Sports Outside the Beltway

Lane Kiffin leaves Tennessee to coach USC

He replaces Pete Carroll who just left for the NFL. From ESPN-

Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin has been named the next head coach at Southern California, athletic director Mike Garrett announced on Tuesday.

Kiffin would replace Pete Carroll, who jumped to the NFL as coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

“We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC,” Garrett said in a statement. “I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I’m confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect.”

The hiring was first reported by’s Chris Low.

Kiffin, the former Oakland Raiders coach, led the Volunteers for only one season.

Kiffin has been on the move of late. He was 7-5 in his one season at Tennessee and 5-15 in one-plus seasons with the Raiders before being fired in September 2008.

How do Tennessee officials, boosters, and fans feel about Kiffin leaving? I bet they aren’t too pleased and I don’t blame them. They hired him to build the Volunteers, not bolt for another school after just one year.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Are you ready for some bowling? II

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this afternoon, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Note- I gave the shortened name version of all the upcoming games. Also I listed what broadcast network would be televising the game and what time they would be coming on the air. All times are Eastern Standard.

Dec 19

New Mexico- Fresno State vs. Wyoming 4:30 p.m. ESPN
St. Petersburg- Central Florida vs. Rutgers 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 20

R+L Carriers New Orleans- Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 22

MAACO Las Vegas- Oregon State vs. BYU 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 23

Poinsettia- Utah vs. Cal 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 24

Sheraton Hawaii- Nevada vs. SMU 8 p.m. ESPN
Dec 26

Little Caesars- Marshall vs. Ohio 1 p.m. ESPN
Meineke- Pitt vs. North Carolina 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Emerald- Boston College vs. USC 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 27

Music City- Kentucky vs. Clemson 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 28

Independence- Texas A&M vs. Georgia 5 p.m. ESPN2

Dec 29

EagleBank- UCLA vs. Temple 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Champs Sports- Miami vs. Wisconsin 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 30

Humanitarian- Bowling Green vs. Idaho 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Holiday- Arizona vs. Nebraska 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 31

Armed Forces- Houston vs. Air Force Noon ESPN
Sun- Oklahoma vs. Stanford 2 p.m. CBS
Texas- Navy vs. Missouri 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Minnesota vs. Iowa State 6 p.m. NFL Network
Chick-fil-A- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Jan 1

Outback- Northwestern vs. Auburn 11 a.m. ESPN
Capital One- Penn State vs. LSU 1 p.m. ABC
Gator- West Virginia vs. Florida State 1 p.m. CBS
Rose Bowl- Ohio State vs. Oregon 4:30 p.m. ABC
Sugar- Cincinnati vs. Florida 8:30 p.m. FOX

Jan 2

International- South Florida vs. Northern Illinois Noon ESPN2 South Carolina vs. UConn 2 p.m. ESPN
Cotton- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss 2 p.m. FOX
Liberty- Arkansas vs. East Carolina 5:30 p.m. ESPN
Valero Alamo- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech 9 p.m. ESPN

Jan 4

Fiesta- Boise State vs. TCU 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 5

FedEx Orange- Iowa vs. Georgia Tech 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 6th

GMAC- Central Michigan vs. Troy 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan 7th

BCS National Championship Game- Texas vs. Alabama Jan. 7 8 p.m.

Some random notes on the above 34 games

*- 19 of the 34 games are not scheduled till Dec. 31st or later. I guess college football fanatics are expected to flip channels very quickly on those 3 days(Dec 31-Jan 2) when 15 games are being aired.
*- What a downer must it be for Oregon State players and fans. A few weeks ago they were one win from a Rose Bowl trip. Instead they lost to Oregon and are playing in a minor bowl before Christmas.
*- The NFL network televises a college football game. I guess that’s the cable sports equivalent of the Sci-Fi channel showing wrestling….
*- The bowls are now set where now certain conference finishers are locked into the same bowl games every year. I understand why the current system is done, but I prefer the day when bowl games would have greater variance from year to year. The Peach bowl would usually invite a ACC or SEC school but they could be creative, like when they invited Army and Illinois. Wouldn’t a SEC team against BYU or Wyoming be nice for a change?
*- Bobby Bowden’s farewell game is against the same school(West Virginia) that he left before coming to Florida State. I do know FSU and WV have played at least twice previously in bowls during the Bowden-Florida State era.


Former NFL Defensive lineman Jesse Mahelona dead at 26

He left behind a pregnant wife and one child. Very tragic and RIP.

Former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona has died after being involved in a car accident. He was 26.

Agent Chad Speck said Mahelona died Friday night after being involved in an accident about a mile from his home in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Speck said Saturday he didn’t know any more circumstances of the accident.

Mahelona was drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL draft by the Titans, where he played in 10 games as a rookie. He also spent time with the Miami Dolphins before playing his last NFL game with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.

He is survived by his wife, Brandi, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 1 #18- Denver Broncos- DE Robert Ayers

This pick was acquired in the Jay Cutler deal.

ESPN writes- Ayers possesses the size and athleticism to be an effective outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He has the strength to hold the edges against the run and fluidity to spot-drop when ask to drop into coverage. One of Ayers’ best qualities is his ability to get to the passer. That capability was the reason Denver pulled the trigger on him.


Former UCLA Football Coach Bill Barnes dead at 91

He both played in and coached a Rose Bowl game. One of his star players at UCLA was Billy Kilmer, who would later play Quarterback in the NFL for San Francisco, New Orleans, and Washington. RIP.

Bill Barnes, who coached football at UCLA from 1958-64, played at Tennessee and was a decorated World War II veteran, has died. He was 91.

Barnes died Thursday of complications from pneumonia at Santa Monica Hospital, where he had been for more than two months, the school said Friday.

Barnes had a record of 31-34-3 in seven years as coach, having taken over before the fourth game of the 1958 season when head coach Henry “Red” Sanders died.

In 1960, led by All-America tailback Bill Kilmer, the Bruins went 7-2-1.

The following season, they won the AAWU (now Pac-10 Conference) championship and lost 21-3 to Minnesota in 1962 the Rose Bowl to finish 7-4.

Barnes earned All-America honors at Tennessee, where he played several positions for coach Bob Neyland. He was on the Volunteer teams that appeared in the 1939 Orange Bowl and 1940 Rose Bowl, where they lost 14-0 to Southern California.

Barnes was an assistant at Tennessee in 1941 and Arkansas from 1946-49.

He served as a major in the Army during World War II, earning two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, Legion of Merit, a Philippine Ribbon and an Alamo Scout Commendation.

Barnes was an original member of the Alamo Scouts, considered by many to be the first U.S. special forces.


Lane Kiffin named TN Vols head football coach

He finds new work two months after being fired as a NFL head coach. From AP-

Lane Kiffin, the former coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, is the new coach of Tennessee.

Kiffin becomes the school’s 21st coach, but only the third in the last 32 years. His selection comes after “the first national search for a football coach in University of Tennessee history,” athletic director Mike Hamilton said.

He takes over the Volunteers two days after Phillip Fulmer’s 17-season tenure ended with a win over Kentucky. Kiffin will start at $2 million annually, plus bonuses, under a six-year contract.

Kiffin was the youngest coach in the NFL’s modern history when hired to lead the Oakland Raiders in January 2007 at age 31 after spending two seasons as Southern California’s recruiting and offensive coordinator.

Tennessee is having a bad year in the always tough Southeastern Conference. I think Kiffin will have the Vols back on their feet in a year or two at most.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #10 – New England Patriots – LB Jarod Mayo

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Patriots took Tennessee LB Jarod Mayo with the 10th pick in the draft.

Scouts, Inc.: 16th

Strengths: Possesses an outstanding combination of size, speed and athleticism. Keeps head up and locates the ball quickly. Reaches top speed quickly, aggressive and makes plays in the backfield. Moves well laterally and generally does a nice job of scraping down the line of scrimmage. Has above-average range, plays with a good motor and makes plays in pursuit. Plays fast and really closes in on ball carriers in a hurry. While he lacks brute strength, he does display explosive short-area power and will strike ball carriers  even from nearly a standstill position. Plays with a mean streak. Gets good depth, shows good awareness of routes once he reads pass and covers a lot of ground when asked to drop into zone coverage. Displays fluid hips, changes directions well and shows good burst coming out of cuts when asked to match up in man coverage. Has adequate ball skills and flashes the ability to make plays in coverage. Plays with a good motor and has the potential to develop into a valuable special teams’ contributor.

Weaknesses: Needs to improve his lower-body strength. He has jarring initial power but lacks the brute strength/wide base to anchor. Gets sucked up inside at times and is not a great phone booth player. At his best when he’s protected. Doesn’t use hands all that well and takes too long to shed blocks when offensive linemen are able to lock onto him. Doesn’t always take sound pursuit angles and gets caught out of position at times. Will get caught lunging too much and still misses too many open-field tackles. Still has room to improve in terms of recognition skills in coverage. Gets turned around a little too much when asked to match up in man coverage and needs to improve footwork. Can be overaggressive, occasionally bites on play action and lacks the second gear when gets caught out of pursuit. Only effective as a pass rusher when he gets a clean lane to the QB. Gets caught up in traffic and really struggles to get off of blocks once reached. Missed five games with a knee injury in 2005 and durability is a concern.

Overall: Tennessee red-shirted Mayo in 2004. He started one of the six games he appeared in during the 2005 season. Mayo started 11 of the 12 games he appeared in during the 2006 season finishing with 83 total tackles, 53 unassisted tackles, 12.5 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and one fumble recovery. He played in all 14 games of the 2007 season finishing with a team-leading 140 total tackles, 79 unassisted tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Mayo has experience playing inside and outside linebacker at Tennessee. While he showed NFL potential in both spots, he seems like a more natural fit on the weak-side where he will get more protection. Mayo is far from a finished product. He is blessed with an outstanding combination of size, speed and athletic ability, which was on display at the combine. But in order to become a good starting linebacker in the NFL, he needs to be more consistent as an open-field tackler and learn to take on blocks more effectively. Mayo has too much potential to last long in Round 2  and that’s if he doesn’t sneak into the bottom of the first round.

Rick Gosselin: 19th

Mel Kiper: 17th

This looks like a reach but, since they’re the Pats, the on air gang at ESPN is praising them for their shrewd pick. Even Kiper, who had this guy as a mid-1st rounder.


NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #27 – New Orleans Saints – WR Robert Meachem

The New Orleans Saints took Tennessee wideout Robert Meachem with the 27th pick in the 2007 NFL draft. It’s an excellent value.

What the Experts Say: Profile:

Player Evaluation: Meeting expectations last season Meachem offers a lot of potential, yet still needs work to complete his game. Has the skills to develop into a number one wide out.

STRENGTHS: Downfield Threat, Speed

Robert Meachem Photo AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Route-Running Skills

Biography: All-Conference selection last season after producing a career-best 71/1,298/11. Started two games as a sophomore and totaled 29/383/2.

Pos: Physically gifted prospect with terrific size/speed numbers. Plays with good balance and body control, and makes the difficult reception in contorted positions. Displays a burst of speed, tracks the deep throw and effortlessly makes the reception in stride. Stays low exiting breaks, positions himself to make the reception and extends to catch the pass.

Neg: Inconsistent route-runner who slows into breaks. Not quick releasing off the line. Struggles in battles when he should not.


Defensive tackle is the top need for the Saints and Alan Branch was still on the board. Linebacker is the second greatest need and David Harris was still on the board. Corner is the third greatest need and Chris Houston was still available. And didn’t New Orleans find a pretty decent receiver on the second day of the draft last year? The point is the Saints should have addressed their needs on the defensive side of the ball before taking advantage of a deep receiver corps. At least they picked up a talented receiver. Meachem has the speed to stretch the field and open up the underneath routes for Marques Colston. He can also produce after the catch. However, Meachem isn’t a great route runner and he needs to get more physical or corners will have some success pushing him around.


NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #16 – Green Bay Packers – DT Justin Harrell

The Green Bay Packers have reached to get some help on the defensive line, taking Tennessee’s Justin Harrell with the 16th pick.

What the Experts Say: Profile:

Justin Harrell Photo Civies Player Evaluation: A hard-working lineman with a lot of physical skill, Harrell could be one of the most underrated players in this draft. His injury last season will decrease his final grade, yet he offers starting possibilities as either a two-gap lineman or as a conventional tackle.

STRENGTHS: Explosion, Intensity/Effort, Quickness off Ball

Justin Harrell Photo Vols Uni AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Disengaging Skills, Lateral Range

Biography: Three-year starter who totaled seven tackles in three games last season, after being sidelined with a torn bicep. Awarded All-Conference honors as a junior after totaling 39/7.5/2.5.

Pos: Tough, athletic defender who plays with top effort. Gets off the snap with a quick first step, is fluid changing direction and slides off blocks to make the play. Bends his knees, gets leverage on opponents and is rarely off his feet. Flashes power on the inside, gets push in the middle of the line or holds the point. Consistently doubled by opponents.

Neg: Gets wired in blocks and is slow to shed. Makes most of his plays up the open field in a small area.


Make no mistake about it, Justin Harrell is a talented player, and staying away from a player who has problems keeping his weight down like Alan Branch makes sense considering the problems the Packers had with Grady Jackson. However, tight end is a far greater need and Greg Olsen was still on the board, so they probably could have gotten a little more bang for the buck here, especially considering QB Brett Favre does a great job of finding his tight ends.

Harrell is coming off a serious arm injury, so there’s reason to worry about his ability to stay healthy, and he isn’t a great pass-rusher, but he should immediately improve the Packers’ run defense. He has excellent lower-body strength and is virtually impossible to move once he establishes position. His ability to collapse the pocket will also make it easier for the edge rushers to get to the quarterback.


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