ASK CFN - Is Tennessee Overhyped?
Posted Apr 6, 2007

Are Erik Ainge and Tennessee totally overhyped by the media? How would the Florida hoops team do in the NBA? What mid-majors should round out the BCS leagues? These questions plus the coaches on the hot seat. repeating as champions, and the best college football color schemes in the latest ASK CFN.

Pete Fiutak

Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Past ASK CFNs ...     
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

Office argument of the day … harder to do, repeat as college football national champions or college basketball? – TG

A: I’d say football because it can be out of your control, but the stats prove otherwise. A great basketball squad that keeps its nucleus together, or gets all five starters back like this year’s Florida team did, has to go on a six game run to win the national title. Obviously easier said than done, but a football team has to win 12 or 13 straight games just to be in the discussion, and even that doesn’t guarantee a title shot (ask Auburn, Utah and Boise State fans what that feels like). With that said, Nebraska was able to win two straight in the mid-1990s and USC won two in a row (or at least one and a part of another) a few years ago, while you have to go back to the 1991 and 1992 Duke teams for the last basketball repeat champions until Florida did it, so in the debate, both sides are right in their own way.

If each of the BCS conferences were going to add 1 mid major team, either by expanding or replacing a current team, who would go where? –Devin

A: I’ll do you one better. Not wanting to throw everyone out of whack, I’d make sure to add enough teams to each league to even things out for everyone.

ACC – East Carolina & Navy. ECU makes geographic sense among all the North Carolina teams. Finding the second ACC team is the toughest call of the bunch. I’m considering UAB, but putting in Navy.
Big East – UCF & Marshall. UCF’s a big school with a great Orlando location and a natural rivalry with South Florida. Marshall isn’t the biggest draw around, but the geography and battles with West Virginia would be a plus.
Big Ten – Notre Dame. I’m not trying to make a joke about the Irish being a mid-major; I can’t decide on the right MAC team to be added to the mix. Notre Dame simply belongs in the Big Ten.
Big 12 – TCU & Colorado State. Put TCU in the South and Colorado State in the North and you have two natural newcomers.  
Pac 10 – BYU & Utah. I know Boise State deserves the bigger stage and a better conference, but just like when the Pac 8 expanded taking two Arizona programs, the Pac 10 would be stronger by taking the two top Utah programs with big fan bases, good facilities, and plenty of potential to challenge for the upper-division right away.
SEC – Southern Miss & Memphis. While the networks wouldn’t be doing jumping jacks over a third team from Mississippi, USM has had enough overall success to be a nice fit in the West. Memphis makes geographic sense with games against Vanderbilt and Tennessee a natural.

I’ve got a couple of questions surrounding one pivotal one….Will/Can this be Tennessee’s year?  Every year Tennessee gets hyped and hyped…yet fall short time and time again.  How is it they are consistently overrated by the media?  Do you (the media) think they are that good every year, but just don’t live up to their potential?  Could this be a product of bad coaching?...if so, when do you think Fulmer will be dismissed?  Many thanks in advance. – KW

A: I don’t mean to pick on you, KW, but I’m going to use this question to get something off my chest to SEC fans: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be all high and mighty and gloat over and over again about how great the league is, how it’s the best in the nation, and how it’s so tough to get through, and then wonder why your team isn’t winning the national championship every year. Live up to potential? Isn’t the SEC supposed to be brutally tough every single week? If it’s so nasty, then getting to a New Year’s Day bowl on a consistent basis should be good enough, right?

Tennessee had one lousy year in 2005, won nine games last season and ten in both 2003 and 2004. It’s not overhyping a program that wins as much as Tennessee does just because it’s not in the national title game every season. Is LSU the product of bad coaching since it hasn’t won the SEC title for a few years? If Florida doesn’t repeat as SEC champs, is it not living up to its potential? You’re right in wanting Tennessee to be a national title-caliber powerhouse, but it’s not like it’s getting blown out by Sun Belt teams.

To answer your other question, Tennessee can be tremendous, but it’s probably not going to win at Cal to start off the year without the firepower in place to hang around in a shootout. That’ll likely kill your national title dreams, but Georgia and Florida have enough issues to make an SEC championship a realistic goal. 

Which coaches are the early favorites to be fired after 2007 -- specifically in the Pac 10? Did UCLA's Karl Dorrel's fluke win over USC save his job, or just postpone the inevitable? Is the honeymoon over for Willingham, or more pointedly, Arizona's Stoops?  - BC

A: UCLA was rebuilding last season and still beat USC and went to a bowl, is going to be among the top 15 in the nation this season, and won ten games two years ago. Fire Dorrell for what, for not making his program USC right away? If that was the criteria, roughly 115 other programs would be looking for coaches this year.

Talking Pac 10, Bill Doba needs to get Washington State to a bowl game or he’s gone. Ty Willingham’s safe for at least another year, and I think Mike Stoops is too, but they’ll be on double-secret probation if they don’t go bowling.

On a national scale, at the BCS level, Greg Robinson is one the hottest of hot seats at Syracuse. Tommy Bowden can’t afford a late collapse or an off-year at Clemson, Joe Tiller needs to turn things around at Purdue, Sylvester Croom has to show things are starting to change at Mississippi State, and Ed Orgeron could use a positive season at Ole Miss. If Texas A&M doesn’t live up to the expectations and the talent level, Dennis Franchione could be in big trouble.

There's a writer saying Florida would beat at least 3 NBA teams.  You've tackled this argument for football, so how about telling us how Florida would fare in the NBA.  –AP

A: Totally different animal than the college vs. pro football argument; the basketball team would have a puncher’s chance. Over a long, painful 82-game season, the national title Gators would probably win fewer than five games needing everything to go the right way on nights when the opposition was sleepy on a long road trip. But if the NBA teams were fully focused and really trying every time out, Florida’s going 0-for-82. Remember how the 2004 national champion North Carolina team sent everyone to the NBA like Florida is about to do? How are the former Tar Heels doing at the next level?

Fans completely underestimate and don’t comprehend the upgrade in skill, maturity, talent and preparation in the pro game in both football and basketball compared to the college level. It’s not even remotely close. I’ll flip it around; take the bench of the Memphis Grizzlies with a pro head coaching staff, and I’d bet the farm it wins the NCAA national title without breathing hard.

(Last week, I answered a question about what sleeper would grow into a new superpower and I said South Florida. I sort assumed Rutgers, West Virginia, and some others that fans wondered about weren’t sleepers anymore. With that in mind …) What are your thoughts about Rutgers continuing to be successful?  They have a great coach who seems to want to build something and stick around, they have a solid local recruiting base along with a pipeline to Florida.  The biggest thing they have is that they are THE college football team in the largest media market in the nation.  This could be huge in my opinion.  I think South Florida has great potential as you stated, but I would argue that Rutgers is in an even better position and a few years ahead of the Bulls as well.  Great news for the Big East either way. – Andy

A: Call me nuts, but I’ve always thought too much has been made about Schiano’s Florida recruiting ties. Win the New York/New Jersey area recruiting battles and you’ll win more than your share of big games. Rutgers has everything going its way except for any real winning tradition, but as long as Schiano is around things should keep going upward. The sleeping giant appeared to wake up last year and it’s absolutely on the verge of being a consistent superpower. Winning the Big East and going to the BCS would be a good first start.

Every year the conference championship argument comes up around the time of BCS game selections.  I’ve heard people discuss the pros and cons.  I’ve heard most “experts” argue that conference championships are simply for more money for the conference, which is probably true….but can anyone argue that if Florida hadn’t beaten a very good Arkansas team in the SEC championship game they likely would not have moved to # 2 in the BCS rankings?  Florida got to play another week AND beating a very good Arkansas team made people realize “poor ol’ Florida” deserved a shot at the title.  I don’t recall your position on the discussion, but do you think this makes conference title games seem more valid?  Also, do you think the other major conferences (Big 10, Big East, Pac-10) will try to instill 12 teams for a REAL conference play system anytime soon?  - Joseph, Chattanooga, TN

How do you feel about the teams who win their "Gimmicky" (as you put it) conference championship game, and they still get credit in the BCS system for that extra victory?  Personally, I think it give them an unfair edge to get into BCS competition, as Florida demonstrated this last year. – GC

A: You’re both sort of right, but you do have to give credit to teams that win an extra big game like a conference championship. It didn’t give Florida any sort of unfair advantage last year to have the extra game outside of putting the nail in Michigan’s coffin. Had USC gotten by UCLA, Florida could’ve beaten Arkansas by 75 and it still wouldn’t have played for the title. I’d much rather ditch some of the non-conference games and have everyone play everyone else in each conference race, like the Big East and Pac 10 gets to do. In lieu of that, you have to give credit where credit is due in the title games and accept that they’re an important part of the overall puzzle.

After winning the 2006 national title Florida went out and put together one of the weakest non-conference schedules since Auburn in 2004.  Do you think the SEC top dogs do their fans a disservice scheduling such weak competition year in and year out.  Where are the tough road games?  This conference is so overrated it is ridiculous yet talking heads continue to tout it as the best ever.  Do you think this is fair? – DB

A: The SEC isn’t overrated, but it generally does take it nice and light when it comes to real, live non-conference competition when it comes to road games. However, don’t give the league a bad rap this year, and don’t forget the yearly rivalry games that make life even more difficult. South Carolina always plays Clemson, Georgia always plays Georgia Tech, Kentucky always plays Louisville, and Florida always has to deal with Florida State. Tennessee is doing its part going to Cal, Virginia Tech vs. LSU is a national title-caliber game, and Oklahoma State has the type of team good enough to win at Georgia. Auburn is pushing itself against Kansas State and South Florida, and Alabama has a fun one with Florida State.

Who do you think has the most visually appealing primary and secondary colors? Example: Ohio State: Scarlet and Gray. What is your top ten? – Michigan Hater

A: I’m only answering this question because it made me laugh. I’ve spent the last week being forced by the wife to look at 483 swatches of the exact same shade of tan to figure out what to paint our bedroom. I’ll give you the same answer I give the boss … whatever you like. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a die-hard Tennessee fan (or my wife), you’ll be in love with that God-awful orange. Your team’s colors are going to be your favorite.

Since I’m a professional (ha!) and I’m always up for a challenging question, my personal favorite ten (you really want ten?) would be (and in the name of Mr. Blackwell, Trinny, Susannah, Clinton and Stacy, don’t e-mail me yelling about your team’s color scheme not being on here.) …
1. UCLA’s home blue uniforms with the yellow pants, gold helmets
2. Florida’s throwback blues it wore against Alabama
3. Tulsa’s blue home uniforms with the gold helmet
4. Notre Dame’s home blue and gold
5. Syracuse dark blue with orange helmet
6. Texas A&M’s dark crimson home uniforms
7. San Jose State’s blue with yellow pants
8. SMU home red with the dark helmets
9. Minnesota’s maroon and gold (and there is a slight difference between The U’s and USC’s.)
10. USC’s cardinal and gold