published Thursday, October 11th, 2012

5-at-10: Fab 4 (plus 1) picks, UT changes, playoff drama

Remember Friday's mailbag, and remember to stay thirsty dear friends.

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

Fab 4 (plus 1) picks

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    Alabama coach Nick Saban watches his team warm up prior to the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Big week last week. Hopefully you made the most of it — in entertainment purposes only of course — because successfully picking games is like an onion. There are several layers and more times than not it'll make you cry.

You have to pick the games you feel the best about, and you have to decide how much entertainment you're going to risk with each pick. You can't over extend on any one pick — and doubling-up to catch-up is how people lose cars... errr, cars full of entertainment that is.

You also have to remember you're picking the best opportunities to win entertainment, not the best teams or the best games. If you're picking games because they're on TV and you like the action, that's great. But remember you're then answering someone else's question as opposed to finding the question you like best and offering the best answer you can.

We're 21-10 against the spread so far this year. We were 58-30-2 last year. So we're 79-40-2 in the last year and a half. Against the spread, that's not too shabby. Let's see if we can continue our entertainment run:

Alabama minus-21 at Missouri: Nick Saban is in a foul mood. He's ticked off because people think his team is great — and they are. He's ticked off because the media make picks — and they do. He's ticked off that no one seems to have an answer as to whether if an African elephant comes to the U.S. does that make it an African-American elephant. You know who else it ticked off? Missouri back-up quarterback Corbin Berkstresser's mom, considering her baby boy is about to get a Tide baptism. (You could buy the half if you like insurance, but it likely would tick Saban off.)

Western Kentucky-Troy under the 57: These teams are a combined 1-2 in the SEC, which is better than Auburn and Kentucky. Sigh. It's a tough year to be an Auburn fan. As for the pick, call it a hunch. And if you can't play a hunch, then you can't play for big-time entertainment.

Ohio State minus-17 at Indiana: Road double-digit favorites are about as much fun as insurance seminars. That said, we think without a chance to play in the postseason, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are motivated to take advantage of every opportunity. Buy the half — you likely won't need it, but you have vision insurance too, and when was the last time you needed that?

West Virginia at Texas Tech under the 78.5: We think the Mountaineers are on a special run. We have been in the front row of the WVU quarterback Geno Smith's Heisman band wagon from the state. That said, this is a classic Tommy Tuberville-type of moment. Plus, how well have the Mountaineers handled hearing how great they are and are they going to be full tilt with Kansas State on deck next week? (Side note: We like WVU laying the 3.5, too, but like the under more. This screams 31-27, and that's still three touchdowns under the total.)

Last week we picked six games — taking one extra than normal because Dr. B (he's a doctor after all) was curious about our picks. We're getting back to out regular five this week, and the plus one game is difficult to narrow down. We believe there are several teams that have huge moments for their head coaches on the line and we're going to see how well those teams perform. We also believe that there are some rivalry games out there with great lines (Texas-OU; Notre Dame-Stanford). Here's our final pick:

South Carolina plus-3 at LSU: Buy the half and buckle up for four physical quarters. But look at what you're getting: You're getting the better quarterback; the better running back; a relative push from two stout defenses; Steve Spurrier AND three points. Tiger Stadium is a tough place to play, no doubt, and Les Miles surely has a rabbit under his hat (heck the size of that thing, he could have a whole gopher village up there). But when there's a showdown and the ammo is that one-sided, the venue takes a back seat. And if you think this violates our "if a line looks too good to be true rule, it probably is," know this: the guys who set the lines are setting the lines for a national audience, so they can frequently over-inflate teams that have national appeal. With its offensive struggles, LSU has an over-inflated national appeal.

Crazy week for Dooley

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    n this Sept. 22, 2012, file photo, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley watches his team warm up before an NCAA college football game against Akron in Knoxville, Tenn. Dooley working from the press box Saturday as he recovers from hip surgery, the rest of his staff is preparing to adjust to his absence from the sidelines. The change in routine comes as the Volunteers prepare for a critical game at No. 19 Mississippi State.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

OK, now everyone knows that UT head coach Derek Dooley had hip surgery Tuesday and will coach from the box rather than the sidelines Saturday night in Starkville.

Our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us the UT assistants do not believe it will be that big of a difference.

We're OK with that, but will also take a wait-and-see approach. In UT's few highlights in Dooley's two-and-a-half seasons, the UT head coach has been animated and passionate on the sideline. That energy can be a good thing in tight moments, and there figure to be a few tight moments Saturday against the Bulldogs. And that energy is tough to transmit from the press box to the field.

Coaches positioning aside, there's little doubt that the Vols need this one. Desperately.

And there's little chance that anyone — especially Dooley — will let the changes on the sideline be a distraction or serve as an excuse.

The Vols know the stakes. They know the challenges and the potential pay off. And it doesn't matter where anyone is on the seating chart. It's time to get it done.

Playoff baseball

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    New York Yankees' Raul Ibanez (27) runs past Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz after hitting the game-winning home run during the 12th inning of Game 3 of the American League division baseball series Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in New York. The Yankees won 3-2.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Wonder why we love playoff baseball? Exhibit 2,438 was Wednesday night.

Derek Jeter playing before the home crowd on a foot that likely is broken. Joe Giradi sticking with embattled Alex Rodriguez to start the game but playing a hunch and the numbers and pinch-hitting for A-Rod with Raul Ibanez, who hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and a game-winning homer in the 12th to likely save the Yankees' season.

There were the Oakland A's, the lovable hodgepodge of misfit toys and pieces that have been collected for 50 cents on the dollar. The A's, who fell into an 0-2 hole after dropping the first two against the free-swinging Tigers, scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win Wednesday that forced a win-to-advance Game 5.

Coco Crisp delivered Oakland's game-winner that set off an on-field party that had the buzz of Riverbend and the spirit of a pep rally. This was fun. It was pure and magic and believable. These could have been the 8-year-old All Stars from Signal, the Ooltewah Owls, the Lookouts or the 1927 Yankees, but they were boys sprinting to the field to share the joy of winning a must-win game.

And on the opposite end of baseball's skewed financial arc — a swinging curve as massive as the distance from New York to Oakland, the locales of Wednesday's dramatics — there were the Yankees and the A's celebrating the most fundamental joy of sports, victory.

It was fun to watch.

Side question: Why all the Yankees hate? We know why Spy does, he's a Red Sox fan, but why does everyone else hate them? And if you say, "Because they buy success." Well, what's wrong with that? Heck, we wish there were more corporations in America willing to spend big bucks for talent and challenge the rest of their industry to keep up. And if you condemn the Yankees for spending too much, well, if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg: isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do what you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

This and that

  • photo
    This is a July 24, 2005, file photo showing overall leader Lance Armstrong, of Austin, Texas, surrounded by press photographers, signaling seven, for his seventh straight win in the Tour de France cycling race, prior to the start of the 21st and final stage of the race, between Corbeil-Essonnes, south of Paris, and the French capital. The world may soon know what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has on Armstrong. USADA has said it had 10 former teammates ready to testify against Armstrong before he chose not to take his case to an arbitration hearing. The list likely includes previous Armstrong accusers Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Just saw this, but you may want to pick against Washington State this weekend. Not knowing the line or the opponent, we do know that first-year Washington State pirate coach Mike Leach called his seniors "empty corpses." Uh, coach, where is "empty corpses" in the "Building Team Chemistry" handbook again?

— Does anyone have any more questions about whether Lance Amrstrong did steroids? Anyone? Bueller, Bueller? According to the USADA, 11 former teammates testified about Armstrong using steroids. Eleven. Heck, how many guys are on a bicycling team anyway? No word yet whether the American Dodgeball Association of America has ruled if Lance's motivational appearance and chat with Peter La Fleur voids Joe's Gyms big win over Globo-Gym back in 2004. Somebody better get Cotton McKnight and Pepper Brooks and the ESPN Ocho gang on the case.

— Speaking of picking games, and this is outside our comfort zone, but picking against the Tennessee Titans has been as solid as investing in Apple. The Titans, who are a 6-point home underdog tonight against the Steelers, are 1-4 overall and against the spread through five games. We're not sayin', we're just sayin'.

— We do the 5-at-10 every morning with our 5-year-old son playing in the background. Today, he wanted to write a story, so here's his first go at it. (When he sat down, we asked him what he was going to write, and he paused for a second before saying, "Well, letters of course.") True to his word, his his first 5-at-10 entry, "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz" and in true sports-writer style, when he was done he looked up and said, "Now don't change any of it. It's perfect." Then he ran off to eat pancakes and watch "Jake and the Never Land Pirates."

— We were out of the office most of yesterday, so we did not get to catch up with all of the responses, which were great as usual. And we can see the love for Kelsey Grammer's post-Cheers career.

Today's question

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    Susan Clark and Alex Karras are joined by Jay Greeson during the shooting of the 1983 pilot for "Webster." The title character was later recast with Emmanuel Lewis playing the role.
    Greeson Archives/The Paley Center for Media

Rest in peace Alex Karras, the former Detroit Lions defensive lineman who will forever be known to future generations as Mongo in "Blazing Saddles."

Karras was 77 when he died Wednesday after his kidneys failed.

His football career was underrated — he was named to the 1960s all-decade team as a defensive tackle — because of his success after football. He had parts in several motion pictures, spent three years in the booth of Monday Night Football and was Webster's dad on TV for several years in the 1980s.

Here's the question: Who's on your Rushmore of movie performances from athletes-turned-actors? These need to be professional athletes; don't come back and say Kevin Costner walked on the baseball team at Cal-State Fullerton.

We'll take Jim Brown in "The Dirty Dozen," Karras in "Blazing Saddles," Reggie Jackson in "Naked Gun" and Carl Weathers in "Rocky."


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 ...

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.
TennFlyer said...

Let me throw Kareem in for his bit part in Airplane. Not worthy of being on Rushmore, but maybe a shout out in the visitor's center.
On to the Yankees -- love them, grew up watching them before King George bought them so I remember the dark days. Baseball is like college football, those that have the money get the best players. Do you think if Alabama or The Ohio State skimped on the weight room or locker rooms, kids would go elsewhere - you bet they would. Colleges spend on the surroundings to attract talent, the Yankees just pay the talent.

October 11, 2012 at 10:45 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

I would lean more to and forgive the thought...O.J. in the Naked Gun series...

October 11, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

The Spy hates him some Yankees. They are the tequila and cole slaw of sports to him.

Best pro athlete movie turn? Besides George the Animal Steele in Ed Wood, I'll go Orenthal James Simpson in The Naked Gun, with the former Lew Alcindor in Airplane to block.

October 11, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.
chas9 said...

The Cocks +3 is a lock for entertainers. Who has vision insurance? You newspaper writers sure have a cushy deal. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

OJ has been banned from this forum. Suggest removal.

Jay's list is strong, along with TF's Kareem (also in Fletch).

Here are four more good ones:

Andre the Giant in Princess Bride.

Chuck Connors in Ol' Yeller made me cry.

Terry Bradshaw in several Burt Reynolds flicks and solid in Failure To Launch.

The Rock in several martial arts type action flicks is exciting.

October 11, 2012 at 11:35 a.m.
jgreeson said...


Strong list. O.J. is not eligible. Sorry, no murders allowed. You have to have a code.

And before we go any further, huge, Huge, HUGE props to Luis on the Web team for today's 5-at-10 mug on Webster. Sinde we go about 6-4, 215, the last time we saw Webster's size was pre-K. Still, in recent weeks the web folks have found a way to put our mug on Steve Martin in The Jerk, Webster, Patrick Swayze in Red Dawn, and more. Well-played indeed.

TennFlyer —

Concur. We grew up being a Dodgers fan, and now that Magic and his Billionaires have bought the franchise and started spending, of course we're giddy about it.

In the NFL they have a salary cap to keep the field level and that's fine. In baseball, they don't. So how does it make sense for a fan of a small-market club like the Royals or Pirates to hate the Yankees for spending money? Hate the owners of the small-market club for not spending money.

And great call on Andre the Giant in Princess Bride, a truly great movie for all ages.

And Kareem was aces in Airplane and Fletch (excellent call, by the way).

— 5-at-10

October 11, 2012 at 11:51 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Alex Karras is probably the only athlete turned actor who actually "got it right" as it were. In reality, most pro athletes are pretty bad about "phoning it in" as we like to say in the BID-ness. In fact, because of my age, I've only known this guy simply as George Pappadopolis from my childhood and nobody else.

I am perfectly happy with this.

I didn't know he played pro-football until my father told me. Of course, his playing days was back when the NFL was still pretty much a part-time gig*

*See "The Greatest Game Ever Played" for a slice of what NFL football was like back in the day. When I say part-time gig, I literally mean it.

This has been a slow week for me as I have no interest in the playoffs (No Rangers, no interest), and I'm just about burned out regarding Dooley-watch 2012.

However, I'll throw in some picks just to feel like I am participating in the discussion.

UTC plus 3 over the Palidens. If the game is anything like last year, it's going to be all run it left, run it right, run it up the middle, rinse and repeat for a 90 minute game.

Vols plus 10 over Mississippi State. If you can't beat these guys, than forget about week three in October

The Mean Green have off and then play the Rage'n Cajins on Tuesday Night up on Denton. I'll go plus 7 for UNT.

October 11, 2012 at 11:55 a.m.
droolyvolfan said...

You might want to add to your list:

Bob Uecker for Major League Bubba Smith for Police Academy and Stroker Ace

The best entertainment value this weekend are the Mississippi red, blue or black Bears over the Auburn tigers, plainsmen, war eagles...OUCH!!!

JMC...where did you find the Vols plus 10~~~ I want some of that!!

October 11, 2012 at 12:04 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

"JMC...where did you find the Vols plus 10~~~ I want some of that!!"

They're playing Mississippi State, not Alabama. Otherwise, I'd go -40.

Bubba Smith is a good call but only in reference to PA 1-3.

PA 4-7 (7 was straight to video) does not exist and this is not open for discussion.

October 11, 2012 at 12:10 p.m.
chas9 said...

JMC--Go ahead and forget about the third week in October. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

Luis on the web team--Enjoy your work, but if you want to win an Emmy or a Spidey (or whatever awards for web work are called), give us a film clip where you've put Jay's face on the horse as Mongo cold-cocks him. I'd pay to see that.

Gang, whatcha watching tonight? One of two playoff MLB games, Titans-Steelers, or the Biden-Ryan death match? Wait. Scratch the aforementioned NFL option. The Titans got no game.

October 11, 2012 at 12:27 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - I nominate Chuck Norris (martial arts is professional -right?) as most exceptional athlete turned actor. His thumbs up role in Dodgeball was Oscar worthy. If it looks, smells, and tastes like chicken, and Chuck says it's steak, it's steak...

October 11, 2012 at 12:28 p.m.
chas9 said...

SF--If you get Chuckie, I get Hulk Hogan and The Governator. Bodybuilding's a sport isn't it?

October 11, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Rest in Peace Beano Cook. The Lord must have needed a handicapper.


You're predicted the Vols will win by 10 right? Not that the line is 10.

DroolyFan —

Uecker's turn as Harry Doyle is 100-percent on the list. Bye, bye Mr. October. "Just a bit outside, tried the corner and missed."

We actually like Auburn plus the 6 this weekend. We didn't put it on the list because we didn't know if it was our head or our heart telling us this.

9er —

We're going playoff baseball first. NFL second. Couldn't care less about the debate. Have already made up our mind and we are disappointed that no matter how it turns out these are the two goofs that are a heartbeat away from running the country.

sportsfan —

No Chuck Norris. Sorry. As talented as he is — and as awesome as he is because we all Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer, which stinks because Chuck Norris never cries.

That said, that's the best thumb's up in movie history.

Chas9 —

Nope and nope.

October 11, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: How about Roman Gaberial and Merlin Olsen?

October 11, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

jgreeson wrote:

"You're predicted the Vols will win by 10 right? Not that the line is 10."

That is correct. Why? What's the difference? (I don't gamble at all)

October 11, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - Chuck called and said he built Rushmore therefore his awesomeness exceeds Rushmore status...

October 11, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Dawg —

Olsen was Robin to Michael Landon's Batman, no doubt. What did Gabriel do? And if we're going to go small screen, then Fred "Hunter" Dryer wants to have a word with you.


In gambling circles, UT plus 10 would mean UT was getting 10 points, not that UT was expected to win by 10 points.

Sportsfan —

We heard that. In fact, Chuck Norris saw our Rushmore list , did a round house kick and every face on Rushmore became Chuck Norris.

In fact before he changed our Rushmore, he stared at the stone sculpture until it cried.

— 5-at-10

October 11, 2012 at 3:29 p.m.
fechancellor said...

The Juice cannot be summarily dismissed. Too many movie credits, but he saved his best for his murder trial as he somehow at the critical moment made his hand too large to fit the glove.

dawg74, I think the category is movie star athlete, you picks to bring to mind "Broadway" Joe Nameth.

And who among us can forget Shaq's movies Blue Chips and Kazam? I wish I could.

October 11, 2012 at 3:38 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

jgreeson wrote-

"In gambling circles, UT plus 10 would mean UT was getting 10 points, not that UT was expected to win by 10 points"

So what's "gamblinese" for so-n-so wins or loses by "X" points?

October 11, 2012 at 4:24 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

5/10 - Good call on avoiding Auburn this week - they are about to reach "Stupid Clemson" status. Also tell Chuck to quit watching Auburn on TV, he's scaring our quarterbacks.

October 11, 2012 at 4:34 p.m.
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