published Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

5-at-10: Monster questions for UT, UTC and UGA

Gang, remember the Friday mailbag and to practice random acts of kindness. It's good for everyone, the random acts of kindness that is — the mailbag is just good for us, and that's OK.

We're in a strange spot. Normally we offer five sports-related things at 10 a.m. (hence the 5-at-10 moniker), but today we're loaded with questions about the three main college football teams within the reach of the TFP. Let's try to find some answers.

From the "Talks too much" studios...

More Dooley whispers

Tennessee faces a dilemma. The Vols have fallen into football mediocrity. They have underachieved in big moments and against the bigger-named foes. This is not new.

There is a divide among the fan base.

Group A (pro Dooley) begs more time for this staff. They point out that the losses — except for Alabama — this year have been more competitive than the last couple of years, and everybody's getting trucked by Alabama. There's the money concern. There is the need for stability.

Group B (pack up Dooley) points to the numbers, and they are pretty. Dooley is 0-14 against ranked foes. He's Vandy-and-11 in his last 12 SEC games. This trip to South Carolina would extend both of those sour runs and give Dooley an 0-5 SEC start for the third time in his three years. (Plus, for the love of everything orange, why does Cordarrelle Patterson only get three offensive touches against Alabama? Why? Oh the humanity? Let's put it this way, if you were facing the Monsters from Space Jam, and you had Michael Jordan, Bugs, Porky and the gang, is MJ only getting three shots? We think not.)

Both sides must agree that Derek Dooley's job is in jeopardy, whether it's a matter of hours or the dreaded "one more year" we're all in agreement that this is not acceptable in the 865. Beyond that, the questions roam.

Whether this weekend is it for Dooley, whether UT has contacted Jon Gruden, whether the folks at the Body Farm in Knoxville are working on a Nick Saban clone from old Oatmeal Creme Pies, a piece of hair and burnt skin, who knows. We don't know. You don't know.

There are only a few folks that know for sure, and they — Gruden, UT AD Dave Hart, a small circle of big-money boosters that include several Haslams and some other folks, the Body Farm doctors, NASA and Honey Boo Boo — aren't talking.

Here's a bigger dilemma for the divided Vols nation: Do you want Tennessee to win Saturday? Your first instinct is, "Of course we do you 5-at-10 goofball," and that may be your final answer.

But if the Vols win Saturday at South Carolina, the talk and dreams and whispers of Gruden — true or fictional — or some other rock star coach swooping in to Knoxville would surely be gone in a flash.

Is this one win enough to right the ship for Dooley and Co.? Would it be enough for the pack-up Dooley group to change sides?


UTC faces big moment

We wrote this time two years ago that the Georgia Southern game could have been a program defining moment for UTC. (Read it here, it's not terrible.)

These Mocs face the same Eagles program Saturday at Finley. The stakes are enormous.

Each controls their own destiny. Each has an elite defense that features an All-American defensive lineman. Each looks to run first (GSU looks to run first, second and always). Each is constructed for a lengthy playoff run.

Georgia Southern is 6-1, ranked No. 2 in the country and almost assured of getting the chance to spread their wings in the FCS tournament.

UTC is 4-3 and has spent almost all of its house money. UTC needs to finish strong — at least 3-1 over the last four — to qualify for the playoffs.

These are the moments that programs like Georgia Southern are built upon. The Eagles are 12-point buck for most of the teams on their schedule. They are forged by the pressure of taking everyone's best shot and delivering against that pressure. It's not something that happens in a season or three.

UTC coach Russ Huesman has done big-time work. The culture has changed in and around the program. The talent is light years better that it was before Huesman arrived, and in truth the Mocs will be even more talented next fall despite the loss of Williams.

But next year can wait. There have been too many "wait til next year" for the Blue and Gold and their fan base.

Are they ready? We'll see, because you can bet Georgia Southern is.


What's happening in Athens

Georgia players are bickering at each other — Shaun Williams calling out inside linebackers as SEC ace David Paschall tells us here.

The fans are restless. Georgia is loaded with talent, but it appears destined for another unfulfilling nine- or 10-win season.

  • photo
    Georgia coach Mark Richt talks to his players on the sidelines.
    Photo by Patrick Smith /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course. There are a slew of teams that would love to have a 10-win season right now. But the Bulldogs are becoming the Dale Jr. of the SEC: They are going to have a big following; they are going to run near the front; they are going to have some success and look good in the driver's seat; but they're really not a championship contender. Not among the elite.

Again, there is nothing wrong with winning 10 games every year. It made legends out of a slew of great coaches, and it was the measuring stick of great season for most of the last generation of college football. That was especially true in the pre-BCS era when even if you won 10 or 11 games, things may not work out to win the whole shebang.

That has changed. In fact, it's another way that Nick Saban is terrorizing his peers. Georgia has faced Saban and Alabama once — in 2008 — yet is overwhelming success changes the perception of the good thing Mark Richt and the Bulldogs have going in Athens. Saban's bad years are 10-win seasons.

If you're a Georgia fan, would you trade Mark Richt's stability for the craziness that is Auburn right now that includes a national title 18 months ago?


This and that questions

— Who will win the World Series? We think the Tigers get it done. And as StuckinKent pointed out yesterday, the Tigers have pledged not to pitch ace Justin Verlander on short rest. So in truth, the Giants really need no weather delays.

— What in the world is the TSSAA playoff scheme and why can this not be about seeding and standings? Here's the latest and greatest TSSAA blunder. This is head-scratchingly bad.

— Nike is preparing to offer Rory McIlroy $250 million bucks to be their golf spokes-dude. Wow, that's a huge chuck on coin. And we don't really have a question other than, can we have a chunk of that for the sports-science research being done here at the 5-at-10 campus?

— Did you see Todd Christensen's rant after the Wyoming-Air Force game? Sweet buckets of blue language and blushing blocking backs. Dude went nuts. N-U-T-S. Sorry, but as a public figure and face of any organization, this should cost him his job. Period.


Today's actual question

OK, we have said rightly for at least the last couple of years that Aaron Rodgers is the new Mr. Big Shot quarterback in the (cue Ron Jaworski) NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. We're all on the same page.

We're now on board with the fact that Rodgers has wrestled the "Mr. Big Shot Commercial Star" away from Peyton Manning. Rodgers is so money, and his State Farm Discount Double Check commercials have moved into the conversation about the Rushmore of sports-related TV commercials.

Here's a breakdown of the candidates as we see them:

The old-school Miller Lite commercials, highlighted by Bob Uecker and the "must be in the front row."

Mean Joe Greene's one-time stellar performance in the iconic Coke commercial. This in movie relations, is Chris Farley's "Tommy Boy" since there's nothing else on either resume beyond that one great one.

MJ-vs.-Bird, "Nothing but net" McDonalds commercials.

Tiger Woods bouncing the ball on his wedge an insane number of times and then whacking it out of midair.

Peyton Manning's Sprint commercials.

Terry Tate office linebacker.

Aaron Rodgers' Discount Double Check with "Show us what you got Raji, Raji."

And too many ESPN SportsCenter commercials to name. In fact, there's a fair point to be made that the ESPN commercials are the fourth best show on the network behind the 30-for-30 series, live games and actual SportsCenter.

Whatcha' got?

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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bigbearzzz said...

In Richt's case (IMO) it all boils down to his ability to keep a running back past his freshman year. But somehow that man always finds a quality replacement freshman...i would just like to see them actually make it to their sophomore year. I still think the TT office linebacker commercials are HIGH-LARIOUS! Tigers win in 5, TSSAA football is about as messed up as kissin ur cousin at a reunion (pending on ur current state of residence), and I am in total support of the sports lab...we could also do some paranormal research out of it as well for all the hot spots in chatttown. Holla.

October 24, 2012 at 10:38 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: It was good to finally have a player speak out about the Dawgs defense or lack of. I would have left the names out but someone needs to step up because they are to good not to. You can speak all you want to but you better back it up with play on the field. Originally being from South Georgia I have never understood the TSSAA football palyoff system. In Georgia you do not paly a team from your region until the semi-finals. In Tennessee before the latest shambles which I do not even think the TSSAA understands Teams were meeting teams from the same region in the second round. The current playoff system is a joke. The Joe Namath shave cream commercial was a good one from the past.

October 24, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Oso —

Good to see you around the ol' stomping grounds.

We believe Gurshall will be around for the next few years and be a force to be reckoned with, that said, there will be some monster defensive losses after this season. Whether that's a good or bad thing, we're not sure.

And kissin' cousins makes me think of the great exchange in "Vacation"

Cousin: I've started French kissing.

Audrey: Big deal, everyone does that.

Cousin: Yeah but daddy says I'm the best.

Dawg —

Namath was a good one. So was the Earl Campbell Skoal commercial.

And any fire for this Georgia defense would be a step in the right direction.

— 5-at-10

October 24, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

First of all, one way your top wide receiver doesn't get touches is that the quarterback doesn't throw the ball where he can catch it. Bray was ineffective at getting the ball into Hunter and Patterson's hands on Saturday night. Second way, how about not fumbling the ball one of the times they toss it to you on a pitch. Patterson and Hunter may be the best worst pass catchers in the country. Both are explosive when they catch the ball and when the ball is in their hands. Neither can hold onto a pass. Patterson may be worse than Hunter. When he dropped that pitch, I yelled, "Surely you know you can't pitch the ball to Patterson by now! He can't catch!" Remember, he dropped sure touchdowns against Mississippi State, and I think both Florida and Georgia, but maybe just one of those games (they're starting to blur together). Hunter dropped a huge one Saturday night. To me, this is the thing Tennessee does not have- a receiver that just catches the ball, ala Cedric Wilson. Wilson used to get open and catch the ball. He wasn't going to outrun anyone (especially Peerless Price), but he could catch and was huge on third down because of it. This year, who do the Vols have that Bray can count on to catch the ball? Rivera, I suppose, but he doesn't have the ability to get open like Wilson had. If they had a receiver that was decent at getting open that could catch, their offense would be even more crisp. Patterson and Hunter would do what they can do best, which is go long and try to make a big play. And the Vols would be much more efficient offensively. Personally, I think this falls on the coaching staff. They either need to recruit someone who can fill that role, or, if he's already on the roster, they need to get him on the field. One of the two.

You forgot the third group, which I fall firmly in. The "Not Sure What To Do With Dooley" crowd. I'm not sure making another change is good for the program. He might have a much better year next year if Bray, Hunter, and Patterson all come back. Then again, hasn't he had enough time? This the definition of mediocrity at this point. So I don't know the answer- but I do feel (and have felt from Day One) that Dooley was more likely to be the Mike Shula of Tennessee football than the Nick Saban. I don't believe the Jon Gruden talk, particularly. He's also linked to every head coaching vacancy. Then again, I didn't believe Saban would go to Alabama until he did. And I don't concern myself with whether or not the Vols are going to win on Saturday. I'm rooting for them, but like I said last week when I thought Tennessee would be competitive with Alabama, the Vols are going to get beat by double digits by South Carolina. Hope I'm as wrong about that as I was about the Alabama game.

October 24, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Great column this morning. I'll leave the Dooley breakdown to the others and the Sporttalk people and stick with what I know best.

It is interesting how the Eagles are as you put it the 12 point buck on everyone's schedule. Yes, they're big, yes, they're badasses, yes, this is for all the marbles. Yet for some reason, everytime these same Eagles kick everyone's but and go on to face that other Georgia school in Athens, the results are always the same: Bambi vs. Godzilla (if you've seen the short, you'll get the reference). I don't know why I brought this up though. I guess it has to do with no matter how tough or how many championships these cats win, they can never seem to knock the knees out of them.

Secretly, I would LOVE within my lifetime to see GSU pull one UGA upset between the hedges. You think the Bulldog fanbase is "classy" now? GSU victory = L.A. Riots 2.0.

Let's see what else,

Not a fan of Peyton's Sprint ads as I am the Buick one currently airing. Of course, if I did the spot, "STREAMING 1023, CHATVEGAS, HUT! HUT!"

I'm just saying....

Fourty-Eight Hours and Counting.

P.S. Got to see that local spot of Gunner Miller and him applying his trademark Ultimate Warrior mask. XD Priceless!

October 24, 2012 at 11:47 a.m.
Blueoval said...

Oso, Georgia always has good RBs like Alabama always seems to have good LBs.

Kent, I agree pretty much everything you said but our Defense is FAR more the problem then Bray, Hunter and Patterson. Yes those bad throws and dropped passes hurt but the defense can't stop anyone. The secondary can't cover short passes or long balls.

October 24, 2012 at 12:12 p.m.
chas9 said...

Are Oso and bigbearazz the same dude?

October 24, 2012 at 12:40 p.m.
chas9 said...

I rported yesterday what the know-it-all group A's are saying on Knoxville call-in shows.

The UK QB struggle is best likened to the TV show Bad Breaks. Randy Sanders says it's worse than 2004 when he struggled through Schaeffer, Ainge and Clausen. The pointy ball scraps make my head hurt.

CBS sports says Noel is the nation's #3 big man and UK is the only team with two big men in the top 15 and three in the top 45. But Maymon and Stokes did get mentioned.

UK women are picked to win the SEC and have player of the year and freshman of the year.

October 24, 2012 at 1:05 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stuck —

Fair point about there being a third group that is undecided about Dooley. And we'd guess that most in the third group feel "Dooley's a good guy who inherited a mess but we've got a sneaky feeling he's in way, Way, WAY over his head." Translated: Most of the undecided want to be pro-Dooley but feel pack-up Dooley. So it goes.

JMC —

Don't expect we'll ever see a GSU over UGA deal, and the 12-point buck reference was about the FCS.

And we're starting to get stoked for the Mocs this week. Should be a good one.

Oval —

Strong comparison. And spot-on.

9er —

Yes. Oso and Bigbear are one in the same. He along with Eustice Chase and Spy and some of the others have been around from the beginning.

And how excited are Cats fans for hoops?

— 5-at-10

October 24, 2012 at 1:42 p.m.
Livn4life said...

Great Buckets of LowTolerance 5at...I cannot see how anyone could expect Derek Dooley to have beaten any of the teams which have beaten the Vols this year. I do agree they could have played more competitive with FL, and at least Miss. St. Wheels were almost coming off when the DD man arrived on Rocky Top. That is not fixed overnight even by a high-profiled, highly-payed coach. Here is the catch for me, it would take Coach Dooley more years than a Saban, or ....you name him big time dude to turn the program around. That in itself proves he likely is in over his head. But to just ax him with no real replacement pretty much in the bag is as dumb as the way Coach Fulmer was canned and would lead to some more mediocrity. What happens? If they beat SC or play respectable, it will depend on the final four(no not March Madness). If they get flattened Sat(is likely)he may be on the way out even if the final four are won and a bowl game is won. If he is already fired, neither likely will occur. In any event, I am ALLVOL and support coaches and team as long as they are there. GA-all Richt needs to do to hush up the squalor about the Dogs is...beat FL. Not an easy task since the game is almost in their backyard every year and I think I read somewhere 18 of the last 22 have gone Gatorly. UTC-go take down those high flying eagles....nuff sed! World Series:Baseball ended for me when the Braves finished but by golly those guys in SF have played two Giant playoff series already. TSSAA-Playoffs! Playoffs! Why with these guys duh we just hope to win another game! Ridiculosity is not even appropriate for the way they run things. But they make the calls, the schools/teams just have to play.

October 24, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

How excited are UK fans for hoops, you ask? Couldn't be more excited if they tried. Every office at my business has a hanging wall schedule for the season hanging up. This city is ready to explode, already. People are mad that they are starting "so low" in the polls.

October 24, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I'd put the ESPN commercials above the actual SportsCenter telecasts these days.

I'm kinda liking the NFL spot where Ray's momma asks Tom Brady if it's son for her son Ray to play football - and at the end, you get Ray Lewis slurping out a fountain drink and Tom going ... "cute kid."

UTC's biggest advantage Saturday may be in the kicking game, because Southern's is mud fence ugly. Southern always has had dependable, if not outright great, kicking. But this year ... avert your eyes, lad. It'll give ya nightmares.

October 24, 2012 at 3:04 p.m.
tschieve said...

I agree with Livn4life in regard to the Vols. With the schedule we've had the past 3 years and the MAC level roster we've had we would be hard pressed to find a coach out there that could have done much better aside from a couple of games (UK last year most notably.)

I would like to hear your thoughts on how Dave Hart has handled this situation starting from the UK game last year from a PR standpoint. I don't recall the actual comments he made after the UK loss, but from what I remember they couldn't have helped in recruiting. Also, this year the rumors of him being visibily upset after the Miss St and Alabama losses. I know this can't help the coaches on the recruiting trail, for the good of the program shouldn't he be keeping his emotions in check and address issues behind closed doors while putting on a good face for the public? Just something my friends and I have been discussing.

Thanks

October 24, 2012 at 3:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show BlueMan —

5er, love the shoe, read every day, just can’t post from work… Had to reply to Livn… being from Meeeechigan I’ve seen many similarities between the UofM program and UT over the years…which is a compiment considering the boys up north lead all with 900 W’s all time… from Lloyd Carr and Phil getting early leads and playing conservative in the 2nd half….to the Rich Rod and Freight Train debackles. My hats off to Brady Hoke from a little school out on the left coast who turned one of the worst defenses in the country to a stout group of play stoppers (not counting elephants who nobody has stopped)...with pretty much the same group left over from Rich Rod. Much credit to a great hire in an outstanding coordinator in Greg Mattison… So, DD has had 3 years…how much time does one need. Hoke has the wolves playing respectible in 2 short years and great recruits coming in. UT’s problem appears to be fundamentals like tackeling and leadership. Sounds like coaching problem to me.

October 24, 2012 at 4:50 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Livn —

No doubt Dooley inherited a mess and we think he's a good guy that has made the program better.

That said, the Mississippi State loss was brutal — bye week to get ready and the team looked unprepared and uninspired.

And now pushing the players into traffic seems desperate. So it goes.

A firing will make the future rockier, but it appears Dooley is cloaked in mediocrity.

Stuck —

UK fans should be buzzing. Cal's got a good thing going up there.

Spy —

Nervous yet. Josh Williams says hello.

Tschieve —

Welcome to the show and feel free to stay a while, don't cost nothing.

Last year's UK loss had tough affects on everyone in orange — even Syracuse fans for that matter. We actually applaud Hart's relative silence so far this year, but the rumored blow up behind the scenes have started to take on a Paul Bunyon type of size and strength. Not sure they happened or not, but that's been the kindling that has jumpstarted the ranging fire that is the Gruden whispers right now.

And you and your friends are spot-on, the leaders of the program have to keep their emotions in check and remain steady in the face of the storm. In today's cut-throat recruiting world and digital information age, any and everyone is looking for an edge. And if Urban Meyer or Nick Saban can whisper to Vonn Bell about "You think UT will be looking for a coach next year?" you're dang skippy that hurts recruiting.

BlueMan —

Another newbie. Grab a read, don't cost nothing.

Fair questions. And Brady Hoke gets a major 5-at-10 seal of approval for knowing that he's not going to run Rich Rod's offense, but since he had Rich Rod's players he had to find something to have as much success as possible. Enter Denard Robinson and the hybrid stuff Michigan is running.

That's excellent coaching — making the best of what you have.

Auburn did the exact opposite of that this year. Yay.

War Stubborn.

— 5-at-10

Spy

October 24, 2012 at 5:06 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Amen 5, you hit the nail on the head with "war stubborn". The inability to adapt will get coaches fired

October 24, 2012 at 6:18 p.m.
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