Ro - from Denver, NC
It's difficult to tell you exactly what might be going wrong. You don't say what type of baking pan you are using - or if it's happening with different pans. Here are some thoughts on what might be an issue:
If you are using the same pan as always, and the tears are occuring in about the same place, your pan might need replacing - they do get worn and then just won't release.
Your mention that the crusts are soft and sticky, and much lighter brown seems to indicate a problem with the oven. If you are using an oven thermometer to check the temperature, make sure it's located exactly in the spot where your baking pan sits in the oven. Check it after it has been in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. If the temperature is ok, move it to different spots in the oven and again check it. Sometimes ovens have hotspots. Also, sometimes ovens have surges of heat but then don't heat as much, which can effect how your cake will bake.
Finally, you might want to change the method you are using for greasing/spraying your baking pan before adding the batter. Sometimes products used for this change, and that might be part of the problem.