We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“Who is recruiting better right now…Rick Barnes or Butch Jones?” – Clay
Will: Rick Barnes. I don’t think people understand how good James Daniel really is. His tape is unreal. Daniel has the ability to take pressure off UT’s young post players and really take this team to the next level.
Daniel: I’ll go with Butch right now. Chris Darrington and James Daniel will be nice upgrades in the backcourt, but they’re short-term additions, whereas Butch has landed some really, really good four-year players over the past two weeks. Based on the shaky trajectory of last year’s recruiting class, plus disappointment on the field, I thought this class could be in trouble, but I’m being proven wrong right now.
Nathanael: Can I go with “both” and be lame? No? Well then I’ll say it’s still Jones even with the strong few weeks Barnes has put together. Barnes has done it one or (arguably) two offseasons with the Vols so far, but Jones has a few more years of quality recruiting at Tennessee than Barnes. Barnes is on a hot streak, but so is Jones as well. Tennessee just picked up commitments from a strong quarterback and solid tight end among others in the recent month.
“Has Daniel renamed his child Colton yet?” – Ben
Daniel: I got stonewalled by my wife on that idea like I was a Western Conference forward trying to score on Pekka Rinne.
Will: Daniel, just name him Bernier. Like his net, I’m sure your wife would be open to it.
Nathanael: Should’ve named him Colton McNair Lewis to be honest.
“Where should I coach next year?” – Butch Jones (@lifechampbutch)
Will: Tennessee. Next question.
Daniel: Either Tennessee or live that buyout life, no question.
Nathanael: I feel like we’re being tested here…I’m not getting put on any back pocket list.
“Do you think we can land Master Teague?” – @RockyTopBrickSquad
Will: Tennessee is trending in the right direction with Teague. Walt Wells is going to be a big part of his recruitment. Auburn is going to be the team to look out for, but at this point it’s up in the air. UT, Georgia and Auburn all have a shot.
Daniel: I think Tennessee has about as good a chance as anybody, but I’d take the field over the Vols right now. He’s a big target for UT, however, and it’s tough to rule out Robert Gillespie and Walt Wells in this one.
Nathanael: I don’t want to be the wet blanket here, but I know people in the middle Tennessee area who follow the recruiting pretty well there. Tennessee still has a very good chance on landing him, but I’m not overly optimistic.
“Instead of trading Auburn for Missouri, what about swapping Auburn for Tennessee? AU-UGA, AU-Bama, UT-Bama all preserved.” – @techvol1
Will: Because Tennessee is further to the north than Auburn. It wouldn’t make any sense to make trips every other year to LSU, Arkansas or Texas A&M. Auburn to Baton Rouge is much easier than Knoxville to Baton Rouge. Plus, you can’t get rid of UT-Georgia and UT-Vandy that easily. UT is not a candidate to switch divisions.
Nathanael: Exactly what Will said. Tennessee won’t move divisions because they’re one of the eastern-most teams in the SEC. That alone will guarantee they never move as long as divisions exist because travel logistically doesn’t make sense. Moving Auburn to the East would bring back the UT-AU rivalry. I’d be all for that.
“Where do y’all stand on the Neyland renovations? I don’t want to see seating capacity reductions.” – @SolidVolFan
Will: I hate to say it, but the days of bragging about seat capacity are gone. It just doesn’t matter anymore. Tennessee sells out its stadium for the majority of its games, but could have a completely full crowd and more luxury seats under new renovations. I’ll take that deal any day. You can’t exit the student section in under twenty minutes because the concourse is so narrow. There’s lots of work to be done.
Daniel: Keep it at 100,000 plus, make it fan-friendly, accessible, clean, get better food and make sure the Wi-Fi works. Outside of that, spend your money on hiring great coaches and staff.
Nathanael: Keep the capacity at 100,000-plus and get rid of the troughs. Those are all the demands I have. Oh, and better wi-fi for the fans.
“Better name for my new Doberman pup: Pekka, Jauan, Peerless or Summitt?” – @NeylandMafia
Will: Arvy or Pekka. Your call.
Nathanael: If you went to UT, I actually think Ayres would be a good name. Otherwise, I’d say Pekka or Jauan since Jennings is already a dog. Big Al is also an option.