published Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

5-at-10: Midterm Bowl grades, coaching swirls, draft declarations and resolutions

Happy New Year, gang.

Hope you have cleared the cobwebs and enjoyed food, friends and football on Jan. 1. We know we did. And hey, remember the mailbag, in the holiday shuffle, we have a spot or three open. Side question: What's your Rushmore of shuffles? Hollywood Shuffle, holiday shuffle, Super Bowl shuffle and....

From the "Talks too much" studios, buckle up and pass the grits and greens... that's some good eating there Clark. (Side question: Which Vacation should be next? We'll say Vacation Bailout: The Hunt for Cousin Eddie — seems Randy Quaid took off to Canada and is a bit of a quack.)

Bowling for dollars

Wow, that was an entertaining slate of games that cost a lot of folks some entertainment.

Georgia lost. UCF won. LSU failed to cover. Vegas smiled and nodded at each since the public's money was way on the favorites. Plus, the money was even on Stanford-MSU, which makes Vegas a guaranteed winner. So it goes.

We went 3-4 on New Year's Day against the number to go to 16-14 against the spread this bowl season. We have six bowl games left, and we feel as confused as ever.

While our picks remain puzzling, we are starting to gain a view of how the power leagues are faring in this postseason and the conferences are putting together some interesting collections of results.

Here's an observation on each BCS league so far:

SEC — Other than the Georgia debacle, the SEC is perfect so far and is 5-1 with four teams in the final six bowl games.

ACC — Ouch-standing. Other than Duke taking Texas A&M to the wire, UNC rolling and Syracuse beating Minnesota, this has been a comedy of erratic disappointments. The ACC had 11 teams get invited to the postseason, and has wins form Syracuse, Pittsburgh and North Carolina and losses from Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, Duke, Boston College and Virginia Tech. Of course that 3-6 mark would be greatly cleansed if Florida State takes care of Auburn in the title game.

Big 12 — What was that, Baylor? That was worse than what Ronald Miller threw on his buddy's porch in "Can't Buy Me Love." Wow, after a year of making believers out of the country, Art Briles and Co laid and egg in the Fiesta. And kudos to the AAC, which notched big wins for Louisville and Central Florida. George O'Leary can slap coach, we don't care what his resume says. As for the Big 12, it has been a mixed bag: Texas Tech whipped Arizona State and Kansas State beat Michigan, but Baylor and Texas got thumped. The Big 12 has Oklahoma playing tonight and Oklahoma State playing Friday. Big Game Bob said the SEC lacked depth. Buckle up butter cup.

Pac 12 — Other than Oregon, UCLA and Arizona overpowering weaker foes, this has been a disappointing winter for what many thought was the second-best conference behind the SEC. Arizona State dropped a stinker and Stanford lost the Rose Bowl to a good Michigan State team, but the game really wasn't as close as the 24-20 final. Stanford's offense could not do anything. The league's best win may be Oregon State's Christmas Eve win over Boise State.

Big Ten — Impressive showing on Wednesday with Nebraska and Michigan State winning outright and Iowa and Wisconsin playing SEC foes tough. Yes Michigan lost, but that was without their starting QB, and Minnesota lost to a mediocre Syracuse team. So even after a good Jan. 1, the Big Ten is 2-4 with Ohio State's date with Clemson left.

Tonight's pick: We said from the start of today's 5-at-10 we have been confounded by this bowl season — and our pick percentage in the 5-at-10/Press Row/ESPN pick challenge is likely even worse. So it goes. Still the struggles of the other Big 12 teams and the influence of Alabama senior class make us think tonight's Oklahoma-Alabama Sugar Bowl is going to be as one-sided as the 1984 presidential election. We're going to ride the Tide and take the over 51 — we believe Christion Jones is good for at least one kick return for a score. Thoughts?


Coaching shoes start dropping

The above headline is a lot better than coaching shorts start dropping, of course. Hi Coach T.

Bill O'Brien is headed to the NFL to coach the Houston Texans. That opens another high-level college job at Penn State. Lovie Smith is reportedly headed to Tampa Bay to coach the Bucs.

That means there are still four open NFL gigs — Cleveland, Detroit, Washington and Minnesota — and two big-boy college jobs at Texas and Penn State needing head coaches.

The University of Texas has been noticeably silent, and that means we believe two things about that search: 1) If Chip Brown of reports a name, we're in; 2) We believe there is a real chance that the next Texas coach could be coaching a team still playing a bowl game. Could that be Mike Gundy, James Franklin or Gus Malzahn? You bet it could. Anyone is in play when you talk Texas.

  • photo
    Auburn football head coach Gus Malzahn talks to members of the media in Auburn, Ala.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

As for the other NFL gigs, if we're Detroit we reach out to Ken Whisenhunt, an offensive Whiz who could have a lot of fun with the Lions toys. Washington is a total unknown because of Daniel Snyder. There are talks that Snyder may be interested in Art Briles to reunite the Baylor coach with RG III-and-10 or maybe Jim Chaney. Cleveland has interest in Josh McDaniels and recently in Malzahn, who could be a very hot commodity in the NFL in the next year or two thanks to the pace success enjoyed by Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. Minnesota needs a QB more than a coach.

And if we had a big-boy college job like a Texas, we'd make the following three guys tell us no, Malzahn, Charlie Strong and Franklin, in that order.



Declaration day

  • photo
    Jadeveon Clowney
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater have declared for the NFL draft. We'd expect UCF QB Blake Bortles to declare as well, considering his stock can't get much higher than it is after the big-stage win over Baylor. And yes, Johnny Football has to go too.

We're more sold on Jadeveon than Teddy and Manziel than Bortles, and if we were the Texans with the No. 1 overall pick, we take Clowney, the former South Carolina speed-freak-pass rusher. In fact, we saw a report in which one NFL scout this week compared Clowney's occasional indifference this season and its affect on his draft status not unlike the pre-draft song and dance of Randy Moss. That's an excellent comparison and looking back on the 1998 draft in which Moss went No. 21 to the Vikings, here's how the re-drafted top 10 likely would look in hindsight:

1) Colts would pick Peyton Manning (did pick QB Manning)

2) San Diego would pick Randy Moss (did pick QB Ryan Leaf)

3) Arizona would pick Greg Ellis (did pick DE Andre Wadsworth)

4) Oakland would pick Charles Woodson (did pick CB Woodson)

5) Chicago Bears would pick Fred Taylor (did pick RB Curtis Enis)

6) St. Louis would pick Takeo Spikes (did pick DE Grant Winstrom)

7) New Orleans would pick Alan Faneca (did pick OT Kyle Turley)

8) Dallas Cowboys would pick Keith Brooking (did pick DE Ellis)

9) Jacksonville would pick Tra Thomas (did pick RB Taylor)

10) Baltimore would pick Samari Rolle (did pick CB Duane Starks)

And yes, the Tennessee Titans — then known as the Tennessee Oilers — picked Kevin Dyson at No. 16. He was the first wide receiver off the board. How much better would Steve McNair's career been if the Titans had coupled McNair and Moss for a decade in Nashville? We need to sit down for a second.

Also of note: Two third-round steals of that '98 draft — Steelers wide out Hines Ward and Rams defensive end Leonard Little. We love the draft. You know this.


This and that

— There are still more than 7,000 unsold tickets left for the Green Bay Packers playoff game this weekend in Green Bay. Read that again, and know that the Packers have had more 300 consecutive sell-outs and have a waiting list with more than 100,000 names on it for season tickets. If there's not a bigger testament to the growing threat that the TV experience presents to sports teams and crowds and venues, well, we're not sure what it could be.

— We saw on the ESPN ticker that the U.S. has selected the hockey team for the upcoming Winter Olympics. Man, that makes us miss the days of amateurs in the Games, you know?

— The UnderArmour All-American high school football all-star game is today at 4 p.m. It is the first of the series of high school football showcases in the next week-to-10 days, and the result is meaningless. The results of the announcements of where the players are intending to sign are very meaningful, however. One schools that has gotten a big boost through the holidays is FSU, which got commitments from highly regard prospects Dalvin Cook and Lorenzo Featherston.

— Great start to the Southern Scuffle as TFP wrestling ace Ward Gossett tells us here. Little side praise for Mr. Gossett, dude had a knee replaced in early December but wanted to make sure he was back at his post for this big-time event. Nice job wrestlers and nice job Ward.


Today's questions

Ton to discuss, and a lot of this could be kicked around on Press Row today from 3-6 p.m. on 105.1 FM. You can also listen live here at

Thoughts on Bama-Oklahoma tonight?

Who has the hotter seat next fall, Will Muschamp at Florida or Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech? (TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer has a nice look at the latter here.

Here's a question for the group: Did you see the fourth-down stop by Michigan State against Stanford? OK, MSU linebacker hurdles himself over the line of scrimmages and leads with his head and connects helmet-to-helmet on the ball carrier. It was a great play but was it a legal play, since we all know helmet-to-helmet collisions are seriously frowned upon?

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...

Will the Gus Bus stop next in Cleveland? How can an NFL coach be named Lovie? Inquiring minds want to know.

Now that the hair of the dog that bit me has cured me, I'll weigh in on old news.

I'd say Johnny Paycheck padded his future paycheck in the Chick Bowl. I like Duke and Cutcliffe, and they needn't hang their heads. If a game ever has two winners, this one did. If Auburn-Bama was a 10, what would you give the A&M-Duke tilt?

The K-town News Sentinel reports it was a players-only-come-to-Jesus team meeting in a player's room that produced the sharp turnaround for The Vols. If so, doesn't it make Cuonzo look bad that he couldn't produce the needed attitude change hisself?

The team did look good, the Barton change especially, but Virginia ain't all that. Hold off on buying your tickets to The Dance. We'll see.

Bama rolls. They want to prove they're #1.

January 2, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

One of my LaughingGirls loved the "Party Rock" shuffle a couple of years back, thank goodness that was only a phase. One too many crashes in the living room helped speed up its demise.

WallyWorld, Europe, Christmas, Vegas, the next vacation needs to be in the Smoky Mountains. Griswolds meet the rednecks with hearts of gold, or at least what Hollywood thinks mountain folk should be. Rusty falls for a local gal and after a smooch, the angry pa decides there will be a wedding. Hilarity ensues.

Johnny Football, there were as usual, several "did I just see that" moments. South Carolina receivers were "doin' work" but I don't know if Wisconsin doesn't win if the quarterback doesn't get hurt. I can see an Alabama-Michigan State repeat from 2-3 years ago against Oklahoma tonight-if they're motivated.

The Florida hotseat has to be much hotter than GT especially with the Gators only the fourth best team in the state this year. Is there that much in interest in Atlanta with college sports other than the Dawgs?

January 2, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.
MocTastic said...

You mentioned the empty seats at Green Bay, guessing it is the high ticket prices, tv, and they are predicting a high that day in GB of around 0 to 5 degrees.

Anybody notice all the bowl games with tens of thousands of empty seats? Didn't those use to be full of fans in years back? Guessing again tv and cost of tickets is the culprit. Or could it be people/fans are figuring out that the bowl games are meaningless now that they have had a "BCS National Champion" and a four team playoff coming up? I mean, why spend hundreds of dollars to drive to Shreveport, Nashville, etc to watch what is bascially an exhibition game? IMO it is time to go ahead and kill off half the lesser bowls and then when they eventually get to 8, 10, or 16 teams in the playoffs, do away with them all together, they have outlived their purpose of awarding a team for season of excellance, afterall, what is excellance about going 7-5 or 6-6? Going to a bowl game after that season is like little league where every player on every team gets a trophy.

January 2, 2014 at 11 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Great start gang.

9er —

There is no bigger mystery in college hoops for our dollar that these Vols. Should be pretty sharp, usually play pretty dull.

And if it was self-motivation from a players-only meeting, well, you can take that two ways: A) The Conz needs help motivating his bunch; B) The players love them some Conz.

Duke was supreme fun to watch. Wished they had finished the drill in truth.

LB —

Duck Dynasty meeting the Griswolds is gold. Gold.

Concur on the Florida hot seat, which will be the hottest anywhere, and the fact that FSU is about to ascend to FSU in the 1990s level does not help Will the Thrill at all.

MT —

Weather is a factor for sure, but price is a great point. During regular-season games, NFL teams can buy unsold tickets for 34 cents on the dollar to reach a sell-out and lift the blackout ban. In the playoffs even the teams have to pay full price.

And we believe your bowl exercise will come true. It will be the Darwinism of bowl games when the playoffs reach eight and beyond.

January 2, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.
chas9 said...

LB--Great idea for the next Griswold trip. Gotta do it. Having just returned from the area yesterday, I have vivid images dancing in my head of hilarity all over laughable Pigeon Forge. Even Sevierville's funny now.

The fact that you can openly buy moonshine on Gatlinburg's main drag now will make the script easy to write. The whole clan will get in on the act at Dixie Stampede and the log rolling show, and Clark'll be deadly at lazer tag.

MT--I'll go you one better. I say let's lose two-thirds of the toilet bowls.

January 2, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.
ordinaryguy said... much egg have you removed from thine face after that disasterous Fiesta Bowl pick? Turn it off at halftime? Can we possibly think that Baylor is the one that was a tad overrated? Being a former Orlando resident, I was living there when the football program began in 1979, and now look where they are...remember their first bowl win was against those beloved Dawgs...and just an FYI, it is the second largest public university in the country...It has been good to see local high school products in action during bowl season, at Ole Miss and South Carolina, and then tomorrow night with Ohio State. Interesting that Herbiestreet gave Vonn Bell a mention during Gameday yesterday morning.

January 2, 2014 at 11:32 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Publicly traded moonshine is more alcohol than 'shine. Well, at least that's what we've been told. Our PawPaw made 'homemade wine' in an assortment of flavors and octanes. Good stuff. Good times... and least we were told. RIP PawPaw.

OG —

You know in the picking game at least 40 percent of the time you are going to have an egg mask, and that's in good years. So it goes.

But yes, that was a blistering in the eyes of the entertainment risk world. Of course the Mrs. picked UCF, so the egg was doubly hard-boiled.

Did not hear what Herbs had to say about Mr. Bell. Can you paraphrase?

January 2, 2014 at 11:36 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Griswolds in Gatlinburg could write itself. Wildlife encounters-bears in the woods, sharks at the aquarium, locals/tourists on the strip could make up 50 percent of it. Clark gets vertigo on the sky lift. Things get out of control at Dick's Last Resort after Clark doesn't like his hat or thinks Ellen's it too much. Too bad we do not own the characters or we could get it done in a few days.

January 2, 2014 at 11:39 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

In a nutshell JG, Herbie said that Urban is trying to shore up he defense by starting the highly recruited freshman Vonn Bell at the nickel...was nice to hear...

January 2, 2014 at 11:47 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, as always, I'm grateful for your hospitality.

And folks, I met the smartest 5-year-old yesterday. Kid seems fairly fearless, too.

And 5, give the great Ron Bush a big ol hug from the Spy.

January 2, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- agree with you on bowl games . . .I know we all think that the SEC is the greatest conference in the world, that ever lived, for all-time. . .but watching yesterday, the BIG TEN seems to be closing the gap. The SEC didnt exactly blow out the BIG TEN teams, also the "eye-test" didn't show that big of a difference in the teams

January 2, 2014 at 12:15 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Though the Big 10 came up short in two bowl games against the SEC (though both were entertaining and fairly close), they showed they're not just plodding pack animals.

In the Big 10-SEC showdowns of yesterday, one team had a kick return for a touchdown, another team had a 99 3/4-yard touchdown pass and if another hadn't pulled a Jeff Trevathan would have had a 72 yard INT return for a TD. And they were all from the Big 10. Speed is not exclusively the domain of the SEC. It are omnipresent.

January 2, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

The Packers not selling out a playoff game just because it's forecast to be +5 degrees at kickoff? The wussification continues.

Remember the 1967 Ice Bowl? Temperature at kickoff was reported to be -15 with a wind chill dropping it to around -48 and still the stadium was packed. It was so cold that the officials' whistles froze to their lips. Yet the Cheeseheads still filled the stadium.

I understand the comfort of my big screen TV and close bathrooms-old men NEVER pass up a chance to go to the bathroom-but you are correct when you say Green Bay's inability to sell out its stadium for a playoff game does not bode well for the future of seeing games up close and personal. Nothing can replace being there.

January 2, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

There were enough empty seats in Jacksonville yesterday I thought it was a Jags game.

January 2, 2014 at 5:28 p.m.
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