Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?
Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?
Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's...

Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?

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Featured Story

Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?

Written by: Clay Travis

Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee Vols were in the midst of an awkward divorce. Neither really wanted to be in a relationship with the other. Vol athletic director Dave Hart expected Martin to take the Marquette job, but at the last minute Martin told Marquette no. So just over ten days ago Tennessee released an unplanned commitment letter between Martin and the Vols. Clearly, that "commitment" is now no longer. Tennessee and Cuonzo both got their wish, the divorce is final.

So now the question becomes this -- what will Tennessee pay to hire a replacement coach? If the Vols are willing to pay in the neighborhood of $2.5 million a year then there are many top-tier candidates. That kind of salary would mean that Tennessee is paying top-ten college basketball coaching money.  There aren't many schools that can pay top-ten coaching money. Tennessee can. 

The men's basketball program has been right around the top five in the country for much of that last decade in total attendance. Three of the last four Tennessee coaches -- everyone except for the woeful Buzz Peterson -- has been to a Sweet 16. The Vols have been in the NCAA tournament for 11 of the past 16 seasons. This is without a doubt one of the top four basketball jobs in the SEC. Kentucky is the unquestioned number one job in the conference, but Bruce Pearl recently argued that Tennessee was number two. His argument was pretty simple, Billy Donovan makes Florida's program, not the other way around. (Pearl's top six SEC programs in order were Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Missouri). That's a fair list. Given that Arkansas hasn't even been to the Sweet 16 since 1996, approaching an entire generation, it's hard to argue that Arkansas is superior to the Vols. I don't believe Vandy and Mizzou are either. 

As is, Cuonzo leaves behind a mediocre collection of talent, but Vol fans know this. Expectations will be realistic for a new coach. 

So who will that new coach be? It really depends on what Dave Hart can spend. The finances of Vol athletics have stabilized a great deal of late. Dooley's buyout is, mercifully, mostly gone. Butch Jones has the football team on the right track. Vol athletics has dug out of its buyout hole. 

Hell, Cal will actually be paying Tennessee over a million dollars for Cuonzo to leave.

Here's an early stab at a guess. 

Latest Articles

2014 Opening NCAA Tournament Odds

Written by: Clay Travis

The LVH Sportsbook, where I'll be with FoxSports1 all week, has already released its NCAA tournament odds based on the just released brackets.  

My Final Four picks are Florida, Creighton, Michigan State and Louisville. 

We'll spend quite a bit of time breaking down the odds tonight on Fox Sports Live. 

Check us out on FS1 at 11 eastern, 10 central, 8 pacific. 

Come hang out as we make television history. 

Outkick the Podcast With Author David Epstein

Written by: Clay Travis

"The Sports Gene," by David Epstein is one of the two best sports books I read in 2003. (The other was "League of Denial.") As an author I know how hard it can be to cut through all the noise and have your book noticed. So occasionally I'm going to use the podcast to help publicize books that I've really enjoyed.

If you've ever wondered how much of athleticism is genetic and how much is related to practice, Epstein's book is for you. It's completely fascinating. Breaking down the body types and genetics of great athletes and examining what makes them excel. Why does Jamaica produce so many great sprinters? Why can't baseball players hit softball pitchers? What makes Kenyan distance runners so successful? What about the particular body type that makes swimmers able to set world records? How about the guy who had never attempted the high jump until college and then became the world record holder?

You are going to love this book. (In my best Levar Burton voice). Go buy it.  

I'm putting the podcasts up on Soundcloud here, but most of you are already signing up for the podcast downloads.

Hopefully they're helping to make your workouts or drives past a bit faster.  

Okay, it's mailbag time, you slackers. I know you were all looking for reasons not to work, now you have one.  

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is this Kentucky fan, who was so convinced the Cats would win the national title in 2014 that he went ahead and got the tattoo.

Smart play.

Oh, and Johnny Manziel is still training in San Diego.

Guy can't even go get ice cream without being accosted by girls in bikinis who want to get their picture taken with him.

It's a rough life.  

Starting Sunday I will be live from Las Vegas for an entire week of the NCAA Tournament. Todd Furhman and I will be at the LVH sportsbook for nightly hits. I believe this will be the first time that any network has ever spent a week with live coverage from a sports book. So we'll be making history.

I'll also be betting $100 on all 48 first and second round games on Thursday-Sunday. Yep, every game. Todd will probably bet the opposite way because he's an ass. Either way it's going to be a lot of fun and if you guys or gals will be in Vegas I hope you'll swing by and say hi.

And for those of you who are watching from home and want to get some betting tips, we'll be live from the LVH every night on FoxSportsLive.

The big question here is, will I survive an entire week in Vegas during the NCAA tournament.

It's iffy.

On Sunday we'll also have Charissa Thompson live from the casino with us.

Here's the promo.

UPDATE: Auburn has hired Bruce Pearl. 

Auburn AD Jay Jacobs fired basketball coach Tony Barbee last night and speculation immediately centered on the possibility of Bruce Pearl to Auburn. As Kevin Scarbinsky at the Birmingham News notes, Auburn currently employs two top officials from the NCAA, including the lead investigator on Pearl's case. If that former NCAA investigator is okay with Auburn hiring Pearl, how could anyone have an issue with it at all? He knows the entirety of the case better than anyone in the country.

If Auburn can get Pearl, it would be a coaching outkick of epic proportions. Because let's be honest, where does Auburn rank right now among the best basketball jobs in the conference? Pearl himself told me recently that the top six jobs in the SEC were 1. Kentucky 2. Tennessee 3. Florida 4. Arkansas 5. Vanderbilt and 6. Missouri. I agree with those six -- we can debate the order, although I do agree that Tennessee is the second best basketball job in the conference. Look at the facilities and fan support at UT. (The Vols are top five in basketball attendance. Hell, they even drew big crowds when the program was awful. Florida doesn't sell out the O-Dome even with the number one team in the country). Not to mention the recruiting base is very solid. Unlike in football where everyone cares, you can be a top basketball job in the SEC just by your fans caring.

So how would I rank the rest of the SEC basketball jobs?

Like this: 7. Georgia 8. LSU 9. Alabama 10. Ole Miss 11. Texas A&M 12. South Carolina 13. Mississippi State 14. Auburn  

While upon first blush it makes no sense that Auburn, the worst job in the SEC, could snag Bruce Pearl, look at how weak the SEC presently is. The right coach can make a program soar up these rankings. Pearl would immediately be the third best coach in the SEC behind Florida's Billy Donovan and Kentucky's John Calipari. (And you can make an argument, which I would, that Pearl is a better coach than Cal.) Remember that Pearl had tremendous success recruiting the city of Atlanta. And Auburn's just 108 miles from Atlanta. If Pearl could reopen that pipeline and snag a few players a year from Atlanta, he'd have the Tigers back in the NCAA tournament in a hurry.   

So former Kentucky basketball player Rex Chapman has a Kentucky basketball fan stalker.

You absolutely have to read this story. 

Over twenty years ago Rex Chapman's mom ended up becoming pen pals with three of the biggest Rex Chapman fans alive. They were 15 years old at the time and the three boys called themselves "The 'Nators," as in the dominators. Yes, this is the perfect 15 year old boy self-group nickname. Well, Rex ended stopping by the Nators' house to meet with them when he was 21, after his second year in the NBA. Why did he do this? Because his mom promised the Nators he'd stop by. (If this isn't the most mom thing ever). While there Rex and his two friends ended up playing a three-on-three basketball game against the trio of 15 year olds on the appropriately named "Nator Court."

Which is where the story would end for most of us.

Except that a few years ago Rex ran into one of the 'Nators and, in a moment of weakness, gave him his cell number and told him to call if he was ever in Phoenix.

That was a big mistake.

Because the Nator is now stalking Rex Chapman.  

Bret Bielema Is the new Lane Kiffin

Written by: Clay Travis

Bret Bielema at Arkansas is like Lane Kiffin at Tennessee, except without the wins.

Bielema's a disaster, the latest Lane Kiffin to join the SEC. You remember Kiffin's short-lived tenure at Tennessee, right? How he blew into town from a different geographic region convinced that he was going to dominate the SEC. With his hot blonde wife in tow, Kiffin embarked on a series of ill-fated public comments, brought the NCAA to Knoxville for an investigation that somehow ended up costing Bruce Pearl his job, stumbled through to a 7-6 first season record, and then blew out of town for the job at USC just a couple of weeks before signing day.

Along the way it became clear that Kiffin had no idea about Tennessee or its job, basing most of his decision to accept the job on recruiting questionnaires he had sent out that revealed Tennessee to be one of the best known programs in the country. Upon his arrival in Knoxville Kiffin found out that -- sakes alive -- Vol fans actually wanted to meet the head coach when he went out to dinner and that it was cold in the winter, two things that he'd had no idea about prior to accepting the job. He was like a tourist from California who showed up at the Smoky Mountains and couldn't leave. Boy, they really like country music here, huh?

The best story that sums up Lane Kiffin's tenure at Tennessee? He got lost on a gameday jog in Knoxville.

Now let's compare Kiffin with Bret Bielema, who blew into Fayetteville with a hot blonde wife and immediately compared his Big Ten coaching record, in a favorable manner, to Nick Saban's. Then he proceeded to go 0-8 in the SEC, putting him just two losses away from Nick Saban's total SEC losses in seven years. After running off three straight wins his wife Tweeted #karma and Bielema's Razorback team has not won since. While every other first year SEC coach racked up sterling recruiting classes, Bielema signed the SEC's 11th best class. Then, not content with a winless fall and an awful recruiting class in the nation's most competitive conference, Bielema embarked on a tour de force performance in stupidity by arguing that he opposed hurry up no huddle offenses because of "death certificates," and "sickle cell disease."

Vegas Bracketology 5.0.14

Written by: Todd Fuhrman

March is when Cinderellas are born. We all know the stories about the Butler’s, George Mason’s, and VCU’s of the world getting hot at just the right time in their quest to string together 6 straight wins and cut down the nets.  In Vegas, we don’t get caught up in all that nostalgia because it doesn't help cash tickets.  More often than not we burst bubbles, relishing the opportunity to provide the truth behind talent evaluations.  This is our field, the best 68 teams in the land seeded by the power potential they possess rather than grading them on a non-conference resume building win back in November when college football fans still thought Alabama would win another national title.  Time changes all...

Look, it's Monday, and while everyone else is on spring break, you're at work. 

This means you're not on the same cruise as Blake Bortles's girlfriend, Lindsey Duke, and Matthew Stafford's girlfriend, Kelly Hall. 

Look, I could pretend there's some real story here, but when two number one overall draft picks at quarterback's girlfriends -- maybe, it looks like the Texans are taking Bortles -- miraculously meet on a cruise ship for the first time while both are wearing bikinis, why mess with destiny? And then, as if that wasn't enough, Kelly Hall, Stafford's girlfriend, immediately posts the pic on Instagram and adds this sweet message: "Got to meet a new friend on the cruise..Wishing her and her man all the luck in the upcoming draft!" 

It's basically a sign from God that He loves Outkick.

And that he doesn't want me to work that hard today. 

Not to be outdone, Stafford's girlfriend also got creative and made the picture of just the two of them black and white because she wanted to evoke the timeless moment of their initial meeting, which, I'm going to be honest, is kind of like when Elvis met Muhammad Ali. If, you know, Nixon and Elvis had been been hot coeds in bikinis on a cruise ship during spring break when they met for the first time.  

True Detective Finale Breaks HBO, Clears My House

Written by: Clay Travis

Last night we had six friends over to watch the "True Detective," finale.

At 6:45, over an hour before the finale was set to air, my wife asked me to ensure that True Detective was set to record on our DVR. Because, after all, if you have people over to your house to watch a show, the worst thing you could possibly do is not have the show ready for them to watch. I checked, it was set to record. At the same time my six year old brought down a book about the planets and started asking me questions about space. There is nothing like a six year old asking you questions about space to make you realize how dumb you are about space. 

So he starts by asking me what's the farthest planet from the sun and I say Pluto. 

And he says, "That's not right, daddy."

Then he opens up his book and flips to the section on our solar system and I'll be damned, there's a new planet in our solar system called Eris, which is farther from the sun than Pluto. When the hell did this happen? We're just adding planets willy nilly now? Is Jupiter still a thing, does Saturn still have rings? Worse than that, there's a split in scientific authority about whether Pluto is a planet or not. Half of the science books consider Pluto to be a planet and the other half don't. There's a split of scientific opinion on Pluto! How am I supposed to answer my kid's questions about space when scientists can't even agree on how many planets there actually are in our solar system?  

What other knowledge am I missing? Have they found life on other planets too?

This is my problem with science, we don't know anything. And we think we do and we teach a bunch of idiots like me things and I believe it all -- remember when dinosaurs used to be ancestral reptiles until they descended and became birds? Is that still true too? ARE DINOSAURS STILL BIRDS OR HAVE I BEEN WRONG ABOUT THIS TOO?

I don't even want to answer my kid's science questions now because I'm already like the old dad who still believes in treating fevers with leeches. (Remember there was always one kid at school with the old dad who told his kid all the wrong information. That kid was screwed.)

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