published Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

5-at-10: Worst college football coaching hires, playoff baseball, and the ponzi this and that

Gang, we are speeding through the week, and have arrived at hump day. (Yes, the camel in the Geico commercials is so, So, SO money. HUMP day. Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike.)

Anyway, buckle, because we're about to take a ride to several corners of differences and tangents. If we had a Les Miles appearance it would be a bonus. We don't. So it goes.

From the "Talks too much" studios, we're a thousand miles from nowhere, time don't matter to us.

Worst college football coaching hires

Pat Haden ended the debacle that had become USC under Lane Kiffin, who is quickly becoming the college football version of Gen. Sherman, leaving burned trails and torched embers in his wake after every stop. (The difference as Spy will remind us, is that Gen. Sherman won all his match-ups. Yikes.)

With that news, YahooSports! Pat Forde lists his worst college coaching hire . He has Rich Rod at Michigan, Steve Kragthorpe at Louisville, Lane Kiffin at USC and Tennessee, Derek Dooley at Tennessee and Ellis Johnson at Southern Miss.

Each of those deserves special consideration — and hey, how about that Mike Hamilton making the list twice — but there are a few more awful hires. (And while he did not make the list because he landed Cam Newton and won a national title, you can certainly question Auburn's decision to hire Gene Chizik and his 5-19 career record. Mean Gene was fired after four seasons, in which he went 19-19 without Cam Newton and 14-0 with Cam Newton. Amazingly, Gene's career record was 38-38 overall and 24-28 without a certain QB whose name sounds like Tram Pootin'. Side note: Why do grown men and little kids get so tickled at certain words like pootin'? Admit it, you smiled and said, "Hey he said pootin'" didn't you?)

That said, here are a few more, head-scratchers and what-if moments.

As Spy would remind us, Brian Van Gorder being hired at Georgia Southern was a less than good experience. Bill Callahan's time at Nebraska was record-settingly bad. Mike Price's time at Alabama seemed record-settingly short.

As for really good hires, well, it's not super hard to hire Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban. But give Vince Dooley a lot of credit for plucking Mark Richt, who at the time was FSU's offensive coordinator and had zero head coaching experience.

Discuss. Who was the best or worst hires from your school? (Jomo, was Donnie or Rodney a worse hire?)


  • photo
    Pittsburgh Pirates' Russell Martin (55) is greeted by on-deck batter Clint Barmes (12) after hitting a home run in the second inning of the NL wild-card playoff baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in Pittsburgh.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Baseball playoffs

The field is set in the NL now that the Pirates topped the Reds in the wildcard. It was Pittsburgh first postseason win since 1992 when Johnny Carson had his final show, John Gotti was sentenced to life in prison, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi won Wimbledon singles titles and we learned that Al Gore invented the interweb. Thank you Al, there would be no family-oriented, interweb-based sports column such as the 5-at-10 without the interweb. War Al.

(Side note: When you go back and do a little looking at a particular year, man, a guy can get lost reading about what happened in 1992, the year Ross Perot changed the world and a rotten year for movies, at least according to the box office standings. The top-five earning movies in '92 were Aladdin, The Bodygiard, Home Alone 2, Basic Instict and Lethal Weapon 3. Side note on the Side note: In Joe Pesci's decorated career, he does not get enough credit for his turn as Leo Getz in the Lethal Weapon movies. Where were we?)

Anyhoo, the NL playoffs are set.

Here's what we see:

Cards take Pirates. Experience matters here. As does home-field advantage. But the biggest difference is the Pirates just fired ace lefty Francisco Liriano for seven tough innings to get by the Reds as the Cards rested. Hey, we like the one-game play-in because it really rewards winning your division. But that one-game, win-or-pack-the-gear setting, is a huge advantage.

Dodgers take Braves. Atlanta has to handle four games of Grienke and Kershaw. That's too much. The Dodgers lineup is fragile — and man can't you see Yaisel Puig making a really bonehead play at some point in the series — and erractic. But so is the Braves.


Jordan still talking junk

Michael Jordan was the greatest competitor of his generation and many argue the greatest basketball player of all time.

Dude was special and would do everything in his power to win at everything from cards to tiddlywinks to Game 7.

MJ said in an interview this week that in his prime he could beat LeBron in one-on-one but not Kobe, because as MJ joked, "Kobe steals all" of his moves.

We have some questions. (Yes, we almost always have questions, but we offer these as always as starting points.)

How exactly is 6-foot-6, 215-pound MJ going to stop the 6-foot-8, 260-pound LeBron form getting to the rim?

The interview was in fun and we like mix-and-matching the best from generations as much as anyone.

Who you got: MJ or LeBron, one-on-one?


This and that — Ponzi edition

— Former UConn guard and NBA first-rounder Tate George was convicted of running a $2 million ponzi scheme. Side question, was the guy who coined the term 'Ponzi' scheme a big "Happy Days" fan and put Potsie and Fonzi together? Guess he could have merged Ralph Malph and Richie and got a Rilph scheme. Ponzi is better.

— Second question, after Madoff and even Jim Donnan and the rest of folks who did eight-, nine- and even 10-figure ponzi scheme, doesn't a $2 million ponzi scheme feel like stealing $11.25?

— Third question, with all the press that ponzi schemes have attracted, is it not the financial equivalent of taking candy from a stranger at this point? Seriously, the whole pyramid idea of investing should send up some red flags, right?

— Non-Ponzi this and that: A-Rod is claiming that the Biogenesis folks including Tony Bosch doping him. Really, A-Rod? They slipped you a PED mickey? PUH-lease.

— Jake Locker's hip injury is not super serious. The Titans expect him to miss a month, which is way better than the season.


Today's question

OK, there are about a thousand littered throughout the 5-at-10, but here are a few more:

After watching the Pirates-Reds last night, the home crowd in Pittsburgh was outstanding. What's the best home-field advantage around?

As we said above, Jake Locker is expected to miss a month. Locker was playing better than expected. If Ryan Fitzpatrick comes in and lights it up, could be an interesting little QB debate in Nashville. (And yes, we know injuries are not supposed to cost a player his starting job. Ask Alex Smith how that worked last year in San Fran.)


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 ...

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.
chas9 said...

Jerry Palm says you still can't spell Music City without UT, meaning he thinks The Vols will finish 7th in the conference, ahead of Vandy and Mizzou, which he projects will win the 8/9 bowl slots.

Sagarin has both those schools along with Auburn and Miss State above the Knoxville lads. But that could change.

Bill Curry could be on a bad hire list, but not the Rushmore. And Bama had a rough spell of hires after Curry. Then there's Billy Gillispie. GD, what about Goff?

October 2, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Don't dis Mike Price at Alabama. In the history of Alabama with such glorified coaches as Frank Thomas, Bear Bryant, and Nick Saban, Mike Price is the only UA head coach who was undefeated while in Tuscaloosa.

Ponzi comes from Ralph Ponzi, one of the old time swindle artists, do you never watch gangster week on cable tv?

October 2, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Billy The Kid is an all-timer in hoops. A no-doubter.

We had UT at 7-5 to start the season, and they are where we thought they'd be at this point. Granted Missouri looks better than expected, but that's a month off.

MT —

Fair point about Price being unbeaten. In fact he was perfect. It's already rolling baby.

Yes we are aware of Ralph Ponzi. In fact, we're a huge fan of gangster week. Love the cosa nostra. It's like our thing, you know. Thought we'd have a little fun with it is all.

October 2, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Orgeron at Ole Miss, Dubose at Bama, O'Leary at Notre Dame, Brad Scott at S. Carolina, Gerry Faust at Notre Dame, Barfield at Auburn. . . my goodness the list is endless. . .

MJ would have a very hard time with Lebron . . .Lebron might even make MJ &%#$ in his Hanes

And there is a God when the Braves left Uggla OFF the playoff roster

October 2, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
chas9 said...

jomo--Faust is a golden nominee.

TFP headlines say Tuscaloosa's losing private sector jobs while Auburn's gaining them. But given the Crimson Tide payroll, the T-town economy's probably still stronger.

October 2, 2013 at 10:58 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Great list. Simply Outstanding. And Ouch-standing — did you have to mention Barfield.

We'll add Tech's Bill Lewis to the mix, too.

You did not respond on Donnie or Rodney, though?

Wonder what it would be like to watch a Braves playoff game with Uggla? Would he say, "Here comes the curve," and be wrong every time?

9er —

Auburn's public schools are outstanding, and that's one reason the region is adding jobs. They also added that monster KIa plant down there in the last decade and the ripples of that can be felt, too.

Maybe the top-end, five-star employees make more in T-town, but there is more opportunity for playing time/working time in Auburn. Does that make sense?

October 2, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...


I was planning on taking the week off given the 48 hours of utter depression while pondering the one question that not even the Dali Lama could answer:

Why does God hate the Mocs so much? (Yes, at one time, I was really pondering this)

But you pointed out some fun stuff today so I'll play along. Also, I'm taking Saturday off to go hang out with a few thousand comic book cosplay'n folks over at the Irving Convention Center (I basically need a break from the gridiron but will return to watch us play Furman).

I didn't get to watch any of the games as I'm following new TV shows for the first time in ages and I knew the Rangers would be toast before exiting the dugout (Shampoo, rense, repeat as you put it). Going back to Pittsburg, I remember the last run as I was in high school at the time. I also liked Aladdin. Until The Lion King came out two years later, that was one of Disney's best to date for that decade. However, most of my female friends and classmates were still hung up on Beauty and the Beast.

On a sidenote, everyone's favorite "all-star" hot mess "Hook" came out a year earlier and I do vividly recall NBC or whoever was airing the playoffs in 1992 doing the pre-game "showcase". They were using the music bed from Hook for the Pirates. Scary thought I actually remember that.

Worst coaching hire by my school: I'll go with Rodney Allison. Hands down. Donny Kirpatrick was okay and I liked him a lot but he plateaued way too early and fizzled out like day-old Coke-Cola. Best hire of course was Joe Morrison although I was younger then Junior 5 & 10 during that era. However, from what I read in the media guide, it wasn't an overnight success. But he turn an otherwise average 5-6 team to 9-2 + SoCon Champs at the end of year three on the job.

October 2, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.
chas9 said...

Was there ever an uglier 3-2? Peay, SALA, WKY? The Vols will lose to The Real SC, Bama, and Gawga, to become 3-5. Then they win at most three from UK, Vandy, Mizzou and Auburn to finish 6-6, my preseason prediction.

October 2, 2013 at 12:02 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

O'Leary also was perfect at Notre Dame. Unbeaten, untied and unscored upon (that reference is just for 5.).

Oh the disaster that was the SS VanGorder. And while that tops my own personal list, I also give you Bob Davie/Ty Willingham at Notre Dame, Ron Zook at Florida and Rodney Allison at UTC (seriously - no one thought to mention Rodney? He doesn't even get any respect for not getting any respect).

Best home field - in the NFL, I'd say Seattle and Kansas City. Best atmosphere might be Green Bay, but when it comes to home field advantage, it's Seattle and KC. In the NHL, I'd say Chicago and Boston, with Detroit in the mix. Montreal, at the old Forum, was tops.

So A-Rod was duped doped time and time and time and time again? Uh, yeah.... Does that include anything after his "60 Minutes" non admission admission?

October 2, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...


I did mention Rodney.

October 2, 2013 at 12:53 p.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: I personally did not like Jim Donnan coaching the Dawgs. He was arrogant and not near as good as he thought he was. Remember one of his first games where the Dawgs had like 10 to 15 players get cramps (even Champ Bailey) and he was interviewed by Loran Smith after the game. Loran asked him about the cramps and he tore into Loran big time. We just had a big win and all you can worry about is cramps. Just never did like him.

Glen Mason had a perfect record at Georgia also. Held the job for one day and decided to stay at Kansas.

How stupid does A-Rod think people are giving the same old story time after time. Makes him look like the idiot.

October 2, 2013 at 1:07 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Sorry, JMC, I saw you mentioned at the end of your earlier post, which I didn't have time to stop to read in its entirety while trying to make a few phone calls.

October 2, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Will be back in a few for direct comments, but Jomo was right — Uggla is out for the Braves' NLDS:

Here you go:

The Division Series roster:

PITCHERS (11): Luis Avilan (LH), Luis Ayala (RH), David Carpenter (RH), Freddy Garcia (RH), David Hale (RH), Craig Kimbrel (RH), Kris Medlen (RH), Mike Minor (LH), Julio Teheran (RH), Jordan Walden (RH) and Alex Wood (LH)

CATCHERS (3): Evan Gattis, Gerald Laird and Brian McCann

INFIELDERS (5): Freddie Freeman, Paul Janish, Chris Johnson, Elliot Johnson and Andrelton Simmons

OUTFIELDERS (6): Jose Constanza, Jason Heyward, Reed Johnson, Jordan Schafer, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton

October 2, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Uggla needs to get his butt down to the Caribbean this winter for winter league ball...and be willing to remake his swing....

October 2, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
Stewwie said...

MJ vs. LeBron would be a fun matchup to see in their primes. This past spring, MJ hinted at how he'd guard LeBron. He would make Bron Bron go left since he tends to shoot more jumpers when going that way. MJ admitted that if LeBron went to the right, he'd beat MJ to the rim. LeBron is a better overall shooter than MJ, so giving him the jump shot isn't going to work for long. Unless MJ gets his trash talk on early and often and starts getting in LeBron's head.

MJ would be hard to defend with the quick first step and crafty fadeways. Not to mention the nasty pump fake when the defender bites on the turn-around J. And MJ has more grit and drive than LeBron. This is just a 1-on-1 game, but to MJ, it's life or death. All that said, I don't think either side is a lock to win this duel. But if I had to pick a winner, I'd go with MJ.

If LeBron gets to 5 or 6 rings in the next 5 years or so, I wouldn't put it past Big Mike to lace 'em up just for the playoffs with a contender at age 55 just to try to increase his ring total. I think he's concerned that LeBron will eventually be seen as the greatest ever.

October 2, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...


It's all good. ;)

October 2, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

In regards to bad coaching hires, 9er asked: GD, what about Goff? Clearly the Ray Goff experiment at UGA did not work out. If I appear to be tip-toeing a bit, it's because I am. I like Ray, he's a good guy. That being said, UGA and Goff had to part ways. It was inevitable. There is a big what if and a lot of woulda, coulda, shoulda involved when talking about hiring Goff to replace Vince Dooley in 1989. The Georgia fans had a clear-cut front-runner in mind to replace Dooley upon his retirement. Erk Russell. However Charles Knapp, the president of UGA at the time, in spite of not knowing a toss sweep from a double barrel blitz decided that Erk was not the right man for the job and no offer was ever made. We'll never know what might have been.

dawg747, trust your instincts my brother. Jim Donnan never could adjust to the increased scrutiny involved with being the head coach at Georgia as compared to coaching at Marshall. His relationship with the fans and media was becoming increasingly sour as time passed. Nick Saban can get away with being grouchy and curt. Of course Saban is winning games, winning on the recruiting trail and stacking national championship trophies like corkwood. Jim Donnan was not producing results that allow much leeway in the relationship department. Donnan didn't need to be Mary Tyler Moore likable and turn the world on with his smile, but telling the fans to shove off and then losing yet another game to a chief rival is no way to insure job security.

October 2, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Grateful Dawg,

UGa said no offer to Erk was ever made. I was told differently. Erk said no, and retired the next year after going 15-0 in his glorious final season. He didn't know they said they didn't make an offer to him until I told him that night. In fact, 25 years later, I recall with crystal clarity what I said: "Coach, they're saying they never made you an offer." And I could hear the old man fuming on the other end of the phone.

October 2, 2013 at 4:08 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...


While I have little doubt that Erk was contacted by people associated with UGA up-to but not limited to Vince Dooley, Dr. Knapp was dead-set against Erk becoming the next head coach at Georgia. Bulldog fans everywhere were clamoring for Erk, including yours truly. People associated with UGA contacted Erk and discussed the idea with him, but with Dr. Knapp firmly against it, no official offer could be made.

A million people saying something is one thing, but actually getting it in writing from the man at the top is another thing altogether.

October 2, 2013 at 8:37 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Grateful Dawg, they made Erk an offer. Because Erk left that meeting having had an offer. And he said no. My source on that is pretty good.

October 2, 2013 at 10:40 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...


I can understand why Erk felt he had a solid offer to become the head coach at UGA. Athletics Dirctor Vince Dooley offered a strong endorsement of Erk and the search committee followed Vince's lead. Coach Dooley even felt that it was a done deal. President Knapp, on the other hand, never seriously entertained the idea of hiring Erk. Knapp wanted to hire Dick Sheridan from the very beginning. Knapp ended up angering Sheridan along the way and blew that deal as well. I don't know who was at that meeting, but I know President Knapp wasn't. Again, if you find youself in a room with well wishers offering ringing endorsements and praise but not a one of them can offer anything in writing...You don't have anything official.

Any offers made to Erk were casual and unofficial. For better or worse, worse in this case, President Knapp had veto power over every Russell supporter at UGA and he used it.

October 2, 2013 at 11:41 p.m.
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