Starting 11: The Greatest Tailgate Cookie of All-Time

Behold, the greatest tailgate cookie in the history of tailgate cookies.

I defy you to beat the orange pants cookie. It even has the T belt buckle. That’s quality.

Sadly, this was the best play anyone in orange pants made on Saturday. UT fans desperately want Dooley to succeed because right now the Fulmer Curse owns the program. Any modicum of good news is savored. Only there really isn’t any good news. First Justin Hunter went down on the first pass play of the SEC season, Now Tyler Bray is now out for the season in the second SEC game, the latest victim of the most debilitating curse in all of sports.

You can read about the Fulmer Curse here.

In the meantime, on to the Starting 11.

1. LSU’s Australian kicker, Brad Wing, gets the first taunting touchdown call back of the season.

This is a ridiculous, ridiculous call. The SEC officials told me they were only going to call it if the taunting was egregious. Remember, the officials didn’t want this call to exist, the coaches did. That way the coaches could blame the officials for on-field discipline.

This taunt is far from egregious. In fact, if the SEC officials really wanted to apply the letter of the law here, there probably should have been a taunting and a celebration foul since the punter goes into the crowd. In that event Brad Wing would have been tossed from the game because two unsportsmanlike penalties trigger an automatic ejection. Let me repeat that, if the letter of the rulebook law was applied, LSU’s punter would have been ejected after thsi play.

This call will slip into the dustbin of call history since LSU won by thirty, but what if this had happened against Alabama on November 5th? Would anyone, even the most rabid of Alabama fans, feel like this call made sense?

Of course not.

Here’s how I picture Brad Wing’s conversation going with Les Miles.

Scene: Les Miles office. Les sits behind his desk. A bank of television monitors, all playing Scooby Doo on a constant loop, rises behind Miles.  

Miles: “The want to act like you’ve been there before, multiplicity of options gives you!”

Punter: “I’ve never been there before, Coach and I’ll probably never be there again.” 

Miles, nods, sagely: “Were you upset when they added the character of Scrappy?” 

2.  Kentucky should hire Mike Leach.

Steve Spurrier scored a touchdown against Joker Phillips with eight seconds left to go up 54-3. When coaches run up the score it’s often done with a profound sense of disrespect. You run up the score if you view the opposing coach as a non-threat to ever run up the score on you.

And right now I’m not sure if Joker could run up the score on Louisville’s Trinity Catholic.

In the past three weeks the Wildcats have been outscored 137-20.

Two years into his tenure, Kentucky is already awful. And things will probably get worse from here. Kentucky could very well lose to Jacksonville State. That’s probably why they have the bye week scheduled here, so they have two weeks to prepare for Jacksonville State.  

Joker will probably get a third year because everyone agrees he’s a nice guy. But every week is going to be awful for him from here on out.

With Mike Leach, a former UK assistant who has openly talked of how much he enjoyed life in Lexington, on the sideline, how do you not make this move?

3. In the wake of the massive Red River Shootout beat down, if Texas has its own ESPN network then Oklahoma deserves…

to grill Bevo.

That or the SportsCenter studios dedicated to them.

Basically, you guys can beat this. Dive in to the comments. But watch out for Momma Dooley down there.

4. Thanks to the tons of you who came by our tailgate at UT-Georgia on Saturday.

One of the many reasons Twitter is great is because of meet-ups like this. One of you even brought me the picture of the Rock which had been expertly painted for the UT-Georgia game. For those of you not on Twitter here was that picture:

Duck Head gave out a ton of orange hats and shirts. We even had a collection of Georgia Bulldog hats for the Georgia fans who came by.

This will be up on the add soon, but we have an exclusive deal right now: input “outkick” at www.duckhead.com and you get 40% off your order.

5. Alabama and LSU are number one and two in the BCS.

There has never been a number one vs. number two game in Bryant-Denny Stadium history.

Oklahoma made a statement against Texas, but I still believe that either Alabama or LSU would beat the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl.

With LSU’s offense suddenly coming alive, I can’t wait for the default national title game.

Our guy out at Caesar’s sports book, Chad Fuhrman, says Alabama would open as a -6.5 point favorite if that game was this weekend.  

6. Derek Dooley will get to coach the 2012 season, but there’s no reason to believe that season will be very good.

Some UT fans are mad at me for calling out Derek Dooley 18 games in to his UT tenure. They’re pointing to 2012 and what a great season it will be. After the performance against Georgia, I disagree. 2012 is likely to be another mediocre season. 

The official schedule isn’t released yet because of realignment scheduling issues, but we can piece together much of the 2012 slate. Let’s break it down from an oddsmakers perspective. Any game with a spread of 7 or more either way is a win or loss. Less than that is a toss-up.

Likely Wins: The three out-of-conference home opponents are Troy, Akron, and Georgia State. I’m giving UT all of these. Then UT should be able to beat Kentucky and Vandy. Although Vandy could very well be less than a touchdown spread, I’m projecting the Dores as a win.  

Likely Losses: Alabama, at Georgia, Arkansas, at South Carolina, and (at Texas A&M if it is scheduled).

Again, I think all of these teams will be a touchdown or more favored over UT.

Toss-ups: Florida, N.C. State, at Miss. State — (State would be the newest rotating opponent if there was no expansion coming. There’s also the potential for an at Missouri game and that would be a toss-up as well). 

So we’re looking at 8-4, 7-5, 6-6 or worse next season. If Tyler Bray has a good season, regardless of how the team does, he’s probably gone. So are Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers. 

So then 2013 is looking mediocre too. And even if those guys came back do you really think UT is going on the road in 2013 and beating Alabama, Florida, or Oregon? 

My point, there is nothing to suggest that Derek Dooley is building anything other than a .500 program at UT. It’s fine to want to keep Dooley in the belief that he’s a good coach, there’s just no evidence at all for that opinion. Which is why the Dool-Aid drinking UT faction gets so upset when this is pointed out. What’s more there still isn’t likely to be any evidence for Dooley being a good coach after 2012 when he finishes his sixth full season as a head coach. 

1.5 seasons into his tenure at UT, Derek Dooley is what we thought he was — a .500 coach. 

Do I hope that changes?

Yes. 

Have I seen any reason to believe it will change?

Nope.    

7. There are still 13 undefeated teams.

I’m sticking to my prediction that by the end of the season we’re going to have six or seven teams left undefeated.

This, my friends, is the year that the BCS truly blows up.

8. Derek Dooley’s analogy for the state of his program: he’s watering bamboo.

If you don’t want to watch the entirety of this clip, just jump ahead to around the nine minute mark when I ask Derek Dooely about being unable to beat Florida and Georgia when they’re down. The bamboo analogy is superb.

“I can’t speak for them being up or down. I know we’re not up. It’s pretty evident. We’re not going to beat anybody until we prove it. Are we playing better? I think we are. I think we’re better in a lot of things. Are we close to getting out there and competing against good SEC football teams? Not yet. Not yet.

We’re water and bamboo. That’s about all I can say. Bamboo sits there and you water it, and you water it, and you water it. It sits there and it doesn’t grow and it doesn’t grow and you water it and you keep watering it and nothing’s happening. If you don’t understand bamboo, you say it’s never going to grow. And then you come out and it goes ZHOOM! That’s what’s going to happen. I don’t know when that is.

I can’t sit there and worry about ‘they’re down, if we don’t get them now, we’ll never get them.’ We’ll get them, our time will come, it’s not right now. We make too many mistakes, we’re not good enough in some places and we just got to learn from it and try to improve. 

“We’ve got 1 and 2 coming in. What do you do? Nobody going to feel sorry for Tennessee. That’s what I told the team.”

9. The legend of 4th and 57 begins:

This actually happened.

As my Georgia friend Chad texted: “If your punt can’t get to the first down line, the defense should get points.”

Agreed.

10. UT fans have bought into the Lost Cause mythology.

The UT Lost Cause goes something like this: Phil Fulmer left UT in such poor shape that no one could come to Tennessee and win. Lane Kiffin started this trope. Only there was no basis in reality.   

Do you know how many games Las Vegas favored Lane Kiffin to win in 2009? Nine games. If you solely went by the line UT would have been 9-4 in 2009. Kiffin won seven games all the while trashing the talent in the UT program. In the process he ran off a solid core of players that would still be contributing if anyone else was coach. He also signed a recruiting class that has mostly disappeared. Fact: In one year Kiffin did more to harm the UT program than Phil Fulmer did in his entire career.

Six Vols were drafted in 2009, second most in the SEC.

Last year do you know how many games UT was favored to win? Six. Do you know how many Derek Dooley won? Six. Who were the top players on his team? Fulmer signees.

Do you know how many games UT will be favored to win in 2011? Six. Do you know how many Derek Dooley will win? Six.

So let’s end this Lost Cause argument. In the three years post-Fulmer Tennessee has been projected to be bowl eligible all three seasons by Las Vegas. Again, the disappointing thing about Derek Dooley is that he’s proven to be exactly what his record suggested he would be — the kind of coach who wins the games he’s favored to win and loses the games he’s favored to lose. 

I’d love for there to be a change in the narrative, for Dooley to win a big game that stamps him as something other than an average coach, but I just don’t see it happening. And, odds are, if a big game win happened a big game loss would follow. That’s what average coaches do.

In the meantime, please stop with the UT Lost Cause mythology.  

11. Boston College’s AD claims ESPN told the ACC to take Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East.

ESPN denies this, but…wow.

Here’s the money quote from a story that you need to read:

The overwhelming force behind the move, DeFilippo insisted, was television money.

The ACC just signed a new deal with ESPN that will increase the revenue for each school to approximately $13 million. With the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, said DeFilippo, another significant increase will come.

“We always keep our television partners close to us,’’ he said. “You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV – ESPN – is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball.’’

I’m writing on this later this week. It’s a blockbuster comment with a ton of ramifications.

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