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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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. 

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On October 30, 1977 I was born in Dothan, Alabama to a family who had bled Alabama Crimson since the football teams’ inception in 1892. Growing up, all I knew was Alabama football.

By Jacob Cooper

The prevailing sentiment around the country is that Razorback fans are willing to do anything to get Bobby Petrino back. With each game that interim head coach John L. Smith lets slip away, the chorus grows louder.

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Thirty-nine years ago a woman went into labor on her 25th Birthday. Eighteen hours later on the following morning she delivered her first child. She spent the next two and a half decades raising this son. She was a Bama fan. 

It's a big week for Derek Dooley as his Vols travel to Athens to take on the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs.

Given the fact that Georgia is a two touchdown favorite, it's probably unfair to expect Dooley to pull off the upset. But the tension in Knoxville in the wake of an awful final eighteen minutes against Florida has Dooley's job status as a constant topic. Which brings to local radio station WNML, the Sports Animal, the Volunteer affiliate, ground zero for Vol fan disgust.

Every morning Doc, Jeff, and Heather talk sports. The trio is an odd couple (plus one) of sorts, Doc is Mickey Dearstone, longtime voice of the Tennessee Lady Vols, Jeff Jacoby has been covering the Vols for 14 years, and Heather Harrington is a former Lady Vol volleyball player.  

On Tuesday morning a caller was arguing that Derek Dooley needed to go. This same call has been received by the trio every day for the past three years.

Usually, nothing extraordinary happens, but Tuesday, lucky for all of us, something snapped.

Leading to radio gold.

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I was at CenturyLink Field for the most memorable Monday night football finish of all time. Years from now I will be able to tell my grandkids that I was in the stadium the day that Cedric Benson scored a Packer touchdown, Golden Tate made a play, the NFL's credibility sank to its lowest low.

It has been a rough season for Auburn.

Lose to Clemson, lose to Missisippi State, sneak by Louisiana-Monroe in overtime.

Then LSU comes to town.

Big, bad LSU was nearly a three touchdown favorite.

Through one-third of the season, the SEC East, erstwhile conference division whipping boy, has surged back into the lead, surpassing the SEC West for the first time in several years, as the best division in college football. Alabama has been dominant, we know this, but what else has the SEC West done at the top of the division? LSU looked incredibly wobbly against Auburn. I still believe the Tigers are very good, but are they head and shoulders above Georgia, South Carolina and Florida?

We'll know soon since the Tigers play Florida and South Carolina in back-to-back weeks.

Arkansas, the expected third-best team in the conference, is in the midst of a freefall collapse. Texas A&M already lost to Florida and has been otherwise hard to judge. Mississippi State, who I predicted to win ten regular season games, has been solid. Ole Miss hasn't played anyone yet but Texas, who destroyed them, and is a 33 point underdog to Alabama.

And Auburn, oh man, Auburn.  

Meanwhile Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina have all looked like bona fide national title contenders at times. Tennessee would have a good shot at finishing third this year in the SEC West. That's assuming, of course, that Tyler Bray and Derek Dooley don't simultaneously strangle each other to death. Vandy and Kentucky appear to be bad, but what else is new there? Meanwhile, Mizzou has a win against Arizona State, which is better than any out-of-conference win in the SEC West beneath Bama and LSU.

Put simply, the top teams in the SEC East are better than the top teams in the SEC West. And it's possible that the SEC East has the second, third, and fourth best teams in the conference. Did anyone see this coming? Not me.  

On to the Starting 11.  

Another loss to Florida and it's clear Tennessee fans have lost it as well. Glass eyes with favorite teams, facial hair in the shape of the power T, and gay slur t-shirts, it's been a strong week for Vol fans in the awkward fan challenge.

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Doodle, the mini-donkey. You have to read this story, Just have to.

It's time for All That and a Bag of Mail: Awkward UT fan edition.

We'll start with the power T in the facial hair. That's strong, but the Bama Bangs make this appear to be a Vol fan who is contemplating joining Alabama's juggernaut.

Bama Bangs and the power T just don't mix.

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