published Thursday, May 31st, 2012

5 at 10: Heating up, Family BID-ness and Meeting madness

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    Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) shoots over Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) during the first half of Game 1 in their NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoffs series, Monday, May, 28, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Hey gang remember about Friday's mailbag — still got a couple of spots open.

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

Miami Nice

LeBron James and the Heatles took everything Rajon Rondo could throw at them and still prevailed. James had 34 points and 10 rebounds as the Heat rallied to force overtime and beat Boston 115-110 despite 44 points and 10 assists from Rondo, who played all 53 minutes Wednesday night and scored all of his team's points in the overtime.

Boston appears baked, the age of its warriors and the wear and tear of this shortened season appear magnified against James, Dwyane Wade and the motivated Miami mob. Rondo is the exception, and his youthfulness and energy had Boston on the brink of stealing Game 2 — the Celtics were up 15 in the first half and 11 in the third quarter.

And you would be accurate if you just thought," Hey 5-at-10, the Thunder are the younger team in the West, and they have been pushed around by the aged and experienced Spurs." This is true, but the monster difference is the Spurts have more options. They are a team built like a Swiss Army — Tony Parker may be the main blade, but there are a slew of other options that are effective. The Celtics are a sturdy buck knife with a good-sized blade that is starting to dull.

While the 5-at-10 may be the only family-oriented, interweb-based sports column to compared the NBA's final four to cutlery, well that's where we are. And the favored Spurs and Heat each held serve and take a 2-0 lead on the road for a Game 3 that the Thunder and the Celtics have to have. Period.

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Family BID-ness

The NBA product on the floor has not been this compelling since the days when Michael Jordan had not professed his love for minor league baseball and shown his inability to put a bat on a breaking ball.

The off the court stuff, though, appears to be in shambles.

The league just survived year of complete discontent. There was a labor dispute that cut into the regular season and was solved with a stop-gap solution that assuredly will lead to more labor unrest in the future. There was the vetoed trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers and the allowed trade of Paul to the Clippers from the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets. There is the accusation of malfeasance of the leadership of the players' union.

Now, there are NBA executives telling YahooSports! NBA ace Adrian Wojnarowski hinting that Wednesday night's draft lottery was rigged. Hey, the 5-at-10 loves the draft — you know this — and who does not love a good conspiracy theory? But if the executives around the league believe the fix is in, well, not good at all.

Let's review: The NBA sold the Hornets to Saints owner Tom Benson, and Benson and the Hornets, who won 21 games last season with a wretched roster and a good young coach, needed a star to rebuild around. Hello draft lottery and the right to select Anthony Davis, a game-changing-type prospect that could be a cornerstone for a title-contending team, as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer noted http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/31/hornets-draft-gain-is-another-blow-for-michael/. The Hornets had only a 13.7 chance of getting the top pick, but still had their card pulled Wednesday.

Who knows if the fix was in, but it sure seems fishy. (Side note: The best conspiracy theory about the NBA draft was the reports and rumors that in the 1985 lottery, the Knicks' card had been frozen the night before. So when David Stern was pulling out cards, he knew which one was the Knicks' card and would not pull it out until the end. Well, the Knicks did win that draft lottery and took Patrick Ewing with the first pick in the 1985 draft.)

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Meeting madness

College conferences are convening around the country. We'll take "Alliteration" for $200, Alex.

There are a myriad of issues at hand, but none is getting the uniform attention from the big-boy leagues like the new football playoff system. In fact, there even appears to be some form of compromise coming that seems to fit the wants and needs of the leagues.

The Pac-12 and the Big 10 want only conference champions in the four-team playoff. The SEC says poppycock because there are routinely two or three teams in the SEC as good as anyone in the country.

An idea from the Pac-12 meetings relayed by Dennis Dodd of CBSsports looks to fit the needs of everyone: a 3-and-1 field of three highest-ranked conference champions and the highest-ranked at-large team. This would leave a spot for Notre Dame, one of the upstarts from a non-BCS league or even a team such as Alabama last year that may be the best in America even though it failed to win its conference.

That said, if there are three champions and an at-large team, are we not going back to the polling/BCS system to determine which teams are in the semifinal games? And if that's where we're headed, isn't that just where we are with just two extra teams added? OK. What happens when the SEC champ is a four-loss team that pulls an upset in the Georgia Dome and is not ranked among the top conference champs? What happens when the first or second year of the new set-up and the No. 5-ranked team is either unbeaten or a one-loss power program that is excluded from the playoff and starts belly-aching like the No. 3-ranked team used to?

Yep, this thing looks absolutely picture perfect. (Side question: How long before we go to an eight-team field? We'll set the over/under at three years and we stand by our eight-team format we pitched last year with the four conference champs of the four highest ranked conferences — that's conferences rankings not the ranking of the conference champs — and four wild-card teams, with the first-round games on campus of the four conference champions with the semifinals and the finals being at current power bowl sites. And in truth, we'd have zero problem playing the title game every other year in the Rose Bowl.)

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This and that

— The Kings eased to a 1-0 Stanley Cup lead with a 2-1 overtime win over New Jersey on Wednesday. We're certainly not Siskel or Ebert when it comes to hockey, but the times we checked in on Game 1, the action seemed sluggish. Could be jitters, could be tight defense, could be hockey beauty is in the eye of the beholder — and this beholder may not be the best gauge — but we had a hard time staying with the Kings' win.

— Wow, L.A. slugger Matt Kemp is heading back to the DL with another hamstring injury. Not good Johnny Dodgers Fan. Not good at all. And looking at the three of the top storylines on ESPN's baseball page — Kemp's hamstring, Halladay's shoulder and Pedroia's thumb — and you're looking at teams replacing some serious stud ducks.

— Hey welcome back Braves' bats, we've missed you. Every Braves regular had at least one hit except Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman put his new sports goggles to good use. Freeman, who had mired in a 2-for-25 slump while battling vision problems and dry eyes, donned the goggles and went 3-for-5 with a homer. Maybe Heyward needs to borrow those goggles, too. The Braves outfielder surged out of the gate this year, but he's hitting .200 in May (19-for-95) and his average has dropped almost 50 points this month. After 20 consecutive days with baseball, enjoy the off day Braves, who were 9-11 in that stretch.

— Are we in Spin City? Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday that Alex Smith was always the plan at quarterback for the 49ers and that there was an "erroneous perception that we were flirting with Peyton Manning." Well, Jim, if that's the truth then please explain why you weren't flirting with the single biggest free agent in the history of team sports? It was because you had the utmost confidence in Alex Smith, who until recently was not a much better quarterback than Alex Tribek, Alex P. Keaton or Alexander Graham Bell? OK, coach, if you say so.

— We are scheduled to be on The Show with Chris Goforth on 1370 AM today around 2 p.m. Swing by, as Bluto says, "It don't cost nothing."

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Today's question

While the SEC deals with schedule issues — as our SEC ace David Paschall covers here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/31/scheduling-is-hot-topic-at-sec-meet/ — verbal lightning bolt Steve Spurrier tossed out the idea to pay players $3,500 to $4,000. Again.

Spurrier has been beating this ATM for more than a year, and he has the backing of the rest of the leagues football coaches.

"We recognize that the income producers are both the football and basketball programs, period," LSU coach Les Miles told Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. "So there's a want to say with this extra income we would like to provide cost of education and cost of expense stipends to those players. We recognize that it's going to be difficult for every team on every campus -- volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, etc. -- to come up with the same number."

OK a few things: 1) Of all the things that we miss about college football season, Les Miles being involved in the 5-at-10 on a regular basis is high on that list. You have to love when Miles talks about "a want to," be it a player's want to be good, a team's want win a championship or a want to say something. More Les please. 2) Of course all the coaches agree with this sentiment — in the cut-throat recruiting world that is the SEC you can't be the guy that is viewed as being against rewarding his players. Does it matter that it is almost an impossible situation? Of course not, but perception is more important than reality in this case.

As for the question, should college football players be paid a stipend? Should all the athletes get something extra or just the revenue-generating sports? (Pretending that Title IX was not an issue and only the revenue-generating sports could pay their players, of course).

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.
Stewwie said...

[Now, there are NBA executives telling YahooSports! NBA ace Adrian Wojnarowski hinting that Wednesday night's draft lottery was rigged.]

Sounds like sore losers to me. Now if the Nets had won the lottery, I think they might have a case. ;)

The Bobcats had the best chance of hitting the #1 pick (25%), but that also means that there was a 75% chance that they wouldn't get it. A couple of teams in recent years have defied the odds to get #1. That's the beauty of the draft lottery. The Bulls overcame small odds and was able to take Rose. The Clippers got it and got Griffin.

As for the college football playoff, I think a 16-team setup would be most fair, an 8-team setup would be most reasonable, and a 4-team setup would be most logistically possible. 4 is a good start, but after this season, more discussions need to be made to start leaning toward 8.

For a 4-team plaoyff, I prefer the Big Ten's proposal because theirs would have put Oregon in the playoff over Stanford last year. Under the SEC's proposal, it'd be Stanford instead of Oregon. It shouldn't have to penalize Oregon for losing their opening game to LSU when they end up winning their conference and also beat Stanford pretty badly along the way.

Jay, what is your Rushmore (Rushless) from yesterday?

May 31, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.
Stewwie said...

[As for the question, should college football players be paid a stipend?]

No. I think it's more than fair for someone to get a full ride to a school just for being a good athlete. If there were a stipend though, it ought to be administered in installments via a weekly or bi-weekly direct deposit so that these kids don't blow it all at once.

May 31, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Spot, I'm for giving football players a little walking around money--very little--electronically paid on a bi-weekly basis by the University to a local bank account only accessible by debit card. The University chooses one bank for all. Debit cards will not access money at an ATM.

No need for cash in sometimes idle hands!

When do these payments begin? During summer camp or only during the season? Same questions for basketball.

Other sports qualifying? There's another rub.

May 31, 2012 at 11:27 a.m.
Todd962 said...

Paying college athletes opens Pandora's Box on college sports. How are the D1 schools going to pay their people with football profit, but the D2, and D3 schools dont have the cheddar to support it? Is that fair? Would it be fair that the starting QB or star RB are making the same as the backup kicker? Are these going to supplement existing scholarships? The people it would take to monitor this monetary distribution would cost the profit theyre distrubuting. Never going to work.

What they need to do is to take all this profit and give it to the school so they can lower tuitions. How can they justify this greed when there are news stories every night about how the amounts of student loans is going to capsize the economy? Put that profit back into the institutions so people arent graduating with $50,000 of debt from an instate school with a bachelors degree.

Jay, Scott Van Pelt went to twitter last night to ask people about soccer during the match, just asking to explain things because he didnt understand certain aspects of the game. Following their responses he thanked them but said he didnt quite understand the popularity of the game saying "I feel like the guy at the Sundance Film Festival who likes Ghost Rider 2." Figured you would like that.

May 31, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Rainbow Stew —

Don't disagree it smells of sour grapes, but this is not fan bases or low-level people telling this stuff to Adrian, who does a great job by the way. These are NBA executives saying this, and even that perception within the league is troublesome.

This — As for the college football playoff, I think a 16-team setup would be most fair, an 8-team setup would be most reasonable, and a 4-team setup would be most logistically possible. 4 is a good start, but after this season, more discussions need to be made to start leaning toward 8. — was an excellent assessment.

Our Rushmore (trying to span a slew of sports): T.O., PacMan Jones, Latrell Sprewell, Carlos Zambrano. Although we're not completely sold on it.

FE to the C —

The logistics make it impossible of course, but we tend to agree with Stew that scholarship should be enough. The school may be using the athlete, but the athlete should be using the school — either use the world-class facilities and stage to make a push to the pros or use the free education.

Mr. 962 —

Great call on the levels of cost — if college sports is morally bankrupt now, it would be fiscally bankrupt if it tried to pay everyone. And lowering student costs with sports profit would be a glorious idea.

Love the Van Pelt line, even if Ghost Rider 2 was turrrible. It sums it up perfectly.

— 5-at-10

May 31, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.
chas9 said...

OK. The Uniblocker may become the best player out of UK ever, or since Dan Issel, it's too early to tell. But what about Raging Rondo? Rajon would be the best pro out of The Bluegrass since who?

May 31, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

I'm in favor of the 3 and 1 format. That's what I've been calling for all along. If we go to 8, I'm in favor of a 6 and 2 (with the top six ranked conference champs in automatically).

Yes, in the 3 and 1 format, #5 is bellyaching. (And in the 3 and 1 format, you have to go back a few years to find a year that it is not just the top four teams, so this hardly changes anything most of the time.) But in college basketball, #70 is complaining. Get over it #5.

Come up with ten computer rankings that you are comfortable with. Use the two national polls. Then get a committee in a room that can use those polls anyway they see fit, and that watch games all year long, and let the committee choose what teams make the tournament and what seed they are. The polls and rankings are more or less just for fun, but they can help the committee create subtle differences- much like the RPI helps guide the basketball committee.

Since they are planning on setting up a TV contract for eight years out (that's what I read somewhere yesterday-maybe I misunderstood what they were saying), I believe it will be eight years before we expand to eight teams. For the love of everything, I hope they don't ever expand beyond that. Nothing gets me going more than seeing a team that does not come close to winning their conference winning a national title- in any sport. That drives me nuts.

As for the conspiracy theories about the lottery, I'm telling people to get the tin foil off their head. The Hornets did only have a little over a 13% chance of getting the number one pick. But the Bobcats had the highest percentage, and their chances were only about 25%. It's not like the Bobcats had an 87% of getting the top pick. Heard a lady that has seen the actual picking of the lottery balls the last two years and reports for the Cleveland newspaper (I think) on Mike and Mike this morning talking about how it would have to be the craziest conspiracy of all time for them to come up with a way to rig this. Plus, if Charlotte had gotten the top pick, the league would have been taking care of Jordan.

May 31, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

Ciiiiiiiinco....Al Laz..........Diez.....So we meet again my old friend. Si, tis I, Oso...come back from the grave. I decided to take several months off after winning the coveted Quadruple Crown a year ago and decided to let others partake in the goodness and generosity that is Five-n-Dime. I've noticed that tomorrow is the mailbag day...if memory serves me correctly, and i believe we are due a theme in honor of June being upon us...meaning that it is only 3 months till college football is upon us...that greatest most momentous of occasions that grips us all and leaves us lounging around in our sweats for 5 months out of the year causing a spike in obesity in the southern region of the US. Yay verily may i suggest if i dare, a theme of the Best 80's Mullets in Sports History....or something with funny animals cause who doesnt love funny animals?!?! RIGHT?!?!

May 31, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.
Blueoval said...

Ah, he's back!

May 31, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

That's mailbag material, sir. You'll have our answer Friday around 10ish.

Stuck —

We concur that No. 5 should get over it, but we concur No. 3 should get over it. And this comes from an Auburn grad, and who got jobbed by the BCS set-up more than the 2004 Tigers?

OSO —

Sweet buckets of Hallmark cards and slow sappy songs, how you been? Crud all we need is Eustice Chase to stop by and we could get the band back together.

Good to have you back, and if you want mullets you got mullets. And everyone lose funny animals.

Pick of the litter Oso. Name your poison for tomorrow's mailbag.

— 5-at-10

May 31, 2012 at 3:04 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

I'm still wiping the tear from my eye at the love that has been shown...the thought of the band being back together....gasp. OK here ya go Cinco...see if ya still got it. Top 5 Patches O'Houlihan motivational lines of all time! Oh yeah.....i just went there.

May 31, 2012 at 3:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Oso —

Book it. And we'll add the following twist for an extra degree of difficulty: And which coaches could you see using that brand of motivation?

Andf if you're asking, "Why would the 5-at-10 add something so dangerous?" Hey, no one asked why Thornton Melon added an extra springboard for the Triple Lindy did they? Sometimes you have to say what the flip. And yes, that's back-to-back 80s references. Bring it.

— 5-at-10

May 31, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

WHOA!!! You just did that! Hey if were lucky some of that motivation will rub off on Jason Heyward! Ohhhh....yeah...i said it.

May 31, 2012 at 3:29 p.m.
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