We answer your questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing:
“Odds Steve Spurrier was holding a beer when he took the pic of McElwain humping the shark?” – @SCompton72
Daniel: Approximately 100%. That’s exactly how I envision that scenario playing out, except with Spurrier saying something like “Welp, Old Coach Mac has lost it.” Here’s what we’re talking about, by the way, if you missed it.
Will: He was definitely holding a cheap beer with a Florida koozie. It’s quite easy to picture, really.
Nathanael: Not only was he holding a beer, he was also shirtless and wearing a visor and sunglasses. He also sent the pic to Phillip Fulmer and said “They replaced me and ole Urbie with this guy?”
“What dead animal will Butch Jones be posing nude with?” – @UmbrAndrew
Daniel: I can’t give an answer that I’ll be able to get out of my mind for the rest of the year, so I’m abstaining.
Will: I’m horrified just thinking of ideas. Maybe a gator to commemorate his biggest win?
Nathanael: A lion, obviously. And he’ll caption it with Mufasa’s “circle of life” speech from The Lion King too.
“Any new prospects Tennessee has offered that we should keep an eye on?” – Clay
Daniel: None of the recent offers have really been eye-opening, especially since they’re doing a lot of work in the 2019 and 2020 classes. There are still more targets emerging in 2018, but I think a lot of the hay is in the barn with those offers and it’ll just be about piecing the class together. I could legitimately see 12-14 in-state guys ending up in the 2018 class, so Tennessee will be hand-picking from out of state a bit more than normal perhaps.
Will: I agree. Nobody really jumps out recently, but as summer camps start heating up I think you’ll see a lot of guys committing in the next couple of months. UT is in play for basically all of the remaining uncommitted players in the state for the 2018 class.
“Who leads the team in touchdowns this year (non QB)? Kelly, Jennings, Chandler, Byrd, Williams?” – Jeff
Daniel: A running back has been the top non-QB touchdown producer every year under Butch Jones at Tennessee, so John Kelly is the pretty obvious choice for me. He started last season as the third option and still ended up with five touchdowns, so it’s easy to envision him leading the team with 10+ in 2017.
Will: John Kelly is certainly the easy choice here. But I think that freshman running back Ty Chandler will get a significant amount of carries and opportunities to get in the endzone.
Nathanael: John Kelly will have double digit touchdowns just from running it. That won’t count the handful he gets as a receiver too. He’s the easy option here. Only way anyone could top him would be if Jennings just hauled in a ridiculous amount. But I don’t think Tennessee will throw it enough for that to happen.
“Is Butch helping Trump build the wall brick by brick?” – @VFL4thHorseman
Daniel: If Mexico won’t pay for it, his services are available:
“As a current Nashvillian is it wrong that I take some personal pride in the Preds success, even though I have really never paid attention?” – Jeff
Daniel: Absolutely not. The way you phrased it is perfect – it’s great for anybody in the state or region to have pride in what the Predators are doing right now. I get a little annoyed by people acting like lifelong fans who have never watched the Preds before the last couple weeks, but I’ll even welcome them to the fan base if they’ll stick with the Preds going forward – even when things aren’t going as well as they are right now.
Will: The way this fan base works, there’s really no shame in being a bandwagon supporter. The team is still new enough that its always adding fans each season. As long as you stick around during the regular season next year, then there’s nothing wrong. Just don’t hop off when the Preds start struggling again in the beginning of the season as they always seem to do. Between the Predators and the Titans increased success, it’s good to see more UT fans based outside of Nashville joining us Middle Tennesseans as big fans.
Nathanael: No, Jeff, there’s nothing wrong with it. You don’t have to be a hardcore fan to take pride in a team from your state doing well in a sport. And as for the bandwagon aspect of it all: I was asked about this earlier this week, and I responded by saying there are two different types of bandwagon fans in my opinion. The first are the ones who only stick around while the team is good; they bolt for another team as soon as that team stinks again or does something disappointing. The other group, however, becomes intrigued by the team’s success and stays invested for the future. That’s how I was with my Preds fandom in 2015. I hopped on the bandwagon then and then became invested and followed them more in the 2015-16 season and then even watched several regular season games during this past 2016-17 season and have seen every postseason game this year. I don’t profess to being a lifelong Preds fan, but I’m really, really glad I’ve gotten more into hockey and the Preds. In fact, hockey has leapfrogged the NBA for me in terms of how much I watch and care about it.