published Monday, March 24th, 2014

5-at-10: Beautiful dance, Cuban criticism, Braves and who won the weekend

Hey, another hard freeze a-coming. Yep, that figures.

From the "Talks too much" studios, with all apologies to Mel Brooks' King in 'The History of the World, Part I' it is good to be The Conz.

Enjoy the dance

The Madness did not disappoint. From the flurry of upsets that ended everyone's billion-dollar dreams roughly 30 hours into the tournament and with barely a third of the games being played.

The weekend was great — better than that really — and reminded us why we love college basketball. It also reminded how blah-tastic the regular season has become. Wow. We wrote a column on it in Saturday's paper, thanks to those of you for the positive feedback.

There's no way to replicate the stakes and the energy and the drama of the dance over a four-month regular season. That's not feasible — unless you are major college football and had a manipulated title system that crafted a three-month long season into a pseudo-playoff structure, which produced the greatest regular season in sports but a hollow championship game — in hoops, especially now that this glorious tournament has become a 10-figure toothpaste that CBS covets and it is out of the tube.

So this is less about lamentations and more about the glory that is the dance. Keep dancing friends, dance like the wind. She's like the wind. Gone with the Wind. Wind Talkers. Where were we? For this day, we'll refrain from discussing the problems with college hoops and focus instead on the magic that has been the last four days.

Contest update: After a late-morning flurry Thursday, we had only three out of almost 44 entries with Wichita State and a double-digit seed that is still alive. The trio is scole023 (Wichita State; Tennessee), Billy in Brainerd (Wichita State; Tennessee) and JordanRules (Wichita State; Stanford). Stay tuned, and remember our glory's last shot sharpshooter contest. Pick the two players that you believe will score the most combined points from Thursday through Sunday. For scole and BiB, if needed, the results of the sharp-shooting shoot-out will serve as a tie-breaker if needed.

Side note, No. 2 — Little FYI for your eye: Here are the TV times and announcing teams for the next round of NCAA games, according to CBS —

Thursday on CBS: Stanford vs. Dayton (7:15 p.m.); Florida vs. UCLA (9:45) with Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller (who has been aces so far in the tournament, although assigning him to a game that includes his alma mater is curious)

Thursday on TBS: Wisconsin vs. Baylor (7:47 p.m.); Arizona vs. San Diego State (10:17) with Marv Albert and Steve Kerr

Friday on CBS: Michigan vs. Tennessee (7:15 p.m.); Louisville vs. Kentucky (9:45) with Jim Nantz and Greg Anthony (who has been a little sketchy so far, including spending five minutes defending a referee's decision to spend five minutes reviewing a shot-clock question because Anthony said it could mean extra time late in the second half. Greg, the shot clock resets on each possession)

Friday on TBS: Iowa State vs. UConn (7:27 p.m.); Virginia vs. Michigan State (9:57) with Uncle Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery

And remember we'll have our Monday Press Row feature of "Who won the weekend?" today from 3-6 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM.

———

Cloudy future

We were intrigued about Mark Cuban's comments Sunday night that the NFL is 10 years away from an 'implusion.'

The NFL is the be-all, end-all of sports in America. Heck, it's the king of pop culture in this country too, considering that it dominated the TV ratings and even postgame wrap up shows cracked Nielsen's top 10. What's the phrase we use to describe the pinnacle of something? It's the Super Bowl of that genre, and what's the Super Bowl of marketing? The Super Bowl of course.

Cuban's comments to reporters were as follows:

"I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion. I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way.

"I'm just telling you, when you've got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That's rule number one of business."

Cuban was referring to the expanded TV plans specifically, even comparing the expansion to a former game show that captured the country's attention over night before flaming out just as quickly.

"They're trying to take over every night of TV. Initially, it'll be, 'Yeah, they're the biggest-rating thing that there is.' OK, Thursday, that's great, regardless of whether it impacts [the NBA] during that period when we cross over. Then if it gets Saturday, now you're impacting colleges. Now it's on four days a week. ... It's all football. At some point, the people get sick of it."

"They put [Who Wants to be a Millionaire?] on every night. Not 100 percent analogous, but they handled it the same. I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered."

Let's set the baseline. Cuban is wicked smart. And when it comes to TV and the public — avenues where he made billions— dude is WICKED smart. He also has a vested interest in hoping that the NFL decreases in popularity. So there's that.

But in addition to the TV saturation questions, which are certainly short-term sure bets but should be viewed with long-term focus for Roger Goodell and Co.

It's also worth mentioning that the TV viewing experience and its impact on attendance will be the biggest question for sports leagues and teams in the coming decade. And when Goodell is already projecting a $25-billion a year model by 2027 — and with ticket prime prices in the four-to-five figure range per seat per game — Cuban's points are even more interesting.

———

Braves update

The news from Braves spring training has been mixed.

Their record is terrible, but not unlike the college basketball regular season, it's meaningless.

Their bats have been better than expected, but that could be a big chunk of getting fat against guys with numbers in the mid-to-upper 70s with fastballs to match.

Their starting pitching has been decimated by injury, losing pencilled in No. 1 and No. 3 starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgeries.

So what do we make of this bunch a week before the season starts for real?

It's impossible to know, but here are three hunches:

Dan Uggla will get a very short leash. There have bee multiple new names with the '2B' next to their name in the box scores this spring, and for the most part the no-named cats have been better than expected. If Danny Struggla, who has been around a respectable .260 most of the spring, starts averaging 1.3 Ks a game, he'll be out of a job.

The bullpen will be nasty. But protecting that strength will be paramount. And that means, there's a real chance the Braves will lose a few 15-4 games, especially early.

Freddie Freeman is going to have a very good year. Call it a hunch. Call it an educated guess based on his start to the spring and his confidence and his place as 'Da Man' in the locker room — and the accompanying nine-figure contract extension — but we believe dude is going to be a .310-20-120 guy.

Thoughts?

———

This and that

  • photo
    UTC linebacker Gunner Miller (11) wears black paint on his face before the game.
    Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Hoping to get an update from OG about Gunner Miller's raslin' debut this weekend. Mr. OG to the white courtesy keyboard please, Mr. O-G to the white courtesy keyboard.

— Despite all the craziness that was the first round of the NCAA tournament, there was one dude named Brad that went 32-0 in the first round — a state not matched by the tens of millions of folks in Warren Buffett's billion-dollar challenge or the similar number in the ESPN.com pool. Look at the big brain in Brad. Sadly, in the next round, Brad missed six of the next eight games. Sunday morning coming down indeed. (God bless you Kris Kristofferson.)

— PGA journeyman Matt Every won at Bay Hill on Sunday. Well, he was the one they handed the trophy, the big check for $1.1 million and a Masters invite. The actual decision maker Sunday was Adam Scott, who bungled a big lead on the final round for the second time in the last six events.

— The L.A. Dodgers opened the baseball season with two wins over Arizona in Australia. Good times. The key stats from the weekend were: 2 — number of Dodgers win; 1 — number of times manager Don Mattingly has got upset with the antics of Yaisel Puig. Here's the story, and at this pace, the multi-talented and heavy-footed Amnicola Highway speedster will have 81 altercations with his team/manager. That would be a new league record.

— In the go fast, turn left world, Kyle Busch won at California, easing by Kyle Whoshishelmet. Kyle Petty was not invovled in the action, Kyle Chandler (aka Coach Eric Taylor) did not watch and Kyle Macy was unavailable for comment.

———

Today's question

We'll have the crow, fried, with some extra hot sauce and a 'Co-Cola' please. Yep, that's Mr. Cuonzo Martin in the Sweet Sixteen, the same guy that the 5-at-10 wondered whether he could ever make the tournament, much less advance.

And as Weeds wrote over the weekend, and as Jomo has been preaching for a while (although his position is as much about his love of needling Johnny Vols Fans as it is any belief in The Conz), dude deserves to bask in the limelight of "How you like me now?" (which is either the anthem of Socrates or Kool Moe Dee, we get those two mixed up a bunch).

Our first question is, what would the odds have been in mid-February for The Conz getting an extension?

We'd like to know who you think won the weekend — other than The Conz of course.

As for who lost the weekend, well, meet Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver who makes $6 million a year and decided to forfeit his credibility for the price of two season tickets. Here are the details.

Follow along. Roddy is a Duke hoops fan and was talking a little smack on the Twitter. One of his followers told him Mercer was going to drop Duke. White replied and said no chance and if it did happen, he would buy the Mercer believer two season tickets on the 50 on row 1.

Well, we all know what happened. And then Roddy said he's only going to buy the dude one ticket to one game. Roddy, Roddy, Roddy. You have chosen poorly.

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.
titanic said...

I'll join you in the crow on the Conz. I have found that if you take it beak first and clip the claws, it will go down easier. The critics were right to be on him a couple of months ago, when this team was underachieving. He has turned them around and they are playing like the team we expected to see this year. Cudos to him as he deserves a lot of credit now. They have not just been good in the tournament, but bordering on dominant. Hopefully they will keep playing at that level, because the competition is going to be much tougher now.

March 24, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.
jomo11 said...

If Cuonzo wins one more game and makes it to the Elite 8, it will be easier to find a Malysian Airliner than a Cuonzo hater. . . .

March 24, 2014 at 10:55 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Jay-G: That tie-breaker is kind of tough; now I have to do research. C-Niner [and/or Stucky]: Help!

The most impressive team this past weekend: those blonde bombshells workin' the sidelines...Allie, Kristine + company. Holy Moly...babe-a-lious.

Greg Anthony needs to be himself; not a combo of Gus Johnson + Special K.

Does Dave Hart add a year to Cun-zo's contract for every NCAA tournament game his team wins?

Billy-In-Brainerd

March 24, 2014 at 11:05 a.m.
fechancellor said...

I'm not letting Conz off the hook just yet despite the stellar play. Will he be able to sell this run to 4 and 5 star recruits? Keeping Stokes for one more year is key. If Conz pulls this off, by all means give him the extension.

March 24, 2014 at 11:09 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Well, definitely lots to cover that's for sure. And yes, you guys are expecting another cold front. The same one that passed through us. So it goes.

Watched Jim Foster's lovely ladies fight tooth and press-on nails (just kidding ladies) against the Orangewoman of that small school in New Yawk state. Even if they were coached well, ::yells from a corner in the room:: HOW WAS THE SHOOTING CHARLES??

Turrable! Turrrrable!

I could understand shooting cold on the threes but the layups not going in was the nail in the coffin. And so once again the curse of the one and done XX Mocs remain in tact. u_u

I sometimes forget I live in a city with well-known media celebraties on the account anytime the DMN writes something about Cuben, it's no different then reading about Bob Corker. I definitely see his point in regards to the fact the NFL live appears to now be a rich man's activity. Seriously, courtside seats to a Mavericks game is are hundreds cheaper then the very back seats at Jerry's Deathstar on I-30. While I don't foresee a fan revolt in the same manner as the Chinese people overthrow of various emperors, sooner or later, there has to be a cap where enough is enough. as to what that cap is, who knows.

Gunner already had his debut months ago. Unless he finally got picked up by either a WWE farm league or another organization (TNA for example).

March 24, 2014 at 11:28 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Jay, agreed 100% with your column Saturday.

I picked a bad game to watch Doug McBuckets for the first (and last) time. Creighton acted like they'd never seen a zone before. I skipped the second half to finish my taxes. Fun fun.

I think Mr. Cuban makes a great point. While there is a place for continuing to innovate and being willing to change, making too many changes can also be bad. Plus, I'm not sure that Mr. Goodell is the right man for that job. I almost think that Cuban's comments were nothing more than a subtle jab at Goodell.

That said, it might be a stretch to say that the NFL will "implode" within 10 years. However, once legends like Peyton and Brady leave (probably at the same time), the league will instantly become a bit less interesting. Mobile QBs aren't going to take the league to newer heights simply because they won't be able to last very long themselves. It will be interesting to see how the next few years turn out. And whether Goodell makes it for another 10 years at the helm.

March 24, 2014 at 11:55 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Did Mark Cuban wake up and go, dang it, everybody's paying attention to the NCAA tournament. I need to do or say something borderline crazy to get the focus back on me. I know - I'll pick on the NFL. Yeah ... I'm awesome. Ma! Meat loaf!

March 24, 2014 at 12:12 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

JMC...I beg to differ...Friday night was the first professional match for Gunner...he had not worked any matches prior...he will be going to the wwe in June for tryout...he did exceedingly well, there are two reports on local television websites 3 and 12 who were all over the coverage of this...

March 24, 2014 at 1:08 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

OG- Not discrediting you but I thought he did something like a freelance match somewhere in Indiana that was only photographed but not filmed? Just asking to refresh my memory.

March 24, 2014 at 1:41 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Former Moc athletes who pro wrestled: Gunner, Ralph Ziggy Zigner (one match if memory serves) and Pistol Pez Whatley. Any others?

Add George Weingeroff to that list. His dad was quite famous in the pro wrestling circuits in the south, Gentleman Saul.

Here is a video where you have a tag team match, Pistol Pez on one team and George on the other:

March 24, 2014 at 1:43 p.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

No mention of Josh Richardson's performance yesterday? Really, his performance so far in the entire tournament has been outstanding. He's making some serious $$$ right now. He's a 6'6" 2-guard who can handle the ball and is one of the best defensive players in all of college basketball. Now, he's playing lights out offensively with drives for layups, pull up J's, and even a 3 pointer or two. Honestly, Richardson and Stokes (Mr. Double Double) have put up 3 performances in the tourney so far that are as good as ANYONE.

March 24, 2014 at 1:58 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

JMC...he did not work anything in indiana...of course he won lol...he is a fine young man who i have known since he was a freshman at east ridge...great family that I consider friends and it has been my pleasure to call his name on many many tackles as a Moc...

March 24, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Ooooh that smell, can't you smell that smell...College football season is still five months away, but now most SEC schools have their own signature fragrance available. You're welcome olfactory senses. I'm assuming most will be some combination of scents including pigskin, freshly mowed grass, grill smoke, and just a hint of bourbon and coke. I'm hoping Georgia's signature scent is some combination of Hai Karate and Sex Panther. If it is, I had better get back into playing shape.

And Jay, dousing yourself with a liberal amount of Auburn cologne is no substitute for a shower.

March 24, 2014 at 3:11 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - I thoroughly enjoyed the 1st weekend of March Madness. Love to see the underdogs pull the upsets. As you know, I'm older than I look. I'm really bothered by the apparent traveling that's never called. For the mailbag...What's up with 3 steps after picking up the dribble and sliding the pivot foot? I come from a land where both would have been called traveling.

March 24, 2014 at 8:40 p.m.
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