The Midweek Stock Report — or The MSR, with a capitalized ‘T’ to announce its presence with authority — is designed to highlight trends in and around University of Tennessee athletics, pop culture and anything else we feel like discussing.
Michigan State doesn't even play in the SEC! This doesn't make any sense! And where is my contact lens? What's happening?
For those new to The MSR, our weekly roundup is broken down into three categories: Stock Rising for things on the upswing, Stock Falling for things on the downswing and Stock Holding for things that are just as awesome, just as awful or just as mediocre as they were seven days ago.
Those are the basic ground rules, but The MSR reserves the right to tweak this feature as we see fit. If you don’t like that, start your own website.
CROOTIN’: Always on the lookout for ways to make a buck, The MSR is thinking about making and selling “Honk if you committed to the Vols’ Class of 2014” bumper stickers. Big West Tennessee lineman Charles Mosley — a Top247 prospect — became the Vols’ 34th commitment earlier this week, and they’re still ranked No. 2 nationally in the 247Sports Team Recruiting Rankings. What an unbelievable performance from first-yea Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff on the recruiting trail. They’ve shattered every reasonable expectation and even some unreasonable expectations on the trail. And now they’ll let The MSR interview Mosley throughout his career. And that’s going to be more fun than a barrel full of St. Louis Cardinals losses.
SASQUATCH STOKES: Say what you will about the level of competition — The MSR won’t stop you — but the fact is Tennessee All-SEC junior forward Jarnell Stokes is finally starting to play consistent basketball. Stokes has collected double-doubles in each of the Vols’ past four games and is now averaging a double-double for the young season. Now Tennessee needs the 6-foot-8, 265-pound, Size-20-shoe-wearing beast to play up to his potential on a consistent basis against quality competition, starting with Saturday’s huge game at No. 12 Wichita State — a mid-major menace that played in last season’s Final Four and came a couple of possessions from playing in the national championship game. The Shockers have many things, but they don’t have Tennessee’s strength in the post, and the Vols need to take advantage of that this weekend to earn a tough win on the road.
SEC HOOPS (MAYBE): To be clear, The MSR is still unconvinced whether the SEC will prove to be more than a three-bid league come NCAA Tournament time, but the league finally got some good news Tuesday night, when 19th-ranked Florida beat 13th-ranked Kansas in The O’Dome. Now the league needs to get a big road win against a ranked opponent, which Tennessee obviously could provide Saturday at Wichita State. Even that might not be enough to get more SEC teams into the NCAA Tournament, but it certainly would help the cause.
FREE MASON: Even The MSR never saw this season coming for Auburn, and we’re not too ashamed to admit that. Thanks in large part to Heisman-surging tailback Tre Mason’s 304-yard, four-touchdown effort, the Tigers topped Missouri in a wild SEC Championship Game and will play Florida State for the national championship. Auburn didn’t win a single SEC game last season. Eat your heart out, 1991 Braves. What a turnaround down on The Plains. Kudos. Mason may or may have even ended up on The MSR’s Heisman ballot this season. But more on that below.
THE CLAWFENSE: Not that The MSR is rubbing it in at this point, but does anyone really still believe former Tennessee offensive coordinator is a moron? After taking over a bad Bowling Green program a few years ago, Clawson turned the Falcons into the 2013 MAC champions by stunning previously-unbeaten Northern Illinois in the title game. And now Clawson is back in the big-time — as the newly-hired head coach at Wake Forest. Watch out for the Demon Deacons down the road. Clawson can coach.
Cheer up, Billy. You beat Kansas.
JOSH MCCOWN. YEP, THAT JOSH MCCOWN: As much as The MSR loves to make fun of Jay Cutler’s cardigans — seriously, no man should wear cardigans that look like that — we’ve never thought he was anything less than a really good quarterback. But we think he might have just gotten Wally Pipped by Josh McCown. With Cutler on the bench the past month while recovering from a high-ankle sprain, McCown has made the Bears look like a really good team despite not having anything resembling a regular Bears defense. McCown, a 34-year-old career journeyman, has completed 66.8 percent of his passes this season while tossing 13 touchdowns and only one interception. As a reminder, McCown had thrown more career interceptions that touchdowns coming into this season. That old dog has learned some new tricks, and we’re impressed. And we don’t think the Bears should put Cutler back on the field when he’s ready in the next couple of weeks.
THE SEATTLE MARINERS: Not long after signing former New York Yankees second-baseman to an eleventy-bazillion-dollar contract, the Mariners signed former Milwaukee Brewers All-Star and lifelong Tennessee fan Corey Hart to a one-year contract. If Hart can get healthy, that’s a great signing for a team that suddenly wants to get back to big-boy ball. The Mariners have also traded for enigmatic outfielder Logan Morrison from the Marlins, and baseball insiders suggest they’re not done making moves. That AL West is gonna be fun to watch — and The MSR doesn’t even believe the DH is something that should exist.
HUSKY? NAW, JUST FAT: As much as The MSR is happy to see Clawson proving he’s not the idiot too many in the Great State of Tennessee have called him for years, we’re equally disappointing in our ninja Jordan Lynch and his Northern Illinois Huskies for that dud of a performance in the MAC Championship Game. We’ve praised you to anyone who would listen the past two years, Lynch. We agree with Clawson’s assessment that you’re an All-American quarterback and All-American tailback wrapped into one dynamic football player. But you and your teammates haven’t done well on the national stage the past two years. We are sad.
TEJAS: Just one week after being on The MSR’s Stock Rising list, Mighty Tejas was blown out by Baylor to end another frustrating regular season that didn’t meet Mighty Tejas’ standards. Now Mighty Tejas coach Mack Brown might be set to retire, though he told 247Sports on Tuesday that reports about his upcoming retirement weren’t true. Regardless, some wheels are spinning down there, and the only thing we know for certain is that Alabama coach Nick Saban and super agent Jimmy Sexton are about to put even more presents under their Christmas trees. Call Sexton anything you want, just as long as you also call him the best in the biz. ‘Cause he’s the the best in the biz.
ARKANSAS STATE: To be clear, The MSR isn’t sure we know anyone who covers Arkansas State football. But we feel badly for those dudes and dudettes, because the Indians next season will have their fourth head coach in four years. Huge Freeze left for Ole Miss two years ago, Malzahn bolted for Auburn last offseason and now one-year coach Bryan Harsin is head back to his alma mater of Boise State to be the Broncos’ head coach. Yuck. It’s tough to see that ending well for Arkansas State. That’s even more transition than Tennessee. Let that sink in for a second.
WHAT THE HAIL (TO THE) REDSKINS?: As much as The MSR is pleased to see legendary Kirk Cousins finally take the helm for an NFL team, we can’t believe the Washington Redskins are 3-10 and having to bench Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season. No bueno, Mike Shanahan. Looks like he’ll be packing his office for good now. But at least we get to see more Kirk Cousins, right? ‘Bout dang time.
THE NASHVILLE PREY: Before winning at the New York Rangers on Tuesday night — and the Rangers have a dude named Ryan Callahan, so that tells The MSR all we need to know about the Rangers — the Nashville Predators had lost five consecutive games. We love the Preds, but we’re gonna call them the Prey until they climb out of last place in the Central Division. For shame, Prey. For shame.
A Free Mason conspiracy? Maybe so.
AUBURN’S RUSHING ATTACK: Anyone who has watched Missouri play this season — and The MSR is in that group — knows how good the Tigers are on defense, at least up front. That defensive line is salty. In other words, Auburn making that defense look that bad was rather remarkable. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn’s rushing attack is fantastic. It’s a wonderful blend of old-school and new-school, and it’s tough to stop when great athletes with speed are running it.
THE OVERRATED STATE UNIVERSITY: Why didn’t The MSR put THE Ohio State University in Stock Falling this week? Because, to quote Denny Green, “They are who we thought they were.” In other words, we haven’t for a second this season considered Ohio State a top-5 team. No disrespect intended. That’s a good team. But it’s not a top-5 team. Will it become one under Urban Meyer? Probably so. But it’s not there yet, and thankfully we were spared the unfortunate event of watching the Buckeyes play in the national championship game.
MARK DANTONIO: When Tennessee needed a head football coach last year, The MSR said it was a shame Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio wasn’t a bit younger and didn’t have much star power, because he’s a heck of a football coach. He proved it again last weekend.
FAMOUS JAMEIS: Heisman Trophy voters, including The MSR, aren’t allowed to disclose their votes until the trophy has been presented. But it sure looks like Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston had a good-enough week to secure the stiff-arm trophy. After being cleared of any charges (at least for now) in a recent off-the-field situation, Winston led the Seminoles to a comfortable win over David Cutcliffe’s Duke Blue Devils in another less-than-stellar ACC Championship Game. Say what you will about FSU’s schedule, but the Noles absolutely destroyed everyone they played, and Winston was a big part of the reason. It should be a fun national title game.
#CPSTUFF: Former Tennessee one-year wonder Cordarrelle Patterson — one of the best athletes The MSR has ever seen in person on a football field — is doing the same thing to NFL defenders that he did to SEC defenders last season. And the Minnesota Vikings’ receiver and return specialist is looking like an All-Pro despite still not really seeming to understand everything he needs to know and ultimately will know about football. If CP can stay healthy, look forward to seeing much, much more #CPStuff in the future.
THE 2014 CHICAGO CUBS: Still don’t have enough starting pitching.
THE 2014 CHICAGO CUBS: Still don’t have enough relief pitching.
Purdue freshman wing Basil Smotherman
THE 2014 CHICAGO CUBS: Still don’t have enough good position players, either.
THE 2014 CHICAGO CUBS: Still on track to win The World Series, according to The MSR’s opinion after a few beers. And shots.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: The Tennessee basketball team practiced to Lil’ Wayne’s The Leak, and that made The MSR remember how good Lil’ Wayne was just a few years ago. Sigh. Maybe he’ll find his fastball again in the future. That EP was awesome.
YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE WEEK: This week’s gem — which you can see here — is Shaquille O’Neal narrating a bunch of the worst plays from the NBA’s dumbest player, JaVale McGee. We like to call him “JaFail McGee,” but we also love Shaq calling him “Tragic Bronson.” We love Shaq. And we love how excited Shaq gets every time he mentions JaVale McGee. You have to watch these plays to believe them. This is why The MSR’s little brother was do disappointed to learn McGee wouldn’t be able to play in person in this week’s JaVale McBee Bowl — his old team (the Washington Wizards) hosting his new team (the Denver Nuggets). McGee is hurt, and that crushed our brother.
COLLEGE ATHLETE NAME OF THE WEEK: Let’s stick with hoops this week and travel to up to Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin’s alma mater — Purdue, where the Boilermakers have a highly touted freshman wing named Basil Smotherman. Apparently Smotherman’s parents weren’t feeling quite as creative when they named his sister “Annie,” though.
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: Call The MSR old-fashioned, but most of the time we get sick in the Winter, we just take Dayquil and feel a little better. We only go to the doctor is the Dayquil doesn’t work. Some doctors and others in the health industry — including our mother — think Dayquil’s not really good for you. We’re not sure we care. We drink that putrid liquid and then feel like we can get out of bed. That’s what medicine is supposed to do, right?
CONFESSION OF THE WEEK: Even as a 31-year-old, The MSR still feels giddy anytime a new Assassin’s Creed game comes out, and we then purchase and play it. And we’re only a little bit ashamed of ourselves for it. The new AC is a little different but a lot of fun, especially if you’re into pirates like us and our beloved Mike Leach.
RON SWANSON QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It's a hamburger made out of meat on a bun with nothing. Add ketchup if you want. I couldn't care less.”
Contact Wes Rucker at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.twitter.com/wesrucker247 or www.facebook.com/wesrucker247