published Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

5-at-10: NFL power poll, college coaching candidates and NBA crystal ball

We're a fan of Halloween. We're a fan of getting dressed up, playing tricks and eating tricks. We're a fan of kids getting excited and running through the neighborhood. So in honor of All Hallow's Eve, we're going to have a two-day Halloween shoutout here at the 5-at-10.

Coaching names to know

It's the day before Halloween, and we're locked and loaded costume-wise. The tots are going to be an owl and a fireman. We're going to be a bunch of grapes, the Mrs. 5-at-10 is going to be a flower — we're calling it Fruit of the Bloom — and we decided to skip the Bobby Petrino costume (you know the red face, the neck brace, the red shirt). In fact, you know BP is going to be a hot name during this crazy offseason of coaching searches. He knows. Everyone knows it. That doesn't make it better or right or a good thing.

It just makes it clear that winning covers a lot of warts. And that's true and undeniable and predictable. That said, Petrino likely will win games quickly at his next spot but the early success will be replaced by a dumpster fire when he leaves in five months to five years. (And that's a dumpster fire usually filled with tires and diapers filled with Indian food.)

Here are the top 10 (plus 1) coaching buzz-worthy names out there this offseason, and with some big-boy jobs potentially in play, this list could get a lot of stars added down the road. (Side note: We only used guys with head-coaching experience because no big-boy job should go get someone without head coaching experience, and weleft off the NFL pipe dream guys with the exception of...)

0) Jon Gruden (this is for UT folks only): Gruden is to the UT fan base what that Christie Brinkley poster was to pre-teen boys in the early 1980s. Wowzer. The rumors about Gruden's interest and availability have quieted some, and that's a good thing. We have said this before, if Gruden is willing to come on board at any school, there are only a handful of coaches who would be safe.

On to the real list. Part I — current coaches who will get raises this offseason:

1) Charlie Strong, Louisville: The Louisville AD told that he's willing to make Strong the highest-paid coach in the country. He may be forced to fulfill that pledge to keep Strong in the Big East. Chuckie Strong makes $1.8 million — about 100K less than Derek Dooley.

2) Gary Patterson, TCU: He's 51 and already makes $3.25 million, so it's going to have to be a big boy job. (But if Texas forces Mack Brown out, isn't this the move to make?) And if Patterson is doing work with TCU players, what could he get done with the Longhorns' resources and talent.

3) James Franklin, Vandy: The Commodores better be prepared to double — and maybe even triple — Franklin's $1 million annual salary. Dude appears to be on the verge of Vandy history.

4) Chris Petersen, Boise State: He makes $2 million and is right there with Saban as the best value in college football. The question is not whether Petersen could win at a bigger job, it's whether he'll ever take a bigger job.

5) Jimbo Fisher, FSU: Did you know that Jimbo only makes $2.25 million? Did you know that Auburn's Gene Chizik is making $3.65 million and has roughly a $7.5 million buyout? Here's saying that all the other coaches may laugh at Chizik's coaching ability, but when the talk turns to contract negotiations, the Chiz is the man.

Part II — Yes, please check your baggage at the gate

  • photo
    --03/30/2012-- University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino watches his team run drills during practice Friday afternoon at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
    Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/MICHAEL WOODS

1) Bobby Petrino: The morally bankrupt coach had his coaching image magnified by being replaced by a really bankrupt coach and the ensuing implosion at Arkansas. It's not if he'll get a job, it's where.

2) Butch Davis: The former Miami and UNC coach has left a wake of NCAA infractions. But dude lands talent. And how many guys on the market are gettable that had a prominent role in building a national champion?

Part III — The rookies, guys that will be in line for big dollars in the coming years, but have only been at their current stop a season:

1) Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: If the Rebels keep on this pace, Freeze could be the SEC coach of the year. Plus, there's a real argument to be made that Freeze's team played Alabama as tough as anyone so far.

2) Guz Malzahn, Arkansas State: Wow, Malzahn's decision to leave Auburn for a pay cut seems a little more rational now, huh?

There are other guys out there — and there are strong rumors that UK has a good-sized crush on Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart — but here's who we got. Whatcha got?


NFL Power Poll

Let's give the Power Poll teams a scary movie counterpart. Deal? Deal.

  • photo
    Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel (22) reacts after the Falcons defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 30-17 in an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

1) Atlanta (The Exorcist): These Falcons are 7-0 — and amazingly have four-game lead in the division — and are built for the modern NFL with the ability to pass and defend the pass. That said, there are going to be some demons removed if this team is going to make a run. Quarterback Matt Ryan may be the league's MVP frontrunner, but he and coach Mike Smith are still bagel-for-the playoffs in the A-T-L.

2) San Francisco (Dawn of the Dead): Wow, that defense comes in waves. Every level is impressive — from the front four with Aldon and Justin Smith to the linebackers with Navarro Brown and Patrick Willis to the secondary with Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers.

3) Chicago (Halloweed): Jay Cutler is the Bears' Mike Myers. He's the key. If he brings it — Halloween I, II and IV were excellent; Halloween III was junk because Myers was a non-factor — the Bears can play with anyone. If he doesn't, well, it's a wasted few hours.

4) Houston (Texas Chainsaw Massacre): We're one more bad week from the Texans falling off the board. The injury to defensive leader Brian Cushing may be too much to overcome. Anyone else think the Texans may get home-field advantage and then lose to Peyton Manning and the visiting Broncos in the AFC semis?

5) New York Giants (Nightmare on Elm Street): How do we keep underrating the defending Super Bowl champs? Same can be asked about Freddy Krueger, who was wicked scary in his debut. Eli Manning and the Giants just handle their BID-ness and go to work.


NBA predictions

We've discussed recently our growing excitement for the looming NBA season. It starts tonight.

Here's what we wrote in Friday's mailbag about why we're stoked:

1) LeBron is going to go from “Boy, I’d like to win a title,” to “I’m a stud and come get some” mode. That’s exciting.

2) The Lakers are legit. And when the Lakers are good, the entire NBA is better.

3) The flopping rule has become a side story in and of itself.

4) The OKC Thunder are an electric bunch that feature the best young scorer since a young MJ. They are super-fun to watch.

5) Chuck Barkley. The TNT bunch is fun, but Chuck is a full-length feature on his own.

Here are five predictions for this season, which has been jumpstarted by David Stern announcing his looming retirement (and if you think he's not going to pull as many strings as possible to make sure this year is memorable, well, sorry):

1) Kevin Durant will lead the NBA in scoring. This is hardly a super-reach prediction since he's done it the last three years. But try this: Durant will do it with an offensive season that will rank among the all-timers, especially in this age of super-stats. Durant will be the most efficient scoring champ ever.

2) LeBron will be the MVP. Yes, we just said Durant will have an offensive season for the ages. But with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis knocking down open shots for the Heatles, there's a real chance James could average 27 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists per game.

3) The Lakers and the Heat will meet in the NBA Finals, and the rating will be through the roof.

4) The post-game Urkel glasses fad will fade. Not sure what the next NBA player trend will be, but if we had out pick, it'd be welcoming back the Kid-n-Play high-top fade. Good times.

5) The enforcement of the flop rule will have plenty of speed bumps and bellyaching early, but will help the game — and the flow of the game — a great deal.


Today's question

Brought to you from Sportsfan's excellent question in the comments of Monday's 5-at-10: What's your Rushmore of movies based on real life events? Argo made my top 4 over the weekend.

Well, we have not seen Argo, but the Mrs. and the 5-at-10 were discussing attending a showing this weekend (and since the Auburn football season is completed — what? — as long as we're back by the 8 p.m. kick of the Alabama-LSU game, we're solid).

So our Rushmore of movies on real life events:

We'll have to divide this into sports movies and non-sports movies, so we'll take two Rushmores: Miracle, Hoosiers, Munich and Remember the Titans; The King's Speech, Schnidler's List, Goodfellas and Animal House (if you were in a fraternity, you're nodding your head and saying, "Yes, that was a true story").

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...

The Cats may go for the WKU coach, but I hoop they give Malzahn a look.

NBA prediction: The Hawks will have a rocky season and will finish it without Josh Smith, as they revamp for The Future.

Coach Cal has a stellar reputation for producing great NBA guards, so it's surprising that the NBA is so well stocked with former Cats big men. As Stewie noted, The Uniblocker is impressing on his way to rookie of the year honors, but don't forget Patrick Patterson, Nazr Mohammed, Demarcus Cousins, Jorts Harrellson, Chuck Hayes, Terrence Jones, Free Enes Kanter, Tayshaun Prince, and sorta big MKG and Darius Miller. And Daniel Orton may well be picked up by somebody.

October 30, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - I think you have to include Saban on the list. Texas alumni will throw wads of cash his way to lure him to Austin. Based on previous history, if the check is big enough, he'll jump.

Non-sports related Rushmore - Argo, Cry Freedom, Hotel Rwanda, and Blackhawk Down

Sports related Rushmore - Friday Night Lights, Miracle, Invincible, and Glory Road

October 30, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Interesting Rushmore...Non Sports - All The President's Men, French Connection, Apollo 13, and drum roll please The Godfather (do the work and you will find it is based on an amalgamation of many real incidents...Sports related - Pride of St. Louis (story of Dizzy Dean, Rudy, Somebody Up There Likes Me, and Ali

October 30, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Yes, Taggart will get a hard look from the Cats. Here's hoping he doesn't fall for the old banana in the tail pipe routine. TAGGART!

The run of UK bigs is nice, but other than the Uniblocker, there's little star power. Plus, a few of those cats are not Cal's.

Great call on the Hawks and Smith — if they can find someone who would take him, that is.

sportsfan —

Excellent question. Friday Night Lights is an excellent call, although the movie was the least pleasing of the three mediums it appeared. The book is an all-timer, and the TV show is one of our personal favorites.

We had a hard time leaving Apollo 13 off our list, because if it doesn't get dusty when they re-establish radio contact, well, then that's on the watcher and not on the movie.

Saban could be in play at Texas — if Jerry Jones and the Cowboys come calling that is.

— 5-at-10

October 30, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Falcons, Falcans, Falcwill. The NFC South is incredibly weak this year, which bodes well for the denizens of the Georgia Dome. The toughest games down the stretch are at home against the Giants and maybe the Cards.

Mt. Rushmore of reality: All the President's Men, The Right Stuff, Patton, A Bridge too far.

The Mtn. Rushmore of Sports Reality, Hossiers, Rudy, Knute Rockne All American and Chariots of Fire.

October 30, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Florida hired Muschamp who had no head coaching experience. That was a big boy job. Kirby Smart would be the same kind of hire- which is why I don't think there's any problem hiring a coordinator, assuming it's the right one. Only Smart would be the right one.

Also, I don't think 9er misspoke when he said, "I hoop they give Malzahn a look." I'm sure you hoop they do. Shows that Kentucky fans have one thing on their minds, and it has nothing to do with hope, and everything to do with hoops.

October 30, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.
jgreeson said...

OG —

The Godfather's out — that's a combination of too many stories with bits and pieces here and there.

All the President's Men, though, is an inspired call.

FE to the C —

Agree, the Falcons have a different vibe, no doubt. And you make a good point about the schedule. It would be huge, Huge, HUGE for this bunch to get home-field advantage. Not so much because of the home-field per se but not having to go to NYC or Green Bay or San Fran in the playoffs.

Stuck —

Muschamp is the exception. And we think Kirby Smart is a huge, Huge, HUGE risk. Watch the Tide and when the defense needs some talking to, it's Saban that does the talking and Smart that does the head-bobbing.

Smart is defensive coordinator in title only — that's Saban's defense. Now if he's picked up enough of Saban's tricks, then he could be great.

If the answer is Kirby Smart (listen up Dave Hart), you need to find a clearer question.

— 5-at-10

October 30, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- shout out to Sir Greeson for a great talk to the Chattanooga Quarterback Club yesterday. . . We are all fortunate to have a sports editor that has such passion and knowledge of sports, local, regional and national. . . .and to find out we almost lost Jay to free-agency !... Glad he choose Chattanooga ! . . .thanks Brother for yesterday and being a great "steward" of our sports page !

as bright as Jay is, it is amazing that he couldnt get accepted at the University of Alabama and had to settle for a degree from Auburn. . . .ka-ching,

October 30, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.
chas9 said...

Good eye, Stucky. Are you a proofreader?

October 30, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

As always, it was great fun.

Good group, good lunch and a good time.

— 5-at-10

October 30, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

There are plenty of other exceptions. I mean, Jimbo Fisher was just a coordinator before becoming head coach at Florida State. I tend to think that Smart is the only coordinator I'd be interested in. Let's talk about this real quick- who would you rather have? Smart? Or Mike MacIntyre? (Don't know who he is? San Jose State's head coach, and they're having a solid 6-2 season so far- much like Dooley had one pretty good year with Louisiana Tech before coming.) Chizik? Or Malzahn (before he got a head coaching job)? Bill O'Brien at Penn State had never been a head coach before and he bobbed his head for the offense in New England while Brady and Belicheck ran it. He's been quite successful at Penn State so far in dire circumstances. I'm telling you- Smart is not a bad option for any team looking for a coach unless they can land a truly huge name- Gruden, Strong, Patterson, Petersen, etc.

And color me less than 100% in Strong's corner. Louisville can't beat bad teams by more than a couple of points. They're the anti-Tennessee. The Vols can't win a close game to save their lives. Louisville can't lose a game to save their lives. The difference between the two teams is miniscule. In fact, put both teams on the field against each other, and I bet it comes down to a last second drive, and Tennessee comes up just short. I don't know if that means Strong is a great coach or not. I like him fine and put him in the top crust of names, but have been unimpressed by certain things that have happened.

October 30, 2012 at 1:37 p.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: Great 5@10 as usual. I believe Kirby Smart could go from coordinator to Head Coach. He is a coaches son after all and that is a point in his favor plus he has been on the staffs of some other good coaches. I have an update on the Auburn job. You have been dropped from consideration and Paul Johnson is now at the top of the list. Since Radakovich left for Clemson Johnson may be next. AU needs a an offense to stay on the field so the AU defense will stay of of it. That might not work either seeing as to how BYU stopped the vaunted Wrecks offense on Saturday. Maybe you are back in the running after all. Rushmore of Sports Movies: Remember The Titans, Brians Song, Miracle and Rudy.

October 30, 2012 at 1:53 p.m.
chas9 said...

AP's pre-season women's All-American team has nada SEC players and only one player receiving votes, UK's Mathies. Didn't the SEC used to dominate the women's game?

October 30, 2012 at 2:29 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Movies from reality. How about The Manchurian Candidate. Wait? That's not real? Now you're gonna tell me The Matrix isn't real, either. Or is it....

Smart has been priming himself for a top job for a while. He's done a lot of things behind the scenes to prepare himself, from what I've been told.

Other movies from reality: Gallipoli. The Great Escape (like Gallipoli, some liberties taken, but the gist of the movie is real). Patton (mostly taken from the biography, Patton: Ordeal and Triumph.). And Donnie Brasco (great, great turn by Johnny Depp and also fine work by Mike Madsen, Bruno Kirby and Al Pacino).

October 30, 2012 at 3 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stuck —

We're not sold on Jimbo either. The ACC is junk right now, and winning the ACC with FSU's resources — and Va Tech and Miami and Tech swirling down the drain — is not Bobby Dodd-level of success.

NFL assistants are different in some ways — they are elite X and O guys. Plus, let's be real honest here, what experienced head coach was Penn State going to get.

Smart may not be a bad option, but it's an unknown. And don't use Dooley as the indictment on head coaches — his past was known and he's repeating it in Knoxville.

And if the crux of your argument against strong is that the difference between UT and Louisville is miniscule, then you, our friend, are Strongly in Strong's corner. He took over a dumpster fire at the U of L — Steve Kragthorpe turned Bobby Petrino's 41-9 run into three years of 15-21 — and is 22-12.

So Strong has taken over a struggling Louisville program and made them a touch better than Tennessee. Read that again.

9er —

Yes and Auburn used to play good defense in football too. Things change.

Spy —

Johnny Depp, most underrated actor of our lifetime?

— 5-at-10

October 30, 2012 at 4:59 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, he very well could be. Whereas Denzel Washington plays Denzel Washington in every role and Al Pacino is now some guy playing Al Pacino in most of his roles (I thought that way for a long time about his character in Heat but see it a little more nuanced), I think Depp and (gulp) Sean Penn are underrated. John Goodman also has shown some great range.

October 30, 2012 at 8:03 p.m.
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