published Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

5-at-10: Super formulas, grading the college coaching hires, NFL rope-a-dope

Morning, and thanks to those who have already jumpstarted the mailbag this week. Good stuff so far. The rest of you need to shoot some questions along.

From the "Richard Sherman studios" let's make the magic happen.

Building a champion

We have talked this year about the two NFL formulas to make a championship contender. We talked about this on Press Row on Monday on ESPN 105.1. It's something that we find interesting, so follow along.

  • photo
    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) points across the line during his AFC Championship NFL playoff game against the New England Patriots in Denver, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

There is the idea of building around an elite quarterback who makes top-shelf money and adding value pieces here and there and relying on draft picks. The Denver Broncos are the poster child of this model, which needs a little bit of luck in regard to staying healthy because depth is an expensive proposition in the salary-cap-structured NFL. (For what it's worth, the New England Patriots also followed this model, and the injuries that mounted throughout the season finally caught up with them.)

Then there is the formula that factors in a young QB on his NFL-mandated rookie contract (a four-year deal) that allows the team the chance to add veteran pieces and supply depth and difference makers. The Seattle Seahawks are the poster-child for this plan, since second-year pro Russell Wilson is paid a snip less than $700,000 this year and the Seahawks have roughly one percent of the $123 million salary cap committed to Wilson and his back-up Tarvaris King. (Seattle is paying its QBs $1.52 million, or roughly $16 million less than the $17.5 million Peyton Manning earned this year in Denver.) With that extra cap money, the Seahawks were able to add difference-making defensive linemen Mike Bennett and Cliff Avril during the offseason as well as Percy Harvin's big contract.

Each method requires some excellent decisions on draft day. The Seahawks were fortunate to land Wilson in round three; the Broncos have added 11 starters, including Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and Orlando Franklin in the last five drafts.

Each method also puts extreme pressure on the championship window each team faces. The team with the elite QBs know that the salad days are now and since good luck in terms of good health are needed, the time is now. The team with the balanced roster knows that the clock is ticking on the rookie deal that makes the quarterback affordable.

So teams like Seattle and San Francisco have to decide if Wilson or Colin Kaepernick are the long-term solutions at QB. If so, the going rate for an NFL starting QB is between $13-15 million, and since that is a gigantic raise from their current deals, the roster will take a hit.


Coaching carousel slows

Now that the spinning coaching wheel has all-but stopped, let's examine the top three hires and the top three questionable decisions. Deal? Deal.

Top three decisions (plus-1)

Washington hiring Chris Petersen. How many times does a big-boy, top-five job national program scoop in and hire a coach and the school that has to replace said coach actually makes an upgrade? That's exactly what Washington did when USC plucked Steve Sarkisian away when the Huskies hired Petersen, the former Boise State coach who has rebuffed every other prominent program with interest the last five years to stay in the Northwest.

  • photo
    James Franklin waves to reporters and fans gathered at University Park Airport in State College, Pa. on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Penn State landing James Franklin. We have to assume that Penn State of all programs exhausted every avenue to make sure Franklin did nothing untoward in the rape case that has been hanging over the Vandy program for the last year or so. If not, then Penn State is dumber than a bag of hammers. And assuming that, they landed a guy that is a ball of energy, a great recruiter, a great motivator and a guy that has won 16 of his last 20 games at Vanderbilt for crying out loud.

Alabama hiring Lane Kiffin as its offensive coordinator. With great risk comes great opportunity. There is obviously great risk here, but there also is the chance for Nick Saban and Kiffin to become the recruiting Batman and Robin. Plus, the last time Kiffin just had to worry about calling plays, USC averaged better than six TDs a game.

Georgia landing Jeremy Pruitt as its defensive coordinator. Wow. Simply wow.

Top three question marks

How will Brian Kelly and Notre Dame fare after losing both coordinators? You want good assistants to do very good jobs and be given better opportunities because that means great things for the program. But for the Irish to be in the crucial fifth-year under Kelly to have to replace both coordinators could be tough.

Who will FSU land as its DC? After Georgia swiped Pruitt, the decision facing Jimbo Fisher and company is more about the future than the present. FSU is flush with talent and as long as the Seminoles do not promote Sal Sunersi — SAAALLLLL!!! — then the status quo will be more than fine. Replacing Pruitt's energy and acumen on the recruiting trail though is a priority.

Florida hiring Kurt Roper as its OC. Will Muschamp was in a tight spot looking for a new offensive boss, considering Muschamp's seat is hotter than a July day in Macon. And while the success at Duke this year was eye-poppingly impressive, we have a few head coaches that carry so much gravitas that we're not really sure we'd ever want one of their assistants because it is impossible to know if the success is the coordinator's or the head coach's. Roper may be aces — and we know Muschamp is praying that is the case — but being David Cutcliffe's OC certainly qualifies under that gravitas provision.


Rule changes

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is mulling an end to PATs. OK, whatever.

Hey Goodell, how about fixing loop holes in the replay system so we do not have title-game changing moments that fall under the "Not reviewable" umbrella.

As normal, Goodell is borrowing a page from the old Bud Selig playbook and addressing a pressing need PR need like all-star games or PATs rather than looking at making the game better.

And this of course is on the heels of the federal judge questioning the NFL settlement on the concussion lawsuit for being too low.

When it comes time for the NFL to readjust its concussion negotiation, we fully expect Roger the Dodger to use some sleight of hand that every ticket carrying fan gets a free beer at their next game.

Cue Homer Simpson, "Ahhhhh, beer."


This and that

— If this video of a soldier mom returning to surprise her 13-year-old son at his basketball game does not make it dusty where you are, well, that's on you. Enjoy.

— Congrats to the UTC women's basketball team and to Jim Foster for winning career game No. 799. The Mocs who use the smaller basketball will try to get Mr. Foster No. 800 on Saturday as part of a doubleheader.

— The Mocs men's basketball program has a rather large game Thursday. They are trotting out a ticket deal that for $20 you can keep the same ticket and same lower-bowl seat as long as the Mocs keep winning. At this pace, you could get to see 142 basketball games for $20. No pressure Coach Wade (who will join us on Press Row in the 5 p.m. hour today on ESPN 105.1 FM and simulcast here on

— How did we get to a place that UNC stinks at college hoops? This is no good for anyone.


Today's question(s)

Best college football coaching hire? Go.

And speaking of college hoops and UNC's struggles, what teams do we need to be good to make sports better? Case in point, baseball is more interesting when the Yankees are good.

PATs friend or foe?

(And remember the mailbag.)

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.
MocTastic said...

PATs are too easy. I say make them all go for the conversion at the three yard line. Throw alot of excitement into the game, coaches of course would hate that and it will never be implemented. Expect status quo.

Now, who will be there Thursday at the Roundhouse? BE THERE!

January 21, 2014 at 10:07 a.m.
chas9 said...

MT's admonition is appropriate. Both teams are now good enough that the empty seats should start filling up.

Johnny Volsfan is down about the roundball season, but losing close at Rupp against those thoroughbreds is no disgrace. Cal's right when he said of Cuonzo's team "they run their stuff." Lots of teams can't say that, and their stuff is solid. They're a lot closer to UK than they should be given the talent differential.

The SEC is more interesting when Tennessee is Ray Mears good. And the competition makes the league better, something we desperately need.

Weeds' "just good enough to get beat" may well be right. But getting over that last hump becomes exponentially harder. It took freakish luck for Auburn to get past Bama in pointy ball, and it's devilishly hard to dislodge the top of the round ball heap, too. Making The Big Dance is a reasonable goal, and UT may do that.

Jerry Palm's bracketology has The Heels and The Vols among the last four in. The UK-UT result didn't move either team, nor should it.

The Bluejays pucker-pecked the #4 'Nova Mildcats into submission, 96-68 at 'Nova. Along the way they hit 9 straight 3's, a total of 21 (60%) for the game. And they got 25 assists. Sizzlin'!

I don't understand UNC's funk. And Dook's down, too. Don't think it's good when two first-year teams dominate the ACC.

January 21, 2014 at 10:52 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Can UTC get 5,000 as Mr. Wade if you please requests? We will ask him on Press Row today at 5:35 p.m. on ESPN 105.1.

MT —

Not so fast on PATs. What about for the high school and college kids where they are less automatic?

Of all the things the NFL needs to address PATs seems way, Way, WAY down the list in our view.

9er —

Losing at Rupp is not a bad loss. But how many more chances do the Vols have at a good win? And if you are going to sneak into the tournament as a "last four in" with three seniors and two juniors in your starting five, that seems like a bad sign in our view.

You hit 21 3s and you can beat anyone. Period.

And in that regard, LeBron and the Heatles lost to the Hawks on Monday for crying out loud.

January 21, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JG, only addressing PTs for NFL, leave them in college and high school. One thing they need to address is which plays can be reviewed. That fumble late in the SF/Seattle game which was not reviewable, the one with the guy blowing out his knee, was proof that play needs to be reviewable. Millions of people quickly clearly saw that SF should have had the ball, only people who didn't see it were the refs. I agree, thinking this PAT stuff is a smokescreen so they avoid more important issues.

January 21, 2014 at 11:25 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- the question is not "Can UTC get 5,000 ?" is can the city of Chattanooga show it is a legitimate sports town and have 5,000 at that game

January 21, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
chas9 said...

5er--You're correct that you can't afford to waste your talented upperclassmen, especially since you'll not likely fill their shoes. Looks like The Heat sees no reason to play full speed before postseason. I expect it's a good sign that The Hawks are hanging in even without Horford, and even if it's the Least half of the league.

Double doubles are well and good, but averaging a double double double are Portland's Lamarcus Aldridge (27 points 20 rebounds) and Memphis' Zach Randolph (23/20).

Thanks to Mark and Pasquali for writing well about Kentucky and Flo Rida. One proviso about The Gators: They've owned January, but their SEC foes have been weak. Only the win at Fayetteville tells us much.

January 21, 2014 at 12:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

We'd be afraid that once it was done at the NFL level, the trickle down would happen. Like the 3-pointer per se.

And yes, much bigger problems and several rules that must be addressed way, Way, WAY before PATs.

Non-reviewable calls; the unfair burden defensive backs carry — they could call P.I. or holding on every play, and it feels like some do; the inconsistent babying of QBs (which is not going anywhere) to name but three.

Jomo —

Yes and no. Sure the general public may have an increased interest and you could couch it around Chattanooga as a sports town but that seems like a pretty big reach considering that UTC still has roughly 5 percent of 10,000 students coming to games.

9er —

The debacle that is the Least is staggering. Staggering.

January 21, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.
chas9 said...

Are you ready for this? Warren Buffet (and Quicken Loans) will give you a billion dollars for a perfect March Madness bracket.

January 21, 2014 at 1:03 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Chas9, where was all this cabbage last year? I doubt I can be relied upon to repeat.

January 21, 2014 at 1:56 p.m.
chas9 said...

chancellor--No sweat. They're giving $100,000 prizes for almost perfect entries.

January 21, 2014 at 2:12 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, what's hapnin', hot stuff?

U Dub hiring Petersen is going to turn out well. I think Franklin is about to get exposed at Penn State. Brian Kelly calling his own plays at Notre Dame will not turn out well. And then he got BVG to run his defense. This is about to make the Gerry Faust era look the Ara Parseghian years.

Best coaching hire was Louisville's getting Grantham away from Georgia - well, in Georgia's view, at least.

Seriously, best coaching hire? Army getting Jeff Monken.

Don't be surprised if FSU promotes Charles Kelly to DC. He did a serviceable job as Tech's fill in DC after PJ kicked Al Groh to the curb.

5, what gets me is all this blather about "did Richard Sherman take attention away from his team's accomplishment with his postgame comments?" Well, if you continue to ask that question and continue to harp on it, well, yes. But if you decide that one of the best cornerbacks in the league simply demeaned an opponent and let it go at that, who cares?

January 21, 2014 at 2:36 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Bispy4, how did Sherman demean Crabtree? If anything, he demeaned himself. Sherman was the one not showing any class. Check the definition of demean Bispy4.

January 21, 2014 at 3:38 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

MT, I didn't lose any respect for Sherman. But him calling Crabtree mediocre shows a loss of respect for Crabtree (who also shoved a hand in Sherman's face too).

January 21, 2014 at 3:51 p.m.
chas9 said...

Is Spy really bi?

Mocs vs. Vols? Could be. Jerry Palm's latest brackets have Chattanooga and Tennessee penciled into the so-called first round (really the play-in round) of The Dance. I'd LOVE to see it.

It's not over 'til the fat lady sings. An opera star singing at the Super Bowl? That's what it says.

January 21, 2014 at 4:54 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Chas9, think what you saw is out of date. Has UTC and UNC Asheville playing.

January 21, 2014 at 5:08 p.m.
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