published Monday, April 18th, 2011

5 at 10: SEC spring football, NBA playoffs and a Talladega photo finish

Wild weekend. The response last week was strong, and we loved the questions about our next contest. Well, we're committed to something involving the Kentucky Derby, but we're looking at something in the next week or two on an event that's near-and-dear to our heart. More details later this week.

Here we go...

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    Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) hands the ball off to tailback Tauren Poole (28) during the Orange and White spring NCAA college football game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)

Spring football has sprung

Across the South — and the country — spring football scrimmages were everywhere Saturday.

There were like 40 — seriously — this weekend, and that means there's no way to go around the horn and cover them all. One general theme that has appeared, though, is coaches are not naming a starting quarterback unless there is a super-clear-cut leader. Makes sense, too, for a few reasons.

One, there's nothing much to gain from naming a QB1 in May when no one's getting official reps until August anyway. Two, if you have two guys that are close, you want to keep each of them motivated through the summer. Three, if you have two quarterbacks competing for the gig and there's a good-sized drop after those two (or if you're waiting on a freshman to arrive in the fall), you have to be careful about losing one of them to a transfer.

That said, let's do a quick, 10-word-or-less, spring football scrimmage top-3 (yes, a 3-in-10 by the 5-at-10)

3. Spring's top dogs often are fall's forgotten: Quick, who led your team in rushing Saturday?

2. Open doors: Primetime spots still open with hotshot freshmen coming

1. Spring stats may be meaningless but: Wow, Tyler Bray's 5-for-30 must have Johnny Vols Fan perplexed

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    Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph, center, celebrates their win with teammates Marc Gasol, left, of Spain, and Darrell Arthur after an NBA playoff basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, April 17, 2011, in San Antonio. Memphis won 101-98. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

NBA playoffs

The 5-at-10's interest in the NBA is climbing toward near-1980s levels.

And this weekend did nothing to disappoint. Wow, across the weekend and regardless of seeds, there was drama and high-quality basketball.

The Memphis Grizzlies pulled of a huge upset, downing top-seeded San Antonio. New Orleans topped L.A., too. It was not only in the West, either.

The Hawks went to Orlando and won (rather convincingly, too), and the Bulls, Heat and Celtics each held off tenacious lower-seeded opponents.

There may not be the truly great teams of the 1980s, but the league is flush with young studs. From Carmelo and LeBron (those two are still in their 20s) to the new breed of D-Rose to Kevin Durant to Rondo to Chris Paul, the league has a lot of star power.

It's an entertaining game right now — something that could not be said in the last couple of decades. Now, if they could find a way to crown a champion before Independence Day.

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    Jimmie Johnson (48) crosses the finish line slightly ahead of Clint Bowyer (33) to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, April 17, 2011, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Todd Warshaw, Pool)

NASCAR and the power of two

Sweet Lee Petty's Lugnuts, that two-car tango stuff was unbelievable at the end of Talladega. Granted the first three-plus hours was akin to watching ballroom dancing, but those made-for-drama-restrictor-plate finishes are crazy.

As soon as the 5-at-10 gets up to grab a frosty mug (or a Frosty, depending if we get that Wendy's sponsorship deal — hey, it's NASCAR, after all), the race turns into two-car bobsledding at 200 mph.

Jimmie "Maverick" Johnson, with Dale "Goose" Earnhardt Jr. as his wingman, went from fifth to first on the final turn (yes, the final TURN) and passed Clint "Iceman" Bowyer, who had Kevin "Viper" Harvick as his wingman. Johnson won by about a foot — or roughly 0.002 seconds — to match the closest finishing in NASCAR history.

While Dale Jr. extended his winless streak to 101 races, he earned the teammate award for pushing JJ to victory lane. Of course, someone needs to remind Junior that NASCAR is an individual sport, and here's saying the sponsors are not all that jazzed about being the back-end of the sporting world's newest tag-team craze.

Johnson even presented him with the checkered flag afterward as a thank you.

Hey does that count as a win for Junior? No, well OK.

The 5-at-10 also believes that Dale Sr. would have wrecked everyone in sight to get to the front and would have told JJ to shove that checkered flag right up the exhaust pipe of the No. 48 Lowe's condescending Chevrolet.

NASCAR needs to be very careful about this tandem stuff. Dale Jr. waited (yes, WAITED, in a NASCAR race) in his pit stall for drafting partner JJ to get a little extra work done on his makeup or his car (one or the other) so they could return to the track together. Yes, it's sweet and all, but nothing screams good ol-fashioned racing more than waiting for your buddy to get done with his tune-up before returning to the track arm-in-arm and fender-to-fender.

NFL Draft

The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.

The 5-at-10 thinks Patrick Peterson is the best prospect in this class — and it's not close. You know this, too.

So, as we head to the big day — the NFL draft starts a week from Thursday — we're going to look at a particular question each day. Today, it's "Who would you target after the first round?"

Great question 5-at-10, glad you asked.

Depending on position of need (first round should be about impact guys, from there need has to be taken into account, especially since the lockout has prevented free-agent signings), there are some gems to be taken after the first day this year.

Here are three names that currently do not have first-round grades but have first-round talent:

— Randall Cobb, Kentucky: How many times have you been reminded about how nobody wanted this kid coming out of high school? Well, same theory applies. Dude simply makes plays, and he does it from any number of positions. At worst he's a poor man's Hines Ward, who will be an NFL Hall of Famer, so that means a productive 10-year NFL career.

— Marvin Austin, North Carolina: Guy's a beast, and if it were not for off-the-field issues, he'd be a top-10 pick.

— Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame: Big-time size (6-foot-6, 260 pounds) and ability. Missed most of last season with the Irish because of injury, but by far the best tight end on the board.

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    Atlanta Braves' Eric Hinske reacts after striking out in the eighth inning of a major league baseball game against the New York Mets Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. The Mets won 3-2. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

This and That

— The Braves fell to the Mets on Sunday, making a few mistakes in a sloppy 3-2 loss. Now Atlanta heads West to L.A. so that arguably the league's two most disappointing clubs can go at it. First team to three runs wins.

— From the land of "NO way, Internet gambling is corrupt?" On Friday the three largest online poker sites — PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker — were brought up on Department of Justice charges for bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses and money laundering. Stunning, right? Anyhoo, if any of the gang out there was a regular on any of these sites, give the 5-at-10 a shout.

— Cheyenne Woods, niece of Eldrick (that a little "Lord of the Rings" feel right there), won the ACC golf title by seven shots this weekend.

— Did you see the latest on Kemba Walker? This from SI: And in his travel pack is a copy of New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden's Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, a book that [academic counselor Felicia] Crump encouraged Walker to read as part of an independent study class on racism in sports. Before the Final Four, Crump suggested that Rhoden's book would be the first that Walker had ever made it through cover-to-cover. After the win over Kentucky, Walker confirmed this. "That's true," he said. "You can write that. It is the first book I've ever read." Walker is set to graduate from UConn next month. Nothing else to add here really other than locating a Kemba bobblehead has now become an absolute must.

Until tomorrow.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
jayrock2004 said...

I totally agree that these are the most interesting NBA playoffs i have seen in a long time. There's the team that everybody loves to hate (lakers, and Heat). The MVP (Derrick Rose). Carmelo and the Knicks vs the Hall of fame laden Celtics. And you have to love the fans out in Oklahoma City. They are possible the best in the NBA. The loudness and enthusiasm last night of the crowd reminded me of a college game. Here's hoping the fans in the ATL can duplicate the atmosphere when the hawks took the celtics to game 7 in 2008. Phillips Arena was CRAZY LOUD!!!.. good observations 5@10.

April 18, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
patrickd said...

Here's my crack at your 3-at-10 as it concerns the boys that play in Tuscaloosa, AL.

1) Spring's top dogs often are fall's forgotten: Quick, who led your team in rushing Saturday?

Answer: Trent "The Rock carrying, linebacker-killing, Tigerblood bleeding, Heisman-winner replacing, cyborg-body having, any girl in Alabama dating, mega-recruit from Escambia" Richardson.

2) Open doors: Primetime spots still open with hotshot freshmen coming.

Answer: A more valid statement could not be made. Very few mega-recruits enroll early. Some don't even make it clear where they're going on Feb. 4th (I'm looking at you Jadeveon Clowney).

3) Spring stats may be meaningless but: Wow, Tyler Bray's 5-for-30 must have Johnny Vols Fan perplexed.

Answer: As an avid SEC fan the answer is simple, Jay. It simply means the Vols defense is likely the best in the land and will lead them to either a National Championship or a 7-win season, whichever comes first.

April 18, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

LOL....cinco....that was awesomeness it all its awesometisity wonderment....looking forward to that booblehead by the way...once again you have brought tears to my eyes, but alas this time, yay this time, they are but tears of joy, compadre....

April 18, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

JR 04, I couldnt agree with you more about the OKC FanBase... Watching Surge run down the court to swat an easy lay up into the 4th row and the crowd jumps to their feet waving cold beer and foam fingers everywhere is exactly what the NBA needs...Fans that appreciate hussle plays! I know I nearly spilt my decaf coffee in my lap! Yup thats right 25 yrs old and drinking Decaf Coffee on a Sunday afternoon...what of it? 5@10..MMA in the TFP?? No? Maybe? Stop asking? I think we can all agree that NASCAR isnt what it used to be..the Drivers arent who they used to be...the good ol boys of yesteryear are now creampuffs from the west coast...please pass me the remote so I can mute the volume and wake me up when there is 5 laps to go....thank you....

April 18, 2011 at 10:48 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JRock —

Great call on the OKC fans. For the most part, the Black-Out, White-Out stuff is tired, but that "Deep Blue" or whatever they called it in OKC last night was awesome. Crowd was into it and had passion and most importantly was basketball-savvy. The NBA is enjoyable right now — which makes perfect sense because they are headed full-speed for labor carnage (apparently the NBA situation is way worse than the NFL's). So it goes.

PDavi —

If you spent Saturday in the greater Tuscaloosa-area, well, in addition to the stud that is Trent Richardson, you probably saw five of the top 10 linebackers in the SEC. Seriously, Alabama's second-string group of LBs starts at almost every other SEC school this side of Gainesville. Awesome group.

Oso —

The hunt is on. Even if we have to hand craft a Kemba bobblehead, we're making this happen.

EC —

We're still trying to come to find a comfortable approach for the MMA. We have to find the real storylines and we can't just jump in — for example we may be putting the D-League MMA in the paper and ignore the real stuff. We're working, trust us, put it may be the a few weeks before it gets our full attention.

NASCAR has got to get a handle on this two-way teamwork stuff. The race was awful — sure the highlights were great, but that's 30 seconds of a four-hour race. It's definitely not your daddy's NASCAR, that's for sure. NASCAR better be careful or with a little more fru-fru and huggin' and everybody gettin' along and playin' nice, not only will it not be your daddy's NASCAR, but it will be more like your strange uncle Jim J. Bullock's NASCAR. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.

— 5-at-10

April 18, 2011 at 12:13 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I understand...I wouldnt want Rory Mcilroy Sunday at the Masters like stories in the TFP... Can the Hawks edge out the Magic? and Force Dwight to Leave Orlando for greener pastures? I hope so!!

Who liked Jason Heyward batting 2nd this weekend? Its alot better than 6th...Im all for the number 2 spot....

April 18, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

who does a guy have to call to get an add in ther TFP classifieds??? sheesh !

April 18, 2011 at 1:08 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I was told that a Smokey and The Bandit reinactment came through East Ridge... I was also told that Dr.Pepper and Diablo Samages were served to on-lookers

April 18, 2011 at 2:12 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

The Hawks looked better than the Magic, and Sweet Lou Hudson's Sweatbands, can you imagine these Hawks with CP3 or Deron Williams (each of who was on the board when the Hawks drafted Starvin' Marvin Williams a handful of years ago)? So it goes. And the Magic are going to have to deal Dwight or he'll leave them in worse shape than LeBron left the Cavs.

Call 757-6200 for classified info.

And as for the Bandit re-enactment, let's just say that we raced over there. "Hold on to your hat, Fred." and if anyone asks, "What about some hush puppies, daddy?" let them know you ain;t got no time for no hush puppies.

— 5-at-10

April 18, 2011 at 2:23 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Thank You 100x...if You take Dwight Out of Orlando...which is likely to happen in my (semi)professional opinion the Magic will look like a 5-AAA Highschool team... I cant even imagine what Dwight would look like with a point guard who doesnt look like he just stepped off the Silverdale B-Ball Yard....

April 18, 2011 at 2:40 p.m.
wcole777 said...

One phrase comes to mind regarding this whole NASCAR thing: "Shake n' bake!" With regard to NASCAR and Earnhardt wrecking every vehicle to win I'm reminded of (same movie of course) Will Ferrell running all over the track screaming, "help me Tom Cruise, save me Oprah Winfrey, I'm on fire!!!" Flippin great scene from that one.

April 18, 2011 at 3:13 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

You sounded taller on the radio.

April 18, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

If you're not first you're last...

April 18, 2011 at 3:22 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

This side of Mickey D. Mouse, there's no one more important in the greater-Orlando city limits than Dwight. No Dwight, no chance.

WC7s —

Nice pull. "Shake n Bake" is a nice way to put it. And for the people who don't understand what NASCAR used to be, well, "You don't understand. You don't understand because you don't understand liberty. You don't understand freedom. So you put a crack in my arm like the crack in the Liberty Bell! You hear me?"

BIspy4 —

Nice. That right there is what you call an attention-getter.

Question that blends today's movie du jour (hmmm, Movie of the Day, I think I'll have that) and the Friday mailbag: If "Caddyshack 2" is the biggest drop from original to sequel, is "Smokey and the Bandit II" second on that list? Discuss.

April 18, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Its right beside Grease 2 for me... rediculously bad.... the worst thing you could ever do is have a sequel with ZERO returning characters...

April 18, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.
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