published Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

5-at-10: College football questions, Braves dealing and NFL dead horses

From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...

College football practice on the cusp

We will have our annual starts to camp for the Mocs, Vols and Bulldogs this week as college football starts in earnest around the country in the next few days.

For most of us in the South, this is the sports Christmas. We're legitimately excited about our team. No one has lost a game yet, and everyone is filled with the hopes and potential brought on by phrases such as "Well, if we can develop a little depth" here or "If we can stay healthy" there.

Good times.

And since we have established beat aces that will unload the five questions facing UT, UTC, and Georgia in the days ahead, we thought we'd offer the five questions for the country today and the five for the SEC on Wednesday.

Five biggest questions heading into preseason practice (Top 25 edition):

1) Is USC ready to roll? The pieces are there — especially offensively — for Lane Kiffin and the Trojans to make a run. Plus, they appear close to landing Silas Redd, the 1,000-yard rusher from Penn State.

2) Is Florida State ready to deliver on expectations? We heard the Seminoles were back last year. They didn't make the ACC title game. We hear they are really back this year. OK, but what's the difference between back and REALLY back? And if your left hand depended on your team winning a football game, who would you want at quarterback, FSU starter E.J. Manuel or Tennessee's less-than-stable starter Tyler Bray?

3) Will they add an extra column on the scoreboard at West Virginia? The Mountaineers could score 100 on somebody this fall. Seriously. Look at it this way: The last time they were on the field, the Mountaineers put 70 on Clemson. Now, in Year 2 of Dana Holgorsen's system and with highlight-waiting-to-happen quarterback Geno Smith back, West Virginia is going to put up some numbers. There are a lot of similarities here to Auburn in 2010, and a title run would not shock us.

4) How will THE Urban Meyer handle THE pressure at THE Ohio State? Actually, since THE Buckeyes are not eligible for THE postseason this year, Meyer gets a season-long mulligan. The pressure will mount next fall. Still, if things turn, will Urban need some more time with family?

5) When does the hammer fall at Miami?

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  • photo
    Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson throws to the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of their baseball game on Sunday, July 29, 2012, at Turner Field in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Braves' big day

Atlanta ran its win streak to six games with an 8-2 win over the underwhelming Miami Marlins. Jason Heyward hit his 17th homer of the season — against lefty Mark Buerhle — and Tommy Hanson was sharp as the Braves won on a Monday for the first time since last August.

Plus, Monday night, the Braves added rotation depth and another outfielder by sending two prospects to Chicago for left-hander Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson. (Yes, the Braves parted with a prized pitching prospect in Arodys Vizcaino, but remember he's coming off Tommy John surgery and we've always believed in dealing to win when you have the chance.)

The Cubs also dealt catcher Geovany Soto on Monday and appear to be talking with the Dodgers about a package deal for Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Dempster. Apparently the Cubs are either going to finish the year in the Southern League or may adopt Coach Norman Dale's "Our team is on the field" philosophy with only seven players sometime next month.

The Braves made their current team better, and since they are currently a season-best 14 games over .500, there are several current reasons to smile Johnny Braves Fan. Currently.

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NFL: Shut down these corners

Which is a bigger bore — the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow master debate or the Saints' feud with Roger Goodell?

It's a tougher question than you expected, right?

OK, on the one hand, the Jets were 8-8 and missed the playoffs last year. They have said every step of the way that Sanchez is their starter and that Tebow will fill a variety of roles from Wildcat quarterback to short-yardage ball carrier to special teams.

Then we get word the new power couple that we will call Sanbow was a combined 1-for-11 in a mini-scrimmage this weekend. (Tom Brady was 12-of-13 in similar drills for the Patriots.) Hey, here's a new question, what are the Jets going to do when neither part of Sanbow gets the job done?

As for the Saints, we all understand that you felt jobbed by the system. We all also know you should have kept your mouth shut about Goodell in the appeals process. Goodell lightened suspensions of Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Vick in recent years, and while he doubtfully would have spared Saints head coach Sean Payton, here's saying he would have seriously reviewed the penalties given to the players. That is until the Saints — chiefly quarterback Drew Brees — drew a line in the sand and forced Goodell to stand strong.

Does Goodell have too much power as the commissioner (who rules on cases and issues discipline) and review chief (who rules on the appeals of the decisions he made)? Yes. Did the players have a chance to state this as a concern during the collective bargaining process last year? Yes.

As for the most annoying story line, we'll give it to the Saints. This thing has lasted for most of the year. It's not going to change. Plus, the rest of the free world knows that if your boss or a judge or an arbitrator makes a decision and then you appeal, it's probably not a really sound strategery to bellyache about said boss, judge or arbitrator on the front end.

Think of it this way: You know in a MLB game when a pitcher feels a close pitch was a strike but it was called a ball and they barely flinch and the announcer says, "Tim Hudson was very upset at that call," even though he hardly raised an eyebrow? Well, while Hudson may be fuming underneath, who exactly would it serve for Hudson to show up the umpire knowing full well that a) even if he went into a glove-throwing meltdown, it's not going to change the call, and b) he is going to have to throw another pitch to the same plate that is being judged by the same umpire.

———

This and that

— If you like high school football in our area, you owe it to yourself to check out prep ace Stephen Hargis' annual tour of the first day of prep football practice here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/31/prep-practice-fully-under-way-in-area/. You may want to pour yourself a fresh cup first.

— Alabama is the most recent state that is trying to prevent people spending welfare money at bars, casinos, tattoo shops, strip clubs or joints that offer psychic services. Which leads us to the simple question of who is possibly against this? Bueller? You still would apparently be allowed to spend welfare money on tree poison, however.

— Anyone else underwhelmed by these Olympics? Seriously, other than handball — which only needs Pepper and Cotton doing the play-by-play to be off-the-charts entertaining — has there been anything that caught your eye? (Other than Ryan Lochte's bedazzled grill, of course.)

— Did you see that rapper Drake received a Kentucky hoops national title ring? That John Calipari may be the hip-hoppingest, post-40-year-old white guy in America.

— Is anyone else excited about "The Candidate" with Will and Zach? We have very high hopes.

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Today's question

We have thought a fair amount about yesterday's question and NYC's love for Jeter.

We'll revisit the city attachment-to-an-athlete Rushmore in Friday's mailbag.

That said, on this final day of July and with college football on the horizon, let's take a deep breath.

What was the biggest story of the summer? OK, other than Penn State, what was the biggest story of the summer?

We'll take LeBron No. 1 and let the chips fall from there.

Discuss.

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 ...

9
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Todd962 said...

NBC is not doing themselves any favors after last night when they are attempting to build energy for 17 y.o. Franklin's First Gold Medal attempt(Tape delayed, mind you), Costas cuts to a final commercial before the race, and they air a commercial for the Today show in the morning featuring Franklin and her parents celebrating the Gold that she is about to win!! You know some NBC producer was sitting in a studio and just went "ughhh...(face palm!)" I understand them wanting me to isolate myself all day so I can enjoy watching a race that I wont know the ending to, but then to ruin your own programming within itself? Poor show NBC...

Handball is the Curling of the summer games. I dont quite understand it all yet, but I have started to seek it out, and I love it.

July 31, 2012 at 10:22 a.m.
jgreeson said...

962 —

Nice handball-curling connection. For those of us that appreciate each every four years, we may need to dub ourselves "hand-ling" fans. Wait...

We noticed that too about the Today promo. Heck, maybe NBC should acknowledge the elephant in the room and start offering "Spoiler" warnings.

— 5-at-10

July 31, 2012 at 11:09 a.m.
chas9 said...

Swiperboy and TN basketball vs. Drake and KY basketball. Kenny Chesney or Ashley Judd? Discuss.

In the 1970's National Guard units across the country organized team handball efforts in an attempt to develop junior Olympics competition that would improve The USA's competitiveness. Locally, the effort was strongest in East Ridge and the team that resulted was mostly Pioneer basketball players in their off-season. My brother was on the team so I got a chance to see how the game worked. I won't ever suggest that it could replace our favorite team sports, but I learned to appreciate it as a sport that combines the best of basketball and soccer. I liked it enough that I got tickets for the Atlanta Olympics team handball competition. I promise it's way better than curling. I believe that if The USA were competitive in it , you'd quickly learn to like it.

The Bravos are now the first wildcard team and The Pretenders are fading.

July 31, 2012 at 11:57 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, the following wasn't the biggest story of the summer, but it's a good one. Newly minted pro, Ben Kohles, gets into a playoff and on the first hole of said playoff drains something near a 20 footer to win his first tournament as a pro. Glad I flipped over. Better than the action I saw at the Canadian Open.

I must agree with psychic announcing is on par with asking Dione Warwick when the next boutique bourbon or whiskey will be on the market.

Although the above is an annoyance, it's the "story line" in sports broadcasting that can bring me to meltdown. These folks need to call what they see, not what fits in the box.

July 31, 2012 at 12:52 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Not the stories of the summer either but the Dodgers are on a spending spree (which includes a Lookout) and the other being the Haslem family buying a majority share in the Browns.

The story of the summer is if LBJ doesn't bring home the gold.

July 31, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.
deboman said...

NBC has definitely fallen WAY short on providing a watchable product. I understand that NBC providing coverage for the US, but some sort of bias should be shown, the way they speak you would expect the US team to sweep every event. I have preferred to watch the streaming of a lot of the events, especially the swimming with the bonus feature of- No commentary. Missy Franklin is not done and should win a few more medals. The short turnaround in yesterday's finals races was brutal and she crushed in the 100 back, its going to take a lot to slow her down.

Awkward moment so far- the Japanese Men’s Gymnastics coach running after the judges to file an appeal with a handful of money. To the untrained eye, it looked very, ummmm, suspicious, as stated by the NBC commentator. But then someone in the know jumped in and it was confirmed that in order to file an appeal required cash. Oops, must have missed that on the rules sheet. And why would anyone try and compete with Kimberly Rhode in skeet shooting. Girl was money with a shotgun and looked every bit the American Sportsman, complete with shooting from the hip.

July 31, 2012 at 1:46 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

The biggest story of the sports summer is that this has been an expressly anti-climactic summer of sports. Maybe Federer winning at Wimbledon? Other than that, and really, even including that, it's been one big yawn.

July 31, 2012 at 2:07 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Els winning the Open was not yawnable; Webb Simpson winning our Open was zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Debo —

NBC better offer Missy Franklin a job after her swimming days are done because other than the 17-year-old's awesome awesomeness, we're not catching Rings fever.

McPell —

As a lifelong Dodgers fan, we're loving the spending spree the new owners are tossing out.

Solid call on the Haslem's looking to buy the Browns. Would that make Fulmer the frontrunner to be the new coach?

FE to the C —

If any psychic was any good, wouldn't they not be working since they could win the lottery whenever they wanted. And OK, maybe they'd still be working the Tarot Cards or the magic 8 ball our of their love for science, but they wouldn't have to charge us.

9er —

Nice call on the gaps between rappers being more vast than the gaps between UK's and UT's actual teams.

And let the record show that the 5-at-10 has believed in these Braves from the start. Now that may bight us, but that's our stance and we're sticking to it.

— 5-at-10

July 31, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled the Big E won The Open Championship (if played in Columbus, a boring town if there ever was one, it would be THE Open Championship). But it was anti-climactic. He won while eating a sandwich. At least there was some drama, with E's terrific finish and Scott's bogey train to the last hole. The Midsummer Classic was anything but ... and few watched. The Olympics have been less than scintillating, though I think we have NBC to blame for that. A lot. The hottest teams in baseball have been the Reds and the Pirates. Is this 1971 all over again? The Angels have been making big strides but they're out there on that there left coast. LeBron won a ring. Splendid. Now how ESPN fill 23 hours a day without LeBron and without Tebow ... wait a minute. Nevahmind. Tebow just wiped some sweat off his brow. Let's go to Herm Edwards and Chris Mortensen for more on Tebow sweats - will it save the planet or does it signal his continuing struggle to handle the Jets complicated offense of handoff, handoff, run for your life, throw it up for grabs?

July 31, 2012 at 3:52 p.m.
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