published Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

5-at-10: Heis-Men, NFL Power Poll, Bowl swag, worst sequels

We're here, and we're finalizing the bowl contest. Giddy-up. Last year we had various point values for different games and went from there. Any one have any thing they'd like to add — and remember to pass it along to your buddies... the more the merrier.

From the "Talks too much" studios, it's time for the magic to happen.

Heisman finalists

One unlikely finalist made a huge push to get an invite. Four others survived late hiccups to get a trip to NYC. The final invitee — and the overwhelming favorite — became the front runner because he was was not charged with a felony.

  • photo
    Auburn running back Tre Mason (21) and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn celebrate during their Southeastern Conference NCAA championship game against the Missouri, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Atlanta. Auburn won 59-42.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Talk about an eclectic group.

Auburn's Tre Mason ran for 304 yards in the SEC title game a week after going for 168 against Alabama. Mason was named the SEC offensive player of the year on Monday. Dude has been a monster. In fact, he has been so good that while he will not win the Heisman, Mason has likely positioned himself as the top draft-eligible running back in this class and almost certainly has to declare for the draft. (RBs only have so many hits on their legs, and next year, when likely first-round picks Todd Gurley and T.J. Yeldon are available, Mason would fall down the board just by improved competition.)

The four survivors — quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Jordan Lynch and running back Andre Williams of Boston College — each had surges through the season that made them as likely as a co-favorite or a legitimate darkhorse. In mid-November, Manziel's numbers were better than last year when he won the Heisman, but he struggled the last two weeks.

As for the all-but-assured winner, Jameis Winston has been brilliant on the field for the Florida State offense, but his status was left up in the air until an allegation of rape was investigated. State officials did not press charges, so Winston was allowed to keep playing and will win the Heisman.

Regardless of how many folks are invited to the party.


NFL Power Poll

Neither the Bears nor the Titans are in this week's NFL Power Poll, but the recent developments in Chicago could greatly affect the future of each franchise.

Chicago humbled the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night as Josh McCown accounted for five TDs in a 45-28 win in the freezing cold. (Side question: When did the NFL relocate to the frozen, ice planet of Hoth from Star Wars? Sweet buckets of hypothermia, every time you looked up this weekend NFL teams are playing in snow or there is so much steam coming from the huddle you think they are surrounding a camp fire.)

Anyhoo, yes, Josh McCown accounted for five TDs. Yes, the Dallas defense will not get confused with the '85 Bears — heck the Dallas defense is not as tough as the '85 Bears cheerleaders — but McCown's renaissance under Mark Trestman has been eye-popping. Consider this: McCown, the 11-year vet, has thrown 1,261 yards with nine TDs and one interception in four starts since Jay Cutler went down. Considering that the Bears have a nice collection of pieces on offense and need to spend some money on defense, that means finding good value at quarterback would allow the Bears to be good quickly.

McCown is that value. Cutler is a top-10 or -12 QB in this league. He has legit arm talent, but entering free agency, he's going to look for Ryan or even Flacco money. The Titans have to find a quarterback that can make plays. The Tennessee offense is good up front, has young playmakers at wide receiver and even if they let Chris Johnson walk, Shonn Green is a solid running back.

Cutler, who played his college football at Vandy, could be the solution for each team, and return to Nashville, which is where a lot of people thought he would land, considering when Cutler entered the NFL he was the third QB drafted at No. 11 overall behind Vince Young (Tennessee at No. 3) and Matt Leinart (Arizona at No. 10).

Here's the Power Poll:

1) Denver

2) Seattle

3) New England

4) New Orleans

5) Kansas City

Bottom five (with current projection of first-round pick)

28) Oakland (No. 5 pick overall)

29) Minnesota (No. 4 pick overall)

30) Atlanta (No. 3 pick overall)

31) Washington (No first-round pick — St. Louis gets it as part of the Robert Griffith III trade)

32) Houston (No. 1 overall pick)


Bowl swag

The bowl bids have been announced and while there are teams — hi Georgia and Nebraska, which are less than thrilled about their Weekend at Bernie's II walk-through 12 months later (Hardly Peaches and Herb-type stuff here) — and fans — hi Oregon fans who though the Ducks surely deserved better than the Alamo Bowl (they did, and don't call us Shirley) — that are less than thrilled with the destination of their teams, the players not involve in the title game are more focused on the swag. The gifts the bowl games can supply the players.

Know that that the NCAA limit is $550 per player from the bowls, an arbitrary number set by some NCAA wizard with his head in a rulebook we're sure. The schools can add another $400 worth of awards for participants and the conferences can add another $400 in swag. (Hey it's the least they can do since the SEC league office cashed a $20-plus-million revenue check last May, right?)

The gift packages go to up 125 members of the team, but schools can and usually buy extras for cheerleaders, staff and program VIPs That number is flexible in that bowl game officials can buy gifts in bulk and pass the savings along to the player. Who knew that bowl games were actually eliminating the middle man — and featured prices so low they actually are giving the stuff away.

Oakley, Sony and Ogio backpacks are two of the companies that are in several different gift offerings, as is Fossil watches and Best Buy gift cards. A new item in this year's swag meter is a high-tech recliner from Southern Motion Viva, which is giving a powered recliner that has two USB ports for mobile devices. The Military Bowl is passing out the recliners — and Sony PlayStation 4s — to participants, although we're unsure how the players will get them back to campus.

We thought the list was interesting and noticed that most of the one included shopping sprees (if you want to see all the swag offered, The SportsBusiness Daily breaks down all the bowls here).


This and that

— Reports have Wake Forest hiring Bowling Green State coach Dave Clawson to replace Jim Grobe. We believe that to be an excellent hire with two quick points: One, remember when Johnny Vols Fans thought Clawson and his Claw-fense was the root of UT's troubles in 2007; Two, when did Bowling Green become a state?

— According to Darren Rovell's Twitter feed — great follow by the way @darrenrovell — here's a great tidbit that surfaced during all the Mike Ditka love tonight as Ditka's number was being retired in Chicago: "Refrigerator Perry still has the largest Super Bowl ring ever made (size 23) -- size of a half dollar. Avg. man wears a size 10."

— Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Monday. We have no beef with any of these — although we think Cox may be the least qualified of the three. Thoughts?

— Vic Grider heads to North Georgia to coach Coahulla Creek. Something tells us that regardless the scheme of the uniforms at CCHS, the biggest color in this transaction was green. CHA-ching.

— UT landed another highly regarded recruit when Charles Mosley pick the Vols over offers from Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.


Today's question(s)

Slew of things to discuss, right?

Here is another point of interest:

In honor of the Georgia-Nebraska sequel, let's review the best and worst sequels. And to start with, we're setting some ground rules. We're going first, and we'll take Caddyshack II and Godfather II off the board. Now, Irwin M. Fletcher, you choose and let's try not to duplicate anyone's previous answers.

Still need another: OK, where does Bobby Cox rank all-time among managers?

Discuss and remember Friday's mailbag?

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.
BIspy4 said...

5, you may want to take all necessary precautions for this.

The Spy could be in Chattanooga for New Year's Eve.

Take us to DefCon 1.

December 10, 2013 at 11:37 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Scramble the bombers and get the president on the horn.

Good times. And work us into the calendar.


December 10, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Was in DC this weekend and was away from my computer all day today. Just wanted to say, I know you're glad I'm right. So was I. I had told too many people how sure I was Michigan State was going to win. I was sweating when Ohio State took the lead.

Michigan State beat every Big Ten team they played by double digits this year. Unbelievable, really, when you stop and think about it.

I thought about the four team playoff this weekend. Personally, I think the committee would switch the rankings of Alabama and the four seed to avoid a rematch in the semifinal, though I may be wrong about that. I think Baylor is the best of the three (Michigan State, Baylor and Stanford). I believe the public sentiment would favor Michigan State after beating Ohio State. But I really think Stanford would have gone. Why? (Other than the obvious Oliver Luck and Condi Rice both having Stanford connections.) Because they were the conference champs from what was popularly considered the second best conference (right or wrong). And they beat Notre Dame, who was the only team to beat Michigan State. So Stanford had the edge I think. Would have been really interesting to see, though.

I was surprised Auburn won as easily as they did. Truthfully, my computer favors Florida State by a mile. In fact, the Seminoles may wind up #1 even if they lose. That's how big their lead is over Auburn. The Tigers jumped from #8 to #2 in the computer rankings by beating Missouri on Saturday.

Top Ten:

1) Florida State 2) Auburn 3) Alabama 4) Baylor 5) Stanford 6) Missouri 7) Michigan State 8) Ohio State 9) Oklahoma State 10) Arizona State

So there you go. There it is. Plain and simple.

Congrats and War Eagle.

December 10, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

With THE Spy in town Tue Dec 31, maybe we should have a "meet+greet" somewhere...say around start our evenings off right...5@5? 10@5?


December 10, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.
jgreeson said...

BiB —

Let us work on that. Maybe in correlation with a Press Row remote....

Interesting idea.

December 10, 2013 at 11:56 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Jay, if you had a Heisman vote, which 3 guys would be on your ballot? Will Pasquali and Weeds say what theirs are too?

Who would you pick as the 4 teams in the playoff this year if it were up to you? In order to best protect the regular season, should only conference champions (except for independents) be selected? At this point, I'm thinking yes.

Clawson took his spider offense to TN in '08, not '07.

December 10, 2013 at 12:03 p.m.
chas9 said...

Given how well Clawson, Cucliffe and Chavis have done since leaving K-town, I'd say Johnnyvolsfan is a poor judge of coaches.

Don't know if Auburn's big year qualifies as a sequel, but the last team to go from a winless SEC season to SEC champs next year was Fran Curci's impressive 1977 squad. I'll bet Art Still wore a big ring, too.

December 10, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

Great catch — we'll change the Clawson year.

And yes Pasquali and Weeds will share their ballots some time this weekend and why they voted as such.

9er —

Yes, Art was a big boy.

December 10, 2013 at 12:28 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, can do. Will do.

What I thought was interesting from yesterday's Hall of Fame announcement was the picture of Torre between Cox and LaRussa. For all of the Braves' failings in the postseason, Cox won a lot of games, won a lot of division flags and a lot of National League pennants. And how many truly great teams did he have at his disposal? There was always one Achilles heel that got exposed in the postseason (ordinarily the lack of power arms, either starting or closing, guys who can get strikeouts, pop ups and weak double plays because the hitters are all pretty good too at that time of year).

I'd say Cox is a top 10 guy, because there's always a Joe McCarthy, Sparky Anderson and Walter Alston who gets overlooked, but maybe at 9 or 10.

So where is Coahulla Creek? And I'll go with Short Circuit 2 as a bad sequel.

Longer range, just what do the Falcons do with the No. 3 pick? The needs - O line, D line, secondary, maybe even RB - are many.

December 10, 2013 at 3:02 p.m.
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