Friday means mailbag, high school football and catfish, although not necessarily in that order.
In this July 24, 2005, file photo, Lance Armstrong holds the winner's trophy after claiming his seventh straight Tour de France cycling race during ceremonies on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris after the 21st and final stage of the race between Corbeil-Essonnes, south of Paris, and the French capital. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart said Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, that the agency will ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles for doping. Armstrong on Thursday night dropped any further challenges to USADA's allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs to win cycling's premier event from 1999-2005.
Before we get to any of that, we must address the breaking news about Lance Armstrong. After declining to continue his appeals of the rulings from the USADA, Armstrong will be permanently banned from cycling and stripped of all his Tour de France titles. He's also facing at least two multi-million dollar civil lawsuits.
And you thought Da'Rick Rogers had a bad Thursday.
Armstrong stopping his court appeals and being stripped of every meaningful cycling accomplishment is historic. What's the equivalent? The closest thing we can envision would be Michael Jordan being stripped of every basketball accomplishment and then Nike coming around asking for some his Air Jordan billions back. Armstrong is on the global Rushmore of sporting superstars of the last 25-plus years. Put Tiger, MJ, Beckham and Lance anywhere in the world and there's going to be a crowd.
Now it's gone.
On to the mailbag... and then the catfish... and tonight the high school football. Stupid Lance Armstrong. (Side question: Wonder if baseball will follow suit and start erasing the career marks of the known steroid users?)
If you could go back to your Weird Science days (Kelly LeBrock was so hot) and make a quarterback and/or running back (NFL) using the parts and pieces of current NFL players whose parts would you use. Example the mind of ???, the arm of ???, the legs of ???........
We are not — repeat NOT — putting a bra on our head. It's not Tuesday. Wait, strike that. Where were we.
This is the kind of question we can spend entirely too much time on. In fact, in the days gone by — back when the world was young and Lance was a hero — this would be the type of question we'd throw out to our buddies, go get a round of Bud Lights and discuss.
OK, let's start with parameters. Even though Oval used an excellent "Weird Science" reference — underrated movie in our eyes — and while we could channel our inner Gary and Wyatt and go all-time pieces and players, we're going to stay with guys that are currently in the league. Second here are the five categories: For running backs, we'll rate feet (speed), lower body (breaking tackles), upper body (durability), head (vision), hands (fumbles and receiving). For quarterbacks, we'll rate feet (mobility), shoulder (arm strength), elbow (arm accuracy), wrist (release), head (decision making, etc.).
Running backs: We'll take Chris Johnson's feet, Steven Jackson's upper body (dude is a hoss), LeSean McCoy's hands, Adrian Peterson's vision and Arian Foster's lower body.
Quarterbacks: Peyton's head, Cam Newton's feet (Vick may be faster, but Newton is fast and super-tough to tackle), Brady's elbow, Rodgers' wrist and Joe Flacco's shoulder.
As for wide receiver, that's easy. We'll take Calvin Johnson. All of him. In every category.
Our fantasy football draft is this weekend. I need advice. We’re in a 12 team, 1 keeper, PPR league. (Can you tell that I’ve been listening to too much XM Fantasy Football?) My keeper is Aaron Rodgers. Should I go running back or wide receiver for my first pick? Also, who are 3 players that I need to look for in the latter rounds that are possible sleepers?
First off, congrats on having the best QB in the league as your keeper. That's a nice start. Now you can forget about QB until round 10 or later — and make sure your back-up does not have the same bye week as Rodgers.
As for your decision in the first round, go value. If we have to guess, a slew of names that would dominate most first rounds are being kept by the other owners. Look around, if most of the other owners kept quarterbacks and running backs, there will be a serious demand on receivers early. Don't be afraid to take Calvin Johnson in round one, but don't reach either. There's a lot of depth at receiver this year because the league is so pass-happy. Also, don't be afraid to go after an elite tight end (Gronk, Graham, et al.) as high as round two or three.
With most of the stars gone, keeper leagues are about value early and sleepers.
And because we are keenly aware of customer service here at the TFP, we are going to give you two players at each of the four key positions we believe to be undervalued and one sleeper. Buckle up.
Quarterback (2 undervalued and a sleeper)
1) Andrew Luck, Indy — Yes, we hate rookie QBs too, but Luck is different. Trust us.
2) Jay Cutler, Bears — Fantasy QBs need to have weapons. Cutler has more than his fair share.
3) Andy Dalton, Bengals — Dude has weapons and an elite receiver in A.J. Green.
1) Trent Richardson, Cleveland — Yes, he's a rookie. And yes he missed some camp with an injury. The Browns expect him to be ready for the opener and dude is a monster.
2) Darren McFadden, Oakland — Again, this is a guy that will be gone in the first three rounds, but if he's your No. 2 running back, congrats on winning your league.
3) Willis McGahee, Denver — Here's saying the Broncos offense is going to be better across the board this year. Call it a hunch.
4) EXTRA PICK: Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh — Dude's a stud behind a strong offensive line and the guys in front of him on the depth chart are banged up.
1) Julio Jones, Atlanta — His numbers will pass Roddy White's this year. At least that's what we believe.
2) Percy Harvin, Minnesota — Dude was money in the second half of last season after Christian Ponder took over at QB.
3) Demaryius Thomas, Denver — Dude caught 32 passes for 550 yards and four scores last year. We think we've heard Denver has up-graded at quarterback.
4) EXTRA PICK: Reggie Wayne, Indy — Call it a hunch.
1) Rob Gronkowski, Patriots — Yes, he's the top tight end on everyone's board, but he may be the first first-round worthy tight end since Antonio Gates' heyday.
2) Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta — Not the dominant presence he once was, but still very solid.
3) Jason Witten, Dallas — The injury will scare away a lot of folks, but he should be back and rolling in catches no later than week 3.
Wait, our fantasy draft is next week. Strike all of this.
Is the Vols over/under on wins now set at 5?
Great question, and Da'Rick Rogers was certainly yesterday's topic du jour (hmmmm, that sounds good, we think we'll have that).
In some ways we can see our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's view here that the Vols could be better and more unified.
There is no more powerful force within a locker room than the "no one believes in us" vibe that a team can embrace and wear like a suit of armor. These Vols could have that working in full force.
The reverse is also true, too. A rocky start, especially for an offense with lofty expectations, and it could be really easy for this bunch to embrace the "woe is us" shoulder shrug that can end a season before the calendar turns to October.
So, with Da'Rick Da'Missing, this makes Da'Game with Da'Wolfpack in the Ga'Dome even more important. And we didn't think that was Da'Possible.
If UT beats N.C. State, we'll set the over/under on UT wins at 7.5. If the Vols lose to N.C. State it becomes 5.5. So the opener is really worth two games. And with the season potentially hanging in the balance in August, there is a ton of pressure on Cordarrelle Patterson.
UT's three-headed receiving corps is now Patterson and Justin Hunter, so the trident that posed huge match-up problems is reduced to two. And since N.C. State has the best cover corner in the country in Dave Amerson, let's just assume he's going to stick Hunter now that Da'Rick will be watching from Da'Sofa.
So welcome to the spotlight Mr. Patterson. It's just the season that's riding on it.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates with his team after the BCS National Championship college football game against LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans. Alabama won 21-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Before your beach trip, someone proposed making a list of the top five college football programs of all time. Jay, will you include this in the mailbag or as one of your list-ifications (what?) this week? Just for the fun of it, I compiled my top 5 (and also a "next 4" and also a "next 3") based on certain objective and subjective info. And I excluded Penn St. from my top 12 after all the mess that's taken place recently up there.
We are pushing the envelope on time, words and bandwidth. And we have dismissed Penn State from consideration. Heck, they haven't won a game since 1997.
So, while we want to hear your top 12, we're going to go with two top 5s in 10 words or less. (Yes the double 5-in-10s by the 5-at-10, and all for the same low, Low, LOW price you normally pay).
Top five programs all time
1) Alabama — They claim 213 national titles; they're closer than the rest
2) Notre Dame — Tradition oozes from South Bend
3) USC — The accolades are staggering: 11 titles, seven Heismans
4) Oklahoma — Seven titles, five Heismans, two Stoops
5) Michigan — History and maybe the best uniforms ever
Top five in the last 20 years
1) Florida — Spurrier's reign begat Tebow's
2) Alabama — Three titles in 20 years is pretty strong
3) USC — About to add another title chase
4) Miami — Present struggles aside, the Canes had a great run
5) Virginia Tech — No titles, but no team has been more consistent
And you all know where the 5-at-10 attended college, and it was tough not to put Auburn on this list. The Tigers have three unbeaten seasons in the last 20 years (1993, 2004, 2010). There are others too, like THE Ohio State and FSU to name but two.
Jay, I watched the EH-SM football game Friday evening and the US Amateur Sunday afternoon from the comfort of my easy chair, and I got to wondering about Karma and it's impact on sports. For the Friday Mailbag... Does Karma exist and if so, what impact does it have on sports, athletes, and coaches?
Dude, you went all metaphysical on us.
OK, let's start with the definition. Karma — action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.
In a basic interpretation of that definition, the most fundamental piece of sports is karma. It's called practice. If practice is karma, that's the foundation, good or bad, for future results.
Take Steven Fox. Dude probably hit 10,000 golf balls this year. Maybe more. So when he needed to make a money swing at the U.S. Amateur, his karma was put in motion in the preceding days, weeks, and months on the driving ranges around Chattanooga. His present was dictated by his past, but it was not cosmic, it was concerted effort. It was not mystical; it was muscle memory. It was sweat rather than spiritual.
Now as much as we'd like to believe that good things happen to good people because they are good people, well, sorry. That's not the case in sports. Good things happen to prepared people. And talented people. And sometimes even lucky people.
Now those people may be good people, too, but that's happenstance. Look around at the people that have had success who have questionable character but unlimited skills. Tiger. Barry Bonds. Lance Armstrong.
We believe a lot of things, and we try to live by them as best we can. We know that there is nothing more deflating than wasted effort and nothing more sad than wasted potential. We know that chance favors the prepared soul and that luck is a description most used by those that are bitter.
And we know that sports is a meritocracy — maybe the last in our society, sadly — that does not judge souls. It judges scores.
Now there are great characteristics that are rewarded by sports — dedication, work ethic, hustle, et al. — but great characteristics do not always mean great character. See the list above.
So does karma exist? In the realm of real life, we believe trying to be good for the sake of being good is in the end its own reward. It's the chicken-and-the-egg debate on another spiritual plane in a different dimension. Are we good because of the rewards or are the rewards simply being good?
We believe in the scoreboard, we trust it — and we love the fact that it does not draw pictures. We also believe this: somewhere, somehow, Lance Armstrong likely got what he deserved. Is that Karma? Is that fate? Is that cheaters getting caught and justice being done?
Was it karma or the score being settle? Either way, it's game over.
Discuss and enjoy the weekend.
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 ...