published Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

5-at-10: Goodbye college football, NFL Power Poll, Sportsman of the Year and all-time moments

Remember Friday's mailbag and we'll have bowl contest details Wednesday or Thursday. Before we get started, a tip of the 5-at-10 visor to Phil Fulmer, who will be inducted into the college football Hall of Fame tonight in New York City. Wow, if time allows for perspective and proper evaluation, Fulmer's run with the Vols was awesome and his stretch from 1997 to 2001 was Saban-esque.

Seems like a lifetime ago, huh, Johnny Vols Fans?

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's make the magic happen.

Gone for now

It dawned us this morning. College football season is done. Sigh.

Sure we have the bowls sprinkled through the holidays, but only a few of them deserve interest — seriously, there are a slew of directional schools and teams that we aren't sure of their mascots in the bowl games. Double sigh.

Maybe we blocked it out Monday. Maybe the coaching searches in the 865 and the 334 have distracted us. Maybe we were just in denial. This stinks. Tear.

No college football to debate. No Fab 4 (plus 1) picks, and the accompanying entertainment rewards. No fun jabs and scoreboard watching and making at least a little time to watch Oregon to see which uniform the Ducks were wearing and how quickly they could score. Moan.

Even for Auburn and Tennessee fans — after a fall filled with falls and a season that was less than pleasing — the end of the college football calendar is met with sad faces. This December day is the reverse of Christmas, even though Auburn was difficult to watch and the inevitable Vols' defensive implosion — SAAALLLLL!!! — on a weekly basis grew in pain and proportion.

Yes, we'll have the Let's Bowl Super Bowl of Bowl Contests (more on that tomorrow), but today, we'll just know that regardless how nice the weather may be, the long faces across the South are reserved for all of the college football fans, who just lost a dear friend for another eight-plus months.

————

  • photo
    Atlanta center Todd McClure (62) leads the offensive line onto the field before the first half of an NFL game against the New Orleans Saints in Atlanta.

NFL Power Poll

There are four weeks left in the regular season. There are four teams — Atlanta, Houston, New England and Denver — that have clinched postseason spots.

1) Atlanta: Doubt these Falcons at your own peril. We're in. Now there may be a misstep or two on the way through the remainder of the regular season, but with a 2.5 game lead on the 49ers for home-field advantage with four games to play, the Falcons may have a chance to get healthy this month, too.

2) Houston: The Texans ran roughshod over Tennessee on Sunday. That's not overly noteworthy. What is attention-worthy is how balanced Houston is on offense and how disruptive it can be defensively. Side note: J.J. Watt is a wrecking ball. That is all.

3) Denver: The Broncos are two games back with four to play in the race for homefield. If they get it, and the AFC runs through the Mile High City, look out.

4) New England: Brady and Belichick. Belichick and Brady. If they win one more title, we'll say it — best coach-QB combo of all time, considering what they accomplished in this age of parity. Who are the best QB-coach combos of all-time? Noll-Bradshaw? Walsh-Montana? Sure, those tandems each won four titles, but those teams were stocked with Hall of Fame talent. Noll and Bradshaw had the Steel Curtain and Swann and Stalworth and Franco Harris. Walsh and Montana had so much talent that Montana may have been only the third best player on those teams behind Rice and Lott. Name the second best Patriots player from the last decade. Wes Welker? Really?

5) San Francisco: Nothing sinks ships quicker than quarterback controversies. The 49ers are supremely talented defensively, but look at the teams on this list — teams that have a real chance and hope of winning a Super Bowl — and ask if you think Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith is ready to lead San Francisco 65 yards for a touchdown with 90 seconds left in a playoff game.

———

  • photo
    Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) celebrates during the final moments at Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bron gets honored

LeBron James was named SI Sportsman of the Year. We're OK with that. Dude had a pretty big year — NBA title, MVP award, gold medal.

After ridding himself of the most talked about resume shortcoming in sports and dismissing the nuclear anchor that was his lack of a title, James was money this year. And, with that weight lifted, here's saying that James and the Heatles will be an extremely tough out in the postseason next spring, too. Miami is 8-0 at home, has won six straight and, at 12-3 just like Downtown Patrick Brown's Memphis Grizzlies, share the best record in the league. War Heatles.

Without seeing the finalists for the SI Sportsman of the Year and knowing that SI likely couldn't care less what a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column has to say, here's our top 5 for 2012:

1) James

2) Nick Saban

3) Peyton Manning

4) Miguel Cabrera — dude won a triple crown for crying out loud

5) Serena Williams

———

This and that

— We're taking a break from coaching rumors today. No Lord Grudemort. No mention of Charlie Strong, Jimbo Fisher or the rest of the cats who seemed like candidates for UT who are now saying they are not interested. (And yes, the non-denial, denials are as firm and believable as the old "It's not you, it's me" routine.) No discussion of how Kirby Smart interviewed for the Auburn job, and how that feels like an EXTREME reach. No mention of the other smokescreens out there. No mention of how Auburn and UT need to start making some strides with the recruiting clock ticking. No mention of any of that. And looking at this paragraph, isn't this like saying, "We'll tell you this, but you have to promise not to laugh..." which is impossible. How can anyone give a beforehand promise NOT to laugh. And if you are asking that, aren't you really looking for laughs anyway. Where were we?

— The Heisman finalists have been announced. It's Johnny Manziel, Manti Te'o and Collin Klein. This really shouldn't be all that close — Johnny Football should win this thing going away if you look at the numbers. Te'o is a great player who has had a special year, and dude is a high-quailty cat, but Johnny Football has more total yards than Cam Newton or Tim Tebow in the years each won the statue.

— In an effort to get acclimated going into the winter, we need to find a basketball storyline or three to follow. Last year it was the Wildcats, and that was good. This year may be the Blue Devils. It could be the Wildcats again, or even Florida. It also may be the Oregon Ducks — we have a theory that the Ducks are going to make a quick rise; Nike really can't afford that basketball program to be mediocre. Any suggestions?

— That said, we're on board with Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin. We believe he does work. Here's the Vols' resume to the moment: After a 37-36 loss to Georgetown last Friday (hey, maybe The Conz should have replaced Sal Sunseri — SAAALLLLL!!!— as the UT defensive coordinator), UT hoops is 4-2. This is without Jaronne Maymon.

— So Alex Rodriguez will start the season on the DL and will have his second hip surgery. Hmmmmm, wish we knew of some outside substance or product that likely would boost performance but leaves joints and tendons at risk for injury? Wonder what could cause that? Someone get Erlanger on the blower.

Today's question

Last night flipping channels, we stopped on the classic Jimmy Valvano speech from 1993 and realized the overwhelming impact that the former N.C. State basketball coach had through his foundation and cancer research.

More than $100 million has been raised and used to fight cancer, and it also re-affirms that Lorenzo Charles' dunk at the buzzer to win the 1983 NCAA title for Valvano's Wolfpack was the single most influential sports moment of all time.

Here's our Rushmore of history/life-changing sports moments: Charles' dunk that springboard Valvano and in a slew of ways made the Jimmy V foundation possible; Jesse Owens running over the competition with Hitler in the stands in the 1936 Olympics; Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier; and either Wes Byrum's kick in the 2010 BCS title game or Clint Stoerner's fumble in 1998.

Thoughts? (And yes we're kidding about the last one. Seriously, we need one more to fill this Rushmore.)

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 ...

Other National Articles

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mcpell3 said...

This didn't happen on a playing field, but what about Title IX in 1972 for the Rushmore?

December 4, 2012 at 10:15 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Ten Ring, swearing off coaching rumors must be a 12 Step program at the very least. Don't skip out of the meetings.

Going a different direction on SI's Sportsman of the Year. Rory McCIiroy won another Major this year--The PGA--in a walk. (In doing so won me some great tickets from 5at10 for a Braves Game)

Awards: PGA Leading Money Winner (The Arnold Palmer Award), PGA Player of the Year (The Jack Nicklaus Award). The Vardon Trophy, The Byron Nelson Award, The European Order of Merit.

Oh, did I fail to mention that Rory is World #1.

Yep, Rory's my man!

December 4, 2012 at 10:54 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Are the doctors transplanting a soul into A-Rod? No? Oh well.

December 4, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Well unfortunately it appears the topic de'jours are drier than the Ocoee river during the winter season. That being said, I'll be short and sweet today.

Loved reading Frierson's write-up on local intern AD director Laura Herron. However, I did receive a "WTF" moment when I read the following:

"Last Friday the College of Charleston voted to leave for the Colonial Athletic Association, and Georgia Southern and Appalachian State may be on the move sooner rather than later."

The CoC move is nothing new to me but what the...?

Of course this leads the door open to possibly a letter for Friday's mailbag (don't use it unless you're planning on printing the full body) on a plethera of breakdowns and scenerios. (both to be "legit" and "laughable" such as Alabama playing at Kidd Brewer stadium)

Obviously the Jovan topic is still a hyper sensative topic at the Five at Ten compound but I did like Wiedmer's piece on it. Good source to. I had no idea South Pittsburg had a player with the Miami Dolphins who now operates a bank in the middle of nowhere.

I disagree with the body guard reference, but that's wayy too much to get into and wayy too factors to discuss. He doesn't "get it", but I do.

Note to Wiedmer: watch the scene from "DareDevil" where Kingpin prepares to fight DD towards the end of the movie.

December 4, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
jgreeson said...

McPell —

We thought about Title IX, but not sure there was a moment that signified it other than the legislation.

FE to the C —

Rory had a good year — maybe even a great year — but for a golfer or NASCAR guy or even a tennis player to get the overall Sportsman of the year, it has to be awesome in its awesomeness.

Spy —

He was looking into that procedue, but Cameron Diaz ate the popcorn kernel.

Run JMC —

Some interesting times ahead for the SoCon, tis no doubt.

And we'll just have to take your word on the DareDevil/Kingpin references.

— 5-at-10

December 4, 2012 at 11:40 a.m.

Is it just me (and yes my dreams died on the 5 yard line in the Ga dome Saturday night)....OR is this not the worst bunch of bowl matches you have ever seen? I mean a Sugar Bowl with Fla and Louisville, an Orange Bowl with Fla St and Northern IL. I can't remember being more disinterested or disappointed in the bowl season.

December 4, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.
BackupQB said...

Would Billie Jean King winning the Tennis match in the Astrodome be considered a moment for Title IX?

What about Magic Johnson after his HIV announcement? Yes, he went crazy in that All-Star game where no one plays defense and everyone was feeding Magic the rock. But, in his attempted comeback, I had forgotten ... but was reminded watching the 30-for-30 show, that a number of players, most notably Karl Malone, protested taking the court with an HIV Positive player.

If not Magic, would Arthur Ashe's situation make the list of history/life-changing sports moments involving sports?

What about Cassius Clay changing his name when converting to Islam ... and Muhammad Ali's protests of the war in Vietnam? Where does Ali rank in terms of influential athletes?

In regards to the SoCon, where the heck would App State and GA Southern go if they leave the "SEC of FCS?" I understand if they move up to FBS, but any move at the FCS (1-AA for the old timers) level ... would be a step backwards.

Heisman question - Every year, someone comes out of nowhere to become a Heisman frontrunner. But,do you remember another Heisman race in which 3 guys who were pre-season 'virtual unknowns' to the 'casual' college football fans (Manti, Johnny Football, Klein - personally, I'm a little more than a casual fan and I had only heard of Klein) replace well-known pre-season frontrunners who flopped once they started playing the games (see Matt Barkley). Side note - why are there only 3 finalists invited to NYC, when in other years there are 4 or even 5? I've never understood why the number of finalists fluctuates from year to year.

June Jones

December 4, 2012 at 12:54 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Backup QB,

The push to FBS among GSU fans has been going on for quite a while and the new president is adamant about moving up. The students even voted in support of a hefty new athletic fee to fund some of the building that will be needed. Some Southern fans see being in the Sun Belt and perhaps playing in a nondescript bowl as a step up from FCS. A few don't.

December 4, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.
chas9 said...

The fourth world changing sports moment is tough. Maybe Curt Flood and Marvin Miller winning the free agency case, but that's not on the field of play.

The basketball story will likely be Louisville, Indiana or Duke. But if KY can crawl back from the hole it's in, it'll be the story. Not holding my breath that it'll happen.

Both The Uniblocker and Coach Cal deserve more votes than Serena for the annual SOY award.

You make a good argument for New England/Belichek/Brady. And it has to be Johnny Football.

December 4, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Addicted —

There are like five bowl games we really want to watch; the rest we're obligated to for work (and for the first time ever, we're not saying that with a wink, wink, smile, smile).

Title Game, Fiesta, Peach, etc.

And as much as we follow the Georgia Bulldogs, is there a bowl matchup of two teams more irked to be in an elite bowl than UGA and Nebraska? One got a title shot ripped from their paws; the other allowed 70 in a conference title game. GUH-ross.

BackupQB June Jones —

Maybe on Billie Jean. Magic not so much. The Curt Flood stuff was landmark in changing the landscape of sports but nit history or life.

Maybe the first sports broadcast. Sports on TV has changed so much.

As for your Heisman question, let's investigate.

Spy —

Where do you sit on that potential move?

9er —

Louisville is an interesting case, too.

— 5-at-10

December 4, 2012 at 1:47 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Hey everybody.

Bowls: I stopped following the bowls a LONG time ago for obvious reasons. If it was like the "old days" when we had just the core 10 or 12 ones (Cotton, Rose, Independance, Orange) I would be okay with that. Now it seems "everybody gets a bowl" Come'on Beef O' Brady Bowl? That chain was an epic fail in Chat-Vegas, how can they afford a bowl. I wish 60 minutes would do a story on the money game behind that crap vs. the Alabama/Michigan story from 2-3 weeks ago. My opinion mind you.

And then the one game that does count has been reduced to a 16 year old selling tickets while picking his nose and listening to his iPod at a table in the middle of Stonebriar Mall in Frisco (I was there Sunday) saying "Football Championship Series game tickets available here".

And nobody cares.

Obviously I've created some unattended "buzz" regarding the GSU/APP split but I'll save my take on this for Friday's mailbag. Deal? Deal.

December 4, 2012 at 2:38 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5,

I just don't see it. Is the Sun Belt that much of a step up from the SoCon? Now, if App is headed out of the SoCon and up, that may just force GSU's hand. There's all this talk about folks with checkbooks ready to give if GSU goes up to FBS. Well, why not do it now and make the path easier? Why wait? Now NIU getting into the Orange Bowl has some folks thinking maybe one day Southern could do that. Sure ... at the same time Tennessee stinks, Auburn stinks worse and Ohio State, Penn State, Miami and North Carolina are bowl eligible but not bowl legal. Let's face it - the music stopped and there were plenty of chairs to be had. Why else would 7-5 Western Kentucky be playing 6-6 Central Michigan in a bowl?

December 4, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Manti Teo was on the cover of numerous preseason magazines as Notre Dame's best player (including two of the three I have in my possession). Colin Klein was tremendous last year, and was on the darkhorse list for most pundits preseason, if I remember correctly. The Heisman number fluctuates from year to year because the Heisman people look at the current vote and pick out the players they think have a chance to win based on early returns. If that is six guys, they'll invite six guys. If that's three guys, they'll invite three guys. I think what they don't want to happen is that they invite four guys, and the fourth guy winds up finishing sixth in the voting. So they will invite six to prevent that from happening (I know stuff like that has happened before).

9er- I tried to tell you that UK was a four seed this year. I still believe that. I also still believe they could go to the Final Four if they get hot at the right time. Just like two years ago. Until Harrow turns into a real PG, the Cats are going to continue to struggle. Good news? They have four games (Samford, Portland, Lipscomb, Marshall) between now and Louisville, and they will be double digit favorites in all of them. Lose to UofL, beat Eastern Michigan, and they would 9-4 heading into SEC play, where a 10-8 mark would be enough to get them into the dance, I imagine. I picture 13-5 or 14-4 in the SEC getting them to 23-8 overall, followed by a 2-1 mark in the SEC Tournament would be 25-9, probably good enough for a #4 seed in the tournament, plus or minus one seed line. Don't give up on them yet.....

December 4, 2012 at 2:46 p.m.
chas9 said...

Stucky--Sounds reasonable. For how many teams is a 25 win season disappointing?

December 4, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.
TennFlyer said...

I think Title IX was best exemplified by Brandi Chastain's winning PK in the women's world cup. Title IX is why the US women dominate so many team sports. I also think this was the first time a women's team had such a big, undivided stage. U-S-A U-S-A.

December 4, 2012 at 3:03 p.m.
BackupQB said...

Bret Bielema to Arkansas - just reported by ESPN. Didn't see that coming ... did ya'll?

Stuckinkent - not being a smart#%$, just real ... I had no idea who Teo was ... and I think I follow college football. I guess my fantasy league needs to add linebackers. If you are going to tell me that you can name 10 fans outside of Texas who had heard of Manziel, then I'm not buying. I had heard of Klein ... and knew he put up good stats as a dual threat QB, but would never have believed him to be a Heisman finalist. Point is: what would the Vegas odds (for entertainment purposes only) have been on these 3 being finalists (as opposed to say Barkley, AJ McCarron, DeAnthony Thomas)?

December 4, 2012 at 3:15 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Spy-

I appreciate the your "devil's advocate" take on this subject. I am not surprised to hear about GSU alumni wanting to do a Jack Lupton impersonation if they decide to move. Gotta love that A-T-L money.

To answer your concept about the Sun Belt, I obviously have personal experience as two of the schools are within my region more or less.

The conference is just like the SoCon in the fact you have two schools that are silverbacks while the others are basically battling for third or fourth best in the conference. If GSU and App go to the Sun Belt, I promise you point blank they will not come into that conference pulling an "A&M". You have both Louisianas Monroe and Lafayette who have either beaten or given a big scare to the SEC this year.

Also, you have Troy, UNT, MTSU and Western Kentucky. They can hold their own and are also the 2nd tier and then dead last are South Alabama and Arkansas State.

Long story short, after years of being a dominent force in a little pond, the Warhawks and the Cajuns will literally do to them what Alabama did to Arkansas.

(My opinion mind you)

Nutshell: Not the sexist conference in the midlevel, but not D-list either.

December 4, 2012 at 3:43 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Bielema to Fayetteville (as Lou Holtz once put, it's not the end of the world, but you can see it from here)? Malzahn back to the loveliest village on the plains? Smart to Knoxvegas? Cats living with dogs?

JMC, The majority of Georgia Southern's graduates are, well, teachers, given its fine College of Education. There are a few notable big bucks alumni, one of the Truett Cathy's son, but there are others such as Luke Bryan, who professes to go to Georgia games on Saturdays and not Georgia Southern games. I hear he's a country singer of some renown. Don't know his repertoire and from what little I've been exposed to, it seems to be more of the indistinguishable ilk of guys with two first names or two last names who all sound alike and sing the same stinkin songs. There were 8,888 on hand at Paulson Saturday for "what could be the last home playoff game" (to paraphrase the pro FBS crowd) at the Prettiest Little Stadium in America, for a game that ended during the first half of the Georgia-Alabama game. Should GSU move up a notch, they have to find and fund the requisite female sports scholarships to reach Title IX equilibrium.

December 4, 2012 at 4 p.m.
jgreeson said...

About to head to SportTalk.

The 5-at-10 is officially on the Gus Bus.

— 5-at-10

December 4, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Based on the TFP report last week, and the fact that Auburn and Arkansas have named their head coaches and Tennessee still has not, I am leaning more and more towards Gruden being the next head coach at Tennessee. Malzahn was a great hire at Auburn. Congratulations. Bielema was a solid one at Arkansas.

I had thought that nothing would be announced last week with all of these coaches coaching games last weekend unless it was Gruden. I figured things would start popping this week. If there was nothing by about Wednesday or Thursday, I would start believing it was Gruden again, and something about the Tampa contract or MNF contract was holding things up. Here we are, late in the day on Tuesday with nothing. Another 24-48 hours and I'll be saying to anyone that will listen that the Vols are hiring Gruden. I'm already from down around 10% on Sunday up to about 30%. By tomorrow at this time, I'll be moving up to 50%. By Thursday it will be 60%. By Friday, I'll be at about 80-90% certainty. It actually just makes the most sense when putting all the pieces together that the longer it takes, the more likely it is to be Gruden.

Any other fun names out there?

December 4, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Not a surprising hire by Auburn, given the offensive personnel still there. His DC hire and defensive recruiting will set the tone for next season. I think its a great choice. Bielema is the interesting choice by the hogs.

December 4, 2012 at 4:40 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Spy-

Thanks for answering my question (regarding the alumni make-up). That I did not know. Only 8900? Talk about a humbling experience. Then again, given it scheduled near the Alabama/Georgia game, not surprised.

December 4, 2012 at 4:46 p.m.
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