published Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

5-at-10: SEC asked and answered, NFL Power Poll and hot seats

Howdy folks, welcome to the show.

It's a holiday week so buckle and pour yourself a Co-Cola and stay a while. Oh yeah, remember the mailbag — we need a couple of spots filled.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let the good times roll.

1. Alabama (11-0, 7-0)

Is any team in a generation more prepared for the big stage than Alabama? No way. In the five seasons of dominance starting 2009, Alabama has played top-10 foes 17 times and is 14-3 in that stretch and has won seven of its last eight. Side question: Is AJ McCarron now the Heisman front-runner? Here's saying Jameis Winston likely holds a slim lead, but the rape allegations are going to be impossible to judge. An Alabama win Saturday in what will be the most-watched college football game in the country this year would go a long way to making McCarron the Heisman favorite.

Saturday: at Auburn, 3:30 (CBS)

  • photo
    Whether pitching the ball to one of his backs, running it himself or throwing a pass, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall keeps the offense moving at a high velocity.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

2. Auburn (10-1, 6-1)

Want a reason to believe Auburn can win Saturday? Alabama's losses since 2008 — Florida, Utah, South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU again — all have come against mobile quarterbacks. Most of those guys used their feet to extend plays and look down the field, but all of the guys in that selected group — Alabama is 61-7 since the start of 2008 for crying out loud — could move. There is no doubt Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall can move — he may be the fastest starting quarterback in the league since Matt Jones was at Arkansas — but will he be able to hit plays down the field? That's the biggest key we can see on this fine Tuesday morning of Iron Bowl week.

Saturday: vs. Alabama, 3:30 (CBS)

3. Missouri (10-1, 6-1)

Any one have any more questions? Nope. These Tigers are complete and supremely impressive. Missouri overpowered Mississippi, and now stands one win from a spot in the SEC title game. And figure this: With Florida resembling a dumpster fire filled with dirty diapers stuffed with Indian food, the Vols in complete rebuilding mode and Georgia and South Carolina having to replace long-time starting quarterbacks, Mizzou likely could be the favorites in the SEC next year too.

Saturday: vs. Texas A&M, 7:45 (ESPN)

4. LSU (8-3, 4-3)

Do you know what the ultimate compliment is for the state of a program? Try this: LSU will go 9-3 and play in a New Year's Day Bowl game in a full-blown rebuilding year. The Tigers had to restock a defense that lost 10 starters and are a Tana Patrick strip and some self-inflicted fourth-quarter wounds in Athens and Oxford from being right there in the mix for the national title. Still, a 9-3 run and a likely trip to the Cotton Bowl is not too shabby in a year that the defense had to be reconstructed.

Friday: vs. Arkansas, 2:30 (CBS)

5. South Carolina (9-2, 6-2)

How in the world can South Carolina be a six-point favorite over Clemson? That's easy. South Carolina has two distinct advantages that have proved immensely fruitful recently in this rivalry, which is filled with more hate and vitriol than most of us outside of its parameters know and way more than the "Palmetto Bowl" tag this rivalry carries. First, South Carolina's defensive line has dominated this game during the Gamecocks' four-game winning streak in the series. Second, the Ole Ball Coach has dominated in the coaching circle. USC's defensive line gets a slight edge over the Clemson O-line again this year — and in truth, Clemson's defensive front has been among the nation's best. But we'll alway prefer the side with a Spurrier rather than a Dabo.

Saturday: vs. Clemson, 7 (ESPN2)

6. Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3)

Want to know how tough the SEC is, part 1,208? Try this stat: The Aggies have three projected first-round picks on offense — quarterback Johnny Manziel, tackle Jake Matthews and receiver Mike Evans, who is dy-NO-mite — and will have to pull an upset in Columbia, Mo., to avoid an 8-4 season, which is likely the same record Ole Miss will post. Every week is a challenge, gang, and with that amount of talent leaving College Station, and the number of big-boy jobs coming open that A&M coach Kevin Sumlin could be a candidate for, this could be an offseason of much unrest.

Saturday: at Missouri, 7:45 (ESPN)

7. Georgia (7-4, 5-3)

Where does Aaron Murray rank on the all-time greats in SEC history? Thankfully Murray set all those amazing SEC records before his career was ended last week with an ACL injury against Kentucky. As for Murray's place in history, well, as great as all the numbers are — he's the all-time SEC leader in passing yards, completions, passing TDs and total offense — the one number that must be mentioned is 0. As in 0 SEC titles in his four years as a starter. Certainly ranking the all-time SEC quarterbacks is more than just winning games, but to counterbalance the argument, would you rather have AJ McCarron or Murray? Interesting debate for sure.

Saturday: at Georgia Tech, 3:30 (ABC)

8. Ole Miss (8-3, 4-3)

What was that? The Rebels are confounding bunch for sure. They beat LSU. They look terrible against Ole Miss. Now they face a perplexing short week against a desperate Mississippi State team that has had this one circled since September. This time last week, Ole Miss was a good performance against Missouri from likely heading to the Cotton Bowl. Now they are a bad performance in Starkville from heading to the Music City Bowl.

Thursday: at Mississippi State, 7:30 (ESPN)

9. Vandy (7-4, 4-4)

Where will James Franklin be coaching next year? Sure it could be in Nashville, but we're not betting on it. The program has hit its apex, right? A win over Wake Forest — Vandy is a two-touchdown favorite — means back-to-back eight-win regular seasons. At Vandy. Franklin is already secured of his third consecutive bowl trip. AT VANDY. So the question remains, where's he going to hang his head set in '14. Here's betting it's not at Vandy.

Saturday: vs. Wake Forest, 12:21 (WDSI)

10. Florida (4-7, 3-5)

Hot seat question 1: How many games must the Gators win next year to save Will Muschamp's job? Muschamp and the Gators have had more injuries than the Alexian field day. That is a fact, and that fact likely will get Muschamp a mulligan. But Florida State likely will drop a Biblical spanking on the Gators in the Swamp on Saturday, and injuries or no, four-win seasons are not tolerated at Florida. Here's saying the over/under for Muschamp to remain in Gainesville next year is at least eight.

Saturday: vs. FSU, noon, (ESPN)

11. Mississippi State (5-6, 2-5)

Hot seat question 2: If you are a Mississippi State supporter, and you want Dan Mullen fired, who are you going to get that is better, especially in an offseason in which the competition for hiring the top head coaches could be fierce? We think Mullen gets another year. And we think he could go a long way to flipping the feeling in the state with a win Thursday in the Egg Bowl. If the Bulldogs win Thursday, which team would feel better heading into the bowl season, a potential 6-6 MSU riding a two-game winning streak or a 7-5 Ole Miss bunch on a two-game slide? Big stakes on turkey day for Danny Mullen for sure.

Thursday: vs. Ole Miss, 7:30 (ESPN)

12. Tennessee (4-7, 1-6)

Is there a more head-scratching result in college football this year in retrospect than the Vols' upset over South Carolina? Maybe West Virginia's shocking win that has Oklahoma State on the outside of the BCS picture, but that's it. We believe that Butch has said all the right things. He has embraced rallying phrases and inspired a proud and starving fan base. He also has recruited his buzz cut off. All of those are positives and deserve to be mentioned. His Vols, however, are a miraculous Marquez North one-handed catch from being bagel-and-seven in the SEC. If North had not made that catch, the questions and impressions about this Vols season would be strikingly different, no?

Saturday: at Kentucky, 7 (ESPNU)

13. Kentucky (2-9, 0-7)

How many folks will be at Saturday's game against UT? We posed this question to TFP UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown, and we liked his answer: There will be roughly 1,000 folks for every degree of temperature we have at kickoff. That seems fair, and with temps expected right around 40 degrees, that means the UK-UT game will draw about 10,000 fewer than the UK spring game. If you're counting tickets, would that be more click-by-click than brick-by-brick? When grooming Smokey, do we go tick-by-tick? Is David Copperfield measured trick-by-trick? We say yes. Where were we?

Saturday: vs. Tennessee, 7 (ESPNU)

14. Arkansas (3-8, 0-7)

Hot seat question No. 3: Would you be all that shocked if Bret Bielema left in the offseason? And would Arkansas fans be all that upset? We think the answer is no to both. After he surprisingly left Wisconsin last year to come to the SEC, Bielema's first year in the best conference in the country has been nothing short of a debacle. How bad you ask? Well after the Hogs loss big at LSU, Bielema's team will be one-game worse than John L. Smith's train wreck from a year ago. Come everybody, smile.

Friday: at LSU, 2:30 (CBS)

—————

NFL Power Poll

It's a fair time to start wondering about positioning. Teams atop the standings are fighting for position in the playoff picture and more importantly, home-field advantage. Playing at home is doubly valuable this year because of the teams involved. Look at the best teams in each conference, and each has a decided edge playing at home because of crowd and the elements. We'll examine that more in the power poll, but it's an overwhelming truth this year more than most.

As for the dregs of this NFL society, the street urchins residing in the safe underbelly of the ATM that is the NFL, a utopian business model structured on TV revenue being the bell cow and attendance being the profit source, well being bad does mean being badly financed. Heck, the NFL is such a money-maker, the Cleveland Browns are worth a billion dollars and of the 50 most valuable sports franchises, 30 of them are NFL teams.

So stinking in the NFL is still worth millions. It's also worth the chance to draft a playmaker that could easily flip the script for almost any franchise. That's another genius side ripple of the NFL's power structure: Great teams can stay great, but even the worst teams can start anew rather quickly. The least desirable position would be on the treadmill of mediocrity that results in a one-and-done playoff every third year and a river of draft picks ranging from the mid-teens-to-the-low-20s in each round.

So it goes, and with an eye on position let's go to the power poll.

Top five

1) Seattle

2) New England

3) Denver

4) New Orleans

5) Carolina

Bottom five

We're adding an extra bonus to this week's bottom five, since it's all about positioning. In parenthesis is where each team is currently slotted in round one of next spring's NFL draft.

28) Washington (no first-round pick; sent to St. Louis as part of the RGIII deal)

29) Houston (No. 1 overall)

30) Minnesota (No. 4 overall)

31) Atlanta (No. 3 overall)

32) Jacksonville (No. 2 overall)

—————

Hot seats galore

The SEC asked and answered above got us thinking. And yes, that's a dangerous opportunity.

Look at the college football landscape. Now look at some of the monster jobs that could come open in the next few weeks in addition to the opening that already exists at USC.

Florida. Texas. Nebraska. To name but three.

There could be a monster rush and even the guys who have their agents just pick up the phone will likely get major pay increases.

Who are the top names out there? We think Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze will get a slew of phone calls. And Sumlin could be a guy the NFL targets.

Interesting times indeed.

—————

This and that

— The numbers are out. Auburn is getting 10.5 from Alabama in the Iron Bowl. It's just one of several rivalry lines that are head-scratching and hard to read. This week's Fab 4-plus-1 entertainment advice feels like struggle. That said, we can see risking some entertainment on North Illinois tonight over a hapless Western Michigan team. Yes, the Huskies are laying five TDs. We believe this one will be 55-0. Seriously.

— R.I.P. Brian, the dog from Family Guy. Although somehow we feel there may be a chance the lovable/irritable pooch finds his way back into the mix. Maybe like they did in the old-school "Dallas" when they killed Bobby Ewing but the whole season was a Pam's bad dream.

— Derrick Rose is out for the year. Derrick Rose will be this generation's Ken Griffey Jr. He's going to come back and even be a good player. And when we look at his numbers, we're going to go, "Man, what would he have been if he could have stayed healthy."

— The newest college hoops poll is out, and they have rounded up the usual suspects atop the rankings. There is a noticeable plummet, though, as VCU fell from No. 10 to unranked after a rotten week. VCU is nothing without Will Wade. (Kidding.)

— Side question: Everyone makes a big who-haw about the college football polls being meaningless in September. Is there anything more meaningless than a November or December college basketball poll?

————

Today's question

Feel free to discuss/debate any of the SEC questions.

If you want another talking point, here's one:

The Derrick Rose news is sad on a lot of fronts. Dude has serious skills and had serious upside. Like all-time point guard upside. Now, with two serious knee injuries in three years, there are serious concerns. This sounds serious. (Spy, what's our record for most uses of the same word in the same paragraph?)

Time for a serious question (see what we did there 9er?):

Who is on your Rushmore of the best that never were because of injury? We'll start with J.R. Richard, the 6-foot-8 bullet-throwing right-hander for the Astros that had a stroke in the late 70s, and add Bernard King.

Who you got?

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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jomo11 said...

Marcus Dupree has to be on Mt. Rushmore of injured "best that never were" and despite jokes of being drafted before MJ , Sam Bowie was very talented

November 26, 2013 at 10:23 a.m.
MocTastic said...

First name came to my mind was Bill Walton. We never really saw the player he was capable of being. In baseball careers that were cut short were Dizzy Dean and Mark Fidyrich, pretty much from the same injury, an injury to the foot then changing their pitching motion and hurting their arm/shoulder. Tony Congiliaro of the BoSox had a shortened career due to being beaned in the face, was never the same again. In football Gale Sayers, a career cut way short. Back to baseball, Sandy Koufax went out way too early due to arm issues.

November 26, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Reading the Power Poll part, I couldn't help but laugh a little. Yes, everything is on point. However, there's this local spot on CBS11 showing Cowboys highlights with the following messages appearing on the bottom of the sceen to the sound of inspriational music "Football is not something you watch on television, it is MEANT to be seen live, it is MEANT to be experienced, Order Season Tickets Now!" And they give out the phone number.

The spot obviously is intended to get people to come to the games vs. watching it on television and there lies the rub. I don't know if Jerry approves these spots or one of flunkies in the media department but whoever ok'ed these obviously failed Blue Collar Economics 101. When your nose-bleed seats cost as much as a three-bedroom house payment in East Ridge, that means "you're not who we're catering too". When the stadium parking lot resembles a Lexus, Jaguar and Porche dealership, real fans need not apply. We can also go into things like PSLs and so on but the battle to watch it on television is not going away until the prices are lowered and given the number of extreme super rich we have here in Dallas (we actually have a shopping mall here that only caters to said wealth), that's Jerry's REAL cash cow.

November 26, 2013 at 10:51 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JMC —

The battle of going vs. watching on TV will be a tough for the foreseeable future.

The only thing we can see that will drive prices down on the majority of sporting events is if the business tax code is changed to where buying season tickets is no longer deductible as an 'entertainment/marketing' expense. The clubs/teams have no reason to drop the prices as long as GE and Coke and Walmart and Big Co. X buy a block of season tickets to give to clients/customers and can write that off as a business expense. Ever wonder how a Braves game on a mid-July night has speckles of spectators and announces 31,000 in attendance? The season-ticket base counts whether they go or not. So the clubs are selling the tickets in mass in most cases and lowering the price does not make sense.

We're not taking one side or the other, just stating our opinion.

MT —

Gale Sayers is a no-doubt, first-ballot guy on this Rushmore. Could have been the best ever but the injuries were too much.

As far as pitchers go, we think Mark Pryor may be on this list too. We'd equate Koufax more with Griffey in that both had Hall of Fame careers but the injury limited them from being in the conversation of best ever. (Although Koufax still is in that conversation for us.)

Jomo —

Bowie was very talented, no doubt. In fact — with the likelihood of getting the wrath of Jordan Rules fully clear — the hindsight factor works against the Blazers in the Bowie over Jordan pick for sure.

But at the time, the Blazers already had Clyde Drexler at the 2 coming off a fantastic rookie season and needed help inside. That pick at the time was not that bad. Certainly not Jamarcus Russell bad or Marvin Williams bad.

November 26, 2013 at 11:22 a.m.
chas9 said...

Sam Bowie tops my list, too. Could Bo have been any good without the hip injury?

Great predicting mechanism on the crowd for UK-UT. Do the Fighting Butches have anything to play for? OK, pride...

Seriously, why would the Iron Bowl attract more viewers than the Tide v. Johnny Football tilt?

I do expect The War Eagles to get their first offensive TD in forever.

The Cats struggled against the team that the NCAA smacks whenever they get mad at UK (see what I did there?), but it could be a useful lesson that they are only #3 when they play hard. And JR is six for six games with a double double while being doubled.

November 26, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

JG-

Thanks for the insite. I wasn't trying to start anything as much as there wasn't really anything of interesting in todays 5&10 until I saw the piece in reference and it just made me think of that spot yesterday morning while watching "CBS11 This Morning" which is NOT the easiest to watch (the on-air talent make my head hurt). But my CPU is RIP so I can't listen to Jeff, Kevin and JR in the morning. D:

Anyway, the spot was something I considered humorous considering what the locals thing of Jerry's Death Star and his ticket prices.

November 26, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Marcus Dupree, in fact is on a 30 for 30 ESPN show called "The Best that Never Was" In looking at the footage he was everybit in the Bo and Herschel category

November 26, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
jomo11 said...

By the way Stoops, Butchy and Bielema are a combined 1-20 in SEC play . . . Just goes to show that there is more to coaching than catchy "slogans" and early commitments . .

November 26, 2013 at 11:58 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jomo-

The Marcus Dupree 30/30 is one of the top tier ones. And scary cautionary tale involving what happens when you let other people handle your money. It's sad to see at the end how he ended up. ):

November 26, 2013 at 12:49 p.m.
Maximus said...

Changing the subject, congratulations to Coach Russ Huesman and his son Jacob #14! SOCON Coach of the Year and offensive player of the year by the SOCON Coaches poll. Unreal that the media poll selected the Furman coach. As usual, the media total idiots. Coach H. And his son drilled the Purple Palladins this year and won the first SOCON championship for the Mocs since the 80's. Come on man and by the way......the UTC AD needs to get a new contract on Coach Huesmans desk ASAP!

November 26, 2013 at 1:07 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Yet Furman is going to playoffs. u_u

I don't deny congrats are in order but in the big picture, I'd rather see them clash heads in Frisco against North Dakota State.

November 26, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.
MocTastic said...

When choosing between Coaches and Media All Conference teams, go with the Coaches team. They spend all week breaking down film. The media watches the game they are and very little else of the SoCon.

November 26, 2013 at 1:38 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

The Tony C inclusion is spot on. Walton was MVP one season and he was a force for the 86 Celtics. I'll go Steve Emtman, the Colts No 1 pick whose career got cut short because of injury.

To me, the greatest player whose further greatness remains a mystery because of injury is Robert Gordon Orr.

November 26, 2013 at 1:43 p.m.
MocTastic said...

I even throw out a famous name, a HOFer, Mickey Mantle. He blew his knee out early in his career. Stories say that had that not happened he would have been even better. Of course, his bad habits also accelerated his end of his career.

November 26, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

UT has little to play for, as does UK. Although Stoops is looking for his first keynote win.

Jomo —

Yes, Dupree is in the conversation. Dude was a monster. In fact, his luck was doubly bad — his knee injury was not as bad as say, Adrian Peterson's and AP missed all of nine months. Knee-mending science has come a long way. Heck, Chuck Webb was going to be a bad man, too.

And who needs catchy slogans like "Restore the Glory" anyway?

And did you see where Gus Malzahn is trying to copyright the phrase "Hurry-up, No-huddle" offense and the acronym HUNH?

Maximus —

As usual, media total idiots? OK.

That said, how is it that the best coach, offensive player and defensive player are on the same team and said team does not make the playoffs?

JMC —

Here's saying the Huesmans would Fed-Ex the hardware back to the league office for the chance to practice this week with a playoff game on Saturday.

MT —

Disagree on most fronts about the coaches team, although the SoCon could be one of the exceptions.

That said, most of the time at Huesman's media lunch when he needs to remember an opposing player's name, he asks Jay Blackmon or John Frierson — two guys that vote for the media team.

Not saying the UTC trio was not worthy — and the fact that the media do not have Tull as the D-PoY is a farce — only debating the merits between the two teams.

And Mantle is a good call — there with the Koufax and Griffey group that was Hall of Fame great despite the injuries.

Spy —

We thought Steve Emtman grew up in Washington state? How did he crash your Boston Mayo clinic office?

November 26, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

For the Rushmore of best that never was due to injury, I nominate former Georgia Bulldogs running back Robert Edwards. Edwards broke out in the season opener against South Carolina in 1995 and scored five touchdowns and, if I remember correctly, finished with over 200 all-purpose yards. Then he was injured in the second game against Tennessee. The trend of great when healthy but often out with injury continued throughout his career at UGA. Edwards rushed for over 1,000 yards during his rookie season with the Patriots only to blow out his knee during a beach volleyball game that was part of the Pro Bowl festivities in Hawaii. A stud running back blowing out his knee playing beach volleyball is just wrong on many levels.

If you like Auburn's chances of pitching a shutout against Alabama, you need to get yourself down to the plains and put yourself behind the wheel of a new Toyota. A Toyota dealer in Auburn is offering to pay off any new car bought before Saturday's tilt if Alabama finishes with a goose egg on the scoreboard. I just like the fact that somewhere in an insurance office building an actuary had to crunch the numbers and assess the risk of Auburn shutting out Bama.

Jay wrote: "As usual, media total idiots? OK." Aw, c'mon Jay...The totality of idiocy is hard to quantify. You're good enough. You're smart enough. And, doggone it, people like you.

Happy Turkey Day to all. I received an e-mail from my dad last night. He has three turkeys and is going to "flash fry" one of them. So if on Thursday you see a mushroom cloud in the sky over Blue Ridge, we are not under attack from terrorists. It's just my family's Thanksgiving get-together gone terribly wrong.

November 26, 2013 at 3:25 p.m.
chas9 said...

GD--Edwards was a good 'un.

How in the name of Jimmy the Greek can UNC be favored over Cutcliff's crew? Take Duke and the 5.5 points and bet the farm. And pawn your wedding ring and bet that, too.

November 26, 2013 at 4:36 p.m.
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