From the soon to be named studios, let's go.
LSU safety Eric Reid (1) intercepts the ball from Alabama tight end Michael Williams (89) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. LSU won 9-6 in overtime. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
There are two NFL games this weekend, and the 5-at-10 is excited. Not giddy or bouncing off the chair or even overly exuberant, but we're definitely excited.
Think about it this way, if the college football adopted the NFL playoffs, here are the teams and their counterparts (this was done on overall records = to BCS rankings after the regular season):
Green Bay — LSU
San Fran — Alabama
New Orleans — Oklahoma State
New England — Stanford
Baltimore — Oregon
Pittsburgh — Boise State
Atlanta — Arkansas
Detroit — Kansas State
Houston — South Carolina
NY Giants — Wisconsin
Cincinnati — Virginia Tech
Denver — Baylor
While we went completely by numbers and rankings — even to the point of not dividing the AFC and NFC — it's strange how there are a high number of similarities, huh? San Fran is the NFL Alabama, great defense that is bordering on history, great coach, run-first, run-last offense. New Orleans and Oklahoma State are comparable as offensive juggernauts. New England and Stanford are average across the board with ultra-elite-level quarterback play and outstanding play at tight end. Atlanta and Arkansas were each coached by Bobby Petrino. Houston and South Carolina were run-based offenses that had to rely on replacements at QB with top-flight defenses. New York and Wisconsin are big and physical and probably underrated all year. Denver and Baylor each relied on miracle-delivering quarterbacks.
So, if we used the NFL as a warped, through-the-looking-glass, corollary, we would be left with Alabama playing Wisconsin and Stanford against Oregon. (Heck, the college matchups would be pretty intriguing, no?) But there is no LSU, no Oklahoma State and no Boise State.
On the plus side, the playoff allows us to silence the month-long complaints about rematches, because even though there could be rematches, the playoffs handle that. We also have just emerged from the highest-rated weekend of college football ever after watching Wisconsin stun LSU, Alabama outscore Oklahoma State, Stanford crush Baylor and Oregon escape South Carolina.
On the downside, the regular season is rendered meaningless, since Green Bay (LSU), the team that dominated the regular season is out, as are OSU and Boise State. And in truth, even with a 12-team playoff, the belly-aching will not stop. Do you think Clemson, who trashed Virginia Tech twice, would be OK with the Hokies getting in by BCS rankings? What about SEC East champ Georgia having to watch as South Carolina, which didn't even win its division, play in the tournament. What about Michigan, who was just on the edge?
Granted, this much ado about nothing, but we started thinking about playoffs, and it led us to this. And also to this conclusion: Everyone says a playoff is the best way to determine a champion, and that seems logical. But is it the best way to determine the best team? Was UConn the best team in college basketball last season or were they the best college basketball team for a three-week stretch in March? Or pick any one-and-done tournament and ask if the winner was the best overall team or the best team at that moment.
On to the picks...
New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon looks for a hole as New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis (92) and defensive tackle Jason Ferguson (72) defend in first half action in Foxboro, Mass. on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2004
Fab 4 (plus-1) picks, NFL style
After a sterling 3-0-1 weekend in the divisional round — buying the half always pays dividends, we're back looking to improve our NFL postseason mark of 5-2-1. It's a better percentage than the 57-30-2 we posted against the spread in college football, but it does not have the long-range backing. So it goes.
San Fran minus-2.5 over New York and under the 43: We doubted San Fran. We doubted Alex Smith. We never doubted Jim Harbaugh, however, and that forced us to change last week to picking the over in the 49ers' win over the Saints. Now, Harbaugh and the 49ers have to handle a week of getting praised instead of a week of hearing how great the Saints are. That said, the Giants were understandably glad not to be going to New Orleans this week — the Saints are untouchable at home on that turf — but probably shouldn't have told anyone. How many time do you think a master motivator like Harbaugh has told his team that the Giants are "Happy" to be playing them with the Super Bowl on the line? 100? More? The levels of depth across that 49ers defense are staggering.
New England minus-7 over Baltimore and under the 50: And for the love of goodness, buy the half on the 7. If this was a "tale of the tape" breakdown, the Ravens would get an edge at every position but quarterback, tight end and coach. But the Patriots have Tom Brady, so there you go. And let's not over think this: "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball," and of course, "Pepper needs new shorts."
The plus-1 pick: We'll take Joe Buck and Troy Aikman plus-3.5 mistakes over Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in which announcing tandem is less annoying this weekend. Any takers.
Tennessee guard Skylar McBee (13) and Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes (5) guard Georgia guard Gerald Robinson (22) as he falls to the floor on a shot-attempt during an NCAA college basketball game at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Athens Banner-Herald, Richard Hamm)
Well, that tournament talk was fun
The 5-at-10 has a set of rules. Well, some are rules and some are guidelines. Here are a few:
— There is nothing more detrimental to your staff than wasted effort.
— You don't have to carry a pocket knife to be a good dude, but almost everyone you know who does carry a pocket knife is a good dude.
— If we don't believe in ourselves, who will.
There are a bunch more, but we're crunched for time. Further down the list is this one:
— If you lose to Auburn in men's college hoops, you do not belong in the tournament. (Side note: This rule normally applies to Georgia, too.)
After watching Georgia beat Tennessee last night in a turnover-marred overtime struggle that looked like a bad mix of church league hoops, YMCA boxing and a drunken contest to see who could miss the most lay-ups, the Vols are officially off the bubble. (Sweet Missed Buckets of 3-Point Stances, the teams combined to miss 30-of-34 from behind the arcs. Read that again, and then answer us this: How do you miss that many 3s and still keep shooting 3s? That's like a receiver dropping 8 of 10 passes his way, and then still thinking it's a good idea to throw his way.)
As ace TFP columnist Mark Wiedmer tells us here (Wiedmer: Vols let one slip away in Athens), the Vols may have let one get away. They can also let any talk of postseason go, too.
Jake Locker, right, and Nick Montana, left, listen to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, center, as they take part in NCAA college football practice drills in this 2010 file photo. Nussmeier has been hired as Alabama's offensive coordinator.
This and that
— As SEC ace David Paschall tells us here (Nussmeier to lead Alabama offense), Alabama has officially added Doug Nussmeier as its offensive coordinator and Lance Thompson to its defensive staff. Sadly Nussmeier did not step to the podium and look at the crowd and say, "Redo those buttons! Dress that belt buckle! Straighten that cap! And dang it, tuck up those pajamas! Attention! Eyes front! What's that on your uniform?"
— There 's a New York Times report that says Penn State trustees state a lack of action in the Jerry Sandusky case fueled the firing of Joe Paterno. In related news there's a report that high gas prices stink and that the sun will set to the west over Signal Mountain tonight. Duh, what else could have sacked Paterno? Not enough wins? NCAA trouble? Puh-lease. Has Penn State made a PR move that made sense in this entire matter, other than firing Paterno?
— Do not read too much into the transfer of standout fullback Jay Prosch to Auburn, which is still looking for an offensive coordinator after Gus Malzahn took his hybrid spread attack to Arkansas State. Yes, spread teams normally have little use for a fullback, but the system Malzahn installed at Auburn used blocking backs in multiple formations and sets. That said, the new OC certainly could bring more pro-sets to Auburn, and Prosch would help there, too. But it's not a certainty like some have reported.
— Here's what ESPN's Scout Inc. had to say about former McCallie and UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman: "Coleman, on the other hand, is taking some chances downfield and showing a live arm. He seems to be pressing a bit and needs to learn to take some heat off certain passes, but Coleman has good physical tools and could be an attractive developmental prospect." (Explainer: In the paragraph before discussing B.J., the Scout Inc. folks were talking about some QBs were not doing anything to set them apart, so the "taking some chances downfield" stuff is actually a compliment.)
— Hey, social media is cool. But when Rob Lowe sets the sport world on its ear because he Twitterizes that Peyton Manning has retired, we've reached a place that most people don't like to talk about at parties. What... what's that? Lindsey Lohan has just tweeted on her FaceSpace that Michael Jordan and LeBron James are going to buy the Chattanooga Lookouts and be player-owners in an attempt to make JordanRules' head pop off. Oh wait, never mind. Seriously, Lowe's tweet gained unbelievable traction late Wednesday, to the point that Archie "Godfather" Manning sat him down and had this exchange with the troubled actor who could use a new role to fill his idle time:
Rob Lowe: I don't know what to do, Godfather. My voice is weak, it's weak. Anyway, if I had this part in the picture, it puts me right back on top, you know. But this... this man out there. He won't give it to me, the head of the studio.
Archie Manning: What's his name?
RL: Irsay. He said there's no chance, no chance... A month ago he bought the rights to this book, a best seller. The main character is a guy just like me. I wouldn't even have to act, just be myself. Oh, Godfather, I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do...
AM: YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks towards teammates during a football practice Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots are scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Before we get to the question, a quick shoutout for any lingering mailbag questions. We still have some open slots, so fire away. And we're going to keep the question short, since all the rest of this kind of expanded on us in a pretty big hurry.
The questions du jour (hmmm, that sounds good, we think we'll have that):
Who you got in the playoffs, and why? Who you got in the announcers showdown?
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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What a beautiful weekend (unless you're a Mocs fan, but even then here's hoping you enjoyed the weather).