published Thursday, February 27th, 2014

5-at-10: Vols win, college hoops homestretch, Flapping Jaws

Gang, we're still looking for a mailbag question or three. Thanks for the great back and forth Wedneday — good times and way to stay above the family-oriented, interweb-based column threshold. (Or avoiding what JMC calls Clay's playground.)

From the "Talks too much" studios, let the good times roll and let the rolls be good. Good times.

UT hoops

Tennessee topped Mississippi State in a must-win endeavor in Starkville.

Does that change what we know? Not really. The Vols are flawed because of point guard deficiencies and offensive stagnation. They have to have Jordan McRae doing Jordan things or a surprise night from one of the misfit perimeter toys. Last night it was McRae, who went for 29 and made the plays to deliver the goods.

Does it change what we believe about these Vols? Maybe. Consider this: UT had to win. They knew. Cuonzo knew it. Heck, even Spy knew it and he was watching the History Channel and eating catfish. And with that knowledge can come pressure.

With pressure can come increased anxiety and with that can come decreased production that can be especially painful against a weaker foe that starts to hang around.

The Vols ignored that and went to work. Good for them and whether you believe Martin should be canned or extended, it's a plus in his ledger that his kids play hard for him every night.

But effort should be the baseline of our expectations for a bunch like these Vols that swing the pendulum of performance ranging from top-shelf (hello Virginia) to pedestrian.

Does last night matter? It does in that UT stayed alive, and after speaking with ESPN college hoops analyst Andy Katz on Press Row on ESPN 105.1 FM Wednesdsay, those last breathes are paramount for The Conz in particular and the league in general. Katz said the SEC could be a two-bid league, and the muddling records of a majority of the conference speak to that.

The SEC is bad. Period. And for those arguing the balance of the league is why ther is a logjam of mediocrity. Please. This is more parody than parity.

And the Vols are slap dab in the middle of it for another day.

————

College hoops

We are (more than double — thanks Chas9) 20 hours from March. We're good with March. We like March. It's mad.

So where do we stand? Great question and here's a four-part scan around college hoops (we'd encourage you play along):

  • photo
    Wichita State's Cleanthony Early celebrates after hitting a 3-point basket against Evansville during a first-half rally of an NCAA college basketball game in Wichita, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• If Wichita State runs the table, college basketball has to have the Shockers be a No. 1 seed. Guys like StuckinKent and his computer-crunching ilk can poke a slew of holes in Wichita State's resume since it has played exactly one team assured of a tournament spot. Still, if college basketball is ever to take its regular season seriously ever again, an unbeaten team ranked in the top five has to be a No. 1 seed.

• UNC is a bracket killer. The Heels have won 10 in a row, and point guard Marcus Paige has marbles. And skills.

• We still believe in Syracuse above all others, even if Jimmy Blow-up is in our doghouse. But the gap between the Orange and the Gators and the Me-Hawks is not as great as it was and that's because of the Orange coming back to the pack.

• Creighton has a chance against just about anyone because of 30-point-a-night guy Doug McDermott. Side note: How great is the nickname Dougie McBuckets? Good stuff.

————

Manziel

Ron Jaworski watches a lot of film. A lot of film.

He talks about watching every throw this QB makes in a season or every route this WR runs.

Apparently, that much film study has fried Jaws' brain. Or clarified his thinking. Jaworski, the former Eagles QB and the man that was a one-time third-wheel in the Monday Nigh Football announcing booth said that he would not take Johnny Manziel until the third round. Let's explore:

Yes, that Johnny Manziel, who will be a top-10 pick in the May draft. And it's understandable why QB-starved teams reach for questionable QBs. We all know — even Jaws — that someone will take Johnny inside the top-10 picks. This was not a prediction from Jaws, rather a personal preference.

We do not believe any of the three top-ranked QBs — Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles — is going to be an elite passer. And if you are going to spend a lofty draft choice on a QB, you would hope it would be an elite guy.

That guy is not here. And to support Jaws' preference, the only thing worse for an organization than not having a top-tier QB is missing on a QB with a top-10 pick. Ask the Titans, who have been spinning their wheels for three seasons wondering if Jake Locker is the guy.

Question: Would you rather have a journeyman or a head-scratching top-10 guys that is possibly the guy but far from solid and a complete unknown?

Maybe Manziel is a third-round talent as the film-critic Jaws suggests, and if he delivers like a third-rounder like Russell Wilson, OK. If he delivers like third-rounder Colt McCoy, well that hurts.

Especially if that third-rounder goes in the top 10.

————

This and that

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves first baseman Fred McGriff heads home after hitting his 300th career homer against the Cincinnati Reds Sunday, May 19, 1996 in Atlanta. McGriff missed the record on a previous at-bat Sunday that would have been a grand slam. That ball flew two feet outside the left-field foul pole. (AP Photo/Tannen Maury)

— There's a surefire Hall of Famer calling it quits after the 2014 baseball season and we'll miss Derek Jeter. There's another all-star veteran leaving the game after the season on the horizon, and Paul Konerko is going out with way less fanfare. Konerko is going to leave the White Sox after this year and he'll likely leave baseball with more than 450 homers. Wow, 450. At one time that was a money number that was Hall of Fame bona fide.

— Speaking of Hall of Fame, how is Fred McGriff not in. Dude hit 493 homers and ranks tied for 26th all-time on that list. He's tied with some guy name Lou Gehrig, maybe you've heard of him. In fact the only players with more than 450 homers and not in the Hall of Fame are either PED-tainted or not eligible.

— Mocs have a big test on the road tonight. Winning at Western is rarely easy — mind that purgatory they call a gym, no drive 12-feet in, that'll do — and Will Wade's crew seems a little fatigued.

— LeBron is hoping to play with a protective mask tonight to help his broken nose. He promises it will be something cool. What are some suggestions for a cool mask? He could go with the Jim Carrey Mask or a Skeletor-type deal. Or an old-school Mike Meyers from Halloween mask. Thoughts

————

Today's question(s)

We have two for you today if nothing above floats your canoe.

Yahoo.com did an interview with Gene Hackman. It's quite interesting and here's the link. Apparently dude is done, and he's also 84 — wow.

Who is the best living actor? Go.

Second, we are a day from March and the season is winding down. Who is in your Final Four — and we offer this as a tip since good is good in basketball and this will serve as a baseline for your brackets. We can remember this in a couple of weeks when conference tournaments start to cloud our judgement.

And remember the mailbag. Go.

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.
jomo11 said...

Jay- for the mailbag, How can UTK work out a re-hire of Pearl, if NCAA says no since show-cause doesnt expire til August ?

Best living actor comes from Morgan Freeman, Redford, Deniro, Pacino . . . .and Johnny Knoxville

Final Four Kansas, Syracuse, Arizona, Florida. . . .wanted to say Wichita St., but cant root for Gregg Marshall because he is such an &%$@*%#

February 27, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--You're overanalyzing The Vols' game. You're right that a Starkville loss would've finished them, but a win means nothing.

The Maroon Bulldogs are the 223rd best team in the land. That's worse than Grand Canyon, High Point, Stony Brook, and Utah Valley. Not sure about Slippery Rock. Heck, Elon's # 129, almost 100 notches above them. Means nothing.

Will AD Dave Hart choose bachelor #1, bachelor #2, or bachelor #3?

We're 20 hours from March? I'm guessing you weren't a math major. Or you went to Auburn.

Can't agree that UNC is the #1 bracket buster. The Tar Babies are 10-0 in their last ten, including wins over Duke and Pitt. Average margin of victory over the stretch is 12. Nobody else can match that.

Early on I dismissed them, but, reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated. Ol' Roy's got his Heels playing consistent, energetic, team ball the way Cal wishes the Cats were.

Arkansas' Hot Hogs, which have crept onto or near the bubble, visit Rupp tonight, where they haven't won in two decades. Bobby Knight's sneaking back in, too. Some fun!

I've loved The Crime Dog ever since his first at bat for Atlanta. Arrrf. And take a bite out of crime.

I'll go with the Roberts, Duvall then DeNiro. Freeman is third.

February 27, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

So far I've remained dormant simply because there really isn't anything of interest. I'm sitting on the Mocs until tournament time, Could care less about the campaign to bring Brucey back to Big Orange Country, and so on.

RIP Tim Wilson, did a brief self-orbit on my FaceBook page. Own three CDs, got to watch him live twice , sad he never made it to the national level of Foxworthy, Engvil, and White. ):

Big weekend plans: Seeing Miyazaki's final film (it's a big deal to me).

February 27, 2014 at 11:04 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JoMo11 mentioned the guy that UTK should try to get, Gregg Marshall, not Bruce Pearl. Gregg may be an a**, but he wins, and wins, and wins. Who cares if 32,000 people want Pearl back, they are the same ones wanting Phil Fulmer back. Time has marched on, yet these UTK fans have have remained rooted in their past glory.

Remember the first game for Fred in Atlanta, was watching on tv. Had the extra fun of the big fire in the club level just before the game. Smoke and flames boiling out of the windows, but play on!

Speaking of Duvall, if you have netflix, rent Get Low, and enjoy him at his best.

February 27, 2014 at 11:05 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We lose track of days. So it goes.

You're correct, the win over the Bad Bullies means little other than it was not a loss, because a loss would have been season-ending.

Jomo —

Deal and deal. Nice call on Freeman, and looking at his list of performances, Hackman is pretty awesome. Very few clunkers, something the Roberts and a lot of others would like to be able to say.

JMC —

If it's a big deal to you, then that's all that matters.

February 27, 2014 at 11:09 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, the headline sez "Expectations Soaring at UT." My expectations are grounded at six victories.

I used to particularly enjoy watching "Chucky" talk over "Jaws" for minutes at a time. What a hoot!

Best Actor Living? Not Al Pacino, he's mostly typecast himself for near 30 years now. My pick is Tom Hanks. Mr. Hanks has acted in space, on the high seas and on the ground.

Team #1 were very impressed with Michigan's Coach Hoke and his wife's hospitality, the training facilities, the activities including a hockey game Saturday and a Sunday grudge match between Michigan/Michigan State, of course, the "Big House," and much more tangible and intangible. Downside, nine hour drive.

February 27, 2014 at 12:42 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Don't accuse me of poking holes in Wichita State. They absolutely deserve the #1 seed. No doubt about it. I've actually been arguing that point with some people I work with that believe that a school like that could never be a #1 seed. They don't like computers. They just don't like mid-majors. For whatever reason. Even if they went to the Final Four the year before, had the team that won the title on the ropes in the second half, and haven't lost since. I don't know what else to say. In fact, if Wichita State loses once, I would still put them at a #1 seed.

I can't pick a Final Four, because I'd either be picking the teams I think will be #1 seeds (and those teams won't all get to the Final Four), or I'd go out in left field. I'm sticking with three of the six I said back in January. Those six were Arizona, Syracuse, Kansas, Florida, Duke, Michigan State. Three of those will be there. And don't be shocked if the Shockers are there either. Teams I don't like that will get a lot of love- Louisville, Michigan, Villanova. I like Creighton, but I'll be super-scared to pick them to go far.

Are we going to do a bracket Tournament Challenge on ESPN.com to go along with Last In, First Out?

February 27, 2014 at 1:27 p.m.
Stewwie said...

I think that Jaws knows that at least 1 franchise (and 1 is all it takes) will draft Johnny Headache in the first round. So he's 1st round talent, but some teams probably will avoid him like the plague. I personally wouldn't take him in the 1st 3 rounds either because the red flags on this guy are just too much. To me, it's not worth the risk.

Jay, what are your thoughts on the NFL's consideration to start flagging players who use the N-word?

February 27, 2014 at 1:52 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

History Channel and catfish. Great way to spend an evening, 5.

With Crime Dog and Iron Horse, it's a little hard to compare numbers through the generations. While the right field porch at Yankee Stadium was short, the mounds also were 15 inches. And there were expansive outfields like the Polo Grounds, nearly 500 feet to center, and Tiger Stadium to dead center was no pop fly. Plus, how often did McGriff lead the league in HRs and RBIs and what were his MVP voting numbers? That factors in, too.

Hard not to go with Duvall and DeNiro, with Freeman right up there. Or Dolph Lundgren.

February 27, 2014 at 1:55 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

Good to hear about the Big House. Some how we thought it was more than a nine-hour drive. Wow.

And Hanks may have swung back to being underrated again.

Stuck —

We'll do a first-out, last-in challenge here and Press Row is doing a bracket challenge through espnchattanooga.com.

Stewwie —

Mailbag worthy.

And you're spot on about Jaws — he'll go in the top 10 and Jaws knows it. In fact we were going to make of Jaws for saying it, but in truth we kind of agree with what Jaws is saying. Why spend a first-round pick on a third-round talent? Someone else will, sure, but someone took Tebow in Round 1, too.

Spy —

Not knocking catfish and History Channel — "Hey, who's up for a four-hour Rommel marathon? Pass the hot sauce." — just making a prediction that you did not watch a lot of the UT-MSU barn-snoozer.

Not comparing the two — Iron Horse has Crime Dog in every facet, including nickname. But who did Tom Emansky pick to be the face of his fundamental videos?

Bingo.

February 27, 2014 at 2:07 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

UGA Athletics Director Greg McGarity is pushing for the SEC to lighten the rules concerning artificial noise in stadiums during football games. I genuinely hate to say this, but I believe the gameday experience in college football stadiums in going the route of NBA basketball games. At even the slightest break in the action, expect to have some "pump-up" song blaring at deafening decibels. With that comes young ladies with T-shirt cannons, mascot races, strobe light effects on the jumbotron, and the annoying distraction du jour. Since this is meant as an appeal to the younger demographic, perhaps AD McGarity might consider going full-on Chuck E. Cheese and invest in a group of live animated hillbilly bears that play in a jug band at Sanford Stadium. Somewhere in the midst of all the whirring sounds and shiny things that jingle, there will be a football game going on.

Concur with JMC on Tim Wilson. His analysis of different southern accents was as spot on as any I have heard. And his Bobby Bowden impersonation was money. "Coach, five of your players went to Belk and stole all of the shirts in the men's department." "They did...They did, but they're good kids from good families...They're good kids."

February 27, 2014 at 2:16 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

well, I mean, you know, Lou was kind of dead (there's dead, and there's mostly dead. I'd throw in a personal thing but let's not bring the room down. Even if it was funny to me) by the time Tom Emanski came up with those drills. And why didn't Crime Dog get more accolades for his acting chops in those commercials?

February 27, 2014 at 4:25 p.m.
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