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LINKS: Just How Worried Should We Be About Mike DeBord?

Debating first-and-dive, Tennessee announces a raft of new OOC games, previewing Appy State, and more: it’s your Wednesday links!

Georgia v Tennessee Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Morning folks. We’re just over 24 hours until tomorrow’s kickoff against Appalachian State, Tennessee’s first Thursday-night season opener in 25 years, which sounds is causing a bit of havoc to the standard gameweek schedule:

Tennessee was treating Monday like a Wednesday after having a Monday practice on Saturday and a Tuesday practice on Sunday. [...]

"The hardest part is what you do in your head," defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said. "You're going, 'Saturday was like a Tuesday, Sunday' — see, I just screwed it up. Saturday was like a Monday, Sunday's like a Tuesday, today's like a Wednesday, tomorrow's like a Thursday and Wednesday's like a Friday.”

... right then. In any case game previews are pretty thick on the ground (that last one from Brad is the best, fwiw). If you’re into weird IRL things with actual people, a pep rally featuring Butch and the team is scheduled for tonight at 6:30 outside Gate 21. Elswhere, WVLT has a helpful rundown of parking, prices, routes and so on for gameday.

Tennessee announced new contracts for seven upcoming opponents yesterday. Ain’t no party like a midmajor party:

  • 2018 - UTEP
  • 2019 - Chattanooga and UAB
  • 2020 - Charlotte
  • 2021 - Bowling Green
  • 2022 - Ball State and Army

Those teams join the previously announced Georgia Tech (‘17), West Virginia (‘18), Pittsburgh (‘21,’22)

Bud Elliott has an interesting look at what, exactly, went wrong with Nebraska football (HINT IT’S RECRUITING TO LINCOLN).

From SECCountry: everybody still freaking out about Tee Higgins and @ing him and all that: stop. He’s not coming to Tennessee.

Under the checkerboards, the beach!
So you may have heard whispers of offensive coordinator Mike DeBord’s previous employment history, at a plucky but struggling northern school long plagued by crippling player weight issues. And that sordid establishment has fans:

So they’re still mad, is what we’re saying. MGoBlog has a tag called “mike debord doom.” Regarding last season:

The Vols are 108th in Bill Connelly's "explosiveness" metric. They've scored a total of 13 points in the second half of games against Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas.

The optics here are really bad. Tennessee essentially does not have a quarterbacks coach. That task has fallen to Nick Sheridan (yes, that Nick Sheridan), who is a grad assistant after a couple of years as Willie Taggart's QB coach at WKU and then USF. No offense to Sheridan, but that's an incredibly thin resume for the only guy a major college has with any claim to be a QB coach. Dobbs has seen his completion percentage drop six points and lost 0.6 YPA this year. You want those numbers to go the other way when your QB hits his upperclass years.

You really have to wonder what the hell Butch Jones was thinking.

And they might be right! SBN’s own Michael Bird has four reasons he’s picking Georgia to win the East; two, essentially, are DeBord. For his part, DeBord is confident and, like, meditating, or something. Either way, as “today’s U sports A Division of The FanRag Sports Network [sic]” writes, Butch Jones’ future may well pivot on Mike DeBord.

We at LINKS never really understood the hire to begin with, but can see the rationale of bringing in experience and a familiar face; and frankly, we’ve only recently entered the rarefied air of having serious expectations that a slightly inept OC could endanger. Whatever disaster next befalls Tennessee football: it’d have been nice to not have totally seen that coming, right? ON THE OTHER HAND: maybe this is all just a residual tic from ten continuous years of terrible things happening. What say you, RTT? Should we be worried?