Adams: SEC wars continue to flare over coaches, recruits

I was wrong about SEC football. I thought it couldn’t get any more competitive.

Never mind Alabama vs. Florida for the SEC championship. January has been more competitive than December in SEC football.

What is supposed to be the off-season has never been more “on.” It started with the hiring and firing of coaches and assistant coaches. It has continued with one of the most competitive recruiting season in the history of a conference famous for fierce recruiting battles.

And Tennessee is right in the middle of it.

So what if the Vols finished 5-7 last season. New coach Lane Kiffin has 12-0 confidence and the bankroll to back it up. If he can’t sell you, he can buy you.

He hired assistant coach David Reaves away from South Carolina and assistant coach Lance Thompson away from Alabama. Kiffin hasn’t won his first SEC game and he’s treating his rivals like farm teams. Or worse.

Less than a month after new Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen added Frank Wilson to his new staff, Kiffin swooped in and whisked Wilson off to Knoxville. Earth to Mullen: You’re not at Florida anymore.

But the ex-Raider isn’t the only guy raiding SEC staffs. After Alabama coach Nick Saban lost Thompson to UT, he promptly took it out on Auburn by hiring James Willis.

Willis wasn’t just an Auburn assistant coach. He was a former Auburn player. How do you wake up to “War Eagle” one day, and “Roll Tide,” the next? Spies have more loyalty.

“Be True to Your School” doesn’t play in the SEC. “Show me the money” does. There’s so much coaching traffic between schools, family members run into one another along the way.

Auburn hired defensive line coach Tracy Rocker away from Ole Miss, which countered by hiring former Auburn assistant coach Terry Price, who is Rocker’s first cousin.

Four Mississippi State coaches coached at other SEC schools last season. LSU coach Les Miles filled vacancies on his defensive staff by hiring secondary coach Ron Cooper from South Carolina and former UT defensive coordinator John Chavis.

Familiarity breeds competition in the SEC and it intensifies already intense rivalries.

Imagine how motivated Chavis will be when UT plays at LSU in 2010. Former UT assistant Trooper Taylor, who’s now at Auburn, also will have something to prove — on the field and the recruiting trail — after he couldn’t even get an interview with Kiffin. Gus Malzahn, the new offensive coordinator at Auburn, has a score to settle with Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who didn’t exactly embrace Malzahn after he was forced to hire him at Arkansas two years ago.

And you know new UT recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron will have it in for the Rebels, who fired him as coach two years ago.

Bottom line: The majority of SEC games will feature an underlying grudge match.

Recruiting battles already are going full-bore. Sure, that’s business as usual in the SEC. But the business now seems more urgent. And commitments seem more flimsy than ever.

Trent Richardson, a star running back from Pensacola, Fla., committed to Alabama last summer. Yet Florida coach Urban Meyer reportedly spent six hours at Richardson’s home on a recent recruiting trip.

Marsalis Teague has committed to Florida, but UT and Alabama aren’t backing off.

UT commitment David Oku is expected to take a visit to Auburn.

There’s also plenty of SEC in-fighting going on in pursuit of two of the nation’s top wide receivers, Marlon Brown of Memphis and Rueben Randle of Bastrop, La. UT, Georgia and Ole Miss are in contention for Brown. Randle is trying to decide between LSU and Alabama.

It’s no wonder recruits waffle back and forth between SEC schools. The guys recruiting them can’t decide, either.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-324-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 53

troopervol writes:

Was Trooper trying to get on staff at UT or is Adams making a story out of nothing again?

whybenegative writes:

in response to troopervol:

Was Trooper trying to get on staff at UT or is Adams making a story out of nothing again?

come on troppervol lol would adams every try to start something that isn't there? wink wink nodge nodge

JMP_Vols writes:

Awesome first sentence.

Alumni_06 writes:

they slept on trooper, every position he coached he got RESULTS! PERIOD!

JoeVols65 writes:

Mr. Adams, why not find a team that you can be somewhat positive about in your reporting!

NoogaVol55 writes:

So basically the point of this article was that every team wants to beat every other team for one reason or another???

Hasn't it always been like that in the SEC? Do we need a reason to want to beat Alabama, Florida, Georgia???

JohnsonCity_George writes:

Hey John Adams, you left out that Fulmer is to blame for all of this.

UTVolAlum writes:

Stokes is NOT visiting Georgia. It is a Michigan/Tennessee battle on NSD.

Ohh yeah "Geaux Tigers" John!

UTVolAlum writes:

John how about quit being lazy and read your colleague's column and you would not include incorrect info in your article. Pure laziness, but of course the KNS continues to pay you.

"Stokes Done: Wide receiver Je’Ron Stokes from Northeast High in Philadelphia, Pa., decided not to visit Georgia this weekend.

Stokes remains committed to UT but has taken official visits to Michigan and Illinois this month after expressing concern over the UT coaching change.

Stokes plans to make his final choice on Wednesday."

BigOrangeVol writes:

"I was wrong about SEC football."

You can easily tell when he's wrong because his eyes flutter and roll back right as he begins to conceive a thought. What a pitiful, lazy, bush-league hack. Hang on to this job as long as possible dude because you'll never make it anywhere else in the real world...well maybe at the DMV.

ect1983 writes:

in response to JoeVols65:

Mr. Adams, why not find a team that you can be somewhat positive about in your reporting!

why dont you just not read John Adams ?

coach75 writes:

in response to workinlikehek:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ditto

ect1983 writes:

in response to JohnsonCity_George:

Hey John Adams, you left out that Fulmer is to blame for all of this.

He sure is

ect1983 writes:

in response to workinlikehek:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You people are pathetic; please, would one of you BOI's tell me why, if you hate JA's columns so much, that you continue to read all of them ? LMAO----every post you make, makes the KNS advertising rates go up----thereby making JA more money. So,keep it up---you people must have IQ's 2 point blow a rock.
PS-----Workinlikehek-----They aren't going to fire Adams...ever. And they ought to pay him more.

TheVolMan writes:

workinlikehek and coach75: still mad that JA was right about your boy, Failmer? The ship was sinking and John just read the writing on the wall. You whiners are too much--can't stop reading John's articles. Losers...

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to General_Watermelon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I suspect you where the one who put that "clearance" sticker Dupree had on his back yesterday.

ect1983 writes:

in response to General_Watermelon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Watermelon----dont you think there might be a wee bit of difference there ? JA didn't go to UT, and if he did, he isn't supposed to "be loyal"....far from it. Not one of your better analogies.

HallowedHill writes:

Things are heating up! Keep it up Coach Kiffin!!! Don't let anyone push you to the back of the line.

Although a few people might be crying over the price tag, UT is getting much more than we had a right to expect with the new coaching staff given the timing of the removal of CPF.

I've said it before and will say it again, Trooper will be an assett wherever he goes. He may have been overlooked by Kiffin because he hasn't yet established himself as a perenial recruiting superstar like most of our current staff.

allntl1#565211 writes:

Wow, I finally get all the hatred for this persons writing. I would not worry to much about LSU in 2010 if they have Ron Cooper they will be on their way down. He set University of Louisville back 5 years.

letshave1more writes:

in response to Alumni_06:

they slept on trooper, every position he coached he got RESULTS! PERIOD!

I agree on the results but he was disliked by the staff at TN and OK State. He was told to find another home by the OK State coach at the end of this year and CLK had his chance to hire him but passed. There is more to TT than we know.....

HtownVol writes:

Off topic, but I saw where someone said you can get a txt msg every time a player signs. Is that for UT's class? How do I do it again? All I want for signing day is M. Brown and J. Stokes... Those 2 would help our offense greatly. There are more ( Montgomery, Charles, Oku) Anyway I would appreciate if someone tells me hoe to get this info on Wed. GO VOLS!!

HtownVol writes:

how to get this info for Wed... Sorry

TxFatBoy writes:

Like him or not he isn't supposed to simply show blind support to UT or it's coaches and players. That said, he still comes across as ANTI-UT at times. Always ready to report the negative with rarely ANYTHING positive. He frequently words his articles to inflame readers, and I guess that's what they WANT him to do. If people HATE him then they are reading the paper, INDIFFERENCE would be a real problem for KNS.

daschmit#297884 writes:

in response to vol1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I can't speak for anyone else, but, for me, it is his incessant negativity toward UT, a tendency that dates, at least, deep into the 1990s. As for his literary "style," he has but one arrow in his journalistic quiver, an endless supply of sarcasm, which grates on the nerves just as much as his negativity.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mtnsvol44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True enough, but big-time college football is a business, and a particularly cut-throat one at that. But it has always been that way. Today's situation is only a difference in degree, though it does seem to be a BIG difference. We can either continue to ride the tiger or fall off and get eaten!

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to ect1983:

You people are pathetic; please, would one of you BOI's tell me why, if you hate JA's columns so much, that you continue to read all of them ? LMAO----every post you make, makes the KNS advertising rates go up----thereby making JA more money. So,keep it up---you people must have IQ's 2 point blow a rock.
PS-----Workinlikehek-----They aren't going to fire Adams...ever. And they ought to pay him more.

why do you continue to read the posts of the people that bash john adams and then you bash fulmer and the people that bash john adams? what? ok i'm confused. Huh?

jsm67vol writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Off topic, but I saw where someone said you can get a txt msg every time a player signs. Is that for UT's class? How do I do it again? All I want for signing day is M. Brown and J. Stokes... Those 2 would help our offense greatly. There are more ( Montgomery, Charles, Oku) Anyway I would appreciate if someone tells me hoe to get this info on Wed. GO VOLS!!

Text "signee" to 68255. I'm not sure if this is for UT signees but I think it is. This info is from earlier posts you mentioned. I had to go ahead and put it down in my phone. Although I have cable tv at work and will be able to tune in, this will let me focus on who signs with the vols because I don't give a rats azz who signs with anybody else. LOL!!

footballfan34 writes:

in response to HallowedHill:

Things are heating up! Keep it up Coach Kiffin!!! Don't let anyone push you to the back of the line.

Although a few people might be crying over the price tag, UT is getting much more than we had a right to expect with the new coaching staff given the timing of the removal of CPF.

I've said it before and will say it again, Trooper will be an assett wherever he goes. He may have been overlooked by Kiffin because he hasn't yet established himself as a perenial recruiting superstar like most of our current staff.

Tooper is a cancer and a self promoter within the coaching ranks. He tries to promote himself to the public whenever he can. He is an average recruiter and coach. OK. State was not bothered at all that he left. He never called a play at OK state and he did not get along with most of there coaches. You Trooper fans need to give up because he will never be back at Tennessee.

VOLINCALI writes:

This is the first time in a while that I have read anywhere that we were competing with the SEC e-lite.

Go Kiff.

JOHNWARD4EVER writes:

in response to jsm67vol:

Text "signee" to 68255. I'm not sure if this is for UT signees but I think it is. This info is from earlier posts you mentioned. I had to go ahead and put it down in my phone. Although I have cable tv at work and will be able to tune in, this will let me focus on who signs with the vols because I don't give a rats azz who signs with anybody else. LOL!!

Thanks for the info jsm,Im putting it in my phone right now.

I hope the Thigpen thing doesnt hurt other commits,Im not crazy about the way that was handled!!

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to VOLINCALI:

This is the first time in a while that I have read anywhere that we were competing with the SEC e-lite.

Go Kiff.

Hey VOlinCali..how's it going?

adamsck#591720 writes:

I should stop reading this stuff everyday since Captain Obvious will summarize for me on the weekends. Thanks Captain Obvious. Seriously, an opinion piece based on weeks old information is worth what?

bloodrunsorange writes:

in response to daschmit#297884:

I can't speak for anyone else, but, for me, it is his incessant negativity toward UT, a tendency that dates, at least, deep into the 1990s. As for his literary "style," he has but one arrow in his journalistic quiver, an endless supply of sarcasm, which grates on the nerves just as much as his negativity.

With that comment you can speak for me!

ggriggs939#223122 writes:

The owners of the sentinel do not not pay the writers to make good reports about the VOLS. That began when the paper was sold to the present bunch. Apparently one of the biggies got his ego dissed and took his ball and went home.
little al browning did the same thing until he was fired and they dredged adams out of the bayous in louisiana. Apparently the crocs found him distasteful as well and he wound up in knoxville and proceeded to go native by trying to tear down the VOLS Programs, the sole reason for his existence.
KNOXVILLE
Knoxville, an unusual town;
When faced with a chance at renown
From a project that'll work
Produces a JERK
Hell-bent to tear the thing down.

volroadwarrior writes:

What will Adams say when we kick some Tiger butt?

BlueTickLady writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Off topic, but I saw where someone said you can get a txt msg every time a player signs. Is that for UT's class? How do I do it again? All I want for signing day is M. Brown and J. Stokes... Those 2 would help our offense greatly. There are more ( Montgomery, Charles, Oku) Anyway I would appreciate if someone tells me hoe to get this info on Wed. GO VOLS!!

I may be wrong but I suspect that every time someone signs UT on the dotted line there will be a post on here seconds later.

We got real time updates on the where the plane was, so I have to assume it will the same on signing day.

Just find the "hot" topic/article of the day and and check the posts every half hour or so.

MattDillon writes:

Always thought of trooper taylor more as a cheerleader than coach.Hat backwards, chest bumping antics,not unlike a little boy with a sideline pass. Sure looked like he was having fun just don't know if he's capable of coaching 'em up.

TommyJack writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sounds like someone is sniffing up to their boss....

ect1983 writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

why do you continue to read the posts of the people that bash john adams and then you bash fulmer and the people that bash john adams? what? ok i'm confused. Huh?

Yes, you are confused.

MattDillon writes:

D.T. Shackleford has decommited,going to ole miss

Voluvr writes:

More loyalty among spies. lol
Great article!

ggriggs939#223122 writes:

John Gordy played offensive tackle, not guard. Charles Rosenfelder played one guard and was kicked in the face by a baylor player while he was on the ground which was a factor in the VOLS' loss in the Sugar bowl.

floridavolsfan writes:

EXCELLENT ARTICLE JOHN!! Truthful, informative and it explores the energy,strategy,hard-work and even the deceit employed by the characters that make up the ranks of SEC coaches! Thanks John--you are appriciated by most posters....

floridavolsfan writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Duke thanks for signing your posts! A TRUE SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN YOU ARE!!!

Sovol writes:

Adams has been negative towards UT ever since he came to the KNS. I quit reading him years ago and mostly just read the post. I don't know if he predicted the 5 & 7 year like the da from Fla. said but I know he wasn't the only one who did so.

joeaubie writes:

in response to footballfan34:

Tooper is a cancer and a self promoter within the coaching ranks. He tries to promote himself to the public whenever he can. He is an average recruiter and coach. OK. State was not bothered at all that he left. He never called a play at OK state and he did not get along with most of there coaches. You Trooper fans need to give up because he will never be back at Tennessee.

and all of you Yahoos trashing him would be beating your chest about "stealing him back" and how great he is if he was on your staff. I thought the mullet heads were bad...

rockytopatl writes:

in response to ggriggs939#223122:

The owners of the sentinel do not not pay the writers to make good reports about the VOLS. That began when the paper was sold to the present bunch. Apparently one of the biggies got his ego dissed and took his ball and went home.
little al browning did the same thing until he was fired and they dredged adams out of the bayous in louisiana. Apparently the crocs found him distasteful as well and he wound up in knoxville and proceeded to go native by trying to tear down the VOLS Programs, the sole reason for his existence.
KNOXVILLE
Knoxville, an unusual town;
When faced with a chance at renown
From a project that'll work
Produces a JERK
Hell-bent to tear the thing down.

Sir, what planet are you on? The News-Sentinel has been owned by Scripps Howard Newspapers for eons. It has not been sold to any "present bunch." And no newspaper worth its 75 cents pays writers to "make good reports" about the teams they cover. They pay writers to be objective, dig deep, share their opinions, criticize the things they do not like, and often be a thorn in the side of the establishment. Yes, they can also praise and be positive when it is due, but frankly, a sports writer who does that too much is a worthless homer. If all you want to read is "good reports about the Vols," confine your reading to the UT athletic department web site.

I'm a Vol to the core and always will be. But I also know what newspapers are supposed to do on their sports page, and this one actually does it quite well.

gtown_vol writes:

If Adams woke up one day to a moving van parked in his yard, would he take the bait?

KNS could save a good bit of money not paying for this...

gtown_vol writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Sir, what planet are you on? The News-Sentinel has been owned by Scripps Howard Newspapers for eons. It has not been sold to any "present bunch." And no newspaper worth its 75 cents pays writers to "make good reports" about the teams they cover. They pay writers to be objective, dig deep, share their opinions, criticize the things they do not like, and often be a thorn in the side of the establishment. Yes, they can also praise and be positive when it is due, but frankly, a sports writer who does that too much is a worthless homer. If all you want to read is "good reports about the Vols," confine your reading to the UT athletic department web site.

I'm a Vol to the core and always will be. But I also know what newspapers are supposed to do on their sports page, and this one actually does it quite well.

Adams lost his ability to be objective upon exiting the womb.

bdsecfan writes:

Go to UT = Go to Jail, Google this future UT recruits: The University of Tennessee Football Team Is A Drunken Mess

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