A New Era Begins Now: Heupel Heads to Rocky Top, Follows Familiar Face Home

A little less than a week ago, Danny White, the former University of Central Florida athletic director, was hired as the University of Tennessee’s athletic director to replace former AD Phillip Fulmer, just a few days removed from that announcement, Tennessee has found its 27th head coach. 

Josh Heupel, the former University of Oklahoma quarterback who led the Sooners to the national title, and was as an assistant coach and head coach captured conference crowns at Oklahoma and UCF, has been named the Tennessee Volunteers next head coach. 

He will replace Jeremy Pruitt, the former Volunteer head man who was fired on earlier this month and was accompanied by the retiring Fulmer. Heupel brings a pedigree of fast-paced and exciting teams. He was named the 2018 First Year Coach of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association of America, and was a finalist for the Associated Press National Coach of the Year Award, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award that same season. 

Heupel stated, “I am thrilled to be coming to Tennessee,” “I understand that Volunteer fans are hungry for a return to the top that they so richly deserve, and it is my goal and commitment to bring a championship back to Rocky Top.” 

During his time in Orlando, Florida at UCF, Heupel posted a 28-8 record and a stellar 20-5 mark in conference play. He will be formally introduced as the head coach during a press conference which will be live-streamed today at 12:05 p.m. ET on UtSports.com and SEC Network.

Welcome home, Coach Josh Heupel, we can’t wait to see what the future holds on Rocky Top.

(Picture: Tennessee Athletics Twitter)

Really Rocky on Rocky Top: With Pruitt, Fulmer out at Tennessee, Where Does Tennessee Turn Now

Hello, darkness and uncertainty, the two best friends of a Tennessee football fan. It wasn’t all that long ago that we met last, in fact it’s been just over three years.

Not a lot has changed since the last time the Tennessee football program and their fans were met with darkness, but two things have changed.

In addition to searching for their next head coach to replace the vacancy left by the firing of Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee Athletic Director, Phillip Fulmer has also decided to finally walk away from the game after more than two decades in association with the program.

Phillip Fulmer played on the Tennessee football team from 1968-1971, and then returned to the program in 1992 and served as the program’s head coach from 1992 until his termination in 2008.

In 2017, Fulmer returned to Rocky Top as the athletic director, in which position he served until January 18, 2021, when he was fired alongside Pruitt amid an NCAA recruiting violation investigation which could possibly land the Volunteers on probation.

As of now, Kevin Steele will serve as interim head coach until a permanent move is made. Whether the permanent head coach is Steele or not, whoever it may be isn’t exactly stepping into a gold mine. In reality, it could be said that they would be stepping into the exact opposite of a gold mine, whatever that may be. Where does this university and its football program turn now?

Only time will tell.

Go Vols,

Braxton Parmer.

(Picture: RockyTopTalk)

Top of the Mountain: Saban, Bryant Debate Shouldn’t Exist in the First Place

For many years now, Alabama fans have debated on which Crimson Tide head coach was the greatest of all-time. On Monday evening, currently Alabama head coach Nick Saban earned his seventh national title as a head coach, sixth in Tuscaloosa. Many media members are crowning Saban as the undisputed greatest head football coach in college football history. 

While no other college football coach has ever lifted the national championship trophy seven times in his career besides Nick Saban, I feel that the whole debate concerning Bear Bryant and Nick Saban should’ve never been existent in the first place. You might ask why. Well, hear me out. Take nothing away from Saban, he’s a great coach and has set a great standard at the University of Alabama. 

Nick Saban now owns a 165-23 record, sure that’s great, but people seem to forget what Paul “Bear” Bryant did and the times in which he did it. Bear Bryant served as the head coach of the Crimson Tide from 1958-1982, a time where the wishbone was the most popular offense in college football and defenses won championships. 

Again, take nothing away from Nick Saban, he’s a remarkable coach, but in my opinion Bear Bryant and Nick Saban are incomparable due to the fact that they are both the best coaches of their times. Nick Saban has had an incredible tenure at Alabama, that’s no secret. But have you ever thought about the fact that Bear did it with “less talent” so-to-speak? Not saying that Nick Saban’s players are definitely more talented than Bear’s were. 

Here’s what I’m saying, in the times that Bryant served as the head coach in Tuscaloosa, we definitely didn’t have the technology that exists today, there was no NFL Combine, Twitter seemed lightyears away, Facebook wasn’t even thought of. None of this social media that reels recruits in today, existed back in the 1950s-1980s. 

Nick Saban has all of these avenues and ways that he could go to get recruits from different parts of the country and even world, whereas when Bear was in Tuscaloosa, the majority of the players in Crimson and White were raised in the State of Alabama, you may have a handful that were from out-of-state, but the recruiting system that exists today, wasn’t even thought of back then. 

Both of these men are great men, leaders, and legendary coaches, when it’s all said and done, both of them will end up on the Mount Rushmore of Alabama Football, but this debate that pertains to who is the “best” between Nick and Bear shouldn’t exist. They were both great during their time periods. There’s no “best” head coach, they will both end up in the College Football Hall of Fame when it’s said and done. 

Nobody in the Hall of Fame walks around discussing which one of the Hall of Famers is the “best” everybody is in there for a reason. Put this debate to rest and respect the achievements of both men.

(Picture: SportingNews)

Striking the Pose with Class: Alabama’s DeVonta Smith Displays Class, Character During Heisman Memorial Trophy Presentation


Heading into the Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation on Tuesday night, the Heisman Trophy had eluded wide receivers for 29 years. The last wide receiver to win college football’s most prestigious award was Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. Over the past decade, the award has primarily gone to running backs and quarterbacks. 

In addition to becoming the newest member of the Heisman fraternity, Smith also further etched his name into Crimson Tide lore as one of the best players to ever pass-through Tuscaloosa. He also joined the short, but talent-filled list of Crimson Tide players to win it in the past that includes current Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram, whom lifted the stiff-arming hardware in 2009, and current Tennessee Titans running back, Derrick Henry, whom took home the prestigious bronze bust in 2015. 

Tuesday night, DeVonta Smith, an Amite, Louisiana native wasn’t the only member of the Tide on hand for the unprecedented virtual presentation, quarterback Mac Jones was also nominated for the award. Ironically, the trifecta of other finalists were all quarterbacks: the aforementioned Jones, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, and Florida’s Kyle Trask. 

From the start of the season, it looked as if the Gators’ Kyle Trask might be the one lifting the hardware at the end, but DeVonta’s miraculous one-handed catch against LSU in Death Valley was seemingly was jolted Smith to the top of the ballot. 

He has brushed off questions by the media concerning the Heisman Memorial Trophy, and his class and composure that was shown throughout the 2020 regular season was mirrored Tuesday evening, when Smith, whom has a plethora of nicknames such as “Tay-Tay”, “Smitty”, and “Slim Reaper” took time to thank those who helped him get to this point in his life. 

The Louisiana native also took the time to offer a few words of encouragement for kids that might’ve been told that they can’t live out their dreams of being a college football player because of their size by saying, “To all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing, because I’m not the biggest,” He later went on to say “Really, it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job is too big.” 

The man that began his career by catching the national title-winning pass from current Miami Dolphins’ quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is now a Heisman Trophy winner, and I couldn’t think of a more deserving, humble young man to have the honor. 

Congratulations, DeVonta Smith, your name is now a part of not just Alabama Football history, but also college football history, forever.

(Picture: Roll Bama Roll)
(Picture: al.com)

Let’s Go Bowling: Tennessee Football Receives Bowl Invite to be in Liberty Bowl

It’s a year of firsts in 2020. That means Tennessee (3-7) can go bowling.

On Sunday night, it was announced that the Volunteers and Jeremy Pruitt would travel to Memphis, Tennessee to tangle with Neal Brown’s West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4) in the 62nd AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Stadium.

It was a regular season filled with struggle and strife for the Tennessee Volunteers, who won two games in a row to begin the shortened slate, but then followed it up by losing six straight games before throttling a winless Vanderbilt team on December 12th, 42-17, then dropping a 34-13 decision to 5th-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday.

For the Mountaineers of West Virginia, they began their season on September 12 defeating Eastern Kentucky 56-10, followed by a loss to then-15th-ranked 27-13, the Mountaineers then defeated Baylor 27-21, and Kansas 37-10, before falling to Texas Tech 34-27, on the road.

They then defeated then-16th-ranked Kansas State, 37-10 on homecoming before dropping a 17-13 decision to then-22nd-ranked Texas on the road, they followed that up by running past the Horned Frogs of TCU 246, and ended the regular season by being thrashed by then-9th-ranked Iowa State 42-6.

The 62nd AutoZone Liberty Bowl is scheduled for Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 3pm CT on ESPN.

Can the Volunteers end 2020 on a high note or will Neal Brown and the West Virginia Mountaineers have different things in mind?

Find out December 31st at 3pm on ESPN.

(Photo: AutoZone Liberty Bowl Twitter)
(Photo: Tennessee Football Twitter)

Are We Witnessing Smoke Signals on the Plains?

Well, here we are nearly a week removed from the firing of Gus Malzahn at Auburn. We’re also 24 hours removed from the early National Signing Day, and yet the Tigers are still weighing their options to replace the Arkansas native Malzahn.

It was said Thursday morning that if the Oregon Ducks didn’t make any moves with head coach Mario Cristobal, we could’ve very well been welcoming the former Saban assistant to the Plains.

But late Thursday, the Ducks signed Cristobal to a six-year extension worth $27 million. So there goes that candidate.

That leaves the Tigers with a more limited list of candidates. The list includes: Hugh Freeze, who is currently the Liberty Flames head coach, current Auburn defensive coordinator and interim head coach, Kevin Steele, Clemson defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, current Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Billy Napier, Alabama offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, current UAB Blazer head coach, Bill Clark, and current Ole Miss head coach, Lane Kiffin.

Sure, the names on that list have some experience and carry some weight, but do they have what it takes to get Auburn back to the competitive level of football that the fans are used to?

Over the last few days, I’ve been asked several times who I think the next head man on the Plains will be and now is when I will answer that.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Hugh Freeze will return to Power Five Football and the Southeastern Conference in 2021.

If a coach can win at Liberty, surely they can win at Auburn right?

Source: CBS Sports
Source: FanSided

The Gus Bus is Burnt: Malzahn Era Over on the Plains

After eight years, 103 games, two SEC West crowns, a trip to Pasadena only to lose to Florida State 34-28, Gus Malzahn’s time as the head man on the Plains has come to an end.

It is quite evident that Auburn fans everywhere have been waiting on this day for years, probably for the last four to five years.

It was announced Sunday morning that Auburn Athletic Director, Allen Green had made the decision to pull the rug out from beneath Malzahn’s feet.

In eight years, Gus had gone a mediocre-at-best 68-35, including 39-27 in the Southeastern Conference. Sure, Malzahn is a good person, but he’s not a college football head coach.

Especially when you’re in the same conference as Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Dan Mullen, Jimbo Fisher, and Mike Leach. A conference that is littered with head coaching experience.

Tiger fans have already taken to social media to express their relief. One post even said ‘Are we even surprised?!?’ The answer to that question is no, absolutely not. As a matter of fact, it should’ve happened about four years before it did.

Sorry Gus, no more Waffle House victory meals, no more Toomer’s Corner, no more settling for 6-4 seasons, no more fist-pumping on the sidelines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. Your time there is up, the Bus is burnt, my friend.

In the meantime, Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as interim head coach, while you enjoy your $21.45 million buyout.

Source: SBNation

Bo Knows: 58 Years of Bo Jackson

It’s often been said that Bo Jackson is one of, if not the best all-around athlete to ever play sports. It’s often brought up in a debate between Bo and Deion Sanders.

Yes, the same Deion Sanders that played for both the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves in the same day back when Sanders was in his playing days.

But not only is Bo Jackson quite possibly the best athlete to ever step onto an athletic field, he’s also one of the best human beings around.

Back on April 27, 2011, the same day that tornadoes ravaged through Tuscaloosa, Jackson, an Auburn University iconic ambassador, set the bitter rivalry aside and decided to start Bo Bikes Bama in order to help raise money for the victims of the Tuscaloosa tornadoes.

The Bessemer, Alabama native has got to be one of the most thoughtful athletes ever, if he’s not, there’s something wrong. A person’s heart can’t get much bigger than that of Mr. Bo Jackson.

Happy 58th Birthday Bo, we love you my brother.

Taking to The Plains: Volunteers Look to Start Home-Stretch of 2020 Season on Positive Note at Auburn

Tennessee returns to action for the first time in two weeks after an unexpected open weekend when it travels to No. 23/21 Auburn for a prime time kickoff on ESPN inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Volunteers scheduled home game vs. Texas A&M on November 14 in Neyland Stadium was postponed due to a combination of positive COVID tests and contract tracing within the Aggie Football program.

That game is tentatively scheduled for December 12 in Knoxville. All three of Tennessee’s currently scheduled November games are on the road, marking the first time since 1891 that the Vols will not play a home game during a calendar month.

Auburn was one of UT’s two additions to its 10-game conference schedule. The two teams are meeting for the first time since a 30-24 Tennessee win in 2018. The Tigers lead the all-time series 28-22-3.

Saturday’s game will be available for viewing on ESPN at 6 p.m. CT with Joe Tessitore (Play-by-Play), Greg McElroy (Analyst), and Allison Williams (Sideline), on the call.

The game will be available over the airwaves in the Smokey Mountain region by way of WIVK-FM 107.7 FM and WNML-FM 99.1, with Bob Kesling (Play-by-Play), Tim Priest & Brent Hubbs (Analysts), and Kasey Funderburg (Sidelines) on the call.

Saturday’s meeting will be the 54th all-time meeting between the Volunteers and Tigers. Auburn has won six out of the last seven meetings. The meeting will mark only the eighth meeting on the gridiron since 2000.

In Knoxville: Tennessee leads the series 14-10-2.

In Auburn: The Tigers lead 7-3-1.

In Birmingham: Auburn leads 10-4.

The two squads have met twice in the SEC Championship, tied 1-1 in Atlanta, Georgia. Tennessee’s biggest win in the series was a 42-point win over Auburn on The Plains in 1980.

Auburn’ s biggest win in the series history is 32 points, which has occurred twice, most recently in 2013 in Knoxville.

Tennessee’s record on November 21 games is: 9-5-1. They are currently on a five-game winning streak.

Source: Tennessee Football Twitter.

Volunteers Look to Take Recent Frustrations out on Pittman’s Pesky Hogs

Before the football season began on September 26, these two programs seemed like they would be at two totally different ends of the totem pole.

Jeremy Pruitt’s Tennessee Volunteers (2-3) entered the season ranked in the Top 25, while first-year head coach Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks (2-3) seemed to have Kirby Smart’s then-fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs on the proverbial ropes before the Dawgs came storming back with a late surge to take a 37-10 win over the Hogs in Fayetteville.

While both teams enter with identical 2-3 records, it seems that this game is a must-win for the Volunteers if they hope to get things back on track as we head toward the home stretch of the 2020 season.

Arkansas, who wasn’t expected to be very competitive at all this season has shocked the nation. The Hogs were projected to be the second-worst Southeastern Conference team in front of only Vanderbilt before the season began.

For Tennessee, things have taken a completely different path. The Volunteers were expected to be among the best in the Southeastern Conference in 2020 during the preseason, but that’s not the case on Rocky Top.

This year marks the 13th-straight season that Tennessee is not in contention for a conference title. Since leading Georgia 21-17 at halftime on October 10, Pruitt’s Volunteers have been outscored 109-24.

Following an open date on October 31, the Tennessee Volunteers are set to begin the second-half of their 2020 season with a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to visit the pesky Razorbacks.

This will be Tennessee’s first trip to Fayetteville since 2011, as the Volunteers and Hogs are scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. CT kick on the SEC Network, with Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rodgers (analyst), and Cole Cubelic (sideline) on the call.

The game will be available on the airwaves in the Smokey Mountain region on the Vol Network WIVK 107.7 FM and WNML-FM 99.1 with Bob Kesling (play-by-play), Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs (analysts), and Kasey Funderburg (sideline) on the call.

Saturday’s contest in Fayetteville will mark the 19th overall meeting between the Razorbacks and Volunteers, and the sixth meeting in Fayetteville. Tennessee leads the all-time series 13-5.

In Knoxville, the Volunteers lead the series 6-2, in Fayetteville, Tennessee leads 3-2, in Little Rock, the Volunteers lead 3-0, and in bowl games, Tennessee leads 2-0.

The Volunteers all-time record on November 7 is (15-3), they are on a 14-game winning streak on this date.

In the last five games on this date, Tennessee is 5-0: 1981: 24-21 W over Wichita State, 1987: 41-10 W over Louisville, 1998: 37-13 W over UAB, 2009: 56-28 W over Memphis, and 2015: 27-24 over South Carolina.

Source: Tennessee Football Twitter.