Bill Belichick takes in Auburn Pro Day

first_imgAUBURN — Only one NFL head coach attended Auburn’s Pro Day, but Bill Belichick draws attention wherever he goes.“I turned around and seen the Super Bowl champ back there and I was like, ‘Whoa. He in Auburn. Did he know where that was?’” wide receiver Sammie Coates said. “But that was good to have him out here to watch us perform and I was very excited to see him back there.”Some early mock drafts have the Patriots selecting Coates at the end of the first round.“He just told me, ‘Good job,’ and that’s all I needed,” Coates said. “I didn’t need much more than that.”Belichick watched Coates and the rest of Auburn’s 21 Pro Day participants perform individual workouts and instructed a drill for linemen.“It was definitely a motivating force,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “It was definitely a lot more fun knowing that he would be out here.”Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was glad to have one of the greatest coaches of all-time on campus but didn’t get into X’s and O’s with Belichick.“I have a lot of respect for him,” Malzahn said. “He’s a cutting edge guy and he wins. He’s one of the best, obviously in the business.”last_img read more

UT on the rise, Vanderbilt losing altitude

first_imgWhen Vanderbilt walked off the field at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 23, 2013, the pendulum definitely had swung in the Commodores’ direction.Vanderbilt owned back-to-back victories over Tennessee for the first time since 1925-26. The Commodores were headed to their third straight bowl while the Vols remained bowl-less for the third consecutive season.The evidence was right there in black and gold: Not only had Vanderbilt caught up to UT, the Commodores had passed the Vols.Barely one year later, the pendulum has swung in the other direction.Vols eye bowl while Vandy aims to spoilEntering kickoff at Vanderbilt Stadium, UT is trending upward, although the program still has a long way to go to return to relevance on the national stage. Meanwhile, the Commodores are in decline after a heady three-year run.In other words, it seems like old times.For years — decades, really — UT dominated this series. The Vols won 22 in a row over Vanderbilt from 1983-2004. UT had won 28 of 29 games before the Commodores broke through in 2012.Vanderbilt’s back-to-back victories got the Vols’ attention, particularly those players from the Nashville/Midstate area.Vandy football coach Mason deserves a second season“We want to beat Vanderbilt every year,” said UT linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who is from Clarksville. “It’s a rivalry game. They got us the last two years and we don’t like those guys. …“I’m from Middle Tennessee. I see that black and gold everywhere.”Conversely, Vanderbilt players have grown accustomed to seeing orange. It comes with the turf, said Commodores senior center Joe Townsend, who grew up in Hendersonville.“It’s the state of Tennessee. We’re a private institution,” he said.Marshall County’s Aaron Medley shining for VolsThose looking for a quick, convenient explanation for the changes of direction by the two programs find a common denominator in James Franklin. On his three-year watch as Vanderbilt coach, Franklin oversaw a period of extraordinary success by the Commodores. And he was a thorn in the Vols’ side.In three games against UT, Franklin lost the first in overtime and then won the next two. Vanderbilt’s 41-18 bludgeoning of the Vols in 2012 was the program’s largest margin of victory over the Vols since 1925.“When we beat them here two years ago, that was the most fun I’ve had winning a game,” said Andrew East, special teams captain for the Commodores. “There was a party on the field after the game.”Vanderbilt calls Vols ‘ugly orange,’ ‘team out east’When Franklin bolted for Penn State in January, the game changed. UT seized momentum, both in recruiting and on the field. Two local players that previously had committed to Vanderbilt — Jashon Robertson of MBA and Michael Sawyers of Ensworth — changed direction and signed with the Vols.While Franklin deserves considerable credit for what he accomplished at Vanderbilt, it helped that he caught the UT program at a historical low. Franklin arrived at Vanderbilt in 2011, which was the second year of Derek Dooley’s tenure in Knoxville. Dooley’s .417 winning percentage is the lowest in UT history by a coach who was on the job for three years or longer.The last decade has been a period of significant transition for both programs. At kickoff, Derek Mason will become the fourth Vanderbilt coach to face the Vols in the last six years. Butch Jones is UT’s fourth coach since 2008.Vandy QB Patton Robinette gets another shot at VolsObviously, neither program is contending for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Far from it. UT ranks fifth in the SEC Eastern Division and Vanderbilt seventh. The Vols need a victory over the Commodores to break their bowl drought. Vanderbilt’s bowl streak ends at three.Even so, the numbers tell us that UT is on an uptick while the Commodores have lost altitude. The Vols own a 5-6 overall record and have won two SEC games. Vanderbilt’s only victories have come against non-conference opponents Massachusetts, Charleston Southern and Old Dominion.But a win over UT would remove some of the sting of a bad season.“There is no love lost between these football teams,” Mason said.Truer words have never been spoken.Reach David Climer at 615-259-8020 and on Twitter @DavidClimer. The game TENNESSEE (5-6, 2-5 SEC) at VANDERBILT (3-8, 0-7)When: 3 p.m. SaturdayTV/radio: SEC Network/104.5-FM, 1510-AM, 95.9-FMInteractive graphic 5 memorable UT-Vanderbilt gameslast_img read more