There's no sense in ignoring the elephant in the room. This is a MONSTER week in college football highlighted by the single biggest regular-season game the 5-at-10 can remember. That's right, UT-MTSU is simply that big — why else would they move it to prime time, which all things considered is dumber than letting Bruce Pearl teach an ethics course.
So from the "Al Davis Studios," here we go with the extra-special, if-this-is-not-enough-college-football-for-you-then-we-don't-know-what-to-do version of the show...
A man's game
LSU visits Alabama in an 8 p.m. kickoff that is the rarest of sports event — there's no way to over-hype this game. Think about it, since each team had an open date last Saturday, we've had two weeks to get ready for The Showdown just like the Super Bowl. But somehow, this game does not feel over-played, you know?
That said, hopefully you saw our SEC ace David Paschall's excellent breakdown of the top-notch NFL prospects in The Showdown here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/02/lsu-alabama-game-full-of-nfl-prospects/.
OK, deep breaths, deep breaths... The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. The 5-at-10 loves big-time college football. You know this, too. This is a story that combines both. Moment of silence (and talk among yourselves as we re-read Paschall's article, we'll give you a topic — If an atheist believes in nothing does an anythiest believe in everything?).
OK, we're back, and we're pumped. Here's our view of the studs in the game:
First off we love Barkevious Mingo because there's no way he won't be a big-time pass-rusher in the NFL. That said, Dre Kirkpatrick is a special, special player. He's a 6-foot-3 cornerback. Read that again. In a world of tweener DBs and 6-4 receivers, Kirkpatrick is the future, ladies and gentleman. Not unlike how the left tackle became paramount in protecting the QB in a pass-happy NFL, pass-rushers and cover corners are the defensive now and ever after of the pass-happy NFL.
And, as one NFL scout told Paschall, there are five future NFL corners in Saturday's Showdown in Tuscaloosa. (Yes, five, and the Honey Badger may be the least-attractive NFL prospect among them.)
A fine time for suspensions
The University of Georgia faces an overmatched New Mexico State team Saturday. It should be Georgia's seventh consecutive win and continue a turnaround that could go from an 0-2 start to a 10-win season. That would be well-played indeed.
That said, the timing of the suspensions of running backs Isaiah Crowell, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome seems a little, shall we say, convenient. Coupled with the injury to back-up runner Richard Samuel, Georgia will turn to fifth-string running back and former walk-on redshirt sophomore Brandon Harton, who had 11 carries for 33 yards against Coastal Carolina (a team that needs more dogs).
Heck, this now makes the start of the UGA-New Mexico State game must listen-to radio. The 5-at-10 wants to hear UGA play-by-play guy Scott Howard say, "Now starting at running back for the University of Georgia, well, who is that guy? I don't have a number on him. Is that a 1 or a 4? Forget it."
Let's put it this way, if you're in a college football fantasy league, this would be a good week to start UGA quarterback Aaron Murray, who figures to post some serious stats considering the UGA offensive plan is to a) throw it with an all-SEC quarterback; b) run it with an all-SEC quarterback; c) hand it off to some guy that three months ago was the No. 1 pick in the UGA intramural flag league.
Have the Vols hit rock bottom?
The 5-at-10 has tried to be objective in the analysis of second-year UT football coach Derek Dooley. His resume is a Rorschach test, a dueling diet of daily dichotomies.
The Vols have had bad injuries, but everyone has bad injuries and players miss games. (And in truth, do we know that Tyler Bray is ready to beat a good team? He lost to UNC in the bowl game and beat Cincinnati. Other than drubbing the baby seals of college football, what else has he done?)
The Vols have had bad breaks, but the breaks are what you make of them.
The Vols have had huge roster turnover, but that's not as rare as some orange-colored-glasses-wearing fans may think. Auburn replaced 35 lettermen from last year's team; Georgia, Florida and Vandy are all turning to a litany of young players.
But this morning, our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer stated his case for more time before judging Dooley here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/02/vols-hopes-rest-in-win-over-dores/, and Mark is right that 2/3 into Year 2 is mighty early to make an overall judgement.
Whether you think Dooley is in so far over his head his nose bleeds from 10 a.m. Monday to 7:30 Friday night every week or if you think Dooley will have a nickname that will be on a street sign in Knoxville, you are entitled to your opinion. And since we're talking about something as passion-filled as college football, there's little chance of anyone changing your opinion. And that's OK.
But Wiedmer offered up that the Vandy game this year will make or break UT's season, and he's right of course. A win over Vandy likely holds UT's bowl hopes, and with a young team that extra time is paramount.
That said, if you're a UT fan the fact that beating Vandy — something that has been as much a November ritual as falling leaves and turkey on Thanksgiving — is a) an unknown, and b) holding the postseason hopes of the program is a sad statement indeed.
This and that
— The NBA season was supposed to start Tuesday. Did you miss it? Pay attention NBA folks, the sporting fans will find something else to do. Trust us on this.
— Frank McCourt has said he's willing to sell the L.A. Dodgers. As a lifelong Dodgers fan, the 5-at-10 is elated about this news. Here's hoping Mark Cuban wants to buy the club. Baseball needs some energy, and if there's one thing Cuban brings in energy. By the truck load.
— The Big East is officially the awkwardly shy kid in class that has a party and invites everyone. Repeat: EVERYONE. Not just everyone in class, but everyone in every class. All are welcome. As the Big East looks to find some stability, it even invited Boise State and Colorado-located Air Force to join the Big East in football. That's right, Idaho... in the Big EAST. Hey, Big East, UTC could be interested. Or Baylor School. Or Orchard Knob Middle. Keep floating invites and someone has to show up, right?
— An Illinois congressman compared the NCAA to the mafia. OK, stop it. First, that's an insult to the mafia. The mafia handled their BID-ness and they did it behind the scenes and outside the eye of the media (that is until John Gotti started to fall in love with the spotlight and that helped bring the mafia down). Second, no one giggled and snickered at the mafia like they do at the NCAA. The NCAA is toothless, more a one-bullet Barney Fife that slaps wrists when brass knuckles are called for. How do you think the mafia would handle a member of the family insulting "this thing of ours" like THE Ohio State or Miami did in recent months? Here's how — THE Ohio State would be sleeping with THE fishes.
Playing off the "huge" UT-Vandy showdown that is looming in two weeks, we'll ask you this:
If you are a Vandy fan, would you trade James Franklin for Derek Dooley? If you are a Vols fan, would you trade Dooley for Franklin?
Discuss, and here's saying the results may not be pretty for the pro-Dooley Johnny Vols Fans.
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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