Silver bells, silver bells, it's Christmas time in the city.
Gang, you still have time for emails if you have something you want to ask. Bring it.
From the "Talks too much" studios, maybe the Beatles were right and all you need is love. And food. And some foldin' money. And an Escalade... with spinners and a lift kit. Giddy up.
Bowling for bowls of bowl game success
We have discussed the swag the players get. It seems gift cards and shopping sprees along with sunglasses and backpacks are the hot items for the accomplished college football players this holiday season.
We have discussed Saturday's first round of games. And if you are looking to risk some of your hard-earned entertainment, here are a few betting on bowl game tips: 1) Motivation is more important than talent. Seriously. Look for teams that are in their first bowl game in a few years. We tend to lean to teams that finished 6-6 with a good November when possible because they likely are pretty excited to be there. The reverse of that of course is a team that finished 6-6 or 7-5 with a tough finish because they may have been expecting a better bowl experience. 2) Teams with coaching changes are a mixed bag. Some come out motivated for a departing coach (Think Texas and Mack Brown); some come out indifferent (think USC most likely considering Clay Helton will be their third head coach of the season and Steve Sarkisian has already been hired). 3) Look for teams with good senior leadership and avoid teams led by NFL-bound underclassmen.
We will kick the tires on the rest of the first week of the bowl games later today. But we also need to get the bowl contest info out there. Because of the interest and the size — it was tough grading last year's contest by hand — we went to ESPN.com and signed in. We also are working with Press Row (on ESPN 105.1 from 3-6) so the prizes can really expand. Here are the details:
The password is — thezone.
It's straight winners and losers and each correct pick is worth a point. (And yes, we picked Auburn in the title game. So there)
Get in the game — don't cost nothin'.
UTC lost by 15 on the road at UAB, and Will Wade sounded somewhat pleased. And he should be. Here's UTC hoops ace David Uchiyama's recap.
UT lost at home to a very pedestrian NC State team by seven and Counzo Martin sounded deflated, as TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer relays here. And The Conz should be. Or he should be outraged. Or maybe even worried about his employment.
The Mocs went against a better and bigger team without their best player. As Wade said, the Mocs competed and played hard. That's a positive.
The Vols? The early season rust that has eroded each of The Conz' previous two seasons in Knoxville is as thick and orange as ever with this bunch. UT is 6-4 despite starting one of the more experienced groups in the land — three seniors and two juniors make up the starting five — and the injuries that led to excuse-making last year have healed.
UTC fans should feel happy that Wade juggled his defensive sets but not his mentality. It is a fool's folly to embrace the "We do what we do" mentality in every case regardless to the situation and especially when "what we do" obviously is a recipe for disaster against a particular foe. Adjustments can be a clear and telling indicator of a coach's grasp of his team, the situation and the opponent. Change for change's sake is rarely a wise plan, but Wade added wrinkles that helped cover his team's shortcomings and maximize the Mocs chance at the upset. That's good coaching.
UT came out flat — in a home game against a big-name foe. They relied on the three (3-of-24, really? No scratch that, they became dependent, almost addicted, to the 3). They were in a 37-20 halftime hole. They were unprepared. That's not-so-good coaching.
The Vols have backed themselves into a pressure-packed corner, starting 6-4 against an OK-at-best schedule, and looking at the real possibility that they may have to finish 16-5 or 17-4 over the final 21 games to have a tournament-worthy resume, especially since the SEC is going to be just an OK conference in terms of RPI.
And another March without an NCAA bid would mean bad things for The Conz.
LeBron James and the Heatles toppled the Indiana Pacers in a very entertaining NBA game Wednesday. James played through an ankle injury and scored 24 points and got into a screaming match with teammate Mario Chalmers in a 97-94 win over the East-leading Pacers.
You want to know what is not good times? Sure you do, you've already made it through 1,500 words, so let's go.
The Pacers were hurt by foul trouble to star center Roy Hibbert. That forced some ESPN folks into talking about trying to change the rules of basketball so players wouldn't foul out. What?
Why in the world would we do that? That's part of the game for crying out loud. Heck, it's part of the fabric that is the tapestry on which basketball is cultivated.
No fouling out? Why? So the stars can stay on the floor? Here's a thought: Play defense without fouling. Follow the rules and get it done.
This and that
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) works before the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Pouya Dianat)
— Speaking of the Heat, did you see that NBA players are going to be allowed to have their nickname on the back of their jerseys? Also, Ray Allen is going to have a Heat jersey with "Shuttlesworth" on the back as in "Jesus Shuttlesworth" the character he played in "He Got Game." Interesting.
— We have been on the Seahawks and Patriots bandwagons from the start, and we'll stay there, but if you are looking around at two teams that have hung around and now that we are getting to the finish line could get hot and go on a role, how about the Packers and the Ravens? If Green Bay gets Aaron Rodgers — Discount Double Check — back they could get hot. The Ravens are starting to get healthy and that young defense is starting to come together.
— Wednesday was the first day for junior college football players to sign scholarships, and the surprise team of the fall continued to surprise. The Auburn Tigers added four juco signees including the nation's top juco player, receiver D'haquille Williams, who shares his first name with Jomo (sorry for letting the D'haquille out of the bag) and has been favorably compared to Cordarrelle Patterson. Auburn got three of the top 14 juco players in the country, including No. 6-ranked DaVonte Lambert, a defensive lineman who had been committed to Tennessee since August. The Vols added three juco players ranked in the top 50 in the country.
— Papa Duck of Duck Dynasty has ruffled some feathers and landed in hot water because of his comments in GQ on homosexuality. Man, who would have thought the patriarch of the biggest redneck hit since "Grandma got runover by a Reindeer" would be less than politically correct? Side note: Did you know that the Duck Dynasty folks have moved half a billion dollars worth of merchandise this year alone? Crazy.
We are open to any of the above topics — and if you want to fire a mailbag question, feel free.
And remember the bowl contest, and if you are computerly-challenged and want to email your picks to the 5-at-10 (here's a link to all the games) we're OK with that too. But we need them by tomorrow.
If you still need a talking point, well, here are a couple:
If you could have an NBA jersey, what nickname would you put on the back?
Also, they apparently are are making a movie version of Gilligan's Island? Why?
If we can't look to our reality TV stars for insight and intellect, where can we find it? (Did the sarcasm come through there? Good, just checking.)
Why has Les Miles not been on the radar a little more for the Texas job?
Got questions? We got answers.
Discuss and tis the season.
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 ...