published Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

5 at 10: Conference realignment, Braves bounce back and "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Texas football coach Mack Brown
Texas football coach Mack Brown

Do not forget about Friday's mailbag where we answer your questions — there's still room available.

From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...



Expansion road block

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    Texas running back Tre' Newton (23) is taken down by Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain (25) and defensive lineman Lorenzo Washington during the third quarter of the BCS Championship NCAA college football game in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Apparently the only thing that is slowing down the college sports conference land grab is the Longhorn Network. Yes, that Longhorn Network that is the all-University of Texas channel that jumpstarted this wave of programs looking for new homes and conferences looking for new TV markets and college sports fans looking for one of those baggies that are in the bag pouches of airline seats.

Follow along: Texas started the Longhorn Network to generate extra revenue and the desperate Big 12 allowed them to partner with ESPN and keep the overflow cash. Some call it capitalism some call it kowtowing, either way it all-but pushed Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac 12 and Texas A&M to the SEC in the last 18 months. Now, as the last four remaining Big 12 football programs — Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State — that have some marketability are looking at jumping to the Pac-12 and form what would be the first mega-conference (the Pac-16), the Pac-12 commissioner and the presidents of the schools in the league told Texas, "Thanks, but no thanks," to joining their conference without agreeing to revenue sharing across the board. So the Big 12 is still in tact this morning for all intents and purposes because of the Longhorn Network. Crazy indeed.

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    Alabama running back Mark Ingram is surrounded by Texas defenders during the first quarter of the BCS Championship NCAA college football game in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Now there appears a possible push for the Big 12 to try to stay together and add teams to replace the ones it lost. There are rumblings that Missouri has been offered an invite to the SEC — and in this expansion craze the SEC's strong (read lucrative) TV deals and position of strength mean an invite from the SEC is like a Wonka Golden Ticket, everyone wants one but there are very few out there.

Here's a different possibility, though. With the Pac 12 seeming content to stay with 12 schools, and Oklahoma left holding Texas's veil, it's time for the SEC to add Missouri and then go scoop up Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Don't worry about how the new teams in the SEC 16 are going to be split into two divisions, because in truth the future will be split into four divisions, with the four division winners playing a semifinal game and the winners playing a championship game in football. In other sports, the four-team pods will make travel easier. Plus with only three division games every year in football, you have way more flexibility in scheduling both within and outside the league.

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    Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) is tackled by Alabama defenders during the first quarter of the BCS Championship NCAA college football game in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. McCoy left the game after the play. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

So if the SEC adds Missouri, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, let's see where the chips fall.

Here's the breakdown (And we stayed with the direction division names rather than the Leaders/Legends or Hall/Oates type of breakdown — although we can spin off the Hall/Oates theme):

The SEC West (The SEC Ringo): Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State

The SEC South (The SEC George): LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, Mississippi State

The SEC Central (The SEC Paul): Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Vandy

The SEC East (The SEC John): Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina

Note — we moved Tennessee to the central because of rivalries and an SEC East of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina would be too brutal every year.



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    Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley watches his team warm up before inclement weather caused a delay of an NCAA college football game between Tennessee and Montana on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Around college football

Five quick stories from college football that need to be shared (In fact let's toss out a 5-in-10 — five items in 10 words or less — by the 5-at-10):

— Dooley's media stiff arm after bad Vols practice: Bush-league move by second-year Vols coach shows frustration

— Squelched QB controversy: Demoted Texas QB Gilbert has season-ending injury

— Spurrier thinks USC will be fine: NCAA allegations don't worry Ball Coach; Stephen Garcia does though

— Homage to the Chief: Chased out of Knoxville, John Chavis doing work at LSU

— Immovable object vs. irresistible force: Coming Saturday with Arkansas (47 ppg) at Alabama (6 papg)



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    Atlanta Braves' Alex Gonzalez (2) is met by Jason Heyward, right, after hitting a solo home run in the second inning during a baseball game against the Florida Marlins in Miami, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Braves bounce back

Wow, welcome to the family of Braves lore, Randall Delgado. The rookie starting pitcher delivered five strong innings of scoreless baseball in Atlanta's 4-0 win over Florida.

What's more important, Delgado's effort overlapped the Braves scoring four quick runs and taking a commanding lead. So the bullpen stalwarts — especially set-up man Jonny Venters and closer Craig Kimbrel — got the night off and the Braves still won. That's what the French call having your cupcake and eating it in two pieces, or something like that.

OK, the Cardinals also won, so the lead in the wildcard race stays at 2.5, and the Braves have a much-tougher schedule down the stretch than St. Louis. That said, Delgado's strong outing was a much-needed tonic for the Braves staff.

Now, Atlanta needs Derek Lowe to be the pitcher on the mound that he is on the salary ledger. Lowe is being paid staff-ace money — $15 million per season — and staff aces are supposed to take the ball in big moments like today and dominate.

Derek Lowe, whatcha' got?



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    Clemson's Sammy Watkins, left, slips a tackle from Auburn's T'Sharvan Bell during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in Clemson, S.C., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Collard)

This and that

— The Artist Formerly Known as Ron Artest was the first to be dismissed from "Dancing with the Stars" this week. Artest, who changed his name to Metta World Peace — seriously — was bested by a less-than-A-list of personalities that includes show favorite Hope Solo, TV-talking heads Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake and the multi-layered shim that is Chaz Bono. A Laker losing to Chaz Bono? Somewhere Kobe Bryant just punched a wall.

— The U.S. Attorney General said the Full Tilt poker site was a "giant ponzi scheme." Wow, that's not good.

— After a huge game (and loss) against top-ranked Oklahoma, Florida State is back at it this weekend with a trip to Clemson, which ended Auburn's nation-leading 17-game winning streak last week. FSU starting quarterback E.J. Manuel is questionable right now with an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder. His back-up is Clint Trickett, who is the son of FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Which got us thinking, sure every offensive lineman everywhere wants to protect their QBs. But is there any player anywhere that's going to get every ounce out of his offensive line more than Clint Trickett? If Trickett gets lit up the lineman have to go answer to Trickett's dad, who will have to answer to Trickett's mom, and we all know if momma ain't happy, then nobody's happy. Here's saying that FSU may have 32 holding penalties, but there will be few hits on the quarterback Saturday.



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    Wrestler Ric ``Nature Boy'' Flair, in this June 1999 photo, says he wants to follow the lead of fellow wrestler Jesse ``The Body'' Ventura, now Minnesota's governor, and run for governor of North Carolina. (AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, Jeff Siner)

Today's question

Last night Ric Flair introduced the starting lineup for the Boston Red Sox for their TV broadcast.

((Click here to watch the video))

Got to say that the 5-at-10 has been a longtime admirer of the Nature Boy, and getting him to read the lineup card was a great move.

In your next company softball game, pick-up hoops showdown or Texas hold 'em game (for entertainment purposes only of course), who do you want to hear call your name in the introduction? Ric Flair is good, especially with his trademark "Wooo" worked in, but we have a couple of others in mind we'll share after lunch, and the fellow that coined the phrase, "Barely big enough for three syllables, '5-at-10'" will be involved.

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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BIspy4 said...

I thought Clint Trickett was the opening act this weekend at Cowboys in Kennesaw?

September 21, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.
jgreeson said...

BIspy —

Wasn't Clint Trickett a co-star with Lee Marvin in "Paint Your Wagon" back in the day?

Or was that some other Clint?

And we know you'd want Erk reading the line-up card of your next pick-up hoops showdown.

"At small forward, a 6-foot-1 redshirt junior from Parts Unknown, BIspy. Let's get it on."

— 5-at-10

September 21, 2011 at 11:38 a.m.
chas9 said...

5 to 10--Wow, packed column. Big 12 commish Dan Beeebe gets the Golden Wanker Award on his way out the door. (See what I did there?) Bush league Dooley needs to put his orange trousers with the Mears/Pearl blazer in a museum, and leave them there. Dennis Rodman in a weding dress and Chaz would make a sweet couple for DWTS. Your 16 team SEC scenario is promising, but let's keep Tennessee in the East/John. Brutal, yes, but do you really think that long range, Florida, Gawga, South Carolina are tougher than Alabama, Auburn, Vandy? OK, snicker at Vandy, but Tennessee's concern really is the top half of their division. How do they claw their way to the top through the Elephants and the Plainsmen to get into the playoffs? Wouldn't Florida and Gawga be a (slightly) easier path? SS notwithstanding, SC ain't gonna be on top for long.

September 21, 2011 at 11:38 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Thanks for the compliment. We got started a little early this morning around 6, the Mrs. 5-at-10 took control of the tots and allowed us to get rolling. Total team effort at the 5-at-10 compound. High 5s all around. (And yes, we saw what you did there — well played indeed.)

As for the orange pants, hey to quote Crash Davis, "If you think you're playing well because you're wearing women's underpants then you are. And you should know that." But now the streak is over there's probably a pretty good chance the orange pants are going to take a break for a while.

The reason we moved UT to the Central/Paul rather than the East/John was to keep Vandy and UK out of the same pod. That would almost assure the winner of the Iron Bowl a spot in the Final Four.

— 5-at-10

September 21, 2011 at 11:55 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show Celtic Vol

Hey Jay,
I want Barry White introducing me at the next company softball game. CelticVol

September 21, 2011 at 12:06 p.m.
chas9 said...

5/10--Fair point about the Bama-Auburn lock, but I'd argue that with your FLA, UGA, SC, KY division, the winner of the world's largest cocktail party (if I may still call it that) will go to the playoffs nine years out of ten, so it's the same thing. In fact, if FLA keeps getting these world-class sprinters, it'll be ten out of ten. Skuse me while I kiss this guy.

September 21, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.
eljefe said...

First, I want to say I found your analysis of the 16 team league to be insightful and well written. Your prose is delightful and awe inspiring. Clearly, you have more free time than I do.

That said, how could you have missed this? You are going to allow these wannabe's into the SEC and not make them play any of the currently existing SEC Teams until the playoffs? On the same day you mention "The Nature Boy?" Son, don't ya gotta beat the man to be the man!?!

I'm just sayin'.

September 21, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

No doubt the winner of the Cocktail Party has the inside track in the proposed John Pod. (And we agree that South Carolina is about to hit its apex and will slide back into SEC mediocrity very, Very, VERY soon.)

And as far as you kissing some guy, well, not that there's anything wrong with that. (Yes, we saw what you did there.)

Jefe —

We have free time galore around the 5-at-10 compound, and as soon as we get done with this entry we may take a nap.

As for the stiffs, yep, put them at the Kiddie table and give them an invite. Plus, let Oklahoma and the gang shuffle in some trips to Auburn, Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge just for funsies.

And as you well know, if the Nature Boy said it, it has to be true. "You can't be first, but you can be next." Woooooo.

— 5-at-10

September 21, 2011 at 2:03 p.m.
chas9 said...

5er--John, Paul, George & Ringo is clever, but I'm on record as against the Losers and Legends type of division names. You know this. Still, in tribute to the Great Grantland Rice, I'd make an exception if the SEC decided to call its putative four divisions Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. Whatta ya got, Lauren?

September 21, 2011 at 2:58 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

That's outstanding. Well-played indeed. We thought about going with Spurrier, Neyland, Bryant, Dooley (Vince that is) or after the best players Jackson, Walker, Tebow, Manning (a tribute to the whole clan).

And dude, anytime you can bring Grantland into the fold, it's been a good day (and we didn't even have to use our AK — IceCube, circa 1995).

September 21, 2011 at 3:40 p.m.
chas9 said...

After further review, the division with a Texas school and two from OK should be the Drought division. Glad to make your day. I'm more Paul Simon than Ice Cube, but that's a good line, according to Google. Have a good one.

September 21, 2011 at 4:06 p.m.
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