published Friday, January 6th, 2012

5 at 10: Friday mailbag

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    In this Nov. 5, 2011, file photo, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy (42) is tackled by LSU linebacker Karnell Hatcher (37) and defensive tackle Josh Downs (77) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

From Addicted to chalupa

Jay,

On the heels of the National Championship which will boast the far and away best defenses in the country and arguably two of the best defenses in college football history. I would like your top five college defenses ever. AND your top five college games that boasted a matchup of the best defenses at the time.

Addicted to chalupa,

We counted this as two questions, although it could have been three. And this is a clear winner for the question we spent the most time on.

OK, top 5 defenses in recent memory (and this is not in order, mind you, and yes, we know this is SEC-heavy):

This Alabama defense: The numbers are overwhelming. The Tide rank first in every category nationally.

The 1986 Oklahoma defense: Finished No. 1 in every major category.

The 1992 Alabama defense: Loaded from top-to-bottom, and featured George Teague's strip of Lamar Thomas in the Sugar Bowl, which ranks as one of the game-changing single plays of our lifetime. (Before that play, did anyone purposely try to tackle the ball? Now everyone does it.)

The 1991 Washington defense: Steve Emtman arguably should have won the Heisman that year. And he was a defensive tackle.

The 2001 Miami defense: As far as overall talent, it's hard not to pick the 2001 Miami Hurricanes. The talent was overwhelming and enjoy to make Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair standon end. Forget future NFL talent, here are the first-round picks on that defense: LB Jonathan Vilma, LB D.J. Williams, DT William Joseph, DE Jerome McDougle, CB Phillip Buchanon, SS Ed Reed. Future first-rounders like DT Vince Wilfork, S Sean Taylor and CB Antrel Rolle were reserves. (There were a few offensive stars on this team — Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, Bryant McKinnie, Kellen Winslow. This team probably has more first-rounders than any team ever. Heck there are probably only a few NFL teams with this many first-rounders on the roster.) Imagine being a scout team running back on that team. Sweet Ben Gay ointment, the bruises and bloody lips that defense could deliver is overwhelming, and somewhere Hawkeye Pierce is starting to tear up.



The best pre-1980:



The 1979 Alabama defense: Allowed all of 67 points in 12 games, and more than half of that was in two games: Tennessee (27-17) and Auburn (25-18).

The 1939 Tennessee defense: Did not allow a point in 10 regular-season games.

The 1959 Ole Miss defense: 21 points allowed — 7 in a blowout win over Tulane, 7 more in a blowout win over Tennessee, and 7 more on Billy Cannon’s memorable punt return.

The 1957 Auburn defense: Allowed four touchdowns in 10 games, and only one of the scores was in a game that was decided by fewer than 22 points. Plus, this defense was needed for the Tigers to win their first national title — Auburn beat Tennessee 7-0, beat Kentucky 6-0, Georgia Tech 3-0 and Georgia 6-0.

The 1961 Alabama defense: Bryant's first national championship team had six shutouts in 11 games and allowed 25 points.

As for the best defensive games:

Alabama-LSU this year was awesome.

Auburn vs. LSU in 2004 (10-9) and again in 2006 (7-3) were amazing. In each of those games, getting first down felt like a big deal.

Penn State beating an unbeatable Miami team 14-10 in the Fiesta Bowl in 1987 with five picks of Vinny Testaverde. Miami had a ton of yardage, but every time Penn State needed a play, it made one.

We're leaving the last one blank and the floor open. Discuss.

(And yes, we realize this list is kind of SEC-centric, but that's what we know best. Anyone is welcome to make a case for another club.)



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    Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight signals to his team in the game against Iowa State during the second round of the Big 12 tournament Friday, March 11, 2005, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Knight's Red Raiders won 64-56 to advance to the semifinal round. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

From Chas9

Question for the bag: What coaches can peel the most paint at halftime?

9er —

We have to move quickly, and some of the front runners are clear. Not surprisingly, some of the best coaches of all-time are on this list. There has to be some halftime adjustments in big situations, and often those adjustments have nothing to do with a clipboard or the backboards. It's about attitude, and these five are the biggest of the big-timers.

This is the hoops division only, mind you, so if Nick Saban is reading this (and of course Nick Saban is reading this, who doesn't read the 5-at-10?), Coach you would make the top five in the all sports division. So relax and don't get worked up, and try to be nice to a grad assistant today.

Let's count it back from five:

5. Coach K: He seems more laid-back now — winning more games than any men's coach in major college hoops history can mellow a guy — but there was a time Coach K was not as polished. In fact, those that have had the fortune of sitting near the Duke bench can re-affirm the fact that a lot of old-school Coach K's vocabulary was of the four-letter variety and is not for reprint here at the family-oriented, Interweb-based sports column.

4. John Wooden: His soft-spoken manner made the few times he had to raise his voice even more powerful. Plus, the huge "Don't let Dad down factor" is off the charts here.

3. Nick Saban: Just to be safe and make sure none of the GA's get punched today.

2. Bobby Knight: He probably can still melt eyebrows. Here's saying the production assistants on his hoops broadcasts mind their Ps and Qs. Loses minor points because he yelled all the time, so, in truth, when he was just normal yelling, that was his inside voice. (Got some intimidation points back, though, because he was prone to physical contact, which means unfortunately, there was some bite behind the barking.)

1. Pat Summitt: She has the full package her. Here over-powering voice coupled with her full arsenal of death glares make her No. 1. Plus, not only could she make the paint come off the walls at the half, she could start staring with five minutes to go in the first half, and you knew what was coming. In fact, her late-in-the-half stares are the coaching version of your parents making you go get the switch they were going to whip you with. Sure, the whipping was bad, but that walk and the overwhelming dread that you KNEW the whipping was coming made it five times worse.



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    Washington's Louis Rankin runs in for a touchdown against Washington State during the second quarter of a football game in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

From GFS

Enjoyed reading it and your good natured jabs at your new readers from PNW were very clever and funny.

With all this created over the past few days, I think UT and UW should play? Don't you? What better way to settle it? I am thrilled that I am heading to LSU this year to watch the Huskies play the Tigers, and see some SEC football. I think things might get a little rough for the Dawgs, but it will be fun nonetheless.

GFS,

First, let the 5-at-10 say that this week has been one of the most entertaining in the 16-month history of this family-oriented, Interweb-based sports column, and a lot of that has been the interaction with Washington fans.

Here's a few things we have learned/become reacquainted with this week:

— The passion of college football fans is universal and awesome. Be it the SEC the Pac-12 the OVC or QVC everyone loves their team and embraces fellow supports. It's a support group with cool colors and similar interests.

— Washington football has a richer history than we originally thought, and its fans come armed with knowledge and facts. In fact, we got an e-mail from Andrew P. that was like two slides short of a PowerPoint presentation that was impressive.

— Hopefully a few of the Huskies followers will frequent these parts, because the different perspective has been enjoyable for the 5-at-10. Thank you for that.

As for GFS's question, heck yes U of W and UT should Power-Tee it up. This would be awesome, especially considering the recent coaching defections. The only draw back to that, however, is that each school's nonconference schedule is slated up to the point that they likely could work out a deal until something 2035 (although maybe the economy would be fixed by then and the 5-at-10 could afford to head West for the game).

One of the 5-at-10's fears about a college football playoff system — hey, everyone knows a playoff is a better way to determine a champion, but we don't want to do anything to damage the best regular season in all of sports — is that potential nonconference games between power programs will diminish. If there is a playoff system, and there are only eight teams invited and four of those spots are reserved for conference champs, and the rest of the world is fighting for four spots, the Washingtons, the Tennessees, the Auburns, the Oklahoma States, et al. are going to be have very little incentive to schedule losable nonconference games. (College hoops, which has the worst regular season and the best playoff system, does not have this problem because there are 68 teams invited to the postseason — a number that is simply impossibly high for football. Unless the football playoffs lasted until April, which come to think of it, is not a bad idea after all.)



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    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.

From CelticVol

Hey 5@10,

Please make all this UT drama stop!! From coaches leaving to players leaving to coaches getting fired to kickers tweeting. I just want it to end. Have you ever seen an athletic department as a whole go thru so much change and upheaval in a year? And we haven’t even begun to discuss all the changes that go with combining the men’s and women’s departments. Dave Hart has his work cut out for him. One thing I know is that Hart has made everyone aware of who the boss is. What is your opinion on Hart and his first 4 months on the job?

C-Vol,

The last 24 months have been historically bad for UT. (FYI — next week is the two-year anniversary of Kiffin's defection. UT fans are asked to wear black on Thursday as a sign of unity.) Historically dramatic and depressing.

And when supporting your college team seems like work — something you have to do, rather than something that you want to do — that makes it seem exponentially worse. We need our distractions, be it 18 holes on Saturday or checking recruiting message boards or reading and commenting on the 5-at-10 or making PowerPoint presentations about how Washington is awesome. These are one of the hidden gems of college fandom — the emotional connection that is equal parts release and religion. And when those turn to the point that you feel hopeless or are afraid to pick up the paper and see today's headlines — and know that our second junior year at Auburn was 1993, when the Tigers went 11-0 on probation, which was the ultimate, "Hey this is great; hey this stinks because we can't win the whole thing," scenario — it's tough.

It's like UT fans right now are being forced to focus on real-life stuff because the stuff going on with UT athletics is depressing.

As for your question, Hart's first four months seem to have been handled appropriately. He's remained fairly low-key, gathering intel and being seen rather than heard for the most part. That's a wise first impression.

We believe 2012 will be instrumental in shaping Hart's time in Knoxville. Some of it he couldn't control — his hand was dealt him in regard to Derek Dooley and Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin being hired by the previous regime — and some of it will handle some world-class deft and touch — it's hard to recall a situation that could become as difficult as the Pat Summitt deal could be.

And Hart will become more of the focus this year, especially if Dooley and the football Vols struggle. Although, we believe the best thing for UT athletics this year would be clarity, especially in football. Let Dooley win 10 games or four, and let the fan base unite in a direction. Right now it feels pretty split — and more than a little jaded — and that's understandable on every level.

And if that split continues through 2012, it will be up to Hart to fix it. And then he will have to be heard more than he'll need to be seen.

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...

So Jay fears "nonconference games between power programs will diminish." And that teams like Tennessee will "have very little incentive to schedule losable nonconference games."

To which I ask, how much lower can it get than Georgia State, Akron, Troy and NC State?

January 6, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
chas9 said...

Jay & Nick--Good list of the paint scorchers. Didn't expect grandfatherly Wooden, but the don't let me down factor worked for him. A brilliant motivator.

Especially like Summit at #1. Her glare is fiercely foreboding.

Tubby had a world class glare, too. And I hear Rupp could cuss the team proper. Dishonorable mention to Billy G's attempt to motivate Jorts (who's now tearing up the NBA) by putting him in the toilet stall at halftime and making him ride back in the equipment van.

You're right that the ability to blister paint is needed by the big-time winners. Can't picture Wade Houston threatening any locker room paint jobs.

January 6, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

No there's no doubt that UT's current schedule is long on easy W's. Was speaking in a broader sense, and in a down the road view. Games like Auburn-USC or Alabama-Penn State or Oregon/Washington vs. LSU. Heck, UT does have some bigger named foes on the horizon.

Great call on Tubby's glare. And Billy the Kid was overmatched. Takes a special kind to handle a big-time gig like UK hoops and/or Bama football or Lady Vols hoops, etc.,

— 5-at-10

January 6, 2012 at 11:51 a.m.
chas9 said...

5 spot--Like you, I love the old-time intersectional rivalries. One of my favorites was the 1965 classic shootout between UCLA's Gary Beban and The Vols' Swamp Rat. I just don't see many of these happening today.

Enjoyed yesterday's Lisa Leslie mention. She was a force. (Who was better, LL or Cheryl Swopes?)

You reminded me of a local high school girls' basketball streak that got a brief Sports Illustrated mention from back in the (unfortunate) three-on-three era. My sister was a forward on legendary coach Catherine Neeley's 1969 team which had a 13-overtime game.

Each overtime period started with a jump ball, and the tallest player on the court (my sister) controlled the tap thirteen times. She and her defensive cohorts got the ball over half-court to the offense each time, which proceeded to dutifully hold the ball for a single shot as time ran out. Twelve times straight the shot went awry, but the 13th try was the game winner. Defense wins games, but I'm not sure many fans were around to see the conclusion.

January 6, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
Blueoval said...

I was at a men's game last year and Summitt was sitting courside across from the men's bench. We were sitting under the basket on the far end from her and the crowd had kind of gotten real quiet. During the next timeout Summitt walked out onto the court to get the crowd fired up (and she did of course). I clapped but didn't stand up as she came down to our end. Well as you can guess she gave her famous glare at us that were not standing.....and it worked! I think I would have run through a wall after that look. She's got it that's for sure!

January 6, 2012 at 12:20 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

That's an awesome story about your sister's basketball team. And tell her thanks for her part in bringing the shot clock into basketball (kidding — mostly). And here's saying Catherine Neeley's could curl your hair with a halftime speech if she needed to. And Wayne Turner. Sweet buckets of Bike coaches' pants, we've heard Turner turn it loose, and it's pretty impressive.

Oval —

That's great. You're lucky she didn't give you a speech and make you run suicides. That'll learn ya.

Nothing but mad, Mad, MAD respect for Pat.

— 5-at-10

January 6, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.
chas9 said...

Jay-- Amen on the shot clock. Remember the four corners 1979 game in which Duke led NC 7-0 at the half?

Top Tenn Rankings, week 9:

Early release today for the new rankings, since I'll be traveling to the remote outback next week.

Vandy continues to lead the rankings, but if they don't get better than beating Miami (Ohio) by 7, the Commodores will be busted down to the enlisted ranks.

The Vols and Memphis hold their spots from last week after playing an uninspired game that showed both teams are as flawed as we knew already.

UTC looked better in losing to The Vols and beating Western Carolina by 16 with Keegan Bell impressing. Drazen Zlovaric is gonna help a lot, but he'll need a pronounceable nickname.

1) Vandy

2) MTSU

3) Memphis

4) Belmont

5) The Vols

6) Peay

7) ETSU

8) Tennessee State

9) Lipscomb

10) The Mocs

January 6, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.
Blueoval said...

Running suicides......great memories of the Red Bank High School Gym ......those were the days.....

January 6, 2012 at 1:39 p.m.

Thanks Jay for doing the work to make the list. Too bad you can't sell it to ESPN2 for a top list show. I notice that on Auburn and Alabama appear often on your lists, and rightly so. Funny how the SEC teams really have a tradition of being dominant in a specific facet of the game. I guess the only way the Dawgs get on a list, is if we talk about schools that have produced the best running backs. I see that the Dawgs are going to take the nation's top running back prospect for the 2nd year in a row.
Here's hoping the Dawgs are crazy good next year. But I don't hold high hopes that their defense will end up on anybody's top 5 list. We just don't have that tradition on our side.

January 6, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Mr. Peay may have a beef with your rankings since they went to K-Ville and rained on the Vols.

And we have a winner on the best halftime speech. From friend of the show BC...

The Best halftime speech has to go to knute rockne who stuck his head into the locker room after the team had settled down and said, "Excuse me ladies, I was looking for the Notre Dame football team" and left.

That is awesome in its awesomeness.

— 5-at-10

January 6, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Oval —

Amen. Those running drills were awful in the moment, and now all of us would give anything to be back there. (And back in that good of shape. Alas.)

Addicted to Chalupa —

Georgia was flat salty this year, but this was an unforgettable year for SEC defense. The Bulldogs finished what, third in the league and third in the nation in total defense after the regular season.

That said, that 2002 defense with Pollack and Oliver and Thomas Davis was pretty strong, too.

And you're right about the run of Georgia RB studs since Herschel. Sweet bevy of talented super studs, when Terrell Davis can't get on the field and then goes on to the NFL to win an MVP award, well, you know there's some skills.

— 5-at-10

January 6, 2012 at 1:53 p.m.
wyldmon said...

MSU! MSU! MSU!

January 6, 2012 at 1:56 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Wyldmon —

Congrats on the win. It appears you are enjoying it.

9er —

In answer to an earlier question, we'll take Leslie. But Holdsclaw was Leslie 2.0 — and Maya Moore was the 2.3 version. Hard to know who's next. (And it's not Britney Griner; she's more Sylvia Fowles 6.8).

— 5-at-10

January 6, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.
chas9 said...

After Peay beat The Vols, they became Mr. Peay in the Top Tenn rankings, but better would have been Gov. Peay. For two weeks we ranked them above Tennessee. But since the surprise, The Vols are 4-2, while Peay has gone 1-3 and lost the "Mr." And at 7-7, TN has bad losses, but 3-12 Peay's losses are worse.

January 6, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I have a friend who was a TA in the English department at UT-Knoxvegas while working on his PhD. He taught several classes with Pat's players in them. And he said they were some of the hardest-working students in his classes. They studied hard and they put forth a great deal of effort. Or else they had to answer to Coach Summitt.

January 6, 2012 at 3:56 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

Enjoyed your assessment of Pat's famous stare and Blueoval's comments. I'm almost 70 and her stares would scare me too!

January 6, 2012 at 8:47 p.m.
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