published Thursday, September 8th, 2011

5 at 10: Texas A&M, Tim Tebow and the start of the NFL season

From the "Les knows best Studios," here we go...



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    Texas A&M fullback Jorvorskie Lane (11) runs past Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek, bottom, and Dwain Crawford (1) on his way into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Waco, Texas. Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008. A&M's Evan Eike (65) looks on. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Expansion ball starts to roll

Texas A&M is headed to the SEC, and it appears almost impossible that Baylor's threat of a lawsuit will not prevent it.

When — not if — Texas A&M leaves the Big 12, this will start the move toward the 14- and 16-team megaconferences that will dominate college football. Again, this is not an "if" deal as much as a "when" deal.

Here's one spit-ball projection as to how it could shake-out:

The SEC

SEC East: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and West Virginia

SEC West: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss. State, Missouri, Texas A&M

Pac-16

Current 12 teams and add Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and BYU

Big 10

Current 12 teams and add Kansas, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Louisville

ACC

Current 11 teams (with Virginia Tech heading to the SEC) and add UConn, South Florida, Central Florida with the possible spots for two more.

Everyone else will be jumbled into an NCAA field for football, not unlike the NCAA tournament, although it will feel more like the NIT.

It's coming, gang, and the biggest question is not if but whether the rest of the schools have the strength and the where with all to force Notre Dame and Texas to join the fold so they can broker the TV rights deals together.

Because expansion is not about competition or classification as much as it's about market shares and money. In a perfect world, we could stay where we currently are conference-wise and look to tweak the BCS system. But all the hand-wringing and calls for playoffs jumpstarted the conferences to be aggressive and perform the sports version of the California Gold Rush of 1849.

Let's move along before our heads pop off.



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    Alabama coach Nick Saban, right, watches Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims (14) and AJ McCarron (10) warm up before an NCAA college football game against Kent State on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The 5-at-10's Fantastic 4

Last week we offered our top four college football picks of the opening weekend and went 3-1. (We won on Miss. State covering and Alabama covering and going over the total and lost of TCU, which lost outright to Baylor).

Not bad, but that should be the baseline:

Here are this weekend's Big Four:

— The over/under on the Mississippi State-Auburn game is 56.5. Yes, those two teams combined to score 99 points last week and surrendered a total of 52. Someboday may need to get an extra column on the scoreboard. (Needless to say we love the over, and it's hard to believe these were the teams that played to a 3-2 gross-fest three years ago.)

— Whether we're drinking the UT Kool-ade or not will not be know until the Vols head to the Swamp on Sept. 17. That said, it's hard to believe the UT passing game that has one of the nation's top receiving tandems in Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rodgers, is only a six-point favorite at home against Cincinnati. Did basketball season start?

— South Carolina is a three-point favorite at Georgia. Georgia may have more need; South Carolina has more Lattimore.

— Here's a wild one. Look for Oregon to take a measure of revenge against a Nevada team that does not have anywhere close to the size or the speed to stop the Ducks. The numbers from this one could get obscene.

Last week's Fantastic 4: 3-1

This season's Fantastic 4: 3-1



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    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Chase Daniel (10) before an NFL preseason football game against the Tennessee Titans at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

NFL predictions

We're saving our individual awards picks for Friday (hint: there may be a mailbag question about them) but let's gauge the NFL season, which starts tonight when the Saints visit the Packers.

Quick point before we pick the division winners: Have the Tennessee Titans had a better 10 days in the last three years than the two weeks leading up to kickoff? They resigned running back Chris Johnson, who clearly is their best player. Then AFC South foes Indy and Jacksonville announced that their starting quarterbacks will be Kerry Collins and Luke McCown, respectively, because Colts star Peyton Manning won't be ready for the opener and after the Jags released starter David Garrard. Depending on how long Peyton is on he shelf, these Titans could make a run at the division title. (Yes, we have long agreed with SportTalk's Dr. B — he's a doctor after all — that the Titans are going to have to fight to win more than six games, but that was before we learned that four of those games could be against the quarterback stylings of Collins and McCown.)

The AFC South appears determined to give the NFC West a run for its "worst division in football" title.

OK, let's get to the predictions:

AFC division winners: Patriots, Steelers, Texans, Chargers

AFC wildcards: Jets, Ravens

NFC division winners: Falcons, Eagles, Packers, Rams

NFC wildcards: Saints, Cowboys

AFC title game: Patriots over Steelers

NFC title game: Packers over Falcons

Super Bowl: Patriots over Packers





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    Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) and Denver Broncos quarterback Adam Weber (2) watch as quarterback Brady Quinn leads the offense in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

This and that

— Not only did the Phillies sweep a three-game series from your Atlanta Braves without having to send NL Cy Young frontrunner Roy Halladay to the mound, the Phillies capped the series by trumping Atlanta's ace — its bullpen. Philadelphia touched up Jonny Venters for a run in the eighth to tie the game and Peter Moylan for the game-winner in the ninth for a walk-off 3-2 win.

— More expansion talk: There has been no confirmation, but after Texas A&M heads to the greener pastures of the SEC, the Denver Broncos may join the Big 12, that way Denver can utilize the true skills of former first-round pick Tim Tebow.

— Schedule update: We'll be on "The Show with Chris Goforth," on 1370 AM here in town today around 2 p.m.



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    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) avoids Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu after making a catch for first down in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Today's question

The NFL starts tonight. You know this.

So we have two questions for you:

Who will win the Super Bowl? (And here's guessing that SportTalk's Quake and SteelerFan like the Steelers; K-Burg likes the Falcons; and JordanRules likes Jordan.)

Second, did the lockout even dent your NFL fandom? Did the offseason that wasn't affect your NFL appetite at all?

Discuss.

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.
BIspy4 said...

From the files of "no (), Sherlock," I do like your Super Bowl pick.

Don't see the Irish joining a conference for football, not with that TV deal. They ain't giving that up.

September 8, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
chas9 said...

5er--Like your scenario of how the conferences might shake out. If so, The Semiholes will dominate the ACC in football the way Memphis owns its basketball conference.

September 8, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Now comes word that Arkansas has been asked about joining the Big 12. In the words of Joey Lawrence, "whoa."

Don't see Virginia Polytechnic Institute joining the SEC. The Georgia Institute of Technology may re-join the SEC before VPI becomes a member.

Over/under on number of NCAA investigators at this weekend's THE Ohio State University vs. THE U game in south Florida?

September 8, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Figured you'd like the Pats as our "sleeper" Super Bowl pick.

As far as expansion, here's some things to remember:

Ga Tech is going to have a hard time getting back into the SEC because Georgia, Florida and South Carolina have a wink-wink, nod-nod deal in which none of those three will vote for inviting another school from those three states. So no Tech, no Clemson, no FSU.

If the TV deals are deal-breakers for Texas and Notre Dame, then maybe they stay independent. But if they stay independent do the four power conferences allow them a special entry into the title games and the BCS billions? More than likely not, and if Notre Dame is playing football with no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (see what we did there?), how much is NBC willing to spend?

As for next week's Da U-THE Ohio State Penitentiary, here's saying the NCAA buys two luxury boxes and has its quarterly meeting there. It would be cheaper than bring all of the field officers down around South Beach back to the ranch in Indy.

9er —

FSU has to be grinning from ear-to-ear. If Virginia Tech is on the move and when Miami gets hammered by the NCAA folks, FSU will be back to Bowden levels super fast.

SIDE NOTE FOR ALL 5-at-10 readers: We have started tweaking during college football Saturdays — and longtime friend of the show EC stops by too — so check us out at www.twitter.com/SportsChatt.>

SECOND SIDE NOTE FOR ALL 5-at-10 readers: You can win stuff if you play "Can You Beat Jay." Go here http://contests.timesfreepress.com/upickem/registration/login.asp?contestid=38912 to give it a shot. You could win a gift card — and that's almost as good as cash — and get bragging rights around these part.

SIDE NOTE FOR BLUE OVAL — We have your UTC tickets ready for Saturday. Shoot us an e-mail so we can get them to you.

— 5-at-10

September 8, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

Jay, I'll pick those up for Oval....What?!?! You can trust me!!!! No the lockout did nuttin to detour my love for the game and Yes, the Falcons all the way. And when do we get to say "Ok...we got enough teams now!!!" Like the SEC isnt the toughest conference out there already lets add more teams!!

September 8, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Oso —

You trickster.

And we're with you about the lockout. We're stoked about tonight's kickoff — and one of the great things about being an SEC fan and watching the NFL is that you get to watch with vested interest but a loss doesn't absolutely ruin your weekend.

Yes, we know there are some regular readers who are more NFL fans than SEC fans — yes, Kburg and SteelerFan, we're looking at you — who feel the exact opposite. But NFL games are a great way to wind down the weekend.

We're stoked. Eye black for everyone.

— 5-at-10

September 8, 2011 at 3:28 p.m.
kburgess1013 said...

How did you ever guess that K-Burg likes the Falcons?! Magic crystal ball perhaps? I was both excited and horrified that Peter King predicted the Falcons to meet the Chargers in Superbowl 2012. Naturally my first thought was hoping that his prediction did not place a hex on my favorite team. And then of course I thought it only logical that the Falcons would wait until possibly the last Super Bowl ever (if the Mayans have it right), to go in and win.

And yes I do love NFL more than college ball. I tremendously enjoy both, but my most vivid memories of childhood are NFL oriented. The Burg house was never livelier than on Sundays when momma Burg would be yelling and screaming at the old boob tube with either elation at a Falcons victory or with absolute disgust at a Falcons loss (which were plentiful in those days). I think Diet Coke cans even went projectile on one or two occasions (just kidding). My late grandmother rarely showed enthusiasm for anything, but when her Dallas Cowboys or the Falcons were playing she would hoot and holler so loudly that her special recliner chair nearly tipped over a few times. I never really got the full college football experience until I went to my first ever game last season when Auburn had their first match up with South Carolina.

September 8, 2011 at 8:54 p.m.
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