published Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

5 at 10: Wildcard race, Kiffin era revisited and the Best/Worst of the NFL

From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...



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    Michael Patrick of the Knoxville News Sentinel
    Lane Kiffin waits in the hallway, Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 waiting for television stations to kill their live feed of his press conference.

More UT-NCAA issues

Wow, the Lane Kiffin era in Knoxville is a lot like an STD — every time it appears to be gone and forgotten, a painful reminder resurfaces causing everyone to ask, "How could we have been so dumb?"

Our UT football ace Patrick Brown filed this story this morning (Willie Mack Garza reportedly paid for UT recruit’s visit), detailing how Willie Mack Garza reportedly paid for high-profile recruit Lache Seastrunk to visit UT. To make matters worse, Garza, who followed the Boy Blunder Kiffin to USC before resigning recently to tend to some "personal matters," allegedly negotiated the deal through Seastrunk handler Willie Lyles, who is about as trustworthy as a Snake Oil Salesman and has the reputation of Ponzi Scheme operator.

Wow, just when UT appeared to be out of NCAA jail, this comes out. It's hard to know what it means for the Vols, who recently had their NCAA cases closed with relatively no new penalties added by the NCAA. The biggest concern for Johnny Vols Fan this morning would have to be whether any one at UT knew of the alleged violations by Garza, and if they knew whether they informed the NCAA of these issues. If they did not know — and since everyone this side of the custodial staff at UT has been turned over — there could be an outside chance of the NCAA claiming a lack of institutional control. That seems less than likely.

However, if the NCAA can connect that information to UT and the Vols did not turn it over to the NCAA, well, the entire process could start again. Because if we know anything the NCAA hates being lied to — well that, and no interloper since General William T. Sherman has scorched one proud Southern town more criminally and effectively than Kiffin.



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    This handout from Sports Illustrated shows the cover of the Dec. 12, 2005 issue, featuring Tom Brady, the 2005 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. The issue will hit newsstands on Dec. 7. (AP Photo/HO, Sports Illustrated)

NFL Power Poll

In the NFL more than any other sport, you are what your record says you are. MLB and NBA regular seasons are marathons. College football's regular season — the best of them all — is a 13-chapter Stephen King thriller that builds each week and college basketball is a five-month try-out, sports' version of the political primaries where we find out who the candidates are and let them duke it out in a month-long postseason extravaganza.

The NFL, though, is like Sports Illustrated in its heyday. Each week is memorable, but when the week is over, it's over. Time for the next one. Sure there were some other magazines that had great weeks — a Golf Digest for BiSpy; a Law Review for Jefe; a MMA Illustrated for EC; People or Soap Opera Digest for JordanRules — but the week-in, week-out greatness of SI made it SI. (Side bar: Thursdays when SI arrived during the 5-at-10's childhood was a great day. Sadly, it's not that way any more.)

So the NFL is about weekly success built into expected greatness. You are what your record says you are.

With that in mind, here's the Power Poll:

Top 5

1) Green Bay (3-0): One to 53, best team in the NFL.

2) Detroit (3-0): Vegas' odds on Lions reaching the Super Bowl are at 15-to-1; they were at 80-to-1 during the summer

3) Buffalo (3-0): Who knows how long the Bills will rank with the league's elite, but they're 3-0 now and that counts.

4) New England (2-1): Relax Pats fans, Brady throwing four picks (like he did in Sunday's loss at Buffalo) is football's version of Halley's Comet

5) New Orleans (2-1): Drew Brees and a bunch of weapons have Saints rolling

Bottom 5

28) St. Louis (0-3): Injuries (especially to RB Stephen Jackson) have the Rams looking for help for quarterback Sam Bradford. That search has been less than pretty.

29) Miami (0-3): Is it a bad sign if when Dolphins coach Tony Sparano enters the stadium, clips from "Dead Man Walking" are shown on the Jumbotron?

30) Minnesota (0-3): The crack 5-at-10 investigative branch has uncovered this secret (and fake) note:

Hey Adrian Peterson,

Good luck being a superstar back on a really bad team for the next decade. Enjoy it — if you can,

Love and respect,

Barry Sanders

31) Indianapolis: Injured Colts QB Peyton Manning spent Sunday night in the coaches' box trying to help the league's worst offense. His presence did help a little; his appearance on the field would help a lot. That said, here's saying Manning should sit out the season; neck injuries are not like high ankle sprains or ligament tears. Quick returns from most injuries mean life-long limps or aches and pains. Coming back too soon from a neck injury could lead to a lifetime in a wheel chair.

32) Kansas City (0-3): The Chiefs, who won the AFC West last year, have lost three straight, have their best player (Eric Berry) on the IR with an ACL injury and have a coach on the hot seat. Ouch.





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    Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) chases Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla (26) after dropping the third strike in the sixth inning of a baseball game In Atlanta Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 in Atlanta. Philadelphia won 4-2. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Braves new worry

TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer nails the Braves' woes here (Wiedmer: Team melting like Mayfield's Braves ice cream). And Weeds asks a great question about why has no one asked about Larry Parrish's job security. It seems like the last productive out by a Braves hitter was by Jeff Blauser. Sad indeed.

That said, the Braves still cling to a one-game lead and have already faced Phillies stud Cliff Lee. This is a good thing Johnny Braves Fan. Seriously.

Plus, you can follow the 5-at-10's lead and become a huge Astros fan this week. For the sweet love of J.R. Richard, Enos Cabell (he may not be the ugliest MLB player ever — thanks, Willie McGee — but ol' Enos is in the team picture for sure) and Jose Cruz, c'mon Astros because this Braves offense has officially flat-lined.

And if it seems silly to you to want the Braves to back into the playoffs, well, do you know what they call backing into the playoffs? Yep, it's called being in the playoffs, and that's every team's goal.



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    Jon Jones, left, of Endicott, N.Y., kneels in the center of the ring after knocking out Rampage Jackson, right, of Irvine, Calif., during the fourth round of their UFC Light Heavyweight title bout, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Denver. Jones won the fight with a knockout in the fourth round. (AP Photo/ Jack Dempsey )

This and that

— The Wall Street Journal reported that Bud Selig is looking into options to kick the Dodgers out of the MLB if embattled owner Frank McCourt does not sell the club. This seems like posturing at best and grand grandstanding at worst, but if the Dodgers can't field a major league team, does that mean Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw and the rest of the L.A. stars could be with the Lookouts next year? Awesome.

— If you want to feel better about the Braves' collapse, just look at the month the Boston Red Sox have endured? E-Gads. The stock market in October 1929 was more upbeat than these Red Sox, who are 5-17 in their last 22 games and are tied for the AL wildcard lead with Tampa with two games to go. Boston has been either atop the AL East or the wildcard standings everyday since May 24. Plus, the Red Sox have not won back-to-back games since August. Ouch-standing.

— We've had an EC sighting and he's informed us that the MMA hugfest last weekend was outstanding. OK, great. He also informed us that the winners this weekend will set up a title match between Jon "Bones" Jones and "Sugar" Rashad Evans. Bones vs. Sugar for the light heavyweight title, or Bar-B-Que bragging rights of Chattanooga. Let's get it on! Who's hungry?

— Let's say the 5-at-10 has a friend named Weena who occasionally makes a wager or 22. Let's say Weena knows some folks who know some things about betting. Would you believe that in FBS games in the month of September, Vegas is 129-128, according to RJ Bell of pregame.com? That means the favorite has covered 129 times and the underdog has covered 128 times (that's not counting pushes or the three games that had lines of zero). That's hard to fathom, huh. Two quick things, Vegas is good. Period. But they aren't 14-3-1 like the 5-at-10's Fab 4 (plus 1), though.



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    Atlanta Braves' Michael Bourn, left, and Chipper Jones, top right, run on the base paths after Jones' reached on a fielder's choice as Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa, center, points towards Chris Marrero (14) during the ninth inning of a baseball game on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Washington. Bourn scored and Jones was tagged out in a rundown during the play. The Braves won 7-4. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Today's question

No big build up or hocus-pocus or 5-at-10 theories or charts. It's a simple question today gang:

Which teams win the wildcard spots in the AL and the NL?

And today's question comes with a bonus, if you get them both right — be it on the comments or in the e-mail — we'll set you up with some Mocs tickets for Saturday. Deal? Deal.

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.
ordinaryguy said...

The clorox orange clad faithful need to get over Kiffin, the problems with the football program are the responsibility of Fulmer. Football was on a downward spiral long long before Lane's arrival. Much like the Obamamaniacs blame Bush, the candy corn Vols fans blame Lane, when in truth should be blaming the Great Pumpkin.

September 27, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.
chas9 said...

Vols fans--Can you spell "repeat offender"? Do you know what it means?

Yes, it's huge. I now set the Braves' chances for post season at 55%. What do you say, Jay?

Suck for Luck.

September 27, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.
jgreeson said...

OG —

Fulmer's flame out in the last couple of season in Knoxville have been wiped under the rug by a lot of folks, but Willie Mack Garza is fully on Kiffin. Kiffin brought him in 2009 and Kiffin took him to L.A. when they left.

That said, there is some truth in your comparison — and the "candy corn Vols fans" line was especially well-crafted — but not in Garza's case.

9er —

Yep, that's one bone-head name alright.

Braves chances of at least getting into a one-game playoff Thursday are right at 85 percent; 55-percent looks about right for overall chances for being in the NL playoffs.

September 27, 2011 at 11:49 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show, McPell

When I read the article this morning about Kiffin ala Willie Lyles, I had a picture of Dooley looking like William Shatner/James T Kirk in the "Wrath of Khan" yelling "KIFFIN!" Oh, and Alex, I will take the Braves and Rays for a pair of tickets, please.
mcpell

September 27, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

so how are all the Vols fans gonna feel at the end of this year when UGA announces their new coach? Yeah....I'm goin out there on a limb early. But i dont think its a coincidence that Dooley ONLY signed a 2 year contract and coincidentally...Richt is on the hot seat about to lose his job and oh...Dooley's daddy is the AD for UGA. Yup...i said it first...Dooley will be at UGA in 2012!

September 27, 2011 at 12:37 p.m.

Dooley's dad is not the AD at Georgia. Nice try though.

September 27, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.

Not sure I see the connection between Fulmer and this mess with Kiffin. Did the program slide under Fulmer? Of course. Did Lane Kiffin and staff cheat like crazy? Yes. A criticism of Kiffin is not a defense of Fulmer.

Lane Kiffin's Fires Still Burn in Knoxville http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/2011-articles/september/lane-kiffins-fires-still-burn-in-knoxville.html

September 27, 2011 at 1:05 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

just wait...its gonna happen...and where did yall hear first? From the Oso..The Dooleys will reign again!

September 27, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.
jgreeson said...

McPell,

Love the Shatner reference. Has anyone made more of a career of being themselves more than Shatner? He's got to be Matthew McConaughey's professional idol.

Oso —

Don't see Dooley going back to UGA, although that would happen way before Vince becoming the AD again. The days of old coaches being ADs are as over as Chuck Taylors and VCRs.

Checkers —

Concur with your statements about the Kiffin-Fulmer debates.

— 5-at-10

September 27, 2011 at 1:51 p.m.
twharr said...

Is it just me or does Lane Kiffin resemble Daniel Tosh??

September 27, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

College ADs these days have to be part lawyer, part Billly whathisname from the (your product here) infomercials. It ain't about setting up the football schedule and making sure the gym floor gets refinished in the offseason (though there was nothing like having connections and getting to run the big floor at Southern for some 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 on a Sunday afternoon).

When your ace can't beat the lowly, moribund Orioles, you sir, are in trouble. I haven't seen a team this lifeless, gutless and heartless since ... well, I just flip over to SportSouth and what do you know? Lifeless. Gutless. Heartless. Right there too.

And for the life of me, I never, ever understood what UT saw in Lane Kiffin. It was like going out with the hot chick that you just knew was neurotic/psychotic enough to drive Freud and Frasier Crane batty so that after a few dates you knew you were going to say "I'm outta here. Have a nice life." And when you look back on it, it really wasn't that fun at all. That being said, the Spy smiles at the thought of the ladies who have crossed his path in years gone by, and the ones (hopefully) still down the road.

September 27, 2011 at 2:28 p.m.
jgreeson said...

twharr —

Welcome to the show and feel free to stop by any time. And yes, Kiffin looks more than a little like Daniel Tosh. Don't know if he's a comedian, but he's left the UT program in stitches. (See what we did there?) So it goes.

Spy —

No doubt the new-day AD is more on director than athletic.

As for Kiffin, he was the anti-Fulmer, and in that regard, it's easy to see why Mike Hamilton went after him. After running longtime son of the program Fulmer, replacing him with the next version of "Aw, shucks, we have to block and tackle and check the film and work like heck to get better," would not have been acceptable. He had to go in the complete opposite direction.

That said, Johnny Vols Fans should be smiling ear-to-ear that Kiffin pulled up shop and went West. If was still in Knox County as all this was coming down, the sanctions would have been over the top.

— 5-at-10

September 27, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

As much as I hate to say it... The Braves do not look poised for a Wild Card birth...they look poised to be wearing poise pads...because they are wetting themselves out on the diamond right now...good golly miss molly can someone please get them straightened out ASAP! My bet is that the Red Sox continue to choke...sorry Bspy...but the Tampa Bay Rays and their 40 Million $ Salary will be playing ball next week... so there you have it... Cardinals and Rays..to win the Wild Card!

September 27, 2011 at 4:26 p.m.
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