published Monday, December 17th, 2012

5-at-10: The much-needed feel good edition

Every Monday through Friday for the two years and seven weeks we've been doing this family-oriented, interweb-based sports column — that's 555 consecutive work days gang — we have spilled a lot of bandwidth. We sometimes write multiple paragraphs when a single sentence could have sufficed. So it goes.

This morning we don't have words for the feelings of the weekend. There is real evil out there and we are too frequently reminded of it and forced to deal with the aftermath.

There's also real beauty — like the glow in a 5-year-old's face at his morning chocolate milk or the smile and head tilt of a 2-year-old wearing her favorite dress and saying, "I'm soooo cute," because she's heard it a thousand times over from her father.

There's no way to know the tragedy that fell on Newtown this weekend. There is only sympathy and prayer.

And the futile hope that this will be the last time we see evil's all-too-familiar fingerprints.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's make the magic happen...

The say-something nice Monday

OK, we're going to try something new. We're only going to say something nice about our topics today. Maybe this will be a tradition on Mondays. Maybe not.

But with the weight of the weekend still fresh and our mind wandering from the real to the surreal, let's give this a shot.

  • photo
    Georgia Southern's Darreion Robinson, 7, gets past UTC's Chaz Moore, 1, for a touchdown during overtime.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Fact: Georgia Southern should be in the FCS title game, but some self-imposed miscues proved supremely costly.

Be Nice: Condolences to Spy, who is a big-time Johnny Eagles Fan from way back, and Astropig. And here's saying that if Georgia Southern was in the title game actually would make us miss the FCS championship being at Finley.

Fact: Arizona scores two TDs in the final two minutes to beat Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl 49-48.

Be nice: Those two teams were, "sooooo cute," when they tried to tackle. It was sweet.

Fact: The Fab 4 Bowl picks started 2-1 despite Arizona's new no-tackle approach to tackle football.

Be nice: At least that first game wasn't on blue turf. (Sorry, the only nice thing we can think of about watching a game on the blue turf is that, well... We'll get back to you.)

Fact: The UTC Mocs basketball team lost 63-53 to Mercer.

Be nice: (Wow, this is harder than we thought.) OK, how's this: These Mocs sure do play hard, and they are in the top 60 nationally in rebounding. That's nice, right?

————

NFL news

  • photo
    Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works during the first half of an NFL football game against New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

We'll explore the teams with playoff hopes and Super Bowl dreams on Tuesday in our regular NFL Power Poll, but we'd be remiss not to mention the complete performance delivered by the Atlanta Falcons in a 34-0 win over the New York Giants.

It was a statement game delivered with an exclamation point.

The Giants came to the Dome carrying the swagger of being the Super Bowl champ and the determination of knowing that a win goes a long way to secure their ticket to the postseason ball. The Falcons were covered in questions about their ability to deliver against the elite teams in the league and in the elite moments of the season.

The Falcons stood tall and answered loudly, forcing turnovers and enforcing their will. It was a true answer that has to give even the most pessimistic Johnny Falcons Fan reason to believe this postseason will be different.

Plus, the domination means all Atlanta needs is one win in its final two games to secure Dome-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Big moments come from big opportunities.

As for the Giants and our be nice pledge, well, Eli Manning, who spoke at last year's Best of Preps banquet, is a world-class dude, as is Victor Cruz — as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer beautifully tells us here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/dec/17/connecticut-tragedy-hits-giants-cruz/ — and the Giants' uniforms are wicked underrated.

———

  • photo
    Calhoun's Hunter Padgett, No. 61, and Sebastian Willer pause together after Calhoun lost to Jefferson in the Georgia High School Association Class AA state football championship game.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
    enlarge photo

Sour end

Calhoun and Ridgeland each had its magical state football run stopped in the Georgia state championships in the Georgia Dome on Saturday. Kudos to our prep duo of Lindsey Young and Stephen Hargis for the work from the heart of the big city.

While the Yellow Jackets and the Panthers came up short in the final game, there were no shortage of highlights from these two teams. In fact, here's a short list of some of the best moments from the high school football season, all of which will be covered in our "Be Nice" pledge:

— The growth of Darrell Bridges, the Ridgeland bell cow who truly put the POW in power back, the greatness of Vonn Bell and the power of belief that galvanized these Panthers.

— The two years of high-flying, yard-gobbling passing stats from Calhoun's Taylor Lamb. Sweet buckets of TD passes, pass the abacus and ask yourself how many programs are in such a position of expected excellence as Calhoun? Think of it this way: The Yellow Jackets lost 10 defensive starters and an All-American kicker from last year's team, and it's somewhat surprising they didn't win the state title this year. Kudos coach Hal Lamb on building a monster in the county seat of Gordon County.

— Watching the maturation of a several young teams, including Signal and McCallie, that started amid question marks and improved throughout.

— Wondering what may have happened for the East Hamilton Hurricanes if an untimely injury to their clear leader had not developed. There are moments that you know you'll never forget, and as a high school athlete, your last game is almost always going to be on that list — good or bad. The shame for the Hurricanes and those involved with this special group is they are left with the most hollow and unending retrospective question in sports: What if? But know these two things: 1) These Hurricanes were great, played the game the right way and while the ending felt flat, the journey was anything but; 2) They aren't going anywhere. There are a slew of household names waiting to debut next fall roaming the East Hamilton halls. Trust us.

— Got to see two of the best games — Hixson rallying to be Red Bank and Baylor edging McCallie — that we've seen in a long time.

————

This and that — nicely

— Thanks, Sunday night football for delivering a thrilling ending in a game that had the first-half appeal of a Tupperware party. San Francisco's 41-34 win over the Patriots started as a 31-3 49ers' blowout, became a 31-31 chance for Super springboard/implosion and ended with Bill Belichick going for it on fourth-and-1 at his 12 with two-plus minutes left and the 49ers pretty happy about their quarterback situation. Yep, there's plenty of nice things to say about Colin Kaepernick this morning after his four TD passes, including one to the artist formerly known as Randy Moss.

— Reports have Jimbo Fisher eyeing Alabama secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt to be FSU's next defensive coordinator. Wow, this is going to test our be nice policy. OK, we've learned that hiring position coaches from Nick Saban's defense can be a dicey proposition (something that the entire Sal Sunseri — SAAALLLLL!!! — episode taught us). Well, in the be nice category, well, Jeremy has to be better than Sal. There you go. (Side note: We're hearing whispers that Sal may join Pruitt on FSU's staff. Wow, Sal must interview like Nixon.

— The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly putting together a deal for Mets ace R.A. Dickey, which would mean the Jays' rotation would include imports Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle. Wow, the AL East just became the SEC West. Buckle up.

— Wow, that Pete Carroll is taking no prisoners. After his Seahawks pounded Arizona 58-bagel last week, Carroll called a fake punt up 30 points in Sunday's 50-17 win over Buffalo. Wow. Well, the nicest thing we can say about that is what goes around comes around.

— We got more than 50 bowl entries, which is exciting. We'll update the roster today after 2, so check back then and make sure you're in. For those that missed the deadline, since we've only had one game, you can still get in at -1 and have a legit chance to win stuff.

———

Today's question

It's Monday so speak your peace.

If you need a talking point, how about this:

Last week we discussed your favorite Christmas movie. This week, what's the best Christmas song?

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.
chas9 said...

What if you held a football game and your opponent didn't how up? Who's yer daddy now, Eli?

OK. I give up. What does it mean to interview like Nixon? Are you referring to the David Frost-Richard Nixon laugher?

December 17, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
TennFlyer said...

Good stuff today -- favorite Xmas song is I'll Be Home for Christmas. I saw another Xmas movie over the weekend that nobody mentioned last week - Trading Places. Aykroyd dressed as a drunk Santa with the white leather shoes, top shelf comedy.

December 17, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

By all accounts, despite his gruff exterior and less than impressive career mark of Watergate, Nixon was unbelievably engaging and charismatic 1-on-1. Sal — SAAALLLLL!!! — must have a lot of that, after the debacle that was 2012.

And Eli's daddy is still Archie.

TennFlyer —

Trading Places definitely would have been in the field.

You're down for "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Our No. 1 seed right now is "Little Drummer Boy" but there are a slew of great ones.

— 5-at-10

December 17, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Gang,

This week at my real job is basically "hell week" (I do customer service for online high-end retail aka my real job) so this may be my one and only post for today.

Jay-

Since 5 at 10 2.0 is roughly the same age as those who were taken from us this weekend, I can only imagine extra hugs all around. I did follow via this website on Friday as we are cut-off from most media outlets. That said, I hope some sense, if any, can be made of this.

Since we're focusing on "Dalton's third rule", I'll say something positive regarding the GSU loss.

Be Nice: You have been spared the fact that the only promotion for said championship game involves a 16 year old sitting at a table at Stonebriar Mall in Frisco, listening to his iPod and picking his nose. Frisco is more known for artificial mushroom development, a mall that makes Hamilton Place look like a West Virginia country store, and more cougers per square mile than on Signal Mountain (the ones wearing the Louboutins, not the four-legged variety).

People here would be like "Georgia who?" It is not a slam as much as a reality. Frisco has the better facility but does not have the pagentry that we brought to that game. The DMN doesn't even cover the game.

Favorite Christmas song: Christmas Bells.

Earworm Christmas Song: "Greatest Time of Year" by Aly and AJ. It is still fairly new and mostly used by 14 year olds performing in Christmas shows with their "School of Dance" groups at the local mall. But if you ever hear it, it takes a while to get it out of your head. ^^()

December 17, 2012 at 11:01 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

If you can't kick field goals, you really don't deserve to win. And all three Georgia Southern losses came down to the inability to kick field goals. It seems incongruous (are they still in session?) since Southern's win over UTC was helped greatly by a long fourth-quarter field goal.

The Eagles acquitted themselves well against the No. 1 team in the country, but ... they had no business losing that game.

Boy did the seven Georgia high school championship games really lack for drama. There were some great storylines, including Ridgeland getting to the final game, Gainesville winning its first state title in its long storied history and three coaches who graduated in the same high school class all leading their teams to the final game.

I have three for my top Christmas songs:

Adeste Fideles. My favorite at midnight Mass.

Blue Christmas by Elvis. Because it's Elvis.(Like there needs to be another reason?)

Father Christmas by The Kinks.

December 17, 2012 at 11:11 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - heavy hearts this season with the tragedy in CT. As for top Christmas songs - how about the following? Ave Maria or Oh Holy Night in a candelight Christmas eve service, or just for fun... Ludachristmas (by Ludacris in Fred Claus) or 12th Month of the Year by Chris Isaak?

December 17, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
chas9 said...

TF--My guess about your IQ just moved up into triple digits with your mention of the fabulous Trading Places.

Jay--Tricky Dick could be good, but he could also be crazy bad. He reportedly showed how cool he was by greeting Frost with "Been doing any fornicating lately?" Really!

Hoosier daddy? Butler.

Spy--What's wrong with "Oh Come. All Ye Faithful"? Just showing off your French licks?

Sleeper song--"In the Bleak Midwinter."

December 17, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.
fechancellor said...

As with the case of JMC, this is a drive by.

10 Ring, Signal is much improved, and they have the pieces to get even better.

Favorite Christmas song...any sung by "The King" Elvis Presley.

December 17, 2012 at 12:04 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

chas9,

No, my Latin skills. I had two quarters of French in college and all that means is I can order off the menu at a Tim Horton's between Montreal and Quebec City. But I took a year of Latin in high school. Maybe the best course I ever took, next to quantum mechanics or differential equations.

December 17, 2012 at 12:41 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

::Lunch break:: Scary thought via spy. I actually know what a Tim Horton is. I have a friend who lives is small community in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). When it comes to donuts, she swears total allegiance to TH. I bring up Dunken here in the States and she just blows it off.

December 17, 2012 at 1:02 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Too bad GSU wasn't able to finish the job and get to the title game. Judging from the close Mocs/Eagles matchup earlier this season, it appears that UTC would also be able to compete deep in the playoffs if/when we get that far. Next year we'll have to take care of BID-ness early and often in the conference to ensure a spot in the 24-team field. It's very possible and I already can't wait to see the 2013 season play out.

So Belichick gets burned going for it on 4th and short deep in his own territory. (He didn't necessarily have to do it either...they had 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning left.) SI did an article recently about how NFL teams are employing more "geeks" to crunch numbers to the nth degree to look for any edge possible. This includes trying to determine if going against conventional wisdom on 4th down is the right call.

The geeks said the Pats going for it on 4th and 2 on their own 20 up 6 late in the game against Manning and the Colts 3 years ago was the right call. Their calculated "probability of winning" was higher going for it than punting in that situation. However, the Pats failed to convert, and Manning needed little time orchestrating the TD drive to win the game.

It would be interesting to see if Chip Kelly's offense could work in the NFL. Not just because of the speed and the formations, but Kelly goes for it on 4th down more than any other college coach. If he used the riverboat gambler mentality in the NFL, would it result in continued success? There may be some franchises and owners who are willing to try. Hello Jacksonville?

December 17, 2012 at 1:37 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Christmas songs..."All I Want for Christmas"--Mariah Carey (yes I said it). "Wonderful Christmastime"--Paul McCartney. "Please Come Home for Christmas"--Bon Jovi

December 17, 2012 at 1:41 p.m.
chas9 said...

Another minor key Christmas song: I wish I Had a River.

We learned Latin Christmas carols in high school. Still know the Latin Jingle Bells lyrics. Never made it to Diffi-Q.

Tim Horton's are much better than Dunkin'.

December 17, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.
chas9 said...

Wow. Lots of teams didn't show up. Was Freeman playing with his Buccin-helmet over his Buccin-eyes and Buccin-ears?

And did anybody see Randall Cobb throw a pass on a kick return reverse? The little guy got 150 all-purpose yards and will break the Packers' single season record next game.

December 17, 2012 at 2:31 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

chas,

If only the rest of the world knew the power of the Horton's....

December 17, 2012 at 2:46 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

I nominate Dan Fogelberg's 'Same Old Lang Syne'..."We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now..."

December 17, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.
Todd962 said...

I think I am going to have to side with Spy on the Adeste Fideles version. One, its fancy, two, it was played during midnight mass which was not only quicker but satisfied your Sunday obligation, and three, I took two years of latin in high school cause they claimed it would help me in law or medical school. It taught me about girls carrying things and horses drinking water more than anything else. Then I got to college and realized you could get credits for "Raquetball" and "Walking for Fitness," which led me to become the cultured individual that I am today who nominates Montgomery Gentry's "Merry Christmas From The Family."

December 17, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang,

Great stuff today. We've been out of pocket for a good chunk of the day because we took the TFP sports department to lunch. (Wally's of course.)

And the 5-at-10 knows nothing of this Tommy Horton nonsense of which you yahoos speak. But if you guys are going to try and go all Canadian Bacon is better than real bacon, hockey is better than baseball, Molson is better than Bud Light, then the terrorists have won.

And we're sending the Wolverines north to restore order. WOLVERINES.

And some great Christmas songs being tossed about.

What about "Christmas in Dixie" by Alabama?

This may be a 16-tune bracket.

— 5-at-10

December 17, 2012 at 4:32 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, there are lots of Tim Horton's in the U.S., mostly in the northern fringes in border states. That means not many at all down south, however. The chain was founded by a former Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres player killed in a car crash driving home after a game back in the early 70s.

December 17, 2012 at 4:45 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

5, The only reason I know about it was through my friend in the GTA referenced in an earlier post. And even then, I didn't know of the chains existance until she brought it up. It is definiately a "regional" thing like White Castles in yankee-land, Krystals in the South, Whattaburger in Texas, and Raising Canes in the Texas, Louisiana, and Nevada areas. Long story short, the franchase was news to me until 3-4 months go. Happy?

December 17, 2012 at 5:17 p.m.
jgreeson said...

JMC —

You're off the hook.

As for the rest of you, the 5-at-10's getting Jed and Mattie Eckert on the horn and we're coming to pay some visits.

Better than the Dunkin' Donuts? PUH-lease.

And who came up with the genius that was the Donut Hole? Not some former Maple Leaf player. And Spy, a man of your renowned grammar should know it's Maple Leaves. Just like the plural of Moose is Meese — like goose and geese.

That is all. And raise a glass for friend and family. We all are blessed.

Stay thirsty friends.

— 5-at-10

December 17, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

JMC, I went to a Whataburger one night in Chillicothe, Ohio. Ain't going back. Not to Whataburger and not to Chillicothe.

Horton's puts Dunkin Donuts to shame. They also have some of the best commercials. Then again, since the NHL is currently in the deep freeze, nobody's seeing those games and nobody seeing those spots, either. Nice job, Bettman.

December 17, 2012 at 6:07 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Third-worst fight the 5-at-10 was ever in was at the Whattaburger in Tallahassee, Fla., in the Fall of 1989.

We're pretty sure our sarcasm and supreme volume played a big role in the melee. Don't remember squaduish about the burger.

5-at-10

December 17, 2012 at 7:57 p.m.
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