published Friday, August 24th, 2012

5-at-10: Mailbag and then some

Friday means mailbag, high school football and catfish, although not necessarily in that order.

  • photo
    In this July 24, 2005, file photo, Lance Armstrong holds the winner's trophy after claiming his seventh straight Tour de France cycling race during ceremonies on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris after the 21st and final stage of the race between Corbeil-Essonnes, south of Paris, and the French capital. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart said Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, that the agency will ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles for doping. Armstrong on Thursday night dropped any further challenges to USADA's allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs to win cycling's premier event from 1999-2005.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Before we get to any of that, we must address the breaking news about Lance Armstrong. After declining to continue his appeals of the rulings from the USADA, Armstrong will be permanently banned from cycling and stripped of all his Tour de France titles. He's also facing at least two multi-million dollar civil lawsuits.

And you thought Da'Rick Rogers had a bad Thursday.

Armstrong stopping his court appeals and being stripped of every meaningful cycling accomplishment is historic. What's the equivalent? The closest thing we can envision would be Michael Jordan being stripped of every basketball accomplishment and then Nike coming around asking for some his Air Jordan billions back. Armstrong is on the global Rushmore of sporting superstars of the last 25-plus years. Put Tiger, MJ, Beckham and Lance anywhere in the world and there's going to be a crowd.

Now it's gone.

Forever.

On to the mailbag... and then the catfish... and tonight the high school football. Stupid Lance Armstrong. (Side question: Wonder if baseball will follow suit and start erasing the career marks of the known steroid users?)

From Blueoval

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    Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson watches the game from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jay,

If you could go back to your Weird Science days (Kelly LeBrock was so hot) and make a quarterback and/or running back (NFL) using the parts and pieces of current NFL players whose parts would you use. Example the mind of ???, the arm of ???, the legs of ???........

We are not — repeat NOT — putting a bra on our head. It's not Tuesday. Wait, strike that. Where were we.

This is the kind of question we can spend entirely too much time on. In fact, in the days gone by — back when the world was young and Lance was a hero — this would be the type of question we'd throw out to our buddies, go get a round of Bud Lights and discuss.

OK, let's start with parameters. Even though Oval used an excellent "Weird Science" reference — underrated movie in our eyes — and while we could channel our inner Gary and Wyatt and go all-time pieces and players, we're going to stay with guys that are currently in the league. Second here are the five categories: For running backs, we'll rate feet (speed), lower body (breaking tackles), upper body (durability), head (vision), hands (fumbles and receiving). For quarterbacks, we'll rate feet (mobility), shoulder (arm strength), elbow (arm accuracy), wrist (release), head (decision making, etc.).

Running backs: We'll take Chris Johnson's feet, Steven Jackson's upper body (dude is a hoss), LeSean McCoy's hands, Adrian Peterson's vision and Arian Foster's lower body.

Quarterbacks: Peyton's head, Cam Newton's feet (Vick may be faster, but Newton is fast and super-tough to tackle), Brady's elbow, Rodgers' wrist and Joe Flacco's shoulder.

As for wide receiver, that's easy. We'll take Calvin Johnson. All of him. In every category.

From CelticVol

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    Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) scrambles toward the end zone in the second quarter of the NFL football preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012 in Pittsburgh.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hey 5@10,

Our fantasy football draft is this weekend. I need advice. We’re in a 12 team, 1 keeper, PPR league. (Can you tell that I’ve been listening to too much XM Fantasy Football?) My keeper is Aaron Rodgers. Should I go running back or wide receiver for my first pick? Also, who are 3 players that I need to look for in the latter rounds that are possible sleepers?

First off, congrats on having the best QB in the league as your keeper. That's a nice start. Now you can forget about QB until round 10 or later — and make sure your back-up does not have the same bye week as Rodgers.

As for your decision in the first round, go value. If we have to guess, a slew of names that would dominate most first rounds are being kept by the other owners. Look around, if most of the other owners kept quarterbacks and running backs, there will be a serious demand on receivers early. Don't be afraid to take Calvin Johnson in round one, but don't reach either. There's a lot of depth at receiver this year because the league is so pass-happy. Also, don't be afraid to go after an elite tight end (Gronk, Graham, et al.) as high as round two or three.

With most of the stars gone, keeper leagues are about value early and sleepers.

And because we are keenly aware of customer service here at the TFP, we are going to give you two players at each of the four key positions we believe to be undervalued and one sleeper. Buckle up.

Quarterback (2 undervalued and a sleeper)

1) Andrew Luck, Indy — Yes, we hate rookie QBs too, but Luck is different. Trust us.

2) Jay Cutler, Bears — Fantasy QBs need to have weapons. Cutler has more than his fair share.

3) Andy Dalton, Bengals — Dude has weapons and an elite receiver in A.J. Green.

Running back

1) Trent Richardson, Cleveland — Yes, he's a rookie. And yes he missed some camp with an injury. The Browns expect him to be ready for the opener and dude is a monster.

2) Darren McFadden, Oakland — Again, this is a guy that will be gone in the first three rounds, but if he's your No. 2 running back, congrats on winning your league.

3) Willis McGahee, Denver — Here's saying the Broncos offense is going to be better across the board this year. Call it a hunch.

4) EXTRA PICK: Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh — Dude's a stud behind a strong offensive line and the guys in front of him on the depth chart are banged up.

Receiver

1) Julio Jones, Atlanta — His numbers will pass Roddy White's this year. At least that's what we believe.

2) Percy Harvin, Minnesota — Dude was money in the second half of last season after Christian Ponder took over at QB.

3) Demaryius Thomas, Denver — Dude caught 32 passes for 550 yards and four scores last year. We think we've heard Denver has up-graded at quarterback.

4) EXTRA PICK: Reggie Wayne, Indy — Call it a hunch.

Tight end

1) Rob Gronkowski, Patriots — Yes, he's the top tight end on everyone's board, but he may be the first first-round worthy tight end since Antonio Gates' heyday.

2) Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta — Not the dominant presence he once was, but still very solid.

3) Jason Witten, Dallas — The injury will scare away a lot of folks, but he should be back and rolling in catches no later than week 3.

Wait, our fantasy draft is next week. Strike all of this.

From McPell

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    This April 6, 2012 file photo shows Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers looking down during football practice in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee has suspended Rogers for an unspecified violation of team rules.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Is the Vols over/under on wins now set at 5?

Great question, and Da'Rick Rogers was certainly yesterday's topic du jour (hmmmm, that sounds good, we think we'll have that).

In some ways we can see our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's view here that the Vols could be better and more unified.

There is no more powerful force within a locker room than the "no one believes in us" vibe that a team can embrace and wear like a suit of armor. These Vols could have that working in full force.

The reverse is also true, too. A rocky start, especially for an offense with lofty expectations, and it could be really easy for this bunch to embrace the "woe is us" shoulder shrug that can end a season before the calendar turns to October.

So, with Da'Rick Da'Missing, this makes Da'Game with Da'Wolfpack in the Ga'Dome even more important. And we didn't think that was Da'Possible.

If UT beats N.C. State, we'll set the over/under on UT wins at 7.5. If the Vols lose to N.C. State it becomes 5.5. So the opener is really worth two games. And with the season potentially hanging in the balance in August, there is a ton of pressure on Cordarrelle Patterson.

UT's three-headed receiving corps is now Patterson and Justin Hunter, so the trident that posed huge match-up problems is reduced to two. And since N.C. State has the best cover corner in the country in Dave Amerson, let's just assume he's going to stick Hunter now that Da'Rick will be watching from Da'Sofa.

So welcome to the spotlight Mr. Patterson. It's just the season that's riding on it.

From Stewwie

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    Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates with his team after the BCS National Championship college football game against LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans. Alabama won 21-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Before your beach trip, someone proposed making a list of the top five college football programs of all time. Jay, will you include this in the mailbag or as one of your list-ifications (what?) this week? Just for the fun of it, I compiled my top 5 (and also a "next 4" and also a "next 3") based on certain objective and subjective info. And I excluded Penn St. from my top 12 after all the mess that's taken place recently up there.

We are pushing the envelope on time, words and bandwidth. And we have dismissed Penn State from consideration. Heck, they haven't won a game since 1997.

So, while we want to hear your top 12, we're going to go with two top 5s in 10 words or less. (Yes the double 5-in-10s by the 5-at-10, and all for the same low, Low, LOW price you normally pay).

Top five programs all time

1) Alabama — They claim 213 national titles; they're closer than the rest

2) Notre Dame — Tradition oozes from South Bend

3) USC — The accolades are staggering: 11 titles, seven Heismans

4) Oklahoma — Seven titles, five Heismans, two Stoops

5) Michigan — History and maybe the best uniforms ever

Top five in the last 20 years

1) Florida — Spurrier's reign begat Tebow's

2) Alabama — Three titles in 20 years is pretty strong

3) USC — About to add another title chase

4) Miami — Present struggles aside, the Canes had a great run

5) Virginia Tech — No titles, but no team has been more consistent

And you all know where the 5-at-10 attended college, and it was tough not to put Auburn on this list. The Tigers have three unbeaten seasons in the last 20 years (1993, 2004, 2010). There are others too, like THE Ohio State and FSU to name but two.

From Sportsfan

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    Steven Fox celebrates winning a hole during the U.S. Amateur golf tournament at Cherry Hills, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012, in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jay, I watched the EH-SM football game Friday evening and the US Amateur Sunday afternoon from the comfort of my easy chair, and I got to wondering about Karma and it's impact on sports. For the Friday Mailbag... Does Karma exist and if so, what impact does it have on sports, athletes, and coaches?

Dude, you went all metaphysical on us.

OK, let's start with the definition. Karma — action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.

In a basic interpretation of that definition, the most fundamental piece of sports is karma. It's called practice. If practice is karma, that's the foundation, good or bad, for future results.

Take Steven Fox. Dude probably hit 10,000 golf balls this year. Maybe more. So when he needed to make a money swing at the U.S. Amateur, his karma was put in motion in the preceding days, weeks, and months on the driving ranges around Chattanooga. His present was dictated by his past, but it was not cosmic, it was concerted effort. It was not mystical; it was muscle memory. It was sweat rather than spiritual.

Now as much as we'd like to believe that good things happen to good people because they are good people, well, sorry. That's not the case in sports. Good things happen to prepared people. And talented people. And sometimes even lucky people.

Now those people may be good people, too, but that's happenstance. Look around at the people that have had success who have questionable character but unlimited skills. Tiger. Barry Bonds. Lance Armstrong.

We believe a lot of things, and we try to live by them as best we can. We know that there is nothing more deflating than wasted effort and nothing more sad than wasted potential. We know that chance favors the prepared soul and that luck is a description most used by those that are bitter.

And we know that sports is a meritocracy — maybe the last in our society, sadly — that does not judge souls. It judges scores.

Now there are great characteristics that are rewarded by sports — dedication, work ethic, hustle, et al. — but great characteristics do not always mean great character. See the list above.

So does karma exist? In the realm of real life, we believe trying to be good for the sake of being good is in the end its own reward. It's the chicken-and-the-egg debate on another spiritual plane in a different dimension. Are we good because of the rewards or are the rewards simply being good?

We believe in the scoreboard, we trust it — and we love the fact that it does not draw pictures. We also believe this: somewhere, somehow, Lance Armstrong likely got what he deserved. Is that Karma? Is that fate? Is that cheaters getting caught and justice being done?

Was it karma or the score being settle? Either way, it's game over.

Discuss and enjoy the weekend.

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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chas9 said...

Reckon the plastics recycling bins will be full of castoff yellow bracelets the next few days?

So if the over-under is 6.5 wins, this would be DD's last year. No, DD is not the size of Jay's headgear.

I sure hope you're right about Julio. He's fun to watch.

When Bryan Fischer posted his all-castoff college football team August 10 he had seven former SEC players on it. Now it'd have to be eight. SEC rules!

August 24, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

I've never understood why everyone thought Lance Armstrong didn't do anything because he didn't have a positive test, and yet we believe every baseball player in history has used steroids without a positive test.

Lance has always been guilty. It doesn't change that he has raised a lot of money for cancer. It doesn't change any of my thoughts on him. I have always had a slightly lower opinion than most of him. But my opinion hasn't changed- a guy who was dedicated to raising money for cancer, and a guy who more than likely used steroids. Decent human being, probably cheater at his sport. My opinion is no different today than it was yesterday.

As for Rogers leaving, this is a minor bump in the road, considering the depth at wide receiver the Vols have. They brought in another 4-star recruit at receiver last year. They played without Hunter last year. Many people that I talk to firmly believe that Hunter is the better receiver than Rogers, and I'm not completely convinced that Patterson isn't better than Rogers. Throw in some tight ends, and I don't see any real problems here. A Bray suspension would be devastating to the season. A Rogers suspension? Doesn't really change much about my views. This is still a team that could win 5 games, or they could win 10 games. And nothing would surprise me anywhere in that range. The season still hinges on the NCSU and UF games. Win those, and big things could happen. Lose those, and the season could spiral out of control.

It's all happening!

August 24, 2012 at 10:24 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- did you see this interview ?

When asked for comment about the possibility that Rogers' expulsion could increase the chances that he might lose his job, Dooley laughed in response and said, "Fire me! Hell, please fire me! I'm going to make four million dollars if you fire me. Ya'll think about that. Four Million dollars. That's what UT is going to pay me to fail. When was the last time that you destroyed the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands of people and got paid millions to do it? I can't believe it either, but that's the buyout that UT gave to a coach with a losing record from Louisiana Tech. I had one agent and they had this entire legal counsel division. What was I going to do? Turn down less? Four MILLION dollars...I love this country. "

"Also, Tyler Bray kicked a kitten, but he has since apologized to the kitten and the kitten's family."

August 24, 2012 at 11:11 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, yep, as a wise someone once told me, "There's no opportunity if you're not prepared to embrace it."

As I haven't kept up with the Armstrong story, what's the method behind this retro detection? What is certain is Armstrong will no longer go biking with George W. Bush.

As for David Rick, why shouldn't he dunned for books, tuition, tutoring, food, living quarters and such for his suspected violation of weed rules?

August 24, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We should have looked on the underside of those yellow bracelets.

On the top it says "Livestrong" but underneath it says "If you can't win, cheat." Those will still work for NASCAR fans.

We're expecting huge things from Julio and from the Falcons offense.

Stuck —

Our opinion on Lance is the same today as yesterday too. But his resume has taken a beating and his image has been pounded.

Side note: Arguably the two greatest legacies ever in college football coaching and cycling have been completely wrecked in the last year.

As for losing Rogers, it hurts. Period.

It does not hurt as much as losing Bray, but look what he was able to do without Hunter as a running mate. Reverse the roles last year, and we don't think Hunter would have had the same success as a one-man show.

Plus, while we concur that WR is a position of strength for these Vols, that strength was going to create HUGE match-up troubles. If Da'Rick and Hunter drew the top two CBs, then Patterson and Rivera are going against safeties and third or fourth CBs. Mismatch.

It's like if your No.1 pitcher gets hurt and your entire rotation moves up a spot. If you have really good Nos. 2 and 3 that advantage is watered down a little bit because now they are going against 1s and 2s.

Jomo —

Well played sir. And Dooley's buyout is not mentioned enough when it comes to his hot seat. (Did we just say Dooley has a hot seat? Nevermind.)

That said, the money will be available if the Vols miss another bowl. The price of gas at Pilot may go up, but the money will be there.

And while Bray has apologized to the kitten and the kitten's family, the rest of the pets are praising his leadership and responsibility.

— 5-at-10

August 24, 2012 at 11:33 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

I know this is not about Rogers, but I think this proves my point. It is a list of the SEC's best 25 players, and they are at number 6. Bray is #19. Hunter is #16. Rogers is #24. So Rogers is the third best player on the team, and the second best receiver. Does losing the #2 receiver (at a position that the Vols are very deep at) change the outlook drastically? My vote is for no. The questions surround if the defense shows improvement, if Bray can stay healthy, if the offensive line gives Bray time to throw, and if Patterson is who we think he is. But assuming all those are answered in positive ways, losses to NCSU and UF in the first three weeks would mean this team is still struggling to get back to a bowl and Dooley is fired.

August 24, 2012 at 11:34 a.m.
chas9 said...

Stuck's take on Lance is about right. I know a young athlete who competed on the world cycling circuit and he was of the opinion years ago (before he was publicly accused) that Lance was doping. I think most of us, lie Stuck, have enjoyed his ride while assuming he was "dirty." But he sure do make some tasty snack crackers.

Jomo's DD interview MAY have been a product of Jomo's fertile imagination, but it's a good effort. And Phil Fulmer has a similarly low opinion of those running the Knoxville show. I heard DD's predecessor speak last week, and he's a gentleman who's careful how he says these things. But it's clear that to this day he feels he was shafted and that those who made the decision are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

August 24, 2012 at 11:36 a.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

Heck, like W. cares. He probably thinks, "Where's that fella how pedals fast? He's chatty."

All jokes aside, David Ricky has made a costly mistake.

Stuck —

We can all agree that Bray is clearly the most important piece to this UT puzzle. And that phrase probably makes Derek Dooley spit up in his mouth at least three times a day.

As for best players, we believe Rogers and Bray are better — at least in the eyes of the NFL folks we talk to — than Hunter, who had two HUGE games going against single coverage because David Ricky was drawing double coverage.

9er —

Tis no doubt that Fulmer and former UT AD Mike Hamilton will not be sharing a booth at Wally's any time soon.

Lance is Barry Bonds. He did amazing things, and you can't help but wonder what he would have done clean. Bonds still would have been a Hall of Famer — he won three MVPs in the early 1990s when he still looked like a lead-off hitter with some pop. Would Lance have won any Tour de Frances. More than one?

— 5-at-10

August 24, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.
chas9 said...

I know for the rest of you, it's all about the pointy ball now, but for UK fans it's never too early to talk roundball. Anyway, this is on the current topic of cheating and misbehaving.

You probably didn't notice, but this year's top two talents are getting very hard looks from the NCAA (Shabazz at UCLA and Noel at UK). And I just learned The Cats are going after a player Xavier just expelled.

__it never ends.

August 24, 2012 at 12:56 p.m.
chas9 said...

And in unrelated news, a Pussy Riot copycat group has been arrested in Germany. Their slogan is "Free Pussy Riot." True story.

August 24, 2012 at 1 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Great lists, Jay. My list of top 5 of all time matches yours except I have Ohio St. instead of USC. (I let the jersey-for-tats scandal slide when I made this list.) And I couldn't decide on an order so I simply grouped the teams in a first 5, next 4, and next 3.

Next 4: USC, Nebraska, Texas, Tennessee

Next 3: Georgia, LSU, Auburn

August 24, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - great answer. I couldn't agree more. However, I wonder if an opponent would stop short of running up a score to the point of invoking the mercy rule, if their opponent hadn't shown a propensity for "piling on" previous opponents. Don't get me wrong, I agree that if a team doesn't want the mercy rule invoked, they need to stop the opponent from scoring. It's just that to me there's no need to embarrass an opponent once the outcome is decided. In my mind, what goes around comes around. By the way, you do a great job with the 5 at 10.

August 24, 2012 at 2:56 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Are you even suggesting that there are some underhanded tactics going on in the world of big-time college basketball recruiting. Color us stunned. Or Stewed. Giddy-up.

And we refuse to discuss Hasselhoff's antics in Germany.

Stew —

Tennessee is the SEC's second-best program all-time, and it's not that close. Then probably Georgia and then a hodgepodge of folks.

We didn't know what to do with THE Ohio State, but decided to let them slide even though they are certainly on the short list.

Sportsfan —

Thanks for the kind words.

And we concur, if we're in any game, it's our job to stop our opponent from running up the score. Now, there's no reason to embarrass your foe, especially when you're talking about high school levels and below, and while the karma part of it may be hazy, we certainly believe in the adage, "Don't start none, won't be none."

That said, UTC football ace John Frierson texted this morning after reading the 5-at-10, "Your karma ran over my dogma. "

That made us laugh.

— 5-at-10

August 24, 2012 at 3:14 p.m.
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