Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals is tonight between the Pacers and the Heat. The lines are starting to form, and the stakes are supreme with the series tied at 2. While we are going to discuss other things today — we believe LeBron will go into beast mode tonight, and we also believe there is a real chance he could shoot 20-plus free throws tonight, which will send conspiracy theorists into a full spin cycle — we did want to tip our cap to a rule we like.
Are we the only one that much prefers the 2-2-1-1-1 format in a seven-game series? It seems much fairer, right?
From the "Talks too much" studios, we're going to need some more FBI guys.
College football's offseason
We're here. The dog days are in sight and the college football magazines are starting to hit the Bi-Lo stands. (Side note: Yes, the info in Lindy's and Athlon's and the rest is extremely dated once the preseason practices start, but we still pick them up. You do too. In fact, those things should be about spring practice reviews as much as fall previews. Well other than Phil Steele and his basement filled with notecards and stacks of spiral notebook. Here's saying Phil Steele has a huge collection of back-logged college football info most of it likely in Trapper Keepers. And we mean this as a compliment.)
That said, because we do what we do, and the TFP is located neck deep in a region that if this were the middle ages would be known as Collegefootballandia, we are never that far from it.
Georgia safety Josh-Harvey Clemons closes in on a tackle during a 2012 game against Ole Miss.Photo by UGA photo/Jim Hipple
Take a look at this week's TFPs: SEC meetings, a two-day look at UT's incoming freshman quarterbacks here and here, and the looming suspension of Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons. We're dealing with a lot of stuff — candlesticks always make a nice gift... let's get two.
More times than not, as Mr. Harvey-Clemons demonstrated, college football news in late May and June is rarely good.
But let's take at look at Downtown Patrick Brown's profiles of the two incoming UT freshman snap-takers. (Side note: We like snap-takers more than signal callers. Signal callers is a touch overused for our tastes and in truth, centers also call signals. We just firmed and finalized this opinion right now to be frank. Or to be George. Anyhoo, where were we?)
We believe that the new kids on the orange block will be fully in the mix from the start of preseason drills. We also believe one of them will be the full-time guy sooner rather than later. We believe it will be Joshua Dobbs, but would not be shocked if it was Riley Ferguson. Dobbs is a want-to-be rocket scientist (seriously) who is athletic and a perfect fit for Butch Jones' system. Ferguson is a more polished thrower who comes across as filling Jones' description that the QB be the "alpha male" of the offense. Should be interesting.
We really believe that no later than the middle of October it certainly will be one the new kids. And that makes recruiting a QB in this cycle paramount. Sure, UT had two in this class, but if one of the true freshmen wins the job, the other will almost certainly transfer. Plus, if Nathan Peterman is left on the outside looking in, he could be on the move too, which means QB becomes a priority.
There is a ton of things that are right about college sports. The grad rates are up. The big conferences are making more money than ever. The level of most sports — and almost all the big ones that do not sound like "Ben's Masketball" — is superior now to any time prior.
There are huge problems to be sure. Lawsuits loom on several horizons that threaten the very structure and foundation of college sports. The divide between the haves and the have nots is only growing and the unknown abyss could be a monumental jump into the future (think Evel Knievel over the snake river) or a potential death spiral for more than half of the college sports programs out there.
There's also the black eyes and bad seeds that make scandals in Miami and Columbus, Ohio, far too common.
And the thing that arguably makes the common fan have less hope than ever about the NCAA are stories like this one from the West Coast Conference meetings that was retweeted by Portland basketball coach Eric Reveno on Wednesday.
Apparently, a women's golfer at a WCC school recently washed her car on campus, and since the water and the hose were not available to all students, she unknowingly committed a secondary violation. The school self-reported it and and the NCAA ruled it a violation and told her to repay $20 — the approximated cost of the car wash.
Wow. Just wow.
Hey, the rest of the SEC figured out a way to beat Nick Saban: stuff the ballot box. So the coaches voted to stay at eight conference games. Hey, it's SEC football, we're good with it. (Raise your hand if you're like us and will watch a river of old SEC replays this summer on CSS or SportsSouth or whatever those cable channels in the 320s are. Yep, we will too.)
"Personally, I think we'll end up moving to nine (conference) games eventually," Florida coach Will Muschamp told reporters at the meetings in Destin. "My personal opinion (is) you create an SEC Network, at the end of the day, it's going to be driven by the dollar, and having those games is going to be important, and having enough quality games on television promoting a nine-game SEC regular season, in my opinion, will eventually happen."
That opinion is 1000 percent right on the mark.
In other SEC news, coaches have vowed not to sling zingers at each other during the offseason. Call it the devil in the details of the backlash of two SEC coaches referring to Nick Saban as "Nicky Satan" and "the devil himself." Here's hoping that Steve Spurrirer, a true original and the OG of one-line zingers ignores the agreement. It also has the feel of politicians agreeing to run a clean campaign and then start slinging more mud than 16-year-old's suped-up monster truck.
Also, as our SoCon ace John Frierson/Ned Ryerson (Bing!) reports here, the power trio of VMI, ETSU and Mercer are set to join the SoCon and the announcement could come as early as today.
Sorry, after losing the familiar and powerful names of mid-major heavyweights like App and GSU and Davidson, hearing about VMI, ETSU and Mercer offers the energy boost of a turkey dinner and makes us yawn with indifference. We have heard the rumblings of some hoping that the SoCon would chase Belmont, and that would offer a little more pop.
Still, the reshuffling of deck chairs in the future will leave the SoCon weaker.
This and that
— We normally leave the MMA stuff to area experts such as Eustice_Chase, but we stumbled across this video this morning. It's a one-kick, four-second KO. As the Yahoo! writer noted, it takes more time to sneeze than it did for the winner to drop the other guy.
— The Paternos are suing the NCAA. Wow, the stress level in the NCAA office has to be set on MACH 22, right? Of course the NCAA responded by telling some women's equestrian team that using school oats to feed her horse is a secondary violation because those oats are not available to other university equine. OATS-standing. (We made that last part up.)
— Anyone else tired of hearing everyone's opinion on Tiger and Sergio? Now Jack Nicklaus has to answer questions about it. E-gads.
— The Braves were blanked by a hodgepodge collection of Blue Jays pitchers. Atlanta got four hits and struck out 11 times. The all-or-nothing Braves offense has exactly one everyday player hitting better than .270 (Freddie Freeman at .309) and has three projected regulars at .190 or worse. And they are 10 games over .500 and lead the Nationals by 4.5 games in the East. CUH-razy.
Feel free to flow freely.
Predict tonight's NBA action. Are the Braves real or living on borrowed time with a lineup filled with more holes than Spy's favorite T-shirt? Give it a whirl.
Or, fill this blank...
What's your Rushmore of current young stars who will follow the Lindsay Lohan trail?
We know Justin Beiber is on the list. Beebs in recent weeks has gotten in the news for weed, a monkey and one of his entourage speeding through the neighborhood to the point that Keyshawn Johnson wants some answers. (Side note: When you have reached the level that a renowned NFL prima donna wants to have a word with your about being more responsible and acting better, well, then you need to re-evaluate. Imagine if Randy Moss or T.O. wanted to talk to you about some of your Tomfoolishness. That's a low-point right? And have we talked about Beebs having a pet monkey? A pet monkey, really? And if you had a pet a monkey, what do you name him? Curious George? Cosell? Joey Crawford the monkey, which seems to work for almost any pet.)
Maybe one of those Disney shows has a couple, too.
Discuss and remember the mailbag for Friday, we have a couple of open slots.
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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