Thanks so much for the email. To answer a question out of order, Nick Atzinger is at Matedeconk, and I told him tonight that you might be giving him a call, I hope that was ok of me.
Now, for the rest of your questions.
1) The "cold tops" can usually be attributed to the position of the weight and CoGs during the swing. If your CoGs are sitting too far towards your right side (assuming you are right handed), you can't get the bottom of your swing arc down to the ball, for it bottoms out too soon and the club is ascending as it reaches the ball. This could also be caused by rapid hand action, which opens and closes the club quickly as well as shorten the swing radius established by the left arm and club. It would help me to know what your iron divots look like. Are they nice and wide, square on the ends? Or are they shaped more trapezoidal?
2) All of your swings should be dead hands. There should be no conscious release of the golf club. This may explain the tops, per above reply.
3) Again, pull hooking sounds like the overtaking rate of the club is too fast. This sharpens the point of tangency and can actually get the club approaching the ball from the outside with a closed face. However, a pull hook can also be a result of the club travelling inside-out with the clubface too closed to the line of compression. Again, without seeing you swing, consult your divot patter with irons, which should give you an inkling as to your general line of compression.
4) I do the same drills all the time. First, I have built a device with a piece of PVC pipe and an old golf shaft, making a "slide rule" type device. I stick the shaft in the ground in front of me and slide the PVC out, so that the PVC can rest just beside my right ear. This is an indicator that allows me to keep from backing up my secondary tilt, as my head would hit the pipe if I indeed increased my secondary tilt. I also hit balls with tees under my arms, so as to retain the pressure points created between the arms and the chest/ribs. Those two basic drills allow me to keep myself in check and monitor my tilts, CoGs, and pressure points, which are 3 pretty important things.
5) Ideally, the tees never fall out. I can swing without them falling out, as can the Tour players that Mike, Andy, and I teach ( I can only take credit for one of those pros). The pressure points must be maintained, so the arms aren't flying around haphazardly at any point in the swing. You will feel like your followthrough is shorter and tighter, as well as your backswing, but I assure you, it will help you maintain your rotational speed better and allow a more consistent control of the clubface.
6) That ball position sounds fine, again depending on desired shot shape. Just bear in mind that the CoGs have to be even with or ahead of the golf ball at impact. See other posts on the site to confirm the ballflight relationships coupled with ball position.
7) Confirmed above.
8) I am sure that Mike and Andy would be thrilled to do a school if they have time, remembering that I cannot represent nor speak for them. Those 2 guys truly just like to help people, period. I am sure they will do whatever is in their power.
Well, I hope all of this helped, and I expect a host of replies and reposts from you. I like your curiousity and your passion, feel free to post as often as you would like. Thanks for taking the time to participate on the forum, and for the kind words.