published Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

5 at 10: Bowl mania, NFL playoffs and Derek Dooley speaks

We're starting the new year with a question for the group: We need a new name for the launch center. Mama McNabb had her run. Al Davis' time has expired. We got R-U-N-N-O-F-T by the 7-Up people.

So who's next? Is there a tribute we owe or a person/thing/team we should mock? Thoughts?

So, for at least one more day, from the "Mama McNabb stage at the Al Davis studio" here we go.

  • photo
    UT football coach Derek Dooley talks to the media at Neyland Stadium.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Dooley speaks

First off, let's welcome back some of our new friends from the Great Northwest. There were more than a few Washington fans who took umbridge to the fact that the 5-at-10 said Tennessee is a better program than Washington. They are more than welcome to take offense to that, but we stand by that statement. Everyone make them feel at home (BIspy put your shirt on, and jefe get your feet of the table), and as always we love the feedback.

That said, we should have done a better job of conveying that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers Peter Sirmon leaving the UT staff for the same jobs at Washington certainly appears that the Huskies' current situation under head coach Steve Sarkisian has more upside and/or more stability than the current situation in Knoxville. Sarkisian is a hot-shot coach who has Washington coming off back-to-back bowl trips, and he needs defensive help (allowing more than a third of a mile to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl made that clear). Wilcox and Sirmon will certainly deliver that.

On Tuesday, Derek Dooley met with the media for the first time in 37 days. It was a reminder of a few things:

1) Dooley needs to get in front of the camera more. He dominates news conferences like they were Kentucky. Oh wait, scratch that. He dominates news conferences like they were Cincinnati.

2) Dooley's message of excitement and his Kevin Bacon in "Animal House" statement of "All is well," were believable, but so is the fact that his two best assistant coaches high-tailed it for Washington. And yes, they are from the Great Northwest (Sirmon is from Washington; Wilcox is from Oregon) and we don't know how much they were offered (but money-whipping assistant coaches has never been a problem for UT). On its face, though, the move seems to be as much about Tennessee as it does about Washington, especially for Wilcox, who turned down the DC gig at Texas last January. (And, yes, we know there are a ton of Washington fans debating whether to send another round of e-mail insults about how U of W stacks up against Tennessee, but even they have to admit that Texas is a better program than Washington. Or maybe they don't. That's why we love college sports, so much.)

The 5-at-10 feels the truth is most often found in the middle. Things may not be as dire in Knoxville as some believe, and there are countless reasons beyond program tradition and even money for coaches to relocate. But things are not as rosy as Dooley made out Tuesday, either. In fact, Dooley recognized as much, acknowledging the outside fret and public perception woes facing the Vols before adding that the program is in "the last 22 months, on as good a foundation as we could ever do." OK, but the last four years have been the low-water point for the Vols of the modern generation, so saying the Vols are in the best place in the last 22 months is not unlike picking a Republican presidential candidate. Yes, this may be the best of the lot, but it's the best of a pretty bad lot, so calling it the best seems hollow. Like picking the best Rob Schnieder movie. (And "The Waterboy" is an Adam Sandler movie that Schnieder appears in.) Let's move along.

3) Dooley discussed some interesting items in regard to the roster. The PR nightmare that was the DeAnthony Arnett transfer fiasco has been put to bed. Da'Rick Rogers appears to be in good standing. And there likely will be some roster moves next week when spring semester starts.

Here's hoping that Dooley addresses those directly next week, if for no other reason than that seems to be the arena he's most comfortable in.

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    Georgia Southern placekicker Adrian Mora, from Dalton, Ga., watches his field goal sail through the uprights at Finley Stadium.
    Photo by Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bowl mania

If the college football season had names like the Chinese New Year (Year of the Dragon, Year of the Dog, etc.), this would certainly be Season of the Kicker.

How many big moments have been decided by wayward kicks this season? Alabama-LSU. Boise State not being in the title game. Oregon's loss to USC. Bowl loses for Georgia, Stanford and Virginia Tech hinged on overtime field goal misses. (We're certain there's more, but we had to stop and answer another hate e-mail from a Washington fan about how great Don James was and how their program is equal to Tennessee's.)

Alas, it has never been a better time to be a good kicker. There has to be teams lined-up for your services. So it goes.

On to the Winners/Losers Bowl-a-palooza Challenge. Here's the standings, and remember it's still wide open since missing a pick is negative points. It's not unlike double jeopard, where the scores can really change. Shoutout to our man CJoyner would rolled through the New Year's Eve bowls and steamed into 2012. Well-played indeed. At the other end of the spectrum, C-Vol has the inside track for the last-place prize. Well-played... or poorly played, however you want to view it.

These scores include the overtime thriller last night when Virginia Tech allowed Michigan to win the Sugar Bowl. Enjoy, and thanks for playing:

Cjoyner 25 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

Mrs. 5-at-10 23 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)

BigShot 19 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)

scole023 17 (Clemson, K-State, LSU)

ThatIDoKnow 17 (Clemson, K-State, LSU)

Jharvey 17 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)

Fan 15 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)

Addicted to Chalupa 13 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

Csmith 13 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)

5-at-10 11 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

WarEagle 9 (West Virginia, K-State, LSU)

TFP ace Patrick Brown 9 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

McPell 7 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

Snix 7 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

OTWatcher 5 (Clemson, Kansas State, LSU

Dawg 7497 3 (Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama)

BamaMan 3 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)

FE to the C 1 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)

Spy -1 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

CHS -1 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)

Joe -1 (West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama)

Jroberts –3 (Michigan, Clemson, Kansas State, LSU)

ToughSkin -4 (West Virginia, K-State, Alabama)

Bblackmon –7 (Michigan, Clemson, Kansas State, LSU)

Jefe –7 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

Uch –7 (Clemson, Kansas State, LSU)

MemphisExile –9 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

BlueOval –9 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

Believer –13 (West Virginia, K-State, Bama)

Cvol –15 (Clemson, Arkansas, LSU)

  • photo
    Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow runs during an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears in Denver, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)


Let's breakdown the first round of the NFL playoffs, and know this: The 5-at-10 may take out a loan on some of his picks this week. (Excuse me, those picks are for entertainment-only of course. Nevermind, and move along officer.)

We'll discuss the Falcons by themselves tomorrow, and there are a couple of NFL questions already in Friday's mailbag (and there's still some room, however, so even if you want to know our thoughts on Steve Entman, the most-underrated college defensive lineman of all-time, send them along).

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. You know this, we know this, Washington fans know this, heck, there's a reasonable chance that even Joe Buck knows this. With that in mind, here's our free investment advise for the weekend:

Pittsburgh minus-8.5 at Denver (Total 34.5): Get the Steelers as soon as possible, because this line will only go up. There's no way this is not a 24-7 final. Or 30-7. Hey, we've never been pro-Tim Tebow or anti-Tim Tebow. He seems to be a great kid who works harder than everyone else and inspires his teammates. He also does not throw the football very well. And intangibles and grit are not enough against a Steelers defense that is awesome in its awesomeness. Think of it this way: Tebow and Co. managed 3 points against only a partially motivated Chiefs team that was banged up last week. Is there anyway to expect them to generate more than that against a win-or-go-home Steelers club?

Cincinnati plus-3 at Houston (38): Buy the half and give us the Bengals. Quick. Texans rookie T.J. Yates and his injured shoulder will make his first playoff start. Granted Bengals rookie Andy Dalton will also be making his first playoff start, but Dalton has been Cincy's QB1 from training camp. Yates started the season as Houston's No. 3 quarterback and has been forced into duty because of injury. Side note: We like the under in this one, too.

New Orleans minus-10.5 against Detroit (59): Tougher call here, because both quarterbacks had big-time years. Did you know that Detroit's Matt Stafford and New Orleans' Drew Brees are two of the four quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 5,000 in a season, and they did it this year and they're facing off in a first-round playoff game? Strange huh? That said, there's another group of four that Stafford is a part of — there are four quarterbacks making their NFL playoff debuts this weekend. And here's saying that three of them will go home with losses.

  • photo
    In this March 26, 1973, file photo, basketball coaches John Wooden of UCLA, left and Gene Bartow of Memphis State chat during a news conference in St. Louis. (AP Photo/File)

This and that

— OK, Kentucky trailed at halftime to Arkansas-Little Rock last night before cruising after the intermission for a 73-51 win. On a scale from "Mr Rogers" to "Nuclear meltdown" where do think Wildcats coach John Calipari's halftime speech ranked?

— The Lady Mocs went to Knoxville last night and got to see how dominant the UT Lady Vols can be.

— Boise State reportedly has offered Chris Peterson a five-year extension. Good move to lockdown a guy that is always on the short list of the names tossed out by the big-time programs when jobs come open. That said, let's see how the Broncos do without Kellen Moore and a group of seniors that contributed to 50 wins in a record-breaking four-year run.

— Gene Bartow died Tuesday after a bout with stomach cancer. He was 81. Bartow was a renowned and familiar figure in college hoops and won 647 games in 34 seasons. He's a college hoops hall of famer. And he handled arguably the toughest job in college hoops history — taking over for John Wooden at UCLA in 1976.

  • photo
    Tennessee fans watch a replay of an LSU touchdown during UT's game against LSU at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Today's question

Let's continue off the interesting points raised by some of our new friends from the great state of Washington.

Where does UT rank in the sphere of college football? Consider tradition, consider current state of affairs, consider fan base, bankroll, and chance to contend for a BCS berth. Consider whatever you want, but rank the following football programs in order from best to less than best, and tell us why:

Tennessee, Washington, Clemson, Boise State, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Miami, Arkansas, Stanford.

Yes this list eliminates some of the obvious big boys such as Ohio State, Alabama, USC, et al. But this is the next level of folks. Discuss, and thanks to everyone for the feedback.

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.
jomo11 said...

Today i heard Dooley say that the US Economy and the Housing Market are also not as bad as it seems . . . . lol.....

the thing about the VOLS place in BCS, If you were not from Tennessee what is your perception of UTK ? When people think of Auburn recent memory of National Championship, great defense, spread offense, etc. Boise, people think of Imaginative Offense....Nationally when fans think of UTK, they really have no identity under Dooley. Neither great defense or offense. Large stadium with empty seats and no real playmakers. We tend to talk about Rodgers and Hunter being this great pair of receivers, but nationally no one mentions them.

January 4, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
patrickd said...

As far as a suggestion for where the 5 at 10 comes from each day, I'd like to get it "from Derek Dooley's hot seat studio."

January 4, 2012 at 10:49 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

Hey! Can I get in on the Bowl Mania?

Clemson, Arkanas and LSU...Thanks

January 4, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

That's AWESOME news that the economy and the housing market are back. Excellent.

Seriously, that's a fair question about what is the national perception of the Vols. Right now it's not as robust as many of us in the state may care to admit.

PDavi —

That's a good suggestion. We'll take suggestions and nominations through the weekend and come up with something by Monday.

What say you about the programs rankings listed above?

ER8 —

We'll have another new contest soon. Definitely something on the Super Bowl.

— 5-at-10

January 4, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Do it have to be a clean shirt? Or can it be my Lynyrd Skynyrd concert T-shirt? Turn it up!

Ranking the next bunch... Miami. A little down now. But that run from 1983-2003 was ungodly, if not borderline illegal. Funny how they have so many national fans, yet their home games are almost never sold out. Can't argue with the results on the field, though.

Clemson. Only one national title and one semi-forgettable era since Danny Ford left (was it Brad Scott?). But always tough and always loaded with talent.

Auburn. See Clemson, except for more than one national title. Lots of talent, lots of fan base, lots of promise and potential. Every so often, they realize it.

Michigan State. Always sort of the "yeah, but" of the Big 10.

Oklahoma State. Some flashes, especially during the Thurman Thomas-Barry Sanders era. And they are now reaching that level of consistently good. Let's see it extend for another year or two before moving them up.

Boise State. Now consistently good for about five or six years. Have become must see TV. Just don't have the longevity of a track record of some of the others, but that's because they've only been at FCS level for not nearly as long.

Stanford. Manage to have some talent to mix with incredible academic standards. But they're the Pac-10 version of "yeah, but."

Washington. Love the stadium. One national title they split with Nebraska. But frankly, since that evening, not much to speak of. Should be better than they are. Did end Miami's long home winning streak. Kinda started the Canes' downward slide, no?

And props for putting Adrian Mora's picture in the 5 at 10. Great kid. Great kicker.

January 4, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.
chas9 said...

5 spot--I'm guessing Cal can blister it with the best of them. Like Bobby Knight and Phil Fillmore. Well, maybe not Fillmore. Question for the bag: What coaches can peel the most paint at halftime?

Both our new NW correspondents and the 5/10 have argued well for TN vs. Washington, or SEC vs. The Pacmen. I'm gonna have to ponder your list and weigh in later. Though I'm dyed-in-the-wool SEC, The Vols are in a funk and there does seem to be a rising up up there. Maybe mirrored helmets would help the Smokie dogs. Dr. B thinks so, and he's a ...

January 4, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Always glad to have a shot of Mora, he's a local kid and good to boot (See what we did there?). Dude could follow in the line of Rob Bironas.

Nice rankings, and the Miami run was off the charts.

9er —

You're in the maibag. Nice question.

Heck, we meant to have an item today on uniforms, and we're on board with Dr. B's view (he's a doctor after all). Those Oregon helmets were boss the other night. Hey, they swing and miss a bunch, but they also hit a home run on occasion, too.

— 5-at-10

January 4, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
sportsfan said...

With all due respect to Dr. B, Quake, and Cowboy Joe, how about the "Club Fathom/Mosaic Church Sports Talk Studio"?

January 4, 2012 at 12:35 p.m.
patrickd said...

Take this one for a spin, 5er. "The Fight Corporate Sponsorship stage at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl studio."

January 4, 2012 at 12:48 p.m.
compspeed said...

how 'bout "The 'I can miss more game winning field goals in overtime than you' Studio"

January 4, 2012 at 1:32 p.m.
jgreeson said...

sportsfan —

If we go with the Club Fathom/Mosiac Church sports talk studios, we'd have to check for weapons at the door. That said, it's on the ballot.

Yeah, we said, we can have a caucus of our own.

Gunter —

That's over the line. It was creative, no doubt, but it's crossing the line. Remember this is a family-oriented, Interweb-based sports column.

PDavi —

That's got a real shot, especially since after writing about the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last month we got a response from the executive director of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. It was awesome.

compspeed —

Who's the headliner there? It would have to be the "Blair Walsh stage at The 'I can miss more game winning field goals in overtime than you' Studio" we guess.

— 5-at-10

January 4, 2012 at 1:37 p.m.
compspeed said...

Jay, take your pick..... Outback, Sugar, Rose....any missed field goal in a bowl game will do...

January 4, 2012 at 2:16 p.m.
Livn4life said...

How about the "If Georgia Beats Tennessee in football, GA gets free water from the Nickajack" Studio? I have to know where Bispy has Washington sharing a title with Nebraska. I believe that was Miami and a Miami defensive player called the Huskies out saying they'd "play them anytime anywhere to decide it." And while Boise State is a tremendous program they have yet to beat a notable number of big time opponents to be legendary. Having written that, they should have been ahead of some teams who were in a BCS game but what do I know, I hope Tennessee wins over GA and gets to keep the water? Even for diehard Vols fans and no matter what happens with coaches or recruits,these are some tough times in Knoxville. As I recall the guy who is a Doctor you know(B)actually predicted as much when Phil Fulmer was canned.

January 4, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--Your challenge is really tough. It all depends on how much you weight each of the criteria you laid out. Auburn and Tennessee have had glorious pasts, but Tennessee's way down now. Arkansas is up now, but there's little reason to think they'll stay there. Boise's recent success makes up for lesser budget and facilities. Anyway, here's my best shot, but each choice is written in sand.

1) Boise 2) OK State 3) Auburn 4) Stanford 5) Michigan State 6) Tennessee 7) Miami 8) Clemson 9) Arkansas 10) Washington

Sorry, Yngvai, I'm not hating on you, but given Jay's premises, that's how it looks from here. And I admit to prodigious ignorance about The Huskies.

January 4, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Speed —

Has there ever been a time where a kicker is more valuable than right now? And if anyone thinks bowl games don't matter, look at the swing in fan fever for Georgia. If Walsh makes that kick it's an 11-win season and Johnny Bulldogs Fans everywhere are barking up a storm. Now, by giving the Outback Bowl away, does Florida have as much offseason mojo despite a much worse 2011? It could be argued.

Livin(large) —

We've forever been in favor of betting Tennessee River water against free use of the ATL airport for years. Or maybe they could give us the Varsity for some river water. Let's make this happen.

If Dr B (he is a doctor after all) predicted that UT was going to struggle after canning Fulmer, then he hit a home run with that prediction. Your spot on — these are some tough times in K-town.

9er —

It was a tough challenge, and we're still not sure what's the best way to rank them. Here's our attempt (we tried to mix past, present and future in equal parts):

1) Auburn — last year's national title is the difference, but it's hard to stay on top in the SEC West for long. Heck, we could also see ranking the Tigers 5th too. (Stupid 5-at-10 for making the question too hard.)

2) Miami — one big year away from turning it around; plus the ACC is ripe for the picking

3) Arkansas — Petrino may be a skunk, but he's also one of the top 10 coaches in college football

4) Clemson — Tigers have sneaky good history and will start next year ranked higher than any other team on this list

5) Tennessee — Are the in the dumps right now? Sure. But history — and banking counts

6) Oklahoma State — Big-time improvements and right now they're the best on the list.

7) Washington — Sarkisian is a good coach and the Huskies are improving. Wilcox and Sirmon will provide benefits.

8) Michigan State — Hard to know where to place Sparty. This should have been THE year, and they had to get a gift to beat mediocre Georgia team.

9) Stanford — Are they for real or were they the product of a great senior class with a one-in-a-generation QB.

10) Boise State — See above

January 4, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.
whatsnottaken said...
  1. Michigan St. 2. Clemson. 3. Auburn. 4. Oklahoma St. 5. Washington. 6. Arkansas. 7. Stanford. 8. Miami. 9. Tennessee. 10. Boise State.
January 4, 2012 at 5 p.m.
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