Don't forget about the Ricky Bobby Memorial Challenge (more on that below) and we still have a spot open for Friday's mailbag.
From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.
Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. heads to the finish line during his qualifying run for the NASCAR Nationwide series Subway Jalapeno 250 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Friday, July 2, 2010. Earnhardt qualified with a speed of 182.238 mph and will start in the number three spot.(AP Photo/Glenn Smith)
Daytona is awesome in its awesomeness. Part of that awesomeness is the qualifying process.
Unlike every other race, where qualifying laps and/or owner points can get you into the field, drivers have another way into the Daytona 500. Race your way in by showing out in today's Gatorade Duels.
All the stars will be there, and you will recognize them on sight. They will drive up front for a while and try to win, but goal No. 1 will be protecting the equipment for NASCAR's A-listers and even the lower-profile names of the 39 teams that have spots in Sunday's race.
The real action will be toward the back of each pack, where 10 drivers are battling for four spots in NASCAR's Super Bowl.
One thing to keep an eye on today — how the Fords fare. Ford cars turned in four of the five fastest qualifying laps, but with the rules and packages tweaked and the refocus on pack racing, there will not be a lot of chances today or Sunday for cars to run fast by themselves. Which cars run fast in packs today will tell us a lot about which cars will run fast in packs Sunday.
Giddy-up. Go fast or go to the trailer.
Matt Molina, of the Fiesta Bowl Committee Florida, hangs a banner at Florida's practice field at Scottsdale Community College Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Florida will take on Ohio State in the BCS Championship football game on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hey, meetings have become common-place throughout all levels and forms of industry. Communicating is vital. We get it. (In truth, the 5-at-10 averages double-digit meetings every week.)
Well, from the level of effectiveness, let's classify the recent get-together of BCS commissioners and Notre Dame's AD somewhere between the International Grass Watchers convention and the Paint Rust Coalition. Here is the statement released to the media from the 11 commissioners and the Irish athletic boss:
In an effort to grow college football's great popularity and success, we just completed two days of productive meetings in Dallas, Texas. We have until the fall of this year to finalize any possible changes to our current structure. That's when contractual obligations require us to begin negotiations with our television carrier for future coverage decisions. We have a self-imposed deadline of sometime this summer to decide what changes we will propose to our governing bodies for football's post-season. It's still early in our process and we will continue to meet with our conferences and review options. Whatever we do, we want to protect college football's regular season which is the best and most meaningful in sports. We want to preserve the great bowl tradition while making it better and more attractive. We also have heard the message about playing bowl games closer to or on January 1, the way it used to be. As we proceed, we will evaluate the many pros and cons of numerous possible changes. Every idea has exciting up sides, as well as complicated consequences. From the realities of the calendar to the issues presented in terms of venues such as who hosts games, we have tremendous responsibilities and opportunities. The bottom line is we will continue to talk about how to make a great sport even better for student-athletes, fans and everyone who loves college football.
OK, normally we are aces at deciphering "Coach Speak" and/or spin, so let's give this a crack. Since there are different classes of ADs represented here, let's give the 5-at-10's reader's digest interpretation of the the above statement from three different perspectives:
Power conference AD —
We met in Dallas; saw some stuff (Kobe and the Lakers vs. the Mavs was cool); the small-conference guys are so, So, SO spastic; the Notre Dame guy dresses really well and that Cross label pin is boss (we need one of those); we'll strong arm everyone into the plus-one with bowl tie-ins sometime this summer; Oh crud, let's remember to mention the fans (ha-ha-ha) in our statement; Go State U!
From the smaller conference AD —
We met in Dallas; saw some stuff (the Lakers vs. Mark Cuban's Mavs was cool); the power-conference guys are so, So, SO arrogant; the Notre Dame guy dresses really well and that Cross label pin is boss (I wonder if he knows Rudy, the real-life patron saint of underdogs and lost causes); that said, we think there's a real chance for meaningful change this summer, maybe even something resembling a true playoff system that our fans; we're committed to fighting the good fight of the underdogs of our generation. Yo Adrian!
From the Notre Dame AD —
We met in Dallas; saw some stuff (the local cathedrals were better than expected); the conference guys are so, So, SO not Notre Dame; Haven't seen this many Men's Wearhouse suits in a while, alas (Got a lot of compliments on my lapel pin — strange); we'll know more this summer, which is good since Brian Kelly appears to be driving us from the picture of meaningful college football; I blame Bob Davie; Or Ty Willingham; Stupid Charlie Wies; Either way, there will be something this summer to discuss, and if we get a piece of that with our NBC coin, we're fine; we'll have plenty to make sure we're still filling the collection plate if you will? Praise the Lord and pass the football.
Cuonzo Martin speaks during a news conference after being introduced as the new University of Tennessee men's basketball coach on Monday. Staff Photo by Patrick Smith/Chattanooga Times Free Press
College hoops rewind
Nice win for your Tennessee Vols last night. Ole Miss led by a point at halftime before the Vols surged to their sixth consecutive win at home. It was a strange game to say the least — UT had six players with eight or more points, but those were the only six Vols that scored. Plus, Skylar McBee's mustache was shutout in 20 minutes.
That was off-set of course by a strong effort by Jordan McRae, who had 16 points, six boards, four assists and a one-handed thunder dunk that turned the momentum of the game.
UT is 15-13 with road games against SEC vagabond South Carolina and surprising LSU before returning home to close the regular season against Vandy on March 3. If UT runs the table, the Vols are almost assured of a top-four conference finish and a first-round bye in the SEC tournament. That would be overwhelmingly impressive considering where this team was predicted to finish before the season and where we all thought they could finish after the Austin Peay debacle in December.
Elsewhere around college hoops:
— Nice conference road wins for Michigan State and Kansas on Wednesday. Being a heavyweight and going on the road in conference play is never easy, and there is no such thing as a bad road win. Period.
— That said, Syracuse looked sluggish Wednesday against South Florida. Maybe the Orange feel they have the No. 1 seed in the East wrapped, but the words "escape" and "South Florida" should not be in a headline unless we're talking about Cuban refugees.
— Duke at FSU could be a really interesting dissertation for each team tonight. Is Duke able to handle a physical test? Can Florida State make enough contested shots to beat a legit opponent? This could get interesting (or it could be a landslide... so it goes).
— Jomo's UTC Mocs have one final chance to win a road game tonight at Furman. Sure the SoCon tournament is at Asheville, but that's a neutral site. Sour buckets of bad basketball — UTC has lost 10 of its last 11. Wow.
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (5) grounds out to Atlanta Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez during the third inning of an MLB baseball game, Sunday Sept. 12, 2010. Pujols homered in the first inning. (AP Photo/John Amis)
This and that
— Schedule update: The TFP sports editor will be on "The Show" with Chris Goforth around 2 p.m. today on 1370 AM and we'll swing by SportTalk this afternoon around 4ish to join the guys on 102.3 FM. Swing by, because, as future Senator John Blutarsky says, "Don't cost nothing."
— Fitting tribute from the Palm Beach Atlantic Univeristy baseball team this week for former coach and Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter. The team started Tuesday's game with only eight players, paying tribute to Carter's uniform number. Class move.
— Litmus test for Linsanity. Jeremy Lin and the Knicks face the NBA's best team and the NBA's best player tonight against Miami and LeBron James. It will be a test for the Knicks on the floor. It also will be a test to the levels of Linsanity on the public. We're curious to see what kind of rating tonight's game gets? Will you watch it? We know 9er's going to watch Duke-FSU, we know McPell is going to American Idol and we know Spy is going to watch the "Friends" marathon on Lifetime, but what about you? Will you watch Linsanity vs. Lebron?
— This is where we are with golf? Really? Tiger Woods beats some dud that no one this side of his parents knows — and Tiger needed to rally to do it — and it's the lead story from the Match Play tournament. OK, whatever. Man, the Masters can't get here quickly enough.
— Don't know how we missed it, but the Miracle on Ice turned 32 this week. Wow, that's hard to believe. It's been 32 years since the U.S. hockey team beat the Russians. Still one of the all-time "you know where you were" moments. (And the fact that it was 32 years ago makes the 5-at-10 feel old.)
— Did you see that Albert Pujols objected to the Angels' marketing campaign of his picture with "El Hombre" next to it? Puzzling that the Angels' front office types wouldn't run that by the team's $230 million guy. Although, if some one wanted to pay us nine figures, they can put about anything next to our picture on a billboard. Alas.
Danica Patrick walks out of a drivers meeting following the shortened IndyCar Series' Las Vegas Indy 300 auto race Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 in Las Vegas. Dan Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, died following a crash in the event. Marco Andretti is behind Patrick at left. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Who you got in the 500? It's pretty simple — the Ricky Bobby Memorial ""If you ain't first, you're last" Challenge — pick the winner and the who will come in dead last. Win some tickets to something (we're still aiming for NASCAR tickets to Atlanta come Labor Day). If we have duplicate picks, we'll look about a tie-breaker, but here's how will score it: Pick the winner, get 5 points; pick dead last get 3 points (if no one picks either or multiple people pick one, we'll go closest to the winner gets 2 points, and closest to last gets 1 point). Deal? Deal.
Here are the early entries (and if you get in early and your last place guy doesn't qualify, you can re-pick)
Spy — Tony Stewart/????
McPell — Tony Stewart/David Stemme
OTWatcher — Jimmie Johnson/Danica Patrick
scole023 — Carl Edwards/Terry Labonte
ThatIDoKnow — Brad Keselowski/Trevor Bayne
Mrs. 5-at-10 — Tony Stewart/Landon Cassill
5-at-10 — Kevin Harvick/Paul Menard
There are a few more in our e-mail — feel free to e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org — or add them in the comments.
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 ...