published Monday, October 24th, 2011

5-at-10: College football, World Series and NASCAR hits the homestretch

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

MONDAY MORNING COLLEGE FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK

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    Wisconsin's Philip Welch (18), Kyle French (94) and Jeff Duckworth (15) walk off the field after the team's 37-31 loss to Michigan State in an NCAA college football game in East Lansing, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

1) When will we learn? When? Every year we think, "Oh my this is the year there will be seven unbeaten teams and the BCS will be like 5 p.m. Atlanta traffic." And every year, the herd thins itself and starts to take shape about the time Halloween decorations start popping up. The biggest shocker had to be Wisconsin, which lost on a 44-yard pass play on the last play of the game. The Badgers were beating foes by an average of 51-9, and when they run the table and finish 11-1, there will be a lot of hand-wringing and head-scratching in Madison. The least surprising -- at least for anyone who followed Auburn in the 2000s -- was Texas Tech beating Oklahoma, if for no other reason than Tommy Tuberville every year found a way to beat a top-5 team when you thought his club had no chance. (Every Auburn fan will also tell you that there's virtually no way Texas Tech wins this week unless they are playing the Arkansas School for the Deaf Leopards.) The list of unbeatens is narrowing and with the LSU-Alabama showdown set and Kansas State and Oklahoma State still staring at dates with Oklahoma it will continue to dwindle.

2) Wow, how about the can of whipping that LSU opened on Auburn. Ouch. And the second half of the Alabama-Tennessee game. Impressive. LSU and Alabama are off Saturday heading into the Nov. 5 slugfest, so there will be plenty to discuss about each team before then. But has the SEC — the renowned best college football conference — ever been this two-team top heavy. There's LSU and Alabama, a serious dropoff to Arkansas, and then an even bigger dropoff to everyone else.

3) Also know this about the national championship race: If the Nov. 5 showdown is as good as people think and the herd continues to get slimmed down and unbeaten teams fall by the wayside, here's saying that if the winner of LSU/Alabama and Boise State are the only two unbeaten teams left at the end of the season, the BCS title game will be Alabama-LSU.

4) Andrew Luck is so good it's scary. The Stanford star is the most NFL-ready quarterback maybe of all time. He can make every throw. He leads. He makes every read. The NFL will be a whole new challenge of course, but Luck is making playing quarterback against big-time college football teams look mighty easy.

5) The Fab 4 (plus 1) suffered its first losing week. A foray into the Big Ten did not prove fruitful (stupid, Wisconsin) and we violated at least two known gambling laws: If the bell cow is delivering milk, you have to keep drinking until it goes bad. (This means we should have picked Alabama and LSU if for no other reason that they have delivered time and again. We got scared and we paid for if.) Second, never pick a Ron Zook-coached team. (This is one of the classic blunder — the most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line." After that is the don't back the Zooker.) After going 2-3 this week, we nailed Kansas State and Nebraska by half a point, we're still an impressive 24-13-1.

WORLD SERIES

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    Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland waves to the crowd after he was taken out of the game during the ninth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Arlington, Texas (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The images before the Texas Rangers' 4-0 win over St. Louis in Sunday's Game 4 that evens the World Series at 2-2 were telling.

There was Texas manager Ron Washington laughing hysterically and practically doing a George Jefferson-type dance when Nolan Ryan missed the ceremonial first pitch from former president George W. Bush (who looked 15 years younger, by the way). There was calm in the home dugout, even though a loss would be crippling. And there was the pre game conversation between Washington and Derek Holland that laid the ground work for the the game of the young left-hander's life.

Holland went 8-plus innings of scoreless baseball in the Series-tying win. He allowed two hits to a Cardinals team that had scored 16 runs 24 hours earlier. He did not allow a hit to Albert Pujols, who had hit 1,300 feet of homers 24 hours earlier. In a word, Holland was clutch. And he was awesome.

Now we have a best-of-three, and this series is getting really interesting. Does that mean people are watching? Probably not, but the 5-at-10 has been entertained and that's good enough for us.

Side note: Here are the entries that still have a shot in the Not-So-World-Serious challenge:

5-at-10: Cards in 7 (Albert Pujols)

Mrs. 5-at-10: Rangers in 6 (Ian Kinsler)

Oso: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

Spy: Rangers in 6. (Michael Young)

OTWatcher: Rangers in 6 (Adrian Beltre)

SportTalk’s Dr. B (He’s a doctor after all): Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

SportTalk’s Quake: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

SportTalk’s Cowboy Joe (He’s a cowboy after all): Cards in 6 (Lance Berkman)

WarEagle: Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

BetterthanYou: Rangers in 6 (Mike Napoli)

Friendoftheshow: Rangers in 6 (Napoli)

Pickled: Cards in 6 (David Freese)

NASCAR HITS HOMESTRETCH

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    Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) talks with driver Trevor Bayne (21) prior to qualifying for the Good Sam Club 500 auto race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jimmie Johnson finished back in the pack Sunday at Talladega. He dropped to seventh in the Chase for the Championship standings. It all but ends his dominant run with five straight championships. Well done, JJ. Now move along.

As for the current standings, well, Carl Edwards has distanced himself a little bit from a tight pack of four guys — Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick are all between 14 and 26 points off Edwards' less. As long as Edwards can avoid a big mishap, it appears he's headed to a Cup title.

That, however, in some ways took on some added drama Sunday during Clint Bowyer's victory that ended with his late pass of teammate Jeff Burton. It was Bowyer trying to win a race, and it was the right thing to do and made for some entertaining racing (something that has not always been applicable about NASCAR this season).

That said, teamwork was on center stage for Ford drivers. After working with him for most of the day and committing to help on the radio, Trevor Bayne, behind the wheel of a Ford, left Jeff Gordon out to dry late Sunday, and if you are by yourself at the two-by-two tavern than is Talladega, you're cooked. Bayne "apologized" afterward (when did going to Twitter and deflecting blame become an appropriate response?) but the intent is clear: Ford will help Ford; Chevy better look to help Chevy. Dodge, well, you guys may need to get out of Dodge (see what we did there).

This could be like old-school NWA wrestling, all we need is Gordon Solie doing the play-by-play.

THIS AND THAT

There are plenty of reports that have Missouri withdrawing from the Big 12 today and in the SEC before the end of the week.

From the "Wow, that makes sense" files. Former THE Ohio State University coach Jim Tressel, who resigned amid scandal, landed an NFL job. He made his debut Sunday after sitting out a suspension for appearances sake. Of course, he works for the Colts, and made his first game day the Biblical 62-7 whipping the Saints handed Indy. Ouch-standing.

More NFL: Could anyone extend an on-going argument adding fuel to each sides belief more than Tim Tebow did Sunday? for the first 57 minutes of the the Broncos visit to winless Miami, Tebow was the worst quarterback playing Sunday — and that's saying something. He missed open receivers. He held the ball too long. He made poor decisions. Pretty much everything every critic said he would do. But after throwing for all of 45 yards in 57 minutes, Tebow made history by leading the Broncos from a 15-0 hole with less than three minutes left to an 18-15 overtime win. He inspired and made the clutch plays and his team won. Period. Exactly like each side predicted.

Volunteer to get better. The Tennessee Vols and the Tennessee Titans got hammered this weekend. UT lost to Alabama 37-6; the Titans lost 41-7. Worse still, they were outgained a combined 955-303.

The 5-at-10 likes how the UTC Mocs handled their BID-ness on Saturday. Business-like. Efficient. Relentless. The march to the playoffs has started — in fact, the playoffs have started. And here's saying the Mocs are going to make a run and make this really interesting.

After all the hubbub and the hand-wringing about the TSSAA ruling and the Signal Mountain appeal and the fallout, consider us among those that are grateful Signal Mountain did not take this to court. It's a sad situation with a lot of collateral damage — and those people that have enjoyed this and ultimately enjoyed the suffering of teenagers, need help — but this is how it should end. There was a ruling, there was an appeal and now it's done. High school sports, more than everything else, are about life lessons and memories, and the memories of this for those involved are going to last — good or bad. But to take this issue into the legal system only leaves a life lesson that if you aren't happy with a ruling, sue somebody. Thankfully it did not come to that.

TODAY'S QUESTION

Cards slugger Albert Pujols hit three homers in Saturday's Game 3 of the World Series. He joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson on the list of guys who have hit three homers in a World Series game (and guys who have never been in the 5-at-10's kitchen).

No doubt it was awesome — and anytime you join a list that includes Babe Ruth, well it's an accomplishment worth telling your friends. (Unless of course that list is something like most hot dogs eaten at Yankee Stadium in a career and it goes Babe Ruth, Kobayshi, you, George Costanza, Rudy Giuliani.) But the game was long since over when Albert connected for homers No. 2 and No. 3.

Still dude hit a quarter of a mile of homers. In a World Series game.

Question: What's the best individual postseason performance, and why? We'll have a sport-by-sport list around 2 p.m.

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.
jomo11 said...

Jay, how do think a coach like Dooley, can all of a sudden become a winning coach at the level that Fulmer was ? after 4 3/4 years as a head coach Dooley is 26-31. Can you name a coach that after almost 60 games and is a below .500 coach all of sudden becomes a 10 or 11 win a season type coach ? Usually a coach that is a .500 coach and he goes up a level or goes to a school down a level, over the long term his record doesn't change that much. Do you think Dooley is just a guy that is going to "right the ship", clean up a mess, but ultimately get fired for not winning in 2 to 3 years ? Especially since the new AD , will probably want to get "his guy" in there ? No matter how you sugar coat things, Vols are young, Kiffin left a mess,Vols are young, blah, blah...even though other teams are young, etc. this staff seems clueless and maybe out of their element.

October 24, 2011 at 11:33 a.m.
jomo11 said...

and you might say Saban's early years records at Mich St. weren't very impressive........but face it Dooley is NOT a Saban, not even close......could Dooley be another Mike Shula, just got the job because of his Daddy's name, but will never be what his Dad was ?

October 24, 2011 at 11:37 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Inigo Montoya feels your pain of your prognosticating. At least you're not at Miracle Max's having "Humperdink" screamed in your ears. Though I could go for a nice mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich about now.

I had a chance to see Deaf Leopard at Music Midtown after seeing the Drive By Truckers, Drivin n Cryin and Everclear on the same stage before them. I passed. I listened to Pyromania when I was 16. That was enough for me.

October 24, 2011 at 11:45 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

We know your feelings on Dooley. And the evidence you list is hard to refute. (That said, you're not going to be able to use the "He's never beaten a team with a winning record," after this year because of Cincinnati. (Granted, a win over Cincinnati will never be a feather in the cap for any UT fan, but you know what we're saying.)

We don't know whether Dooley will be a winning coach or not. And the more frequent the losses pile — especially those that are highlighted by second-half meltdowns — the jury's deliberations become more and more heated and less and less favorable.

And you say "sugar coat," but the facts are the facts good and bad:

— He's 26-31 overall and 9-10 at UT

— Before the Cincy win, he's never beaten a team that finished with a winning record

— There are a lot of unknowns about him as a recruiter, and let's face it, Nick Saban and the rest of folks that are running big-time programs right now are not re-inventing the game of football — they're going and getting the most studs. Never before has college football been more about the Jimmys and the Joes (and less about the Xs and the Os) than now.

But...

— Dooley inherited a mess

— Dooley had to bid adieu to a lot of skilled folks. Bad seeds, yes, but good players none the less. (And if you think Darren Myles or Janzen Jackson wouldn't help this awful secondary, well, then you're not paying attention.)

— The injuriese to you two most important offensive players have hardly helped.

Jomo, you brought up an interesting name in Mike Shula, and referenced the daddy's name scenario. Maybe that's the case, and not unlike Shula, maybe Dooley was brought in to clean up a rogue image and restore order and rebuild a foundation. Maybe. Or maybe he's the guy that will be able to rebuild and stay the course and be the one that reaps the benefits. Maybe.

That said, 'MAYBE' is a scary word to be the primary description of your head coach and the direction of your program.

Spy —

Knew you would appreciate the "Princess Bride" shoutout.

Have fun storming the castle, and what happened to the Jackets?

— 5-at-10

October 24, 2011 at 12:12 p.m.
eljefe said...

It was one of those weekends. Auburn set a record for whoopins'. Seriously, they got beat like they owed LSU money. Normally, I become a raging maniac while Auburn is losing. Nothing but stunned silence and awe. Yes, awe.
MSU last second Hail Mary to knock off a BCS Contender Wisconsin. Another powerhouse is brought down by "Sneaky" Tubberville; (Gambler my tuckus! He is a dang sorcerer!) Another WS home run record is added. (Hey, Ron Washington! Ever thought of pitching around the land mass MVP?) Dolphins Stink! Even Reggie Bush (who knows a tad about stinking) says so. Congratulations Mr. Luck! South Beach welcomes you! Tebow is the consummate Tebow. Who knew? (Consummate? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.) The Saints come stomping in. Wow! Anyone think that wasn't a little message to Peyton? That had to be like watching your little brother get his tail handed to him while 5 of his buddies held you down. Something tells me the Manning family love for the Saints is over.

October 24, 2011 at 12:15 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

The castle stormed back.

Let me put it this way. I've just been asked if I could play center this weekend. And I'm not kidding.

October 24, 2011 at 12:15 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jefe —

Tubbs is a sorcerer. Dude can pulls things out of his tuckus like Weena.

Tebow — you buying or selling right now?

As for Peyton, his MVP campaign just hit another gear.

Spy —

I've seen better line movement at a fishing rodeo. For old folks. That are blind.

Best postseason performance:

Round 1 is Christian Laettner in Regional Finals against UK — 10-of-10 from the floor, 10-of-10 from the lines, 31 points and hit that memorable game-winner from the inbound pass from Grant Hill.

— 5-at-10

October 24, 2011 at 2:12 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay - from what you said about the "Jimmys and The Joes...", you may be right, and the early rivals recruiting rankings for 2012 have Tennessee in 6th place in the SEC......not exactly a place to build a championship. i also beleive that recruiting at Tennessee is not easy anymore. Heres why :

1) Tn used to benefit that you could play before 100,000, Now Many schools have 80, 90 and 100,000 - no more advantage

2) TN has great facilities , Now everyone has equal to or greater - no more advantage

3) The State of TN historically does not have a large number of blue-chip players

4) TN was always on TV, Now everyone in the SEC is on TV, every game - no more advantage

And finally Jay why did Virginia, Dooley's alma mater, turn Dooley down and hire a coach who had only 1 year head coaching experience at the 1AA level OVER Dooley 2 years ago ? Yet he was "good enough" for TN ????

October 24, 2011 at 2:28 p.m.
eljefe said...

Any time Weena and tuckus appear in the same sentence it's going to be an alright day. I'm selling Tebow ... period. His star has only faded since graduating and yesterday's rally moment will become a memory of what could have been if only the NFL would embrace the "spread offense." The real question is what do with the profits from the sale? As of this morning, I'm torn between: buying Cammie Cam Juice futures and letting it roll over and ride on LSU plus the points (no matter how many) from now until BCS Championship.

October 24, 2011 at 2:49 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Your recruiting breakdown has some merit, especially No. 4 and everyone being on TV every week now.

As for UVa, they went after a guy that is a state son — granted Mike London is not a UVa alum, but he was/is a big name in state, especially in the recruiting hot-bed of the Hampton-area, where London grew up.

And when UT was looking for a coach before they hired Dooley, that may have been the low-water mark as far as image goes for the program, from a hiring standpoint at least. Fractured fan base after firing Dooley, Kiffin leaves and the players start departing, NCAA troubles looming, not exactly the UT of the late 1990s and early 2000s to be sure.

We agree you have every right to question whether Dooley can coach; it's just hard to know if we have enough evidence yet or not.

5-at-10

October 24, 2011 at 3 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jefe —

No doubt we're buying the Cammie Cam juice right now. Dude is getting better every week, and with the changing rules of the NFL (and protecting QBs) Cam is only going to get better.

It's hard to overstate how excited we are for the LSU-Alabama game.

— 5-at-10

October 24, 2011 at 3:11 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show McPell

I missed the game (thankfully) - how did Mosely look? Is Trotter done (ie headed to Jax State or North Alabama or wide rec ala Kodi Burns)? Can AU beat Ole Miss & UGA to end up 8-4 and in the Citrus Bowl, or whatever its called nowadays?
mcpell

McPell,

I wouldn’t call it missing it there McPell.

Moseley looked OK — better than most would against an LSU defense that was all over everyone. I think Trotter is done and if they move him to WR then someone on the recruiting staff needs to be fired. The big game for our Tigers is in Athens. If Chizik and Co. can somehow figure a way to get this ragtag bunch to 8-4 (granted that would likely get them a spot in the Cotton Bowl against either a hacked off Oklahoma State or even a wide-eyed Texas Tech and the RiverBoat Gambler himself Tommy Tuberville).

— 5-at-10

October 24, 2011 at 3:15 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay, i hear ya......i just think that almost 60 games as a HEAD coach is a lot of data....

October 24, 2011 at 3:35 p.m.
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