published Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

5-at-10: Filling McKenzie, A-Rod boycott, recruiting news and Rushmores

Gang, hope this finds you warm. Sweet Abe Lincoln's beard it's cold. We still live in the South right?

From the "Talks too much" studios, knuckleheads out there cold shooting some hoops.

Wow, how about that for turning into a newsy Tuesday?

Is there a way for 5K?

Jomo kicked off the discussion Tuesday that filling McKenzie will be a litmus test for whether Chattanooga is a good sports city.

His premise has an interesting basis but there are some serious disconnects.

  • photo
    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs Women's Basketball head coach Jim Foster.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It will be interesting to see how many casual UTC fans will come out and support the Mocs on Thursday and also take-in the doubleheader on Saturday in which UTC women's basketball coach Jim Foster goes for career win 800. (Side note: It's official, the 5-at-10 is very much disappointed by the dropping of the Lady Mocs. It makes every dual reference much longer. But as long as they are uniform across all programs, we'll adhere to their wishes. Wonder if they gave XX Mocs and XY Mocs any thought? Want a unique brand, go with some DNA coding. Or maybe not.)

Labeling a town a "bad sports" town because it skips a regular-season college basketball game seems a little over the top. In fact, the key to 5,000 fans at the Roundhouse is how many students the Mocs can attract. In truth, if the students could become regular attendees, the cyclical affects could be staggering. Follow along:

More students = more energy = more entertaining for everyone = more return casual fans. Heck, even an Auburn grad can add that math up and see more students is a good thing. Granted that has been the million-dollar question for every UTC sport since Doubleday decided 90 feet between the bases was magical.

We will say the following three things about Thursday night:

1) We are planning on going. We want to see how the Mocs have flipped the switch in the last eight games. (Side answer: Hi Ronrico and thanks for getting healthy.)

  • photo
    UTC men's head basketball coach Will Wade.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

2) We had Will Wade on Press Row for his normal Tuesday appearance, and we asked for questions from some of you cats on Twitter. UTC ace superfan Bob Mulkey suggested we ask if Wade would commit to staying in Chattanooga forever. We asked; Wade emphasized how much fun he is having and how much work they have still to do and how great the city and program have been to him. And naturally he dodged the lifetime commitment question. (Although we agree with Bob, the longer Wade stays, the better it is for UTC.)

3) The numbers and streaks of UTC's current run — 6-0 in SoCon and eight wins in a row — are staggering by comparison to date and last time of occurrence. And yes, regular and loyal reader Stewwie was on record in November saying he expected big things, but the difference from last January is stunning. This has as much to do with X's and O's as it does the natural newness and freshness of a complete restart brings with it a full-blast lift and energy. But there are a lot of factors. Yes, the return of Ronrico White has been off-the-charts big — UTC is 8-0 when White plays this season. Still, we expected good things from Wade and Co. They are delivering great things. There is still plenty of room on the WadeWagon.

See you Thursday.

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Don't let the door hitcha in the needle cushion

Apparently the MLB players association wants to kick Alex Rodriguez out. Cool.

Of course they can't do that (did you know the annual dues for the MLBPA is more than $11K?) , but the fact that the players union wants to dismiss A-Clown is encouraging in several regards, most notably in the potential it offers for cleaning up the game.

Follow along. If baseball is going to get clean, the only way to do it is to truly punish the perpetrators. Right now the risk — a 50-game or even a season vacation — is worth the rewards of monster contracts.

Think about it: PEDs turn fringe big-leaguers into starters and that's life-changing money. PEDs turn starters into stars and that's life-changing money for their kids' kids. PEDs turn stars into A-Rod and they land $20-million annual salaries and that's life-changing money for generations. Yes, 50-game suspensions are worth that. Yes, public shame is worth that gamble in most cases, especially when the full truck load of shame is only reserved for the biggest shams like A-Fraud, Clemens, Armstrong and a few others.

But if the union puts teeth into its side of the PED deal — and explosion from the union could possibly mean explosion from the game — then we'll start seeing results. The risk of PEDs and the rewards of life-changing wages become much greater when the risks include going and finding a real job at $35K a year.

Until the players and the owners police themselves, there is no way to ever expect the game to be cleansed.

This is a start. Maybe.

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A fortnight to go

There are two weeks until National Signing Day. We are committed to spending some time every day answering your recruiting questions, be them here or on Press Row. Granted, that's a non-binding, verbal commitment, but it's a commitment none the less.

So what do we know with two weeks left? Great question. Let's explore:

• There are reports that a ton of late flips and flops could be the storyline of this national signing day. Who knows, but this year has felt pretty calm and clear so far. Is there drama on the horizon?

• Your UTC Mocs continue to roll on the recruiting trail, getting commitment No. 13, as TFP all-around ace Stephen Hargis tells us here. Couple things to like about Trevor Wright from Hargis' report — he has good size for an 'athlete' at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds; and whether he plays DB or WR, dude averaged better than 44 yards per kickoff return in 4A football. That's good times, and he could give the Mocs their best home-run-hitting return guys since Brian Sutherland.

• Despite having almost 700 commitments — or really 33 — the Tennessee Vols are looking to add more, as TFP all-orange expert Patrick Brown tells us here. The Vols' haul will be one of the nation's best — heck they already have 14 members of this recruiting class in school — and how they finish will be fun to follow.

• And the rich get richer. Not only does Alabama — the nation's most talented team the last three years — have a historic class in the works, the entire SEC is smoking the recruiting trail. Right now, Ole Miss is No. 15 nationally in recruiting according to Rivals.com, which is only good for ninth in the SEC. Wow.

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This and that

— We love the draft. You know this. The NFL has decided to test that love tonight, and is allowing Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice to draft Pro Bowl rosters. Yes, we love the draft but we loathe the Pro Bowl. We have not decided if we're going to watch or not.

— The Vols have a monster test tonight at home against Arkansas, which has been a beast in Fayetteville and occasionally beastly on the road. UT has shaved its margin of error close to the bone as it is, and a home lose to a 12-5 Arkansas team with an RPI of 65 would hurt. UT is 11-6 and has a realtime RPI of 56.

— UTC signs a five-year deal with Adidas. Hey, we prefer Adidas shoes to all others (they fit our cinder-block-shaped feet better). Here's hoping the new uniforms are daring. Thoughts? (Side note: UTC finalized the five-year pact with Adidas the same day as Notre Dame inked a 10-year, $90 million deal with UnderArmour. Ninety Million is a ton of cabbage. Wonder if they will change the old-school UA slogan of "We must protect this house" to "We must protect this Touchdown Jesus.")

— Speaking of big-time cabbage, Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans are offering a bilion — yes, Billion with a 'B' — to anyone who picks a perfect NCAA tournament bracket. Here's TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's view on it.

— We're trying to come up with a court case that needs a change of venue more, but we can't think of one that demands moving location than the civil suit against Kristen Saban in the state of Alabama. Is there any way to find a group of 12 Alabamians without a Tide fan? We say no.

Today's question

David Paschall and the bone-headed TFP sports editor on Press Row have adopted a daily Mount Rushmore and we're always looking for topical versions to throw out to our listeners. Have any suggestions?

We had the Rushmore of Shermans on Tuesday (we went with Richard Sherman, Sherman Hemsley, Sherman Klumpp from the Nutty Professor and Sherman Potter from M*ASH). Thoughts on a new Rushmore?

We thought about with the excellence of Kevin Durant right now, the best shooters 6-foot-10 or taller, and yes, KD joins Larry Joe Bird as the top two.

Thoughts, 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 ...

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MocTastic said...

6-10 shooters? Dirk Nowitzki should be added to your list. Also, the Sky Hook of Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the cornerstone on your Rushmore.

So, Jones has 34 committments and more to come? How is this squaring with the SEC rule of 25 http://espn.go.com/blog/ncfnation/post/_/id/42750/new-oversigning-rules-wont-ruin-sec How many can he "back-count"? If it gets to signing day and he tells a bunch of kids that he doesn't want them anymore it is really going to sour a bunch of high school coaches on working with him in the future, could bite him in the butt.

Where is our leader JG going to be sitting Thursday night? Press row? Might have to pay him a visit. See everybody at the Roundhouse Thursday! Be there or be JoMo11!

January 22, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Ten Ring-

Lots to cover so let's hit it.

31 in the Big D. Compared to the Ice Storm last month, it's a heat-wave.

McKenzie: I know we had this discussion but unfortunately, when you go to a school that does not have deep traditions, considered by most (including myself) to be "Plan B" for your college experience, is still more commuter then academy-like AND you're NOT in a conference like the SEC or Big 12, or Pac-10, it doesn't matter if Coach Wade is there for five or 20 years, the student apathy is too thick to penetrate. Same with Finley. Even if general beer sales are approved and the Mocs go 9-1, it's NOT going to bring in "Fargo Dome" numbers. u_u

One thing though is I do commend Coach Wade and even the players for trying to make a high stakes effort to drum up attendence as suppose to just showing up for practice, classes, and game day.

I read the Adidas deal last night and posted the following comment on Facebook wall:

My favorite quote: "Blackburn said that UTC fans should be able to purchase Aadidas Mocs gear in local retail shops next season. But those retailers will not b...e limited to selling Adidas-only apparel. They can sell what they want, but UTC will encourage all retailers to sell the official Adidas merchandise."

David..buddy...pal...compodre..Have you seen the "retailers" you speak of?

It is 5% of the retail at "The College Station", The rinky-dink "Scrappy Sams" koish at Northgate, and the Bookstore.

My last trip home (last month during Christmas) I was wearing my UTC sweatshirt at Hamilton Place and as luck would have it I met "another" UTC fan wearing her sweatshirt (with her daughter in tow wearing Auburn u_u) and had to direct her across the mall to the only store carrying apparel (said mentioned College Station). She lives in Atlanta and was home for the holidays as well and wanted to add some blue and gold to her wardrobe. I was more then glad to help.

As the saying goes "I'll believe it...when I see it".

One last thing: Tell the fantastic Mr. Hargis I appreciate his coverage of the commitments this year and really looking forward to all those SEC transfers we hopefully will get a couple of months down the road.

P.S. Love the DNA coding reference. XD

January 22, 2014 at 10:39 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- Your thoughts on the match-ups in the UTC-Elon game ? . . . Huesman and staff are getting it done ! especially recruiting coordinator Will Healy, a great young coach . . . .

Kristen Saban a future MMA superstar ?

January 22, 2014 at 10:42 a.m.
chas9 said...

I like XX Mocs. Let's get that appellation adopted. And the former Ladies have a nice home streak going.

Everybody says Willie Cauley-Stein will be an early NBA pick and his play this season has been impressive. That is, until the last three games, during which he has managed a total of three points, defended poorly, fouled pointlessly, and looked disinterested.

Nature reportedly abhors a vacuum, so his hole has been competently filled by big Dakari Johnson (who we feared wasn't ready yet) and a resurgent Alex "The Great" Poythress. This year Poythress was looking more mature and consistent than last year. Now he's also kicked in the afterburners, and a hard-driving Alex fulfills the vision of those who predicted pre-season that he'd be all-SEC caliber.

In short, Kentucky's diaper dandies aren't world beaters yet, but having the strong depth that doesn't miss a beat when somebody hits a slump puts this team light years ahead of last year's forgettables.

Very possibly UK will only lose one more game in the regular season. If The Cats then win the SEC tourney, which they practically own, they'd be 29-5 and a two seed in The Big Dance.

For Friday: How would baseball be different if Little Abner had chosen an even hundred feet between bases?

Also for Friday: If the Sportswriters' Association had $11K annual dues, how would you supplement your puny TFP check so it wouldn't be a negative amount after the deductions?

Don't waste your time on the Pro Bowl. And UK's football class is #14 sez Rivals. That's just fourth best in the SEC East, so it'll be hard to move up the ladder. But pity poor Steve Superior, and Vandy's sucking wind. It may be a while before that first national championship.

January 22, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.
chas9 said...

No doubt Wilt could go hard to the hole, and it's claimed he could dunk a free throw. But as much as he scored, you know he could shoot. There's not much video of The Stilt, but he once won a $5 bet by swishing four hook shots in a row from three range. And in MLK week it should be noted that Chamberlain accompanied Nixon to King's funeral.

Of course Walton was famous for his "skyhook." And the East Europeans Nowitzki (as MT said) and Stojakovic deserve mention.

January 22, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Walton was famous for his "skyhook"..... Sounds like chas9 is still hitting the Christmas eggnog.

January 22, 2014 at 11:43 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Love the Dirk and Peja picks for the 6'10" shooters Rushmore. But we might have to disqualify both Bird and the Durantula since I've seen them listed at only 6'9". Maybe change the Rushmore to a 6'9" and taller and all 4 of these guys would be a good call.

I heard Wade's interview on the radio yesterday. Good stuff. I think everyone knows that once the big-boy job comes calling, he's outta here. Over/under on how many seasons he spends with UTC: 3.5.

The Pro Bowl is a bit of a joke and I'm not sure that having a draft and mixing the conferences is going to help much, if any. That said, there's no point in getting rid of the game if it continues to average double-digit millions of viewers. Last year's game had 12 million watching.

January 22, 2014 at 12:08 p.m.
chas9 said...

MT--I prefer my bourbon or other brown liquor not be adulterated with egg products, but you did catch me in a hasty error. I meant to praise both Jabbar and Walton in my post.

January 22, 2014 at 12:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

The Mocs are 9-2 when Rico White plays this year. He played 5 minutes against Hiwassee. He played 24 minutes against Northern Kentucky. He played 5 minutes against UAB. Since he started looking like himself, they've been 8-0. The bigger switch came in Will Wade's coaching philosophy- going against his natural instincts of man-to-man and switching to a zone. That made the defense actually be a decent defense. If the Mocs continue to play good defense and crashing the boards on the offensive side, they will continue to win. Not every game, but more than their fair share.

January 22, 2014 at 1:17 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, a great shooter over 6-10 ... I give you Kevin McHale. Known mostly for his treasure trove of great low post moves but late in his career, he became a very good 3-point shooter. And does Kevin Love count, too? Detlef Schrempf was right at 6-10, I think. Also a great shooter. So too Rik Smits, who was in excess of 7 feet in tall.

January 22, 2014 at 1:56 p.m.
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