This Week In The 'Drome We're Back At Home
Turned Us Out vs. Turned Us It: Titans owner Bud Adams died Monday at the age of 90, after a life of big oil, big sports and big gambles.
Forbes called Adams the most successful owner in NFL history, because of the massive return on investment he got for the $25,000 he initially laid out to get Houston an AFL franchise in 1960. The $1.06 billion the Titans are worth represents an annual 24 percent return — four times the annual growth of the S&P 500 in that time.
That's an testament to Adams' astute vision about the potential of pro football, but it's also a testament to Adams' ability to play the NFL's insidious game of public-financing — and that is his legacy to Nashville, at least in part.
The nearly $300 million LP Field was funded half by personal seat licenses — now considered very risky investments — and half through public dollars. Adams was able to extract these concessions from a city that, at the time, was desperate for national acclaim.
And so Adams should be lauded for either recognizing Nashville's desperation or for foreseeing Nashville's potential, depending on how you choose to look at it.
Did the Titans put Nashville on the map for more than just country music? It's arguable (but it's not accepted science either). He certainly put Nashville on the map as a place willing to lure billionaires with public money.
The Week Behind
Spontaneous Bacterial Infection: The Predators were having a good week, all things considered. The team swept a back-to-back over the weekend in Canada, beating Montreal Saturday and Conference III foe Winnipeg Sunday (with back-up goalie Carter Hutton in net — FORESHADOWING). Neither were particularly strong goal-scoring efforts, but the team looked great and both games and the Legend of Seth Jones only grew with his sweet, late-game hero show against Montreal (which inspired this piece of dumbassery from Fox).
The team looked an awful lot like a young team playing at the end of a road trip Tuesday against Minnesota, but until a late empty-netter extended the Wild lead to two, Nashville was still in with a shout there as well.
But then Pekka Rinne's hip went wonky. The prize goaltender — coming off a summer of surgery and rehab on his hip — came down with fever and soreness, later confirmed as a "spontaneous bacterial infection" and putting him on ice (and not on the ice) for a month.
So the Preds will have to a month with the innocuously-named Hutton and the improbably-named Magnus Hellberg in goal, a combined three NHL appearances between them (Hutton has all three).
The histrionics were predictable and, at least this time, partially justified, though the Preds have often found unknown goalies to be useful commodities (Rinne was drafted in the eighth round, for example, and the eighth round doesn't even exist any more; former goalie Dan Ellis was widely considered a bust when he came to Nashville and became the starter for the better part of two seasons or so).
And hey, Hutton looked top-notch last night, a 3-2 overtime win against Winnipeg secured by a Craig Smith late OT winner.
Ranking File: James Franklin got his first win over a ranked opponent as Vandy's head coach with a steamrolling fourth-quarter comeback Saturday against Georgia, a rollicking 31-27 win.
With starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels sidelines, the 'Dores turned to young Patton Robinette, who — with the kind of throws that makes one wonder why he wasn't the starter over the often off-target Carta-Samuels, whose battles with inaccuracy are the catalyst for so many Jordan Matthews circus catches — was able to do what no Vandy quarterback has done since 2008: beat a top 25 team, and in this case, Georgia, who was the smart pick to win the SEC East this year.
Vandy, now 4-3, is in the driver's seat to get to another bowl game — they still have Kentucky and Wake Forest on the schedule after all — and if Carta-Samuels is hurt for an extended period of time, the Dore faithful will get to see their future at quarterback, even if it is two months later than they should have.
Gross: The Titans lost their third straight Sunday, never really in it as the San Francisco 49ers bulldozed Tennessee 31-17 in a game that wasn't nearly that close.
And that kind of loss requires a sacrificial goat and so Darius Reynaud was sent packing after a woeful, inept performance as a returner, the latest in a string of disappointing special teams in the season after the Titans inexplicably fired Alan Lowry, considered one of the league's best special teams coaches and, as the man who divined the Music City Miracle, a guy who probably should have had a lot of rope before getting fired for reasons passing understanding.
Kicking It Back To The Old School: If I ever thought anybody besides my parents would read it, I'd write a book about MTSU's 2001 football season.
The games were crazy enough, but this was a team that included an in-his-prime Tyrone Calico — who was a physical freak in college — and the Dwone Hicks For Heisman campaign, which was just insane enough there were times it didn't seem insane at all.
This is relevant because last night's 51-49 win over Marshall — secured by a very-literally last-second touchdown pass — would have ranked as the third or fourth most wackadoodle game if it was in 2001.
And I don't say that in the way people say "Oh, the college newspaper was better when I was there," I say that as a way of conveying that MTSU has a history of weirdo football.
GREAT HELL MOUNTAIN: Magnus Hellberg, the new Predators goalie (or back-up goalie or 1A goalie or whatever; Barry Trotz has been a bit cagey about how the Preds will proceed between the pipes), has a wonderful name, even untranslated.
But let's translate it. In German, "berg" is "mountain." HELL MOUNTAIN. And in Latin, "Magnus" is "great."
The great hell mountain! Quite a sobriquet for the 6'5" Swede.
The Week Ahead
Game Of The Week: TSU, boasting FCS' best defense, hosts No. 2 Eastern Illinois for homecoming (not great scheduling, that) Saturday at LP Field.
What do you need to know here? Check out a quick summation from our friends at OVCBall.net at Post Sports:
1) TENNESSEE STATE COULD CHALLENGE EASTERN ILLINOIS. The Tigers were without quarterback Michael German, star cornerback Stephen Godbolt III, and they still made it look easy in a dominating win over previously ranked UT Martin on the road. Despite just 229 yards of offense, Tennessee State puts up 29 points thanks in part to the defense forcing three turnovers, and blocking a field goal that was returned for a touchdown. No defense has even begun to stop EIU, but if any can, TSU might be that team.
1A) ALTERNATIVELY, TENNESSEE STATE COULD GET BLOWN OUT BY EASTERN ILLINOIS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Again, 229 yards of offense. 229! You're not going to hold EIU to 15 points. There is virtually zero chance of that happening. The Tigers need German healthy and need their running backs to average more than 1.8 yards a carry. It wouldn't hurt to be better than 2-for-13 on third down, either.
2) EASTERN ILLINOIS MISSED ANOTHER EXTRA POINT THIS WEEKEND. Eastern Illinois is 37-45 on PAT attempts this season. That's not a good percentage. Your quarterback is hitting 66% of his passes this year, maybe you should enact "Madden rules" and just go for two on every touchdown.
2A) ...AND STOP KICKING FIELD GOALS. I didn't realize this until I checked the stats this weekend, but EIU's kicker, Cameron Berra, is 3-8 on field goals this season. That's 37.5% accuracy. On fourth down the Panthers are 10-17, a 59% conversion rate. What's even better: Berra has missed EVERY field goal try under 30 yards. He's 2-3 from 30 to 39 yards.
2B) ...AND MAYBE EVEN KICK ONSIDES ON KICKOFFS. Eastern Illinois averages 47.6 yards per kickoff, eighth in the league. Jacksonville State (which leads the league in kickoff yards and touchbacks) averages 62.2 yards per kickoffs.
2C) ...THE PUNTING ISN'T ANY BETTER. Eastern Illinois is dead last in the OVC, averaging 35.1 yards a punt.
Patton's Prayer: Vandy heads to College Station Saturday to take on Texas A&M and a certain buzzcutted snarler of a quarterback who will probably call somebody a "hater" at some point.
As noted above, Vandy will have to take on the Aggies with back-up Patton Robinette under center. Which isn't so bad, because he may actually be the guy who gives the 'Dores the best chance to win in any event, Carta-Samuels healthy or not.
Vandy, like nearly everybody, will be challenged to slow Manziel and the offense. Vandy, like nearly everybody, will probably put up at least 28 on A&M's defense which is best described as "they have a defense?".
On The Road: After hosting the Blues Saturday, the Preds head out on the longest road trip in franchise history, a nine-game, 17 day behemoth that takes them to all coasts. And, yes, again, they'll be without Pekka Rinne in doing so. The team has gone on the CMA road trip every full season since 2006 and, amazingly, are 18-12-1 all-time on that trip.
Usually, they had their No. 1 goalie, though, so that makes this one a little more troublesome than usual.
The trip starts slowly: after the last home game against the Blues, the team has several days off before playing Phoenix Thursday.
First Look: Take a look at a couple of images from the presentation about the new Sulphur Dell stadium for the Nashville Sounds:
A couple of observations:
2) As Friend of the 'Drome Zack Bennett points out, the batters' eye in center looks wrong. That's a challenge for smaller stadia that don't have a lot of outfield seating: it's just hard to hide the dang thing.
3) Also from Bennett: the announcer is definitely going to call a strike as being "right down 4th Avenue."
The city is still describing the Sounds commitment as "deep" on the $80 million project ($40 million for the stadium) but not offering much more detail as how deep that commitment really is. Which brings us full circle.
Emails to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com. Radio Tuesdays on 102.5 at 6. Every day at PostSports.