published Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

5-at-10: Goodbye 2013, Mocs and Vols roll and one to watch in '14

Good-bye 2013

So long 2013, it feels like we barely got to know you. You were a year of wonder and amazing— hey the Auburn Tigers just pulled another victory rabbit out of their helmet — and a year of perspective.

It was a year that introduced the mainstream public to catfishing, the internet hoaxing world made famous in the fallout of the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, that bullying exists in the locker room, that concussions are a threat to the country's most popular game and that tanking is the modern definition of trying to win by losing.

We got too many lessons and tutorials on steroids and PEDs by the same cast of charactures — A-Rod, Lance, Ryan, Rog and the rest of the usual suspects — to the point that the outrage has turned to indifference.

We got too familiar with the fact that golf fans are the most powerful in all of sports since they actually get to double as rules officials with 55-inch HD monitors.

We got too painful a reminder that terrorists have little regard for anything other than terror in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

We got too many highlights to recount. There were the miracle Tigers that stunned Alabama and were lucky to beat Georgia. There was the stout by not major Tiger that moved to No. 1 in the golf world but has not claimed one of the major title that will define his legacy since 2008. There was the all-world hitting Tiger, Miguel Cabrera, who had a better year in '13 than he did the previous season when he won the triple crown.

There also was LeBron and the Heatles, who showed us that you can by with a little help from your friends, especially when that friend is Ray Allen and he is one of the best clutch 3-point shooters ever.

And who could forget the maestro, Mr. Manning, who makes spirals special and turns defenses defensives with a simple presnap turn of the phrase. Simply put, Peyton just notched the single best season in NFL history, breaking marks for most TD passes and passing yards in a year. Hard to fathom that he's getting better with age, and the fine whine of his cold-weather struggles could be forever silenced in six weeks. Of course it could be further encased in the iron barrel of public belief if Manning and the Broncos fail to win it all. The course of greatness is that you often will be cursed if you fail to be great.

So who will be great in 2014. Here's one list of those to watch in the year that will host a Winter Olympics in Russia and a World Cup in Rio.

The commissioners — NBA boss David Stern is stepping down in February and will be replaced by Adam Silver; NFL boss Roger Goodell will face a myriad of challenges/opportunities in the new year, including a cold weather Super Bowl and renewed talks about TV, expansion and safety; baseball's Bud Selig is staring at the end of his career and his efforts to wipe away the PEDs era seems more Quixotic with each passing year.

The stars — Will Manning win it all? Will LeBron do it again? Does Tiger have another major in his bag?

The teams — Will Alabama return to the top? Will the Yankees return to the playoffs? Will the USA strike gold in Sochi or find the net in Brazil? And if they do will anyone back home really notice?

In truth, the most important sports figure in 2014 may be you, the fan. In an era in which there are more demands and more eye candy and more avenues for your entertainment dollar, the sports world is increasingly desperate to fill its seats.

The TV experience is getting better. Attending games is becoming more expensive. Those issues face every league from the NFL to high schools.

Interesting times to be sure, with a ton of questions. What's your prediction for 2014?

————

Top five names to know

As the NFL coaching carousel skips straight to ludicrous speed, there are a slew of names out there that range from retreads to longshots. Here are five guys to keep an eye on that likely will be on the move and could fill any of the six current NFL openings: former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Cincy OC Jay Gruden, San Diego OC Ken Whisenhunt, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien and Denver DC Jack Del Rio.

It's a good list, but the circle of qualified candidates hardly blows back your Tom Landry hat.

Wonder too if Jon Gruden has any interest? What about Tony Dungy? How 'bout Ditka? DIT-ka.

Still, the names above are likely the starting points and once the cleats start dropping, the jobs will fill quickly.

Also, the dynamics of the NFL coveting O'Brien make for interesting theater, considering that if he leaves PSU, there are current and former NFL guys who could be in play for that job or even someone like James Franklin could be a target.

Also, the fact that the Texas job has remained virtually silent could mean that the name atop the Longhorns' list could be involved in a prominent bowl game or even in the NFL playoffs.

Interesting indeed.

————

Mocs win

  • photo
    UTC's Z. Mason (30) dunks on Covenant at McKenzie Arena.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

UTC sipped from the championship chalice at the annual Dr Pepper Classic.

Z Mason was the tournament MVP and Ronrico White made the all-tournament team after scoring 20 points in 25 minutes in the 86-80 championship game victory over Maine.

We're an eternal optimist, some might say we are a simple country boy, a cockeyed optimist who got mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue, like Billy Mumphrey.

So in that direction, let's examine the good.

Z. Mason can play, and he appears to be healthy again. That's very encouraging news for 2014.

The energy seems consistent and consistently good. That's a positive.

Monday night the Mocs were very efficient from the floor (and very wasteful from the foul line). UTC shot right at 50 percent for the game and made 11 3s. Good times.

They share the basketball — 20 assists, including 10 from Gee McGhee, is a good number any night — and that has not always been the case with this program in recent years. (The Mocs from two years ago may have been the single most selfish team in basketball history.)

————

This and that

— Apparently the NFL is reviewing one of Peyton Manning's passes from Sunday to see if it was a lateral. This happens every week in the stat review process, of course it's not every week that a potential reversal would rewrite history, since if the 7-yard completion is ruled a lateral, Manning will go from setting the all-time passing record with 5,477 yards to being second. Here's more.

  • photo
    This photo taken Aug. 2013 shows New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow throwing during warmups before a NFL preseason game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Tim Tebow has been hired by ESPN to be a broadcaster on the upcoming SEC Network. He seems like a perfect fit, but he made need to work on his delivery. Thank you.

— Big win for the Tennessee Vols, who thumped Virginia on Monday. It was so one-sided that you were equally impressed and puzzled by how could a team be that bi-polar.

— The bowl picks went a woeful 1-3 Monday. Not good times. And defnitely not very entertaining. We are 10-9 against the number so far this bowl season and will have our New Year's picks in tomorrow's 5-at-10. Spy, is PJ in trouble in the coming days or is he just sitting in the ACC's version of the Will Muschamp special edition hot seat?

———

Today's questions

This one's easy and we want as many of you to respond as possible:

Favorite sports moment of 2013. Discuss.

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 ...

9
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...

Manti Te'o story was just the most bizarre sports story i can ever remember . . . ..UTK wins by 35 Wow, how do figure ? . . and for Vol fans, that kind of win keeps Counzo from being fired and just continues to keep that program mediocre. . . .The Ironbowl "Kick Six" is just hard to beat for best sports story of the year

December 31, 2013 at 10:25 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Favorite moment overall for me was Ray Allen's 3 in Game 6 of the Finals. That was such a great game and it looked like the Spurs were going to win it. But you know what they say...it ain't over 'til it's over. Allen had to hustle down the rebound and then knock down the corner 3 off balance and with a hand in his face. And that forced a Game 7 that ended up being close again at the end.

For a best Mocs moment, a lot of folks might pick the win over Appy in football. But I'll go with the win over Wofford that clinched our share of the conference title.

December 31, 2013 at 10:51 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

The Te'o story was simply mind-bending, and the arc it covered — from hoax to con and back again — was beyond belief.

The Vols are like a box of chocolates.

And the AU magic of two weeks was crazy.

Stewwie —

That Game 6 was No. 2 on our list, behind the Auburn finish to the season.

And it should be considered a blessing for all Mocs fans that Russ and Co. have steered the program to the point where a season with a share of the conference title feels like a disappointment.

Happy New Year.

December 31, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.
Maximus said...

Having been a Mocs football fan for at least the past 10 years, it was great to see Coach Huesman and his scrappy team break through as the SOCON co-champions. Dominant wins over Wofford and Furman were especially wonderful. As for the Georgia Southern game those rednecks are straight up cheaters over there at Statesboro. May that ref rot in hell forever and ever amen.

The Mocs should be strong in 2014. Looking forward to a playoff run!

December 31, 2013 at 12:45 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, it appears that after winning over the fan base and keeping most of them on his side for a long time, PJ is now treading rapidly into Chan Gailey like favor among the Tech faithful. That's. Not. Good. However, the larger debate among some fans is what can the administration do to help the Jackets be more competitive, i.e., less stringent admission policies and maybe not make them take that calculus thing.

That was one very, very disappointing thing to watch yesterday. Still confounded by the reverse from the 15. That was ... odd.

Best moment of 2013? Is there any doubt? It has to do with Koji Uehara, David Ross and 38,000 plus in Fenway going bonkers in the final game of the 2013 postseason. That and the Bruins' comeback from three goals down with 10 minutes left in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs. Also pretty awesome.

December 31, 2013 at 1:14 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

You had a nice run in '13. If the New England Hoodies make a run, wow.

Maximus —

UTC should be the SoCon favorite next year for sure.

December 31, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.
fechancellor said...

As much as I detest Tigers and War Eagles, even more than my contempt of anything Florida, Auburn's dramatic late season arc to the BCS Game should be the story of the year in SEC land at the least. Don't fret, 10 Ring, we'll be hearing all told again by the announcers and studio hacks before, during and maybe after during BCS Championship.

Oh, as I said yesterday in different way, watching Oakland's Charles Woodson led back field getting torched by Manning on his way to ever more NFL immortality was sweet, delicious irony transcending my Raider leanings for once.

December 31, 2013 at 2:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

It's possible to transcend your Raiders leaning? Really? What would Al say?

Headed to the radio station for Press Row. Happy New Year gang.

December 31, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Maximus,

Don't blame us. That was purely on the refs. Take that up with the SoCon office.

We've gotten hosed plenty at our own place, such as last year, an App kid is running out of bounds for about 10 yards after catching a pass and then goes back inbounds to finish a 50-yard gain and the refs say/do nothing. Nothing like watching that on the not quite jumbotron at Paulson and see just how far OB and how long OB he was.

December 31, 2013 at 2:36 p.m.
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