published Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

5-at-10: Is it football season yet?

The Mrs. 5-at-10 went to dinner with her brothers Monday night, so after the 5-at-10 tots were nestled snuggly in their beds, we sat down, cracked open a beverage that sounded a lot like Lud Bite to watch a little sports. Then it dawned on us — the NBA Finals are done; the Braves were off Monday; random regular-season MLB with no rooting interest is dry as your Uncle Gary's jokes.

We were in trouble — and it turned out way better than we could have ever imagined (more on that below). Let's get to it.

From the "Talks Too Much" Studios, here we go...

College football

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    Alabama's Trent Richardson (3) is tripped up in front of LSU's Tyrann Mathieu (7) during the first half of the BCS National Championship college football game Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The future of the college football postseason will be reviewed today by a collection of college presidents who are way smarter than all of us and way less athletic than everyone. So it goes, we guess.

TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer and the TFP's goofy sports editor bounced around a few thoughts on the decisions to be made in a new back-and-forth column in today's sports section. You can find it here.

We believe the following to be true and will likely be self-evident long before the TV contracts for the proposed four-team playoff run out.

— Protecting the quality and passion of the regular season should be the first goal.

— It needs to be an eight-team field. Period and capped at eight for a 30 years.

— The process needs to be as transparent as a newlywed's undergarments. The selection committee should pick the teams on national TV and even have a Q&A after the fact.

— Split the eight-team field into four conference champs and four at-large teams. The four conference champs will be from the four leagues that have the highest computer ranking. Not rankings of the champs mind you, but the conferences. This helps to make sure the leagues are doing everything they can to improve. Heck the Big East hasn't cared about football for a decade and is still cashing BCS checks. Now if you want to be invited to the ball, you better show you're willing to dance.

Most of this we trotted out there last December in this column.

NBA draft

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    Texas forward Damion Jones, front, pulls down a rebound in front of Colorado forward Austin Default in the overtime session of an NCAA college basketball game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009. Jones was the 2010 first round pick for the Atlanta Hawks.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

We love the draft. You know this.

And we have committed to spending some time this week on the NBA draft. OK, twist our arm.

Not that long ago we discussed the worst NBA draft picks of all-time. And while Portland has two of the worst five — Bowie over Jordan in 1984 and Oden over Durant in 2007 (which will be five years ago Thursday, the day of this year's NBA draft... cue the creepy 80s-scary-movie music) — we contend they are not the worst drafting team in NBA history.

Nope that honor belongs to your Atlanta Hawks, who have selected such a steady collection of first-round bums that we believe the commissioner needs to hand the Hawks' first pick a stick with a red kerchief tied at the end with a can of beans in it.

They have an all-time gaffe — picking Marvin Williams over Deron Williams and Chris Paul. They have the mega-bad-break gaffe — they picked David Thompson No. 1 overall in 1975 but he went to the ABA. Even when they got it right, they got it wrong — the best Hawks' first-round picks in the last 30 years were arguably Pau Gasol (No. 3 in 2001, whom they dealt for Shareef Abdur-Rahim), Kevin Willis (No. 11 in 1984, five picks before John Stockton was picked) and let's not forget that the best player in Atlanta franchise history was Dominique Wilkins, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz.

Here are the last 10 years of Atlanta first-round picks and at least one NBA all-star that was on the board when they selected:

2011 — No first-rounder

2010 — Damion Jones/none as of yet but Landry Fields was on the board

2009 — Jeff Teague/two picks in front of Darren Collison with Taj Gibson and Danny Green

2008 — No first-rounder

2007 — Al Horford and Acie Law/No complaints on Horford and the rest of that draft was junk

2006 — Shelden Williams/Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo

2005 — Marvin Williams/Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Raymond Felton, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, Monta Ellis

2004 — Josh Childress and Josh Smith/ Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala and J.R. Smith and Jameer Nelson

2003 — Boris Diaw/Kendrick Perkins, Josh Howard, Mo Williams

2002 — No first-rounder

2001 — Pau Gasol/Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Tony Parker

So what does that tell us? One, new GM Danny Ferry does not exactly have to have a 1980 Boston Celtics-type of draft (the year they added McHale and Parrish for the rights to Joe Barry Carroll) to hit a home run. Two, it's not going to shock us if the Hawks deal Al Horford to move up. Horford is their best player and most moveable asset, but the Hawks need to blow this up or be faced with a decade run of No. 4 or No. 5 seeds and a second-round playoff ceiling.

That said, we're committed to the Draft contest — the "Feeling the Draft contest" that will have the following:

Second player drafted (we all know Anthony "Uniblocker" Davis is going No. 1)?

Number of SEC players picked in Round 1?

Who do the Hawks take first (and there are trade talks afoot)? (and judging from history BiSpy 4 could be in play here.)

Who has the most "impactful" suit (this category will be judged by the Mrs. 5-at-10 and all her decisions are final... trust us, all her decisions are FINAL. End of discussion)?

Who's in?

U.S. Olympic trials

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    Phoebe Wright, of the USA Blue team, runs during the Penn Relays athletics meet Saturday, April 28, 2012 in Philadelphia.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

As Mr. 962 noted Monday, the Olympic stuff is engaging TV. We watched some of it last night, including local-girl-done-great Phoebe Wright, who missed a spot on the 800 Olympic team by a couple of steps.

Can you image the angst in the last 100 meters or so of that race?

You've spent countless hours preparing for a shot at the U.S. Olympic team, and here you are sprinting down the back stretch with four others, knowing that only three will reach the dream. Wright found another gear down the homestretch, making a strong kick, but it was just short.

Want to know why we love sports? Yes, the action is cool and bragging rights are great and even the enjoyment of the event itself can be a pleasure.

But we love sports — truly love sports — because of the look on Phoebe Wright's face as she was sprinting angst the pain, the pressure and her peers. We love sports because Wright stretched herself and offered everything she had in the race's biggest moment.

Sure winning is great, but competing is the soul of sports and Wright shared her soul with everyone who was watching. It was awesome and pure, and that competition and the emotion and drama is why we love sports.

This and that

— Congrats to Arizona for winning the college baseball title. It would have been cool for South Carolina to have won so the SEC could have held the football, basketball and baseball title at the same time, but so it goes.

— There is a report that Larry Bird will resign as the Pacers president. Dude was the NBA executive of the year last year. Maybe Mother Boston is calling? Or maybe they will give the Celtics GM gig to Booby Valentine, who will then promptly trade Paul Pierce for prospects.

— The Braves host the Diamondbacks tonight in a rare meeting of Hudson vs. Hudson. We think it's about time Brain McCann goes on a tear between now and the All-Star break. It's official — we're calling it. It starts tonight.

Today's questions(s)

OK, we mentioned before that we were left in TV sports seclusion Monday night. Well, we found the safe haven.

No, it was not the US Olympic trials or even the College World Series. Nope, it was not even the historic 2007 UT-Vandy game, although we're prone to watch any number of the old SEC replays during the next six weeks. (Side note: If you ever catch an Auburn-LSU game, pull up a chair, it's likely going to be a dandy.)

Our Monday night was saved by the insightful tones of one Howard Cosell doing the play-by-play with Morgan Fairchild on the 14th annual Battle of the Network Stars (circa 1983) on ESPN Classic. It was glorious. Seriously.

For those not familiar, here's the recap: Male and female stars from the big-three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) compete in a made-for-TV athletic competition that included bike relays, running relays, tug of war, dunking booth and the dreaded obstacle course.

Cosell was brilliant, setting the scene outside the obstacle course by describing the "torrential rains that have covered this area in the last fortnight," as Fairchild gazed at the camera. Cosell did play-by-play and said Adrian Zmed was, "no slouch of an athlete himself," and that "father time was starting to win the war" against competitor Tom Wopat. Cosell said that former Knots Landing star Ted Shackleford "had a propensity to choke in the clutch." Mr. T was in the competition as was Heather Locklear and a few folks from the old-school Dallas. It was awesome in its awesomeness.

Of course, Scott Baio (this was Chachi Arcola not Charles in Charge so Baio competed for ABC) was the Bo Jackson of these events — Cosell called him, "the king of the hill," — primarily because he was a good 10 years younger than everyone else.

This got us thinking (which we always admit is a dangerous thing). Why, in this era of paparazzi, the love of all things celebrity and the love of reality TV, has this not been remade?

And — you know how we love the draft — if they had a Battle of the Network Stars this summer between ABC, CBS,Fox and NBC, who are the top picks? 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 ...

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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.
BIspy4 said...

I don't Larry Legend coming back to running the Celtics, not with Danny Ainge running the show. And running it very well, by all estimation.

June 26, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Ainge is doing fine, sure. But are you telling us that if Larry Legend said, "I am taking my talents to Southie," the Boston faithful would say, "No thanks Larry we got Danny Ainge. We're good," and call it a day?

— 5-at-10

June 26, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Good back and forth with Weeds today. An 8-team field is needed like, now. 2004 and 2009 are prime examples on why at least 8 is needed.

It's hard to fault the Hawks for overlooking Stockton in '84 for reasons you stated yesterday. Sure he turned out great, but someone like fellow alum Dan Dickau didn't. (Dickau was drafted by the Kings in '02 and immediately traded to the Hawks.) As for the other Hawks' drafts:

[2010 — Damion Jones/none as of yet but Landry Fields was on the board]

Jones was traded to NJ for Jordan Crawford. Crawford was later traded to the Wizards along with Bibby and a 1st round pick for Kirk Hinrich. I think the Wiz got the better of this deal.

[2009 — Jeff Teague/two picks in front of Darren Collison with Taj Gibson and Danny Green]

Not bad. Taj Gibson has surprised me as a pro.

[2007 — Al Horford and Acie Law/No complaints on Horford and the rest of that draft was junk]

Ditto. Good pick.

[2006 — Shelden Williams/Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo]

Can't remember if they needed a low-post guy that bad or just liked Williams that much. When was the last time a former-Duke-star-now-NBA-starter won the NBA title? Ok...Shane Battier this year, but before that, can't think of any. Lots of good role-playing Dukies in the league, but not worthy of being drafted #5 like Williams was.

[2005 — Marvin Williams/Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Raymond Felton, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, Monta Ellis]

This is a very bad pick considering who was on the board. Williams was a freshman who didn't even start for the Tar Heels.

[2004 — Josh Childress and Josh Smith/ Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala and J.R. Smith and Jameer Nelson]

Not bad, although nobody saw Childress up and leaving the U.S. to play overseas. Thankfully, nobody else worth anything in the league followed his lead.

[2003 — Boris Diaw/Kendrick Perkins, Josh Howard, Mo Williams]

Not bad. Perkins was straight outta high school and ended up being a late bloomer in the league.

[2001 — Pau Gasol/Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Tony Parker]

I bet they regret a little bit not hanging on to Gasol.

June 26, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stew —

One of the many things we love about the draft is the undeniable luck factor.

Look at it this way: In 2007, the Hawks had a worse record than the Sonics (now Thunder) and the Trailblazers, but still picked third because of the crazy lottery that year. In fact, if the lottery odds had held the draft order would have been:

Memphis (would have taken Oden)

Boston (would have taken Durant)

Milwaukee (would have taken Horford)

Now the lottery unfolded how it did and the Thunder are built to be a contender for the next decade and the rest of those teams have to wonder what if.

— 5-at-10

June 26, 2012 at 12:17 p.m.
deboman said...

Battle of the Network stars had to have been some of the best rainy summer Saturday entertainment there was. Not to mention, when else would a young man get to watch the likes of Linda Carter and Catherine Bach take each other on in a 100 yd dash. To make it even better, that was done in a time where very few of the participants had any sort of athletic ability at all. Kind of like the old John Belushi SNL commercial for Little Chocolate Donuts. The closest lately has been celebrity boxing, but that still didn’t compare. Cosell must have loved that assignment. Imagine how badly he wanted MNF to start. I think we don’t see that today because most of the stars are too image conscious and are happy to let the new wave of reality spotlight sponges embarrass themselves on TV.

Got to see the Gatlin race replay yesterday and it was a good one. Do have to say that some of the women competing in the 400 have the build to be scary safeties. As for the trials, the swimming is going to be some good stuff and the action in Omaha this week will be a decent prelude to the battle that Phelps and Lochte will wage in London.

June 26, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

I wouldn't want to mess with Jim Cavaziel- but of course that may have to do with his show (Person of Interest on CBS) as much as anything.

The Clippers are the worst picking team. Why? They picked some dude named (and I'm going to misspell this and don't want to look it up) Olawakande (it's like a combination of Hakeem Olajuwon and John Candy). No team has more consistently picked terrible picks in their first few picks than the Clippers. The Hawks have been blessed with slightly better teams than the Clippers, so haven't had as many chances to blow it, which is why they have the edge. And, of course, Blake Griffin has been so good, the Clippers feel better about their draft prospects. So the Hawks are quickly gaining ground here.

The Hawks are my second favorite NBA team behind the Rockets. The Rockets rarely make the playoffs anymore, but always miss by about three games....meaning they pick right at the very end of the lottery- after the best players are off the board. It's a bad place to be. In the NBA, you either want to win, or be disastrously bad so that you can get a top pick and hope to move up. The Hawks, like the Rockets, are stuck in the middle. Unless the Hawks can find a legitimate number one player, they're stuck. The Rockets are trying to get enough stuff together to trade for Dwight Howard. That would be a legit number one player, but they need to surround him with pieces. The last time the Rockets traded for the Magic's best player (Tracy McGrady), it didn't exactly work out. Maybe it's revenge for the Rockets sweeping the Magic, Shaq, and Penny right out of the Finals.

June 26, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.
jgreeson said...

We'll be back to comment in a minute.

Here are some contest entries:

No. 2 pick/SEC players/Hawks' first pick/Impact suit

McPell: Harrison Barnes UNC/7/Sullinger from Ohio St/Fab Melo (with a name like that you know it's going to be good

5-at-10: Thomas Robinson/6/Fab Melo/Austin Rivers

Mrs. 5-at-10: Brandon Beal/7/Tony Wroten/Andre Drummond

OT Watcher: MKG/8/Sullinger/Perry Jones III

Fred: T-Rob/7/A Nicholson/Anthony Davis

Jefe: Barnes/8/Draymond Green/Arnette Moultrie

With more to come...

June 26, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.
Livn4life said...

Battle of the Network Stars Classic for me: Seeing Gabe(Cotter)Kaplan beat Pappy Boynton(Robert Conrad) outright in a race was priceless. Pappy was the athletic one, ala James West on The Wild, Wild West(old school)and thought he had Gabe Kapped easily. It was great! Also, unathletic Karen Grassle(Little House on the Prairie Mother)beat some younger and more attractive lady. Remakes, come on man, you can't redo that stuff. You'd have to make it up to be as good as that was. PLAYOFF? Who says anything about PLAYOFF? I am glad they are talking about it. I will only believe it will actually happen when...well we see it happening. No matter what happens the whining will continue unless they work up some way to get the ones who almost make it into big money making bowls of some type. My contention is a Division 1A Playoff will be flawed as long as there are bowl alliances and there is not some way to at least give the Boise State types their chance. I want to some day see if they are all people consider them as cracked up to be on the national scene. We watch, we wait.

June 26, 2012 at 1:48 p.m.
memphisexile said...

There is an infamous clip of that show where Telly Savalas keeps yelling: "I just want the bread baby!. So awesome.

I feel like we couldn't replicate it though, because the networks would just do something stupid like put Ryan Seacrest in to replace Cosell. Clearly, the only acceptable solution is to use Mussberger and Herbstreit to announce.

Not sure how Fox would compete because all their programming is reality t.v. or cartoons, they may be short on stars. However, my bet for the winning network would be ABC, because Ed O'Neill is on Modern Family, and no one defeats Al Bund...I mean Ed O'Neill (who actually did play college football and was cut by the Steelers in training camp).

June 26, 2012 at 1:58 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Debo —

It was highly entertaining — Locklear and Jo from Facts of Life and Mrs. Keaton from Family Ties and a few ladies from Dallas and Hill Street Blues and even the little girl from Archie Bunker's Place.

And the dudes there were taking it way, Way, WAY too seriously. Adrian Zmed torn his ankle ligaments "practicing" for the obstacle course. Of course Cosell said something along the lines of, "Adrian Zmed has the heart of a champion but the tendons of an actor." It was great. We're hoping another one is on tonight.

Gatlin's a stud; and the drama between Phelps and Lochte is going to be fun to follow. Something tells us Phelps is not ready to be in the mentor role.

Stuck —

We'll give you the Candy Man — or the Can'ty Man depending on who you ask. But the Clips did draft Blake and Eric Gordon, who was a big piece of the CPIII deal. Plus, did the Clippers ever draft a future superstar professional wrestler ala the Hawks drafting El Gigante?

And if the Rockets land Howard, bully for them. Although that would make the West almost criminally tough to get out of.

Jim Cavaziel is a good pick. And Scott Caan looks like he'd compete. We'll take Mark Harmon for the older set and if there is a softball game, we'd consider Homer J. Simpson. He won a big game for the Springfield nuclear plant don't you know.

Livn(Large) —

Fair point about how the magic could never be duplicated, but it's not like common sense has stopped them before.

And the playoff is coming. Book it. But you're right, the whining will not stop. You can book that too,

— 5-at-10

June 26, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Exile —

Great call on Al Bundy. He did score five TDs in one game in high school.

As for the announcer, there is no duplicating Howard. In fact, everyone from Dickie V to Stephen A to Johnny Miller to Simon Cowell has tried to mimic Howard in some way or another and they all pale in comparison.

We were talking in the office on who would announce it, and the closest thing we had to an answer was the best parts of Jim Nantz and the best parts of Stephen A. Smith and pray for a miracle.

As for a real announcer, Musberger and Herbstreit is probably our best bet. Maybe Sean McDonough and David Feherty?

Sadly, this can not be duplicated.

— 5-at-10

June 26, 2012 at 2:06 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Its a no go on the remake of Battle of the Network Stars. I dont think anyone would tune in to watch a tug of war or 18 second 100 meter dash. However, you give me Battle Royale of the Nightly News and I am in. Hand grenades, people on fire, heck, Brian Williams killing a guy with a trident. Thats good TV. Things that escalate quickly.

June 26, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.
jgreeson said...

962 —

We're all for Al Roker having to hole up because he's wanted for murder... (Tonight's top story, the streets run red with Tom Brokaw's blood).

Sadly the Network Stars have no chance to duplicate the magic of the late-70s and early-80s, just like today's too-cool-for-school athletes would never volunteer for The Superstars.

We would love to see some "Dodgeball" between reality TV stars with Pepper and Cotton doing the play-by-play. This could definitely work. We'd offer a cash prize to the first person that delivered a Peter LaFlour-type speed ball off the face of any of the Kardashians.

— 5-at-10

June 26, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.
Todd962 said...

I did enjoy the Pro's Vs Joe's that Spike ran a few years ago. Unfortunately it was mostly retired, 20-25 years past their prime athletes. The ultimate show would never work due to contractual issues of active athletes, but I sure would like to see a D3 basketball player alumni stepping in to take a charge from Lebron James. Squish....

Effin' A Cotton, Effin A!

June 26, 2012 at 5:20 p.m.
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