published Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

5-at-10: Coaching search awards, Power Poll and baseball's arms race

Remember Friday's mailbag, and don't wait until the end. Although we did a bunch of pre-work on the mailbag last week, and had to blow it up in the wake of the Butch Jones' hire.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's do the heavy lifting first...

Coaching moves, Day 1,265

We had shuttered the Coach Search Command Center, leaving behind a stench of Vienna sausages and hot sauce and "Co-Colas" that would make former fraternity house dwellers nostalgic.

And as we were putting the last board up, the moves continued to roll and the news continued to spin. Let's get to the recaps, award show style:

Best performance in a coach's news conference: Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky. Petrino and Western Kentucky AD Todd Stewart were awesome Monday. Embracing every question with sincerity, enthusiasm and even humor (Stewart told the gathering of some of the big-time big timers — think USA Today would have sent Dan Wolken if WKU had promoted from within or hired Blake Anderson — "There's more of you here today than at any of our games). As much as we were against some schools looking at Petrino — and we maintain that he'd be a tough sell at some of the bigger programs right now — it's hard not to view this as anything but a Grand Slam for Stewart and WKU.

Best use of a movie quote: As friend of the show CJ passed along last night, new Southern Miss head coach and former OKlahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken is a great quote. He even used a "Sandlot" reference in a postgame news conference this year, and anyone who refers to "Sandlot" in conversation is goor by us.

Best throwback moves: We have co-winners here, but new UT coach Butch Jones would get the nod if he can convince Tee Martin to come home. Either way, Jones rightly kept former UT great and current running backs coach Jay Graham. Graham did work this year, and he's blessed with a boss first name. The other one is Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's dogged pursuit of former Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who has a tough decision to make about whether to stay with the Tennessee Titans or come back to Auburn.

Best trades: There have been a slew of coach moves, and in truth, it's hard not to find a fan base that is not somewhat pleased and 100 percent certain that the new coach is light years better than the last coach. As far as marked improvements, here are the top three hires to date this offseason:

  • photo
    In this Nov. 24, 2012, file photo, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema shouts from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College, Pa. . A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, that Bielema has agreed to become the new coach at Arkansas. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

1) Bret Bielema at Arkansas: Bielema brings three consecutive Big Ten titles to Fayetteville. And say what you want about whether Beliema will or won't fit in the SEC. Still, dude has been to three straight Rose Bowls and he's replacing John L. Smith, and if Arkansas had hired Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's, it would have been an upgrade when replacing John L. Smith.

2) Bobby Petrino at Western Kentucky: Willie Taggart did fine work for the Hilltoppers and deserved to move up the coaching ranks to South Florida. Petrino did bad things off the field at Arkansas and deserved to slide down the coaching ranks. The outcome is Western Kentucky had one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel this offseason and replaced him with the hottest name in next year's coaching carousel. Plus, WKU is in the national discussion this morning, and that's never a bad thing. (Side note: Among the many things WKU AD Todd Stewart did right in this deal was make Petrino's buyout higher than his salary. So let's say Petrino, who signed a four-year deal at $850K per year with a buyout of $1.2 million, keeps his nose clean (questionable) and wins (likely, since dude is 75-26 as a college coach), he'll be on the speed dial of every big-time AD with an opening next winter. If he leaves WKU after one season, the school will get $350,000 for being successful in its gamble.

3) Butch Jones at Tennessee: Let's be really honest, no one knows what to make of Jones just yet, but we all knew what to make of Derek Dooley. And Jones has to be upgrade, if for no other reason than Sal Sunersi — SAAALLLLL!!! — will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations. Side note for gambling fans: In the 10 UT games that Sal Sunseri — SAAALLLLL!!! — called UT's defense, the over went 10-0. Purely coincidence right? Heck, someone needs to give Sal — SAAALLLLL!!! — a job so we can plan a college fund for the Lil' 5-at-10ers. Think of the children.


NFL Power Poll

All season, we have espoused the weekly Power Poll to the common NFL belief that you are what your record says you are. Today, that ends. Today, as the playoff field starts to fill we look beyond qualifying for the dance and look at teams that can go the distance. And playoff football is different in every regard.

There comes a point in the chase for the Lombardi Trophy that every team will have to do each of these three things:

1) Make one tough defensive stand;

2) Convert one tough third-and-4 to ice a game away;

3) Rally with 90 seconds left and down three.

In reference and deference to those three questions, here's this week's power poll completely thrown on its ear:

1) Denver: Ask yourself which team in the NFL has each of these three components more than Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos? The lack of qualified answers will surprise you.

2) New England: We're destined for an AFC semifinal or conference title game between Manning and Brady, aren't we? Well, it would be a great Christmas present for the sports fans in all of us.

3) New York Giants: Yes, they have some work to clinch a postseason spot, but when they get there, the NFC title goes through the Big Apple, regardless of records.

4) Atlanta: The Falcons' record has been inflated over the course of the year. The Falcons' shortcomings have been inflated since Sunday's thumping at Carolina. They simply are not as good as 11-2 suggests or as bad as they looked against Cam Newton and the Panthers earlier this week. These Falcons have Super Bowl dreams, and those are based in the success generated by an elite passing game. But if the Falcons hosted the Giants in the NFC title game, who you putting your hard-earned entertainment on? Yeah, we got Eli and the Boys, too.

5) Green Bay: The Packers get a slight edge over San Francisco and Houston because Aaron Rodgers lives in Green Bay. And come playoff time, that's plenty.

Expensive arms race

That sound you heard in the wee hours of Monday night was baseball axis shifting yet again.

The bidding war that is baseball free agency — the most out-of-control spending spree since Imelda Marcos quit shoes — took another turn Monday when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Zach Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal. It’s the largest contract ever for a right-handed pitcher. Read that again.

OK, where does that leave us? Well, wondering why in the world we didn’t spend more time working on our throwing mechanics is point No. 1. Think of pitching drills for the Lil’ 5-at-10 — he’s 5 — is No. 2.

As for the Dodgers, well, in truth, the deal makes some sense. They have the coin to spend, and when the new ownership group spent $2 billion last year, you knew they had to rework the roster. You don’t spend $2 billion on a team you hope contends for a wildcard.

It also means they better have another $30 million a year for Clayton Kershaw, who will be a free agent after the 2013 season.

And with that the divide between the haves and the have nots will only widen, and the franchises that use baseball as TV station filler — and can account for the expense as such — will only continue to strengthen their position.

So there you go, going rate for elite starting pitchers will escalate to a $1 million per start.

Good work if you can get.

This and that

— The NFL's designated rep, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, has said he will rule on the Saints' Bounty-Gate today. We're trying to think of a story that is as meaningful and as meaningless at the same time, and that we collectively just want to go away. Here's a quick Rushmore of big stories that we're done with and if they never get another mention, we're good: Saints v. Goodell in Bounty-Gate; Lance and PEDs; Roger Clemens and Congress; NHL and Labor. Side question: How flummoxed would you be if you had spent 18 months of your life chasing the story of the 20th century and the lasting impression of it was that every other scandal gets the "Gate" ending as in The Watergate Hotel? Wonder if Woodward and/or Bernstein cringe at Spygate or Bountygate or if there's a neighborhood squabble over a fence, possibly even Gategate?

— Remember the "Bowling in the super bowl of bowl games bowl game contest" and the rules are in Monday's 5-at-10 here So far we have entries from Roadrunner, Dawg747, DL560429, TennFlyer, ThatIDoKnow, OTWatcher, StuckinKent (who correctly noticed that the maximum number of points is 85), Harold, Joe B., Big Hitter and The Mrs. 5-at-10. We're going to see how many of the local media types want to play as always, and we're going to reach out to Coach Mac, who does the picks show with the SportTalk gang, too. Hey, it's the holidays, and what better time to reconnect with old friends.

— Pamela Anderson owes close to $370,000 in combined taxes to the IRS and the state of California. Who knew that you had to pay taxes on plastic surgeries? We're sure it'll be OK, since he can rely on her considerable talents to generate revenue. Side question: If Anderson — who owed more than $400,000 in taxes as recently as 2010 — and Allen Iverson lived in the same neighborhood, would the IRS assign just one agent to the place or open a field office?

— Got in a Twitter discussion with TFP hoops ace Gene Henley on Monday night about Hawks forward Josh Smith's game. Let's take these in order: Yes, we're on the Twitter at @jgreesontfp (shut up, Spy). Second, Mean Gene's description of Smith's game — it makes Gene mad — is perfect, because Smith has the physical skills (dude is a thick 6-9 with world-class ups) should equal more than one highlight-reel dunk and seven missed 3s every game. Not unlike Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh, Smith was given a Hall of Fame frame and he's wishing it away. Wonder if he has a 911 with a Quadrophonic Blaupunkt? Finally, we'd be remiss not to mention the fact that Smith played his high school hoops at McEachern in Powder Springs, Ga., and dude was the second-best player on just the third-best team in the county that year. That was some Cuh-razy good high school hoops in Cobb County in 2001.


Today's question

OK, we took Monday afternoon off to finish up some Christmas activities with the family. Good times.

We roamed around the TV dial last night as the Monday Football game turned to a massacre and realized, it's two weeks until Christmas. Sweet buckets of Bing Crosby, claymation specials and eager anticipation of the 24-hour "A Christmas Story" marathon on TNT.

It dawned on us then that we need a ranking, a bracket and a playoff for the best Christmas movies. (We thought about TV specials, but really there are too many of them out there, and it would be really hard to vote against South Park's Mr. Hinkey the Christmas poo or Emmitt Otter's Jugband Christmas.)

OK, we're thinking a 16-team field with brackets on Classics, Current, Comedies and Christmas in general. Or maybe two eight-team draws of Comedies and Christmas others. Here's our first list of Christmas movies vying for the top seeds: It's a Wonderful Life, Die Hard, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Love Actually, Scrooged.

Discuss, and let's set the field. It's two weeks until Christmas, after all.

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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Livn4life said...

What You Did No Hear About the Petrino Hire: If he wins the conference championship and a bowl he gets: 1)A New motorcycle; 2)to hire two female interns...NAH I truly hope that as a man he has and is working on his family, in his words, "making it up to my wife..." Well Bob, you have a lifetime really of obligation to make it up to your wife for your violating a sacred covenant. I really find it hard to think it is just so easy to get back into a setting wherein you previously fell from grace. But it is not my job to judge. I wish him well and admire his wife for giving him a second chance.

NFL POWER: Well the mighty have fallen, fallen. First it was Atlanta, much to the delight of all those "told you they weren't that good" smackers. They still are pretty good. Then comes not a fall but a plunge by the Texans. Did anyone not tell the team they had a big game to play? BIGGEST QUESTION: Does the Hoody/Master/Evil/Genius that is Bill Belli have those guys poised to take home another Lombardi Trophy? I am not thoroughly convinced because they were at home. So time will tell. Indianapolis--when will the LUCK really run out? Time will tell but that young man has sure done his part to make that team relevant beyond anyone's imagining when we first poked the pigskin back in September. I am concerned that RGIII's RUN may have ended or at least been set back quite a bit.

One final tidbit on the fastly fading football collegiate scene: I did not see you mention it, if I missed it...well...I missed it. Marcus Lattimore is jumping to the NFL. 5-BOT, do you like or dislike this? For me a JVFFL(johnnyvolsfanforlife)it will be one less big time back the Vol defense will have to face next year no matter what the defense the JonesGang installs. I wish Lattimore the best and hate that he ended on a horrible injury in the Vols game.

As for Best Christmas Movies, let's just keep the bowl system in place and let the Christmas Coaches/Writers Vote on it....Oh never mind, they don't have Christmas Coaches/Writers. In the words of the gangster on Home Alone with a Tommygun..."Ya gyta do bettuh dan dat!"

December 11, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Since you claim to blow up the mailbag, I am going to go ahead then and resubmit my letter (again) because I really want a "full" answer to my inquiries as explained via the 5 at 10. After tolerating enough Sallll references, I've earned it. Not letting this go.

Can't think of any Christmas movies other then the afromentioned but nice shout-out for Emmitt Otter. I was just a couple of years older than 5 at 10 2.0 (seven) when I saw the very first airing of that special on HBO.

December 11, 2012 at 10:28 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Looks like Lane Kiffin beat UTK again, as Martin has decided to stay at USC . . .also, Jay did you notice that Bielema, is already married to a pretty 27 yr old blonde, that way Arkansas doesnt have to worry , , , ,AND how many fans in Arkansas can spell or pronounce Bielema ?

December 11, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.
chas9 said...

I'm riding the Broncos, too.

Another new coach presser award-Best Frankenstein-style haircut to Dave Hart.

kentucky ran an interesting story a week ago about the contrast between the modest welcome new coach Paul Bryant got at UK in 1946 (three cheerleaders, a few hand-lettered signs, done in black and white) and the expensive technicolor theatrical production for newbie Stoops.

Of course, Bryant weren't The Bear then. I guess that trend to over the top shows happens at all the SEC schools. Don't know, but WKU's new guy may have slipped in the back door. And many thanks for running the boiled lobster pic again.

December 11, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
TennFlyer said...

Three more movies to add to the list: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; Elf; and Bad Santa. The last one is a little out there. Another movie to fill in the bracket is the Muppets, A Christmas Carol.

December 11, 2012 at 10:52 a.m.

I am afraid there will be no real need for brackets. Just let everyone vote on Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation (for me it's a toss up). Maybe I missed it, but have you made comment on the first freshman to take home the trophy. What do you think about it now that folks like Herschel and Bo we disqualified because they were freshman. It can be argued that Herschel had the best freshman year ever. And if a miner in Kentucky and a toothpaste company are involved in a coverup, would that be considered a coalgate or a colgate?

December 11, 2012 at 10:56 a.m.
Cjoyner said...

Jay, I assume you see that Charlie Harbison has been added as Auburn's co-defensive coordinator. At 53, he's a real spring chicken, compared to Ellis. I assume Ellis needs him to put numbers into his cell phone and explain Twitter to him (again).

As for the movies, with a toddler in the house, I would add "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," the stop-motion classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the Dolly Madison-shilling "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown."

December 11, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.
jgreeson said...

A 5-at-10 goes to one budget meeting, and you guys bring the hammer.

Let's go:

Livn(Large) —

Home Alone, an underrated Christmas movie for sure. And yes, the Pats are going to be a tough out.

Run JMC —

You have earned, and we're on it.

And we loved Emmitt Otter. In fact, that's a Greeson family tradition — in fact since we could only find it as a VHS tape, that Christmas special is the only reason we have a VHS player in the house.

Jomo —

That hurts. Tee would be a money hire and would get the Vols back in the game for Jalen Ramsey. And we'll go 50 percent on pronouncing Bielema and 35 percent on spelling.

9er —

You're most welcome on the rocking lobster photo. And did you just make a WKU-Petrino backdoor joke?

TennFlyer —

Elf is in. Bad Santa may have a tough time clearing the first part of the family-oriented, interweb-based nature of the 5-at-10. Planes, Trains and Autos — while a personal fav — is a Thanksgiving movie.

Addicted —

Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story are almost certain to be heavy favorites, but that's why we play the games.

Sign of the times about the freshman finally winning, and this was different on all levels. Manziel was a redshirt freshman that was part of a great newcomer story line that was Texas A&M entering the SEC.

As for Bo, well, he was a freshman when Herschel won and deserved the Heisman. Herschel deserved it as a freshman in 1980. Period.

CJ —

Plus, Ellis has to yell at Coach Cheese (great nickname, by the way) to turn down that Rock-n-Roll music and get off his lawn. CJ, what are the odds that Ellis gets a Christmas card from you and the girls? Would you say less than 75 percent? Would it be ticking?

Until you have tots, it's easy to forget how satirical and in some ways serious ol' Charlie Brown really is.

— 5-at-10

December 11, 2012 at 11:40 a.m.
chas9 said...

No love for Tim Allen's Santa Clauses? Home Alones? Elf? Miracle on 34th Street?

December 11, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...


December 11, 2012 at 11:54 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, a friend and I predicted Patrino could not be hired anywhere in the Bible Belt due to the sequence of his randy actions which got him the boot in Fayetteville. Boy, were we wrong. Me thinks a Corvette with blacked out windows is Patrino's lesson learned.

You might say I went right up to the factory And picked it up, it's cheaper that way--Johnny Cash

I'll second "Scrooged."

Cjoyner, wasn't that titled "A Charlie Brown Christmas?" If there's two, this Peanuts fan votes for both. After all, it's not the size of the tree that counts.

December 11, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Thanks Jay for holding true to you word on this.

And I'm not surprised you could only find that in VHS format. Since it was something that only aired on HBO and was not a network classic, there would be no marketing reason to have it on DVD or Blue ray.

Okay, I got two that are definately contenders. One is close to being a classic and one is still fairly new.

The new "soon-to-be" classic would be The Polar Express. However, for this to work you can't watch it on TV. You have to see it in it's IMAX 3-D format for the full appreciation of the artisty and story format.

Here's another tradition for you Jay. The Tennessee Aquarium plays it every year and I always went to see it when I was still a resident. Luckily I can continue the tradition via the Fort Worth Museum of Science and Technology. Again, the IMAX version is the contender here.

The second one would be the recent version of "A Christmas Carol" with Jim Carrey as Scrooge. What makes this one stand out besides the detailing is how close they were to book and verse as suppose to prior incarnations. Technical note, they start of the series begins with an animated flyover of London circa 1840s (warts and all). You will literally find yourself saying "Damn, boy the river Thames (pronounced long t-ims; like Tim) looks NAAAAASSSSSSTIEEEEEEE!

I know I did.

December 11, 2012 at 12:23 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

The Santa Clause gets points. But the sequels drag it down some. Same with the Home Alones.

OG —

Merry Christmas. Shooter's full. (At least that's paraphrased.)

And of course, "That's what you call yourself an RV... But don't going falling in love with that thing Clark because we're taking it with us when we leave next month."

FE to the C —

We were with you. But The WKU AD made a calculated — and shrew — gamble that is just about Teflon.

And Scrooged has a slew of subtle funny moments that are vintage Bill Murray.

"Hey, Marlon Perkins, let's get a move on."


We'll have to check those out. We have missed each of them.

— 5-at-10

December 11, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.
Todd962 said...

I've heard when most Arkansas students were informed that Bielema was announced as their new head coach they were confused as to whether that was the one where you dont eat or where you throw up.

Funny story about Christmas Vacation and Cousin Eddie: Back before the Lady was known as Lady Todd, she took another less bona fide suitor home for the holidays and she had told him that her MOM'S family was a big fan of the movie and always watched it over the holidays. Well he took it upon himself to surprise her and her family by dressing up as Eddie and set a great first impression with the fam that he was a humorous, fun loving guy. Only problem was that he wasnt the best of listeners and instead made the entrance dressed as good ole Eddie to her DAD'S side of the family to crickets and awkwards stares. Being compared to patent white leather shoes, greens pants, and a turtle neck with v neck sweater made things much easier when I made my introduction a few years later. I tip my hat to him regardless, my life may have taken a different course if he had taken the full plunge and dressed in the bath robe.

December 11, 2012 at 3:06 p.m.
BIspy4 said...


Is it just a little creepy that there are "followers" on Twitter? I don't want anybody following me. Even if I do have a clandestine Twitter account. I mean, what else would you expect from the Spy?

December 11, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Another great Christmas movie was on when I got home last night (no, 5, it was not on Cinemax). Die Hard.

December 11, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
jgreeson said...

962 —

That's an outstanding story. Do you send the Faux Cousin Eddie a Christmas card every year? Do you remind the Lady Todd in tumultuous times that it could be worst, "She could be using REAL tomato ketchup" with Eddie. Nothing but the best.

There's something to be said about following in the footsteps of a a clown — yeah, the shoes may be a little big but there's plenty of chances to fall and no one will be the wiser for it.

Spy —

Concur that there could be a better term than followers. And oh yes we count Die Hard as a Christmas movie.

— 5-at-10

December 11, 2012 at 4:49 p.m.
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