From the "soon to be determined studios" here we go...
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney gestures to quarterback Tajh Boyd during the second half of the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
We've had a big-time year picking college football games against the spread. We went 41-21-1 during the regular season, and 41-14-1 in games that did not include Clemson. Such is the tag line of "Stupid Clemson," when referring to our picks.
With four bowl games left, we're 15-8-1 in the postseason, which includes a 1-1 mark in games involving Clemson (we agreed with friend of the show Quake, he of SportTalk fame, that over the 61.5 was the money play last night, but we had Clemson minus-3, too). So it goes, and with four games left here's the total: 56-29-2 overall against the spread this season; 1-8 when stupid Clemson is involved. Gross. (Here's an idea genius, let's not pick games involving Clemson for the foreseeable future. Deal? Deal.)
That said, one of the hot names being linked to Tennessee's open defensive coordinator spot is Clemson's Kevin Steele. After giving up 70 points in Wednesday's Orange Bowl debacle to West Virginia, here's saying Clemson may even waive Steele's buyout clause. E-Gads, every time we looked up there was a West Virginia guy running free for a touchdown. It was like they had free moonshine and electronics in the end zone, and it was first come first serve. What's the over/under on the number of couches that were burned in Morgantown last night (Morgantown Cracks Down on Couches)?
Sweet buckets of points and punishment, that was bad, and the 14-point swing that was the Clemson fumble going into the end zone that became a 99-year touchdown return, is one of the five biggest gut-punch plays in recent college football memory.
Still, Clemson's defensive confusion was stunning, especially in a 35-point second quarter. Plus, West Virginia scored three times on the same motion-shuttle pass play, and any time a defense can make some cat named Tavon Austin look like Percy Harvin, well, not a good night. In fact, who had a worse night, Steele on Ron Jaworski? (We say the latter, but our distaste for Jaworski is now reaching a fevered pitch, and we were praying for at least one "National College Athletic Association" reference, not unlike his unending use of the "National Football League.")
To be fair, Steele is a respected coordinator who has had a very good career and by all accounts would likely be a good addition. But hiring him on the heels of allowing 70-points to a Big East opponent would be just another wave in the river of P.R. tsunami Tennessee is surfing.
Side note: Here's the standings of the Winners/Losers Bowl-a-palooza. And remember first and last take home some prizes.
BigShot 23 (Arkansas, Alabama)
Cjoyner 21 (Arkansas, LSU)
Mrs. 5-at-10 19 (Arkansas, Alabama)
Fan 19 (Arkansas, Alabama)
WarEagle 13 (K-State, LSU)
scole023 13 (K-State, LSU)
ThatIDoKnow 13 (K-State, LSU)
Jharvey 13 (Arkansas, Alabama)
Addicted to Chalupa 9 ( Arkansas, LSU)
Csmith 9 (Arkansas, Alabama)
BamaMan 7 (Arkansas, Alabama)
5-at-10 7 (Arkansas, LSU)
TFP ace Patrick Brown 5 (Arkansas, LSU)
McPell 3 (Arkansas, LSU)
Snix 3 (Arkansas, LSU)
CHS 3 (Arkansas, Alabama)
Joe 3 (Arkansas, Alabama)
OTWatcher 1 (Kansas State, LSU
ToughSkin 0 (K-State, Alabama)
Dawg 7497 -1 (Arkansas, Alabama)
FE to the C -3 (Arkansas, Alabama)
Spy -5 (Arkansas, LSU)
Jroberts –7 (Kansas State, LSU)
Believer –9 (K-State, Bama)
Bblackmon –11 (Kansas State, LSU)
Jefe –11 (Arkansas, LSU)
Uch –11 (Kansas State, LSU)
MemphisExile –13 (Arkansas, LSU)
BlueOval –13 (Arkansas, LSU)
Cvol –19 (Arkansas, LSU)
Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones responds to questions during a news conference after he was selected as the sixth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, April 28, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
We had big visions of these Atlanta Falcons before the season. We loved the trade to add Julio Jones before the season, because today's NFL is an offensive league and you can never score too many points or have too many weapons.
And by all accounts, Johnny Falcons Fans everywhere should be encouraged by the direction of the franchise. Head coach Mike Smith and Co. have the Falcons in the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time ever (and yes, that's speaks volumes about the perpetual mediocrity that has been the Falcons' history). There is young talent at key spots.
What there is not, however, is the belief that this team can go the distance. Maybe it's bad timing for an Atlanta team that finds itself in the middle of the upper crust of a dynamic NFC. Maybe this bunch will be last year's Packers, who were the No. 6 seed and won three road games on the way to a Super Bowl title.
Maybes aside, however, this has to be the time that quarterback Matt Ryan takes the step. He's yet to win a playoff game, and to be great, quarterbacks have to win in the playoffs. Whatcha' got Matty Ice? It's time. Whether Ryan can deliver this weekend at New York will be quite revealing.
A Falcons win tells us Ryan and Co. could be ready to make a run — seriously the Giants are beatable as are the 49ers; and in truth, winning at Green Bay seems like an easier task than winning at New Orleans right now. Another playoff disappointment, however, may silently scream some long-term worries about Ryan's ability to deliver in the clutch. Is he Matty Ice or Matty Ice Cold? (And if we had photoshop skills we would so put Ryan's mug on a Vanilla Ice cutout.)
College basketball is about to get serious. Conference play started this week and that means a lot of passion and a lot of pressure and some teams may even display poise, patience, power and any other alliteration we may want to toss around.
Here's five things we believe as college basketball makes the halfway turn:
1) The Vols had better get tougher or they are going to get thumped in SEC play. Here's the story from our UT ace Patrick Brown about the Vols getting pushed around by Memphis on Wednesday (Defensive struggles doom Vols against Tigers), and this was against a Memphis team that is clearly not up to its normal standards.
2) That said, there are three things we have found respect for in the UT men's program: Trae Golden, who is a gamer and has some legit skills; The Conz, who believe is doing a pretty bang-up job considering the cards he was dealt; and Skylar McBee's mustache, which has its own facebook page. Seriously.
3) Duke is flawed. Yes, the Blue Devils will win 25-plus games (and a lot of that is because the ACC is big-time bad this year), but here's saying that Duke is the first 2 seed sent packing in March. Not athletic enough, and other than Austin Rivers, who on that team can create his own shot?
4) Kentucky is only going to get better and better. As Chas9 likes to call attention to, there are some wrinkles at point guard that need to be ironed out. That said, this bunch comes at you in waves. They can play fast and they can play physical. And most importantly, they guard from the parking lot to the paint. Relentlessly.
5) No one is doing more with less than new Missouri coach Frank Haith. Haith has seven scholarship players — and only two taller than 6-foot-6 — and the Tigers are 13-0 and ranked No. 6 in the country. Sure, Indiana's Tom Crean and Georgetown's John Thompson III are getting a lot of praise, but Haith is doing work in Columbia. This bunch can flat out score too.
Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher will no longer be the team's coach. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
This and that
— The 5-at-10 loves sports. You probably have figured that out. But some times all we can do is throw our hands up. How is this the same planet that good people are losing jobs? The Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano to Miami for some guy who went 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA last year. Worse yet, the Cubs agreed to pay $15 million of the $18 million owed Zambrano next year. In theory, the Cubs are paying $15 million for Zambrano to go away mainly because Zambrano acts more like a 4-year-old than the 5-at-10's 4-year-old. (Of course if the Lil' 5-at-10 acted like Zambrano, there'd be some 'splainin' to do.) Wow.
— Looks like former Titans coach Jeff Fisher is making the rounds. Fisher has been a name of interest in Miami and St. Louis, and you have to figure Fisher will get a job if he wants one. (For the love of goodness, Leslie Frazier is an NFL head coach.)
— It's that time of year, and yes, we're more than likely going to watch the UnderArmor high school football all-star game tonight. Some kids to keep an eye on:
Black Team — No. 44 Dalton Santos (a monster LB who is a Tennessee recruit and is arguably the most important piece in the Vols class); No. 86 Justin Meredith (a TE who is committed to Tennessee), No. 58 Eddie Goldman (arguably the top DT in the country); No. 3 Deion Sanders Jr. (an athlete who is likely related to someone you have likely heard of).
White Team — No. 4 Keith Marshall (stud RB that picked Georgia); No. 6 Alton Howard (a smallish WR that has picked Tennessee); No. 7 Eddie Williams (the nation's top athlete prospect who has picked Alabama and apparently is a stud duck); No. 17 Mario Edwards (the nation's top prospect, a DE who has picked FSU).
— Programming note: We're scheduled to be on our regular Thursday afternoon spot today at 2 p.m. on 1370 AM with Chris Goforth.
We should have covered this earlier this week, but who gets your NFL Awards?
Who is the MVP? Who is the defensive player of the year? Who is your coach of the year?
Is there an award that you think should be given that's not? (Like the most over-blown story of the year, which we'll call the Tim Tebow Award; And is there any way that Tim Tebow would not win the Tim Tebow Award and then drop to a knee and do a Tebow?)
Discuss, and we still have one more spot in Friday's mailbag.
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 ...