published Thursday, January 5th, 2012

5 at 10: Clemson takes a beating, Vols hoops and the Atlanta Falcons

From the "soon to be determined studios" here we go...

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    Clemson coach Dabo Swinney gestures to quarterback Tajh Boyd during the second half of the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

College football

We've had a big-time year picking college football games against the spread. We went 41-21-1 during the regular season, and 41-14-1 in games that did not include Clemson. Such is the tag line of "Stupid Clemson," when referring to our picks.

With four bowl games left, we're 15-8-1 in the postseason, which includes a 1-1 mark in games involving Clemson (we agreed with friend of the show Quake, he of SportTalk fame, that over the 61.5 was the money play last night, but we had Clemson minus-3, too). So it goes, and with four games left here's the total: 56-29-2 overall against the spread this season; 1-8 when stupid Clemson is involved. Gross. (Here's an idea genius, let's not pick games involving Clemson for the foreseeable future. Deal? Deal.)

That said, one of the hot names being linked to Tennessee's open defensive coordinator spot is Clemson's Kevin Steele. After giving up 70 points in Wednesday's Orange Bowl debacle to West Virginia, here's saying Clemson may even waive Steele's buyout clause. E-Gads, every time we looked up there was a West Virginia guy running free for a touchdown. It was like they had free moonshine and electronics in the end zone, and it was first come first serve. What's the over/under on the number of couches that were burned in Morgantown last night (Morgantown Cracks Down on Couches)?

Sweet buckets of points and punishment, that was bad, and the 14-point swing that was the Clemson fumble going into the end zone that became a 99-year touchdown return, is one of the five biggest gut-punch plays in recent college football memory.

Still, Clemson's defensive confusion was stunning, especially in a 35-point second quarter. Plus, West Virginia scored three times on the same motion-shuttle pass play, and any time a defense can make some cat named Tavon Austin look like Percy Harvin, well, not a good night. In fact, who had a worse night, Steele on Ron Jaworski? (We say the latter, but our distaste for Jaworski is now reaching a fevered pitch, and we were praying for at least one "National College Athletic Association" reference, not unlike his unending use of the "National Football League.")

To be fair, Steele is a respected coordinator who has had a very good career and by all accounts would likely be a good addition. But hiring him on the heels of allowing 70-points to a Big East opponent would be just another wave in the river of P.R. tsunami Tennessee is surfing.

Side note: Here's the standings of the Winners/Losers Bowl-a-palooza. And remember first and last take home some prizes.

BigShot 23 (Arkansas, Alabama)

Cjoyner 21 (Arkansas, LSU)

Mrs. 5-at-10 19 (Arkansas, Alabama)

Fan 19 (Arkansas, Alabama)

WarEagle 13 (K-State, LSU)

scole023 13 (K-State, LSU)

ThatIDoKnow 13 (K-State, LSU)

Jharvey 13 (Arkansas, Alabama)

Addicted to Chalupa 9 ( Arkansas, LSU)

Csmith 9 (Arkansas, Alabama)

BamaMan 7 (Arkansas, Alabama)

5-at-10 7 (Arkansas, LSU)

TFP ace Patrick Brown 5 (Arkansas, LSU)

McPell 3 (Arkansas, LSU)

Snix 3 (Arkansas, LSU)

CHS 3 (Arkansas, Alabama)

Joe 3 (Arkansas, Alabama)

OTWatcher 1 (Kansas State, LSU

ToughSkin 0 (K-State, Alabama)

Dawg 7497 -1 (Arkansas, Alabama)

FE to the C -3 (Arkansas, Alabama)

Spy -5 (Arkansas, LSU)

Jroberts –7 (Kansas State, LSU)

Believer –9 (K-State, Bama)

Bblackmon –11 (Kansas State, LSU)

Jefe –11 (Arkansas, LSU)

Uch –11 (Kansas State, LSU)

MemphisExile –13 (Arkansas, LSU)

BlueOval –13 (Arkansas, LSU)

Cvol –19 (Arkansas, LSU)

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    Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones responds to questions during a news conference after he was selected as the sixth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, April 28, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

Flawed Falcons

We had big visions of these Atlanta Falcons before the season. We loved the trade to add Julio Jones before the season, because today's NFL is an offensive league and you can never score too many points or have too many weapons.

And by all accounts, Johnny Falcons Fans everywhere should be encouraged by the direction of the franchise. Head coach Mike Smith and Co. have the Falcons in the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time ever (and yes, that's speaks volumes about the perpetual mediocrity that has been the Falcons' history). There is young talent at key spots.

What there is not, however, is the belief that this team can go the distance. Maybe it's bad timing for an Atlanta team that finds itself in the middle of the upper crust of a dynamic NFC. Maybe this bunch will be last year's Packers, who were the No. 6 seed and won three road games on the way to a Super Bowl title.

Maybes aside, however, this has to be the time that quarterback Matt Ryan takes the step. He's yet to win a playoff game, and to be great, quarterbacks have to win in the playoffs. Whatcha' got Matty Ice? It's time. Whether Ryan can deliver this weekend at New York will be quite revealing.

A Falcons win tells us Ryan and Co. could be ready to make a run — seriously the Giants are beatable as are the 49ers; and in truth, winning at Green Bay seems like an easier task than winning at New Orleans right now. Another playoff disappointment, however, may silently scream some long-term worries about Ryan's ability to deliver in the clutch. Is he Matty Ice or Matty Ice Cold? (And if we had photoshop skills we would so put Ryan's mug on a Vanilla Ice cutout.)

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    Tennessee's Renaldo Woolridge and Kenny Hall defend against UNC Asheville's Jon Nwannunu during Tuesday'sl game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

College hoops

College basketball is about to get serious. Conference play started this week and that means a lot of passion and a lot of pressure and some teams may even display poise, patience, power and any other alliteration we may want to toss around.

Here's five things we believe as college basketball makes the halfway turn:

1) The Vols had better get tougher or they are going to get thumped in SEC play. Here's the story from our UT ace Patrick Brown about the Vols getting pushed around by Memphis on Wednesday (Defensive struggles doom Vols against Tigers), and this was against a Memphis team that is clearly not up to its normal standards.

2) That said, there are three things we have found respect for in the UT men's program: Trae Golden, who is a gamer and has some legit skills; The Conz, who believe is doing a pretty bang-up job considering the cards he was dealt; and Skylar McBee's mustache, which has its own facebook page. Seriously.

3) Duke is flawed. Yes, the Blue Devils will win 25-plus games (and a lot of that is because the ACC is big-time bad this year), but here's saying that Duke is the first 2 seed sent packing in March. Not athletic enough, and other than Austin Rivers, who on that team can create his own shot?

4) Kentucky is only going to get better and better. As Chas9 likes to call attention to, there are some wrinkles at point guard that need to be ironed out. That said, this bunch comes at you in waves. They can play fast and they can play physical. And most importantly, they guard from the parking lot to the paint. Relentlessly.

5) No one is doing more with less than new Missouri coach Frank Haith. Haith has seven scholarship players — and only two taller than 6-foot-6 — and the Tigers are 13-0 and ranked No. 6 in the country. Sure, Indiana's Tom Crean and Georgetown's John Thompson III are getting a lot of praise, but Haith is doing work in Columbia. This bunch can flat out score too.

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    Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher will no longer be the team's coach. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

This and that

— The 5-at-10 loves sports. You probably have figured that out. But some times all we can do is throw our hands up. How is this the same planet that good people are losing jobs? The Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano to Miami for some guy who went 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA last year. Worse yet, the Cubs agreed to pay $15 million of the $18 million owed Zambrano next year. In theory, the Cubs are paying $15 million for Zambrano to go away mainly because Zambrano acts more like a 4-year-old than the 5-at-10's 4-year-old. (Of course if the Lil' 5-at-10 acted like Zambrano, there'd be some 'splainin' to do.) Wow.

— Looks like former Titans coach Jeff Fisher is making the rounds. Fisher has been a name of interest in Miami and St. Louis, and you have to figure Fisher will get a job if he wants one. (For the love of goodness, Leslie Frazier is an NFL head coach.)

— It's that time of year, and yes, we're more than likely going to watch the UnderArmor high school football all-star game tonight. Some kids to keep an eye on:

Black Team — No. 44 Dalton Santos (a monster LB who is a Tennessee recruit and is arguably the most important piece in the Vols class); No. 86 Justin Meredith (a TE who is committed to Tennessee), No. 58 Eddie Goldman (arguably the top DT in the country); No. 3 Deion Sanders Jr. (an athlete who is likely related to someone you have likely heard of).

White Team — No. 4 Keith Marshall (stud RB that picked Georgia); No. 6 Alton Howard (a smallish WR that has picked Tennessee); No. 7 Eddie Williams (the nation's top athlete prospect who has picked Alabama and apparently is a stud duck); No. 17 Mario Edwards (the nation's top prospect, a DE who has picked FSU).

— Programming note: We're scheduled to be on our regular Thursday afternoon spot today at 2 p.m. on 1370 AM with Chris Goforth.

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    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees smiles on the sideline during an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Today's question

We should have covered this earlier this week, but who gets your NFL Awards?

Who is the MVP? Who is the defensive player of the year? Who is your coach of the year?

Is there an award that you think should be given that's not? (Like the most over-blown story of the year, which we'll call the Tim Tebow Award; And is there any way that Tim Tebow would not win the Tim Tebow Award and then drop to a knee and do a Tebow?)

Discuss, and we still have one more spot in Friday's mailbag.

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...

looks like after Clemson's defense last night, Dooley's first choice of Kevin Steele looks like a great hire for DC. . . . .hits just keep on coming for Dooley

January 5, 2012 at 10:22 a.m.
jharvey1984 said...

how about: "from the I'm hiding from my bookie because of stupid clemson studios"

January 5, 2012 at 10:33 a.m.
jomo11 said...

think about the chumps that took the "under" last night !

January 5, 2012 at 11:35 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

In all truth, Steele would be a good hire. Dude has a strong resume and is a top-flight recruiter. But you bring up a fair point about the hits continue to come in K-Ville.

Derek Dooley needs a jolt of good news as much as anyone this side of the Republican primaries. Seriously, Dooley personally and the UT fan base as a whole are desperate for some good news.

JHarvey —

That is the leader in the clubhouse. No doubt. Stupid Clemson.

Although how's this for strategery — we pick a winner in any game involving Clemson and go the other direction. Thoughts? Stupid Clemson

— 5-at-10

January 5, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
chas9 said...

Cheap Shot of the Day: In yesterday's challenge to rank ten second-tier programs, 5@10 had Clemson at #4 and observed, "Tigers have sneaky good history and will start next year ranked higher than any other team on this list." Seventy points later, I'd guess Jay's begging to agree with me that the Orange Pawprints are #8 on the list. That whuppin' should cost the team a few 5-star recruits. But at least Jay's smarter than whatsnottaken, who had Clemson at #2. So it goes.

January 5, 2012 at 11:46 a.m.
chas9 said...

As for naming the 5@10 compound, how about the "Holly Rowe forearm shiver studio"? After the Sugar Bowl ended, the ESPN reporter knocked aside a competing female reporter to get at Michigan coach Brady Hoke for an interview. Her blow would've flattened Reggie White in his prime. So the tribute would both mock and honor Holly, which is what you're going for, isn't it?

And also from yesterday, I'd say Joe Hall's challenge following Rupp was equal to Gene Bartow following Wooden. I'd judge UK fans to be a bit more rabid than the laid back Bruin brood.

January 5, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Fair point about the rankings. It's official: Clemson is the 5-at-10's Kryptonite.

Holly Rowe's performance was the best postgame move since that Boise State running back dropped to a knee and proposed after the Broncos beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a few moons ago. Much props Holly. Much props. (And even if we did not admire her effort, there's no way we're going to say anything to make her mad. Holly delivered an elbow that made Wes Unseld cringe.)

We'd rank Joe Hall taking over for Rupp No. 3 on the list behind replacing Wooden and Bear, but all three are tough. We'll add whomever has to replace Pat Summitt to the list and that would be the Mount Rushmore of replacement challenges.

— 5-at-10

January 5, 2012 at 12:08 p.m.
dawg747 said...

How about the compound being the: "ACC takes another BCS butt whipping". The ACC is 2-13 in BCS games. The two wins coming from Virginia Tech and Florida State. I bet Clemson is glad that West Virginia is going to the Big 12 instead of the ACC.

January 5, 2012 at 12:20 p.m.
Salsa said...

Coach Steele said he hasn’t spoken with any opposing head coaches, been contacted by them, or asked Swinney permission to do so.

January 5, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.
chas9 said...

dawg--The SEC has also been miserable in bowl games this year. Of course, they are guaranteed a win in the championship game.

On college basketball: The Racers keep winning and Cowboy Joe is thrilled that Georgetown is back.

After Skyler's threes scorched The Mocs, we knew the defenses would get tougher. The mustachioed shooting guard went zip for five against Memphis, and except for The Gamecocks, SEC defenses will look more like Memphis than UTC. And Tennessee's got no inside game, they were minus ten in rebounding, and they shot 57% from the free throw line. And it says here, Stokes won't be much help anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Kentucky holds its opponents to under 30% shooting, and Anthony Davis has 67 blocks, better than 30 team totals.

Did I hear correctly that The Lady Vols ran off 32 unanswered points against The Lady Mocs? Can anybody remember such a streak as that?

January 5, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

And just think ... in 1996, Georgia Southern had a choice between Kevin Steele and Paul Johnson as its next head coach. Erk sided with PJ.

One more reason why I loved that man. Dadgumit, getting all dusty in here again thinking about Erk. Getting verklempt. The Velvet Revolution was neither Velvet nor a Revolution. Discuss....

January 5, 2012 at 12:42 p.m.
chas9 said...

dawg--By SEC, I mean Georgia.

January 5, 2012 at 1:59 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Dawg —

The ACC has had a rough go over recent years, and it's about to get magnified because they are less than good in hoops. Seriously other than Duke and UNC, there's not a whole lot in the ACC. Granted, that will change when Pitt and the 'Cuse join the fray next year, but still.

Salsa —

It would have been stunning if anyone from UT had contacted Steele or Clemson considering the moves happened like 72 hours ago and the Tigers were getting ready for a BCS bowl game. That said, we're not sure Steele would be the best fit (he's an Alabama grad, right?)

We know you're a UT backer, who do you like? The 5-at-10 has only heard rumors so far, and this is complete conjecture, but if we had a DC opening, we'd make Tracy Rocker say no. He was money at Auburn during the BCS run and he was pretty stout as the Titans DLine coach this past season. That's our 2 cents.

9er —

We've played on summer league teams that McBee would not start on. Dude can make an open 3 and that's needed in this day and age, but it's truly useful when the shooter is surrounded by viable pieces and effective parts. The Vols offensively right now are Trae Golden and the Platters (see what we did there?) and the music is far from sweet and mostly off-key.

And you're right about the lack of inside presence, which Stokes will help with, but how soon and how much is up in the air.

Don't know about on the college level, but we remember hearing a story about former USC and women's hoops legend Lisa Leslie's high school team building something like a 100-0 halftime lead, and she had like all the points. Then the other team decided to skip the second half.

Spy —

We share you admiration for PJ, but dude cost us some coin during that fourth-quarter meltdown against the Utes (what's a Ute?).

Palmolive was neither palm nor olive. Discuss.

— 5-at-10

January 5, 2012 at 2:06 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Oh Great 5,

You ain't the only one he cost. That fourth quarter hurt more than a nickel ... to some.

Remember when Maryland, NC State, Wake, Virginia and Georgia Tech used to be relevant in hoops? The falloff for State and Virginia is the most alarming (actually, Tech's might be, but I blame that all on the previous coach). Maryland had a very strong run, including a national title, and Wake was mighty tough in the Childress-Duncan-Teague era. Florida State - Florida State! - is now probably the third best team in the conference.

Wally's not interested in a sponsorship of the 5 at 10? Nor Bud Light?

January 5, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

It may be a little too soon to pick at the Outback scab.

Spy —

We'd take a Wally's sponsorship deal of straight trade. Food for sponsorship, although they'd go out of BID-ness. As for the Bud Light, that's an idea. And since we quit the Copenhagen, there's another option that is closed. Maybe Titleist, though.

Was talking to Weeds just yesterday about the downward spiral that is ACC hoops.

The teams you mentioned have gone from good to bad almost overnight. And to make matters worse, the atmospheres at the games at those schools is sad now. We can remember Tech hoops being the hottest ticket in the A-T-L for a while. Now, if you buy more than six, they adjust the start time around your schedule.

Sad indeed.

— 5-at-10

January 5, 2012 at 3:09 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, thought this might be an artistic change up for your opening

The Mister Burns' Casino proudly presents Krusty the Clown.

Mr. Burns: "Smithers, Where is that infernal clown? It's almost show time!

Smithers: "Mr. Burns, sir, we've looked in every gin mill in Springfield, and we have yet to locate him."

Mr. Burns: "Smithers, begin the thawing of Jim Nabors."

January 5, 2012 at 3:52 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- What did the UTK swim coach do ?

January 5, 2012 at 4:43 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

You can NEVER, EVER go wrong with quoting "The Simpsons." Well-played indeed.

Jomo —

Still looking into it, but it's certainly more serious than Power Tee-Teeing in the pool.

— 5-at-10

January 5, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay i wouldnt think the UTK coach was stealing money, otherwise they would arrest Dooley for stealing $2 million a year posing as a football coach. . . . ka-ching

January 5, 2012 at 4:57 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

Hey 5-at-10, what gives??

I sent in my prediction weeks (LSU 27-Bama 21)ago on LSU v. AL and you said I was the first one to pick and that I FOR SURE would be on the list but I see I'm not....please post me. LSU LSU LSU LSU

January 5, 2012 at 5:06 p.m.
wyldmon said...


January 5, 2012 at 9:29 p.m.
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