published Thursday, February 20th, 2014

5-at-10: More Olympic discussion, Pearl petitions, Combine news and more

Gang, hope all is well and warm in your world.

We have a spot in the mailbag, so send along any query you may have.

From the "Talks too much" studios, come on feel the noise, girls rock your boys.

Olympics strangeness

We can agree that these Winter Olympics have been a touch out of the ordinary, right?

  • photo
    The United States' Julia Mancuso passes a gate in the slalom portion of the women's super-combined to earn the bronze medal Monday in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

From skating commentator Johnny Wier's less than Carhartt wardrobe to USA athlete Kate Hansen filming a massive wild dog/wolf wandering the hall of the Olympic compound (here's the clip), there has been a ton of stuff going on.

Sure there are the great emotional stories that NBS hangs its hat on, but other than the hockey, we have not watched any of these games. In fact, the 5-at-10 has been binge watching past seasons of Game of Thrones this week — which is awesome in its awesomeness. (We highly recommend binge watching on past series. If you need some ideas, if you have not seen The Wire or Breaking Bad, well, hello NetFlix or whatever binge options you may have. Any others you recommend to add to the binge watching suggestions? House of Cards is next on to-binge list.)

Where were we? Oh yes, the Olympics. In truth, we were a touch sad that the Ruskies lost in hockey on Wednesday. The U.S. kept rolling and will face Canada in a semifinal on Friday that has the feeling of the gold medal match.

We'll be watching Friday during the day.

————

Combine questions

The NFL combine starts its on-field drills this weekend. Good times.

We love the draft. You may know this already.

The combine interviews have already started, and there are several folks that could cement their status in the first round — or even in the top five overall picks — with great performances in the face-to-face meetings with the team representatives.

Here's a look at three guys who will be under a tight microscope before the on-field stuff starts:

1) Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina defensive end: Arguably the best talent in the draft, the questions about whether he plays hard are everywhere. Steve Spurrier, Clowney's former college coach, did not help his cause in recent interviews.

2) Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M quarterback: Manziel could be the No. 1 quarterback picked — and potentially the No. 1 player — but teams have to be comfortable that the kid known as Johnny Football with all the social media madness can be Mr. Football and the face of an NFL franchise.

3) Jeremy HIll, LSU running back: First-round talent who has first-class baggage off the field, including a couple of run-ins with the law. If Hill convinces one team — and one is all it takes — he's ready for the next level emotionally, he has enough talent to be the first running back drafted.

———

Numbers of interest

Of 13,852 or 15,445, which is worse for UT basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.

The first number is the announced crowd of the Vols-Georgia basketball game on Wednesday night, and there were decidedly fewer fannies than that actually in Thompson-Boling Arena. The latter number is the number of people who have signed an online petition to bring Bruce Pearl back as Tennessee's coach. And that number is as of 7:30 this morning, which is significant in that there have been almost 1,000 added in the last 12 hours.

We do not feel there is any way Bruce Pearl will be back in an orange blazer on the sideline of the Boling Alley. Too much baggage and too much has happened — in each direction — for that reunion to make sense in our view.

That said, when we talked to Bruce Pearl last week on Press Row, he sounded like a guy that believes he will be coaching somewhere sooner rather than later. And since his show-cause penalty runs out in August, his name will surely be among the most sought after when the coaching carousel starts spinning.

To make matters worse for the growing number of online Johnny Vols Fans who are clicking and campaigning to string Pearl back to Knoxville, there's a very real chance Pearl could be in another SEC town as soon as next year. And after watching his quick-turn antics with the football-first Vols — he got UT out of the doldrums with off-the-court energy and on-the-court execution and no one this side of Pamela Anderson has gotten more mileage out of taking their shirt off in public — offers the chance for immediate improvement.

Granted it does not come with that the shaded spectrum of a soiled resume that would cause even the most aggressive AD pause. Pearl has baggage, but that baggage is not as bulky as it once seemed, and you would have to believe Pearl knows this likely will be his final chance at a big-time college job.

So a program desperate to be relevant and a coach desperate for another chance could be a match made in heaven. (Heck, it could be negotiated outside the Pearl-y Gates. Sorry.)

But that match seems impossible between Pearl and the Vols.

————

This and that

— The Mocs host Georgia Southern tonight. Quick question: How good does it feel to expect the best again? In one way, that's as big an accomplishment Will Wade and Co. have in this miraculous first season. Anyhoo, where were we? Oh yeah. The Mocs in action tonight. We'll be there — Press Row hosts David Paschall and the blockhead sports editor are serving as rebounders for the shooting contest tonight. Should be fun.

— Miami has fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and head trainer Kevin O'Neill, each of whom was part of the Wells Report that highlighted some unsavory acts within the Dolphins locker room during the Icognito-Martin debacle. Something tells us this is still far from over.

— Down goes Syracuse. Down goes Syracuse. We still believe the Orange are the team to beat (although Florida is making a strong case) but Wednesday's loss tells us two things: 1) The Orange's biggest hurdle is a seemingly overconfident approach, and maybe the loss will help that; 2) those orange tops-blue shorts combos are BRU-tal. Somewhere Johnny Weir weeps.

  • photo
    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman comments on the signees to his program during a news conference in the McKenzie Arena media room in this file photo.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
    enlarge photo

— Little bragging on our guys here, but how about that TFP Sports section today huh? Breaking news on Russ Huesman's extention (from Gene Henley here), a look at the crazy year that was in the Sequatchie Valley (from Stephen Hargis here) a couple of hoops stories and some live preps and David Paschall's look at Georgia's fate with five-star recruits in the Rivals.com era here. Good stuff.

— Speaking of Coach Huesman and UGA football, we'll have Russ and UGA coach Mark Richt on Press Row today on ESPN 105.1 FM. Coach Richt will join us at 3:15 and Coach Huesman will be on at 4:10. Good times and listen in.

— LeBron-Durant, mano-y-mano, tonight. The King vs. The Servant. Buckle up buttercup. (Side note: Putting them side-by-side, we now understand why Durant is asking to be called 'The Servant.' Well-played young buck, well-played indeed.

———

Today's question

Loads to discuss.

Tony Stewart said he'd put up the cars for Danica and her not-BFF Richard "Mr. The King" Petty to race. We'd love to see this, and think NASCAR should make this happen. Thoughts? (And yes, we doubt it will ever happen.)

Was Syracuse loss a good thing for the Orange?

Where will Bruce Pearl be coaching next year?

King vs. Servant, who you got tonight?

Have you sent in your mailbag question yet? You can email us at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and follow us on The Twitter at @jgreesontfp.

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...

For man years I assumed a Moc basketball win at home and I was usually right. The Mocs would find a way to pull the game out. Then came a period where the Mocs started having losses to teams that had never won a game in Chattanooga. Then the last few years I approached the home games almost as we were the underdog and the other team was favored. I knew that old Moc Magic of pulling games out in the waning moments had disappeared. A conference win at home was a thing to celebrate, not to expect. Yes, this season has brought new hope just like spring brings budding trees and blooming flowers. I am now sorta expecting a win with the home conference games, however, some sense of "how are they going to lose this game again" sometimes creeps in. That fear is getting less and less though and some of that old time moxie is returning. They will find a way to win. The future is so bright, they need to sell sunglasses at the Roundhouse for us Moc fans.

February 20, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
chas9 said...

Stuckey--I'd leave off half the SEC bubble teams you included, but I understand your process. Thanks for the analysis.

Boeheim's blemishless boys took an improbable loss, meaning Donovan's dandies will probably be our new #1. But the Gators only won the last 19 seconds of their game against a sorry Auburn squad that managed all of four offensive rebounds. The Tigers have some sharpshooting riflemen.

Bottom line: the Big Dance will be wide open this year.

How about Steve the Visor throwing the big guy under the bus? And others in the know have questioned Clowney's head or character.

After conquering the Lady Vols, the Lady Cats take on the league-leading Lady Cocks this evening. XX Cat Bria Goss is hitting 93% of her free throws. Is it easier with the small ball?

Is it time to let the ladies play with the big boy ball? How would the men's game be different if they used the small ball?

Seven of the SEC’s 14 basketball programs have at least one signee in the Scout Top 100 Class of 2014. UK has four players, Florida has three, Alabama and Missouri have two each, and LSU, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M have one apiece. None for Cuonzo. How's he gonna fill those empty Chuck Taylors?

And just to be clear, are you saying Pamela Anderson's resume is unsoiled?

Bruce to Bama. Bruce to Bama.

MT--How many dog years in a man year?

If Sir Elton and Kanye meet up at Bonnaroo, what'll they say to each other. Jay, can you channel that conversation?

February 20, 2014 at 10:26 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

(thumbs up on Russ's extention). Would love for an auto transcript available of the interview but my guess is that's more work then the engineer is willing to do.

Other then that, this whole week has been vanilla as hell.

February 20, 2014 at 10:38 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Mocs vs. Georgia Southern aka "Waffle House U" will be a tough matchup. Jelani Hewitt, SoCon leading scorer and Tre Bussey have combined to make 125 3pointers. . . . .but Jay, your right even the most optimistic Moc fan would never have predicted the Mocs would be 10-2 at this point, WOW what a great job Will Wade has done !

February 20, 2014 at 10:40 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Have fun at the game tonight. I think this is a good match-up for the Mocs- a team that scores by making threes and the Mocs are the best three point defense in the SoCon. For once, the Mocs are playing a team shorter than them (according to Pomeroy, Mocs rank 339th in the country and the Eagles rank 347th). The Mocs have a solid inside game despite being so short. Now Hewitt and Bussey are very good players. So, there are challenges. But I feel good about the Mocs tonight. Here's an interesting stat for you- the Mocs have beaten every team in the conference except for Davidson and Georgia Southern so far this year. So this is a big night for the Mocs.

February 20, 2014 at 10:52 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Good stuff all around.

And we like vanilla.

BREAKING NEWS —

The Atlanta Braves announced today they have reached a long-term contract extension with shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Financial terms of the seven-year deal were not disclosed.

Simmons is the latest young piece of the Braves roster to be signed to a multi-year extension, joining fellow 20-somethings OF Jason Heyward (two-year extension), first baseman Freddie Freeman (eight-year extension), starting pitcher Julio Tehran (six-year) and closer Craig Kimbral (five-year extension).

Wow. Frank Wren doing work.

February 20, 2014 at 11:48 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

The Mocs' last chance to deliver a spanking to the Eagles before they depart for the climes of the Sun Belt. Hey, at least GSU baseball is 3-1, with those three wins coming over what used to be the University of Georgia baseball program and the Joltin' Jackets of North Avenue.

February 20, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Thunder over Heat.

Stuck, Pomeroy has the Mocs as 245th and the Eagles as 310th in the country. Were the rankings you listed supposed to reference something else specific?

I won't say the Huesman extension is a bad idea, but I do think it's risky and not necessary at this time. After all, he got a raise and an extension last year. I would agree that Huesman has our program on the right track, but the line of success thus far during his tenure has been relatively flat. He's done just enough to get by. There have been more heartbreaks and disappointments than thrills and excitements since he's been at the helm. I think there are still some questions left to be answered before committing to him long-term. But I guess David Blackburn is willing to take that chance.

February 20, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Ga Southern will probably have to drop baseball, one of their best programs, to help pay for all that travel for their other teams.

February 20, 2014 at 12:07 p.m.
chas9 said...

If the Braves lineup card looks like this:

Heyward, J. Upton, Freeman, Gattis, Johnson, Simmons, Uggla, B.J. Upton

which are the weak links?

February 20, 2014 at 12:08 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Bruce Pearl and Dawn

I'm comin' home, I've done my time/ Now I've got to know what is and isn't mine/ If you received my letter tellin' you I'd soon be free/ Then you'll know just what to do if you still want me/ If you still want me

CHORUS:

Tie a ORANGE RIBBOM 'round the old oak tree/ It's been three long years/ Do you still want me?/ If I don't see an ORANGE RIBBON roun the old oak tree/ I'll stay on the bus/ Forget about us/ Put the blame on me/If I don't see an ORANGE RIBBON 'round the old oak tree.

10 Ring, on Martin, it's not personal, it's only the fact that the Vols have not performed at a high enough level, let alone exceeded expectations. When Martin came to the Vols, it was a shotgun marriage as the Tennessee Rifleman went hunting late in the process "with no light, and no gun."

Vol fans indeed pine for Pearl's charisma, his command of the XOs, and his recruiting prowess, his ability motivate players and the puke buckets at practice to name only five. Pearl has indeed done his time, but is this enough to make his case to the AD and UT president?

As a Vol friend suggested to me, if we can't have Pearl, I want someone better than Pearl. Tall order.

It will take an NCAA bid and 1st round victory for Martin to hang on. This will mean playing well in the SEC tournament where Tennessee has in the past stumbled early even in the Pearl era.

This time the AD will have more time and more choices for a coach to excite Vol fans on the streets and put butts in the seats. That coach will not be Bruce Pearl.

February 20, 2014 at 12:23 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Moc T,

With Rodney Hennon at the helm - and carpet king daddy Lamar behind Rodney - I don't think that will happen. yes, the carpet industry, like so many, got rolled up good during the great recession. But if the powers that be decided to send the baseball program to the permanent bullpen, there would be blood on Sweetheart Circle.

February 20, 2014 at 1:10 p.m.
titanic said...

I just read the Hargis piece and could not believe my eyes. So Marion County has actually hired the guy that walked out on South Pittsburg??? I followed the story last year about the vandalism and couldn't believe that had happened. So let me get this straight. Marion County coaches paint their own field house and try to blame South Pitt. One of the coaches steal a playbook from SP. Then hire the guy who walked out on SP. Talk about throwing kerosene on a fire. Is there any sanity at all in the Marion County School Administration? Surely adults in a leadership role can use better judgement than this. Maybe there are more reasons for SP winning 8 in a row than just talent.

February 20, 2014 at 2:26 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

jomo 11, Jelani and Tre is all GSU has. That's just not a good team. They lose Bussey after his year but they will get Eric Ferguson back and Trent Weideman will be eligible.

February 20, 2014 at 2:36 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Jay, that "Cum On Feel The Noise" reference, was that an old school Quiet Riot shout out or a really old school Slade shout out?

As for the Winter Olympics...When you have a big two-week international event and one of the most memorable stories to emerge involves Bob Costas and his eye infection you are probably not capturing the hearts and minds of Mister and Miss America and all ships at sea.

Paschall's story about UGA and five-star recruits was a good read. I did not remember Marquis Elmore being a five-star guy. For that matter, I only vaguely remember Marquis Elmore.

9er, that dog years to man years conversion rate is running at about 6.25:1 for a tobacco free man aged 40-to-65 with a healthy body mass index.

Coach Richt...About that Press Row appearance today...They're both Auburn guys so it might be a trap. Tread carefully.

February 20, 2014 at 2:53 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Hey Bispy4, too bad next year GSU. . .er, Waffle House U will be getting hammered in basketball in the SunBelt, traveling from Louisiana to Texas to Arkansas. But hey at least you will be playing football in the "witness protection" program of the FBS and can get a bowl game. . . oh sorry, last year 3 SunBelt teams qualified for a bowl and didnt get invited. . . well good luck with that move

February 20, 2014 at 3:29 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

jomo, there is no sun belt kool aid being consumed at the Spy's secret hideout. None. At all. And not much use for the two nitwits holding the titles of school president and director of athletics.

February 20, 2014 at 4:21 p.m.
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