published Monday, April 22nd, 2013

5-at-10: Spring football review, new Mocs AD and a draft contest

Hope your weekend was as good as ours. Great weather. The T-Ball Bulls delivered another fine performance. We finished writing a book. Planted some hydrangeas. Grilled some red meat.

Good times.

Now it's time to focus on one of the underrated weeks of the sporting year. We love the draft. You know this.

If you have a specific team or player you'd like to discuss either email us, get on the Twitter (@jgreesontfp) or we can discuss it in the comments. Plus, when the two-week special radio feature on ESPN 105.1 resumes on Tuesday from 1-3, there will certainly be some draft discussions.

From the "Talks too much studios" let's drop some knowledge.

College football rewind

The spring has sprung and we're left staring into the abyss that is the college football offseason.

Alas.

Here's what we know:

  • photo
    Quarterback Justin Worley hands off the ball to Rajion Neal during the Orange and White game Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• Tennessee had more than 61K at its spring game and the more we hear about Butch Jones, the more we like the guy. We'll see come September if he can coach (we believe he can), but we know he can create energy, and that's something the Vols program desperately needed. Dude can also recruit, a fact that can't be overstated at this point for a Vols roster in need of talent.

We also know, as our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here, that the UT quarterback debate rages on. We think Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson are going to have something to say about this come fall.

We also know there was a Jacquez Smith sighting on Saturday, and that if the light comes on for the former Ooltewah star, look out.

• We know that UTC completed its spring drills by completing goal No. 1 — no significant injuries. We also know that with that much talent and experience returning on each side of the ball, we believe the Mocs are the class of the SoCon. Yep, read that again. And, as UTC beat ace John Frierson tells us here, the offense found its stride in Saturday's spring game, which is encouraging considering the new coordinators on each side of the ball. From Frierson's report — six TDs of 23 yards or loner. Nice.

• We know Alabama will be preseason No. 1 and is stacked.

• We know there were some great photos of Auburn's spring game and the final rolling of Toomer's Corner. More than 83,000 folks showed up in Auburn on Saturday, which is encouraging for a program that needs some good news. Less than encouraging is, that like Tennessee, the quarterback issue is is far from settled.

Side question: Any of you go to a spring game on Saturday? What were your thoughts? Discuss.

Side question II: Are you ready for college football's nuclear winter? We're not. We're on this and developing a plan.

————

Welcome Mocs new AD

UTC officially hired David Blackburn as its next athletic director. Good hustle by UTC beat ace John Frierson to keep the TFP out front on this from the start.

Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer offers Mr. Blackburn an excellent checklist of pressing items here that quite simply is spot-on from top to tale.

We believe Blackburn to be a good hire. A very good hire, in fact. And we believe Weeds hit an absolute homer with his six-point to-do list.

One other thing we'll throw out there: The fact that the search committee was not blinded by the orange on Blackburn's resume is encouraging for the future, at least it is in our mind. We know some old-school UTC fans are wary of Big Brother in Knoxville, but we still be believe Blackburn is a great pick.

Plus, if he can get the Vols and Lady Vols basketball teams down here a little more frequently, all the more better.

(Side note: We were prepared to offer more here, but Weeds aced his column. Well-played indeed.)

————

NFL draft contest

We're going to go all over the map on our draft stuff. And we offer this pledge: If you ask we'll answer in regard to the draft. Heck, we're even willing to do research if need be. We've pushed our chips in and we're waiting on the flop.

We've been doing this 5-at-10 thing for a while now — this is 650 consecutive Monday-Fridays actually — and we have developed a few contests that we must do.

There's the "Mastering the Masterful Masters" contest (which should be sponsored by MasterLock). Side note: Congrats to TNBuck who picked up his T-Shirt last week for winning. Thinker, we still have a hat for you.

There's the "Bowling for a Bowl of Bowl Games" picks contest.

There's the "First 1 out, Last 'dog in" college hoops contest.

There's the "If you ain't first, you're last" Kentucky Derby contest.

And there's the "Feeling the Draft."

Your entries will have five parts. If there's a tie after the first round, please check back Friday because we'll have a second-round tie-breaker.

Here are the categories:

First player picked:

Titans' first pick:

Steelers' first pick:

Falcons' first pick:

SEC players drafted in round 1:

Winner will get a Masters hat. Send in your entry, don't cost nothing.

————

This and that

— The early winner in this draft so far is the Tampa Bay Bucs. In need of a cornerback, the Bucs turned the 13th pick in Thursday's first round — and a conditional pick in 2014 — into the best corner in football. Tampa dealt the picks to the Jets for Darrelle Revis. Wow.

— Brittney Griner came out and talked openly about being gay to the media. Side question: Would this have been bigger news if she came out and said she was heterosexual?

— The NBA Playoffs started, and there were two excellent games Saturday. Sunday was blah — although the Heat put on their serious pants and handed the Bucks a plate full of "Take THAT." LeBron scored 27 points on 11 shots and went 27-10-8. OUCH-standing. We're pulling for our man Downtown Patrick Brown's Grizz, but we do not think they have enough for the Clippers. Alas.

— From the "Go fast, turn left" file: Matt Kenseth sprinted to the front with the help of a well-timed caution flag to win in Kansas. Kenseth held off Kasey Kahne. It's worth noting here that Kenseth is the third consecutive pole-sitter to win at NASACR's top level. Could be coincidence; could be another arrow in the quiver of those who say NASCAR is no where as entertaining as it used to be.

— The Atlanta Braves lost three in a row to the Pirates over the weekend, ending the 5-at-10's prediction that they would finish 158-4. Alas. Friday night's 6-0 loss was head-scratching. The Braves got two hits, did not draw a walk and amazingly did not leave a runner on base. CUH-razy stuff. From the "Take-the-good-with-the-bad" file — the Braves struck out 27 times in those three losses. Side note, part 2: The Braves are 13-5 and we're on board with this bunch and think this will be a fun ride. They head to Colorado today, and as good as they have been so far, they still have three of their eight everyday players — Dan Struggla, Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton — not hitting their weight. Literally.

————

Today's question

We'll be dealing in draft questions all week.

You're welcome.

What player — in either basketball or football — did you miss on the most?

We mean, coming into the draft, which guy coming out of college were you sure was going to be a stud in the league and never did. He was a first-round pick and when the selection was made you said, "Wow, that's a great pick" and regret saying it around your buddies because every time his name comes up the whole crowd says, "Wow, that's a great pick."

Here's the two that came immediately to our head: Football — former Auburn running back Ronnie Brown; Hoops — former Georgia Tech stud Tom Hammonds.

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.
jomo11 said...

Jay- thought it was interesting that the 3 worst SEC teams. Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky, who were 1-23 in the SEC combined last year, yet over 200,000 combined attendence for their Spring game. WOW

April 22, 2013 at 10:11 a.m.
MocTastic said...

I was suprised by Britney Griner coming out as a lesbian...I thought she was a guy!

April 22, 2013 at 10:16 a.m.
chas9 said...

They're excited on The Plains. If attendance at their spring scrimmages is an early indicator, the top teams in this year's SEC football season will be Auburn, Tennessee, and Kentucky. But seriously…

With new coaches, last year's SEC gridiron doormats hope for blue skies ahead. Kentucky won only two games, while Tennessee won seven. And Kentucky got blown out worse and more often than the Knoxville crew did.

So even with Bray, Cordarrelle and Hunter gone, one assumes The Vols start the rebuild at a bit higher level. But if we assume modest improvement at both schools, the two could have identical records when they meet on November 30, with the outcome determining which one ends up with a satisfying season.

The 2013 football schedules of UT and UK are very similar. Both teams will lose to top ten teams Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia; both will likely lose to top 25 powerhouse Vandy. The Vols will lose to Oregon and The Cats will lose to Louisville, both top ten teams.

UT gets Mizzou on the road and UK gets them at home. UT's Auburn and UK's Mississippi State are roughly equal. Both Tennessee and Kentucky should beat the three patsies on their schedules.

Two games into the season both will have played Bobby P's Hilltoppers, so we'll have a measuring stick to predict how the season-ending game will come out.

Thanksgiving weekend The Vols travel to Commonwealth Stadium to tackle the Air Raid Wildcats. In their last three games there, UT has lost, won in overtime, and won in quadruple overtime.

Want to put any entertainment on it?

Of all that may be said of Griner, I've not heard this commented on: She has an interesting voice for a girl. No disrespect meant, but I wonder what her testosterone levels are.

Can't miss but disappeared? Tim Couch.

April 22, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.
HardCopy said...

I have little doubt Heyward is going to come around, but I have serious doubts about Uggly and B.J. Upton. B.J. needs to hit his little bro up on how to shorten his swing. He and Uggla could very well hit a combined .220 for the year with, of course, the customary boatload of Ks and overswings, and B.J. doesn't make up for it with walks like Uggla does.

On your question: Knowshon Moreno, Glenn Dorsey. I have an even bigger miss going the other way - and this guy wasn't even drafted - Arian Foster. I'm still can't believe how productive of a player he's been in the NFL given his college career. Didn't see that one coming.

April 22, 2013 at 10:25 a.m.
titanic said...

Tony Mandarich. It definitely would have been a lot more shocking if Griner had "come out" as hetero. Her voice is deeper than the guy on NFL films.

April 22, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Excellent point.

Of the three, we're most impressed with the 51K at Kentucky to tell you the truth.

Tennessee's 61K was second-best all-time, and there's no telling how many of the Auburn crowd was there for the trees as much as the game.

Still, that's an awful lot of folks for three teams that stunk last year.

MocTastic —

We laughed out loud at that. Well played sir. Or madam. Pool. Or pond. Pond would be good for you.

9er —

We still get surprised every time Griner speaks.

And yes, we'll put some entertainment on the Vols-Cats straight up.

Tim Couch is a nice call. Thought he was going to be a longtime pro. Question, though, was his career shortened because of injury.

HardCopy —

If Heyward doesn't get it going he's going to cost himself eight figures with a contract looming.

And the two running backs you mentioned — Moreno and Foster are aces. Foster's category was going to be tomorrow's question.

Great start.

April 22, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.
HardCopy said...

Whoops - sorry to steal your thunder there Jay...

April 22, 2013 at 10:34 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

I thought Joe Forte would have had a better NBA career than he did. He was the second-best athlete on a UNC team that had no business being in the Final Four but made it that far anyway. Their best athlete was Julius Peppers. Ed Cota was way overrated. And somehow, that stiff Brendan Haywood has fashioned a lengthy NBA stay. I guess it's true - you can't coach height.

April 22, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
jgreeson said...

HC —

No sweat.

We can deal in both today, and we'll either re-ask or come up with something different.

Titantic —

Mandarich is an excellent call.

Spy —

Can't coach height or speed. If you got either you got something.

We thought Rodney Monroe was going to be special too. Kid could shoot it. And former Wake star Rodney Rogers, wow. Dude was a load.

April 22, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay,

To answer your questions:

Did not attend any spring games. To the best of my knowledge, I am unaware if either SMU or UNT had any. Saturday was spent doing everything that had been put off weeks before. I did read Frierson's Twitter feeds and apparently Russ sounded impressed going into the summer months.

Speaking of the Mocs, 300 in attendence for the Blue/Gold game? Weeeaaakkkk!!!!!

I did read Weeds column this morning over breakfest. Number 5 is dead-on more than anything. Laura is awesome and can handle the grunt work. Blackburn needs to drum up donors ASAP and get his face out there. Also, he needs to participate in as much public PR as his schedule allows. Literally convinence the masses that "If I can convert, so can you. Get your [posteriers] to Finley on Saturdays!"

Regarding what you referred to as football's nuclear winter, the answer is a resounding Hell No! Here in Texas, we're in the "sweet spot" season. Not too hot, nice cool breezes, and Ranger/Roughrider/AirHog baseball is in full swing (literally, no pun intended). There's more than enough outdoor activites down here to keep everyone busy. If you can't find something to do, it's your fault, not Dallas'. :P

Regarding Brittney Griner, it would have been a bigger newstory if she came out as bi and talked about the "Amazon" muscle videos she likes to make (read that into it for what it is).

April 22, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Oh,forgot to mention, regarding players going into the draft I missed on the most? Johnny Taylor, hands down.

I was surprised as he was one of the first Mocs in a long time to be NBA drafted in the first round only to wind-up Chattanooga's Ryan Leaf minus the substance abuse and maturity issues. I still have my Mocs mini-basketball with his signature along with Gerald Riggs and Big Mac himself.

April 22, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.
orangeguy said...

I thought Ki-Jana Carter was going to be the best ever. Think it was an injury that cut his career short before it ever really began. Think he was a No. 1 overall too.

Also, back before the Vols b-ball program began it's late 90's uptick, I loved watching Ron Mercer. Thought dude was good enough to be one of the best players in the league for years to come. Ended up a journeyman.

Blackburn to UTC is a win on many levels. Have a hunch this wont be his only AD gig. Very important first few weeks here. Weeds' story was spot-on... But I expect nothing less than excellent from Weeds.

Baseball is not a sprint. We all know this. Braves are gonna have many peaks and many valleys. We all know this, too.

Didn't go to Knoxville, but I loved Butch's tweet shortly after the game finished. "@UTCoachJones: Some places can't get 60,000+ to a game or seat 60,000 in their stadium! #BrickbyBrick #VolbyVol We will #RiseToTheTop!

VOLUNTEERSTATE"

Any doubt that was directed at the coach 180 miles to his west?

April 22, 2013 at 11:33 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

Aundray Bruce, I figured he's tear up the NFL

As for the Braves - don't count on Struggla until after the All Star break.

April 22, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.
orangeguy said...

I have no idea why or how "#volunteerstate" ended up in Goliath font on my last post.... Apologies if its annoying to anyone else.

April 22, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.
chas9 said...

In the stars that supposedly can't miss at the next level category are the young athletes who played in the two showcase games this weekend, the Nike Hoop Summit and the Derby festival.

The stars we'll be talking about next year, first round NBA the following year, were in the Nike event, including UK's most elite freshmen-to-be.

The second-tier future freshmen were in the Derby game. The good news for UT is that their five-star recruit Hubbs hit three of three threes and outscored UK's seventh and eighth best recruits, who were also in that game. The bad news for The Vols is that next year The Cats bring in six players rated better than Hubbs.

The top performer in the game was France's big Mouhammadou Jaiteh, who will likely jump from the French D-league straight to the NBA. But if Tennessee signs him, we could hear this alliterative, tounge-twisting radio call from Bert next year: "Mouhammadou to Makanjuola--Money!"

April 22, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Really thought Dez White was going to be something in the NFL. Thought Brady Quinn might have turned out better than he has. Same for Colt McCoy.

Also thought Roy Rogers from Alabama hoops was going to be a good NBA pro. Same for "Hollywood" Robinson. And especially for ex-Techie James Forrest, though that foot/ankle injury really hampered him. I think he's had a good career overseas. He's big in Belgium.

And 5, that last line was a test for you. Let's see if you can spot the movie that's from.

April 22, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, who can forget Jamacus Russell? Doubt I ever will.

Though not a number 1, Charlie Garner was much missed Vol, who had a fine NFL Career.

Congrats on finishing your book. Would you mind sharing a bit about it?

April 22, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.
TNBuck said...

The Boz

April 22, 2013 at 1:21 p.m.
chas9 said...

Evidently the AU grade fixing scandal is over. The report absolves all concerned. They concluded the course work at Auburn is so easy there'd be no need to cheat.

April 22, 2013 at 1:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

JMC —

We thought that was a little low too.

And Johnny Taylor is a good call, and leads us to Robert Tractor Traylor from Michigan.

Orange —

One of the things that impresses us most about Butch is that everything is done with a purpose. Yes, you could say something similar about Kiffin, but acting the fool with a purpose is still acting the fool. And we were on the Lane Train.

9er —

No way Bert gets through: "Mouhammadou to Makanjuola--Money!" How about — "Big M to Bigger M... MONEY."

As for the Auburn news, to that we say, "We failt English... UN-possible."

Spy —

Ditto on Brady Quinn.

And dude... Singles, Doubles, Triples, you pick.

FE to the C —

We saved JaMarcus for you sir.

As for the book, we wrote a coffee table-type book on UT football called "Game of My Life."

It's 20 chapters talking to/researching the best games of former Tennessee players. Some of the folks we talked to were Fulmer, Daryl Dickey, Dale Jones, Condredge and more.

It was cool. And painful. And we're glad to be through.

TNBuck —

We're with you. We thought Boz would be money.

Think Bo scarred him mentally. But football's loss was acting's gain.

April 22, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, you were sitting dead red on a 2-2 count, I threw a changeup, but you kept the hands back and rifled a shot into the gap off the wall. Nice.

April 22, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.
MocTastic said...

UTK students and fans should do well in history courses...they are always living in the past....

April 22, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

I can't wait to see Revis line up across from Julio Jones. That matchup will be worth watching the Bucs and Falcons, by itself.

April 22, 2013 at 4:55 p.m.
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