We had planned to post the ballot for our new studio name today, but there was too much to cover from this past weekend. (Plus that gives everyone a final chance to submit nominations.) We'll get to the studio name Tuesday. Deal? Deal.
From the soon to be named studios, let's go.
Baltimore Ravens ball holder Sam Koch (4) sits on the ground after a missed 32 yard field goal in the closing seconds of AFC Championship NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots defeated the Ravens 23-20 to win the AFC Championship. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
NFL playoffs — Ray Finkle edition
The 5-at-10 was excited for Sunday's NFL conference title games. The teams appeared to be well-matched. There was a ton on the line for everyone involved. And without a true dog in any of the hunt, we could sit back and hope for competitive games filled with drama.
We got that and then some as each game was decided by a field goal and were decided by big plays. Sadly though, those big plays lost the games rather than won them.
It started with Baltimore's Billy Cundiff shanking his final kick in a Ravens uniform. Cundiff's duck hook from 32 yards away could have forced overtime, but the miss allowed the Patriots to sigh after a 23-20 win. On an uncomfortable scale from 1-to-10, with 10 being a loud toot in church, how awkward was Cundiff in the Ravens' locker room? We'll say 15, and that's only if Ray Lewis was kept on the other side.
Sunday's football drama ended when San Francisco's Kyle Williams fumbled a punt in overtime that put the Giants in position for the game-winning field goal in a 20-17 win. The Giants and Pats will play in Indy in 13 days in a Super Bowl rematch of four years ago. (What's the over-under on David Tyree stories? 100? More?)
As for Williams, he was subbing for regular punt returner Ted Ginn, who was injured. Before his overtime fumble, Williams muffed a punt during the fourth quarter that set up a Giants' TD. Wow, tough day at the office, huh?
(Here's saying we'll have plenty more on the Super Bowl match-up in the next two weeks. Wow, a New York-Boston rematch on sports' biggest stage? The NBC folks are swapping high-5s right now.)
College Hoops rewind
Before we get into our Elite 8 teams that could win the whole thing, quick shoutout to Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin and the rest of the UT hoops program. Strong win over No. 11 UConn on Saturday, which was The Conz' second over a ranked team this year. (Side note: Jarnell Stokes is a S-T-U-D. Seriously. He's the best UT basketball player since Allan Houston. Period.)
It's highly unlikely UT will make the NCAA tournament this year, but every Johnny Vols Fan has to feel better about The Conz and the future today than six weeks ago.
Here's the top 8 — and Chas9 will have his regular Monday Top Tenn rankings of the team in Tennessee later today:
1) UK — We have said from the start this is the best team in the country. And we have not seen anything to change our mind yet.
2) Syracuse — The Orange's first loss was without starting center Fab Melo, on the road against a hot-shooting Notre Dame team. The Orange are legit. (Side note: Fab Melo is an excellent name.)
3) Ohio State — The Buckeyes are balanced and can still get better.
4) Kansas — We're believers, and Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor may be the best combo in the country.
5) UNC — There's no questioning the Heels' talent; there are questions about their mental toughness, however.
6) Missouri — Undermanned and undersized, the Tigers can flat-out score. An offense this tough could beat any one — and lose to almost any one — come tournament time.
7) Baylor — The Bears are top-notch despite losing twice last week.
8) Michigan State — The Spartans are physical and aggressive and are very well-coached. The only knock is whether they are athletic enough to play with the big boys.
Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno waves as he gets a victory ride in the Louisiana Superdome after winning the national championship with a 27-23 win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, File)
Joe Paterno, 1926-2012
Joe Paterno died Sunday, and if you didn't know that, well, welcome back from the coma. Paterno was 85 and was the biggest icon of college football for a long, long time.
His legacy will forever be about winning games and influencing people and raising money and giving. It also will forever be marred by silence and scandal. (Our TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer hit a flippin' home run with his column on the difficult measure that is Paterno's legacy here (Wiedmer: Likely long limbo for Paterno legacy).
Death always brings perspective. And retrospection. It's a time to gauge and assess and even reassess. For Paterno, the question becomes more about the story than the score, about the balance as much as the bowl games. It's a difficult question, no doubt, but how will we remember Joe Pa? Paterno did so much good for so many — football players, students, alumni, everyone — and was a beacon in an uneasy sea of college sports uncertainty that grew rougher by the year. But Paterno did so much bad for a few by not stepping forward and living by the simple principle he demanded from those around him — "Do the right thing."
The chapters of Paterno are voluminous and filled with stories of faith and sacrifice and honor and dignity. But that view is not complete without the scars from the Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse scandal that Paterno decided to ignore. And, as we reflect on Paterno, to ignore that and worse bemoan Penn State for rightly firing Paterno last November is unjust and simply wrong (and for Mike Ditka to say he'll never forgive Penn State for the way Paterno was treated is at best ignorant and at worst the most callous and ludicrous thing said at ESPN in some time, and that's saying something). But it could be tempting to overstate Paterno's role in Sandusky evilness, especially in today's "It's the best, it's the worst," must gauge it right now culture.
We are judged by our actions, and Paterno delivered an 18-wheeler of good-will to all corners of his life. We are also judged by our inactions, though, and there's no way to ignore Paterno's.
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (15) talks with quarterback coach Scott Loeffler, right, during the annual Orange and Blue football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, April, 18, 2009, (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
This and that
— Auburn hired former Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler to be the Tigers' OC. Lot of folks say Loeffler's an offensive whiz, and that may be the case, but here's our question: Why did this take two months? We don't know if Loeffler is the next Gus Malzahn or the next Gus the field goal kicking mule, but we do know that while Auburn was without offensive coordination, the Tigers lost their top RB commit (T.J. Yeldon) and WR receiver commit (Ricardo Louis). If AU was waiting for an NFL guy to finish his season — like it did with new DC Brian VanGorder — that makes sense. Waiting to take Temple's best assistant, however, seems either like this hire was mishandled or Loeffler was not Auburn's first choice.
— The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. And any one pulling for B.J. Coleman certainly loved the way the former McCallie and UTC star looked Saturday in the East-West Shrine game. Coleman started for the East team, completed his first six throws, earned big props from commentator Mike Mayock, who has quickly and quietly become the NFL's best all-around analyst. Here's our UTC football ace John Frierson's report from the weekend here (Coleman shines in Shrine loss). Coleman secured his spot in the NFL draft with that performance, and as we told friend of the show Quake from SportTalk over the weekend, the over/under on Coleman's draft round is now set at the fifth round.
— Wow, word has circulated this morning that Oregon coach Chip Kelly will stay with the Ducks. There were a lot of media folks saying Sunday that Kelly was taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job. Well, this morning we know this: "His heart is with college football and Oregon and he's no longer being considered,'' Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik told the Tampa Bay Times.
— Hard to figure your UTC Mocs basketball team, huh? They go on a nice run after the holidays before falling apart on the road in the last eight days. The Mocs are bagel-and-10 on the road this year.
France's Jean Van de Velde smiles as he stands in the water of the Barry Burn that crosses the 18th fairway to see if his ball, bottom center, was playable during the final round of the 128th British Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland, in this Sunday July 18, 1999 file photo. (AP Photo)
What's the biggest individual meltdown in sports history? Does Billy Cundiff crack your top 5? What about Kyle Williams? (We say no — Cundiff's kick would have forced OT, so who knows if they would have won, and Williams was stripped of the ball, so that's another dude making a play.)
Here's our top 5, and feel free to use this as a starting point:
1) Jean Van De Velde. Dude blew a three-shot cushion on the 72nd hole of the 1999 British Open. Case closed.
2) Gary Anderson in the 1998 NFC title game missed a chip shot field goal that would have beat the Falcons. Atlanta went on to beat Minnesota in overtime and earn the Falcons' lone Super Bowl trip.
3) Nick Anderson. In Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals, Anderson misses four consecutive free throws in the final minute of regulation as the Rockets rally for a win in overtime.
4) Bill Buckner. You thought he'd be higher, right?
5) Kyle Brotzman. The Boise State kicker missed a 26-yard field-goal try at the end of regulation and missed a 29-yard try in overtime in the Broncos' loss to Nevada in 2010. It was Boise State's only loss.
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 ...