published Monday, January 28th, 2013

5-at-10: Recruiting, Pro Bowl reunion college hoops rewind and Maravich Rushmore

Gang, hope you enjoyed the penultimate weekend of the football season. Sigh.

Let's get to it and let's be there for each other. Tear... football is almost done. Alas.

From the "Talks too much (and in sad tones because football is almost done)" studios, let's do this.

  • photo
    Ridgeland High School's Vonn Bell has the ball.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

Recruiting news

Want to know a sure sign we're getting close to February? One, the Pro Bowl gets way more attention than it deserves. (Hey, the over — the total was 79 —hit for the third straight year, and yes, the fact that we know that may mean we are way to attune to the interests of those looking to wager a little entertainment here and there.) Two, you have a lot of folks clicking and re-clicking on the Rivals.com or the 247sports.com sites for recruiting news.

As for the local name that controlled the weekend, Vonn Bell told our Downtown Patrick Brown that he enjoyed his trip to Knoxville http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/jan/28/vonn-bell-enjoys-his-visit-ut/, which included a tightly contested basketball game that featured the football-savvy Vols student section starting the "We want Vonn," chants. Well-played indeed.

Here's our two free pieces of advice to watch for in recruiting ebbs and flows:

1) Best way to tell if a guy can play has nothing to do with the stars next to his name. Vonn Bell is picking between Tennessee, Alabama and Ohio State — his childhood favorite, the wrecking ball of college football and the only BCS school to go undefeated last year. Those are big-boy choices. If Lil' Joey Quarterback picks your SEC school over offers from Central Michigan and Florida International, then you know your school is getting a little desperate. (For UTC, similar rule applies, just re-gauge the opposing schools. And this is something that Russ Huesman has had huge success with — going to get players that have mid- to solid-FBS level interest.)

2) The teams that are getting a slew of late commitments are simply starting to fill slots and are not expecting good news on signing day. Think of it as the musical chairs approach — at some point you have to get a seat, not the best seat, and the music stops in 10 days. This does not apply to teams that have coaching staffs who have loads of work to make up.

Here's an idea, we'll have a guest sit in on Friday's mailbag and discuss recruiting. We'll do five recruiting questions and five normal questions. Thoughts? If you like this idea, send along your recruiting question.

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    Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) of the AFC attempts to chase down Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) of the NFC in the third quarter of the NFL Pro Bowl football game in Honolulu, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Super Pro Bowl shuffle

OK, we all can admit the Pro Bowl is a joke. But, it's a little more tolerable now that it has embraced the novelty of the circus that it has become.

Case in point No. 1: Defensive lineman J.J. Watt flanked wide covered by defensive lineman Jason Pierre Paul (JPP got the pick; side question — How has Naughty by Nature not approached him about a "You down with J.P.P." video yet?).

Case in point No. 2: NFC center Jeff Saturday flipping sides and snapping the ball to AFC quarterback Peyton Manning one more time. The duo had worked hand-and-hand (or would that be hand-to-hiney?) for 13 years in Indy and got one more exchange. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Seriously, it was about as cool a moment as we can remember in Pro Bowl history, which means it's the only moment we can remember in Pro Bowl history. Well, that and the time someone actually tackled someone in 1995. That was fun too.

What this means in theory and in real terms though is we are down to the Super Bowl and then the long winter of signing day, draft prep and spring roster analysis.

The Pro Bowl is the ugly woman still sitting at the bar at 2:45 a.m., knowing that someone is going to be swing by, even if its just for a minute, because the options are running out.

Now we have the Super Bowl, and we've been keeping a close eye on the great pop bets available. There were even more crazy prop bets released this morning, courtesy of friend of the show R.J. Bell and the good folks at Pregame.com. Enjoy:

Length of postgame handshake/hug between Harbaugh brothers: o/u 7.5 seconds

Times Jack Harbaugh shown during game: o/u 2.5 times

Times “Harbaugh” will be said during game: o/u 21.5 times

How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing National Anthem: o/u 2 minutes and 15 seconds

Will Alicia Keys be booed? If yes, $100 wins $500

32% chance Alicia Keys will mess up the lyrics ($100 wins $170)

43% chance Jay Z will join Beyonce on stage during halftime show ($100 wins $110)

43% chance Beyonce’s hair will be straight, not curly ($100 wins $110)

64% chance President Obama will pick Ravens to win game.

$100 pays $500 if any player on either team is arrested before the game.

How many times will Ray Lewis mention “God/Lord” in post-game interview: o/u 3 times

Color of Gatorade dumped on winning coach ($100 wins . . . )

Clear: +$200

Orange: +$250

Yellow: +$250

Blue: +$700

Green: +$700

Red: +$700

Game Props:

Total yards for both teams combined: o/u 745.5 yards

Kobe Bryant points favored by 4 over 49ers points

Super Bowl’s total points favored by 5.5 over LeBron James points + rebounds + assists

Colin Kaepernick’s rushing yards: Even money versus Steve Young’s 49 rushing yards (Super Bowl XXIX)

We simply are going to have to do a contest on this right?

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College hoops potpourri

Monster weekend of college hoops. Here are five things we know:

  • photo
    The Mocs' Dontay Hampton, No. 2, plays with a heavily bandaged hand. With a new knee injury his college career is over.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Amid the rocky times and hurt feelings that have hallmarked UTC basketball for the last 18 months, it's tough to feel anything but sympathy for senior guard Dontay Hampton. Hampton, the former walk-on from Arts & Sciences here in town, was supposed to be a key piece as a senior and enjoy the fruits of his labor. His senior season has included one shining moment — the comeback win over App State in which Hampton scored 22 — and three significant injuries. It appears to close the book on his time with the Mocs for a solid player who deserved a better end because he is a great kid.

— Great win for UT on Saturday against an Alabama team that tested the last-second shot theory. (The Tide proved that the "shot" is the most important part of the last-second shot, and without the shot, you just have nothing.)

— Miami and N.C. State appear set to challenge the ACC's blue bloods. This is a good thing. And are we prepared for a Selection Sunday with UNC and Kentucky potentially on the bubble? Wow, somewhere Joe Lunardi's head just popped off.

— We have the list of all the Final Four entries. There are 34 in all, and there's understandably a lot of chalk. We meant to post them Friday; we'll do it sometime today. Maybe.

— Here's our Final Four contest entry: Michigan, Indiana, Syracuse, Florida. Yes, there's a lot of chalk, huh.

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Monster Monday This and that

— A Braves contingent will be in Dalton today for the annual caravan. Among the players there will be Craig Kimbrel, who we believe to be the best closer in baseball. Frank Wren will be there too, and after his busy offseason of signing, wheeling and dealing, dude deserves a nice hand.

— Is it possible to care less about a sporting event than caring about the Winter X Games? Maybe, considering the Summer X Games don't even have snow. On the reverse Mount Rushmore of worthless sports, Winter X Games and Summer X Games are no-brainers, right? From there we'll go NASCAR events at tracks that include right-hand turns and any tennis event that is ranked Captain or a below (If it's not a major, we're not interested).

— Our columnist Mark Wiedmer nailed the Derek Dooley-to-Dallas report here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/jan/28/Wiedmer-dooley-perfect-fit-for-dallas/. And while Dooley may or may not be inclined to draft former Vols star Da"Rick Rogers, well, here's saying we'd rather than Rogers. And our cousin went to UT and is a monster Cowboys and Yankees fan. The only thing worse today would be news that Mike Hamilton has been named the GM of the Yankees. We need to call him and talk him off the ledge. Here's saying our cousin will forever say "Dooley" the way Seinfeld sayd "Newman."

— And as Weeds alluded to, Dooley has reportedly landed in the newest spot for Jon Gruden-mania. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

— O.J. Simpson has been hit with another $17K-plus tax lien by the IRS. This brings the total to more than $515,000 he owes in back taxes to the state of California and the IRS. Now if this was during the high times of the Juice's popularity, we'd get that. But these are from the years 2007-2011, a good chunk of that time O.J. spent in the joint yet still managed to ring up half a mil in tax debts. How? Second question, yes, it's very Bevis and Butthead, but doesn't the word arrears make you snicker just a touch? He said Uranus.

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Today's question

It's a free-for-all Monday so feel free, for all.

If you need a talking point, here you go.

We started reconnecting with the NBA this weekend, and enjoyed two quality basketball games Sunday.

The Celtics beat the Heat in double overtime. (Instant analysis: LeBron is a beast; When Dwyane Wade start whining like that; The C's are in big, Big, BIG trouble without Rajon Rondo, who tore his ACL last week.)

The Lakers topped the Thunder in L.A. in a game that had a playoff feel. (Instant analysis: Kobe and the Lakers have struggled but they are not dead yet; Kobe has more assists that shots in the last two games — read that again and know that the last two games have been the Lakers' best this season; Russell Westbrook is one of the 10 best players in the NBA and unless he accepts being the very best second banana in the NBA, the Thunder will not win it all.)

The biggest thing we noticed about the Thunder is Kevin Durant is so awesome, he's officially in the Pete Maravich Zone of being on the short list of professional athletes we'd pay to see play just so we can say "We saw him play;" Just some eye-popping stats for you... Durant is in the rarified shooting stratosphere of 50-40-90, meaning he's hitting better than 50 percent of his FG attempts, better than 40 percent of his 3s and better than 90 percent of his free throws — that's old-school, Larry Bird-type of efficiency right there.

Who is your Pete Maravich Rushmore of professional athletes you'd pay to see just so you could say you did?

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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WilliamRscott said...

Great win by the 1st-place Lady Mocs Saturday night. I wanted to complain about the game story not being on page D1 Sunday [instead of a 74-35 high school game], but I cannot. 2 reasons: the Lady Mocs were featured on page D1 Saturday and today; and, the Mat Mocs deservedly took the headline today. As for UTC Men's basketball, you have their news appropriately where the program is right now...buried. Thanks to the TFP sports editor and his staff for their coverage of OUR hometown college teams.

  • Billy in Brainerd
January 28, 2013 at 10:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

BillytheKid —

Thanks for the kind words. As for the Sports Editor of the TFP — one, he's amazingly fortunate to have a slew of talented and hard-working folks in the sports department, and two, even the blindest of squirrels find an occasional acorn.

So it goes, and yes, it was a big win for the Lady Mocs on Saturday.

— 5-at-10

January 28, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

and Maravich was a rock-star...along with Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson, and Jimmy Connors...

January 28, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Danny Ainge is about to blowed up this Celtics roster faster than USS Maine in Havana harbor.

Since I have to go to some meetings in Atlanta in a few minutes, I had the Pro Bowel on the little TV in my office. It was on, but I paid scant attention to its ongoings, save for Mr. Saturday playing on Sunday and blocking same colored jerseys as he snapped to Peyton one last time.

I got this one from a friend of mine last night: You know who I feel bad for this week? Cooper Harbaugh, the forgotten Harbaugh brother.

January 28, 2013 at 10:50 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Gang-

I'm here at the 5 at 10 office across from Valley Ranch over on McArthur Blvd (two day floater holiday).

I was surprised when the news first broke out about Dooley's move to JohnRoss country. However, this barely made a blip down here. There was a brief write-up on D6 of yestrerday's DMN. Picked up today's paper: nothing. Headline was focused on last night's Mav/Suns win. No surprise given how much the SEC (outside of Aggie fans) is loathed down here. If Galloway (here) and Dr. B (there) were to meet and debate on the SEC, the Apocalypse would be upon us.

I just find the whole thing both interesting and too coincidental. We got Ape Simpson Kiffen running defense and his son's replacement one tier down in the coaching staff.

Interesting times in the 214 indeed.

Speaking of JohnRoss, 8PM...TNT. I'm just say'n.

January 28, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Lady Mocs- I need to make a formal apology and will do so again this Thursday on Wes Moore's radio show. I was the one who costed the Lady Mocs their lead.

I was cleaning the apartment while wearing my Tennessee orange T-shirt and tuned into the start of the 2nd half. I was watching/listening on and off while doing the usual dusting/ironing/linen changing. All of a sudden, that lead was gone and the Lady Mocs was either overthrowing or underthrowing or the ref was Boone Bias. It wasn't until five minutes left that it dawned on me I was jinxing them from a distance. So I quickly switched into one of my UTC T-shirts just in time for the balance to in sync with them.

I take full responsibility for my actions and I assure you it will not happen again.

January 28, 2013 at 11:08 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

"For UTC, similar rule applies, just re-gauge the opposing schools. And this is something that Russ Huesman has had huge success with — going to get players that have mid- to solid-FBS level interest."

If that's the case, then why did we sign Davis Howell? Based of Frierson's 411, he was barely a bleep on anyone's radar and only generated interest in D-II land. Maybe I'm missing something and just need to be proved wrong.

January 28, 2013 at 11:19 a.m.
chas9 said...

Do I understand that The Cowboys hired Dooley but passed on Gruden?

January 28, 2013 at 11:24 a.m.
chas9 said...

A W is a W and an L is an L. Except when they're not.

Both Tennessee and Kentucky eked out close, hard-fought home wins Saturday, but the Vols feel a whole lot happier about theirs than do the Cats.

Though The Orangeclad warriors benefitted from two close calls in the final seconds, credit Coach Martin for knowing what play to defend at the end and credit the team for executing.

UT stopped a surging, talented 4-2 Bama team at a time when they were looking for any win to inspire a turnaround in Knoxville. UK struggled to beat 1-5 LSU at a time they were looking for evidence the Big Blue is starting to roar.

Counzo's team has earned its 2-4 SEC record against tougher opponents than Cal's 4-2 squad's SEC foes. UK has a tougher week ahead than does UT, with the marquee game Tuesday's tangle in Oxford, Mississippi. The Rebel Bears are better than The Cats, and UK needs a quality W, so the Super Tuesday event is worth staying up late for. The outcome may determine the SEC's #2 team.

Presently, The Gators dominate, Ole Miss and New Mizzou are tied for second, Mississippi State's in the cellar, and everybody else is bunched up in between. KY has tons o' talent and great expectations, but on a neutral court, are barely better than The Vols, if at all.

I've bemoaned UT's turnover to assist ratio, so in fairness I have to berate The Cats for its 16 turnovers to 7 assists ratio against LSU.

In fact, the KY and TN teams had a lot in common Saturday. Both teams had strong games from players who'd been underperforming. UT's Stokes returned to last year's form with 15 points and 18 boards. UK's Poythress had 20 and 12.

Both teams' reliable go-to stalwarts came through again. McRae had 17 points and 4 assists, while Noel had 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 blocks, moving him into UK's second place behind only The Uniblocker.

Both teams' point guards struggled. Each managed only one miserable assist, Golden scored 3 points on oh-for-four shooting, while Harrow was oh-for-three on three-point tries.

If you weep at Tennessee's barely there offense, at least they're not Northern Illinois. UNI managed four (4) points in the first half of their game against somebody.

January 28, 2013 at 11:28 a.m.
Livn4life said...

Recruiting 5-er: For Vol Fans, if nothing else, we can Hope! See you a week from Wednesday. My quesion as a JVFan is honestly, how many "big recruits" are required to have a really noticable turnaround on Rocky Top this fall? I know the coaching ability will come into play but do wonder how many it will take. DOOLEY-Best to him, yes I supported him...as far as possible but he was just not the man to bring the ROCKY back to the TOP. Dallas, are you kidding? Don't they need a real head coach? Sorry, I just had to rail a bit. FINALLY-why not just relegate OJ to the SIMPSONS? I am sure old Homer could keep the boy in line....NOT!

January 28, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
Blueoval said...

Spy, loved the Cooper Harbaugh comment...that was classic! Now everyone in the office is wondering what I am laughing about!

The Pro Bowl would almost be better if it was the AFC vs NFC in a battle of the Network Stars like competition.

January 28, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Yep, the C's are about to the C's-minus this player and that player and that player. Does he send Pierce out? What about KG? (Bad thing about trying to trade Garnett is dude has been such a tuckus to the entire league that no one would want to play with him.)

JMC —

DVR is set and rolling for the double-dose of Dallas tonight.

We're stoked.

No school's entire class is filled with guys like; case in point, a guy like Davis Tull, who was injured as a senior in high school and had few offers. That turned out pretty good, no?

9er —

There's a lot of passing in Dallas right now.

And nice breakdown of the Cats' and Vols' showing Saturday. Noel is getting better and better. In fact his biggest knock may be that he's not the Unkblocker, and in retrospect that's not fair to Noel or to ADavis, who did not get enough credit for his leadership chops either.

Livn(Large) —

You are in, and we're pretty sure neither Marge nor Homer could keep second-cousin OJ on the straight and narrow.

Your recruiting question is in the in the books.

— 5-at-10

January 28, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.
Todd962 said...

Look at Spy bringing out the turn of last century naval jokes....this guy, haha. (Pee Wee laugh)

I think that the X-Games have their place in the sports world. Its excellent downtime bar talk when its on in the background muted.

"Hey, lookey there, guys flying upside down on a 800 pound snowmobile annnnnnddd now he's dead." "You think he's okay?" "Oh yeah, those things land on their necks all the time." "Yeah, guess you're right, cranial reattachment surgery is head and shoulders above where it used to be."

Jay, where did Mr.Fox land after the first two rounds at Torrey Pines? I assume he didn't make the cut or we would likely be talking about it this morning.

After the 30 for 30 about Bo Jackson, I would have liked to have seen him or Herschel play a SEC game or two for my Pete Maravich Rushmore. Then I want to stand on the edge of the track and watch Usain Bolt run a 100 meter all out. Dudes breaking world records with untied shoe laces and pulling up in the last ten meters. I need to know if he produces cartoon noises as he goes by. Zzzzoooommmmm.

January 28, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Todd-

That's a confirmed unfortunately. But it wasn't just him. A lot of potential up and comers were sent home after the first round.

Jay- Good reference to Davis Tull

January 28, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
choptalker said...

I would add any bowl games played after the BCS championship game to your mountain. Pro Bowl is getting close.

January 28, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Todd —

Saw both Bo and Herschel in college... Good times. Bolt is an excellent call.

Best sound-off, bar-background-TV part of the X-games (well, that is we guess and we'll confirm that if we ever set foot inside a bar — cough, cough) — "Dude look at that loser fan. Man the crowds for these things are a joke..." and then they flash "12-time X-Game champ" under his photo.

choptalker —

How you been? And yes, any bowl after New Year's Day that does not feature BCS in the title is tough to follow — unless you've got a fair amount of entertainment on it that is.

— 5-at-10

Steven "Not Michael J., Red or Samantha" Fox started great with a 70 in round 1 and struggled to a 78 in round 2. He finished 4 over and missed the cut by five shots.

January 28, 2013 at 12:35 p.m.
Stewwie said...

We absolutely need a contest with those prop bets. Any lines on whether Timberlake joins Jay-Z on stage to do "Suit and Tie"? Or if Justin is on stage, maybe he'll dance to "Single Ladies" while Beyonce sings? Or will the old Destiny's Child members join Beyonce for a couple of their old hits (that one's probably not happening at all). Either way, let's hope that J.T. doesn't try to rip off any part of Beyonce's costume.

Too bad for Dontay Hampton. Too bad for the Mocs too. Trevis Simpson torched us with 41. I saw him play last season at the Roundhouse and dude is a baller. (Side question: Is it still cool to want to try to be a baller?)

January 28, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--Uranus isn't a planet any more. It's too small.

I saw four great ones without paying $100 a ticket:

  1. I walked The Honors Course with Tiger in a free practice round when the NCAA championships were here in his senior year. Priceless.

  2. As a UTC student I saw Terry Bradshaw QB La. Tech over The Mocs on Chamberlain Field. Cost, about $5.

  3. In 1979, I trekked to The Omni to see UK's hot recruit Sam Bowie in his SEC debut against Gawga. I liked his play, but was blown away by that game's star, The Human Highlight Reel, Dominique Wilkins, also making his SEC debut that game. Cost, about $12.

  4. In the early days of The Roundhouse, for about $20, I saw Roscoe Tanner defeat Bjorn Borg in an exhibition match. At the time, the cat-quick Borg was arguably the best ever.

For just slightly more money, in 1996, in what later became The Ted, I saw Michael Johnson run out of his golden shoes to win double Olympic gold in the 200 and 400.

January 28, 2013 at 2:03 p.m.
chas9 said...

Yes, very rare for both UK and UNC to be so down in the same year. Good news is, the two winningest teams in history just announced that they'll resume playing each other next year. Just in time for The Cats to take advantage of history's best ever recruiting class.

It's also rare as hen's teeth for The Wolfpack to beat both UNC and Dook in the same season.

January 28, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

It's cool to be want to be a baller. Cooler still to want to be a baller, shot-caller with 20-inch rims on the Impala.

And we think it's for sure Destiny's Child will make an appearance.

9er —

That's a stout four for sure.

That Tanner-Borg thing sounds super cool. Well, until Roscoe tried to lift the ticket receipts. (Kidding, kidding — mostly).

— 5-at-10

January 28, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Sorry for the late post. I'm out of town. For Fri mailbag. Can MTSU make the dance without winning sunbelt? And. Is Tiger back?

January 28, 2013 at 10:34 p.m.
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