published Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

5 at 10: Vols hoops, Al Davis and One week until National Signing Day

From the "Talk too much studios," let's go.

  • photo
    Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes goes for a basket against Connecticut's Alex Oriakhi during their upset win over Connecticut Saturday in Knoxville.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Vols spanked

OK, we knew that UT has struggled on the road. It happens for a first-year coach with two freshmen and a sophomore in his starting five.

Yes, we knew that Memorial Gym at Vandy is a tough, Tough, TOUGH place to play, especially in your first trip.

But, wow, that was a spanking the Vanderbilt Commodores handed Tennessee last night. The 65-47 win was not as close as the score indicates.

If Vandy can get points from anyone other than John Jenkins, the 'Dores are going to be tough. Tuesday night they got 23 from Jeffrey Taylor. Good night.

Still not sold on Vandy — we thought the 'Dores would be so, So, SO much better than they are — and we all know UT is flawed. The biggest takeaway from last night's game was the improved work of UT radio color analyst Bert Bertelkamp, who sounded like a nice mix between Bill Raferty and Rainman. Bert is prone to interesting basketball quips like Raferty and the occasional Rainman outburst like "Travel!" or "He's palming it!" or "Cutter!" or his trademark, "Money!" He was enjoyable to listen to last night, and there was a time we would have been hard-pressed to ever say that.

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    In this file photo, James Stone, front, with his high school coach Ralph Thompson behind him, smiles as he announces his intent to attend the University of Tennessee during NCAA college football national signing day in 2010. (AP Photo/The Tennessean, Larry McCormack)


We're a week from signing day, the Christmas for college football recruiting junkies.

Full disclosure: We used to be one of those people. We used to be one of those folks that could tell you which three schools were fighting it out for the nation's 23rd-rated offensive tackle, and where he's leaning. But something changed in the last few years. Be it the overload of the hat dances — the ceremony where they put five hats on the table and pretend like they are going to pick each of them before picking their school of choice — or the post-signing day theatrics that have become a high-stakes game of can-you-top-this, our interest has faded.

Now, that said, the 5-at-10 is a) aware of the value of recruiting in general; b) fairly well-versed in the comings and goings on the recruiting trail (you have to remember what we do for a living, after all), or c) just as competitive and passionate as your normal SEC fan.

There are four things that overwhelm us every year as recruiting season winds down:

1) How incredible difficult this week must be for coaches who have to make their living in large part on these decisions made by teenagers. When the 5-at-10 was a senior in high school, we had a tough enough time picking between Hardee's and Fat Boy's, never mind juggling the sales pitches from recruiters like Saban, Trooper, Richt, et al.

2) As impressive as the SEC's streak of six consecutive national titles is, the most overwhelming year-in, year-out stat about the SEC is on national signing day. Come next week, Tennessee will likely finish somewhere in the top 20 in the recruiting rankings nationally. Maybe as high as say 12th, maybe as low as 17th or 18th. A solid class, no doubt, that 100 other FCS programs would gladly take. If UT finishes 18th nationally in recruiting, that will likely be good enough for eighth or ninth in the SEC. Read that again.

3) The system needs to be rehauled. This is fact, and we'll cover this more in Friday's mailbag.

4) Gang, remember these are rankings that are subjective and made by folks that spend more time hitting keyboards than hitting the practice field. Yes, Eric Berry was a five-star commit, but so was Chris Donald in the same class. Yes, Cam Newton was a five-star player coming out of high school, but Nick Fairley was a two-star offensive tackle. The last five top-ranked players in the country were, in order:

2011 — Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina

2010 — Ronald Powell, defensive end, Florida

2009 — Bryce Brown, running back, Tennessee

2008 — Terrelle Pryor, quarterback, THE Ohio State

2007 — Jimmy Clausen, quarterback, Notre Dame

What does that tell us? You guessed it. Recruiting is hardly a science.

The studio shuffle

Now that's Al's gone, there's no way to put the 5-at-10 into a box or in support of one person, place or thing over an extended period of time. That's not us. We'll continue to mix it up and change some things around; and here's hoping for a few more theme shows in the near future, like Thursday could be from the "They can't do that to our pledges, only we can do that to our pledges studios" and each of the 5-at-10 entries will be based on a quote from "Animal House. So it goes.

As for what we chose as the baseline name, the "We talk too much studios," which is a semi-familiar refrain in our Friday mailbag and in our day-to-day interaction, was finalized just last night.

We tried a lot of the suggestions — the Holly Rowe forearm shiver studio was excellent, as was the hometown touch of the Fat Boy's Studios (FYI: Fat Boy's was an awesome fast food joint with world-class chili dogs back in our hometown of Smyrna, Ga.) — but the Mrs. 5-at-10 made an awesome point when the discussion turned to basic studio names last night. It went a little something like this — hit it:

5-at-10: We're kind of stuck. What do you think?

Mrs. 5-at-10: It should be something that new comers can understand and regulars will appreciate.

5-at-10: Wow, great point.

Mrs. 5-at-10: You sounded surprised? Listen, take something that is a common theme — or even something like the draft... You love the draft. I know this — or a regular feature and name it that. That was the beauty of the Al Davis stuff.

5-at-10: You know we never really spoke with Al, right?

Mrs. 5-at-10: Wow, your readers are right, you do talk too much.

5-at-10: That's brilliant.

Mrs. 5-at-10: What? Shhhhh. Idol's back on.

This and that (Contract-edition)

— There simply is no explaining sports salaries. No explanation. Mack Brown is paid $5.2 million a year with a $100,000 annual raise to coach the University of Texas football team. Read that again. Brown has had big success at Texas, going 141-39 in 14 seasons, but the Longhorns are 13-12 in the last two years, and Brown just got an extension through the 2020 season. Yes, 2020, as in the year not the vision grade or the TV news show. Did we mention that Brown is 60? (And yes, Texas as a program kind of runs as a self-perpetuating program — heck they have full recruiting classes by August each year and they turn down kids have the country would hail as their top recruits. But if that's the case, that Texas runs itself, why does the lead dog need $5.2 million? Mack Brown is the second luckiest auto-pilot right behind the inflatable one in "Airplane.")

— Sweet biscuits and jam, that's a Princely sum. Or how about, Mother of all Fielder's choices. We'll be here all week. Seriously, it's in the contract that we are here all week. Nevermind. Anyhoo, Prince Fielder landed a nine-year, $214 million contract to play first base for the Detroit Tigers. Is there any skill out there that should be worth a nine-figure contract? There has to be, right? Curing diseases? Of course. Technological advances? Certainly. Pounding mediocre pitching for mid-market contenders? You betcha.

— Well, that's way more appropriate. The San Francisco Giants and starting pitcher Tim Lincecum agreed to avoid arbitration, where Lincecum was asking for a raise to $21.5 million for the 2012 season. Yep, cooler heads prevailed and the Giants and Lincecum were able to meet in the middle on a two-year deal that will be worth roughly $40 million. Hey, Lincecum is a hoss — as is Prince — and we always say get all you can when you can, but where is the logic in paying a starting pitcher roughly $667,000 per start? (Although that helps explain the $8 beer prices and $5 Cokes at most big-league ball parks. Hey, how about a shout out for the Lookouts, opening day will be here before we know it.)

— OK, you have to wonder if the Raiders are going to start putting some sort of temporary buy-out option in the contracts of their new coaches. Since John Madden left the Silver and Black for a broadcast booth and video game history, the Raiders have employeed Tom Flores, Mike Shanahan, Art Shell, Mike White, Joe Bugel, Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Shell again, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson. Oakland has reportedly hired former Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to be the team's seventh coach since 2003. Hey, we'll bite, if for no other reason than we believe in new GM Reggie McKenzie. Dennis Allen may not be as good as George Allen or Marcus Allen, but we're betting he's better than Woody Allen or Tim Allen.

  • photo
    An undated photo provided by the Auburn Public Safety Department shows Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr., 62, of Dadeville. Updyke Jr. was arrested early Thursday morning, Feb. 17, 2011 and charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the poisoning of the historic Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn University. (AP Photo/Auburn Public Safety Department)

Today's question

Reader survey time:

How closely do you follow recruiting?

Let us know by putting yourself in one of the following classes:

1) We cheer for the players when they get on the field

2) We know who are team is signing, and where we rank compared to the rest of our conference

3) We've been to a high school football game to watch a prospect who is going to our school

4) We plan on taking next Wednesday off so we can watch the excitement of teenagers fax letters to universities. (Read that again.)

5) We respected Harvey Updyke's passion, even if his actions were misguided.

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 ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

5er--In losses yesterday both Tennessee and Gawga scored in the 40's. Seems like this season has seen a lot of 50-something to 40-something games. Is scoring down this year? If so, is it better defenses or futile offenses?

January 25, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Excellent question.

The divide between the good and not-so good this year is as extreme as any time in recent college hoops memory. And that has more to do with the good, really, which is a good thing for college hoops fans.

That said, UGA is flawed — and whichever mid-major gets Mark Fox on the rebound after his experiment in Athens fails will be getting an excellent coach — and the Vols are not built for speed.

The SEC — not unlike football — is a physical league. The Big 12 is scoring points in bunches, so is the ACC and even the Big Ten to a certain extent.

— 5-at-10

January 25, 2012 at 10:44 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

The picture of Harvey Updyke in stripes is good.

Harvey Updyke on a chain gang picking up highway litter would be even better because he would wearing those bright ORANGE coveralls. If he objects, offer him a blue hat to complete the outfit then spread that picture all over the internet. Sweet justice and karma satisfied in one picture.

January 25, 2012 at 10:58 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay, do you think now after a drilling by Vandy, coupled with losses to Austin Peay, Charleston and Oakland, can we stop with the Vols chances of making the NCAA tourney talk ?

Harvey Updike is a raving lunatic, i don't admire his passion, especially since he is not even an alum of Alabama

January 25, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. Proctor —

It's fitting that Harvey is in orange. We think beyond whatever the court decides in legal matters there should be some Karmic payoff for Harvey.

No more Alabama athletic functions. He attend all the one-act plays and orchestra performances he wants in T-town, but he can't ever be there on a Saturday again.

And maybe once a year, he has to sell peanuts at Jordan-Hare Stadium (with a full armed guard of course).

Jomo —

The Vols had such a sliver of a chance at the dance to start with that, yes, after last night's thumping, that sliver is gone.

And you're not saying you can't be a passionate supporter for a school or team unless you attended said school are you?

If so, release the hounds...

— 5-at-10

January 25, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.
chas9 said...

5er--I plead guilty (along with Jay) to crazy talk about The Vols dominating the NIT, if not making the Big One. As the church lady said so well, "Never mind."

The 5@10 is correct. It wasn't as close as the not-close score. Can't shoot. Can't pass. Can't defend. Can't stay poised. But Vandy has made some really good teams look bad on that floor. And I think Vandy is the most likely SEC team to beat KY. But I see in Stokes the same footwork, hustle, and agility I saw in Cousins at this stage. Not saying he'll be as good, but he's in the same sentence.

And The Unibrow will decimate Shaq's freshman blocks SEC record, barring injury. Not sure he'll be as dominant as Shaq, but Davis is in the same sentence. And does anybody want to play a team with six players averaging double digits? And is it time to worry about Terrence Jones?

January 25, 2012 at 11:46 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Cousins is a good comparison for Stokes, save that Cousins was about 3 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier. And it's easy to forget, the kid should be getting ready for the district tournament with his high school team right about now, too.

A-Davis is going to torch Shaq's freshman blocks record. He may set it by the end of next week, the way he's going. Hard to know how long it will be before we see a physical beast like Shaq again, but Davis is as fun a college big guy to watch play defense since Akeem was at Houston.

And yes, it's time to start worrying about Jones, although it must be nice to have a river of McDonald's All-Americans to plug into the lineup. Here's saying that Jones' hand is worse than we thought.

— 5-at-10

January 25, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show JCook in Dallas

How closely do you follow recruiting? I would have to go with #2) We know who are team is signing, and where we rank compared to the rest of our conference. As you very well aware, I bleed the colors of 615 McCallie Ave and will stop what I am doing to read a Frierson article on who selected UTC. I like the fact that it appears we are reaping the benefits of two winning seasons and semi-blue chip players. I get this feeling on the account one recruit chose us over Appy and GSU and then two others signed on in the very "heart" of the GSU recruiting territory (South Georigia-North Florida) You know, the one area with players not good enough to play in either Athens or Gainesville but can "whail" in Statesboro? Of course, how these prospects pan out is a true wait-n-see test.

January 25, 2012 at 12:20 p.m.
chas9 said...

5 to 10--Enjoyed Weeds' column on the fouling and other Vols-Dores stuff. Speaking of the Ezeli-Stokes double technical call, what did you think? I thought it shoulda been a no-call. And please tell Mark Vandy's playing for second place.

January 25, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Thanks for the word on the Allen hire. I wasn't expecting the news so soon. The Bronco defense has some good words for Allen too.

“He knew how to get us ready,” (Champ)Bailey told the NFL Network. “I give him a lot of credit for the success we had this year. … He’s one of the most intense coaches I’ve had.

“I know what type of team he’s going to have (with the Raiders). Very intense, hard-nosed, tough. That’s the way he is. That’s what I expect his team to be.”

Since Mr. McKenzie has stated the next coach can hire his own assistants, I'll be very interested to see the type and qualilty of oaches Allen can coalesce around him.

As for college recruiting, I'm a soft two.

Finally, allow me to tell you how I really feel...

January 25, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I've said it once, I'll say it again. In fact, you've said it yourself.

When it comes to your better half, she is better. You outkicked your coverage, lad.

When it comes to short circuiting all this recruiting (barnyard word), maybe Paul Johnson is on to something when he says, go ahead and let them sign when they commit, or at least let there be an early signing period like there is for the other sports.

January 25, 2012 at 12:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Everyone knows Vandy is playing for second. EVERYONE.

In games that are out of hand like that one last night, keep order with handing out the Ts if at all possible. Should make the rematch in K-Ville pretty fun, though.

FE to the C —

If Champ has good things to say, that only adds to our blind belief. Champ's as underrated as any Hall of Famer of our lifetime folks. And you're right, how well Allen hires will be huge — in fact, unless you're Saban or some kind of a Super-Coach, hiring good assistants is as big as any other skill.

And anytime we can get T-Pain involved, we're all better off — even if the other fellow is not the world's biggest AU fan.

Spy —

No doubt about the Mrs. 5-at-10 being out of our league.

And your boy PJ is probably 12 levels of excited to get this particular recruiting cycle in the rear view.

— 5-at-10

January 25, 2012 at 3:08 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Aside from the Gnonkonde flap, it's been a pretty good recruiting class for Tech - if you believe all the stars and ratings (Why do I get the feeling that Randy Jackson also works part time for Rivals? "Dog, you are four stars in my book!"). PJ doesn't have 27 or more, depending on the day of the week, scholarships to give like some people (lookin at you, Saban, Nick), so it's going to be a small signing class, comparatively speaking.

January 25, 2012 at 3:51 p.m.
eljefe said...

Just when I though I was out ... the T-Pain crud pulled me back in! Look, let's get a few things straight:

  1. No one after Madden besides maybe Gruden really coached the Raiders while Al was alive. God bless 'em for trying.

  2. Mack Brown makes what he makes because he knows where the bodies are buried. Period. Is there actually fear he might coach somewhere else?!? It is ridiculous! Disclaimer: I met Mack and have a distant relation to him by marriage. He's a swell fella. His momma loved him. That said,it is obvious he is being paid more for what he is not doing (leaving and talking) than what he is doing (not winning).

  3. I cannot get too fired up about the draft. I waiver between a 1. and a 2. I distinctly remember a conversation with some Gator fans about Cam Newton where all I could do was smile and nod until I could check the internet. Overall, that worked out o.k.

In South FL there is a ton of talent. That said, if I had a nickel for every next big thing that did not make it or could not make the necessary grades to be admitted I'd have a lot of nickels.

  1. Every man I know married beyond his station. I know I did. Welcome to the Club.
January 25, 2012 at 4:24 p.m.
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