published Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

5-at-10: SEC asked and answered, NFL power poll and Rushmore of hated athletes

Lots to get to today, and we'll even have a late visit from Mr. Stuart Smalley.

From the "Talks too much" studios, you're good enough, you're smart enough and dog gone it people like you.

SEC asked and answered

Let's try something different this week. Let's ask and answer how each fan base feels heading into the last Saturday in October. Deal? Deal. Rankings remain in order of team quality to date.

1. Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC)

How do Alabama fans feel? Elite. Pass the Grey Poupon for crying out loud. The Tide backers have reached a level of expectation that not only do they expect success, they expect domination. If Nick Saban is perfection's guardian, the Tide fan base are reaping the benefits. So yes, like their coach, the Tide fans feel rewarded and elite but not satisfied. Not yet any way.

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

2. Missouri (7-0, 3-0)

How do Missouri fans feel? Downright joyous, and after Saturday's impressive thumping of Florida, the feeling of joy has started to turn into the cautious optimism of "what if..." scenarios that start with SEC title game trips and peak at potential BCS title game shots. And if you think Mizzou fans feel lucky, well, you're wrong. They are quick to e-mail that there are only two teams in the country that have won every game this year by 15 or more points — these Tigers and Oregon. Take that luck.

Saturday: vs. South Carolina, 7 (ESPN2)

3. Auburn (6-1, 3-1)

How do Auburn fans feel? Overjoyed that Saturdays are fun again. After last season's historically bad season that included a bagel-and-8 in the SEC, Auburn is among the three SEC teams that control its destiny in the conference. And considering Saturday's 45-41 win over Texas A&M was 46-point turnaround from last year's 63-21 Aggies' win, Auburn fans believe there's no question that first-year coach Gus Malzahn deserves to be in the national coach of the year discussion.

Saturday: vs. Florida Atlantic, 7:30 (FoxSports)

4. LSU (6-2, 3-2)

How do LSU fans feel? Puzzled, and not just by Les Miles' postgame rants and his consistently confusing Confucius-like sayings. LSU fans also have to feel a little fearful about how Zach Mettenberger will play in two weeks against Alabama, considering that last year's Bad Mettenberger reappeared against Ole Miss and the lone Good Mettenberger road performance we've seen was at Georgia, which is not going to be confused with the 1985 Chicago Bears any time soon.

Saturday: off

5. Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2)

How do Texas A&M fans feel? A little sad to tell the truth. The Aggies are about to have two years of the best and most electric player in the country and there's going to be no team hardware on the shelf. To make matters worse, fellow expansion member Missouri is on track to make the title game in its second year in the SEC, the Aggies are on track to finish fourth in the West. To make matters worse still, you have to believe that Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin is going to be atop several ADs' lists this offseason and there are likely some big-boy jobs coming open. There is nothing sadder than wasted opportunity. Well accept for Old Yeller. Seriously, if you did not cry at the end of Old Yeller, well, you and Nick Saban can go watch "Blindside" again.

Saturday: vs. Vandy, 12:21 (WDSI)

6. Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3)

How do Ole Miss fans feel? Happy to be on the upward ascent of the crazy roller coaster that is college football. Let's review the last few years for the Rebels: The get embroiled in a mascot controversy, including one that looked way too much like Jar-Jar Binks; they ride the misery tour that is Houston Nutt's indifferent walk to broadcasting; they experience a renewed and record-setting run for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State; they land Hugh Freeze and make immediate strides, including a surprising bowl trip in 2012; Ole Miss becomes the story of signing day, landing three of top-10 players in the class; fast start to 2013 leads to huge dreams; three-game skid with a thumping, a puzzler and a Johnny Football escape leads to wonder, which led to Saturday's monster upset over LSU. Hotty Toddy indeed.

Saturday: vs. Idaho, 7:30 (CSS)

7. Georgia (4-3, 3-2)

How do Georgia fans feel? Mostly, they feel unlucky, but there's also some anger there, especially at soon-to-be-former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. There's also a groundswell, a not-so-silent minority that are starting to wonder how much higher can the Mark Richt regime lead this program. It's a fair question, of course, but one that every UT fan will shake his or her head and say, "Be careful what you wish for."

Saturday: off

  • photo
    Tennessee's head coach Butch Jones slaps hands to greets fans during the Vol's Walk.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

8. Tennessee (4-3, 1-2)

How do Tennessee fans feel? Downright giddy. Be it Brick-by-brick or 117 or whatever buzz word or catch phrase Butch Jones is spouting, the fact that he landed a hat-hanging win — in October no less — gives him a credence in the locker room and among the fan base that has been gone from UT since 2007. Jones has the Vols on track for a bowl bid and has assembled one of the nation's top five recruiting classes so far. Tennessee fans can start feeling a little bit like Tennessee fans did when Tennessee was Tennessee. (That made sense when we started typing it, promise.)

Saturday: at Alabama, 3:30 (CBS)

9. South Carolina (5-2, 3-2)

How do South Carolina fans feel? Scared. Look around the league and there are a lot of teams starting to trend upward, the way South Carolina was trending in recent years. Now look at this team, and a large part of its start power will be gone next year, including senior quarterback Connor Shaw and defensive man-child Jadeveon Clowney. Also, the 10-ton elephant question on the tongue of every Johnny Gamecocks Fan everywhere is how much longer will Spurrier sign on for this?

Saturday: at Missouri, 7 (ESPN2)

10. Vandy (4-3, 1-3)

How do Vandy fans feel? Mixed malaise of melancholy and merriment. First, it's Vandy, so you know they are going to use a $2 phrase for their feelings. Second, the alliteration was a must. As for the feelings, well, Vandy is on track for its third consecutive bowl bid, which in some circles should be as impressive as Alabama being on track for its third consecutive national title. So that's cause for celebration. That said, the off-the-field scandal within the program and the all-but-certainty that this is coach James Franklin's last year in Nashville rains on the parade.

Saturday: at Texas A&M, 12:21 (WDSI)

11. Florida (4-3, 3-2)

How do Florida fans feel? Confused. Super confused. Is this stink-pants performance because of the injuries? Certainly that's possible, considering the Gators make the Georgia Bulldogs look healthy since Florida has lost its starting QB, tailback, best receiver, starting tackle, best defensive player and a linebacker to season-ending injury. Or is this stink-pants performance because of coaching? Will Muschamp went 7-6 in 2011, 11-2 last year and is 4-3 this year, and considering these Gators are the worst offensive team in the league and have games against South Carolina, Georgia and FSU still on the schedule, there are still plenty of hurdles left. Is Coach Boom more Zook than Meyer? Confusing indeed, but what's not to be confused is that Florida never expects to spend bowl season picking between Memphis or Birmingham.

Saturday: Off

12. Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2)

How do Mississippi State fans feel? Hacked off. Hacked off that Dan Mullen can't pick a quarterback and ride. Hacked off that Hugh Freeze and the Colonel Johnny Rebels Black Bears Fans can's stop smiling and thanking the Lord. Hacked off that Cam Newton didn't come to Starkville. Hacked off that the real likelihood is the Bulldogs will have to rebuild, and rebuilding in the SEC West is just a touch easier that trying to rebuild a bomb shelter on the Gaza Strip. Stupid world.

Thursday: vs. Kentucky, 7:30 (ESPN)

13. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3)

How to Kentucky fans feel? Alright all things considered. The Wildcats fought tooth and claw at South Carolina. New coach Mark Stoops has assembled what could be the best recruiting class in UK history. And let's not forget hoops season starts in a few weeks, and you know who is preseason No. 1? Yep, the 'Cats.

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

14. Arkansas (3-5, 0-4)

How to Arkansas fans feel? Terrible. Slap terrible. Since Bret Bielema's wife tweeted '#karma' to Wisconsin fans last month Johnny Hogs Fans have learned that karma can be a cruel and immediate playmate. Arkansas scored first 10 days ago against South Carolina, and in the 115 minutes of game action since, the Hogs have been outscored 104-0. Heck, Arkansas is the only major college football program in the country that knows exactly what two weeks of being Oregon's scout team feels like. #karma, indeed.

Saturday: Off

————

NFL Power poll

Man, which is more confusing, the top five teams in the "we-love-parody" version of today's NFL or the bottom five teams?

1) Kansas City — The NFL, more than any other league, screams the basic and undeniable truth that a team is what its record says it is. Period. And by that measure, the Chiefs — the league's last unbeaten team because of a dynamite defense littered with former SEC stars like Eric Berry and Justin Houston — are the best. That said, here's saying the 1972 Dolphins — the NFL's only team to complete the regular season and the playoffs unbeaten and a group that still celebrates when the last unbeaten falls to protect their place in NFL lore — is already icing the champaign.

2) Denver — Peyton Manning's struggles in his return to Indy aside, this is still the class of the league. Plus, when linebacker Von Miller returns from NFL time out, the defense will improve dramatically.

3) Seattle — Defensively, kudos to Pete Carroll and Co. for building an elite group from back to front. Laying a foundation of the game's best corner in Richard Sherman and the game's best young safety this side of Eric Berry in Earl Thomas, the Seahawks have flipped the popular coaching cliche. How many times have we heard "You have to establish/stop the run first" for coaches? Tons right? Well, the Seahawks stop the pass first — an elite secondary coupled with pass-rushing demons — and dare you to run to keep up. Good luck with that.

4) New Orleans — You could list the Saints right there as 3B and Seattle and New Orleans are the two best teams in the NFC. In fact, it's hard to remember a time when home-field advantage will swing a Super Bowl spot more than this year considering how tough the Saints are in Superdome and how touch the Seahawks are in Seattle.

5) New England — We give the Pats a slight edge over San Fran because the Pats have Tom Brady and the 49ers don't. And while the Pats struggle to get through as Brady tries to get by with Ed the Tire Guy and some guy named Jermaine running patterns, imagine what the Pats offense will be when the starters return and the Ed the Tire Guy and Jermaine have become contributors.

Bottom five

28) Houston — Officially the league's "Man, they should be much better but aren't" bunch. This may be one of the toughest off-the-field weeks for a franchise since Falcons fans learned about the depths of Mike Vick's dog fighting. Consider that Bum Phillips — the beloved coach of the Houston Oilers and father of Texans DC Wade Phillips — passed this weekend. Consider that stud duck linebacker Brian Cushing was lost for the season and running back Arian Foster was injured last Sunday. Then on Monday, Bud Adams, the man that brought the Oilers to Houston, also died. Tough times in Houston.

29) New York Giants — Was that the worst Monday Night Football game ever, when the Giants recorded victory No. 1 over a hapless Minnesota team? Egad, there were folks we know who had money on that one that couldn't bear to watch. Heck, here's saying that other than the parents and the wives, as long as folks promised to patronize the sponsors, Gruden and Tirico were OK with people flipping channels.

30) Minnesota — Josh Freeman made his first start for the Vikings and had one of the worst stat lines in the last decade. Dude completed just 37 percent and was 3-of-15 on passes longer than 15 yards. Ouch-standing. This leads to two points: First, how bad must Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel be for this to be the best option for success for Minnesota? And second, the Tampa Bay staff is giggling. Well, at least on the inside, because...

31) Tampa Bay — Freeman's struggles aside, there are few answers for a Bucs team that has too many questions. Side point, if you had to name the best Tampa Bay offensive player ever, who would it be? Doug Williams maybe? And if that's the answer, is that the worst all-time offensive star of every team in the league?

32) Jacksonville — Duh. Well we forgot about Jacksonville, which is easy to do these days.

————

Miami punishment

The Hurricanes will learn their fate today.

Should be interesting.

Reports have the Hurricanes, who are ranked No. 7 and firmly in the mix for BCS dreams, getting a mild slap on the wrist with nine scholarships lost over the next three years and the self-imposed penalties that Miami has already enforced.

Miami's self-imposed penalties including missing the last two bowls, last year's ACC title game and several player suspensions and even some restitution in some areas.

So, after eye-popping evidence laid out by Yahoo Sports, the NCAA manages to mangle that and turn what is a river of serious violations into officially a very mild outcome.

This is the first step toward irrelevancy for the NCAA. Book it.

———

This and that

— So long Jim Leyland. You made the game of baseball better and more fun, and for that we tip our cap.

— Explain again how the Dodgers are considering not resigning Don Mattingly for the long term? Hey, Dodgers, you have a $200-million payroll, a few extra millions for the manager that earned their respect this season should be a no-brainer, right?

— World Series starts tomorrow between the Cards and the Red Sox, two enormous fan basis that have a polarizing effect on other fan basis. On the outside looking in, this seems like watching an SEC title game between Alabama and Florida — not really sure we can pull for either but we're hoping for some good games.

— Dude Crocodile Dundee is getting divorced from that lady that was in the Crocodile Dundee movies. Side question: If Crocodile Dundee gets sad, does he cry Crocodile tears?

— Sad news that Nerlens Noel, the former UK super frosh, is expected to miss the entire season because of the lingering effects of his injury last February. Noel was the No. 6 pick in the draft and has the No. 1 ranked high-top fade in the free world. Good times indeed.

————

Today's question(s)

Feel free to share your feelings about your college football team today. Heck, this could be like an extra special Blossom or an everyday Dr. Phil. Vent and repent or whatever that rich, balding fat man says to his devoted army of viewers.

Side question: Isn't Dr. Phil really Stuart Smalley with a few extra degrees and the gold-plated Oprah seal of approval. And sweet buckets, if Oprah gives you the thumbs up, you're in there like swimwear friends.

  • photo
    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick practices at the team's NFL football training facility, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Philadelphia
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

If you still need another talking point, well, Forbes listed the results of a recent survey that showed Mike Vick is the most hated NFL player. Manti T'eo was No. 2 and Ndamukong Suh was No. 3. Amazingly Tom Brady was fourth, which shows the folks surveyed loved pets, hate lying and bullies and by and large are a fairly jealous bunch. And that's OK, because they're good enough and smart enough and dog gone it people like them.

Here's you question: What's your Rushmore of hated athletes. If you want to explain, fine — for some like chas9 there will be no need to explain that Laettner's on there — if not, that's OK too.

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.
MocTastic said...

Outside of Chattanooga Lookouts and Dodgers fans, Yasiel Puig is on the list with a bullet as they used to say about music on the Billboard list. Puig if he keeps it up will top the list for "hated" athletes in baseball in short order.

October 22, 2013 at 10:22 a.m.
chas9 said...

I don't think Tennessee's dominating kicking game vs. The Cocks has gotten the praise it deserves in this space. Palardy was my player of the game. General Neyland and Johnny Majors would've been proud. (I wrote this before I saw Weeds' story.)

Is Bama's Sunsieri malingering? Wonder if he's afraid fierce Vols mad about his dad might take it out on him.

Saban thinks Old Yeller is about a woodpecker. Right on summary of SEC fans' feelings. I agree that UK is above The Hogs, and we'll see if they can move up a notch with a Starkville win.

Gary Parrish has listed his version of college basketball's 30 best bigs, 30 best wings, and 30 best point/combo guards.

In the bigs category, he likes these SEC players: 2) UK's Randle; 5) UK's Cauley-Stein; 13) UT's Stokes; 16) LSU's Martin; 25) LSU's O'Bryant; 26) UK's Johnson.

He likes these wings: 9) UK's Poythress; 16) Ole Miss's Henderson; 17) UK's other Harrison; 19) UT's McRae; 30) UK's Young.

He only likes two SEC point/combo guards: 5) UK's Harrison; 27) Bama's Releford.

So if Parrish is a reliable evaluator of talent, every time The Cats face an SEC opponent, they'll be better at every position than the other team. And if they played an all-star team of the best from the other SEC teams, they'd still be better at four of five positions.

Disclaimer: I think Parrish is a tad biased toward Kentucky. I'll believe Poythress and Harrison can outplay McRae when I see it. And nobody from Florida?

I had hoped the SEC would be more competitive this year, but this estimate doesn't look encouraging.

Let's hope that NN's career doesn't echo Sam Bowie's.

You call that a knife?

October 22, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jaymeister.

Interesting over/unders regarding the Mocs attendance for Saturday. A lot of people predicting 6-8,000 but I'm still staying with 4,000. Although I cracked up royally regarding Stewwie's prediction for the student section at 25. Reminds me of a new slogan in UTC' student recruitment campaign:

UTC: Nobody's first choice since 1969.

or

UTC: Just like China, Illinois only the chancellor does not sound like Hulk Hogan.

(See? I can make fun of my ala-mater that I'm dead loyal too).

Moving on..

Athletics I don't care much for:

Deon Sanders: Because he's more full of himself then a Thanksgiving goose.

Payton Manning: Because of that whole "Second Coming" parellel-ism. He's just a football player people.

Josh Hamilton: Great baseball player, Hardcore Hypocriste, Very weak constitution.

Terrell Owens: Not enough hours on the day to list my grievances. Forsaking his time with the Mocs is the top offense though.

October 22, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Great start gang.

MT —

Puig will have a great career. And be a drawing card for years to come because you're 100-percent right. Fans of his team will love him; everyone else will loathe him.

9er —

This is a knife.

And amen on Nerlens and Bowie.

JMC —

Strong list and we can see several of those. Keep your helmet on though, Peyton has some serious supporters.

We think 7K is a fair number to start with, and yes, Stewwie's student guess was well-played indeed.

October 22, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
chas9 said...

1) the Christian who stomps on players' faces when they're down and defenseless; 2) T. O.; 3) Pete Rose; 4) Iverson. Only loyalty keeps me from including Ryan Harrow.

Eddie Robinson is rolling over in his grave.

October 22, 2013 at 11:37 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay-

I respect Payton as a player and from what people who have met him personally, he's an all-around class act and I'm sure a great father. My hatred is the simple iology (I can't find the correct spelling; sorry) with him the same way some people have with Reagan. My take is he's simple flesh and blood like you and me. If I run into him at Whole Foods tomorrow, I would be polite to him just like anyone else.

Hope that makes better sense.

October 22, 2013 at 11:57 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - put me down for 1. Cornelius Bennett for admitting to targeting Tony Robinson's knee in 1985. 2. Spurrier for those crazy eyes and always having UT's number while in Gainesville. 3. Charlie Leibrandt for serving up a cream puff to Kirby Puckett in 1991. 4. Mike Hamilton for singlehandedly torching UT athletics.

October 22, 2013 at 1 p.m.
Stewwie said...

I'm not understanding the reason for sitting Noel out for the entire year. He is projected to be able to return to the court mid-season, but the Sixers are not going to let him play regardless. Why not let him get some game action if/when he can?

Rushmore of hated athletes: Keyshawn, Brady, Redick, 'Sheed Wallace.

October 22, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Tampa Bay offensive player? No love for James Wilder or the late Ricky Bell?

Hated athletes ... doesn't this begin and end with A-Rod? I put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar up there too. Hated him with the Bucks. Really hated him with the Lakers. I didn't hate Dr. J as a player, even though he was a Sixer. Then I met him. Different story afterward. I put Gretzky on the list. Yes. Gretzky. Hate him. Hate Barry Bonds too. Couldn't care less about LeBron or Kobe. Don't like em. But don't feel enough antipathy toward them to outright hate them.

With Leyland done, the No Smoking sign is now in effect in the dugout.

Crocodile tears ... heh heh heh ... nice one, 5.

October 22, 2013 at 1:31 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- do find it hard to beleive that Alabama just announced available ticlets for Bama-UTK game, since Tenn did not sell its alloted tickets ? You would think with all the giddy feeling in Vol nation they could find 1000 fans who wanted to go ?

October 22, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Great call on Rose.

We'll also take A-Rod, Lance and.... we're thinking. Kobe maybe.

JMC —

Thanks for the clarification, and we believe anyone can have anyone on any Rushmore at anytime. We just know the last time we said something just less than flattering about Lord Peyton and it was like we tooted in church for crying out loud.

Sportsfan —

Excellent call on Biscuit.

Actually we probably add Eric Ramsey as our fourth over Kobe.

And man Tony Robinson was fun to watch with the ball in his hands.

Stewwie —

Keyshawn and JJ are excellent calls.

Maybe this is the first ever preemptive lottery tank. If you could pair Wiggins and Noel together for the next decade, the 76ers would be back in a hurry.

Spy —

How many you putting on your Rushmore, 12?

Gretzky, really?

You and Tommy Lasorda? We hate Tommy Lasorda. (Fletch line — we dig Tommy L.)

Jomo —

Just saw that. Not sure how many of Custer's fans wanted to go watch the fight at Little Big Horn either.

October 22, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay,

Totally get it. I haven't listened to SportTalk in months and yesterday right after work I cranked up the streaming audio while I was playing catch-up on some laundry and bathroom cleaning.

If I had a $1.00 for every armchair QB "Carl" wannabe calling in with every detail on "nitpick" call X regarding TN/SC or AU/A&M or Mizzou an't for real etc. etc. etc., I could have REALLY nice sushi dinner. While nothing new, you'd think they were on Fox News like rabid tea party leaning thank tank (translation for: I have no real job of substance) screaming about Obamacare like he's the lead singer of Whitesnake. T_T Sheeeeeesh! Be happy the Vols won people.

October 22, 2013 at 2:40 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

No, just the four - A Frod, Kareema, Gretzky, Bonds.

Lasorda really is a tool. You've heard the blumpkin story, right? Warning - blumpkin material is extremely not FOIB.

October 22, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

It is relatively easy to gauge the collective mood of the Georgia and Florida fan bases by checking out any of the various blogs where fans connect for a little back-and-forth. The Cocktail Party is twelve days away and the Dawgs and Gators are doing some serious trash-talking. The thing is, both fan bases are trashing their own team and conceding defeat in Jacksonville. We've got a bunch of key players hurt, so do we comes the reply. A Georgia fan points out that our defense is terrible to which a Florida fan responds that it will not matter as Florida's offense is so bad they will not be able to capitalize. A Georgia fan stated that our defensive backs could not cover a midget in a phone booth. A Florida fan stated that Will Muschamp makes Ray Goff look like Nick Saban. Optimism may abound elsewhere, but don't look for it Jacksonville. At least football fans in Jacksonville have an NFL franchise they can be proud...Never mind.

The general consensus is there will be a bad moon risin' over the St. Johns River. On the upside, one of these teams will pick up a win in spite of themselves.

October 22, 2013 at 3:21 p.m.
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