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Insider Mailing: Postseason Rumors Edition

Zach Azzanni-1“Zach Azzanni taking the OC job at Maryland?” – William Forrester 

“Which AC’s are gonna fall by the wayside with all the shakeups in coaching?” – @dylan_kinney

“Who are some position coaches you guys think could be upgraded, and who would you realistically like to replace them?” – @boximus007

Daniel: Assistant coaches are on a lot of people’s minds, it seems. I think there will be some movement, but it’s all just speculation at this point. Dan Wolken had the report that Azzanni could be in play as the OC under D.J. Durkin at Maryland, so that has to at least be called a credible rumor at this point. Obviously the passing game wasn’t up to par this year, though there were a lot of factors in that, so Azzanni’s status will be an interesting one to monitor. And then there’s the question of what they’ll do about de factor quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan. He’s technically a GA and this is the last year he can do that, so they’ll either have to fire somebody else and shift things around to keep him on full-time or lose him. I think they like him a lot.

Nathanael: I think there’s going to be some sort of movement with this coaching staff this offseason, it’s just a matter of who at this point. Whether it’s Butch shifting things around himself or the assistant coaches moving on to take raises and promotions elsewhere, someone like Azzanni or Willie Martinez leaving wouldn’t surprise me at all. I think the Vols have to get a QB coach for next season whether it’s promoting Nick Sheridan or stealing one from another school. And by doing that alone, the Vols will have to move some other people around.

“Do you kind of hope Mark Richt wins a national championship at Miami, since he was fired after a 9 win season?” – Samuel Chaffin

Bob: Not to say “I told you so” in an Insider Mailing edition a few weeks back, but I did!  I said watch how quickly Richt ends up with another job at a major program if he gets let go in Athens.  I also said that Georgia can only regress if they made this move, and I believe they did with their hiring of Kirby Smart….at least for the near term.  As for CMR, I’m actually a fan of his; he’s a first class human being, and a better coach than he’s given credit for.  I’ll be rooting for him, and it will be interesting to see how he can manage ALL of the fan base and booster/former player expectations in Miami (i.e., winning, recruiting, swagger quotient, etc).

Daniel: Maybe I’m safer in saying this since he’s not at Georgia anymore, but I’ve always liked Mark Richt a ton. I think he’s all class, a good coach, a good recruiter and I’d have no problem with my son playing for him. I’d be glad to see him be very successful at Miami and I think that could be good for UT if he can make Florida’s life more difficult with his in-state recruiting.

John: I get why people were upset down in Athens, and I’m in touch with all the under-performing angles, but I still think it’s sad that a coach can get fired coming off of 19 wins in the prior two seasons. Twenty if they win their bowl game. While losing their best player to injury for significant stretches of both seasons. People who want to compare it to Fulmer? I get that too. Except Richt hasn’t had two losing seasons in his prior four. He’s won 12, 8, 10 with the chance for another 10 this year. I’m glad he’s left. What a miserable place where that isn’t good enough. So, yeah, me personally? I hope Richt KILLS it. By all accounts he’s a good man and he certainly deserved more respect in Athens.

“Who do you think is going to transfer? Any rumors?” – Jake Tidwell

“Heard anything about Hurd/Kamara transferring?” – Kyle Blair

Daniel: I haven’t heard anything credible about Jalen Hurd and/or Alvin Kamara transferring. It really wouldn’t make a ton of sense for them to at this point – especially Hurd. Regardless, he should stick around, break records and get paid after next year. Kamara seems happy from all accounts I’ve heard and I don’t think a fourth school in four years would really be a good move for him at all. I think there will be transfers, but I’m not going to throw a ton of names out yet. I think quarterback, offensive line and receiver could be some positions to watch. Losing bottom-tier of the roster guys really isn’t a big deal and is actually pretty healthy in situations. How many impact/potential impact guys do they lose? That’s what to watch for.

Nathanael: Absolutely no chance Hurd transfers. There’s been some weird speculation seemingly out of nowhere about him doing so, but then his mother entered herself into a conversation on Wednesday on Twitter when someone mentioned him leaving and said “no way.” So I’m willing to bet he’s staying. As for other people transferring, I think they definitely will. Just a matter of who and when at this point. Butch Jones has set up the probability of that happening with his “the age of the transfer” quote at the Quarterback Club here in town. So you can bet there will be some.

“If you had to place your bet today, what would you be willing to bet that UT will win the East next year?” – Samuel Chaffin

“What are the realistic expectations for next season?” – @CJRobinson9

“2016 SEC Championship prediction?” –@RockyTopBrickSquad

Daniel: I fully expect Tennessee to be in the East hunt next year. Will they win it and would I bet on them? I need to see how the roster shakes out, recruiting, coaching hires and all that. Too many variables right now. But as things stand now, I think nine or 10 wins is very realistic and a trip to Atlanta is certainly a possibility.

John: I’m with Daniel on this one. Too many things left unknown right now. However, Tennessee should absolutely have a look at it. The thing that scares me is that sometimes it feels like this team and its staff is more comfortable as an underdog. For them to go to Atlanta this time next year, they better figure out how to feel comfortable as a favorite in a big-time ball game.

Nathanael: Go ahead and put me on record as saying the Vols and Gators are going to be the heavy favorites to win the East next year, and it’s going to be one of those two teams who wins it. I’d bet something on it, but the moment I do that is the moment I’ll be proven wrong and end up either with a bald head or a Georgia Bulldog tattooed to my behind.

Bob: 10-2 regular season record…possibly 11-1 if the stars aligned.  SEC Championship Game. New Years 6 Bowl Game.  And no, I haven’t been drinking!  Maybe a tad lofty, but I believe they’re that talented, and have learned valuable lessons from their gaffes earlier this season. Let’s see….Florida and Alabama at Neyland.  Georgia on the road, but likely a weaker Georgia squad than we’ve seen in many years given the transition they’ll be in during Kirby Smart’s maiden voyage as a head coach.  A&M in College Station will be extremely tough, but really, I like how Tennessee stacks up next season, not only with their roster, but with their schedule, which I’d characterize (in relative terms…it is the SEC after all!) as favorable.  I say a trip to Atlanta is coming our way this time next year.

“What is your favorite exercise to burn belly fat?” – Naveed Mirza 

Daniel: Decline crunches, planks and five minutes of not eating as much junk as I normally do.

Bob: Lots of cardio (for me, spinning is working well…great cardio, but also makes you manage and leverage your body weight for bonus strength work), lots of planks (center and side), and very little gluten and sugar.  At least that’s what I’ve read in Men’s Health magazine.

John: Dude, it’s all about diet. Exercise, yes, and I try to work out five days a week. Three with resistance and cardio, two with straight cardio. But if you get disciplined about eating lean meats, modest amounts of complex carbohydrates (but never after 4pm) and good fats (like almonds, avocado, etc…), you won’t have much belly fat to burn.

“Is Peyton Manning thinking about coaching for UT?” – @dr_danielwade

“What are the odds of Peyton coming?” – @SugarVols1998

Daniel: I know it’s the Gruden-on-steroids rumor, and I know he said he would consider being a quarterbacks coach, but I’ll be surprised if he ends up doing that. He’s said he wants to play another year in the NFL and I think his best role down the road might be in media or maybe as a John Elway-type figure for an organization.

John: Probably blasphemous, but I’m not sure I want him to come here. What if he sucked as a coach? I’m leery of all “big star’s emotional homecoming” scenarios. I live my life by the upside/downside theory. And there’s virtually nothing Peyton could do to up his stock here. Yet there are so many scenarios that might tarnish his reputation, and I’m fine with where we’re at right now. Plus, I just don’t see him as a QB coach. I’m with DL. I could see him working a front office job in the NFL and maturing along those ranks. I don’t see him starting his post NFL career as a position coach.

Nathanael: No way this happens. I have to agree with John on this one. There’s a good chance Peyton would be a great coordinator/assistant if he coached, but there’s also a chance he’d be bad at it too. And good luck to any head coach or AD who has to try to fire the Son of Knoxville if it turns out Peyton wasn’t cutting it as a coach. Also, why would he want to potentially tarnish his legacy by leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth by being a coach at his Alma Mater if he ended up failing? I could see him doing something higher up like John Elway does (and maybe with the Titans), but I don’t think he’d come back to coach at UT.

Bob: (sung to the Nationwide Insurance commercial jingle that Peyton knows so well) “I’d-win-more-close-games-than-Butch…”

I’m with the rest of Team RTI on this.  Very unlikely that Peyton comes to UT in any coaching capacity in my opinion.  I envision him being a potential genius of an NFL exec, or an absolutely killer color commentator, not for NFL football, but SEC football (he’d do fine in either, but his SEC lore makes that a better fit for my taste).  Picture Peyton (and perhaps a Brad Nesslar-type talent) replacing Verne and Danielson on the CBS SEC Game of the Week.  It would be outstanding!

“Do y’all have any updates on Curt Maggitt and his possible pursuit of a 6th year?” – Charley Collier 

Daniel: Butch Jones addressed it on Tuesday, just saying there’s no timetable right now. My gut feeling is that he won’t come back, but no solid information on that yet.

Nathanael: I don’t have any new info on Maggitt, but if I were him there’s no way I’d stay for a sixth year. There’s a good chance he’ll just get hurt again next year, and he needs to leave and get paid while he still can. Not sure where he’d end up in the draft if he’d even get selected, but he needs to just go and make his money while he still can. I will always appreciate what he did for this university and the heart and passion he brought every game, and it’s because of that I want to see him succeed and make millions of dollars.

“Are you so vain you think this song is about you?” – @DavidMaxedon 

Daniel: I just assumed it was.

John: I’ll take Warren Beatty for a thousand, Alex.

Bob: Yes David, I am…and I do!  See, I do have a horse that won at Saratoga (naturally), and I do have a place in Nova Scotia that I get to by LearJet, where you can see a total eclipse of the sun.  Coincidence?  I think not!

Nathanael: Wait, you mean it’s not??

“Would TN be better off w/o Dave Hart? Would David Blackburn from UTC be your top pick? If not, who?” – @HawaiiVol31

Daniel: Tough to say. Dave Hart’s done a lot of good in my opinion, but has been far from perfect. At the end of the day, the football program is improving, facilities have been upgraded and money is heading in the right direction – those are really the three biggest tasks of the AD at Tennessee. Is that all because of him? Not necessarily, but he deserves some credit as well. I do think Blackburn would be pretty high on my list if making a change – I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him from those around the industry. Butch’s old AD from Cincinnati, Whit Babcock, now at Virginia Tech would be another name I’d be interested in. Scott Stricklin (Mississippi State), Ross Bjork (Ole Miss) and Chris Del Conte (TCU) are some other guys that I think have done a great job. I’m also intrigued by Phillip Fulmer and Charles Davis. No idea if they’d be interested, but talk about a couple guys who love UT and know sports – I think they have to at least be considered.

Nathanael: I’m about as torn as a person possibly can be on Dave Hart. He’s had successes here for sure, but how many of those successes have been because of luck or despite himself? Hart lucked into hiring Rick Barnes in basketball, backed into the hire of Butch Jones, and his hiring of Holly Warlick in women’s basketball is looking shakier and shakier with each passing game. Hart is also responsible for not vetting Donnie Tyndall correctly, mishandling the Cuonzo Martin situation, and enraging part of the fan base with the “Lady Vols” debacle. Hart has helped get academics back on track in football, and he deserves some credit for that. He’s also done some other good things while here. But I’m a big proponent of a “Tennessee man” running the show as the AD at UT, and I wouldn’t mind seeing someone like Blackburn come over. He has a good track record and I think would be a good fit here if it ever happens.

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