published Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

5-at-10: College hoops, coaching carousel, top 10 lists

Hope this finds you well, and we think everyone knows what day it is — Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. Hey, remember the mailbag.

We're going to cover some other, non-college football topics this morning. Enjoy.

From the "Talks too much" studios, when you believe in the impossible, the unbelievable becomes commonplace.

Hoops bouncing this way

OK, we messed around and watched Duke and Michigan face off, our first serious college basketball exchange since the UK-Michigan State song and dance last month. Duke was efficient and balanced and the game was crisp and fluid. Duke won 79-69 as the teams combined for less than 20 turnovers and made 31-of-37 free throws. Each of these teams will survive the first weekend of the tournament. (Side note: Quinn Cook can play. The Duke transfer guard had 24 points on 11 shots and nine assists while making 10-of-10 from the foul line. It was an old-school, elite point guard box score.)

Good times.

And we believe that the new, tighter defensive rules will, in the short-term, truly help the elite teams in the country because they have superior depth, especially come tournament time. We also believe that eventually, the tighter defensive rules will make for a better brand of basketball.

Let's do a college hoops top 5 in 10 words or less — yes, the 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10, patent pending:

1) Duke can still guard: Devils held offensive-minded Michigan to 44 percent shooting.

2) Arizona is legit: Sleep on the guard-rich Wildcats at your own peril.

3) Syracuse gets even better with tighter rules: Match-up zone will be even a bigger edge with changes.

4) We believe in Will Wade, who stops by Press Row at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays: Like his focus and his knowledge of the game.

5) More on tap tonight: UNC at No. 1 Michigan State; Ohio State, Louisville have games.


  • photo
    Brian McCann looks on during a baseball game against the New York Mets in Atlanta in this July 15, 2012, file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Yankees swing mighty pen

On the day the New York Yankees finalized their deal with former Braves catcher Brian McCann, the club agreed to a seven-year, $153 million deal with Jacoby Ellsbury, the multi-tool former Red Sox center fielder.

Here's what the massive day of moola tells us:

• The Yankees can't stand being home in October.

• The Yankees full expect A-Rod — and his $25 million annual salary — to be suspended for the season.

• The first time Ellsbury and the Yankees return to Boston will be must-see TV.

• The Yankees have apparently moved on from Robinson Cano, the superstar second baseman who is looking for a $200-plus contract.

We do know this, baseball is better and more intriguing when the Yankees are good. Even Spy will admit that, and Spy hates the Yankees on a level of 1980s Russia and 1990s boy bands.

The Yankees' addition of the Ellsbury Dough Boy was just the highlight of a crazy day in baseball in which there were a slew of moves and signings and trades.

There were three major catcher acquisitions alone, as McCann's deal became official and the Marlins signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Boston, which replaced him with A.J. Pierzynski, which could only be topped in strange name replacements if a Russian exchange coach replaces Coach K at Duke.

Heck, the day was so busy the Marlins and the Astros added players Yes, those Marlins and those Astros, two teams with a combined payroll roughly equal to the Minnesota Twins.


Coaching extensions

Among the big coaching moves and news, USC hiring Steve Sarkisian is the biggest of this offseason.

Jim Grobe leaving Wake Forest may be the most challenging hole to fill.

And while the Texas job currently belongs to Mack Brown, the outcome of Saturday's game against Baylor could launch significant waves into the rest of the month for the entire Longhorns program. If Texas topples Baylor, it's hard to see Brown getting the axe after a 9-3 conclusion to a season that started 1-2.

If Baylor romps Brown, well, anything is possible. So that question mark looms large and the only major head coaching job open currently is Sarkisian's former gig at Washington.

What already has been answered is that two other big-boy jobs — Nebraska and Florida — appear to be sticking by embattled coaches for at least one more year.

With potential openings in the next 12 months at Florida, Texas and Nebraska — three top-15 national jobs — several schools happy with their current head coach have offered up lucrative extensions.

UCLA signed Jim Mora to a six-year extension, as did Texas A&M with Kevin Sumlin. Baylor gave Art Briles a 10-year extension.

This all swirls around the miracle-worker himself, Gus Malzahn, who was the subject of an SI column saying Malzahn should leave Auburn as soon as possible and quoting sources that Malzahn's dream job is to coach at Texas.

This column hit the interwebs about 90 minutes before news broke from Auburn that the school is looking at an extension and raise for Malzahn and his staff.


This and that

— Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has announced he plans to return to Oregon next year. Interesting decision on a couple of fronts. First, Mariota, who earlier this year was the Heisman front-runner and a potential No. 1 overall pick, is a running quarterback, so who knows how many hits he has in his tank. Second, the expected wave of talented quarterbacks in this draft class — there could be as many five (Bridgewater, Bortles, Hundley, Carr, Manziel, McCarron and maybe more) in the first round and a few more in the second — Mariota figures to rank more consistently higher next year. Of course if Jameis WInston comes out next year, there's no way Mariota will be No. 1. Todd McShay, ESPN's No. 2 draft guru, says it's a good idea for Mariota to stay, and we tend to agree. We love the draft. You know this.

— Speaking of QBs, LSU's Zach Mettenberger has a torn ACL, meaning neither he nor Georgia's Aaron Murray, who also torn his ACL, will get to go through the pre-draft stuff.

— As we look at the prospective games for this week's Fab 4-plus-1 picks, not only have Missouri and Auburn surprised their fans this year, each team has extremely rewarded entertainment wagers who had confidence in those Tigers. Missouri is a national best 11-1 against the spread and has won by more than the Vegas line in each of its wins; Auburn went 10-2 against the number and has covered nine consecutive weeks.

— Jason Dufner, the pro golfer and devoted Auburn fan, only half-jokingly asked tournament organizer Tiger Woods if this weekend's event could be juggled and the players play 36 holes on Thursday and Friday so Dufner could watch the SEC title game. Woods politely declined, so Dufner tweeted that he may have to look into getting a bag like the one Rodney Dangerfield used in Caddyshack. Let's Dance.

  • photo
    Alabama's head coach Nick Saban walks the sideline.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Final Auburn stat: Did you know that Nick Saban is now 6-6 all-time against Auburn and 0-6 against Auburn teams with at least nine wins.

— As the year ends, we will be flooded by top-10 lists. (Side note: We love top-10 lists.) Here are three that caught our eye:

2013 Top 10 Searches on Yahoo

1) Miley Cyrus

2) Kim Kardashian

3) Kate Upton

4) Minecraft

5) Selena Gomez

6) Obamacare (Affordable Care Act)

7) Amanda Bynes

8) Jodi Arias

9) iPhone 5

10) Justin Bieber

Top 10 girls' names of 2013

1) Sophia

2) Emma

3) Olivia

4) Isabella

5) Mia

6) Ava

7) Lily

8) Zoe

9) Emily

10) Chloe

Top 10 boys' names of 2013

1) Jackson

2) Aiden

3) Liam

4) Lucas

5) Noah

6) Mason

7) Jayden

8) Ethan

9) Jacob

10) Jack

Want to know a boy's name that is vanishing? Dick. Just an observation.

— OK, we're as excited as anyone about the new Ron Burgandy movie, but with all the extra work Ron Burgandy has done lately — and he's scheduled to host SportsCenter tonight — has he had enough time to finish his movie? And who's taking care of Baxter for crying out loud? Apparently Burgandy is like Sex Panther, and 60 percent of the time, he's working 100 percent of the time.

— Sorry for the late notification and thanks to everyone for playing. Tiger Jim won the last-minute Iron Bowl contest with a 30-24 Auburn pick. Well done sir, and send us your contact info and we'll get you some swag. Also, the next contest on the horizon is our annual Bowling for bowls of bowl games Bowl Spectacular, and we may even incorporate it with the Press Row radio show as well. Keep an eye peeled.


Today's questions

Gang, remember the mailbag.

If you need some talking points, let's start here:

• How fast will the coaching carousel spin? Granted, Texas has it's cowboy-booted foot on the gas pedal and could make it go tilt-a-whirl, but that's still up in the air.

• Will Gus Malzahn be at Auburn next year? The SI column made an interesting and accurate point that each of the previous three Auburn coaches had unbeaten seasons and later got run out of town within five years.

• Could a program like Wake Forest come calling for UTC's Russ Huesman?

• For you Johnny Vols Fans out there, how big is today, with the decision from five-star in-state recruit Josh Malone hanging in the balance?


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.
MocTastic said...

Gus will be at AU next season unless and only if Texas was to come calling.

Wake Forest will not dip down to the I-AA ranks for a coach, they will stay with a I-A head coach or assistant. In general you don't see alot of coaches jumping that line, from I-AA to I-A. Seems like you get branded as not good enough for I-A. But of course there are exceptions.

With respect to your names list...sadly we will probably see a bunch of young baby boys in about nine months being named Gus in Alabama. Hopefully they will leave it to the boys and not the baby girls. We do not need females named Gus in Alabama.

But the name Gus does have a history in football, everybody remember the mule named Gus who kicked field goals?

December 4, 2013 at 10:10 a.m.
Astropig said...

Jay- Two observations.

1) AU should make a move now. In the present.Malzahn has performed a miracle at Auburn.Last year's Tiger squad was a dumpster fire.The turnaround is amazing and,(I believe)real. Gene Chizik caught lightning in a bottle and (to his credit) rode it as far as he could go,given his limitations as a coach. Malzahn has been a winner and has proven that he can sustain success. I would not let any "feelers" from Texas or anybody else get to CGM and possibly let him take a walk. Just my opinion.

2) A shout out to one of CFB's genuine good guys-David Cutcliffe.He skippered the best campaign that the Dukies still alive have ever seen. He's my national COY (the plaque is being sent FedEx).I'm no Duke fan,but I couldn't be happier for the guy.

December 4, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Astropig, great name by the way. Living down here in Alabama I happened to catch a radio show after the Auburn season with Cam Newton when it was announced that Gus was leaving the program. This analyst, can't remember who it was, was adamant that Auburn should have let Chizik go after his title winning season and hired Gus. He said that Gus was the real architect of the team and they would rue the day Gus left. Seems like he was right. Wish I remember who he was, the analyst.

December 4, 2013 at 10:16 a.m.
chas9 said...

If Ellsbury's a legit dough boy, he joins Sir Charles, Jared "Hefty Lefty" Lorenzen, and Pillsbury on the Rushmore.

Believe it or not, I saw this Onion-worthy headline yesterday. "Auburn AD: Raise coming for Malzahn after season." Talk about dog biting man. And what does Gus owe SI for helping his negotiations.

"I caught as much of Press Row as I could yesterday, and it didn't cost nuttin'. You all sound alike, so I'm not sure who it was, but one of you geniuses (genii?) said, if I heard it right, that if the Clemson offensive coordinator went to Flor-Ida, he should demand a contract that assures he would get to stay on even if Muschamp is sacked. Is that kind of contract ever done? Don't make sense to me.

And what about Delta bumping a bunch of regular ticketed passengers from a flight at the end of the Thanksgiving holidays so they could get the Gator roundballers to the UConn game on time? One family missed a funeral. If you were one of the bumped, what compensation would it take to soothe your soul?

Duke has slid to #10, but did you know they've been in the top ten every week since 2007? And 106 straight non-conference wins. Yes, Cook did good. He had 9 assists and 4 rebounds to go with his 24 points. And you aryl see a game these days where both teams shot 80+% from the charity stripe. Dook's offense is strong.

Legit 'zona also has a legit big man.

"Where's Auburn?" was also a top web search question. And the vanishing Dick observation reminds me of a certain Seinfield episode. Stay classy, Jay.

BiB--Whatever happened to Randolph Scott? Regarding your Sammy mention, the fine Terminal Brewpub has an entree called the Salmon Hagar.

December 4, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Chas9, it wasn't "on time" for the UFL team, it was a day ahead of time. They were flying on Sunday, game was on Monday night. WOuld they have done the same for the FAMU team? I suspect not.

December 4, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...


Not sure, but 'whatever' has happened to the industry and has happened to the best of me.

Ironically, Uncle Randy [no relation] died on Billy Sr's last birthday. We are not related to the Statlers either.


December 4, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.
chas9 said...

MT--Bama could use that mule.

AP--I like Cutcliffe, too, but he's got to be a strong second to Lucky Gus. Period.

December 4, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Will Wade has proven one thing: you cannot do what Shaka Smart does with John Shulman's players. Here is hoping we see real #Chaos come March.


December 4, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.
Stewwie said...

UTC to Wake Forest as a head coach would be too much of a jump for Russ at this point. I don't think he's fully "made it" as a head coach yet at this level. That said, I could see him making a jump to an ACC team like Wake as a DC though. He's certainly proven himself on that side of the ball.

Gus will be at AU next year.

December 4, 2013 at 11:37 a.m.
Stewwie said...


Either way, there is no reason why the Mocs should be worse this year than last year. I think that by conference play, Wade will know what works and what won't. If you want to win, you'll tailor your system to play to your strengths.

December 4, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.
GratefulDawg said...

These sources that Pete Thamel quoted as having the Gus Bus fired up and bound for Austin, were any of them dating Manti Te'o? Thamel is the same guy that wrote the fluff piece about the passing of Manti's imaginary girlfriend and allegedly offered a bribe to a Louisiana club owner to offer up scandalous information about Tyrann Mathieu. It may sound like I am shooting the messenger, but Pete Thamel is to sports journalism what Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is to prudent moderation. My sources, I know a guy that knows a guy, say that Todd Grantham is leaving Athens to play the role of Sheriff Buford T. Justice in an off-Broadway stage production of "Smokey and the Bandit."

For the time being, Mack Brown is still the top steer in Austin. Sweet Eileen is in Abilene. Dimples still lives in Temple. And Gus Malzahn hangs his visor in Auburn. Speaking of...If Auburn loses in the SECCG, does that kid who stole Malzhan's "lucky visor" in the field rush that took place after the Iron Bowl become the South Alabama equivalent of Steve Bartman?

Allison in Galveston, what have you heard about the coaching situation at Texas?

December 4, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

I would think that being able to coach your son in a college setting would help keep Russ here for the next few years but that is a personal opinion based on my family and everything else I see in the media about their on and off field relationship.

I don't want to project my feelings about family and sports on to the Hussmans but how many of us would have eagerly embraced the chance to coach our sons at the collegiate level? Jacob could always transfer and sit out a year if his dad took a job at the next level but I just don't see that happening.

December 4, 2013 at 12:21 p.m.
jgreeson said...

GD —


And Grantham as Buford T. would be priceless. Would he look Georgia secondary Scott Lakatos in the face and say, "When I get home I'm gonna punch your momma in the mouth."

And any George Strait reference is good by us.

Stewwie —

Agree that the Mocs should be much improved come tournament time.

Also agree with what Wade said on Press Row yesterday that they could easily have two more wins — which would help ease all of our concerns — and be no better as a basketball team.

We concur for the most part that Russ would be a home-run DC hire and may not be ready for a Wake Forest type jump. We do think in another year — especially if it ends with a multi-game playoff run — Russ could be a hot commodity for a FBS head coaching job.

Nice run on the Statler Bros. boys. We'll go to our grave loving them, loving them. Counting Flowers on the Wall... We're fans.

9er —

Bama could use that mule. Well-played indeed.

And we'd have to add post-Tyson Buster Douglas DoughBoy Rushmore. Egad son, mix in a salad.

Astropig —

No doubt AU should sign Gus longterm. Consider this:

He worked a miracle in the locker room flipping the attitude.

He crafted Nick Marshall into next year's preseason all-SEC first team QB.

The offense will be markedly better next year. The only loss on offense is Jay Prosch. Seriously.

And as great as Cutlciffe has been, Gus deserves it. We would have voted for Cutcliffe before Alabama.

MT —

If we see a bunch of Gus kids, well, maybe they'll go by Gustav in today's higher importance world.

December 4, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

I'm going to write you a similar warning that I said about Chizik in his championship year, but this one is different, too.

With Chizik, I said that I wasn't sure he was a good coach, but had a transcendent player that made up for the remaining faults of the team. They won some close games, and could have been beaten multiple times. I was not sure how Chizik would perform without Cam. After all, he had done nothing but lose at Iowa State, and had not been great in his first year at Auburn.

With Malzahn, I'm going to say that I think he is a good coach, but he was awfully lucky this year to come up with wins. They won three games in the final thirty seconds- so far. Next year, what happens? Normally this stuff balances out. They could go 8-4 next year easily and be really just the same kind of team. I DO think that Malzahn will win at Auburn pretty well, but I'm not sure that they are really an 11-1 team right now, but rather a flawed team with a lot of heart that is catching all the breaks.

Kind of like Will Wade said- if the Mocs beat Kennesaw State and Nevada, which they easily could have done, they would be 5-4 and there would be a more positive vibe about the start than 3-6. But would they be a different team? Not really. They would still have all the same problems.

December 4, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

JP —

Great point.

Stuck —

Certainly can see that, but here's the caveat:

If Gus had lifted this bunch to 8-4, Auburn fans would have been just as giddy.

And next year, the offense is going to be better.

Here's the reason I think Malzahn is the real deal: He changed the culture of the team before he ever called a play. He cleaned house — including former friends and guys everyone thought were safe — because he knew the core was rotten.

And while AU was lucky to win against Georgia in the end, they did build a 37-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Bama win was a freak play but hardly lucky — AU ran for 300 yards against the Tide.

As for extending him, you have to because of a) the market and b) who out there would your rather have.

December 4, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, They're already taking bets in Boston on when Ellsbury's first DL stint will be and how long it will last. Dude is a heckuva player when he's healthy, and 2013 is one of the rare years he's played most of the season.

But ... he is no stranger to the DL. Neither is McCann, whose post all-star break batting averages the last three years are pretty bad. The Yanks need starting pitching and a closer. Here's hoping they still haven't found either by this time next year.

I see Wake getting a top assistant from somewhere. Why not Chad Morris from Clemson? If Texas wins its bowl game, does that secure Mack another season and then does he opt to bow out next year, on his terms and not someone else's?

And I guess with Mariota staying, we're already hyping the 2014 Heisman race - and this year's Heisman hasn't even been handed out yet.

December 4, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
chas9 said...

GD--Is that ALL your exes?

December 4, 2013 at 2:13 p.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--If you told some of our younger viewers you're smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo, would they know about the TV show? Captain K was cool, but Greenjeans was kinda creepy.

December 4, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Jay, If Grantham did take a swing at the mother of Scott Lakatos he would probably miss and hit Kirk Olivadotti in the ear. It's just the way things go on the defensive side of the ball at Georgia. At this point, I would be more than happy to give Todd a diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper and send him on his way.

9er, all my exes live in Sandy Springs. And in keeping with the George Strait theme, I'd say she's about as gone as a girl can get.

December 4, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, I tuned into Press Row this afternoon, just a few minutes ago. But after listening to that last caller, I'm going to listen to my iPod instead.

December 4, 2013 at 4:20 p.m.
Maximus said...

Moctastic 1-AA has been the minor league training ground for 1-A coaches for years. How is Wake Forest set at QB? Remember, Huesman is a "package deal" his son Jacob could play very well at the D-1 level. Wake might be a good fit for both so UTC needs to get him locked down for at least the next three years, that's how many years of eligibility 14 has left. Huesman is the heart and soul of the UTC program right now and his stock is rising rapidly.

December 4, 2013 at 10:20 p.m.
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