published Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

5-at-10: UTC athletics in good hands, reasons to believe in the Vols, and underrated sports movies

Gang, we are way behind. Like Bandit and Snowman behind.

From the "Talks too much" studios, hold onto to your tail Fred.

Blackburn weighs in

As we discussed at length here yesterday, the big-boy schools are dropping not-so-subtle hints that the future of college football could be a big five and everyone else.

Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer caught up with UTC AD David Blackburn on Tuesday, and Blackburn was concise and clear in his discussion of the potential landscape. Read Weeds' column here.

Blackburn also spent some time with our radio show Press Row (1-3 p.m. on 105.1 FM) on Tuesday afternoon as he headed to the Southern Conference media event. He impressed us with his balance and poise. He was able to stay on message and still offer insight. (Personal side note: If we were a UTC alum/fan, we would have been saddened to see Rick Hart leave because Rick did a lot of good things for the program, but we would be incredibly excited to see what Blackburn could potentially build on the foundation that Hart has established. Dude comes across as a pro.)

Blackburn believes, as Jomo said here Tuesday, that losing BCS-money games and the potential split of the haves and the have-nots in college football would hurt UTC but not cripple it.

We think the big-five split, or Division 4 as some are calling it, has the potential to overhaul the complete face of college sports. The arms race will escalate for the rich and almost end for the not-so rich.

We feel somewhat obliged to lean toward Blackburn's view because, well, he's a college AD. We're the 5-at-10. Blackburn did note one thing on Press Row that could be a life line to the have-nots in college football if Division 4 becomes a reality. If the Big 5 conferences negotiate a 10-figure TV deal with ABC/ESPN per se, it's hard to believe all the other networks will simply get out of the college football broadcast business, so maybe there will be Fox Sports or NBC Sports or CBS Sports — each a new all-sports channel either on the horizon, on the dial or on the drawing board that will be in need of programming — for other leagues in relatively sizable markets. It was an interesting point.

Also on our radio show, Blackburn said the landscape may not be much different in five years but could very well be totally different in 10 years. He also said he expects big things from everyone involved in UTC athletics in the next 12 months, and after listening to Blackburn talk, we know that a) he includes himself in those expectations; and b) we are inclined to agree with him.

————

Tennessee's strength

There are a lot of nay-sayers about this year's UT football team. Those nay-sayers have a lot of ammunition, too.

Who's the quarterback, they ask? Who's the play-maker, considering the top four wide receivers are gone from a team that failed to reach a bowl game for the third time in five years? Who's going to step in at the debacle at cornerback?

(Wow, the nay-sayers do have a lot of fair questions.)

We'll counter with this, those same questions were asked about the 2010 Auburn Tigers, who shared similar preseason strengths and weaknesses to this Tennessee team.

Auburn had an experienced and salty offensive line. Auburn had a savvy and seasoned middle linebacker. Auburn had a transfer defensive tackle who became a true difference-maker and a first-round pick.

Granted, Auburn found (some say bought, we prefer found — nothing was proven folks, move along) a Heisman winner at quarterback and all of the cosmic tumblers clicked when Cam Newton took off. So no, we do not expect Tennessee to win a national title. We do believe that a few good bounces and a winning lottery ticket at quarterback could make this Vols bunch way better than people expect because of the following:

• The offensive line may be the best in the SEC, which means it could be the best in all of college football.

• A.J. Johnson is a defensive anchor at middle linebacker that is both athletic and solid. Good times.

• The Vols are stout up the middle defensively with Johnson, defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and safety Brian Randolph. That's a very good thing.

Sure there are tons of questions, but there are reasons to believe too. (Yes, it's late July, there are reasons for us all to believe.)

————

PEDs

We're so tired of steroids.

  • photo
    New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez reacts after hitting a grand slam to tie the game 4-4 in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Atlanta. New York won 6-4.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

But the changing landscape among the players, and the outrage at Ryan Braun is noteworthy and encouraging.

We've said for a while now, that until the clean players want the cheaters caught and punished, nothing will happen. That tide seems to be starting to turn.

Plus, there are even rumors that baseball is discussing ways to try to impose a lifetime ban on Alex Rodriguez. While we don't ever see that standing, it would be a very bold and pronounced step.

Maybe baseball is finally serious about cleaning this up? Thoughts?

————

This and that

— SoCon media days are here, and the TFP's Johnny Frierson is there. Check back for updates at timesfreepress.com and we may see if he can join us on Press Row today for some updates.

— Ron Jaworksi ranked his top QBs in the NATIONAL Football League and counted them down on ESPN. Hey, Jaws is terrible in the booth, but no one watches more tape and is more preapred. His top four are Rodgers, Manning, Brady and... Flacco. What? Jaws must have been watching Seinfeld reruns. If the Denver safety doesn't take a bad angle on the Hail Mary in the early playoff rounds, Flacco would be luck to crack the top 14 rather than the top four. Better than Eli, Brees or Matt Ryan? We'd take Luck over Flacco right now, too. PUH-lease.

— The state of Florida has dropped the charges against Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison, who was arrested after barking at a police canine. Ah, the dog days of summer. (Yes we have a million of them. Morrison's favorite baseball player? Babe Woof. Or maybe Bill Madlock, aka the Mad Dog. His favorite hoopster? Chuck BARKley. Favorite rapper? Lil' Bow Wow. Favorite movie? Antonio and Hooch. Let's just move along, huh?)

————

Today's question

Friend of the show and TFP golf ace David "The Uch" Uchiyama sent along this little head's up that the beloved movie "The Sandlot" turns 20 this year.

Wow, 20?

We'll put "The Sandlot" on the Rushmore of underrated sports movie and feel really good about it.

What's on your Rushmore of underrated sports movies? Everyone knows, Hoosiers and Rudy and Rocky and The Natural et al., are big-time Big-Timers. But what are the four on your Rushmore of underrated sports movies that people may not name right away?

Discuss, and we'll have our list before we head to the radio station for Press Row today from 1-3 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM.

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 ...

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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.
ordinaryguy said...

First things first...the radio show is top shelf...and the work around the paywall is still viable lol...I tend to agree that the FCS schools will not be as severely damaged as some might believe...in my crystal ball I still see a 3-5 year stay for the Mocs in the SoCon, and provided they make a mockery of what used to be the SEC of the FCS its on to bigger things such as what is left of the FBS after the big 5 conferences leave...go mocs

Rushmore of under appreciated sports movies...

Dead Solid Perfect (Made for TV movie)- Randy Quaid back when he wasn't running off on hotel bills

Pride of St. Louis - Dan Daly as Dizzy Dean...the bumpkin who is still one of the best baseball announcers EVER

Junction Boys - Tom Berenger (Big Chill and Platoon) as THE BEAR..Could today's players put up with the like of a Bear Bryant today?

Finally and don't laugh JG...The Slugger's Wife - a nice Neil Simon yarn of an Atlanta (Power Blue doubleknits) Braves player and the trials and tribulations on and off the field..if not mistaken this was Michael O'Keefe's big shot after Caddyshack, and Rebecca DeMornay during her heyday after Risky Business...

July 24, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.
MocTastic said...

The Sandlot just may be the best baseball movie of all, it is definitely up there with Bull Durham and Long Gone.

Underrated: Long Gone. It was an HBO movie made in 1978 about life in the D Leagues of minor league baseball. It is the best movie about minor league life, ahead of Bull Durham.

Eight Men Out. While maybe not usually considered underrated, it doesn't get the attention that Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and The Natural get. It is up there with those though. Maybe its a bit too much of real history without fluff for some people.

Pastime. Another good look at minor league life, made in 1990.

Blue Chips. A good look at college basketball with particular attention to recruiting.

Hoop Dreams. While gaining acclaim in the industry, how many of you have seen it? A 1994 documentary about two high school players in Chicago chasing their dreams of playing basketball.

July 24, 2013 at 10:23 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Ordinary Guy, I have heard that Dead Solid Perfect is probably the best golf movie out there. I have read the book, but it is not (last time I looked) available on DVD. I have seen copies of it on VHS on ebay at high prices. Wish it would get reshown.

The Slugger's Wife? Ah, come on...one of the worst baseball movies made!

July 24, 2013 at 10:25 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

I had a brain freeze on number 4...should have just put in Pride of The Yankees...thought I would give a shout out to the Bravos back in the day when they were crap...

July 24, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay wonder if the Yankees are secretly ( or not so secretly ) hoping that A-Rod gets suspended without pay, to give the Yankees some relief on a terrible contract ?

underatted sports movies : "Blue Chips", "Mystery, Alaska" ( a great underratted Russell Crowe hockey movie ) "Dead Solid Perfect" ( a really funny golf movie based on Dan Jenkins' book, with Dennis Quaid ) "Invincible" ( Mark Wallberg plays Philly Eagle player who makes team via tryout. AWESOME soundtrack )

July 24, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JoMo11, agree on Mystery Alaska...do you have a copy of Dead Solid Perfect? And that was Randy (the crazy) Quaid, not Dennis.

Former Moc Cos DeMatteo has a speaking role in Invicible.

Ordinary Guy, just how is Pride of the Yankees underrated? It is a great movie and always though of that way isn't it? Interesting thing about that movie. Gary Cooper was right handed. Lou was left handed. So, to film it, they reversed the letters/numbers on the uniforms, played the game backward, running down the third base line then to second. Then after filming, just flipped the film over and voila...looked correct. Or did they? A great webpage examines that theory: http://baseballresearcher.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-pride-of-yankees-seeknay.html

July 24, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

POY seems to have been lost in the shuffle

July 24, 2013 at 11 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Back in the '60s, while working along side Pee Wee Reese, Ol' Diz would say "Fans, ain't it 'bout time for a ice cold Falstaff!" And my dad would say "Boy, go to the frig and get me one (more)."

Billy-In-Brainerd

July 24, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.
chas9 said...

The thing I love most about the TFP sports editor is that he takes bold stands. Like he does "not expect Tennessee to win a national title." Glad that's cleared up.

Football players aren't necessarily heroes, but a Titans rookie has pulled a family and their dog from a burning car.

Yes, MT, Hoop Dreams is top drawer. Ditto for White Men Can't Jump.

July 24, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

While I have no plans on playing Siskel and Ebert, I will weigh in on Blackburn's take on Division 4.

First, I give cudos to DB for attacking this head-on and basically saying this will not be the death of UTC athletics. Most everyone from ADs on down think this is all for the best. Do I like the fact that the days of Mocs vs. Alabama or Georgia are over? Seriously? Have we ever even competed in anyone of those games? That said, I'll take Mocs vs. North Texas anyday.

Regarding the media contracts, that ESPN/ABC primo broadcast contract DOES NOT guarantee 10 million views like it might have 5-10 years ago. As was pointed out, who says a new channel or existing one wouldn't be present for local/regional coverage of college "X". Both SMU and North Texas are not Georgia and Alabama. But I can still watch them play on television here in Dallas. SMU's games are sometimes carried on TX21 (think WFLI back when it was still an independent station) and North Texas' games are sometimes carried on Fox Sportsouth. Whose to say the Sun Belt can't produce it's own channel? The media is fragmented and is just going to get more fragmented with the upgrades in new and current technology. In reality, the bulk of revenue from Division Four will be based on ticket sales and merchandising and not ABC/ESPN ratings.

As for UTC's direct impact, if everything falls in place as it should in all three key sports, I predict some of the more distingushed alumni will be bending DB's ear regarding a move to the Sun Belt or Conference USA in less then three years maxiumum.

One final note. While a Division 4 super conference with lax rules and basically a semi-pro mindset is what the ADs want, whose to say it can substain itself? I know that sounds silly but I can't help but revert back to the days of the Roman Empire and the bread and circuses that it ensued. But I'm just an observer and not a sports "expert" so...that's that.

July 24, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang,

Great stuff. Keep it up.

Dead Solid Perfect is an awesome choice. So is Long Gone.

Our underrated list is Sandlot, Fastbreak with Gabe Kaplan and a young Bernard King, Little Giants and likely Breaking Away or Vision Quest.

B-i-B —

Flash that forward a decade and replace Falstaff with PBR and you could be at our house growing up.

And despite the low-90s heat Ms. De Mornay was bringing the Slugger's Wife was dreck. It also had crazy man Randy Quaid.

Side note: The Quaid duo was in a slew of sports movies. Dennis was in Any Given Sunday, The Rookie and Breaking Away. Randy was in Slugger's Wife and Dead Solid Perfect. He also was in Caddyshack 2, well, that is if we acknowledged Caddyshack 2 existed.

July 24, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.
chas9 said...

I do understand that with football so close that 5@10 fanatics can smell the pigskin, it's dangerous to go against the flow, but I must rise to praise Weeds' excellent Sunday column on the ugly curse of gridiron concussions.

Like Mark, I'm a fan who doesn't want the sport to go away, nor is it likely to, given the money and the tidal wave of popularity awash across our culture. But without meaningful safety measures (more's needed than the current rule change), football could fade.

When I was a kid, three generations of males in our family would gather around my grandparents' little black and white TV every week to watch the Friday Night Fight of the Week, brought to you by Gillette: "Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp." Boxing was bigger than pro football on TV.

But the public got tired of the deaths and maimings of the sweet science, they stopped watching, and nobody (much) cares any more. You can say boxing suffered from other ills, but in those days you'd have been called crazy if you'd warned of its demise.

Also on Sunday, on a major network news/current events show, Malclom Gladwell called for abolishing college football, mostly on this moral issue. You're gonna hear more of this.

Last week Sport Talk featured some old school coach promoting another local football camp which he assured us would build character, and he claimed that football is safe, having no more concussions than basketball or any other sport. Well, he's wrong, and there's good research detailing that. Head-in-the-sand denial won't solve the problem.

Most of you reading this will think football (with some injuries) has long, long been a healthy, fun part of our culture, with most of us doing just fine. But if you haven't already done so, read Mark's column. You can easily get to it on this website.

And think about how much stronger, bigger, and faster players are now. Remember your basic physics: Force= mass x acceleration. And the amount of force the human brain can stand hasn't changed.

July 24, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - a rare moment during the day. Mrs. Sportsfan rented Undeated over the weekend. It's a documentary (similar to Hoop Dreams) about the football program at Manassas High in north Memphis. Very good film. You got to love a woman that rents sports movies and will watch em with ya.

July 24, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Rebecca De Mornay ... wow ... Phoebe Cates will forever be remembered for the pool scene in "Fast Times" (or for saying "which one of you bleeps is my mother?" in some made for TV debacle) and Ms. de Mornay on the train in "Risky Business" also is ... um ... uh ... a great scene. What held back "The Slugger's Wife" is it had Jon Sterling in it, though it had scenes from the late, departed Atlanta nightclub The Slimelight (its real name was The Limelight).

Concur on "Long Gone." How about "Unnecessary Roughness"? or even "The Waterboy" though I generally despise Adam Sandler movies. Thank God Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler and the late Jerry Reed were there to rescue it.

And if we're talking great sports movies ... the one ... the only ... the original...

"The Longest Yard."

Stick that in your trophy case, warden.

July 24, 2013 at 2:24 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

"One final note. While a Division 4 super conference with lax rules and basically a semi-pro mindset is what the ADs want, whose to say it can substain itself?" --JonathanMCook

JMC, making a great point. The big boys of college football are rolling in cash right now so of course an unfettered free market spend and spend some more approach seems idea. The thing is, Alabama will raise the bar. Then Texas will one-up Bama. Now Georgia and Tennessee have to keep up with the Tide and Horns. And so on, and so on. A couple of million here and a couple of million there, pretty soon you're getting into some real money.

Any fan that supports one of the major football powers knows the push for money never ends as it is now. I buy season tickets from UGA and make an annual contribution to the G.S.E.F. The reply is always the same; Thanks for the money, send more. The athletic department at UGA is doing quite well financially, but to read the literature I receive from them, one might think Tiny Tim Cratchit is running the show in Athens. Many fans have already been priced out of the games and when the arms race ratchets up, with new super state of the art complexes and player salaries and whatever other new costs are incurred...The television and corporate sponsorship contracts are going to be required to foot the bill, as the average fan will not have the means to feed the beast.

I like "North Dallas Forty" for the underrated sports movie. Matuszak's locker room rant alone is Rushmore worthy.

July 24, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

GD-

Not to institute a lovefest, but thanks for definitely seeing my point. At what point is there a ceiling of "enough is enough"? I know in the past lots of people in their respected fields have been screwed out of the thousands if not millions they may have helped generated. But the set-up is not the same as communist Russia or anything like that where everyone gets the exact same amount regardless of whose generating the most. But the push for Division 4 is basically NFL 2.0. I mean look at the pictures the SportTalk people took of the Vols football facilities. That's NFL caliber stuff! And as G-Dawg also pointed out, most SEC games are nearly priced out of reach unless you're a big name booster of some sorts. Today, it's the merchandising rights, the right to pay the players, lax collegiate rules exclusively for football, tomorrow it's $3,000 PSLs.

When I think of Bob Bowlsby's comments + the comments via our reactions since then, my current thought is him drinking with Jerry Jones and the very last sentence from "Animal Farm":

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

July 24, 2013 at 3:59 p.m.
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