It’s good to be back! Let’s get caught up



It is good to be back! I’ve missed our daily visits and a lot has happened since we were together in January. So let’s spend today catching up and tomorrow I’ll jump into spring ball.

So what have I missed?

**–The “other” Dooley takes over in Knoxville:  Last January I was getting ready to board a plane to Europe when my cell phone all but exploded.  Lane Kiffin had just bolted Rocky Top to take the job at USC. After a tough coaching search where several people, including Duke’s David Cutcliffe, said no, Derek Dooley, the head coach and athletics director at Louisiana Tech and the son of Georgia’s Hall of Fame coach, was hired to clean up the mess.

The younger Dooley, a law school graduate, will bring a more organized and businesslike approach to the job. There won’t be photos of Southern California players hung on the walls of the Tennessee football complex, which is what the other guy wanted to do.

I just got back from Knoxville as part of my spring football tour which began last week. I will update you on that visit soon. For now, I will simply say that Dooley and his staff have a lot of work to do.

**–Big Ten expansion: After Notre Dame said no to the Big Ten in 1999, this issue stayed on the back burner for Commissioner Jim Delany for over 10 years. Now it is very much a front burner issue for two reasons: 1) A number of the league’s coaches are getting tired of being out of sight and out of mind for two weeks at the end of the regular season. The SEC, ACC, and Big 12 are basking in media attention on championship Saturday while the Big Ten goes dark; 2) There is a lot of money to be made by the Big Ten on the next round of TV contracts by finally going to (at least) 12 teams and creating a conference championship game. The timing is right and if Notre Dame is smart—and not too proud for its own good—this time it will say yes.

**–Masoli out at Oregon: Tennessee fans were probably dreading that Sept. 11 date with Oregon, which was supposed to return 18 starters from a team that went to the Rose Bowl. But quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who was supposed to be a serious candidate for the Heisman Trophy, decided that stealing stuff from a fraternity house was more important than his college football career. So he has been booted off the team (at least for 2010) and Darron Thomas will probably be the quarterback when the Ducks come to Knoxville. Now the game, which comes the week before Tennessee hosts Florida, looks winnable for the Vols.

**–Urban Meyer is back in the saddle again. When Urban Meyer writes his memoirs, the 2009 season will be remembered as one long stretch of bad road. There were significant off the field issues for players, a Tim Tebow concussion, the mishandling of the Brandon Spikes eye-gouging incident, a $30,000 fine by the SEC commissioner, the pressure of being No. 1 all season along, a serious beat down in the SEC championship game by Alabama, his announced retirement and then un-retirement in the space of 12 hours due to some health issues. Whew! Just writing that made me tired.

After taking some time off after recruiting, Meyer is back on the sidelines for spring practice in Gainesville. He plans to take more time off after spring ball is over. Good for him.

 Look, I didn’t agree with everything Urban Meyer did last year but the man is a very good football coach. Regardless of who you pull for, you should know that college football needs good coaches to stay in the game, not get burned out by it and leave.

And another thing: I’ve been readying in various places that Urban Meyer “owes” us—media, fans, etc.—a full explanation as to what happened and what’s currently going on. Sorry, that dog won’t hunt. I wish Urban Meyer would tell me the whole story. I wish he would sit down with me when I visit Gainesville tonight and Tuesday. But that’s not going to happen.

But as I see it he owes that explanation to only four people: His wife (Shelly), his boss (Jeremy Foley), his current and his future players (and their parents). That’s about it.

 Everybody involved in Florida football—coaches, players, media and fans—needs to take a deep breath and try to enjoy the 2010 season. It’s football, folks. It’s supposed to be fun. Florida went 13-1 last season but I don’t believe the Gators had a whole lot of fun.

**–Just asking: On Jan. 9 Tommy Tuberville was named the new head coach at Texas Tech. On Jan. 12 Lane Kiffin made the shocking announcement that he was leaving Tennessee for Southern California.  If Tuberville had been available, would Tennessee have pursued him? Would Tuberville have said yes? Lubbock or Knoxville? I’ve been to Lubbock and the people there are great. But that’s not a tough call.


**–Shocking! Bryce Brown may leave Tennessee!!!!! Brown, believed to be the nation’s No. 1 recruit in 2009, is no longer a part of the Tennessee program. Dooley says Brown will remain in school so his departure is not a done deal yet. I don’t think Mr. Brown, from Wichita, Kan., ever unpacked his bags once he got to Knoxville. As long as Montario Hardesty was healthy, he was not going to play a whole lot. After hearing that he was the No. 1 recruit in the nation, I believe Mr. Brown thought he would come into the SEC and be a star as a freshman. When reality hit—and that reality is that Mr. Brown is a good (but not great) running back—he became unhappy. He will move on. His brother, who grew unhappy at Miami, is now at Kansas State. Going home might be the best thing for him.


Okay, we’re off and running. We’ll join you Tuesday with our Five Burning Questions about the SEC East as we head into Spring ball. Again, it’s good to be back.


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100 comments Add your comment

Jim Mora Jr.

March 22nd, 2010
8:19 am

Welcome back Tony!


March 22nd, 2010
8:20 am

Great to have you back. You do a great job with your column. I also enjoyed your tv show last fall. Keep up the great work.

Griffin Dawg

March 22nd, 2010
9:06 am

Good to have you back Tony! The AJC sports section is average at best without you.


March 22nd, 2010
9:10 am

If Urban Meyer decides to come clean with all his players (and their parents), we’ll get the full story soon enough.

Also, do we know the current status of Notre Dame’s contract with NBC? Is it up soon? Can they command that kind of money again? That would probably be first and foremost in their minds before they dive head first into the Big Ten.


March 22nd, 2010
9:14 am

The most unbiased sports scribe in the U S of A. Welcome back, TB.


March 22nd, 2010
9:14 am

welcome back i enjoy your work the most of the AJC columinsts


March 22nd, 2010
9:15 am

TB is Back!

I think one day we will find out that Urban was in talks with ESPN to replace Corso but just couldn’t pull that trigger. Bummer.. I sure did love those 20 hours in which Florida was coachless.


March 22nd, 2010
9:17 am

Welcome back Tony. You hit the nail on the head about Derek Dooley. Our junior and senior classes are the weakest we have had in 50 years so he has a difficult task re-building a once proud program that Fulmer left in shambles.

Wow, the self described "Mr. College Football"...

March 22nd, 2010
9:28 am

…has returned and the first thing he does is re-hash 5 items that are months old, and only one topic that has any current value. And he still thinks he is the “next Furman Bisher”…LMAO at that…he wouldn’t know a “football” story if it hit him in the hands…


March 22nd, 2010
9:30 am


Tony, I see you haven’t change your name. Why not, Mr. SEC Football?

Gville dawg

March 22nd, 2010
9:36 am

Welcome back Mr. T, you have been missed. Picked a bad time to visit G’ville, not chamber of commerce weather today sir.


March 22nd, 2010
9:37 am

Welcome back Tony!

Speaking of Kiffy & the Trojans, any news on USC and possible sanctions?


March 22nd, 2010
9:37 am

Now in our local news…….Tony, any thoughts on the QB battle at UGA with the suspension of Mett?


March 22nd, 2010
9:48 am

The SEC blue blood has returned.


March 22nd, 2010
9:50 am

So, Tony, you been loafing since January? Welcome back!

And I’ll bet as bad and fast as the UT coaching search went, Tubby would have gotten the call. Maybe UT got the right man. I don’t really know about his sideline coaching skills, but he obviously is smart and has already shown us Dawg fans his tenacity in recruiting.

"Wow" loves "Ramble On!!!"

March 22nd, 2010
9:54 am

Enter your comments here

Tony Barnhart

March 22nd, 2010
9:57 am

Let’s see if I can give a few answers before I head to Gainesville to see the Gators.

The NBC contract with Notre Dame runs through 2015 and pays the school in the neighborhood of $15 per year. Each team in the Big Ten shares about $23 million in combined revenue.

At Georgia, Mr. Mettenberger’s day off during spring break made Mark Richt’s job easier. He’ll give the kid a fair shot because Richt is a fair guy. Aaron Murray is your quarterback folks.

Longest NCAA investigation in history has been the one at USC. I’ve learned long ago not to guess what the NCAA will do. But it would be interesting Karma of USC got hammered.

And to the gentleman above who said I want to be the next Furman Bisher. First of all, there is and will only be one Furman Bisher. I can put myself in the same ballpark with him. He is a Hall of Fame and I was honored to work with him.

Secondly, I said up top that this was a chance to catch up on that had happened since I was gone.

Thanks for the kind words, folks. Now I’ll dodge the snowflakes on the way to Gainesville.


Tony Barnhart

March 22nd, 2010
9:58 am

On Bisher, obviously I CAN’T put myself in the same ball park with him. Was hurrying to get out the door.

Dave In Tampa

March 22nd, 2010
9:59 am

Ramble On : You cry like a little girl

TB good information and thanks for the updates.


March 22nd, 2010
10:00 am

So, Tony should cover the acc? ………….why?

Freudian Slips...

March 22nd, 2010
10:01 am

…tell the truth…

Dave In Tampa

March 22nd, 2010
10:02 am

Tony should cover the ACC just to see which Techie would cry the longest and loudest.. My guess is that Ramble On would make a pretty good run for 1st place


March 22nd, 2010
10:18 am

I’m finally at the point where i think ND should join the big 10-if ND is losing me, then they have probably lost a whole bunch of other fans and NBC is not going to nenew that contract-worst thing that ever happened to the program


March 22nd, 2010
10:19 am

I’d expand Urban’s list of owing explanation to his family and not just his wife. There were quotes of his daughter’s happiness over the decision to resign saying they had their father back.


March 22nd, 2010
10:24 am

Oh Boo Hoo Mr. Brown. I swear we are raising a society of entitled elitist personalities now. Why work hard for something? Everyone will get the same prize in the end. With an attitude like that, he will go nowhere once the NFL comes into the picture.

Welcome back Mr. B.

On paper it looks like Tubby would of prefered UT. But he’s kind of been there and done that. It may be that he would prefer the less heated and stressfull job of leading the Texas Tech raiders. He doesn’t really need the money. It very well could be a nice place to retire out and still maybe compete for some championships here and there.

HardTruth Soldier....

March 22nd, 2010
10:29 am

TB, Welcome Back Man! Now to get down to “HOME GROWN BUSINESS”, can we get the “real” scoop on what’s going on at UGA as far as the QB situation. also please let us know the Defensive Line situation as well!


March 22nd, 2010
10:32 am

“The NBC contract with Notre Dame runs through 2015 and pays the school in the neighborhood of $15 per year. Each team in the Big Ten shares about $23 million in combined revenue”

A whole $15 a year huh? Hehe


March 22nd, 2010
10:55 am

Tony-how dod you think Clemson will do under Dabo?


March 22nd, 2010
10:55 am

You know it was a typo of omission, RxDawg, but that small sum is more than ND deserves after the last few years of overhyped mediocrity.


March 22nd, 2010
10:56 am

Ah… just what we need… college football talk while the country prepares for insolvency.

Nothing like cheering for players who have no business in school…


March 22nd, 2010
11:02 am

TB – Welcome back. Did you catch any “football” games while overseas.


March 22nd, 2010
11:07 am

Tony, you, sir, are no Furman Bisher! If so, you would have have been with Furman last November, kneeling before Paul Johnson , calling him one of the “greats.” For what? Winning football games in the acc.

The proof that old Furman needs to just quit came shortly after that annointment of PJ, when the “great one” got manhandled the last two times his team ventured outside the basketball conference.

Thank goodness you are not Furman Bisher, Tony. Keep the good stuff coming …


March 22nd, 2010
11:14 am

Hey TB, make sure you let the GATORS know we are looking foward to their visit to T-Town this year. RTR


March 22nd, 2010
11:21 am

“Last January I was getting ready to board a plane to Europe . . .”

Tony, you’re such a name dropper!

Bulldawg in Ecuador

March 22nd, 2010
11:22 am

It is sooooo good to have you back. You have no idea how much I’ve missed the football discussion!


March 22nd, 2010
11:23 am

Welcome back, TB

You were missed


March 22nd, 2010
11:24 am

Dang that is an ugly picture of Dooley in Orange!

herschel wisebram

March 22nd, 2010
11:26 am

Great to have you back. You and furman are the best of your times, but you don’t have to do the other sports. And that’s a good thing. THE OTHER HERSCHEL.

Delbert D.

March 22nd, 2010
11:27 am

D. Dooley has one of the toughest jobs in college football ahead of him. UT fans (and Dooley) need to focus on a 3-year plan, after Kiffin’s devastation of the landscape. Dooley can use his legal mindset to ferret out the slackers and bad guys (not all Kiffin recruits).


March 22nd, 2010
11:27 am

With regards to ND joining the Big Ten, the Big Ten Network alone is almost equal in dollar amount to NDs current deal with NBC. Then you add the $1B (with a B) 10-year deal the Big Ten just signed with ESPN/ABC and there is easily more money available by joining the Big Ten. The problem is, ND is signed through 2015 with NBC and the Big Ten only got serious about expanding this summer.

Mark "Crimson Crier" Ingram

March 22nd, 2010
11:28 am

It’s going to be payback time in T-Town and again in Atlanta at the SEC in December!


March 22nd, 2010
11:29 am

Spring practice has commenced-so it won’t be long until our beloved College Football season starts.

Delbert D.

March 22nd, 2010
11:46 am

Derek looks a lot like Barbara, which is fortunate for him. Now if he can coach like Vince with the SEC big boys, UT will really have a bright future.

Dawg Bone

March 22nd, 2010
11:47 am

Tony—good to have you back. The 2010 season will be the year of the Dawg—mark it down! With Grantham’s new 3-4 D, Ga will shut down florida’s spread and beat them easy. brantley’s not that good, so I’m not worried about fla’s offense at all. The rest of the SEC is weak, Ga is loaded with returning talent and will win the SEC east going away!!! Beating bama in the SEC title game will be tough, but upsets happen. Dawgs rule in 2010!!!


March 22nd, 2010
12:01 pm

Gainesville fla or ga?

The UGA downward spiral continues

March 22nd, 2010
12:04 pm

In 6 months, you will see these words written on an ajc blog

“We were better last year with Cox at QB”

“I miss Joe Cox”

The typical ignorant UGAg fan thinks they are en elite program and can put in inexperienced freshman to run a successful football team. Haha. It’s going to be funny watching the same whine fest again this year. Tenn fla auburn and Fla are going to beat ugag this year. They will lose another 2 games somewhere. Enjoy the slide dawgs. No programs fan base deserves to lose more than uga’s.

Lane Pimpin

March 22nd, 2010
12:08 pm

I wonder if the babe I lined up to provide favors to Brown is going with him. If not, I might invite her out to California, where the girls are better looking but not quite so avaialble, if you know what I mean. If there is one thing about Tennessee women — they definitely are available.


March 22nd, 2010
12:18 pm

Tony, Agree with your list of folks to whom Urban Meyer owes answers. However, he opened a door that should be walked throug with his revelation of his daugters’ reactions to his resignation announcement. Questions regarding their subsequent reactions should be pursued vigorously.

Michael Scharff

March 22nd, 2010
12:21 pm

Tony, welcome back. You sound as if you are refreshed and ready to roll.


March 22nd, 2010
12:25 pm

Welcome back Tony. Hope you had a great time