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Insider Mailing: Still Plenty to Talk About Edition

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Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.

Any chance JT Daniels picks Vols ? Is this a bad thing if he does? Who transfers?” – Sam

Nathanael: Honestly, I would be pretty surprised if he chose Tennessee. I think there are other, more appealing options out there for him like LSU or simply staying at USC. Daniels and his family seem to really like California and USC, and it appeared as though many who cover USC were surprised he announced his intention to transfer.

But if Daniels does end up transferring and does pick the Vols, there’s no way it’s a bad thing, in my opinion. Daniels is talented and would battle Jarrett Guarantano for the starting job immediately. Adding him likely means the transfer of two other quarterbacks, in my opinion. I think you’d see both JT Shrout and Brian Maurer leave the program if Daniels comes in. Harrison Bailey has no reason to leave yet, and there’s no guarantee that Daniels will be able to keep the job from Bailey in the coming years.

Ben: There’s a chance because of the tie to Tee Martin and Velus Jones Jr., the grad transfer WR from USC. J.T. Daniels signed with USC out of high school partly because of his relationship with Martin, and Daniels then played with Jones at USC before Jones decided to transfer to Tennessee.

In addition to the ties to the Vols, there’s a quick path to playing time for Daniels despite a crowded quarterback room. Sure, Tennessee has six quarterbacks who could theoretically start, but Daniels is one heck of a talent and might just be the best quarterback the moment he steps foot on campus. I don’t know if the chances are great, but it would make sense for Daniels to move to Knoxville. I’d definitely say there’s a chance at minimum if Tennessee wants to pursue that route.

“How much will the coaches and AD salaries be cut if there is no season?” – John

Nathanael: Good question. I think there will ultimately be a season, but it may not start until the winter. I think the NCAA will do everything they can to make a football season happen, even if it’s a shortened one or if it starts a lot later. With that being said, the revenue for this year will likely hit a low point not seen in a very long time, and I’ll be curious to see if anyone is asked to take a pay cut. I don’t think you’ll see many if any Power Five programs do that, but what about the smaller schools? They’ll probably be forced to for sure.

Ben: That’s a good question, and I’m not going to pretend to know the exact numbers of how much of a cut coaches and administration would have to take. Missouri’s coaches took a pay cut late in the week of about 10 percent for a portion of the summer. I would imagine it would be somewhere in that ballpark until this pandemic comes to an end.

“How will everything go for these kids that wanted to prove themselves for a sports scholarship? I know some children played sports all their life but what if there was that one who only played their Sr. Year?” – Pam

Nathanael: Yeah, that’s very rough for them. There are many recruits out there who wait until their junior or senior years to pursue a sport — whether that’s football or basketball — who are really going to be hurt by all this. All athletes are going to be affected, but it may sway student-athletes who were considering trying a new sport late in their high school careers to not do so.

Ben: It doesn’t affect football just yet. Yes, there are prospects missing out on earning scholarships at camp settings at different schools, but at least there is still the possibility of making up those offers once their senior season starts this fall. It really hurts the high school seniors who play spring sports who were hoping to earn a scholarship. Their season is simply lost. Hopefully they can still latch on to a school or go to a junior college and earn back their scholarship.

“True or false: Jalin Hyatt will have a big year for the VOLS this year at WR?” – @htcook1999

Nathanael: I don’t think he’ll have a big year as a true freshman, but I do think he’ll make a noticeable impact. With Josh Palmer, Deangelo Gibbs, and Brandon Johnson all likely ahead of Hyatt, I don’t think he’ll be able to have a “big” year this season. That also doesn’t take into account grad transfer Velus Jones Jr. and fellow freshmen Malachi Wideman, Dee Beckwith, and Jimmy Calloway at the position. I really like Hyatt’s ceiling, but I think he’s true “big” season won’t be till at least 2021. I think he and Wideman have the most potential of the incoming freshmen to have the biggest impact, though.

Ben: Depends on what your definition of “big year” is. If that’s making the All-SEC Freshman team, then I think there is most definitely a chance. I personally think of all the wide receivers coming in, Hyatt has the quickest route to playing time because he possesses speed that the others don’t have. You can put him in the slot or even line him up on the outside just to pose the threat of taking the top off of the defense. I don’t know how big of a season Hyatt will have, but I definitely think he’ll have an impact.

“With the draft coming up it has me wondering. Do we still hate Hurd? After all that came out about the way Butch was running things?” – @nposey23

Nathanael: I personally don’t. I think both parties made mistakes, and Jalen Hurd could’ve handled things better than he did back in 2016. But ultimately, as we’ve seen and heard a lot more about Butch Jones over the last few years, I put much more blame on Jones and how things were being run than Hurd. That doesn’t completely excuse Hurd, but he was a 21-year-old who didn’t handle things correctly. That’s much more forgivable than a head coach doing what Butch did while leading young men.

Ben: I personally don’t, and I don’t really think anybody should. Jalen Hurd should not have refused to go into the football game against South Carolina. But the situation was a product of the culture Butch Jones established. Years later, Hurd looks infinitely better than Jones.

“Any news on potential S&C coach replacements? I feel like we need someone that looks like Bill Goldberg from the wcw days and that talks like Sgt Slaughter.” – Michael

Nathanael: All signs continue to point to A.J. Artis taking over as the head strength and conditioning coach. I think if Tennessee were going to hire someone outside of the program to take the job, it would’ve happened by now. Artis has been featured a lot in videos Tennessee has put out on Twitter, and promoting him seems to be the move.

Ben: It’s just a matter of time before A.J. Artis is introduced as the new head strength and conditioning coach. I would be surprised if someone else was hired.

“Who would be your dream home and home series for football and basketball and why?” – Samuel

Nathanael: For football, I’d love to see the Vols either take on a Pac-12 team like Washington or USC in a home-and-home. SEC teams rarely play Pac-12 teams, and I think that would be a lot of fun. If not that, I’d choose Texas. That way, we can finally settle the “real UT” debate.

In men’s hoops, taking on Duke in a home-and-home would be a lot of fun. The Vols have done that with North Carolina, but seeing Coach K in Thompson-Boling and seeing UT experience the madness of Cameron Indoor would be truly something to behold. Plus, Tennessee and Duke have only played one time in the last 40 years, and that was in 2011 in Maui. The Vols haven’t played the Blue Devils in Durham since 1975, and Duke hasn’t been to Knoxville since 1976.

Ben: For football, I would say Notre Dame, Texas, or USC. A home-and-home with the Fighting Irish and Trojans would be fun because of the tradition behind those two programs. As for a home-and-home with Texas, it would be a battle of “UT,” and boy would that be fun.

On the basketball court, I would love to see Tennessee play Duke. I love college sports because of the tradition and pageantry of each school. Say what you will about Duke, but seeing the Vols playing in Durham or the Blue Devils in Knoxville would be a really cool sight. Duke is the best of the best.

“What transfers are the Lady Vols and Kellie Harper targeting? – @yazRoble

Ben: At this moment, the Lady Vols are at 11 scholarships for next season, which leaves two spots open. I don’t know if Harper and her staff will hold on to those scholarships for next year’s recruiting cycle when they have more time to establish relationships, or whether they’ll try to bring in immediate help. They’ve definitely been keeping an eye on a couple of transfers, but they aren’t specifically keyed in on somebody at the moment.

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