their basic package plus sports extra which includes: ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, TNT, TBS, CNN, A&E, Lifetime, History, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Disney Channel, ABC Family, IFC, H2, El Rey Network, Maker, Galavision SEC Network, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Universal Sports, Univision Deportes, beIN Sports, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded and ESPN Goal Line.

That fairly well has you covered as a sports fan. And you can get all the major networks for free anyway. You might miss some college hoops games on Fox Sports 1/Net/South etc, so it depends on how invested in that sport you are. Also noticeably absent? NFL Network, MLB Network and NBA TV. Though, I’m betting for the considerable savings on you’re cable bill, you can pony up for MLB TV streaming, NBA league pass and go in with one of your friends (or group of friends) on an NFL Sunday ticket and still come out ahead. Even without the NFL Network, you’d only be missing horrendous Thursday games.

A couple of things to keep in mind though – that $25 only gives you one stream at a time. No watching one thing in one room and another in the next without another $25. Also, DVR functionality, pause, fast forward and the like don’t work on every channel. You’ll also need to pay for internet to stream the service, so factor that into your decision making.

Kevin: You’re asking the question that defines our generation, this is our Sophie’s Choice. I think you’ll find that A) you probably don’t watch as much live sports as you think you do and; B) cutting the cable will not make you more productive. Get the sling TV, and then dedicate your life to Netflix like the rest of us.

Daniel: I’m not an expert on all the options right now, but would kill for a sports package (ESPNs, SEC Network, Regional sports networks like SportSouth). If I had that and Netflix, I’d be good to go.

Bob:  Reed’s summary of Sling TV is spot on.  I’ll add to one of his points above:  be prepared to pay a thieves ransom to any big distributor for the internet service that they’ll plus-up on you without shame if you choose to cord cut/unbundle.  The good news is though, that the Sling play is just the beginning.  There will be other alternatives similar to Sling that will present themselves, meaning cost will eventually recede even more, meaning the road to a la carte viewing (where the consumer is in control of  getting the channels they truly want, not the array of good channels peppered with hot garbage channels we currently get on cable) is being paved right before our eyes.  I’ll add one more thing.  Do a little research on Sony’s new Vue product.  If you own a Playstation 3 or 4, you’re going to have a pretty excellent alternative that is offering in upwards of 60 channels, and most of the good ones to boot (sports included…also Fox Sports 1), for a price that is not as cheap as Sling TV, but likely cheaper than the Comcast, Charter, or Time Warner alternative.  DVR functionality, and it’s one less device to control, although your remote becomes a Playstation controller which may trouble you if you’re not a gamer.

“What does Butch need to do to match the success that Urban Meyer has had at Ohio State? Meyer won the NC in his 3rd year with the Buckeyes. Can Butch do the same?” – Matt Rayburn

Houston: Recruit, recruit, recruit, recruit, recruit, recruit…..And then just don’t screw it up. Butch won’t win a National Championship this year, but he also inherited a middle school roster if you compare it to what Urban walked into at OSU. Butch also has a much tougher conference to navigate, but it does appear that the SEC is starting to even out a bit, so there’s a chance that Tennessee can make some noise in the near future. The biggest key to me is how quickly Tennessee has caught up with the rest of the SEC East from a talent perspective (and surpassed them at quarterback). By doing that, Jones has Tennessee in a position to compete for the Eastern Division Title right now. It may take another class to catch up with the West, but LSU and Alabama also appear to have slipped back to the pack a little bit.

It’s going to be increasingly difficult – if not impossible – to get into the CFB Playoff from the SEC without winning the SEC Championship, and you can’t win the SECC unless you win the East. Baby steps.

“With Barnes, are we going to tourney next year?” – Christopher Lowe

Daniel: No, Lowe, they will not go.

Houston: If they can get a PG, one big and a scoring guard then they’ll have a chance. Call me crazy, but I think he does it.

Kevin:  The chances are slim, slim. In year 1 under Barnes a few NIT wins would be a success, in my opinion.

Reed: Yesterday, he stated his goal is to make the NCAA Tournament next year on Memphis radio.

“We want a program, not just a winning team. We want a winning program. I am excited. I don’t know a lot about the roster, I really don’t. But between now and next year we’re going to get something together and we’re gonna, I’ll tell you right now our goal is to be a team that’s in that tournament next year.

“There’s no question. I don’t think I could stand in front of my team and tell them that we’re rebuilding. I don’t think you can do that…just like at Clemson – we were told we were going to be the worst team in the history of the ACC. The players knew it but we said we’re gonna set our own expectations. Again, I’m not going to shy away from expectations.”

Read the full transcript here. I won’t count him out, either, until I see who he’s able to grab in the spring signing period and who stays/leaves.

Bob:  Who’s Barnes?  I’m a little behind.  Been binge-watching Flip or Flop….

“Who would win in the circle of life drill, DeBord or Barnes?” – @SmokeyGreyVol 

Daniel: Think I’d put my money on DeBord. He has the edge in size, age and has the football background.

Tom Brady: Mike taught me everything I know about fighting in the circle of life drill. He once threw me and Drew Henson in there and said that whoever won would go on to play in the NFL and win four Super Bowls. I won.

Houston: DeBord, no question. He’s an O-Line guy and would have the size advantage over Barnes by quite a bit. That one could get ugly.

Kevin: The winner would be those allowed to watch that circle of life drill in person. Never bet against a Michigan man in a competition of who’s heavier and better at pushing.

Bob:  DeBord.  Snaps Rick like a fresh pretzel stick.  Makes me cringe to think about it.  I mean, he just got here.  Let’s not think about it.

“What’s your take on the college basketball shot clock debate? Is :35 fine or should we go to :30 or maybe even :24?” – @LinvilleCollin

Reed: Rick Barnes says 30 seconds is where it’s headed and where it should be. I can buy that, but I might take it a step further and say go 24 seconds from high school up. The NBA plays with that shot clock, FIBA plays with it and international amateur competitions use it. That’d put a premium on shooting, ball handling and decision making and help develop some of those decision making/fundamentals earlier.

Houston: I say split the difference and give me :28 starting in college. I doubt that they’d be able to get that put in the high school game due to the difficulty of adding additional clocks/clock managers in every gym across the country, but the college game needs to be sped up. It would benefit the game and the fan.

Bob:  Start with a change to :30.  I honestly believe that can make a material difference in the pace of play when you factor that across a 40 minute game.

Daniel: Your’s is much better thought out than mine. I’ll keep it simple: Give Kevin Dyson the touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV and, of course, let the Titans go on to finish that game off. As now a long-suffering Titans fan, it’s sad that my best memory is “coming close” to winning a Super Bowl.

Houston: Blake, that is outstanding work. Simply remarkable. I will second that.

But if I must pick my own, I’ll keep it simple:

I would prevent Rohan Davey from getting injured against Tennessee in the 2001 SEC Championship game. No way the Vols lose to the Tigers unless Matt Mauck comes in and runs all over them. Give me that win and I take my chances against Miami in the National Championship. That Tennessee team may not have won, but they wouldn’t have gotten blasted like Nebraska did. And, who knows, maybe they pull the stunner and Fulmer gets his second NC. I think some people forget just how good that team was.

That win also slows down the momentum that Nick Saban gained at LSU, which may have prevented his legacy from ever beginning….sigh.

Kevin: I’ve been haunted my entire life by Derek Fisher’s game 5 winner against the Spurs in the Western Conference Semi’s in 04′. The rules say that if the clock sits at .03 seconds, the ball can only tipped in, but somehow on that night D-Fish was able to catch, twist, and release within the parameters of that extra .01 second. Take that shot away, (plus a few Kawhi Leonard free throws) and Tim Duncan rightfully has the greatest dynasty in NBA history.

Reed: That’s an extremely well thought out answer, Blake. Lots of things come to mind for me. The moment that Yankees decided to sign A-Rod. I’d love to change that and let him destroy the Red Sox instead of my beloved Yankees. But this one is fairly easy for me – if you could take that moment Steve Spurrier signed the contract to be the head coach of the Florida Gators and send him anywhere outside the SEC, Peyton Manning and Phillip Fulmer would have at least played for multiple national championships.

Bob:  It’s timely with the Final Four upon us, and of course that spectacular 30 for 30 that premiered a few weeks ago, but Christian Laettner and his once in a lifetime, turn-around fade-away last second jumper to beat Kentucky in the ’92 NCAA Tournament.  If he doesn’t hit that shot, Kentucky’s “Unforgettables” go to the Final Four instead of Duke, The Fab Five at Michigan wins the NCAA title that year, and the Blue Devils and Coach K’s  forward progress is stalled, meaning maybe, just maybe they don’t keep pulling in so many blue-chip recruits, meaning they don’t get on national TV as much, meaning Dick Vitale would quit gushing over them like they’re his own kids!  Also, Laettner doesn’t continue to be relevant, even legendary all these years later, although I must admit I do kinda like him in those AT&T commercials with Shaq we’ve been seeing during this years tournament.

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