published Monday, October 10th, 2011

5 at 10: College football, baseball playoffs and Al Davis has left the building

From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...

College Football Monday Morning Quarterback

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    Tennessee's quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws to a receiver in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game as he is pressured by Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith (56) on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee offensive linesman Dallas Thomas (71) blocks. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Here are the five things we learned Saturday:

1) There's no way your Tennessee Vols could have had a more painful weekend. A subpar performance became a painful 20-12 loss to Georgia at Neyland Stadium. Quarterback Tyler Bray broke his thumb — read our UT ace Patrick Brown's report here — and will miss at least the next month. The only person who may be more upset than Bray about the injury may be Matt Simms, Bray's replacement who will get the challenge of facing the nation's top two defenses — LSU and at Alabama — in the next 12 days. Yikes.

2) In an era of nicknames for every college football game day, last Saturday was "Style Points Saturday." With the first BCS poll being released and the large number of teams still unbeaten, the big boys in the top 10 dropped the hammer on their foes Saturday. In fact, the nine teams ranked in the top 10 that were in action Saturday, each covered the spread by an average of almost 13 points per game. If you had picked each top-10 favorite in a nine-game parlay, a $100 wager would have paid $33,600, according to friend of the show RJ Bell of pregame.com. But that's for entertainment purposes only

3) There is a lot of mediocre-to-bad quarterback play in the SEC right now. Be it injury (UT's Bray and Florida's John Brantley), ineffectiveness (South Carolina and Ole Miss), inexperience (Auburn, Kentucky and Vandy) or some unknowns (LSU's possible controversy and MSU's inexplicable struggles with senior Chris Relf), only three SEC teams are happily locked into the same quarterback plan this morning they had a month ago.

4) Hard to know what to make of the UTC Mocs, who have lost three straight by four points. At 2-4, they're saying the right things — and the playoffs do start Saturday against Western Carolina, but at some point, winning close games has to become about attitude. You have to believe you're going to get it done rather than waiting for something to happen that prevents you from getting it done. That's a hard problem to solve. That said, the Mocs found a star-in-the-making in quarterback Terrell Robinson. Wow.

5) The Fab 4 got back into the winning column this week, although we were close to making a big run. Our Plus-one pick failed, and we even had considered a slew of others that hit. So it goes. Here's the scorecard:

Oklahoma minus-10 over Texas — If this line feels big, that's because since 1997 this rivalry has had a double-digit underdog only twice. Still, this one feels like a Red River Runaway. Check.

Georgia Tech minus-13.5 over Maryland — The Terps have not played on the road yet. They also have not seen anything like this Jackets' running game — and Maryland allowed 285 yards rushing to Temple last week. Ouch. Miss, ouch is right after the Jackets built a huge lead and sat on it.

Oregon minus-22 over California — In their last 18 home games — all wins — Oregon is averaging right at 50 points per game. Get the weekend off to a good start. Check.

Arizona State minus-3 at Utah — Call it a hunch, and buy the half if you have that option. (If you know what that means, you're nodding your head; if you don't know what that means, just nod your head anyway.) Check.

The plus one game was tough this week. There were about three tied for the final spot: Arkansas minus-10 against Auburn; Alabama minus-28 over Vandy, but we'll go with:

Missouri minus-3 at Kansas State — Call it a hunch, and look about purchasing the half. (Keep nodding.). Miss. Stupid Missouri. Are we sure we want them in SEC?

* * * * *

Playoff baseball

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    Milwaukee Brewers' Jerry Hairston Jr. (15) and Prince Fielder celebrate after Game 1 of baseball's National League championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, in Milwaukee. The Brewers won 9-6. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Yes, the Brewers-Cards could be an exciting NLCS. Sure, the Rangers and the Tigers will be a good one, too.

But make no mistake about it, the story of the first 10 days of the baseball postseason is about who isn't here as much as it is who is. The Yankees and the Phillies — two teams that dominated most of the regular season, were dismissed in decisive Game 5s. And the Phillies were excused by a dominating pitching effort from Chris Carpenter, who pulled a Roy Halladay against Roy Halladay.

Now, the questions will remain all winter, especially for fan bases that were expecting at least a World Series trip.

Here's another one for the Phillies, though: That season-ending sweep in Atlanta that allowed the Cards into the playoffs seems the definition of ironic this morning, huh? Here's hoping the Cards at least said thanks after Game 5.

* * * * *

NFL news and notes

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    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) falls after being tackled by Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

We'll break down the teams more on Tuesday's Power Poll, but is anybody better than Aaron Rodgers right now?

Seriously, if you had one pick to start a franchise in each of the three major sports (and if EC wants to tell us who the pick would be in MMA, we'll gladly defer to his knowledge), who would it be.

Football — Aaron Rodgers, and it's not that close. (But Andrew Luck would be a nice wildcard pick and Cam Newton would get a lot more votes this morning than he would have before the season started.)

Baseball — This is the most difficult. It could have been Buster Posey before the injury. It could also be Matt Kemp but he's closing in on 30. It's hard to take a starting pitcher because they go only once every five days. We'll take Evan Longoria by a whisker over Carlos Gonzalez and a surprisingly hard to turn down Craig Kimbrel.

Basketball — Kevin Durant, by a whisker over King James. (And they're both better than Michael Jordan at their respective ages.)

* * * * *

This and that

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    Artists painted the rock on the University of Tennessee campus with half-faces of UT coach Derek Dooley and his father Vince Dooley, former Georgia coach before the game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/MICHAEL PATRICK - NEWS SENTINEL)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Oso wins, Oso wins, Oso wins. Man, dude is the New York Yankees of 5-at-10 contests after having UGA by six in Saturday's 20-12 slugfest. Yes, Sic'em, you had UGA by 9, but as we clearly stated last week, we had invoked the "Price is Right" rule that if you go over you're out. So Oso, who had UGA by 6 and has now won twice on the 5-at-10 contest circuit, wins both showcases — 2 tickets to Saturday's UTC game and a sleeve of Titleists with the Masters logo on them. Here's hoping he doesn't lose any of them.

— Tiger Woods, who as we all know was picked for the President's Cup, finished tied for 30th at the Frys.com Open. Yeah, we don't know what that means either. But the big story from the tournament was some yahoo charged the green while Woods was lining up a putt and threw a hot dog at Woods. Yep, a hot dog. We don't know what that means, either. Wow, the jokes are endless, you know. Thankfully no BUN was hurt. But they did arrest that WEINER. Sadly, Woods was unable to KETCHUP to the leaders after the incident. This will not be a moment for tournament organizers to RELISH. Seriously, we could go on all day. Ask anyone.

— The NBA talks resume today with a not-so-subtle warning from commissioner David Stern, who said he'd have to cancel the first two weeks of the season. Missed games = lost fans. Trust us, NBA, you better make this happen quickly. And repeat after us: YOU ARE NOT THE NFL. You can't afford to miss games NBA. Trust us on this.

— Man, Jimmie Johnson is NASCAR Jason Voorhees. Every time you think NASCAR's reigning five-time points champ is about to be buried, he rises up and delivers another big-time shot, not unlike Voorhees, the impossible-to-kill villain in the "Friday the 13th" series. (And they made 12 versions of the movie, so dude was hard to handle.) Sunday, Johnson won in Kansas, and is now one of three drivers separated by four points for the leader. It's going to come down to the wire, unless they decide that Junior gets an extra 100 points to keep his rabid fan base interested. So it goes. Quick question: How can you stop a series like "Friday the 13th" at 12 when the next one could be "Friday the 13th 13 — Terror Squared" and introduce Jason's son Jason Junior or J.J., which is Johnson's nickname, too.Wait this is creepy. Let's just move along before that chilling "Chi-chi-chi, Ha-ha-ha, Kill-kill-kill" music starts.

* * * * *

Today's question

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    New England Patriots fans pause for a moment of silence in honor of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis who died earlier in the weekend prior to facing the New York Jets in an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The NFL lost one of its visionaries Saturday when Al Davis died. The man served in about every function — scout, coach, GM, owner, commissioner, et al. — in the football side of the business and that's one of the reasons he was so respected.

He also changed the game that is professional football. By helping the AFL stay afloat as the league's commissioner until it merged with the longstanding NFL, Davis allowed teams that are today's Raiders, Chiefs, Titans and Chargers among others stick around. Plus, the AFL's addition allowed for the Super Bowl, and the AFL's New York Jets had a flashy quarterback named Joe Namath that made a crazy prediction before Super Bowl III that turned out to be true. Maybe you heard of it, and maybe it helped pour the foundation for the Super Bowl to become the single biggest sports event in America.

Thanks Al, and thanks to his alter ego pretend Al who dropped by occasionally, even as late as last Friday, to share his wisdom and insults for the 5-at-10 family. You will be missed.

As far as the question(s), here we go:

First, we contend that if there was a Mount Rushmore of the NFL (non-players division), here are our five: Al Davis, Pete Rozelle, Vince Lombardi, Art Rooney, Roone Arledge. Who you got?

Second, now that real Al has left the building, Pretend Al will do the same. But we need a regular contributor that has similar spark. Any ideas?

Discuss.

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 ...

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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.
ordinaryguy said...

Personally, I am waiting on the CANDY CORN ORANGE fans to figure out a way to blame Lane Kiffin for the Bray injury. It's bound to happen they blame Lane for all the other issues that surround the team. It is indeed interesting to read the comments of some regarding Coach Huesman's decision to go for the win Saturday, I think Russ said it best at last weeks media luncheon, when quizzed about those that are "jumping ship" he simply said "good riddance". These johnny come lately fans dont remember just three seasons ago the only game that was a victory was over Cumberland. Oh where is Rodney when we need him!(tongue firmly planted in cheek)

October 10, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages...its Columbus day and EC is back (for today at least)... for starters... There is no one and I mean no one who is better that Aaron Rodgers in the NFL... I know a lot of you will say. "What about Brady?" and my answer to you is... Who is Mr.Bundchen? If I am starting an NFL franchise...just for fun we will call them the... North-Soddy Lakers... I'm taking Aaron Rodgers as my number one overall pick...no questions asked...

Jay...Love the Mount Rushmore of Non-Players... can we agree that Howard Cossell would be in the broadcasters Re-Mix ??? Thought So!

SO baseball... just in case you didn't know...The Cardinals hate the Brewers and The Brewers well they don't much care for the Red Birds either... Mark my words...There will be a bench clearing occurrence in this NLCS. But if I am taking one player to build a franchise around...hmm...well it has to be an anchor...either on the corner or behind the plate...so that leads me to lean towards Posey...that is..if he comes back to his 2010 Form....The Homer in me says Freeman from the Atlanta Braves...This guy will be a stud and in two years McCann will be giving him the Baton to lead the Braves...I hope....

MMA...did someone say MMA?? Well Im glad you brought it up...If Im picking a superstar to start with...well call me a bandwagon jumper or a coattail rider...either way... Jonny Bones Jones is the man that will take the UFC to the next level... Royce, SHamrock,Chuck, Randy, Tito and Others have done most of the heavy lifting and "Bones" shoulders just keep getting bigger... this 24 yr old stud will have to move to Heavyweight before he reaches 27 because he keeps growing and the weight cut will prove to be detrimental eventually... and to have his kind of star power in the biggest weight class...well that goes without saying...Bones Jones will be to the UFC HEavyweights as Tyson was to Boxing's Heavyweights.... and thats how we do it in North-Soddy...HOLLA!

October 10, 2011 at 10:21 a.m.
jomo11 said...

At least Bray can protect his inflated stats that he has built up against crummy teams like Buffalo, Montana, and Vandy and Kentucky from last year. . . . Anyone who thinks Dooley who is now at 9-9 at Tn after being 17-20 at La Tech is going to turn things around, you are fooling yourself. . . .and Greeson, funny how when UTK keeps losing like this Dooley gets a "pass" from you, say they are young, etc. . . . However when Huesman loses close games to # 1 and # 3 teams in the country , you talk about "attitude" ??? . . . .when the Mocs are playing more True Freshman than UTK you dont seem to give UTC the same "pass" you give UTK

October 10, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

There are few things better in sports than playoff baseball. There are few things worse in sports than being able to find playoff baseball on TV in 2011. So is this game between the episodes of "Friends" and "Home Improvement" on TBS or is it between "Charmed" and "Las Vegas" on TNT? Or is it on Fox? Howsabout just putting it on Cinemax in the midst of a Shannon Tweed doubleheader? (I know, I know ... me ... tread ... ice ... thinnnnnn....)

On the day Al Davis dies, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech take his mantra to heart. Just win, baby. And Georgia Southern fans will tell you this Mocs program under Huesman is light years ahead of where it was five years ago.

October 10, 2011 at 10:43 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JoMo —

As Spy, said Russ has the UTC program light years of where it was five years ago. The reference to 'attitude' was as much about the natural progression of a program that has to learn how to win close games. That is common across all sports and all teams. There have been at least a dozen or more plays that if anyone of them had gone the other way, the Mocs are no worse than 3-3 and very easily could be 4-2. At some point someone needs to make one of those plays.

As for Dooley getting a pass, when has the 5-at-10 ever said Dooley won a big game? Arguably his best game as a coach was the loss at LSU last year, and that's less than good.

And, we've referenced numerous times — and even had a centerpiece story on it — that Tyler Bray has not beaten an opponent of substance in his career. And his lasting images right now are as much his loco dance and crying in the bowl game as much as any throw or win.

OG —

Have always been a thought Russ was the guy for this job, but here's guessing that he'd even tell you that three weeks ago, sitting at 2-1, being 2-4 would be unacceptable.

But we think you're on to something: It's all Lane Kiffin's fault. UT's collapse Saturday; UTC's three-game slide; World Hunger; High cable prices; everything.

EC —

Welcome back to the day-time show. God bless Columbus Day and all of you smart folks that have gigs that recognize the great holidays like Flag Day and National Potato Week.

And yes, Cosell is on the announcers version — in fact, he was closer than you may realize on being on the NFL version, but Roone (the father of MNF) gets that nod.

We'll keep an eye on Bones Jones, and if there's anything better than playoff baseball, it's playoff baseball between two teams that genuinely don't like each other with the threat of brawls at every inside pitch. Good times.

Spy —

You're spot-on about Huesman.

And you forgot to add the worst thing about postseason sports coverage on one of Ted's old products — the endless promos. Wonder what's going to happen on the season premiere of 'The Closer," well, not really because they show the commercials every half inning.

TNT — they know self promotion.

— 5-at-10

October 10, 2011 at 12:28 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

JG - You are correct EVERYTHING is Lane's fault...he even dropped the dime on Signal Mountain.

October 10, 2011 at 12:34 p.m.
patrickd said...

Just came by to pay my respect to Al and pretend Al. I'm going to suggest pretend Favre make an appearance or two to audition for the job.

October 10, 2011 at 12:42 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

eww yeah..I like Pretend Farve(Favre) interviewing for the job...who better than the guy that was ousted from Green Bay for the Best QB in the NFL (A-Rod and not of the Yankee/Steroid Persuasion) ...i bet that stings his throwing arm a little more than getting sacked from his blind side...somewhere Brett Favre just grabbed arm in anguish and he doesn't know why...

October 10, 2011 at 1:08 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Big fella,

One more name to add to the NFL Rushmore. Ed Sabol.

October 10, 2011 at 1:18 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

WHAT?!?!? AGAIN!!! WOW! SUHWEET!!!! Ok it was an amazing weekend and i have to share. So i get a call that i have a game at UTC to ump (Girls Softball). I arrive to find out that it was between UTC and UGA!!! YES!! I got to umpire the Lady Dawgs Softball team Saturday at Warner Park! Can you believeit?!?! Then i go home and watch the Dawgs beat UT! Then i coem in this morning and find out that i win again this time without the help of Kimba?!!? Of course the downer of the weekend was of course the passing of the great AD. No more Pretend Al?! What am i gonna do?! Maybe Al will make a surprise visit beyond the grave for the 5@10! Thanks again Cinco, we'll enjoy those tickets and golf balls until i lose them on the first nine. And no comments from you Blue about me losing then either!

October 10, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

OG —

The Warren Commission report didn't mention Lane Kiffin, but that's about the only thing we can clear him of.

PDavi —

We haven't thought of Favre yet. That's a good one. We're going to have tryouts the next few weeks. Pretend Favre, Pretend John Madden, Pretend Lane Kiffin (with his sidekick Pretend Ed Orgeron) and some other possibles.

EC —

When does the MMA on Fox deal start? We're going to give it a try.

Spy —

Sabol on voice alone gets merit.

— 5-at-10

October 10, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Oso —

Congrats, and we're happy to grant a big-time end to a big-time weekend.

Drop us a line when you plan on swinging by the TFP home office and we'll make sure your prize pack is assembled.

— 5-at-10

October 10, 2011 at 1:49 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

The voice was John Facenda's. But without Sabol, there is no NFL Films, no Bob Lilly's breath and digging a line in the ice in the Ice Bowl, no "they're killing me, Whitey!" and no Marv Levy bellowing "you overofficious jerk!"

I think I'm forgettin something ... a birthday, perhaps ... I wonder whose ...

October 10, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.
jomo11 said...

They are calling the VOLS the Tampax VOLS in the Knoxville papers. . . . Good for a half, with no second string

October 10, 2011 at 4:06 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

UFC On Fox is November 12 and the Main Event is UFC Heavyweight Champ Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos.... guaranteed to be an awesome fight.... my early prediction... Dos Santos by 2nd Round TKO...

October 10, 2011 at 5:15 p.m.
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