NOTE: The NCAA tournament updates are in the comments section below. Join in the discussion — it don't cost nothing.
Here we go...
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl reacts to a call in a game against Vanderbilt in Nashville.The Vols face major NCAA violations in basketball and football. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Pearl's Last Hurrah?
If you're scoring at home, University of Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton may have received a well-earned zero on timing for his comments (HERE) but he scored off the chart on innuendo.
Beyond motive and timing, the message from Hamilton and in effect the athletic department is clear: Bruce Pearl's future is as undecided as your bracket.
At least Pearl better hope his future is up in the air. If a decision has been made, judging from Ham-Bone's comments, Pearl is as done as Tuesday's dishes. (Mrs. 5-at-10 doesn't suffer no slacking when it comes to chores. Seriously.)
Pearl's career uncertainty is all his making. You know this.
As most recently as January, Hamilton appeared to be fully behind Pearl, the coach that he hired and the coach that was represented Hamilton's biggest accomplishment not that long ago. You know this, too.
Why the change of direction now? Well, that seems to be the $1 million question. Was it the fact that reports have Hamilton and Co. apparently being informed by the NCAA of Pearl's alleged "bump violation" that happened four days after his public tear-fest rather than Pearl telling his bosses? Is there another Adidas high top about to drop? Hard to know, but it's something.
It is obvious through the struggles of this talented Vols team — and this year's ups and downs of Pearl the coach, too — that the NCAA issues have been a distraction for everyone on this team. And one of the things the 5-at-10 finds interesting about sports is how teams respond for embattled coaches. With the controversy stirring all around these Vols, how will they respond for Pearl?
More times than not, how a team answers the bell when their coach's job may be hanging in the balance, can tell you a great deal about what that coach means to those players.
Southern California guard Jio Fontan (2) collides with Virginia Commonwealth guard Joey Rodriguez in the second half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game Wednesday, March 16, 2011, in Dayton, Ohio. VCU won 59-46. (AP Photo/Skip Peterson)
The ball is tipped
Here are three great phrases for sporting events that have become special beyond the scope of just their individual sports and the sporting world in general:
— "The fastest two minutes in sports." Used to describe the Kentucky Derby, which captures the attention of everyone, whether they know the difference between a foal or a fungo.
— "A tradition unlike any other." Used to describe the Masters, which is more than a golf tournament and more than golf in general. It's an American event, and for the Love of Sammy Snead, this is not debatable.
— "The ball is tipped." Used to describe the start of the NCAA tournament, which more than any sporting event bridges the gap and unifies diehard sports fans and those who know more about "The Bachelor" than their brackets. Truth is, it's even money the winner of your office pool doesn't know the difference between an alley-oop and an alley cat.
Anyhoo, let's update the first annual 5-at-10 Overrated/Underrated Bracket poll (and remember, it's not too late to send in your overrated (the No. 1 seed you think will lose first) and underrated (a team seeded 9-16 that will advance the farthest):
scole023 — Pitt/Tennessee
EC — Pitt/Georgia
Bigbearzzz — Pitt/Georgia
PDavi — Ohio State/Tennessee
BIspy4 — Pitt/Utah State
BeachBum — Duke/Utah State
OTWatcher — Pitt/Old Dominion
ThatIdoKnow — Pitt/Missouri
snakemb134 — Ohio State/Utah State
Weena — Ohio State/Michigan State
EtsuBuc20 — Duke/Belmont
CelticVol — Kansas/Villanova
Dr. Bracket — Duke/Missouri
Chas9 — Ohio State/Missouri
Pretend Al Davis — Pitt/Oakland
Charlie S. — Pitt/Princeton
Chris Goforth from "The Show" on Fox 1310AM — Pitt/Belmont
Quake from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Pitt/Belmont
Cowboy Joe from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Kansas/Memphis
Dr. B (He's a doctor after all) from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Pitt/Utah State
Nick Bonsanto, host of the "Nick Bonsanto Show" on 105.1 FM — Ohio State/Belmont
Keith Cawley, WRCB Channel 3 sports anchor — Kansas/Missouri
Darrell Patterson, Channel 9 sports anchor — Pitt/Utah State
Grab a pick, don't cost nothing. Who you got?
Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
With all its labor doom and gloom, it's hard not feel a little forlorn about the immediate future of the NFL. A month ago, the 5-at-10 would have bet a paycheck that the labor issues would not have caused any missed action this fall. Now, not so much.
And if the 5-at-10 needs a lift and an NFL shot of adrenaline, well, there's nothing better than the NFL Draft.
We love the draft. You know this.
ESPN draft expert Todd McShay — in the hierarchy of draft guys, Mel Kiper is the guru, McShay is No. 2, and Kiper's hair is No. 3 — has his latest mock draft here http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft2011/insider/news/story?page=McShayMock4.0. McShay does the first two rounds, and let's just say that the Titans would love, Love, LOVE for the draft to develop the way McShay projects.
McShay has the Titans taking Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley at No. 8 overall and taking Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in the second round. Wow, that would be something.
We'll cover this more in the days leading up to next month's draft, but you can't tell the 5-at-10 that the Titans would be anything short flat-out giddy about getting Fairley and Mallett in the first two rounds. Here's betting the Titans would agree on that before lunch today and move on to scouting Rounds 3 through 7.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (10) hits s home run in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets Saturday, March 5, 2011 in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Atlanta Braves report, Volume 1, Chapter 3
The triumphant spring of Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones — or L-Dub, as we like to call him — continued Wednesday with a 2-for-3 showing. Jones is hitting .375; his on-base percentage is .432.
The biggest on-field impact of the Spring of L-Dub is that pencilling in "Jones — 3B" gives closure and completeness to the starting lineup. The batting order may fluctuate, but with Jones healthy that means Martin Prado stays in left field.
Considering how bad Jordan Schafer has been this spring — he's 8-of-44 (.182) and has two walks and nine Ks in 13 games — that makes Prado a must-have in the outfield.
Side question here for you Johnny Braves Fan: With the emergence of speedy outfielder Wilkin Ramirez — 9-for-24 (.375) and a team-leading three stolen bases — is finally time to cut bait with Schafer, who for the Love of Jeff Francoeur has gone from can't-miss-prospect to can't-hit-fifth outfielder in 18 months?
This and that on madness/March and other wise
— OK, there are celeb blowups, there are "Nick Nolte Meltdowns," there's a "Lindsay Lohan losin' it," and there are the nuclear versions known simply as a "Mel Gibson." Is there any doubt that Chad Ochocinco is on the path to land somewhere between LL and Mel? In the last week, Chad Ochocinco has been sued for a five-figure debt at a clothing store (Really, Chad, you need to spend more than $10,000 on threads? In one stop? In Cincinnati? Really?), and now he's going to try out for the Sporting Kansas City, a MLS soccer team. There's nothing wrong with soccer, mind you, but doesn't it just feel like Ochocinco is on the verge of something extreme?
Duke's Nolan Smith (2) goes to the basket against North Carolina in the first half of Duke's 75-58 win in an NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, March 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
— Check back around noon for the 5-at-10's bracket.
— Here's the 5-at-10's plan on March Madness today: check back every hour starting at 1 p.m. for updates. We're going to update the big happenings throughout the day, but we're committed to doing it on the hour until 6 p.m. (and if you're not home by 6 p.m. to watch it for yourself, well, you can get a note from Dr. 5-at-10 to leave early). Feel free to join in.
Until later today, and then until tomorrow — when we have our Friday mailbag.
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 ...