published Thursday, January 19th, 2012

5 at 10: Playoff pontifications, the Fab 4 (plus-1) and Vols hoops

From the soon to be named studios, let's go.

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    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)

Playoff pontification

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...

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    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.

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    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)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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.

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    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.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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...


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    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)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Today's question

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?

Bring it.

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.
BIspy4 said...

Boy ... tough call on the more grating/irritating/mistake prone announcers for Sunday's game. What I didn't know until this day is that it was Gus Johnson all along.

Side note: Which telecast will have the more useless sideline reporting?

Also, great juxtaposition of coaching styles in the NFC title game. Jim "Rah-rah" Harbaugh against Tom "Bah humbug" Coughlin. And every potential outcome from Sunday's games already has a built-in Super Bowl plot line, other than the Bus getting to play the Super Bowl in his hometown.

Ravens-Niners? Battle of the Harbaughs.

Ravens-Giants? Super Bowl rematch.

Patriots-Giants? See above.

Patriots-Niners? Tom Brady vs. the team he grew up watching.

ESPN can thank me later for doing their homework. Small bills are preferable.

I'll take An Album Cover for $200, Alex.

January 19, 2012 at 11:27 a.m.
chas9 said...

5er--Your description of last evening's debacle is both funny and right on. Only bright spot was glimpses of what Stokes can be. I have no idea how those clowns played KY close.

What with yesterday's 5@10 being so off-kilter and all, I saved over the discussion of the Wildcat mauling the Razorbacks suffered Tuesday. Coach Anderson is supposed to be bringing back the full press 40-minutes-of-hell turn-em-over game from days of yore, but UK's talent was miles better at every juncture.

The player who had me worried (Teague) was smooth and heady, and the player I've been touting was better than ever (Davis). The unibrowed freak's stat line was 27/14/7. With almost half a season to go, his 89 total sets a new season blocks record for UK.

A few more performances like that, and Davis will be the player of the year. And he's showing leadership qualities, too. Does anybody want to bet he's not the first draft pick?

The Cats own the paint on offense and defense. Seems like the elite teams improve more than other teams as the season wears on. It's all enough to make me consider that they may indeed win out.

January 19, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I tuned in last night to watch the Vols vs Dogs in Athens... at to my suprise the commentary was worse than the play... had it not been for a delay in brpadcasting I woulda cranked up ol Burt Burrtlecamp on the FM Dial.... two things I learned...or well reminded of last night... Point Guards rule the college game...but with a few big men who can muscle it in... those Point Gaurds...are just free spirits throwing up hail mary's and driving the lane like they are 8ft tall and bullet proof..

Lebron is weak least thats what Im hearing... been saying it for years...

Ill take Giants vs Ravens in the Super Bowl with the Ravens winning by 6...Ray Lewis and Ed Reed Riding off into the sunset as Co Super Bowl MVP's ...leaving Joe Flacco to carry the load on his Uni-Brow & Foo-Man-Chu...

I would love to see the 49ers play the Ravens in the Super Harbaugh Bowl...but I dont think Alex "Moe Greene" Smith can go tit for tat with Eli " Michael Corleone" Manning

January 19, 2012 at 1:02 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

As for which will have the most useless sideline reporting: Yes. (Unless one adds Loran Smith in the next 72 hours and becomes repulsive, then each will be equally useless.)

It won't be the first time ESPN steals someone else's ideas and calls them their own.

I'll take Therapists for $200.

9er —

The Cats are roaring — and A-Davis is rolling. The ceiling is higher on that kid than any we can remember since Shaq. And if anyone wants to bet against A-Davis being the No. 1 pick, well, we'd like some of that action.

EC —

Point guards run the show, no doubt, and a good point guard can make any game enjoyable. That said, bad point guard play can make any game unbearable.

LeBron, mentally weak? Heck you say?

If anyone's unibrow can carry a football team, Flacco's would have to be on the short list of possibilities.

Question for the group: If Archie is Vito Manning, and Cooper is obviously Fredo. Is Eli Michael and Peyton Sonny or is it the other way around? Discuss.

— 5-at-10

January 19, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

and can someone tell me where E.K. Slaughter went? and did he take his clip board and whistle with him?

January 19, 2012 at 1:29 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Right now Eli is Michael Corleone and Peyton is more of a Tom Hagen rather than Sonny Corleone..because nothing is happening in the Manning Family without consulting Peyton "Tom Hagen" Manning

January 19, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

OUT-standing call on Peyton being Tom Hagen. That's spot on.

And is quick-trigger Marvin Harrison Luca Brasi?

— 5-at-10

January 19, 2012 at 3:21 p.m.
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