published Thursday, February 6th, 2014

5-at-10: Recruiting wrap, UT hoops, Winter Olympics primer

So, what happened on Wednesday? We just kicked back and sipped some cocktails and put our feet up. You?

OK, with Re-Cruitmas in the rearview, we can turn our attention to important things like Co-Colas and such.

Ah, Co-Colas.

From the "Talks too much" studios, that escalated in a hurry — Brick killed a guy.

Recruiting

A crazy national signing left the a hazy confusion that cleared to leave a familiar picture.

Alabama and Nick Saban had the nicest collection of new, shiny toys and the Tide had the best class. Alabama has had the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the last four years and six of the last seven. Wow.

Tennessee drilled it. So did Georgia. In fact, the SEC dominated signing day. So it goes.

UTC killed it too, raking in what 247Sports says the Mocs have the best group in the FCS. Read that again.

Here's our five takeaways of the signing day festivities:

UT players to get on the field sooner rather than later: Josh Malone, Derrell Scott and Todd Kelly. If Jalen Hurd is healthy, count him in too.

Alabama players to get on the field sooner rather than later: Cam Robinson, Marlon Humphrey and juco transfer DJ Pettway.

UTC players to get on the field sooner rather than later: Richarde Bagley and Dale Warren (who we have dubbed the Sheriff, a nickname of which Warren approves, because when you watch this dude's tape, well, he stops people). Also the three-star wide out Wil Young from Mobile has serious looks from Vandy before James Franklin left.

Signing day has never been bigger, considering the interweb traffic shutdown Rivals.com and the top trending topics for most of Wednesday dealt with signing day.

Nick Saban is the best recruiter ever. And it's not close.

———

UT stumbles

The Tennessee Vols went all over the state of in recruiting and took they wanted. They were the Honey Badger.

The Tennessee Vols basketball team went to Nashville Wednesday and took one on the chin.

Man, right when we start to think this bunch has found something they leave a floater in the bowl. Last night UT shot less than 38 percent and lost to a now 13-8 Vandy bunch despite committing just eight turnovers. Seriously, if you only commit eight turnovers and have a 41-26 rebounding edge, it seems like you should win.

But seems and should have little to do with figuring our Cuonzo Martin's third version of the Vols, considering this bunch has mastered the pogo-stick of mediocrity. These Vols are pretty good with pieces that are better than that.

And if you think this bunch is not underwhelming — and yes, road games in the conference are always tough and three of UT's four SEC losses happened outside of Knoxville — well there's a real chance that UT could finish no better than fourth in the league and have two members of the All-SEC team in Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes.

Does Wednesday's loss, which dropped UT to 14-8 overall and 5-4 in the league, hurt? Some, maybe, and we think the Vols are still on the tournament track. But Wednesday's loss does prove that the Vols are consistently inconsistent and have yet again wiped chipped away at any possible wiggle room they may have added to their NCAA tournament resume.

———

Winter Olympics

Today is the first day of activity in Sochi for the Winter Olympics.

There may not be a bigger sporting event that we know less about. So let's find talking points together. Deal? Deal (and what else do you have to do, college football is taking a six-week break until spring practice starts).

OK, we're officially out on all sports that have to be scored by judges. If you can't explain the fundamental rules of winning to a 6-year-old, well, that's too much effort. Either score more points, get somewhere faster, jump higher, there needs to be a one-sentence baseline of victory that does not include "subtract the lowest and highest score and multiple by a degree of difficulty while factoring the undeniable bias of the Russian judge." We have enough bias — real or perceived or really perceived — in or society today that we'd like to left out of our sports as often as possible and certainly when it comes to deciding winners at an event like the Olympics.

  • photo
    Russia's Alexey Sobolev takes a jump during men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Does it matter that the best U.S. hope for a medal in the supremely popular women's figure skating is named Gracie Gold? Well, maybe a little, but we're still going to pass even if Gracie Gold is akin to Tommy Touchdown or Glen Grandslam in the world of awesome sports names.

So, sorry Gracie and figure skating, save your sequins for someone else. We'll pass — unless Katrina Witt or Will Farrell make an appearance. If figure skating or interpretative snow dancing or rythmic pairs ice boarding is your thing — and we may or may not have made that last one up — knock yourselves icy. We're out.

But we're in on the Olympics because you never know when the US Hockey magic could happen. U-S-A. U-S-A.

Here are our five things that us intrigued:

Curling: We're monster fans of any sport in which drinking Co-Colas during the event is not only possible but seems somewhat mandatory. And how would a young curler practice his craft in the summer, sweeping floors? This is a sport we need to get the lil' 5-at-10 involved in considering he needs to do more chores and our genetic advantage of kicking back Co-Colas.

Bandy: This is field hockey on ice and since ice hockey was already used, they decided to go with Bandy. Not sure what other names were bandied about or if this will stick in the Olympics or bounce around like a ball of rubber band-ies. Sorry. There are some elements of soccer, like throw-ins and free strokes, and players can't intentionally touch the ball with their heads, arms or hands with the exception of the goalkeeper, who does not have a stick. It's new, it's different, and it has to be way better than the half-pipe for crying out loud.

The Jamaican bobsled team: C'mon, you have to have a soft spot for these guys, right? How many other Olympic squads took to KickStarter to get a chance at the gold. Plus, anytime a Disney movie has a real-life sequel before an actually movie sequel, well, we're in. And if you need one more reason to follow the Jamaican bobsled guys, well, think about the cast of that movie, which included John Candy, who died far too young. C'mon guys, let's do it for Caretaker. Let's do it for Candy.

Any of the speed events: For crying out loud we Southerners of all people must recognize how devastating ice and snow is, right? It caused the biggest headache in Atlanta since Sherman left town for crying out loud. It's some nasty stuff. Heck, could you imagine how abominable a massive, nasty snow man could be? Scary. (And yes, that was sarcasm, and the overwhelming hand-wringing in our hometown of Atlanta like they were hit by a tsumani became quite tired.) Still, there will be some world-class folks approaching world-class speeds on a variety of icy surfaces, and unlike the timed-to-music-snuggle-fest that is ice dancing and that ilk, the skiing, speed skating and the sled stuff is pretty awesome. Side question: Is there a sporting event in the world in which personal hygiene is more important that the four-man bobsled? Derek Dooley could reuse that shower shoe speech to the US team for sure.

The juxtaposition of the men's hockey: Thirty-four years ago the US hockey captured the nation's attention and spirit on home soil with a magical run. This year's Russian hockey team faces more pressure than that bunch. After dominating the first 40 years of the Olympics — eight golds in 10 Games, and the only two times they did not win the Games were in America — the Russians have not won gold in the last five OIympics. Where's Kurt Russell? Miracle indeed.

———

This and that

— CBS acquired eight Thursday night NFL games. Here's a prediction: in 10 years, the only network that has a chance to compete against ESPN is CBSSports.

— FSU coach Jimbo Fisher says Jameis Winston will play this year and next, despite being eligible for the draft — and likely being the No. 1 overall pick — after the 2014 season. Sure, he will Jimbo. Just like Johnny Football was supposed to, too. Hey Jimbo, thoughts on the Loch Ness monster? Discuss.

— The Lakers finished the game with five players on the floor last night. This normally would not be news worthy. One of the five Lakers was Robert Sacre, who fouled out with 3:32 left in the game. The Lakers, who started with eight players and two more leave the game with injuries, got to use a little-known rule to finish the game with limited numbers and a fouled-out player. L.A. was assessed a technical foul and allowed to re-insert Sacre into the game. So much for "My team is on the floor," huh Coach Dale?

— Starting today, the celebrity pair to watch at the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am has to be the all-star duo of Kid Rock playing with PGA pro... wait for it... little longer... John Daly. Rock and Daly. Daly and Rock. This should have it's own reality show. Seriously, if the Golf Channel followed this duo for the whole week and aired it over six nights, like a Shark Week-meets-Real World-meets-Golfers Gone Wild, you know you'd watch it.

———

Today's question

Feel free to give your view on your team's signing day haul.

Also, remember Friday's mailbag — we have spots.

If you still need talking points, well, here is one:

In honor of Gracie Gold, what are the best real sports name you can think of?

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.
chas9 said...

Big Stokes says "It's terrible for us." Vandy's shirts say they own the Volunteer state.

As January ended, Weeds wrote that UT would have to finish at least 13-5 in the SEC to go dancing. In this forum I agreed, and added that to do that The Vols would have to split four games: at Bama, at Vandy, Florida, and at Mizzou. They have split the first two, they will lose to The Gators, so they MUST beat the UM Tigers, or stay home.

Question: How do you absolutely dominate the board battle, have Stokes tally 11/14, and still lose the war? Answer: As is a recurring theme with these Volunteers, in their ugly games they can't shoot and can't defend their foe's shooting.

Glass half full view is it's always tough to win on Vandy's sideways court. But Cuonzo's cagers have backed themselves into the corner they find themselves in. The Cuonz blamed a bad call for the loss. When the coach starts publicly blaming the refs, you're in a bad place.

In pointy ball, among the top 25 recruiting classes (or top 20 according to ESPN), only UT and UK have gotten the blue-chippers in spite of a string of seriously stinky seasons. The Wildcats, especially, since they've only beaten four cupcakes in two years.

Says a lot about Jones and Stoops that they are getting prize recruits to buy into future dreams. Kentucky's class is right behind Oregon's and ahead of Penn State. Good company.

And good times for Our Chattanooga Mocs.

Questions for Friday: How do you pronounce "Richarde?" And what is your Rushmore of Olympics movies? Hint: Start with Chariots of Fire and Cool Running." I'll accept a judge's ruling on whether Blades of Glory is an Olympics flick.

February 6, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Wow, Vanderbilt now "owns the state" in basketball. . . .they do seem to be a killer for UTK, they basically killed Derek Dooley and cost him his job, they killed UTK in football in 2013 and cost Butchy a bowl game . .now they may have killed Counzo Martin and cost him his job. . . . .AND if you went to Vegas, today Vandy would be an early favorite vs UTK in their home football game this fall. . . If that happens what would that kill ?

Also Rivals.com crash on signing day is like CNN going off the air on Presidential election night, bet some IT guy at rivals is not having fun today, if still employed

February 6, 2014 at 10:49 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

On the Bubble Watch on CNNSI.com yesterday, they had the Vols listed under "Should Be In" rather than "Work To Do." That tells me they had room for a loss like Vandy, regardless of losing to Mizzou or Florida.

The Vols are not comfortable. They have to win. Things are gloomy in Knoxville in the roundball. No doubt. But they are safer than some think.

February 6, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Great job by the T-FP Sports Staff w/ today's Section D.

The original "Sheriff" was a tall, thin red-headed kid from Signal Mtn that played DE + wide-out at McCallie. Edward Smith went on to play MLB at Vanderbilt, where he "ruled the territory"; hence the nickname.

C-Niner: Thanks for the e-mail password tip last week. I changed mine from "12345" to "678910". Clever, huh? Oh, and I use gmail. Hey, I ain't as dumb as I type...

Billy-In-Brainerd

February 6, 2014 at 10:55 a.m.
MocTastic said...

CTFP writer Stephan Hargis wrote on Jan 28: The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Bagley, whose first name is pronounced "Ricar-dre,"

February 6, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - I'm cold. I'm waiting on a flight to an even colder place. Football's 7 months away. I need a distraction. For the mailbag. What's your Rushmore of warm places and why? Side question. Name your preferred tropical beverage for each location...

February 6, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--There's Lion King Conaway, but he's no Gracie Gold.

No bandy, please. Or did you say brandy? Yes, please.

We could start a rumor that Famous Jameis is following Mark Stoops to UK. And would the Cats' coach legally change his name to "Maker's Mark" for certain financial compensation?

BiB--You're definitely prettier than you are smart. Or so they say along the Chattahoochie.

MT--I haven't been so confused since Tony Dorset decided to be Dor SETT. Which of Richarde's syl-LAB-les do we accent?

Stuckey--I still rank Tennessee 3rd in the SEC (barely). It'd be a sad day if we get fewer than three bids. But you don't think they can get in if they lose to BOTH Mizzou and Florida in the next 10 days, do you?

February 6, 2014 at 11:51 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

I tend to put little stock in 247sports on anything, especially after the kid from Merritt Island is a 2-star commit to Louisville but as soon as he decides to go to Georgia, he's gotten an extra star. You know how long it took Patton to get an extra star? And he already had a track record.

Saban must be either one great salesman on the phone (you know, even better than Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glenross) or make a tremendous impact in the one in-person visit he can make at school or home. Maybe some love needs to go to his staff for their recruiting ability. They're not just steak knives. But Saban must be coffee all day and all night.

The difference in the last five Olympics men's hockey tournaments? Now everybody plays their pros. Before, it was really just the Soviets. That's all those guys did, Tretiak, the KLM line, all of them. Now? The Canadians, the Swedes, the Finns, the Czechs, the Slovaks and the Yanks all can put star-studded teams on the ice. Many of the guys from the 1980 line eventually played in the NHL - Ken Morrow, Jim Craig, Dave Silk, et al. But quite a few didn't.

February 6, 2014 at 12:50 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Bill Scott, damn right there's already a Sheriff in town. From what Ed told me he had 14 solo tackles against Oklahoma earning him AP Defensive Player of the Week. Accolades from the Davidson County Sherriff, shortly followed in the form of "Honorary Sheriff of Davidson County" with badge. The next week, as the story goes, Ed shredded a knee, which caused the loss of speed and mobility when covering receivers in the middle. Ed played for the Colts. "The Sheriff" also imparted to me the hardest hit he ever took was from Earl Campbell.

10 Ring, you can't just go around labeling just anyone "Sheriff." It takes a Sherriff, like Jim Hammond, to confer such status in this prefecture.

You might try for "Tennessee Colonel" available by recommendation at the Governor's office. That's an appellation I enjoy among friends.

February 6, 2014 at 12:53 p.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

The quicker Clownzo gets his pink slip, the better. This team won't win 10 games next year because they won't be able to score. With McRae, the only true scoring threat gone, and man-child offensive rebounders Maymon and Stokes (I think Stokes will go pro) gone, Clownzo's ball team will probably set a record in offensive futility. It's only going to get worse after this team of mainly upperclassman is gone.

Clownzo is a nice guy, but he needs to get with it and quit this business of playing like he's still hoisting it up for Gene Keady at Purdue eons ago. That offense stinks, and he refuses to adapt to today's game. Combine Clownzo's woeful ineptitude as a coach with his horrible personality, and there won't be many people filling TBA next season.

Tennessee needs to bring back Bruce Pearl. The man can coach and has the personality to get people fired up. He's the exact opposite of Clownzo.

February 6, 2014 at 1:13 p.m.
chas9 said...

Spy--Who did this Patton guy play for?

fec--Didn't know Tennessee had imitated The Commonwealth of Kentucky in granting honorary colonel accolades.

Yes, CV, The Cuonz's cupboard will be bare next year.

February 6, 2014 at 1:17 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

chas9, Patton was an Olympic athlete. Played at West Point and VMI. Finished fifth in the pentathlon when the judges at the Stockholm Games didn't believe he shot a bullet through the same hole in the target again.

But you should have seen his time in the 40-mile dash, especially against heavy opposition.

February 6, 2014 at 1:31 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Recruiting is obviously important, but I believe that National Signing Day is overblown. Is it really worth it for some of the Joe Schmos of the world to burn a vacation day to devote all day to keeping track of who has sent in their faxes? Why can't simply reading the recaps with full analysis at the end of the day or next day be good enough (great job in today's Sports section by the way, TFP)? Plus, what matters more is what actually happens on the field, not who wins some convoluted recruiting rankings battle. Jay, what is your Rushmore of overrated sporting events/games/celebrations? And yes, National Signing Day is on mine.

And in honor of Jay Leno retiring (aka being forced out by NBC for the 2nd time), what is the Rushmore of Jays (alive or dead, real or fiction, first, middle, or last name)?

If the Cuonz gets the ax next year, do the Vols consider going after Will Wade? I know the mere thought of that happening is going to make Jomo's blood boil, but it might actually be a viable option for the Big Orange...especially if Year 2 for Wade in Chatt-ville is even better than Year 1.

February 6, 2014 at 1:41 p.m.
jgreeson said...

C-Vol —

Other than that, what are your thoughts on Coach Martin?

FE to the C/BiB —

If the TFP Sports Editor can name a Deputy Sports Editor (he gets one bullet and everything), it would surmise that at least in one way, we could be viewed as a Sports Sheriff, ergo we have the same sheriff-izing capabilities.

And yes, the previous Sheriff earned his badge, but nicknames recycle. How many Snakes have their been or Ballgame or Stan the Man.

And why not paraphrase our man Reggie Hammond (no relation to Jim): "There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Dale Warren. Y'all be cool."

Spy —

Sure Saban's staff is doing work too, but they are selling a better product that Saban has built. It would be like Old Man Ford telling his sales force to go pitch the Model A against the horse and buggy. Dudes have a better mouse trap for crying out loud.

Stink.

And great job getting two money GGR references in there (Always Be Closing) and a Few Good Men shoutout. Well-played indeed.

MT —

Spot on. We'll ask Coach Huesman to double check today on Press Row around 4:10, but we believe for Moc fans it's "Re-CAR-dre" and for opponents, it's pronounced, "Dang, he's fast."

Bib —

Thanks for the kind words. We are blessed to have a staff that loves what we do and works tirelessly to try to make it as good as we can.

9er —

Excellent breakdown on the bipolar Vols. It's a strange bunch. Eight turnovers, and plus-15 on the boards and you lose? Go figure.

February 6, 2014 at 1:42 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

Excellent post, and we'll give you multiple mailbag entries for that one. Well-played indeed.

Spy —

40-mile dash? Was that electronic or hand-held? You know the two biggest lies in sports/war stats are 40-mile dash times and 900 mph surface-to-air missiles.

Good stuff today gang.

February 6, 2014 at 1:45 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Chas, yep, Elvis' Manager, Colonel Tom Parker, is arguably the most famous recipient of the "Colonel, Aide de Camp, Governor's Staff." Colonel Parker certainly got a lot of mileage out of it.

Tennessee picked up Counz quickly under the dark clouds and stench of Pearl's departure. Next, the Vols need to take the time do do their due diligence by dint of a deliberate search, full blown research, and more than one interview. The new coach should be a proven recruiter, polished X and O man, a players coach and charismatic, yeah like Pearl.

Tennessee can't fail to hire a less than stellar coach at this juncture, more mediocrity and the program will continue to underwhelm at best.

February 6, 2014 at 1:46 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

If you are feeling any withdrawal symptoms from the conclusion of national signing day, suddenly high school kids putting a hat on doesn't seem that exciting and the fax machine is just a boring and somewhat antiquated piece of office equipment, you could follow the recruitment of Dacorius Law. Law is a three-star running back prospect out of Haines City, Florida. Dacorius signed a letter of intent to play at Ole Miss. And Utah. And East Mississippi Community College. Three LOIs with three schools that each announced Dacorius Law as a member of their incoming class.

Pig in the ground, check. Beer on ice, check. Are you ready for some contract law?

February 6, 2014 at 2:50 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

So I've gone from looking up candidate info on the state Republican Party web site (it's a work thing - guy ain't even running in my district) to listening to Iron Maiden on YouTube.

Good times!

February 6, 2014 at 2:58 p.m.
MocTastic said...

From wiki: In 1948, Parker received the rank of colonel in the Louisiana State Militia from Jimmie Davis, the governor of Louisiana and a former country singer, in return for work Parker did on Davis' election campaign. Parker used the title throughout his life, becoming known simply as "the Colonel" to many acquaintances.

However, also from wiki: The highest honor of Tennessee is “Colonel, Aide de camp, Governor’s staff". Those who receive this award are recorded by the Secretary of State of Tennessee with those who have been commissioned into the State Guard and Tennessee National Guard. This distinction went to only American citizens or Tennessee residents until Governor Phil Bredesen awarded it to the first non American, a Canadian, Cory Ward Dingle of British Columbia for his contributions to the People of Tennessee.

So, you can be a Tennessee Colonel, although the number of times you hear that compared to being a Kentucky Colonel is miniscule.

February 6, 2014 at 3:08 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Colonel Billy...what do ya think, MocTastic?

And what did this Dingle guy give the fine people of Tennessee? Canadian Mist? Canadian Club? To that I say "Cheers!"

Colonel Billy-In-Brainerd

February 6, 2014 at 3:23 p.m.
MocTastic said...

I also read that Jay Greeson can grant the honory title of Chattanooga Colonel. About time he start giving those out...Colonel Billy does sound good.

February 6, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.
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