After witnessing one of the greatest college football atmospheres in history, Professor Mike Lewis takes to the podcast to discuss Vol Nation's reignited fanbase, Tennessee's chances at making the College Football Playoff, and Saturday's lasting impact on Volunteer fandom.
This podcast also features discussion of Brett Bielema's hot start at Illinois, Brian Daboll's early success in New York, and Lamar Jackson's regression over the last few weeks.
Watch/listen to the full discussion on NCAA and NFL football here:
Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, & Stitcher.
Mike Lewis 0:00
Welcome to the Fanalytics Podcast brought to you by the Emory Marketing Analytics Center a masterclass a graduate program in sports and fandomanalytics. From Emory University, a gift from the marketing analytics center to the public. I don't think Doug i Well, my name is Mike Lewis. I'm a professor of marketing, joined by Doug Battle as usual, Doug, I just don't feel comfortable saying that this is a gift from Emory University to the public. I don't think that's my, what's the cliche, it's above my paygrade to make gifts from free university but you know where I'm coming.
Doug Battle 0:34
I know where you're coming from. Like, I'll say what was a gift from God to humanity was the Tennessee fan base on Saturday? And their masterclass on fandom and what that looks like I could do an entire episode talking about all of the sights and sounds from Knoxville on Saturday as well as some analysis on the game and the situation SEC in college football playoff. Okay, my dog let's say wow,
Mike Lewis 1:00
let's just jump in because you know, I do these brand, these fan or brand equity studies of the NFL is the big one done it for Major League Baseball, the, you know, the NBA, done a for college sports in the past. And when I do studies, it's really based on the on the numbers, its social media, its its revenues, its revenue, its return on equity, revenues divided by costs, look at it every other. You know, every way that I can think of God Tennessee is winning. Tennessee has won the first we thought it was the one was at Appalachian State had won the first half of the college football season. We thought no, Tennessee is the 10th, Tennessee wins the fandom battle. No one, there's no one in second. And I was having a conversation with a Georgia fan. And I was gonna make sort of casual observations. And he told me if I'm getting this wrong, George has got great fans, Alabama's got great fans, Tennessee and LSU. And those teams are winning and they're playing at night might be at a whole different level.
Doug Battle 2:10
I agree. I agree. And I'm a Georgia guy. And part of that with Alabama and Georgia is they've had the Georgia recently has had the championship album, of course has had the championships. And now there's this standard where it's almost like it's a little bit different when you're watching the game. And you're like if we lose, we're a failure if we win that's expected. Versus with Tennessee, it's like, if we win, this will be the greatest thing that's happened in my lifetime. And it'll just be another loss. And so there's a different perspective. And I was talking to some Tennessee fans about this because it's like you guys don't understand. It doesn't get any better than breaking through going from not a contender to a contender. I remember being at Georgia in 2017. Georgia did not win the national championship that year. And I truly felt like we enjoyed the season more than the Alabama fans because they expect to the championship we didn't expect to be a playoff team. And there's something about breaking through Tennessee is at the height of the euphoria that comes with college football fandom right now does not pay higher and it's a beautiful thing to watch.
Mike Lewis 3:18
Let's throw the ingredients into there though because it's it's you're right, it's breaking through. It's getting going from Level B to level A. But there's more than that right? What is that 109,000 seat stadium at the second largest stadium Okay, so I know that okay, so they are not they're not really an underdog they are as big as it gets. So they're as big as it gets. With an underdog mentality. And Doug maybe there's someone else out there overall backflips into the river. checkerboard, you know, stadium map you know, I masterclass on fandom. I don't know how, you know, I heard it was somewhere someone was telling me about something on social media. I didn't say it myself, but it was someone explaining Tennessee fandom and they they go in and say, what were the volunteers and they're like, why are you the volunteers? What's that got to do with Tennessee's like, well, we love to go fight in Texas for a weekend. And you know, and who's the mascot? It's like, I got a dog named smokey. What I think you're the volunteers. And I've got you know, we'll play this music about the song about Rocky Top and Doug you write that maybe on social media you should actually come up put the lyrics towards Rocky Top on there. It's kind of crazy stuff and we're gonna play that after every every touchdown. None of it makes sense, but it's perfect.
Doug Battle 4:50
It's like a cold and it just it works because it is I don't know how else to say it. But I made a list I compiled a list of probably time 15 Crazy fandom things I saw this week, and I think eight or nine of them were from that Tennessee fan base. They have been and like, I gotta give our I gotta give Fanalytics as a whole some credit here. I don't know if it was week one or week two, but we pegged Tennessee as like, this is a sleeping giant that might wake up this year. And I talked about that fan base and how they are even when they're losing and what its gonna look like if they ever do beat Alabama. And we saw it on Saturday. And so Tennessee, I've got a couple of Mike, I just I want to make sure you saw these first off Tennessee football, needing money for next week's goalposts. I don't know if you saw their tweet, but they're like, hey, guys
Mike Lewis 5:39
gets a legit, I saw that it's a legit account. They're collecting money. Oh, I know. I don't know what that
Doug Battle 5:45
I think that's a brilliant way for the university to just raise funds, if any. People don't want to give like I get texts and emails from the University of Georgia all the time asked me to give, give, give give. I don't know that I'm really incentivized if Georgia had just won a national championship and they're like, Oh, we've had some destruction in Sanford stadium because some people were celebrating having a good time. Will you give to to fix the field? I'd be like, yeah, yeah, that I'll gladly pay for that.
Mike Lewis 6:13
Okay, so let me say something. Okay. And so Doug, we're, for the universities out there. We're doing some fundraising and we're trying to hit up a Doug Battle for a donation. It's either to replace the goalposts that were torn down, defeating number one, or Doug, would you like to donate so that we can buy some new laptops for the English professors?
Doug Battle 6:36
Yeah, exactly. So yeah, that was one Tennessee fan stealing grass. There was a fan that she pretty much carved out a whole checker out of the endzone,
Mike Lewis 6:49
and I didn't see her someone described to me as someone that is she looked like someone that lived out back in the woods.
Doug Battle 6:58
Tennessee fan could be anyone. Anyone in the stadium? Let's see the purge guy. I don't know if there was like a huge third down in the cameras zoom, Dan. And Bryce Young is about to snap it and right behind him. There's this very Halloween looking guy on all orange, terrifying figure almost as terrifying as I looked at Georgia games as a student. That guy was awesome. Pat McAfee doing a backflip with evolve navy. That's one of the most unique things about Tennessee's fan base having a dog,
Mike Lewis 7:33
Dad sorry, was that the backflip slash belly flop, which is next level, right.
Doug Battle 7:39
It was a twofer. It was a backflip belly flop. By Pat McAfee evolve navy. How many teams have tailgates on the water? Is Tennessee the only one? I don't know that I've ever seen that anywhere else.
Mike Lewis 7:52
It's an opportunity and a problem. It turns out right?
Doug Battle 7:56
It's awesome. It's awesome. I mean, it's the burial grounds for those goalposts now so that water just became that much more
Mike Lewis 8:02
say no, every every set of goalposts is going in that water now, right?
Doug Battle 8:08
I don't know how often that's gonna happen. I mean, they haven't been I'll be able to 15 years I don't know, like when Tennessee goes to Athens in a couple of weeks. I don't know that Georgia is going to tear down the goalposts that they beat Tennessee you know what I mean? Like that, that really only this was the breaking of a curse. This was like the Curse of the Bambino being broken for the Red Sox. It's, it's a big deal for okay,
Mike Lewis 8:30
but it's so much fun now. So let's say, let's say Tennessee beats Georgia. I don't know. Sorry. sacrilege, and then Tennessee clinches the east. That fan base has got to have in the back of their mind of Sure. We just beat whoever to maybe we you know, we best beat Vanderbilt? I don't. That's their season in the game. Yeah. Let's put the goalposts in the river. Right.
Doug Battle 8:51
Well, that situation, Mike raises a different question in my mind, and that is, oh, gosh, we've got to play Alabama again. And we've been talking so much smack, and we've been rubbing so much salt in the wound. And Alabama's ticked off and it's Nick Saban. Have we ever seen him lose the same team twice? The answer is no. It's happened twice. LSU in Georgia, they split Doug Ames both times.
Mike Lewis 9:17
I'm going to put something out there. If I'm the Tennessee Sports Media person. And in some ways Tennessee may have the most challenging path to a national championship in the history of college football, right where they may have to beat two weeks ago they may have to beat Alabama twice maybe Alabama three times they managed to beat potentially they could have to beat Alabama twice and Georgia twice maybe Ohio State crazy like the five games they're gonna have to perform it. But that being said, Doug, if I was Tennessee's marketing people, their marketing communications people and this will be a crazy thing to do. I would come out there and Tennessee players I would say like we're not worried about playing Alabama twice. Probably going to have to play Mississippi
Doug Battle 10:01
I don't know. I don't know. Looking at the different scenarios and seeing, okay, they lose to Georgia. They're one loss, they probably still make the playoff and they could play Alabama then or they play. Okay,
Mike Lewis 10:14
well, let's, let's go through this. They lose to Georgia. Georgia plays Alabama. Alabama beats Georgia. They're all one loss with they're all one loss. Two of them were in the conference championship one of them wasn't. Does Tennessee get left at home?
Doug Battle 10:29
No, I don't think I because they have to win over Alabama. So they, they have the head to head we
Mike Lewis 10:34
don't take it then you don't take the SEC conference championship. I know I'm talking over you, Doug. But this is what we live for.
Doug Battle 10:41
It's it's great to think about it's unlikely that it'll play out. I mean, usually what happens is we have these discussions and over the course of the season, one of them will lose two games and it won't even matter. But looking at the schedules it's like I don't see Georgia losing before the Tennessee game, nor do I see Tennessee losing before then. I don't see Alabama losing before the SEC championship game. And I gotta be honest, my I think Alabama, I think they have the best odds of anyone at making the playoffs and winning the whole thing looking at their schedule. Looking at the potential matchup, Nick Saban is not going to mismanage the clock twice. They're not going to mop upon they're not going to play a Neyland Stadium again, if they play Tennessee, and if they play Georgia, it's Georgia. It's a different matchup. So it's, it's interesting. It's going to be a fascinating rest of the season in the SEC, but if I'm an Alabama fan, I'm not hanging in my head. If I'm an Alabama fan, I'm ready for they're getting revenge they get an opportunity at revenge whether it's Georgia or Tennessee, either way, and that's I think that's what every fan wants
Mike Lewis 11:43
to hug. Can you imagine the scenario where you could have potentially whining? Alabama, Alabama fans kind of crying? We had to play Tennessee on the road. I don't know. Did they play Mississippi at home or on the road?
Doug Battle 11:55
They played Ole Miss at Ole Miss. We had to play on this isn't very good. By the
Mike Lewis 12:00
way. They're well they're ranked. They're ranked number seven, so we'll just go with it. Yeah, you know, Doug, the alumni are ranked like number 18 Now I think so rankings matter. Okay, so they you know, the case they could make of we had to play number six on the road twice or number seven, six on the road then number seven. We had to play Georgia in the championship game and let's be honest, that's a home game for the Georgia Bulldogs. You know, I mean, again, we're just Doug you're gonna have to be the adult in the room because because I'm just gonna bask in all this SEC fandom and trash talk for the next five six weeks
Doug Battle 12:40
Yeah, it's I just you know, people when you're a player people tell you act like you've been there before like you score a touchdown act like you've been there before that's the coach is always saying Tennessee does not know how to act like they've been there. And they have been there before but it was so long ago that anyone on campus now was not around maybe not even alive. And they do not know how to they're incapable of it. And so I can see it backfiring so easily whether it's against Georgia, whether it's against Alabama again whether it's in the playoff, but I see it I That's how I see it ending but right now they're on top of the world. But at
Mike Lewis 13:15
this moment, the Tennessee fandom and I think this is why we love them. We'll go back to I think something that was said during Ted last Oh, and I think it's it's something in every culture, memory of goldfish personality of golden retriever. That's the Tennessee fandom right?
Doug Battle 13:31
There the TED lasses team, and I liked that you mentioned LSU earlier because there's just something different about LSU. In Tennessee when they're good at night, there's there's this chaotic energy that those teams have. I don't know where Alabama doesn't have it. LBM is great. They've got a great fan base, Georgia's got a great fan base, but there's this chaotic energy, like you can't put your finger quite on. It's like there's some witchcraft going on in the stadium or something with Tennessee and particularly LSU. And that will also another thing that happens is when those teams get good, the country falls in love with them, partially because they beat Alabama and you look at Joe burrows team, then the nation was enamored with that team. But I think Tennessee is that team right now. And they they've they've got a big one coming up in a couple of weeks in Athens. It's going to be I saw a tweet saying that technically this will be the biggest game if Georgia is undefeated and Tennessee's undefeated at that time, it'd be the biggest game in school history at home for the University of Georgia as far as rankings number potentially number one, verse number three. That I mean, that's a playoff game. Right there.
Mike Lewis 14:38
Yeah. My understanding is that ticket prices have already gone up from and again this is this is a second hand they went from 500 to 1200. Like overnight. Yeah. So this is big boy. Big time college football, right?
Doug Battle 14:51
Yeah, big time. I got a couple more Tennessee fans so the goalpost to goalpost going down the guy will One guy was writing it like, like he was commander of an army.
Mike Lewis 15:04
Right, right. But Doug, Miss opportunity, where where's the I'm the king of the world pose on that. And I understand the balance was tricky for him.
Doug Battle 15:12
Yeah, it was also the I don't know if you've thought this but when I first saw it, it looked like I've never seen a group of human beings look like ants so much as I as they did at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, with them moving the individual posts to the goalposts. It looks like a little army.
I loved it, man. And also they were trying to get it out of the stadium and they had this whole goalpost and you're thinking, I really didn't get that thing out. There's not a, there's not an exit goalpost sighs
Mike Lewis 15:48
I'm glad you're bringing this up. Because you don't know how they did it. Either.
Doug Battle 15:51
They must have taken it apart or gone out if they took it apart to Okay. They can't throw it over the stadium. I've I've sat on the front, the top row of that stadium and you can't get up, there's three tiers. So there's no way that could have gotten it up there. Also, that would have been incredibly dangerous, but so is taking down a goalpost in the first place. So let's see. Oh, other one, I sent you this mic, the Tennessee fan watching the game at a wedding. And it was at a reception and they announced the you know, husband and the wife about four seconds before the kick went up. So people were cheering for that. And then I got quiet for a second. And then Tennessee made the field goal. And of course the one the guy like me if you know if I read a wedding in Georgia, and the same situation had to be there. I would definitely be watching the game on my phone. So I respect this guy. But he starts cheering and going crazy. It's like a delayed response to the announcement that they are husband and wife. Great timing. But yeah, Tennessee fans, they they're the big winners of the first half of the season or so. Okay,
Mike Lewis 16:58
Doug, how about today? My
Doug Battle 16:59
fans are the big losers. Right now.
Mike Lewis 17:01
gender reveal parties right there everywhere. I'm sitting there in Tennessee, gender reveal party is going to reveal a puff of orange.
Doug Battle 17:08
Yeah, and that might be a new gender. Pink and blue. But I don't know what orange represents, you know, it's gonna be evolved. I think I
Mike Lewis 17:18
think it represents that I'm not into that I'm not into this gender, this gender reveal thing was just a swerve to get people out here. And this was just a Tennessee party.
Doug Battle 17:26
I think that's just how you announce that you're having a baby. If you're in Tennessee, like we've we're gonna have a vol it's gonna be orange. Yeah, I
Mike Lewis 17:35
want my daughter to I want my daughter to apply. She's a senior in high school. I'm gonna make her apply to Tennessee. I've never had that thought in my head. But I'm gonna make her do that this weekend.
Doug Battle 17:46
Applications are probably going through the roof. I got a cousin and she's uh, I don't know, if she's a junior or sophomore there, she was on the front row of that endzone, or they kick the field goal and seeing her stories like, What a time for those students running on to the field? I mean, they're gonna remember that for the rest of their lives.
Mike Lewis 18:04
Yeah, in look in. I'm glad, I'm glad you brought that up too. Because I like when we can sort of get into the, let's say, the educational aspects of some of this stuff and, and kind of take it apart. Okay, so you think about what just happened. That game creates a heightened sense of arousal. Everyone is excited. Everyone is on edge, right? Everyone is fully engaged. This is not like you're watching. This is not like you're watching an episode of the rings of the power rings a power, you're sort of half watching to see if anything actually ever happens. Right? This is this is 100% engaged. And then something spectacular happens. And it happens in a group of 110,000 people there when you say they're going to remember for their the rest of their lives. How could they not? I mean, this is this is the most impactful moment. imaginable, right? It's a community coming together. It's emotionally emotional arousal, and it's a victory. That is the formative memory of their experience at the University of Tennessee, and it will stick with them. You're 100%. Right. That's going to influence donations to Tennessee in the year 20. In the year 2070. Right. I mean, how crazy is that, that it's going to resonate, resonate through the ages. The closest
Doug Battle 19:31
play scenario I've seen to this whole thing was the kick six at Auburn. And I have plenty of friends who attended that game having grown up in Birmingham, and they talk about that. And every time I've been to in every game since that, then that it's the highlight on the video board that ends the video. You know, it's the defining moment of their entire existence as a university as a plane a football game from a couple years ago that it boasts of course being over Allah ama Alabama fans. They and I get it like I was there for a second and 26 when to or through that. That beautiful pass to Devonte Smith to be GA in the national championship my senior year. And knowing not only how bad that hurt, but realizing every time I watch a Georgia Alabama game for the rest of my life. I'm going to see a replay of this. They're going to show it every single time this doesn't. These things don't die. They don't just happen and end they live on in college football and so Bama fans are disgusted by it. They are mad. I've seen a lot of blaming the referees and officiating the
Mike Lewis 20:38
and God they're getting so much sympathy from the other SEC fans. Yeah. I've heard that. Nick Saban and Alabama after getting the Tom Brady treatment for decades,
Doug Battle 20:50
or a decade. Yeah, they're not they're not getting much sympathy Mike.
Mike Lewis 20:55
And Tom Brady's like, what did I do? You know, I just got tackled and find right.
Doug Battle 21:01
They, they, they're not getting a lot of sympathy, but they're feeling it for themselves. And like I said before my prediction still I stories just happen in sports. They just happened in real time. And it's so poetic so often. And seeing that they want revenge against Georgia. They want revenge against Tennessee. They might give opportunities for both. In this season. Bryce young, playing his heart out and playing tough as nails on Saturday, by the way, I was really impressed by that kid. But you know, I think they're gonna get a chance. I do. And I think that if history repeats itself, Alabama's going to. They're going to be just fine this season.
Mike Lewis 21:40
Yeah, I just, I look, Tennessee wins. You know our fan. Our fandom and we do a fan of the week off in our Fandom of for the first half of the season is the Tennessee Volunteers. It's an easy, it's the easiest call of all time. But wow, you look at what you look at the road they got to travel to get this done to get that national championship? No, I look, I don't know what the betting odds are on Tennessee to run the table. No chance. I don't think anyone's ever done what Tennessee is going to be asked to do.
Doug Battle 22:12
The closest I can think of was LSU with burrow. I remember they escaped Texas on the road and a thriller early in season and thinking yeah, but they're gonna have to play Alabama, they're gonna have to play looking at their you know, their hands play an SEC championship against Georgia, then they're gonna have Clemson and Ohio State. That team did it. And the difference though, is that team had an NFL starter at pretty much every position. I think for Tennessee fans, though I don't know that it's as much about this as the year this is our one chance. I think it's more that the program after being dead for so long, has risen from the dead. And we're back and we're here to stay. I talked about it a few weeks ago, when people are talking about Tennessee being back. I said Tennessee is not back until they beat Georgia or Alabama or both. And maybe they'll do both this year. But they beat Alabama they're back. Everyone knows that Tennessee is back. The coach is there to stay. He's new. He's young. He's got a great system, the recruiting well, and so they it's not as much it reminds me again of 2017, Georgia where it felt like, yeah, we want to win it this year. But we know that in the next 510 years, we're going to just consistently be in contention after years of not being and it's a thrill. It's a thrill to turn the corner. And to be quite frank, I don't know that winning a championship beats the thrill of turning that corner. And so like I said before, I think Tennessee is at the pinnacle of sports euphoria right now, what
Mike Lewis 23:37
it looked like I don't you know, fandoms a multi dimensional thing, right? And I want my teams to win championships to me that that's like the the ultimate of what we want to have happen. But that being said, if you take a step back, and if you don't have, you know, skin in the game or dog in the fight, that this is so good for the SEC. Right? If Tennessee gets back to that pinnacle, wow, this becomes even again, you know, you sent it in, I think the NCAA had a commercial that, you know, sports has this magical thing of these narratives just pop pop up. They just do. This is a good one. I mean, this is really real. This is as good as it gets. I
Doug Battle 24:27
think and this is a it'll be ongoing story because even beyond this year, Tennessee, Alabama next year in Tuscaloosa you think that Alabama crowd is gonna be fired up. You think that in two years from now and it goes back to Neyland, those fans are going to get College GameDay again. And they're going to be talking about can we do it again, and they're going to tear the goalposts down probably if they do it again. I mean, it's just it's an ongoing story.
Mike Lewis 24:53
I didn't follow it. I hope they had I hope they had like half a dozen five star recruits on the sideline for that game. They did. had a you start to see some guys flip into Tennessee?
Doug Battle 25:02
Yeah, no they had they had one of their better. I mean they had all star cast it was like a, an All American game over on the sideline at Knoxville for that one. And they're getting to witness that. It's hard to imagine being there for something like that and thinking. I don't I don't I mean, I feel like if you're there for that, it's just destined to be you're going to Tennessee. So and also if you're a Georgia fan listening to this, and you're probably like, what the heck happened to the guy now I'm not I'm not I'm still Georgia all the way always have been always will be.
Mike Lewis 25:38
Now it delegates my undo academic influence. I'm forcing you to act as like this. Impartial bystander, the student of the game. You can you can put the shoulder pads on over the weekend.
Doug Battle 25:51
I genuinely am. Tennis to you. To me. They're like LSU and like when Georgia lost to LSU with burrow. It was like good for them. You know, they've got a great team and Tennessee. I don't know why I've never hated them. I've seen my team. I mean, they lost them a Hail Mary Georgia lost on a Hail Mary to Tennessee when I was a student. I was there. Paint it up. And I remember I had a this is probably TMI, but I had a breakup that weekend. And my dad checked in on me the next day. And he said How you doing Doug? And I said about the game or said the game is is really what hurt me the most so I've been hurt by Tennessee, but but their fan base is awesome. Man. I love seeing people get after it like that. And nobody does it like Tennessee. Hey, you mentioned a gender reveal earlier with the orange powder. And I couldn't let this podcast go by without it killed me not to have a podcast last week because two weeks ago on Monday Night Football. We had a fan run onto the field with like a pink powder bomb. I don't know exactly what it
Mike Lewis 27:00
was. And you said already two weeks ago the Rams game?
Doug Battle 27:03
Yeah, yeah. And we have a podcast last week. We did the Tom Smith, one which you guys go listen to on YouTube. But But yeah, Bobby Wagner tackling that player that I mean, not that player, that fan. That fan has now come out and said he had a concussion. And it looks like he's suing Bobby Wagner. Trying to have the gender of the century. Also, I don't think it actually was a gender reveal. But it looked like I don't know what he was. I don't know what it was.
Mike Lewis 27:31
Maybe as a personal gender reveal. I don't you know, it reminds me of the well, you know, Davante Adams, I mean, you know, because we also missed talking about that i My understanding was he's facing a misdemeanor charge for you know, smacking the cameraman and to be honest with you, like I look at. Okay, and so, you know, here. It's fascinating, right? Because, look, I'm the kind of guy and from a generation that in some ways, taking the shots not that big a deal. You know, it's just not you know, you get hit big deal. Who cares? Move on. But I'll say a couple of things, right? I mean, that kid on the Rams game, we'd say 558 150.
Doug Battle 28:20
That's pretty generous. Yeah.
Mike Lewis 28:22
Okay, so let's say 571 40. And the RAM Player is a linebacker.
Doug Battle 28:28
Yeah, Bobby Wagner.
Mike Lewis 28:30
He's like, so let's say so. Okay, so let's say six to add, you know, as dimensions.
Doug Battle 28:35
You know, I'm gonna look it up. I'm gonna, we're gonna get this right, Bobby
Mike Lewis 28:40
632 45, right, something like that. That's,
Doug Battle 28:43
that's probably a tall for him. Let's see. Let's see. Let's see, come on. Six foot 241.
Mike Lewis 28:49
Okay, so even thicker unit. He's a huge, okay. Then you add that you add that helmet and essentially body armor. Let's let's be real about the scale a difference here, right? I mean, that's a monster, smack in a guy that's not physically imposing.
Doug Battle 29:07
I liked it. The fans were supportive of Bobby Wagner also like that the players and coaches around the league. I think the opposing team's coach came out and was supportive of him. His coach Sean McVeigh was saying, Hey, I mean, that's what and Bobby Wagner himself was saying, who knows what this guy's got on him. He could have a knife. He could be just very fun. Very fun. He could be a real threat, the real threat. And as as a guy who played football, I know that if I had ever seen someone run on the field like that, I too, would want to decrease them. Not not because of I feel threatened, but because it's an opportunity,
Mike Lewis 29:44
just the reaction, right? It's just
Doug Battle 29:47
but it'll be interesting to see if there's some some legal follow through. It'd be
Mike Lewis 29:53
interesting to see if there's a prosecutor that's going to charge him right or just, you know, let it go. But you know, but Doug, I'll come back And the Devonte Adams thing. Okay, so if Tennessee has won the the fandom competition for the first part of the season Davante Adams has lost it.
Doug Battle 30:10
Yeah. You know, I mean that commercial you talked about well,
Mike Lewis 30:13
there's also a Taco Bell commercial where he's kind of talking trash talking down to. He's talking down to the Taco Bell worker who's said something like, yeah, I read I played Junior High football, right? And so he's, he's he elevated, he's elevated himself above the fans and in a couple of his advertising campaigns, but you can't take a shot. At some, you know, you're an entertainer. You can't take a shot that is so it's someone else that is also working at that entertainment venue.
Doug Battle 30:41
Also, it's just like, so random. It's a cameraman posing fan, like in the bird, you know, this is this is a guy doing a job, doing his job just doing his job. It reminds me of an anchorman, there's a scene where Will Ferrell is running and he runs by just a guy. And he just pushes into the ground just completely randomly. And that was like Davante Adams, like what was that for? It was nothing. Nothing provoked that it was it was unlike Jermaine Burton for Alabama, the famed or perhaps infamous transfer from Georgia shoved a Tennessee fan and there's a video of it. And that's going around the internet right now, after the juicy game, but that kind of makes sense. Like he's ticked off these guys shouldn't be running on the field. And I mean, I remember, I'll tell you story. I got too many fan stories of my own. I went to one Virginia basketball game, my brother went school, University of Virginia, they were kind of at that point where they were breaking through, they were going from unranked to perennial contender. And Duke was there. And UVA upset Duke. There is now a painting and the stadium, the basketball arena at UVA that I am in because I was on the front row and it looks nice. And I was in high school. Yeah. And but anyway, we storm the court after beating Duke because Duke was like number two or three or something. Maybe number one, I don't know, storm the court. And I remember running over right by the Duke bench, and it was like Mason Plumlee. And I remember seeing Coach K and Coach K in his press conference after the game was saying that this has got to stop happening because for a while, every time Duke lost a basketball game, it was on the road, and the court would get storm and he genuinely felt concerned for his safety. That's what he was communicating his press conference that this is dangerous, you know, my players and I don't feel safe. And I think he saw on Saturday with Nick Saban. They had like a full it was like secret service around him ushering him out of the stadium very swiftly to make sure he was safe after that game. And with the I mean, for good reason, like in Tennessee who knows what could happen? But yeah, that's, that's something that happens where it's like you could see players kind of being defensive and we saw that with Burton and and Nick Saban being ushered out and coach cake, expressing himself feeling threatened, but by no threat from the camera
Mike Lewis 33:07
from the cameraman.
Doug Battle 33:09
No threat at all.
Mike Lewis 33:11
Okay, Doug, let's, okay. Gotta say something. About one more thing about college football. Okay, the alumni are six and one their bowl eligible. I
Doug Battle 33:24
knew you're going there. Well, look, I'm not even. This is
Mike Lewis 33:27
not even me being a homer.
Doug Battle 33:31
This is a national story.
Mike Lewis 33:32
Who is the coach of the year? Six and one in Illinois versus six? Or seven and Oh, at Tennessee?
Doug Battle 33:40
Mike Lewis 33:42
Okay. But Doug, I mean, and I understand where you're going with it, which is the more remarkable transformation.
Doug Battle 33:49
You have a point you have a point. And that Tennessee is a sleeping giant, Illinois is like a sleeping small person. And that's the politically correct way to work. So, yeah, I think you have a good point there.
Mike Lewis 34:05
I mean, years ago, I did I did an analysis of coaches coaching effectiveness. And what I was looking at was, how well teams performed based on how much they invested relative to other conference members. Okay, and so, and I remember Billy's Billy Ma, was actually one of the top several coaches in all of college football, right, because you, you realize that, you know, when you're winning 10 games at Wisconsin, this is back in that day, you're doing something you're winning 10 games, well, let's say Ohio State and Michigan are winning 11 games, but your level of investment is nowhere close. And if you adjust for the amount of for the kind of recruiting the crew recruits that you're getting in there, the number of let's say four stars and five stars across those programs. He had done a truly remarkable job. Now he went down to Arkansas, obviously. And for some reason, that didn't work, but I'm not surprised at all in terms of how successful he's been at Illinois, because he seems like one of these guys. He's got a system that works and he does that system. And so, you know, is he gonna, you know, is this the cap for Illinois? You know, maybe, but very rare. I mean, you think about how down that program has been and where they've recruited for the last 12 years. That's a remarkable job. And you look at the schedule, Doug, for the big 10 To win a national championship. You gotta go through the alumni
Doug Battle 35:42
and defense that Arkansas that SEC West's particularly when he was there with every year Alabama, of course, but LSU Auburn, Texas a&m Ole Miss Mississippi State, I mean, so many
Mike Lewis 35:57
times maybe that duck it let me ask you this does that kind of system that kind of Wisconsin System approach does not that not work in the SEC. When you're playing teams that have bigger, stronger guy eight, well, eight to 15 NFL players coming at you every week, every other week? Maybe
Doug Battle 36:15
systems? I think Tennessee's got the perfect system for coming into the SEC. And I think Texas is probably looking at that and saying they're probably feeling pretty confident because of the system that they have. But an Oklahoma is probably not feeling confident at all, because of the season that they're having and the system that they have at the present. So yeah, I don't know. But Bret Bielema has done a great job with the Align i and looking forward to seeing them in the playoff against Alabama or Tennessee or Ohio State or Georgia,
Mike Lewis 36:48
Michigan, if they're playing in the big 10 championship game that's like, again, it's like your your issue of like breaking through, you know, the Illinois getting to the big 10 championship game. That's probably the equivalent of Tennessee beating Alabama at home. Right in terms
Doug Battle 37:03
of well, and I also think that it's like, you know, what would be more impressive and undefeated Alabama season, or a 10 win Vanderbilt season, I would say the job for Vanderbilt would definitely be better. Alabama should go 12. And oh, every year looking at their schedule and looking at their talent. And so Vanderbilt, and in this case, the line. I mean, what Bret Bielema has done is significant for that university. And it's I hope he can sustain it, Mike, for the sake of the alumni and yourself, I hope that Illinois can build something and be a team that knocks off Ohio State or Michigan. Days are your sorry, I can say without laughing I really tried.
Mike Lewis 37:50
Okay, you know, and again, you know this again, what we'll just play this out, and then we'll move on just because of the silliness of the What If analysis that every fan base does. Illinois, toughest remaining game on the schedule is Michigan. So they let's say they pull off this, you know, miracle they beat Michigan, Michigan comes back, whereas back and beats I don't. I'm a bad fan. I don't recall, Mrs. Michigan unless will memorize. Let's say Michigan beat. I looked so many schedules that I just can't do it now. Like I as we were talking, I looked up Tennessee schedule. I looked up Georgia schedule. There's too much information here that, you know, the Michigan let's say beats Ohio State. Illinois plays Michigan again, again, I mean, you can almost imagine this kind of strange scenario, where again, in some ways, I really wish we'd gotten more of this stuff over the course of the time of the playoff right of the Dark Horse winning those conference championship games and somehow getting into the playoffs. I can't think of any examples where someone has won their way into the playoff, frankly,
Doug Battle 39:00
maybe Cincinnati last year? I don't know. But that's where the 12 team playoff. I mean, for real a couple years from now, let's say there is a 12 team playoff. Illinois is a legitimate playoff contender. And at that point, if you ended the season, you're what three or four wins from a national championship, which is somewhere where you're never really are in that position. Anyway. So I think schools like Illinois are the beneficiaries. Of course, how much of a beneficiary are you when you have to turn around and play Alabama and Clemson or whatever but nonetheless getting to fit your season to build towards something ultimate like that and making it into the playoff? I think like Ohio State Georgia Alabama fans are like this is dumb because now our regular season games don't mean anything. We're basically going to be in by default schools like Illinois schools like I mean just looking at you know, this year Tennessee, of course, but
Mike Lewis 39:53
they literally might look at it. Why don't we gotta go play this. We got to go play this terrible team in Indianapolis. This rather than get ready for the playoff, right if it's Ohio State.
Doug Battle 40:03
Yeah, yeah. So anyway, that's where I don't know, that's where there's pros and cons to the whole system. But I think a school like Illinois, and making it your recruiting would take off from being a being a playoff team. i Well,
Mike Lewis 40:16
again, there's a little bit in the weeds. And this is not me being an Illinois Homer, but this is kind of where fandom became sort of nuanced. So you know, bilim, as deal was, you know, you grow up these offensive lineman at Wisconsin and you run the ball, right? That's, that's Wisconsin football one on one. Well, going into last week's game, Illinois had the leading rusher in the country and chase brown. You know, he's implemented that system. And if what that system requires is now I got to start getting, you know, more of the top online prospects out of Illinois, then suddenly, you know, that's a system that can work, right. I'm not looking for five star quarterbacks and five star receivers and defensive backs. I'm trying to grow something, you know, so he might be capable of making Illinois a perennial nine win team. Again, that's something that plays out over a long time. But God, that's a, that's an amazing, it's sometimes duck. I actually, I kind of hate to say this, because it sounds almost like a sports radio kind of Yahoo calling in telling people how to do their job. I don't understand more, more a DS don't take that kind of approach, in terms of building these programs. Because if you're in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, that's probably your best bet. You don't have that insane brand equity of Alabama or Notre Dame. You don't have the recruiting base of Florida or Georgia. Right. You've got to you got to do something. Well, that's where
Doug Battle 41:52
I remember when Mark Richt left Georgia and my father went to med school at Virginia and my brother went to undergrad at Virginia, and really wanting like, man, if Mark, Rick could go to Virginia, that would be huge for them. Because whereas Georgia being a 10 win team every year is purgatory. for Virginia. That's yeah, that's building that's building a football program. And I felt like a guy like that could do it at a school like that. So I completely agree, Mike. And like I said, I hope I hope Bielema can continue the success at Illinois and maybe set the standard for some of these other schools, schools like Virginia.
Mike Lewis 42:31
But you know, the funny thing is, and I don't know where it's ended up, I haven't been following it. There were rumors right away that Nebraska was going to try and steal him from Illinois. Right. And so that's the, that's the other curse and all this.
Doug Battle 42:44
That's the tough part. Yeah, that's the tough part with
Mike Lewis 42:47
But Doug, from what we're talking about,
Doug Battle 42:50
when they're gone to that's the thing, if you get a coach that's gonna go make you a playoff team, they're gonna be gone in a year. So it from a long term building a sustainable winning programs standpoint, it really is better to get kind of a journeyman coach, who is going to who has a system that works in a consistent way. Hey, maybe Doug, outside as some other guys,
Mike Lewis 43:13
I'll add something else to this and something I don't think they do enough of I mean, when you think about the Nate, this might again sound very Yahoo Sports Radio call and the guy.
Doug Battle 43:23
I know no hate on Yahoo. We got a friend. Yeah, we
Mike Lewis 43:26
I don't know why more people don't try and build coaching trees within their school. Right? If you played at the University of Georgia, or you played at Illinois, then suddenly, you know, you got a quote unquote, better opportunity. I don't know that you can pull those guys away. Right? I mean, look at
Doug Battle 43:47
Kirby smart at Georgia. That's exactly. There's this. There's this sense of confidence among the fan base that other schools maybe don't have, where it's like, Where's he gonna go? The NFL? And I think that's the only place he could go. He's not you know, Alabama's thinking, oh, you know, when saving leaves, maybe we aren't pretty smart. Really. You think he's gonna leave his alma mater and go to Alabama to go to hell? No way. No way that was a stepping stone for him. And so I do think that when you're looking for longevity and continuity of the coaching position, that is a very interesting place to hire
Mike Lewis 44:22
someone from your nation, right? I mean, it's okay, Doc. It'd be tough to 45 minutes on college football, but yeah, great. Wow. Okay, the NFL. At one, at some point, we're going to have to dig back into it, you know, into the QB when generated predictions. I don't feel quite like getting into it yet. I mean, I love what I did. It's changed the way I watch football now where I look at all these things and go oh, I got that one. Right, I got that one wrong then the inevitable Well, why did I get that one wrong? dug the NFC East? Why did I get it wrong? How did you know how, in my fairness in fairness, how is anyone supposed to predict that turnaround and again, this is the beautiful beauty of the NFL that people forget these turnarounds happen every year. But the NFC East you got to be loving this.
Doug Battle 45:26
Brian Davis is doing a fantastic job in New York. You look at the New York Giants team, Daniel Jones, a guy who hasn't had a lot of success prior to this year. And his receiving Corps is like a bunch of guys that would be on the scout team for most NFL teams. The fact that the giants are winning, you know what are they five and one right now? remarkable job and I think David is going to be if the Giants continue on this trajectory, I think he is legitimate coach of the year candidate. I don't think the giants are Super Bowl contender because I don't think they have the personnel. But the New York fans that I know are are eating it up. They're loving this season. Philadelphia. Jalen hertz going from you know, Is he is he a legitimate NFL starting quarterback franchise guy too? Is he an MVP candidate? Just overnight and of course Dallas winning a lot of games with Cooper rush I thought that they I thought it was smart of them to wait until after the Eagles game to make the switch because had they lost that game with Dak Prescott after Cooper rush winning all of his games. There would be a lot more controversy I think.
Mike Lewis 46:30
Okay, so a little bit of my reflection looking at this Okay, so I pulled up I pulled up the stats Daniel Jones and again you know quarterback quarterback stats are always this kind of mess, right? There's so many different ones. You want to look at the yards that they throw for you want to look at touchdowns, tennis, touchdowns divided by interceptions is one I like a lot. You want to look at the passing rating or you want to look at ESPN QBR Daniel Jones having a very ordinary kind of season in terms of passing yards, five touchdowns on the year nothing special. They're not great on the Combine metrics, the passing stat in the in the QBR. And so you know, my conjecture that you can forecast a lot of what happens in the NFL, based on that leading man that quarterback position. Daniel Jones and the New York Giants are saying not always and that's maybe when you've got say Quan Barkley,
Doug Battle 47:34
say Kwanzaa special player. I also I just I've said it a million times with Daniel Jones. And you know, I watched the Giants pretty closely. But
Mike Lewis 47:41
okay, Doug, let me let me interrupt you for a second. Yeah. Okay, now you're winning. And Jones has got to be getting close to free agency, or renegotiation. You let's let's just say this, this winning rate continues, they go 12 And five, make it a round or two rounds into the playoffs to get this guy $40 million a year.
Doug Battle 48:06
Giants would in that scenario. What I was about to say is, I just find it hard. It's difficult to evaluate a young quarterback who has never played with a legitimate group of NFL wide receivers, or NFL lineman, or, I mean, this is his first year really playing with say, Quan Barkley, and that's taken a lot of the pressure off of him. I've always felt like he's a fighter, he's tough as nails. He's always running for his life, taking hits, taking all the criticism, he just gets backed up and keeps playing Which reminds me some of Eli Manning but you know, it's difficult to evaluate him looking at what he's played with. And so far though, there's a lot of data there's a lot of data of him playing with lackluster receivers and behind the bad offensive line I think the lines improved a little bit this year he's still running for his life all the time but so is every other quarterback in the NFL. And when I say every other I mean like literally every other like half the quarterbacks it seems don't have a line that can protect them and so that's just part of it nowadays. So right now it's like it gives receiving Corps and the Giants you know, they've got guys like Kenny golladay Darius Tony, it's kind of bigger name guys that haven't contributed whether it's due to injury or personal reasons. And it's like I said, it's been guys that you thought were gonna get cut in the preseason, Kenny stills and like it just a bunch of no name receivers out there pretty, you know, not a lot of separation. And Daniel Jones kind of having to thread the needle, so I feel like I personally feel like he's outperformed like he's performing better than his stats show than his completion percentage or than his yards and touchdowns show.
Mike Lewis 49:48
Okay, maybe the team have gotten the most wrong, though. I think we still hadn't projected at nine or 10 wins as the Philadelphia Eagles. Did you see this step up? And again, maybe one of the channel chances with my method is that it's hard to forecast growth for younger quarterbacks. Right? As we collect more data, you know, maybe we realize and the thing is right, young quarterbacks can go either direction, they can kind of splinter out, or they can keep growing through, I think from the data I've looked at, there's like a three or four year horizon and then you know, what you got? I think hurts is in what's hurts in season three or season four. Did you see this? Did you see him stepping up to this level? And I'm asking you, especially since you probably saw more of his college games, you know, being more focused on Alabama.
Doug Battle 50:36
Yeah, well, hurts. Grew leaps and bounds from year one and two and college two years three and four. I mean, and people will always talk about under Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, his his third year at Alabama, he became a completely different player, Alabama, brought in and offensive coordinator. It was a great quarterback coach, to be the quarterback coach. And of course, to have flourished in that system, but hurts. And of course, he beat me my Georgia team and I was there. But he was a different player in the pocket. And that's when I was starting to see okay, this guy's a legitimate NFL quarterback. And I was kind of comping him to Dak Prescott at the time as a as an NFL prospect. And I think that's been a pretty similar trajectory. Maybe not the early success the Prescott had, but he's he's developed more than Prescott did early in his career. And I think a lot of it has to do with the supporting cast, Mike, I think that his offensive line is actually good. And I think there's a lot of young quarterbacks that would kill for that Daniel Jones being one of them, Joe burrow being one of them. I mean, you look at I mean, Mack Jones is hurt right now. I'm not really I haven't watched the Patriots that closely. But just the fact that he's hurt probably is telling. And not a big fan
Mike Lewis 51:51
of something. zappi I forget his first name, but makes me happy zappi from Western Kentucky.
Doug Battle 51:58
Yeah. But so with that saying, I here's a pattern I've noticed with young quarterbacks in the NFL guys that succeed or flourish early 10 B guys to get drafted a little bit later, those top five picks Trevor Lawrence, Justin fields, Daniel Jones was a top 10 Pick. We've mentioned him a few times today. They're thrust into these situations behind bad offensive lines with bad receivers with that supporting cast. And they're not as likely to have that success, whereas mahomes was drafted a little bit later. And then then the previous guys I mentioned. And now of course, hertz is like a perfect situation where he's being drafted by a pretty good team already. And so he could step in and succeed. I don't know that he's a better quarterback than Trevor Lawrence. Who knows. But would Lawrence be tearing it up? If he were playing for the Eagles right now? Maybe? Probably? I don't know. Yeah.
Mike Lewis 52:50
Well, and you know, I think, Doug, one of the things I've, one of the things again, that I'm in the process of learning, you know, Trevor Lawrence was ranked near the bottom of the league, and you know, getting close to the midpoint of this season. He's right about in the middle. Okay. And so this looks like almost the trajectory that maybe we should expect that that that rookie year is just taking your lumps, once a year to, especially the top guys picked. Yes, year two, you're something competitive. And then year three, we know what we get. We actually learn what we get. Yeah, Lawrence definitely seems.
Doug Battle 53:26
Russell Wilson had a lot of early success. But again, he was the guy that was drafted pretty late to a good team. And I've always I've always the perfect example was Tom Brady, going to a Super Bowl team already in the Patriots and taking over? I've always wondered what happens if he were drafted by the lions? You know, does he have do we think of him as the goat now had he been drafted by the lions? Aaron Rodgers, another one where he inherited a pretty good football team and Green Bay under Brett Farve. And like I said, Patrick mahomes It's tough to it's tough to know. But I personally think that you're more likely to have success if you if you drop okay, in the draft.
Mike Lewis 54:05
I'm totally in the realm of heartache with what I'm about to say. I love it. And this is the other thing that I think I've learned from going through this exercise and it's something I'm going to add to this as I accumulate more data now I'm not going to get to this till the till the offseason. But you know, when you talk about Tom Brady, I think we almost have to look at quarterback coach pairs. Because look, I got news, you know, the ones I was gonna say the Boston the New England Patriots are three and three. Bailey zappi has a quarterback rating that as soon as he gets enough attempts, is going to put him in the upper echelon in the NFL. I think third or fourth round pick from Western Kentucky. Okay, this is I don't think we can look at Bally zappy I think we have to look at Bailey Bailey. zappi Playing with Bill Bella check. And so my hot take I don't think I mean, I'm such a Tom Brady fanboy, despite hating him earliest career because of his Michigan days. Yeah. You know, they need to be in the picture together on that Hall of Fame induction. And that's totally unfair to the two of them. But that is, you know, both probably hate that. Yeah. You can't separate these guys, I think.
Doug Battle 55:21
Yeah. And I mean, Lawrence with Meyer and Lawrence with Peterson, different guy, different performance, and maybe it's just him progressing from one to two, but maybe it's, maybe it's a different coach pairing. So I think and same with Daniel Jones with his quarter with his coaches before now with Daniel who had a lot of success, you know, turn it around, or played a part in turn around Josh Allen's career rather helping with his development. Of course, Josh Allen is just a special player. And you don't wanna give coaches too much credit for that. But he did play a role in that. And now I've seen a little bit with Jones, and people start to say, hey, maybe it's the guy in New York. Yeah.
Mike Lewis 55:59
The other thing I want to give myself credit for? Well, I, you know, I don't even take pleasure in this. Justin fields, Justin fields in Baker Mayfield, right. And so again, I don't want to overestimate I don't want to overestimate my ability, because like, I didn't even have enough data on Geno Smith to predict that he will be a top five player in the league, right? It doesn't make any note, there's no basis for that. But those two guys, the data just screamed. And again, unfair to fields as a rookie, but I only highlight him because he was there was separation between fields and the other rookies last year, that you know, it's almost like fields Fields was like such an outlier, that you got to take it seriously. And so let's say maybe a three win a minus three win contribution for a rookie quarterback. It's about what you're gonna get minus two minus three, you just don't worry about it. It's part of the learning process. But if you see a minus four or minus five, you go our evaluation was messed
Doug Battle 57:05
up. Yep. Yeah, fields also just seems miserable. i My biggest criticism of him has always been his body language when the going gets tough. And we've seen a lot of that lately with him. I'm curious, Mike, about a guy we've talked about quite a bit this year, Lamar Jackson, starting the year off with a hot hand.
Mike Lewis 57:27
Three, three, right, biggest? Well, the
Doug Battle 57:29
biggest criticism of him has always been that he's not a winner. Can't win the big one. He doesn't he's flashy, but he's not you know, it's kind of like people worry about Carmelo Anthony and the NBA.
Mike Lewis 57:42
Let's look at him in terms of the passer rating the class of the classic NFL statistic, which is based on yards per catch, accuracy, completion percentage, touchdowns, and then a negative effect for interceptions. He is rated 12 in the league right now. So he's behind. Jimmy G. Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tannehill, Justin Herbert, Patrick mahomes, Geno Smith. Josh Allen, a to a tool was playing really well. It's almost we got you know. Let's see who else Joe burrow Tom Brady. Okay. Maybe that's who he is. If we look at, let's say other numbers on Him, if we look at
Doug Battle 58:27
first three weeks of the season, he's probably number one.
Mike Lewis 58:30
Yeah, I don't I don't recall. I mean, he was definitely up there. But again, small sample size. What are we gonna do? If we look at touchdowns? Where is he here? He's pretty. He's pretty high on that one, I think. Yeah, he's number three on touchdowns. Only four interceptions. So he's, he's, he's done a nice job on some metrics.
Doug Battle 58:51
I think, you know, some of him is the timing of things. Like, if you had a few had a stat for just QBR in the last three minutes of a game.
Mike Lewis 59:01
I'm sure ESPN can generate that right. Yeah.
Doug Battle 59:05
It'd be a different story. And that's where Daniel Jones has improved, like his stats as a whole might not look as good but he's had like three or four game winning drives this year, which is pretty impressive for young quarterback, Lamar. I don't know if you watch the Giants ravens game yesterday or saw the highlights but Lamar Jackson, when pretty much the only thing they they needed to do was take care of the football he threw a very untimely interception and then he had a very untimely fumble and the final minutes of the game that cost them a huge comeback in a game there. They could have become a foreign to team and now we're right back at three and three 500 And you know, Lamar is under a lot of pressure once again.
Mike Lewis 59:43