From New Reader
OK, a friend of mine suggested reading your family-oriented, interweb-based column last month. I like it, but you talk too much -- jk.
My questions are as follows -- why do you do this every day and why do you only have five mailbag questions instead of 10?
Thanks, and thanks for the column.
Feel free to come back often and as they like to say in Animal House, "Don't cost nothing."
We started doing this every Monday-through-Friday in October 2010 and just kept rolling them out. Not sure how long it will last or if it will ever end. Just plugging along. We started in part because we got into this BID-ness to write and more and more of our day was spent managing and meeting and making deadlines. So we started our day earlier (if we're not up and writing by 6, we're running late) to make sure we got to write again.
As for the 10 questions, well, we just did five because in the beginning we had some weeks that we had to plead people to ask a question to get to five. So today, for you, we'll do 10 and try to keep them short (Spy — notice we said "try" to keep them short).
Western Carolina guard Trey Sumler (5) works against Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)
I hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years. I don’t know about you but I’m ready to get back in my routine. I’m a creature of habit.
How about the Tennessee basketball team? They’ve won a couple of big games in the last 2 weeks that helps their NCAA tournament resume. They may have one of the best defensive teams in the whole country. On the offensive side, they’re horrendous to watch but as long as they keep winning I’m ok with that. Where do you rank the Vols in the SEC at this midway point? If the season ended today, how many SEC teams would make the Big Dance?
As great as the holiday was, we completely know the routine vibe of which you speak. The amount of work on the front end to go on vacation and the amount of work waiting on you when you return is CUH-razy. So it goes.
We're a big believe in Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin and the work he does for your UT hoops squad. They have a big game tonight against an up-and-down Memphis team that is a little bit of a dichotomy in terms of style compared to the defensive-minded Vols.
And yes, UT is tough to watch with the basketball in its possession. But we offer this: how many teams can lose their best player and flip their style to embrace a defensive toughness that has allowed the Vols to beat Wichita State and Xavier in recent weeks. Credit to The Conz for that.
We think UT is next in line behind the big three of Missouri, Florida and UK in the SEC right now.
As for SEC teams in the dance if the season ended today, well, it's a good thing for the SEC that the season does not end today. Only two SEC teams — Florida at No. 17 and Missouri at No. 35 — have RPIs better than MTSU's No. 36. UT's RPI is 53rd, which is three behind Ole Miss and three ahead of LSU. Kentucky is 62nd in RPI, so basically it has been a less than stellar start to the nonconference season for the SEC. So we'll say if the season ended today, those five SEC teams would get in. Barely.
Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn looks at the scoreboard during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)
5- Are you going to rename the "Talk too much" studios for 2013? National signing day is right around the corner. Which new football coach makes the biggest impact on February 6th? When the ink is dry on Thursday morning February 7th, which AD(s) will be reassured that they found the right man for the job?
Great question. We have debated about changing the name of the studio. It's surely time.
Everyone can read our bio and see where we went to college, but it's really hard not to be enthused by the staff Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has put together, especially when it comes to recruiting. Malzahn has landed a highly regarded defensive coordinator in Ellis Johnson and ace recruiters from Mississippi State, Clemson, Georgia and Florida State.
That said, Auburn's class was all-world before clearing the Chizik deck so the results from signing day may actually be less than what was expected two months ago for the Tigers.
We expect Butch Jones will deliver a solid if not spectacular class for the Vols. We think Bret Bielema has the biggest upside for an enthused fan base on signing day considering who was there before him and the addition of The Man you know better as the spitting image of Damon Wayans of the What's Going Down episode of In Living Color, Mr. Randy Shannon to his staff.
As for the ultimate answer to your question, we believe that come Feb. 7, that Alabama AD Mal Moore will wake up knowing that Nick Saban is the right man for the job.
What's the next contest? I like to win stuff.
P.S. -- I'm entered in the bowl contest under a different name but have NO chance.
We're open to new contest ideas.
We know we'll have the March Madness first one out/last one in and the NFL draft stuff and something from the Masters.
We may try to come up with a Super Bowl contest of some ilk.
As for the Bowling for Bowl Success Extra-Ganza, here are the standings with two four-point games left and the 10-point title game (and remember there are prizes for first and last):
Down the homestretch scores
Tiger (3/4/3/16/15) 41
Deboman (1/8/-3/16/15) 37
Onetimer (1/0/-3/24/15) 37
*Mrs. 5-at-10 (5/0/9/8/15) 37
ThatIDoKnow (3/0/3/16/15) 37
TennFlyer (-3/4/3/16/15) 35
Roadrunner (1/4/3/8/15) 31
JVFan (-1/-2/3/16/15) 29
SportTalk's Quake (3/0/3/8/15) 29
McPell (1/-4/-3/16/15) 25
Joe S. (3/0/3/8/15) 25
OTWatcher (1/4/-3/16/5) 23
5-at-10 (3/0/-3/8/15) 23
StuckinKent (3/0/-3/8/15) 23
Weena (-1/0/3/16/15) 23
DL560429 (-3/-4/-3/16/15) 21
Sir Drinks Alot (1/0/-3/8/15) 21 — great board name by the way
Jordan Rules (-1/0/-3/8/15) 19
Skunk (-1/0/3/12/5) 19
Addicted to Chalupa (1/4/-3/0/15) 17
*Dawg747 (-1/0/3/0/15) 17
WarEagle (-1/0/3/0/15) 17
Spy (1/-4/-3/8/15) 17
Player (3/-4/3/8/5) 15
Hookshot (-1/0/3/8/5) 15
FE to the C (-1/-2/3/8/5) 13
Jay K (1/0/-3/0/15) 13
June Jones (-1/0/-9/8/15) 13
Orangeguy (3/4/-9/0/15) 13
TommyT (3/0/-3/8/5) 13
BlueOval (-3/-4/3/0/15) 11
Hustler (1/0/-3/8/5) 11
Junkman (1/0/-3/8/5) 9
Sportsfan (1/4/-3/-8/15) 9
Jim T. (-1/0/3/0/5) 7
StrongWilly (1/-4/-3/8/5) 7
Green Acres (1/0/-3/-8/15) 5
Bluto (-1/0/3/8/-5) 5
RollTide (1/0/-3/0/5) 3
Dools (-1/0/-3/0/5) -1
Harold (-1/0/3/0/-5) -3
Believer (-3/0/-9/0/5) -7
Dude, your college picks are incredible. My entertainment account thanks you and my entertainment broker hates you.
Why are you wasting time being a sports writer when your hitting 70 percent of your picks?
Are you going to pick the NFL playoffs or college or pro basketball? I have to make ends meet, you know.
Thanks, and if your "entertainment broker" is a big fellow, let's just keep this between us. Deal? Deal.
Despite splitting the last two nights (we backed Florida and K-State but hit the over in the Sugar and the under in the Fiesta) we made bones picking college games this year — 51-21-2 in the regular season; 32-15 so far in the bowl season for an 83-36-2 mark overall. As you say that's right at 70 percent and that's not too shabby. Granted these picks are for entertainment purposes only, but let's say you played 100 entertainment credits on every college pick we have offered this year, you'd be 4,320 entertainment credits to the good.
We'll try our hand at the NFL this week, but know that these lines are more precise because there are fewer "heart" pickers and emotional sway factors in the NFL than there are in college. (And one of the reasons you can get some edges in college picking is identifying those sway factors and counting on them.)
Here are out NFL picks:
Cincinnati plus-4.5 at Houston: Like the points. Love A.J. Green.
Green Bay minus-7 over Minnesota: Saturday night will be the first time all season that Aaron Rodgers has all of his wide receivers on the field at the same time. And as much fun as the Vikings' win was last week over the Packers, in Green Bay this has a completely different feel. Plus, when the Packers build an early lead how much confidence do you have in Christian Ponder to rally the troops.
Baltimore minus-6 over Indy: Like the under here too. The Ravens are going to deliver an inspired performance after Ray Lewis' announcement to retire at the end of the season.
Seattle minus-3 at Washington (buy the half): We also like the under here. As great as RGIII has been what is Washington's best win? Seattle is doing work right now and may have the most complete team in the NFC. Remember the old "lines that look too good to be true usually are" rule we use? Well, there's something fishy about a home team getting 3 from a team that has to travel across the country with a 5-foot-11 rookie quarterback. So we'll put our entertainment budget there.
From That Guy
I read your sports blog everyday. Who do you read every day?
Thanks. We read a lot of stuff on a daily basis. We read all of the TFP stuff every day because a) it's good and b) it's our job.
We generally check the AJC for Dave O'Brien's Braves blog. We read ESPN daily — but that's more work-related than pleasure related. We used to read Jay G. Tate's Auburn stuff everyday before he went to a pay site, which we have been meaning to join. We read Clay Travis' site almost every day. We have a lot of friends in the BID-ness at other stops that we read regularly — guys like Wes Rucker and Chris Joyner and others.
And we read the comments on the 5-at-10 — more than once.
From Kelly A.
Read your prediction column and thought it was OK.
Will you be more specific on 2013 predictions for the following...
The NFL draft (you love the draft right?)
Thanks and thanks for the blog.
Thanks. Predictions are fun and fruitless, unless of course you can go back in time like Marty McFly and get one of those Sports Almanacs and have all the scores. Which begs the question, if people could really see into the future, wouldn't lottery numbers and sports scores be high on the list of pertinent info from the future? Forget if Sally's going to meet someone or if Joe's going to live to be 100, let us know who's winning the Super Bowl and by how much. That's good intel.
OK, where were we. Oh yeah, Kelly's wish list of predictions. OK, try these:
The Braves — Kris Medlen flops. Tim Hudson doesn't. The bullpen, with the addition of Jordan Walden to an already talented group, is the best in baseball and gives the Braves a chance every night. Freddie Freeman fights for a batting title, as does Martin Prado. Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton combine to strike out 325 times and cause old women across the South to put extra folding money in the offering plate for all the cussing they're doing watching the Braves. Atlanta gets to the playoffs as one of the wildcard teams, and loses again in the one-and-done game — although there is no infield fly dust up.
NASCAR — Interest continues to wane. Dale Junior again makes the Chase. Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Bad Brad Keselooihfasjdhfakjshfaahsdfajsdski fight to the end. Jeff Gordon starts to get the "retirement timetable" questions.
Tiger Woods — Before every major someone will predict Woods will win it. We may even talk ourselves into make that pick at least once or even four times. Eldrick may be the most difficult projection in all of sports right now. If he wins two majors and storms back would you be that surprised? If he won two run of the mill PGA Tour events and no majors would you be that surprised?
UT football — The team is better — coached better, executes better, defends better — but the record is at best only a game better. The schedule is tough and the defections at QB and wide receiver make the hill on The Hill seem taller. We think this will be the most likeable UT team in quiet sometime if that makes any sense or any difference.
SEC football — Alabama will start the season No. 1 in the league and the country. Heck, they have three potential Heisman candidates — WR Amari Cooper, RB T.J. Yeldon, QB AJ McCarron — coming back on offense and tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is probably their best offensive player. South Carolina will get a lot of preseason buzz. Georgia offensively will be very good if Aaron Murray returns. We see Alabama and South Carolina in the SEC title game with Florida as the biggest disappointment in the league next year and Auburn as the biggest surprise (and yes, we're the eternal Auburn optimist).
The Falcons — We're scared of the future for these Falcons. We want to believe a Super Bowl run is in front of them. We want to believe the bagel-for-the-postseason that hangs over Mike Smith and Matt Ryan is about to be vanquished. But if/when Seattle comes to the Georgia Dome, that's a bad match-up for these Birds.
The NFL draft (you love the draft right?) — If/when Andy Reid takes the Kansas City job, here's saying that he'll look at Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei as the No. 1 overall pick. That said, half of the first round will be SEC dudes.
What are you looking forward to in 2013? Did you make any resolutions?
There's a ton of stuff to look forward to in the new year. We're taking the tots to Disney in February and we are stoked. We're going to try to write a book this year. There's another football season right around the corner. There's the great and different challenges we all get to face on a daily basis. The Masters is on the horizon. We may try to go to the Kentucky Derby. Who knows right?
As for resolutions, well, we resolved to be as good a husband, father and Christian as we can be. From there, we think everything else takes care of itself.
OK. I admit N. Illinois is better'n I thought.
On dawg's deserved dogging of Kiffin, remember my question for Friday: Putting the emotional manure aside, would Johnny Volsfan take Kiffin today over Mr. Butch?
First, let us say, that taking the emotion out college football is about as realistic as taking Dick Vitale out of college hoops. It's so engrained — and often as volatile and at times irritating — at this point that's you can't have one without the other.
Plus, taking emotion out of it is putting a disclaimer out there that is not unlike saying, "We'll tell you this but you can't be mad." That's simply impossible to agree to up front.
That said, the UT football team would be better on Saturdays than it was last year if Kiffin was still in the 865. It would have more talent and more depth because the defections that happened after Kiffin left would not have happened and recruiting would have been much improved. Kiffin is a lot of things and most of them are insulting, but dude is a world-class recruiter. Period. But the Vols would be in the NCAA crosshairs and head-scratching decisions and lethargy would be tough to stomach in an SEC that is being dominated by legendary grinders and grinding legends.
As for taking Kiffin over Butch, we'll say no, and that's as much because of what we know Kiffin to be as for what we hope Butch will do. Because for as much as Kiffin the recruiter is world-class, it's appearing more and more true that Kiffin the coach is world-last considering he historically went from from preseason No. 1 to unranked.
Question for all - we're all fans of some team, right? Does it make you a bigger (better) fan to root against your fav team's rivals? Many fans today will "root for the conference" ... As a Johnny Vols Fan, I am channel surfing and rooting AGAINST the Bullies, Cocks, and especially the Dawgs! Is that wrong? Who is the truer fan - he who roots for the conference in bowl games or the guy who hates all conference foes? Disclaimer - this ain't sour grapes since my team sucks ... I've always felt that way (but I am struggling with cheering for the Irish next week).
We love this question and have been wondering about this effect all year.
And we completely agree with you. If you are a fan of your school you need to be rooting for the interest of your school. Now some times that can be rooting for a rival — college basketball nonconference games for example since the league's RPI can be dictated by Ole Miss losing to Indiana State — but we're tired of the "SEC, SEC, SEC" chants at bowl games.
If you're a UT fan or an Auburn fan or anyone who consistently recruits against Nick Saban and the Tide, what benefits your program more Alabama winning another national title and catching more attention and recruits or Notre Dame winning the national title? We believe the latter.
Now we can see some enjoying the string of six consecutive BCS titles for the SEC, and that's fine but we have always believed in the "our rival's rival is our friend" postulate.
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 ...