published Thursday, December 19th, 2013

5-at-10: Bowl challenge, different hoops losses, fouling out and college football recruiting

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 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: 

 Get in the action now.

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'.


Basketball perspective

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.

  • photo
    UTC men's head basketball coach Will Wade.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

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.


That's foul

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.

Good times.

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

  • photo
    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.


Today's question

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.

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.
jomo11 said...

Gilligand's Island with people from sports as actors. Who you got ? John Madden as Skipper, Lindsay Vonn as Ginger, Danica Patrick as Mary Anne, Gus Malzahn as the professor, T. Boone Pickens as Thurston Howell III, . . . . .but Im stuck on Gilligan ? . . . .help me . . . .and of course the age old guy question, Ginger or Mary Anne ?

December 19, 2013 at 10:15 a.m.
MocTastic said...

A Christmas treat, Greg Lake of ELP on vocals and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on flute. Enjoy

December 19, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.
chas9 said...

They're auctioning off Laettner's big shot jersey. The seller claims to have "had a relationship" with Christian. Who would want the stinky thing?

We said yesterday that a Vols loss to NC State in Knoxville would be a big deal. Well, it's a big deal.

The homestanding orangeclad shot only 29% for the game, and their opponent wasn't that good defensively. Somehow, even with that putrid percentage McRae tallied 21 and Stokes and Maymon had double doubles.

(Impressive as they are, it's an overstatement to say that UT has one of the best frontcourt teams in the country, as a common tater opined last evening. And then, oddly, he said Tennessee prides itself on being a tough team. Huh?)

It's a shame that the terrific threesome will have limited success this year because it takes five to make a team.

The point guard is the most vital piece. Again Thompson got more minutes than Barton, and again Barton was a performance no-show. His stat line continues to worsen: 0/0/0.

Jay's right about relying on the three. No halfcourt game was even hinted at.

Absolutely agree that no fouling out is a horrible idea. Unless you like karate better than roundball.

December 19, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Hey I think I have it for the sports person to play Gilligan, , , what a better goofball than Derek Dooley !!!!

December 19, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Nice comeback win for the Heat last night. And who said NBA games don't matter until April? LeBron and Chalmers wouldn't be shouting at each other if the game didn't matter to them. For the record, LeBron did apologize to Chalmers later in the game for his outburst.

Good defensive effort by the Mocs against a much better team. Too bad Mason wasn't able to play. Hope that he's able to be back for the Classic in a couple of weeks.

No fouling out in basketball is a horrible idea. If there were no foul limits, every team in the NBA would be doing the Hack-a-Shaq on every defensive possession. And if the other team's worst free throw shooter hits only about 50% of his free throws, it's a great strategy. But the game would take forever to play and watching a free throw shooting contest would be about as exciting as watching paint dry.

The liberal hypocrisy is on full display once again when it comes to free speech. Free speech is encouraged by the left, but not if you speak in support of things the left doesn't agree with. Major props to Phil for speaking the truth despite knowing that the media would turn against him for it.

December 19, 2013 at 10:58 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Love that idea. Dooley could be Gilligan. We'll start with John Daly as the Skipper and be back for more. Not sure we can top Malzahn as the professor though, that's top-shelf.

MT —

Thanks and we're all about Christmas music. And jazz flute.


9er —

We could see a well-financed UK booster buying that jersey and burning it at next year's Midnight Madness.

The Vols are stagnant and slow, so they have no offensive identity. Yes, the absence of a point guard is telling, but it's not like they had Isiah or Stockton and he got hurt. Assuming The Conz attends practice, the Vols lack of offensive flow has to be visible there too, right?

So let's figure out something else that may work as opposed to JMac on the wing and everyone rebound. That worked for one Jordan, but he had a wee bit more skill than McRae.

Stew —

That was a fun game, and yes, the exchange between LBJ and Superintendent Chalmers was telling.

Boy, free speech can sure be costly sometimes, huh?

December 19, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JoeMo11, suprised at your age you don't pick Luvy Howell over Ginger and MaryAnn.

An idea, which I dont' support, but have seen mentioned years back with regards to letting players with more than 5 fouls in college or 6 fouls in the NBA continue to play. Anytime a player who has "fouled out" but is still playing commits a foul, the team who got fouled gets an automatic two free throws AND the ball back. Would make you think about playing the guy who has hit the max on fouls. Not really in favor of this, but interesting concept.

December 19, 2013 at 11:22 a.m.
chas9 said...

On TV this morning I saw a self-help guru wearing an orange tie expounding on "Winning at Losing: How to Turn Failure into Success." Yes, really. Don't know if the color of the gent's cravat means anything, but Coach Martin might want to have a look at the Today show website.

Two questions: Do self-help books really ever help anybody? What books would you recommend for our favorite sports persons?

This may be too hard for you. I'm assuming that at Auburn you actually had to read stuff. Should we just stick to popular songs, TV, movies, and video games?

December 19, 2013 at 11:36 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, excellent point on why Les Miles hasn't been getting more buzz as a possible Texas candidate. Are they afraid he's going to chew up all of Bevo's grass?

You know what a Patriot homer I am. But no Wilfork. No Gronk. And No Mayo. Lettuce and tomatoes, sure, because that's what currently makes up the secondary not named Talib. I don't even see the Pats making the AFC Championship game. I wouldn't be surprised if they do, but they are missing too many key pieces.

Name on back of basketball jersey ... I might go all Kuberski for former Celtics enforcer Steve Kuberski. I mean, Bird and Havlicek and McHale are easy. But I'm thinking former Celtics center Hank Finkel would be the perfect name on the back of a jersey.

Army has asked and received permission to speak to Jeff Monken about its coaching vacancy. The next question is, does GSU have a succession plan, i.e., a list of names in its pocket to consider in case Monken leaves? Is there money available to hire a coach and pay a FBS commensurate salary on GSU's tight budget? It's going to cost $2 million to leave the SoCon/join the Sun Belt. And there's money tied up in the stadium expansion.

December 19, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
chas9 said...

How many years (or months) will it be before we look back at The Duck Dynasty thing and ask "What the heck was that about?" It'll be archived in the hall of strange shame next to "Achey-Breaky Heart."

On postings from late yesterday:

Spy--Yes, The Globe used to be a terrific paper. And Jay's too young to really appreciate Ann M., but I support your view. It's stunning and pleasing when after decades a babe doesn't need the Way Back Machine. Saw a tabloid the other day with a wretched pic of Sharon Stone, but I think it was photoshopped to distort her. Anyway, her most famous asset ages hardly at all, they say.

JMC--How about sharing a brief synopsis of the novel?

MP3--Yeah, the Swedish banana was way over the line. But you can't unerring a bell. As for banana seats and rock-em-sock-ems, those of you who referenced them would be five to ten years younger than me. I just missed those.

Yesterday's chemistry set and stink bomb theme has obvious symbolism for The Vols, as The Cuonz' squad has no chemistry. Come to think of it, UT has for years had gifted athletes who never quite embrace the team concept.

Only possibly hopeful excuse I can think of for the limp Tennessee performance yesterday is that sometimes at this time of year players get distracted by exam week and holidays.

GD--Great, great image of the Grant Field follies. Wish I'd seen The Stones, but I did catch the Simon and Garfunkel reunion in the House that Bobby Dodd built.

And congrats to Dyron Nix. He played with passion.

December 19, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
chas9 said...

jomo--Your cast is strong, though I might go with Phil Jackson for the perfesser. Maybe Spike Lee for Gilligan. Don't know if he meets your criteria as a sports guy, but he is a big fan. Or maybe Shawn White.

December 19, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

How about Tony Romo for Gilligan? - I guess that'd make Jerry Jone$ Thurston Howell III.

December 19, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Rex Ryan as the Skipper

Jason Dufner as Gilligan

Brad Stevens as the Professor

Christian Laettner as Thurston B Howell III

Anna Kournikova as Ginger

Danica as Mary Ann is a good choice.

December 19, 2013 at 1:18 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

So, America has its pop culture controversy du jour and this time it is Phil Robertson's comments about gays in GQ Magazine. Miley...take a knee, nobody's looking at you this week. I suspect big daddy duck knew exactly what he was doing when he said what he said. This is the patriarch of a family that has turned what used to be a hunting show into the highest rated show on cable. Not to mention the gravy train that is major merchandising revenue. The people offended by Robertson's comments were not likely customers to begin with. The God fearing, red state folks who are Duck Dynasty consumers now see Phil as a martyr of sorts. What better way to show support than buying some more merchandise...And just in time for Christmas as well. Regardless of what you think about the politics involved, this was a shrewd business move that breathed new life into the Duck Dynasty franchise.

All this talk of Gilligan's Island...Anybody know where I can get a ticket for one of those three-hour tours that ends up with everybody aboard stranded on a desert island? I haven't bought Todd Grantham anything for Christmas yet, but now I have an idea.

December 19, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.
MocTastic said...

A dessert island? That sounds nice....wait, desert? Ah, okay. No.

December 19, 2013 at 3:11 p.m.
chas9 said...

Did Brian Boitano think we didn't know? Not that there's anything wrong with it.

December 19, 2013 at 3:18 p.m.
jomo11 said...
December 19, 2013 at 3:49 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...
December 19, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.
BIspy4 said...


with Romo is Gilligan, does Jason Garrett become Ginger?

December 19, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Never mind the abbreviated post above. I was going to respond to MocTastic's post about a dessert island with an embedded video of Homer Simpson dancing around on an island with ice cream cones and lollipops singing "Sugar, Sugar." Somewhere between YouTube and here, the thing got lost.

I don't know if this whole internet thing is going to stick.

December 19, 2013 at 4 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Holy crap, has anyone else seen the story on about the city of Atlanta's internal emails regarding the Braves' announcement to move to Greater Smyrna? Hans, you just might be an utz after all.

December 19, 2013 at 5:01 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Spy "with Romo is Gilligan, does Jason Garrett become Ginger?" - well it certainly doesn't make him the professor, so Ginger works for me, but Duck Dynasty may have a comment.

December 19, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I don't believe Hans will be getting an offer from the Braves for a position in public relations anytime soon. Although, "The Cobb Crackers" does have a certain ring to it. "The Smyrna S---holes"...not so much.

December 19, 2013 at 6:10 p.m.
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