published Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

5-at-10: SEC September grades, NFL POW-er Poll and baseball's final 48 hours

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's get to it.

  • photo
    File photo of Florida Gators vs. Alabama.
    Photo by Jason Parkhurst

September grades

Florida — A-plus

Will Muschamp is the front-runner for SEC coach of the year, right? And with a fast start fueled by defense and forged by early road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee, the No. 10-ranked Gators are at least one year ahead of schedule in their return to the national scene.

Alabama — A

Other than injuries — running backs Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart and starting receiver DeAndrew White are out for the year with knee injuries — the Tide has been the nation's bets team. Considering how well Nick Saban has recruited — Alabama is more stocked than Wal-Mart — the Tide are the nation's premier program until further notice.

South Carolina — A

We had A-plus down at first, but then remembered South Carolina was a preseason top-10 team, so its excellent start was somewhat expected. That said, how about that Connor Shaw, the Gamecocks quarterback who has completed 35 of 39 passes in his last two games.

LSU — A-minus

Not sure why all the LSU angst considering the Tigers are unbeaten and among the top-5 teams in the country despite a new quarterback, losing their best player and team leader three weeks before the season and replacing five guys picked in the first four rounds of the NFL draft. They may not have played great, but those folks looking to drop the Tigers in the polls for winning closer-than-expected games best keep their pie holes shut about teams "running up the score."

Georgia — A-minus

The Bulldogs have impressed, even dazzled, at times, but there definitely is a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty vibe in Athens. Is this the team that made Vandy look like a middle school team or the team that struggled to put away Tennessee and allowed Buffalo and Florida Atlantic each to score more than 20 points? With the bevy of preseason suspensions, this veteran defense is still trying to find its stride.

Mississippi State — B

Coach Dan Mullen removed the King King-sized monkey from his back when the Bulldogs thumped Auburn to give Mullen his first win over an SEC West school not located in Oxford, MIss. That said, the bulk of the Bulldogs' test awaits, and following this week's trip to Kentucky, there is a season-defining game against Tennessee on Oct. 13. Let's see how the Bulldogs do when they don't have the opponent's signals. Allegedly.

Texas A&M — B

The Aggies are building a stout foundation — redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel is going to be a headache for SEC defensive coordinators for the next few years. The Aggies are 1-1 in the SEC and are the only team that is not either undefeated or winless in league play.

Tennessee — B-minus

Johnny Vols Fans are antsy — and understandably so — but the first month of the season has been above average, right? Tennessee is 1-2 in games that before the season could be viewed as toss-ups. Sure the second-half struggles against Florida and late at Georgia are painful, but the positives outweigh the negatives right now, especially considering the best player in Knoxville as of Aug. 2 is now the best player ever in Cookeville.

Missouri — B-minus

Despite controversy at quarterback — James Franklin has been injured and struggled at times — the Tigers are 3-2 despite being outscored 33 points in their four FBS games. There is marked room for improvement since the Tigers do not play a road game in October.

Ole Miss — B

The Rebels were a dumpster fire in the final 20 games of Houston Nutt's tenure. First-year coach Hugh Freeze has jumpstarted the offense with junior college-transfer quarterback Bo Wallace as the Rebels have scored at least 28 points against every foe not named Alabama. Ole Miss has three wins — and the teeth of its schedule in front of it — but if Freeze can find three more wins and get this bunch to a bowl game, then he deserves coach of the year consideration.

Auburn — D

The Tigers have been dreadful offensively. They are last in the SEC in scoring (17.5 points per game) and sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier is ranked outside of the top 15 passers in the SEC, meaning that at least two teams have two quarterbacks that are more efficient. Granted the 1-3 Tigers have faced a difficult early schedule — all three loses are to ranked teams — but a season of promise has been left with flickering bowl hopes after a disastrous September.

Vandy — D-minus

This was poised to be a big, Big, BIG year for the Commodores. Now, at 1-3 they stare at a schedule filled with games they have to have to reach the postseason. It's doable of course considering that Vandy has only one ranked-team (Florida, which visits Nashville on Oct. 13) left on the schedule.

Kentucky — F

The season-ending injury to quarterback Max Smith certainly hurt but not as badly as the overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The rebuilding likely will start after the season, a fact cemented by the Wildcats' dreadful start.

Arkansas — F-minus

What's lower than F? These Razorbacks deserve an H or even a K. Preseason top-10 with a Heisman candidate at quarterback, the departure of world-class scum bucket Bobby Petrino tumbled Arkansas' house of offensive cards to the point that interim coach John L. Smith is the league's biggest cartoon character, senior quarterback Tyler Wilson called his teammates quitters and the fan base seriously wants Petrino back, morality, ethics and plain-old decency be danged. What looked like the primo coaching vacancy a month ago now looks like a major rebuilding effort.

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  • photo
    Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, left, reacts to his touchdown as center Chris Myers, right, congratulates him during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NFL POW-er Poll

We are four weeks, and the "haves" and "have-nots" are starting to show themselves. The Titans are definitely "have-nots," and the Saints possess "have" talent and a "have-not" record. So it goes.

1) Houston (4-0)

The Texans passed Atlanta for the top spot because of a defense loaded with so much talent — defensive end J.J. Watt is the best player you're not familiar with — that Wade Phillips can't mess it up. Heck, this defense is so talented at every level, Wade can even make a couple extra stress-free trips to halftime buffet during games. Houston is a staggering plus-70 in scoring margin.

2) Atlanta (4-0)

Things are setting up nicely for the Falcons — four games into the season, they already have a three-game lead in the NFC South. Quarterback Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level, and there is not another QB in the league that is not envious of the weapons around him.

3) Arizona (4-0)

The Cardinals have surprised and won thrice in the final seconds and twice on the final play, including last Sunday's overtime win over Miami. Is it luck or the start to a special season? In the NFL, you are what your record says you are, so these Cardinals are still perfect.

4) Baltimore (3-1)

The Ravens survived four games in 18 days and may be right there with the Texans as the league's most complete team.

5) Chicago (3-1)

The Bears get a slight edge over San Francisco because the good Jay Cutler showed up last night in Dallas. Let's face it, if Cutler is behaving and believing, the Bears are good. If Cutler is listless and lounging, this offense stagnates. Still, he's better than 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

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Baseball's final 48 hours

There are two days left in baseball's regular season. Here's what we know:

From the NL, the Nationals are the East champs, the Reds are the Central champs, the Giants are the West champs and the Braves will host Friday's one-game, win-or-pack-the-gear-and-hug-Chipper wildcard game. St. Louis leads the Dodgers by two with two game to play for the final wildcard spot.

From the AL, we know the Detroit Tigers have won the Central and that the Yankees, Orioles, Rangers and A's will be the five teams in the playoffs. The Yankees lead the Orioles by a game in the East, and the Rangers lead the A's by a game in the West.

That said, as we sit this morning Miguel Cabrera would win the AL triple crown. Has there been a more super-secret superstar season than this one? Yes, with football and the joys of September and the attraction of school and all of the other things on the radar, things get lost.

But Cabrera's magical year — dude went 4-for-5 with his 44th homer Monday — has happened in the shadows. Cabrera is hitting .329 (four points better than Mike Trout), has 44 homers (one better than Josh Hamilton) and 137 RBIs (10 better than Hamilton).

Incredible. The last triple crown happened in 1967, when Carl Yaztremski did it for Boston.

————

— Now that we are into October, the high school football season is almost done. Cuh-RAZY, huh? Here's this week's high school football review show with the goofy TFP sports editor and preps ace Stephen Hargis.

— So, with all the posturing and posing in today's rap world, the 5-at-10 is STUNNED to hear that there was at least one fight backstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards show. Apparently Young Jeezy and Rick Ross went at it — here's a link to get you caught up http://www.billboard.com/column/the-juice/bet-hip-hop-awards-footage-of-rick-ross-1007965162.story#/column/the-juice/bet-hip-hop-awards-footage-of-rick-ross-1007965162.story. Machine Gun Kelly was injured in the incident — not entirely sure why he didn't use his Machine Gun, but so it goes. There was even an alleged confrontation between MMG's Gunplay and G-Unit. Two quick things here: First, how accurate are these reports considering the guy on the scene goes by "Funkmaster Flex" and secondly, well, nevermind.

— Thanks to a tip from Chas9 yesterday, the 5-at-10 looked into the opening line of Kentucky minus-14 against Mississippi State this weekend. Yes, when we first saw it we thought Chas9 messed up. Then we thought basketball season started. Then we started hunting an individual contractor who is familiar in such matters to confirm it. The line did start there, and there were several wise investors looking for entertainment purposes only that took advantage of that number. By this morning the line was down to Kentucky minus-10 and here's saying it will be closer to minus-3 by kickoff. Strange indeed.

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Today's question

Which is the most impressive individual feat:

Winning the triple crown in baseball?

Winning the triple crown in horse racing?

Leading the NBA in scoring and rebounding?

Hitting .400?

Going back-to-back in the 5-at-10 contests like Tiger did in the two UT pick 'em games?

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 would have said the triple crown in baseball but I may lean toward hitting .400. In this age, with all the specialists and one-inning wonders out of bullpens, I think even coming close to .400 becomes practically impossible.

For the triple crown, you've got to be able to hit, hit for power and your teammates have to get on in front of you. A guy like Dwight Howard or His LeBronness or maybe even Kevin Durant could lead the NBA in scoring and rebounding. But how many legit baseball triple crown threats are there? And how many, yeah, this guy could hit .400, are there out there?

October 2, 2012 at 11 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Wait- Kentucky is actually favored against Mississippi State? Is that everywhere?

I said last week I thought UK could win that game. Without Maxwell Smith, I'm not feeling as confident.

Still think that could be one of the more entertaining games on UK's schedule....

October 2, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
chas9 said...

Kudos to Laughing Boy and Spy for strong posts on movie soundtracks late yesterday afternoon after most of us had left the show.

And I'll go with Spy saying hitting .400 is toughest. Also impressive is posting back-to-back 100% picks in the beat up Jay competition, which I have managed. Going for the hat trick this week.

October 2, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
chas9 said...

Yes, it's strange. The oddsmakers now have Miss State favored by 10 over Kentucky. I say take The Cats and the points.

UK is better than you think, and the young guys are coalescing. It's no shame losing to Florida or SC. And Louisville and WKU are solid teams.

Coaching guru Jim Place says that upsets happen when a young unknown future star first breaks onto the scene, like Randall Cobb. The team with the talent wins, but it was unrecognized talent up to that point. Kentucky's Whitlow looked pretty good and could break out on Saturday.

Even if he doesn't, here's saying Joker comes back next year. UK brought Rich Brooks back after a weak third season because the team was hit by injuries, and he went on to produce several winning teams.

Jay, your grades for SEC teams are well done. Based on the order you listed them, I wonder if you meant Ole Miss to have a B-, which is what I think they deserve. And I'd give UK a D-, or an I (incomplete) for the reasons I argued above.

October 2, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Interesting 5 at 10. It reminds me how much I miss the Monday stock exchange in the print edition of the paper.

The grades all see accurate especially Arkansas. I fill really sorry for ol' Bruce Plante over the the Tulsa World (he's a Razorback alumn for those with short memories). Although I can still remember some of his cartoons he did regarding the Mocs football program during those 45 - 3 thumpings.

Greeson, I can tell you are definite Phillips hater. To each his own.

Needless to say, there's a lot of hate brewing for the 'Boys at Valley Ranch after last night's loopy-loop performance. Apparentely was unaware of the massive number of Chicago transplants down here. And brother, they are definitely loyal. While everyone appears to be on Romo's case, it was the receivers that basically drug ass. Dez is so in the hot seat he'll be sitting on ice cushions for a month.

One cool highlight, besides the smell of new car, there's the new smell of 30-30 starting tonight at 8 (I love a good 30-30).

October 2, 2012 at 12:12 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

We think .400 is tougher, and a big part of it is the specialists and strategery. Completely fair point about needing help from your friends, but there have been a few triple crowns since Teddy Ballgame hit .400.

As for the eyeball test, there are more than a few guys who could win a triple crown — Cabrera, Kemp, Hamilton, Votto, Braun, etc. There is no one we'd point to and say, "He could hit .400" now that Ichiro is old.

Stuck —

CUH-razy line. Crazy.

The only thing we can think is some one went to a Vegas casino and put huge, Huge, HUGE money on UK and now the house is trying to right the books before re-setting the line.

EDIT: It was a mistake. The lines on the interwebs have Mississippi State as a 10-point favorite now.

9er —

The soundtracks were stellar.

As for the 100 percent, good luck this week — it may be the toughest one of the season so far.

— 5-at-10

October 2, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Hey, 5, how long into the latest video where you planning your shot at Hargis' attire this time?

October 2, 2012 at 12:28 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

If the lines stays at 10, would probably take the Bullies. MSU defense is strong along the back seven and the UK faithful have turned on Joker. That crowd for No. 6-ranked USC Spurriers was what, 48,000 — and that was announced? Not much of a home-field edge.

And yes, we meant for Ole Miss to get a B-minus and we almost gave UK an INC because of the injury to Smith, but that felt like a cop-out, and Smith played all of the Western game.

Run JMC —

We're just having some fun with Wade "on out there" Phillips. We concur with your position that dude can coach defense. As a head coach he's a train wreck. As a DC he's not heavy, he's our brother.

What's the 30-for-30 tonight?

And yes, we bet ole' Bruce is having a hard time with the Hogs. Almost as bad as the farmer in Oregon. Rough year to sport hogs all around the country.

October 2, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

About the time we were walking to the studio and he showed up in the on-air version of the old Earl Campbell tear-away jersey.

Wait, strike that. Hargis' shirt in this run was not as cool as those old, powder-blue tear aways. Pinch between the cheek and gum — Skoal, brother.

— 5-at-10

October 2, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.
chas9 said...

Doris Roberts (Raymond's mother) is coming to Chattaboogie for something called a life expo. It's a chick thing. During a recent 5@10 poll, nobody among us mentioned her as one of TV's finest mothers. Apparently, in this town, everybody loves Raymond, but nobody loves Doris. The convention center should have plenty of empty seats. Unless the 5@10 crew is clueless about Chattachicks.

October 2, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.
fechancellor said...

.400 is the allusive dream of baseball akin to slaying a medieval dragon now out of reach, but never forgotten. That Miguel Cabrera's assault on Baseball's Triple Crown is alive this deep in the season is a wonder that turns to magic if he should succeed.

Looking back over just the past twenty years some the games greatest names such as Ken Griffey, Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark Maguire, Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez could not claim a triple, although Pujols numbers are most impressive. This only serves to highlight the difficulty of Cabrera's quest in a 162 game season.

Winning Horse Racing's Triple Crown is no match. Botched details and bad luck are a much an enemy as any individual horse. It's the Dog Racing Triple Crown run at Springfield Downs, Shelbyville Park and Capitol City's Fairgrounds that wets my betting juices.

Congrats to Tiger for his very rare double. My new strategy is to await his pick before submitting mine.

Ten Ring, you must have been reading copy Friday night. A hearty thanks for picking up on #1's TD. Just as impressive to me, #1 led his running back into the end zone for the next TD.

As for Notre Dame, their team will only get better.

October 2, 2012 at 12:51 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

I guess you didn't catch MNF last night because I saw the commerical for it four times. It is a doozy simply called "Broke". It basically chronicles the careers of some of pro sport's biggest gazillionares who basically "lost everything". Kinda like an extended version of the "The Best the Never Was" (The one about the Oklahoma player Marcus Dupree from the 1970s who is now 50 year old truck driver).

It's directed by Billy Corben and will air tonight at 8/7 on ESPN. Interviews include Cliff Floyd, Bernie Kosar, Keith McCants, Andre Rison, and few others.

October 2, 2012 at 1:01 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

The Life expo is for seniors. And we only know about one Chattachick — the Mrs. 5-at-10 and we be dang lucky to have her.

As for the Raymond show, well, we never watched it since it depicted a sports writer that never left his house. That's not the way it works. Well, that's not the way works unless it was titled "Everyone Loves Weeds."

FE to the C —

Heck, now that Jamie Moyer is finally out of baseball, there's not a big-leaguer who was born the last time there was a triple crown winner. Forty-five years is an eternity in pro sports. Heck, the Super Bowl was not even sold out the last time there was a triple crown winner.

JMC —

No, we missed MNF last night. Spent some family time. That said, any episode titled "Broke" that does not include Allen Iverson is doomed from the start. And this is not up for discussion. A.I. went through more than $125 million in basketball salary alone.

Kosar and Floyd were cheated by accountants if memory served, and Andre Rison had his house burned down by Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez, who may or may not have started the brawls at the BET Music Awards show in the A-T-L.

— 5-at-10

October 2, 2012 at 1:29 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, my list is limited to selected players of the last twenty years to highlight the Steroid Era. Even that perverted practice could not produce a Triple Crown winner, yet it did shatter the single season home run record and broke Hank Aaron's career mark. Yes, forty-five years is a long time, and I have no memory of Yaz winning it.

October 2, 2012 at 1:49 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

I'd have more faith if UK played Towles in this next game at QB. He was the prized recruit of last year's recruiting class. They were hoping to redshirt him (so that the next coach could get to have him for four years). But people who have seen him at practice swear that he's the real deal. He was the one that nearly won the starting QB spot from Smith in fall camp. They have said they are going to burn his redshirt now and use him starting this week. He COULD be the talent 9er is referring to. Watch out for him if he jumps onto the radar this weekend.

That said, I agree the Cats aren't that bad. In my computer rankings, UK has the fifth toughest schedule in the country to this point according to that. Wow. I'm not sure Louisville is as good as we thought when they hammered UK. Look at what happened against FIU, USM, and UNC. I thought UofL was one of the Top 10-15 teams in the country at halftime of the UNC game. Now I think they may only be a Top 40 team. I think WKU is better than people think- but not good. They were destroyed by UF. That leaves two games (Kent State and South Carolina) that have actually been OK performances by UK.

I don't see how Joker survives. Not only is UK losing, but they are losing stands left and right. I really thought 4 or 5 wins with the youth of the team would be enough to keep him. Right now, they have one win and a likely win over Samford. Beat Vanderbilt? Beat Mississippi State? Beat Tennessee? Beat Missouri? It's a brutal road to get to four wins, much less five or six.

I really think UK could upset Mississippi State, though. The Bulldogs secondary could be a real nightmare for a new QB. If I were setting a line on the game right now, I would have said that Mississippi State by 7-10 points was about right. The line is all over that. So I don't know which one I would pick.

October 2, 2012 at 2:13 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Nothing wrong with forgoing sports for family. We understand completely.

Allen Iverson is not listed as someone who was interviewed but if what you say is true, they will probably reference it as a case study.

October 2, 2012 at 3:09 p.m.
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