published Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

5-at-10: College football, Fantasy rules and cursed sports teams

Remember the Friday mailbag — we have one spot open — and hang on, we have a lot to cover.

From the "Talks too much studios" here we go...

  • photo
    Coach Derek Dooley watches his players take the field for a skirmish in April.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

College football lists

We have been dedicated to providing a college football list every day to get you, the loyal 5-at-10 reader, ready for the water cooler chat that is college football season. In fact, we hope we arm you with at least one tidbit because we know the value — at least in the South — of being able to communicate in the language of college football.

Let's look at this another way: The out-of-control college football culture is greatly to blame on the fan bases everywhere. We demand success — and methods and practices can frequently be compromised — and we demanded it yesterday. And if there's one feeling that is more deeply felt than the pride and pleasure of victory for Johnny College Football Fan, it's the angst of seeing your rival/opponents succeed while your team flounders.

Our trash-talking culture has matched our need for immediate returns. This is not a good thing, but it's true.

Don't believe it? Answer this: When your team plays college football on Saturday, and the game is tight, and your boys pull it out, what's your strongest emption? If your being honest, it's relief then excitement and enjoyment. Know why? A big part of it is because you don't want to show up Monday and hear your buddies or your co-workers give you grief (and no, buddies and co-workers are not the same thing).

So with that in mind, here's a top-five list of college football storylines to dazzle the water cooler crowd. Enjoy. You're welcome.

1) Penn State takes the field for a season opener with a head coach not named Joe Paterno since 1965. If it feels like a long time, it's because it is a long, Long, LONG time. Remember 1965 was the same year that Medicare was finally passed by LBJ, the St. Louis Gateway Arch was completed and the Voting Rights Act guaranteeing black people the right to vote becomes law.

2) Notre Dame is going to be a player on the national scene again led by a defense that's pretty salty. In fact, several high-profile programs like the Irish — Tennessee, Ohio State and Texas to name but three — figure to be much improved this fall.

3) Speaking of Tennessee, here's a factoid about the Vols' season-opening opponent that needs to be known: The N.C. State Wolfpack have three offensive linemen with more than 26 starts each and more than 100 career starts across an offensive line that will be tough.

4) In eight days there are two games on Thursday night to keep an eye on. The SEC opener between South Carolina and Vandy — which will feature a meeting of two of the SEC's top three running backs — in Nashville and BYU hosting Washington State in Pirate Mike Leach's return to college football. (Side note: Washington State receiver Marquess Wilson had 1,388 yards on 82 catches as a sophomore last season and those number will likely increase.)

5) For all the talk about the rest of the nation ending the SEC's strangle-hold on the BCS trophy, well, we'll still take the SEC and take our chances. Consider the following: The SEC has half of the top 10 — Alabama at 2, LSU at 3, Georgia at 6, South Carolina at 9 and Arkansas at 10 — in the AP poll. Plus that dominance sees little end. SEC newcomer Texas A&M is currently ninth in the national recruiting rankings. That seems good right? Well, that's good enough for No. 9 in the country and No. 6 in the SEC. Buckle up everybody, cause it's going to be a wild ride.


Fantasy football strategy

We have received a few questions this week about fantasy football. And we're going to have some pretty sizable responses in Friday's mailbag. (If your draft is before this weekend, and you have a specific question, give us a shout.)

That said, we felt the need to get a couple of fundamental draft policies out there. Hey, we love the draft — even a fantasy draft. You know this.

1) Know your league's rules. This seems obvious, but it's often overlooked. How many points are a TD pass worth? Is it 3? Is it 6? That can be the difference between taking a QB in round one or in round 7.

2) Know the injury report. Repeat ghost rider: KNOW the injury report (and who is signed and unsigned for that matter). Don't be that guy that takes Maurice Jones Drew with the seventh overall pick and thinks it's a steal (MJD is currently not in camp, but taking him in the third round would be a steal, for what that's worth). You've been warned, because this happens every year at every draft we've ever attended.

3) Even if the ghost of Mark Moseley is on the board, never, Never, NEVER take a kicker until the final round. (And if there's someone left on the board you really like, draft him instead and pick up a kicker on the waiver wire before week one.)

4) Be ahead of the curve. If you get to round four or round five and the run on tight ends has not started yet, start the run. Take Graham or Gronk and watch as everyone else snaps up a tight end in order and then when your next pick comes up, you're back where you started.

5) If the curve has started, stay away. If the run on tight ends or defenses starts and you are a pick or two away and can still get value, jump on. But if you're five picks away, don't take Tony Gonzalez or Jermichael Finley in round five when you could easily get comparable value five rounds later.

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    Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws during the second inning of a baseball game with the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012, in Washington.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Baseball postseason pace

OK, the baseball season is long and you have to trust it. We said that all summer, and we have believed it for a long time.

That said, things are starting to get tight with six weeks left in the regular season.

There are but two division races that have leads of two games or fewer. The White Sox — who got a grand slam from Kevin Youklis to beat the Yankees last night (yeah, Bobby V., Youk is washed up, huh?) — are two up on Detroit; San Fran is 1.5 up on the Dodgers after winning 4-1 last night.

But the wildcard standings are tighter than the bolts on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Five NL teams are within eight games of wildcard-leading Atlanta. It's getting close.

OK, remember that there will be two wildcard teams from each league this year, and those teams will play a one-game, winner-advances play-in game.

Buckle up folks, the marathon looks like it will become a sprint.

(Side question: Any other Johnny Braves Fans out there starting to get a little nervous?)


This and that

— The autopsy on Junior Seau showed no drugs or alcohol in his system or any initial signs of brain damage.

— Reds farmhand Billy Hamilton has topped Vince Coleman's minor league stolen base record with his 146 steal. His record-breaking stolen base on Tuesday night was his third in the first three innings of Pensacola's game against Montgomery. He needed only 120 games to reach 147 steals. Read that again. Now know two things: First, he will be a high-dollar fantasy baseball player next year (and if you have a keeper league, when he gets called up in September, move Heaven and Earth to get him); second, this kid could really change the NL playoff chase and postseason as a pinch-runner. And if you think a key stolen base can't change anything ask any Red Sox fan you know about Dave Roberts and watch them smile and remember his steal against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.

— Donna D'Errico has abandoned her search for Noah's Ark. Yes, that Donna D'Errico, who was a "Baywatch" cast member, a Playboy playmate and married to Nikki Sixx for nine years. Quick question, was our world ready for the fallout if Donna D'Errico had found Noah's Ark, and landed the greatest historic finding of all-time? Wouldn't that be like Pamela Anderson messing around in the kitchen and curing cancer? Either would be excellent, of course, but the head-scratching would have historic. Let's just move along.


Today's question

Which is the worst team to be a fan of?

We're not talking about being a Penn State fan right now — which would be tough. Or even being a fan of a perennial loser. No being awful is OK compared to being occasionally close and frequently tortured.

We believe that often situations and teams pick fans as much as fans pick teams. Maybe your old man was a Yankees fan so you started following them. Maybe you liked the Dodgers uniforms (guilty) as a kid and that made you bleed Dodger Blue. Maybe you liked the way Pistol Pete played so you became a Jazz/Hawks fan (if that's you, well, sorry).

So if you were touched by the hand of fate and became a fan of a team, which team would be the worst? We're asking this because the L.A. Clippers — the team that amazingly has assembled a fair amount of talent for the first time in a long while — have received news that Chris Paul had offseason surgery like teammate Blake Griffin because of injuries suffered while playing for Team U.S.A. And if that's not enough, the Clippers ascent has again been over shoadowed by the Lakers, who have added Dwight Howard. The Clippers are cursed. Period.

So, what's the Mount Rushmore of worst teams to support? Clippers for sure. Cubs for sure. Hawks. And maybe the Arizona Cardinals.


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 ...

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.
chas9 said...

There was Mayhem in a church, a country music star in a ditch, a Congressman in the Sea of Galilee, and now a prince in a hotel room. Is all this new-dee-eye-tee a fashionable trend? If there's a 5@10 eruption, where will it appear?

August 22, 2012 at 10:06 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten cup: Great article as usual. MOUNT RUSHMORE OF WORST TEAMS TO SUPPORT: Clippers Cubs Cardinals Drum roll please: Atlanta Flames/Thrashers. Both franchises were sold away to Canada.

August 22, 2012 at 10:24 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

No doubt. There has been a run of ruckus here of late. If the 5-at-10 were to lose control — and we hope to all ends this never happens — well, we're not sure where it would happen. We do know the Bud Lights at the ballpark go down mighty smooth, so maybe a A-Showout at AT&T?

747 —

Yes. Flames/Thrashers — the double heartbreaker. Nice call.

— 5-at-10

August 22, 2012 at 10:33 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Good call on the Clippers and Cubs. My other two are the Bengals and the Bills. Until about 10 years ago, the Tampa Bay Bucs and Red Sox would have made strong cases for this list.

Nice job with the high school football episode with Mr. Hargis.

August 22, 2012 at 10:40 a.m.
Todd962 said...

Your Donna D'Errico comments reminded me of the comedian that talked about women being selfish towards society for roadblocking "taking relationships to the next level" with marriage. He said that they needed to make it something beneficial for mankind. You tell an 18 year old he cant get any until they are married, he is going to get married. You tell an 18 year old he cant get any until he cures cancer, you give him two weeks, he will come flying out of a lab somewhere screaming "Got it! Cure for cancer! Ends up you mix carrots and mustard together, rub it all over your body, kills the cancer cells. Now where'd she go." Maybe if D'Errico offers herself up in exchange for the person who found it, there would be arks popping up everywhere. (Amongst other things)

And I dont know much about Billy Hamilton, but what secret of base stealing has he discovered that no one else has found in the last 40 years. Is he the Usain Bolt of baseball? A late night crossroads meeting? Cause last time I checked those base paths werent getting any shorter and there has always been speed in the game. My theory is a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. Your thoughts?

As a novice fantasy player I appreciate the advice. Our draft is Sunday night after I return from New Orleans for a bachelor party, so any help you offered will likely be erased from my memory in the next 96 hours. Keep an eye on your email Sunday, if you receive a message that makes no sense and has an Espn user name and password just take the reins. I'll be too hungover. I've heard you love the draft, you'll do fine.

And can the next contest winner claim the right of deciding what you and Hargis have to wear in your weekly football video report? I prefer my weekly football news being reported from someone in knight's armor or 80's rocker garb, complete with wigs. It would bring another level of professionalism to the scene. It was a good report all the same. Look forward to the rest of the year.

August 22, 2012 at 10:54 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stew Live Crew —

Thanks. Something different we're going to try this year, we're hopefully going to shoot them on Mondays and have them up for Tuesday. (For those looking for the prep football video, it's here

Bengals are right there, but the Bills are a great call. Good enough to tease; bad enough to torture.

And Tampa was on the list, but if they have won a title in your lifetime, it's tough to include them. (And we would have seriously considered Auburn had it not been for 2010.)

— 5-at-10

August 22, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.
jgreeson said...

962 —

Wow. Well played indeed.

Yes, that would be some mighty motivation for the 18-year-old oncologists everywhere.

And Ms. D'Errico could have launched a river of wannabe Indiana Jones during her Baywatch days, but something tells us a near-decade long marriage to a Motley Crew member = a lot of miles on those tires.

Let's just all agree that for the next few weeks, any and all things that seem unexplainable, the answer is simple: Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak. As Uncle Buck would say, "It's in the books."

We'll have some rankings and some other things to watch for in regard to the fantasy football realm.

Great call. We need a new contest. (And we may offer a prize of getting to pick what Hargis wears in the video. We'll see.)

— 5-at-10

August 22, 2012 at 11:14 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Donna D'Errico ... good little Catholic girl from Columbus, Ga. OK, bad little Catholic girl from Columbus. (Hi, Donna, my name is Spy. I'm a Sagittarius. I like traveling and museums and I once won a dance contest in Augusta during Masters week. ...)

Youk was hitting .199 since the break until he went all salami on the Evil Empire (he musta thought he was hitting off Joba Chamberlain). So yes, he really is washed up.

Cursed team? You want cursed teams? Be a Red Sox fan up until 2004. And with that, I give you ...

The Cleveland Browns! (Hello Cleveland!)

August 22, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

Point of historical order here, Jayster.

Medicare as we know it was first proposed in 1948 by President Harry Truman as part of his Fair Deal domestic program. It was not enacted till 1965 which is still a long time ago and fondly remembered by those of us who were burning through our adolescence then. Most of my teachers never expected me to survive long enough to drink legally much less be enrolled in Medicare.

And, yes, the Mount Rushmore of Futility must start with the Cubs.

August 22, 2012 at 12:23 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Youk still gets on base — OBP .365 with Chicago — and dude is a winner period. White Sox are 29-20 since the deal.

And yes, somewhere Drew Carey just shook his head and unloaded "Browwwnnnnnnssssss" in his best Kirk "Kahhhhnnnnn" impression.

JP —

Thanks for the clarification. We blame the miscommunication on Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak. (And it has been corrected — the mistake not the claok).

And yes, there are quite a few folks from Smyrna and especially in Auburn that say, "Wow, good to see you're still alive," when we meet.

— 5-at-10

August 22, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

jgreeson wrote-

"And if there's one feeling that is more deeply felt than the pride and pleasure of victory for Johnny College Football Fan, it's the angst of seeing your rival/opponents succeed while your team flounders."

As someone whose been a Mocs fan since my junior year (1997) I can relate to this. However, my co-workers here in DFW don't quite have the same flare for SEC or Southern Conference pigskin rivalies so I'm literally a party of one.

However, most of UTCs past shortcomings were more to do with the quality of product than anything. So now hopefully this will finally be the year we either win or co-win the SoCon Championship or make it into the playoffs.

To say college football in the South (and Texas) is a religion is an understatement. While I don't consideer myself a Mocs superfan like that Buddy guy whose at every Mocs home game and then some, I'm usually the first to admist that I "focus my mental charkura" a-la Dragonball Z style as though it somehow will effect the outcome of the game.

Regarding your Rushmore question for the day, I only have one name to submit: North Texas. Always losing (but they have a nice, new stadium), always last in the conference. No real support outside of Denton or so it seems. I am planning to actually attend a game this year just to see if there is any actual love for these guys. (BTW Jay, their DMN report is in that paperwork I sent).

August 22, 2012 at 12:48 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Run JMC —

Excellent point, and pre-Huesman, we would have expected several "UTC football" answers to today's Rushmore question.

We know the Texas folk take it seriously. So it goes.

We got your package of DMNs — can't thank you enough. And while the college football preview pages inside the section were cool, we're wondering if that's instead of a college football preview section.

(Side note: JMC, we're sending our College Blitz preview your way so you can seven-plus pages on Frierson goodness on your Mocs. It's the least we can do.)

— 5-at-10

August 22, 2012 at 1:07 p.m.
memphisexile said...

Being a Saints fan pre-Brees was no cake walk. If I remember correctly it took 37 years to get that first playoff win.

August 22, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Great call on the Browns, Spy. In fact, can we reserve a spot on the Rushmore for all of Cleveland's sports? The Indians and Cavs have had their share of heartbreaks and seasons of futility.

Jay, has your top 10 changed since you last put it out? I think you made your list before the Honey Badger smoked his way out of Baton Rouge. Not sure if that will change your list though. Phil Steele is predicting Florida St. and Oklahoma to meet for the title. Interesting pick.

August 22, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

jgreeson wrote-

"We got your package of DMNs — can't thank you enough. And while the college football preview pages inside the section were cool, we're wondering if that's instead of a college football preview section."

That is absolutely correct. The DMN instead perfers to spotlight each college or high school region (i.e 4A, 5A etc.) and does not do an actual "preview guide" as is TFP tradition. Sorry.

But I am collecting the high school ones as requested.

August 22, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Exile —

Growing up a Falcons fan was no day at the beach either. And we actually followed the boys with Bartkowski and Andrews and the Gritz Blitz when they were actually pretty good.

Still broke our hearts.

Cleveland has to be most jinxed city, right. It's magnified because the A-T-L actually beat Cleveland for the '95 Series or it probably would Atlanta.

And our top 10 is relatively unchanged.

1) Alabama

2) USC

3) LSU

4) Oklahoma

5) Oregon

6) UGA

7) West Virginia

8) FSU

9) South Carolina

10) Michigan

And picking who would be in the title game is not the same as picking the 10 best teams because schedule is such a factor on the latter. In fact, we think preseason polls are obsolete for a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones is people are trying to project who the top 10 will be in January rather than listing who they think the top 10 teams are today. That said Phil Steele is usually pretty spot-on — he's a strange duck who has gobs and gobs of files and details in his basement and writes his preseason magazine in shorthand and code, but dude does some serious research.


Your College Blitz preview is en route. It hits the streets Sunday here in Chatta-Vegas, so you may get it before it actually publishes.

— 5-at-10

August 22, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.
Stewwie said...

I completely agree with the difference between today's top picks and a prediction for January. That said though, it is surprising that any of the experts (such as Mr. Steele) don't have at least one of the consensus top 3 teams (LSU, Bama, USC) in the title game. Even Steele has those 3 at the top in his power poll right now.

I don't think Oklahoma or Florida St. will come out of their respective conferences undefeated. I would think that a one-loss SEC team would get in the big game for sure so long as there are not two undefeated teams ahead of it.

In his power poll, he's got Wisconsin as the best in the Big Ten, then Ohio St. (???), then Michigan. Not sure about that ranking, but like you said, he does his homework, and he's respected enough that people keep buying his magazines year after year.

August 22, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.
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