It's Mailbag Friday, and there were a bunch of great questions. So people asked about the Signal Mountain scenario but our opinion has not changed that much from what we wrote in a column this week. As for the group, enjoy the questions and responses. As for the group, feel free to answer this question in the comments section: "What is your surprise pick — be it team or player — for this weekend's football action?"
From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...
I’m ill this week. I’m ill as a dadgum hornet. All of my teams are struggling. The Vols and Titans both looked terrible this past weekend. I’m still mad at the Braves for their collapse. The Celtics and the NBA are locked out and the season is in serious jeopardy. I’m mad at the media who claim Derek Dooley should be on the hot seat. I’m siding with Barbara Dooley in that Derek being on the hot seat is crazy. The cards are stacked so high against Dooley right now with him losing his top players and not having many playmakers that it’s almost impossible to expect success from them. So this week, I would like for you to compare the Vols to TFP’s sports department. Please compare your sports department losing a guy to UT losing their top players. For example, Weeds would have to be Janzen Jackson, right?
Great question, as always.
We feel your pain, and the Dr. 5-at-10 is here with the cure for ails you.
Here's what you do this weekend:
Today, finish work and find a Mexican restaurant. Chips and Salsa and cold cerveza do not care that the Vols are going to get spanked and they are not going to mention the Braves meltdown. (They may bring up a "hot seat," but that's a different story all together and will not involve Derek Dooley.)
Saturday morning, complete your honey-do list in the a.m. hours and kick back and watch college football. All day. And when you start feeling bad about your Vols, know that better times — and better talent — has to be ahead.
Sunday, get outside, because it's going to be beautiful. Play nine holes, go for a walk or a bike ride, stop by the Chattanooga Market, anything to get your mind of the biblical whipping that LSU is almost assuredly going to deliver in Knoxville.
How's that for a plan?
As for the TFP Sports Department being like the banged-up Vols, that's an interesting question.
OK, let's give it a try like this:
Mark Wiemder would be more like Justin Hunter, a guy that is not involved on every play but when he is involved it almost always results in good things and the product (be it the TFP Sports section or UT football) being better.
Losing Patrick Brown would be like losing Tyler Bray (minus the back tattoos, of course), because he's in the most important position and doing an excellent job.
Losing David Paschall would be like losing Janzen Jackson (minus the criminal element of course), because no one else on the roster can do the things he does and it would be almost impossible to replace him, especially during the college football season.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) talks to coaches during the second half of an NFL pre season football game against the Miami Dolphins, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Miami. The Dolphins defeated the Panthers 20-10. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
(Atlanta Falcons receiver) Julio Jones is out. Do I smell an upset by Cam & Co.?
You bet the 5-at-10 is on upset alert Sunday in the Georgia Dome.
Your question has two points and each of them are surprising:
First, why are the Falcons struggling so much? Second, who though Cam Newton was going to be a blend of Dan Marino and a young Randall Cunningham right out of the gate?
As for the Falcons, well, the 2-3 start is less-than-desired, even if the early schedule was tough. And everyone is losing to Green Bay, so there's that.
But the offense has been the major problem, scoring 14 points ore less in each of the three losses. An offense with that many weapons — even with a questionable offensive line — should be able to score more than two touchdowns in four quarters. Without Julio Jones, Roddy White's going to have to have a big day against Chris Gamble and the Panthers secondary that has generally given the Falcons fits.
We still think this Falcons bunch is a playoff team, but this side of the "Dream Team" Eagles, Atlanta may be the biggest disappointment in the NFC.
As for the Cam Newton Show that has landed in Carolina, well, wow. Wow.
Yes, the Panthers are 1-4, but Newton is averaging more than 300 yards passing per game. Yes, he's been victim to some INTs (six), but that's common among rookie QBs, especially those coming from a spread-type offense to the NFL. Dude has been better than expected, and we were among the people that expected him to be really good.
Plus, by all accounts, he's become the leaders of that franchise. At 22.
He may not be ready to lead the Panthers over the Falcons in the Georgia Dome just yet, but here's saying that Falcons fans are going to have plenty of opportunities over the next decade or so complaining about how tough it is to stop Cam Newton.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins in Indianapolis, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Like the 5@10, especially the contests. I like to win stuff.
As for the question, have you noticed random sports stars (current and former) in more and more commercials recently?
Thanks, and you talk too much.
It's hard to know whether there's been an increase or if you're just watching more TV. Either way is OK.
TV commercials and sports stars have a long-standing relationship that was formed on familiarity and loyalty and that has been branded by hilarity. Who can forget the Earl Campbell commercial for Skoal Bandits? (YouTube it, it's worth your time.) Or Joe Namath in panty hose? Or Joe DiMaggio as Mr. Coffee? Or Mean Joe Greene throwing his jersey in the classic Coke commercial?
But there have been a few recently featuring sports celebs that have caught our attention. There's Aaron Rodgers in the StateFarm commercial and Emmitt Smith in the Just for Men ads where they tell him his "Beard is weird and his 'stache is trash."
But our new favorite is Deion Sanders is doing Van Huesen commercials. Van Huesen? A less-than-renowned clothes maker? Neon Deion, the guy that made flash famous and made gold cold in the 1980s and 90s? That's like MC Hammer doing a commercial for Zamfir, master of the pan flute. C'mon, Deion.
And he referred to himself as "Prime" in the commercial, which has to be some sort of third-person reference benchmark. Think about it, Deion "Prime Time" Sanders calling himself "Prime" in a national commercial. He skipped the formal third-person reference and went third-person nickname, but he nicknamed his nicknamed and just went "Prime." Well played indeed sir. It would be like Dominique "The Human Highlight Reel" Wilkins saying, "Hi, I'm "Human."
Alabama head coach Nick Saban watches his team warm up prior to an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Rick Wilson)
Alabama is good. Really good. You know this.
Ole Miss is not good. Really not good. You probably know this too.
Now four Ole Miss players — Alex Washington, Brandon Bolden, A.J. Hawkins and Philander Moore — have been suspended for the Alabama game for "violation of team rules." While it likely would not have mattered, it still comes at a bad time for Ole Miss.
Is there any phrase out there that covers more ground than "violation of team rules"?
Great question, and you're right, it would not made much of a difference. But losing those four players is not going to help matters, especially since Bolden is one of a few Ole Miss players we know what position he plays. Not good at all.
As for the "violation of team rules" term, you're spot on. It's the sports umbrella that covers things from talking back to missing study hall to felonies. Seriously.
Here is a 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10 on our top-five super umbrella, all-covering, Garry Maddox terms/answers: (The terms are named after former Philadelphia Phillies Gold Glove center fielder Garry Maddox who covered more ground than anyone. When asked how much ground he covered, Maddox said slyly, "Water covers two-thirds of the Earth; Garry Maddox covers the rest." Well-played indeed.)
1) Violation of team rules: The coach's trump card
2) Irreconcilable differences: Divorce is difficult, but this at least sounds amiable
3) Because I said so: The parental trump card
4) Administrative leave: Normally involves an administrator that's leaving
5) Do what?: Mrs. 5-at-10's classic, go-to response to any question that she doesn't immediately want to answer or any question that she needs another moment to think about before answering. (Yes, that's more than 10 words. Do what?)
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (7) in the second half against Kentucky in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. LSU defeated Kentucky 35-7 in an NCAA college football game. Mathieu was called for interference on the play. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Is there a strategy to how you pick your Fab 4? 19-8 is pretty solid. Thanks for the help (my wallet thanks you too.).
Welcome to the show and feel free to stop by any time — not just on Thursdays when the Fab 4 picks are revealed.
As for a system, well, there is one gauge we try to use to identify college lines that are out of place.
First, we generally only pick college games (for entertainment purposes only, of course) because there are so many college games that there generally will be at least one or two lines that are out of whack. With no more than 16 NFL games and official injury reports and so much intel out there about every team, after the first three weeks, the sports books are pretty sharp on NFL lines.
So, after looking at all the college lines, we take the best eight or so and start to analyze them.
The biggest detector for us is what we call the "Flip it Number." The "Flip It Number (FIN)" is the number of additional points it would take you to bet on the other team. For example, Alabama was minus-25 against Ole Miss. We like Alabama a lot at that number. We then ask, "How many points would it take for us to feel good about betting on Ole Miss?" Would you take Ole Miss plus-35? Maybe. How about Ole Miss plus-38? You bet. OK, then the FIN is 13, and anytime you can find a game that has a FIN of 10 or more, then you have to feel pretty good about it.
Here's another example: LSU minus-15 at Tennessee. Would you feel comfortable with UT plus 28? Maybe. So the FIN on that game is at least 13. There are not a lot of those games, but we try to maximize them when we find them.
Enjoy the weekend.
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 ...