published Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

5-at-10: Hoops fall, perplexing polls, NFL emotions

Pearl-less Vols stumble again

The University of Tennessee lost late Tuesday night to Florida in overtime. The 81-75 setback was game No. 2 in the eight-game SEC hiatus handed to UT coach Bruce Pearl for his off-the-floor shenanigans that included lying to the NCAA during its investigation.

The Vols are now 10-6 overall and 0-2 in the SEC, and gone are the dancing visions of a top two or three seed in the NCAA tournament — a very real and understandable image after beating then-unbeaten Villanova and Pittsburgh, by the way. Now the Vols have to race to get to 18 or 19 wins and a 9-7 conference mark to put themselves in position just to be in the tournament.

It's impossible to know with any certainty whether Pearl's presence on the sideline would have resulted in a different outcome in either game. The 5-at-10 believes the Vols likely are 2-0 in the league with Pearl on the bench and certainly would be 1-1 — Pearl has always fared well against Florida and the Vols let the Gators off the hook Tuesday.

Funny, SEC commissioner's Slive's eight-game suspension was done in part to help alleviate the punishment handed down by the NCAA. At this pace, Pearl's eight-game absence may cost the Vols a spot in the NCAA tournament — which is a much bigger penalty than ever imagined, especially if the NCAA decides it wants to add to it.

Final polls are in

Auburn won the college football championship. The 5-at-10 knows you know this.

The final AP poll had Auburn with 56 first-place votes and TCU with three — Kyle Tucker (The Virginian-Pilot ), Pete DiPrimio (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel) and Ray Fittipaldo (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) were the three who preferred the Horned Frogs according to reports.

Auburn got 56 of the 57 first-place votes in the coaches' poll with TCU getting the one ballot that broke the rule of the American Football Coaches Association, which according to pollspeak.com, states that all coaches must rank the BCS title game winner No. 1.

The 5-at-10 loves America, and the voting process and the ability to speak your mind, and if this is a measure to speak out against the system, then that's fine.

The 5-at-10 does not support lunacy, however, and any vote that has unbeaten TCU, which beat exactly one team (No. 7 Wisconsin) that finished in the final AP poll, over Auburn, which beat six teams in the final poll (No. 3 Oregon, No. 8 LSU, No. 10 Alabama, No. 12 Arkansas, No. 15 Michigan State and No. 22 South Carolina twice), is flat-out silly.

Playoff preview, part III

The 5-at-10 has been breaking down the NFL playoffs all week. Today it's round three of the Pittsburgh-Baltimore grudge match.

Simply put, these are two of the most physical teams on the planet and they are not going to sit down for some cribbage any time soon.

Before we get to the next step, a friend of the show, who happens to be a huge, Huge, HUGE Steelers fan sent along some interesting tidbits that were in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week:

— The Steelers are 8-0 in the postseason against division opponents since the 1970 NFL merger, 2-0 vs. Baltimore. The only time in their history they have lost a postseason game against a division opponent came in 1947, when they and the Philadelphia Eagles tied for first place in the Eastern Division of the then-two division NFL. Philadelphia won the playoff, 21-0, to determine which advanced to the championship game.

— Over the previous five seasons, the Steelers won seven of their eight postseason games, losing only to Jacksonville at home in their 2007 playoff opener.

— At one point in time people viewed the Earth as flat.

OK, the 5-at-10 added that last one, but you get the idea: History is on the side of the home team. This Ravens team, though, has two things that will make it possible to buck those trends. One, tight end Todd Heap, who was splendid in the first-round win at Kansas City last week, is such a threat that freelancing all-star safety Troy Polamalu must keep tabs on him. Second, the Ravens defense thrives when it forces the opponent to be one-dimensional. That means the pressure falls squarely on Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Seriously hard feelings

Speaking of not playing cribbage after the game, have you seen the latest on the Jets-Patriots? No, well, sit down, pour yourself another cup and hang on. This thing is starting to feel like a "loser leaves town" grudge match in the glory days of pro wrestling.

Anyhoo, Jets Rex Ryan started the ball rolling by calling out Pats coach Bill Belichick. Sure, the loquacious (nice word, huh?) Ryan has called out everyone from Peyton Manning to Mother Theresa to galvanize his team and has been a vocal leader from the start when his team was the feature of the preseason show "Hardknocks" on HBO.

Belichick's repsonse was typically down played — I mean the man wears a hoodie to work and has won more than a half a handful of Super Bowl rings, he does not have to speak to every loud-mouth with a microphone.

Ryan also lobbed a couple of salvos at Pats quarterback Tom Brady, who led New England to a 45-3 pasting of the Jets last month.

Now comes Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie saying Brady is an "A-hole" and how he "hates" Brady, who said before the season he "hates" the Jets.

Nothing like a good game of "He said, He said" before a football fight, huh?

Coaching circles almost complete

The 5-at-10 is quite happy Les Miles stayed at LSU and in the LSU. Miles rocks.

Miles decision to stay in Baton Rouge points Michigan to San Diego, where the Wolverines hired former Michigan assistant coach Brady Hoke.

Kudos to the San Diego State folks, who were ready to move when Hoke left for what he described as his "dream job." SDSU hired defensive coordinator Rocky Long, a move that allowed for some continuity and a move that happened quickly not to disrupt recruiting.

Nice job Aztecs. For more on the coaching tree fallout, check back to Thursday's 5-at-10.

Until then

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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