published Thursday, November 21st, 2013

5-at-10: Fab 4-plus-1 picks, 5 SEC things and Baseball comings and goings

Morning. How'd you sleep?

Before we get up and running, we need to give a shoutout to some of you fine folks for the discussion here Wednesday that led us to the opinion in today's column in the TFP that the TSSAA would be well-served to follow the NCAA lead and give Mac McCurry and the Marion County coaches show-cause penalties rather than suspend the football program for the year.

Take a bow. Now get back to work — after you read the 5-at-10 and comment below or send us a Friday mailbag question at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or on Twitter @jgreesontfp.

From the "Talks too much" studios, we are the world; we are the children. We're the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving.

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    Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) reacts after Auburn scored the game-winning touchdown Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Fab 4-plus-1 picks

We have tried a varied number of picks each of the last two weeks and achieved a deeper and more thorough mediocrity in our for-entertainment-only ventures. Alas.

After a 5-4 mark last week that included wins on the Auburn-Georgia over and with SMU, Vandy, UCLA and Boise State covering the number we're 40-28-1 overall this year. That we are treading water is of little consolation after our white-hot start to the season.

Still you have to bank entertainment where you can find it. Let's try to find it this weekend.

And if you are shaking your heads when you are looking at the point-spreads, well, you should be — the guys who do this for a living are starting to understand the products with which they handicapping. To counter that, you have to know which teams the public favors because the pros certainly do. And they shape the lines accordingly.

San Jose State minus-2 over Navy: This game is on Friday night and is part of the travel package part of this week's picks. Follow along: Who is more regimented than the Navy football team? So how is the shock to the system of flying across the country for a Friday game and a 9:30 p.m. kickoff knowing that the Navy kids are more often than not bunked down by that time. If you need football reasoning to be convinced — and that's fair — San Jose State quarterback David Fales will more than likely be drafted before Aaron Murray next spring.

BC pick 'em over Maryland: Under first-year coach Steve Addazio, Boston College is physical and forceful. The Eagles love to run the football and are powered by the best player in the country that you do not know. Meet Andre Williams, the 227-pound BC senior who has rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 14 TDs in 10 games. And as Williams has found his stride, so have the Eagles, who are 3-0 in November — and Williams has 105 carries for 800 yards and six TDs in those three wins. Normally we caution against risking entertainment on the ACC — it's like tech stocks, and you never know when the bubble will bust — but we like power backs when the weather turns.

Duke minus-5 at Wake Forest: Yes, another ACC game. And another game in which we play some angles. First, since losing leading receiver Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest has scored all of 3 points in two games. Campanaro had 67 catches before breaking his collar bone two weeks ago; the next highest Wake player has 15 catches. Second, among the worst home-field advantages in all of college football has to be the study hall known as BB&T Field. Scenic joint, but hardly an intimidating trip. Third, Duke has David Cutcliffe calling football plays, and the Devils are still playing for a division championship. Yes please.

Oregon-Arizona over the 65: This one has the feel of the Ducks dropping the hammer early and often — maybe even getting in the 40s before halftime. Ask yourself this: What number would it take for you to bet the under with the Ducks? At least 72 right? If you saw any other entertainment invest that was giving you a free seven points, it would be prudent play. You're welcome.

Tulsa minus-3 at La. Tech: Misleading records and schedule alterations have a much stronger Tulsa team laying only a field goal against a La Tech bunch that will not have running back Kenneth Dixon at 100 percent. Call this a hunch, and if it hits, then you can pick up the hunch tab. (See what we did there?)

Michigan State minus-6 at Northwestern: This one seems too good to be true, right? One of the nation's top five defenses only having to cover a score seems too good to be true. And that scares the stuffing out of any regular reader of these picks. Still, this year has been filled with "Too good to be true" picks that have turned out to be winners while we failed to act. Not this time with the Spartans. Carpe Diem. Or Spar-ty Diem, maybe.

UCLA plus-3 over Arizona State: We believe in these Bruins. Have all season. We believe Arizona State is overrated, considering its best wins are have a great deal to do with good timing — ASU beat Wisconsin because of time management; ASU used excellent timing of the Lane Kiffin meltdown to whip USC. UCLA is at home getting a gift 3. Thank you.

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    Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (2) runs past Vanderbilt's Ja'karri Thomas (40) during the first half of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in College Station, Texas.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

5 SEC things to watch for

1) Johnny Football takes center stage

With the Heisman talk starting to swirl, last year's winner is looking like this year's front runner. Johnny Football has been every bit as good — and a ton better throwing the ball — as he was last year when he became the first freshman to win college football's top prize. (Side question: If Johnny Football gets a white collar job, we would have to call him Johnny Briefcase, right? And if he got a blue collar job, he'd be Johnny Lunchbox. Dude, the Johnny options are endless. Let's do it for Johnny. Stay gold Pony Boy.) Where were we? Oh yes, Mr. Football heading to LSU for the 3:30 game before a national TV auidence with Verne Lundquist on the call. Manziel has carried a wretched Aggies defense all year, so let's set the bar on 350 passing, 80 rushing, five total TDs and seven "Oh. My. Goodness" from Verne. And we think come Monday, Johnny Football will be the Heisman frontrunner.

2) Can Missouri continue its improbable march toward Atlanta

The Tigers get quarterback James Franklin back, and before he was injured, Franklin was crafting an All-American-type season. (Side question: We were an early upset or two and a freak injury away from a very real discussion of coach of the year and player of the year being James Franklin. Hmmmmm.) The Tigers travel to Ole Miss, which has lofty aspirations still in play. No, the Rebels can't get to Atlanta, but if they win out, a very attractive bowl trip to either Dallas or sunny Florida could be in the cards. Quite a feat for Hugh Freeze in year two. Good times. Good game.

3) How does Georgia rebound

The Bulldogs took an unbelievable gut punch loss last week at Auburn. Let's stop and ponder these Dogs for one second, and yes, ifs and buts can make you crazy, but... if Damian Swann tackles Sammy Watkins of a simple slant in August; if Georgia doesn't make a stupid penalty on fourth-and-4 in the fourth quarter against Vandy; if either safety just knocks the Prayer at Jordan-Hare down, these Bulldogs could be 9-1 with two games left. As for Saturday, well, the real opponent for Georgia is Georgia. If they have put the Auburn loss in the rearview, the Bulldogs should crush Kentucky. If the pain from the Plains lingers, well, Kentucky is scrappy enough to hold everyone's interest.

4) Who prevails in the battle of the Volunteers State

One team has locked up another bowl bid; one team is fighting for its postseason chance. For more of our lives, that would be fair description of the Tennessee-Vandy showdown in November. Now, however, the bowl regulars live in Nashville and the desperation is from the 865 area code. So it goes. For the Vols to win, someone in Smokey Gray is going to have to slow down Jordan Matthews, the SEC's most accomplished receiver of all-time. The bizarro twists in this one are staggering no?

5) Alabama against the Mocs

Two teams with monster followings in the greater Chattanooga area meet in Bryant Denny. Is there any reason to believe the Mocs can keep this close? Not really. Heck, no one this side of Johnny Football and Co. have stayed closed with the Tide this season, so that's not a knock on the Mocs. Here's saying that the genius puppet master Nick Saban finds a way to beat the Mocs with a final score very close to the 34-point margin that Alabama beat Tennessee. He's crafty like that. Heck, if Saban were a rapper, he'd be Nicky Smooth. Or maybe MC Hammer. Wait, that's already been used.

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    Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder reacts with teammates in the dugout after his two-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Milwaukee. It was Fielder's third home run of the game. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Baseball comings and goings

On a day when JMC's Rangers made a monster trade, A-Rod finally realizes the truth.

First, the deal. The Texas Rangers traded Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder, giving each team something it desired greatly.

For the Rangers, they landed a big left-handed bat for the middle of their lineup at a discounted price since the Tigers are picking up a sizable chunk of the sizable check the sizable Prince earns.

For the Tigers, they landed an upgrade at second base — Kinsler is a three-time all-star — and they cleared out first base for Miguel Cabrera, a grade-three Hall of Famer at the plate and grade-three disaster at third base. It also allows Detroit some payroll flexibility with ace Max Scherzer entering the final year of his contract.

A win-win it seems.

Now for the lose-lose portion of our baseball update.

The hearing about his suspension and the for everyone's favorite cheater Alex Rodriguez is on-going. On Wednesday, A-Rod stormed out of the meeting after slamming his fist on the table and cussing when the arbitrator ruled that MLB commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify. Those in the know say A-Rod's theatrics were more theater than emotion — which is supremely easy to understand considering the heartless, Tin Man-itude that is A-Rod — and were planned to set off a chain of events that will allow A-Rod to not testify and help his aim to get this case in front of a Federal Court.

While we're hardly a fan of A-Rod's — who is — the fact that Selig is not having to present MLB's side or intent or the reasoning behind why A-Rod got a record-setting 211-game suspension is puzzling and actually gives A-Rod's argument merit. Yes, typing 'A-Rod' and 'merit' in the same sentence makes us feel dirty.

Here's A-Rod's statement Wednesday: "I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the players' association refused to order Selig to come in and face me.

"The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce."

Yawn. Feels a little planned from the start — and don't they decide on witness lists before these things start? — but so it goes.

A-Rod also reportedly said Selig "hates my guts." Of course if we were only going to interview people who did liked A-Rod's guts, well, this would be the shortest hearing this side of Helen Keller.

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This and that

— How bad are the Jacksonville Jaguars? They are a 10-point underdog at Houston. Did we mention that Houston is 2-8 after being decimated by injuries and fractured by a feud between its starting QB and the best wide receiver in team history? And still Jacksonville is a double-digit underdog.

— Dirk Nowitzki scored 35 points Wednesday night and moved into 15th place all-time in NBA scoring. (Kareem has the most points; Wilt did the most scoring. Hey Now.) If you had to have a Rushmore of foreign-born NBA players, who you got? Dirk's there for sure. So is Hakeem Olajuwan. Dominique Wilkins was born in France, so he deserves consideration and Dennis Rodman's from Pluto so there's that.

— A report completed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement matched the DNA from Jameis Winston to the sample taken from the underwear of the woman accusing him of sexual battery last December. This is just the latest development in a case that has twisted and turned for almost a year. And will continue to do so for a while to come.

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Today's question

Gang, it's been a great week and feel free to drop some logic on any of the above.

If you need a talking point or three, well, here we go:

Great news: Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall have buried the hatchet. (Yes, we did not know they had a feud either. Roll with it.) Eddie and Arsenio yukked it up on Arsenio's new show. (Yes, we did not know Arsenio had a new show either. Keep rolling with it.) The big news is the two talked about a Coming to America sequel, which would either be awesome or awful. Should they do it?

The NFL released its semifinalists for the next Hall of Fame induction. Here are the names:

Morten Andersen (K), Steve Atwater (S), Jerome Bettis (RB), Derrick Brooks (LB), Tim Brown (WR), Don Coryell (Coach), Roger Craig (RB), Terrell Davis (RB), Edward DeBartolo Jr. (Owner), Tony Dungy (Coach), Kevin Greene (LB) Charles Haley (DE-LB), Marvin Harrison (WR), Joe Jacoby (OT), Jimmy Johnson (Coach), Walter Jones (OT), John Lynch (S), Karl Mecklenburg (LB), Andre Reed (WR), Will Shields (G), Michael Strahan (DE), Paul Tagliabue (Commissioner), Aeneas Williams (DB), Steve Wisniewski (G)

Who you got — and you can only pick five?

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.
MocTastic said...

Crying that Bud Selig must testify is wrong. He is not the accuser per se, MLB is. If JG kicks me in the ding ding and we go to court then I should be able to make him testify. He personally wronged me. Bud while being commisioner is not MLB, he is just an employee. He has never testified in these cases in which many players have had their sentences reduced or eliminated completely, see Ryan Braun the first time.

Instead AROD claims he has a right, no AROD, this is not a court of law. It is a procedure in which your union has agreeded to legally and it does not require Bud to testify. As talked about on Mike&Mike this morning what AROD is doing is claiming the whole system is broke and he is wrapping himself in a symbolic patriot flag and accusing the whole system of denying his rights. To see a version of what happened yesterday just watch the below video, AROD is effectively Otter. If you can't win on the law, you attack the facts, if you can't win on the facts you attack the law, if you can't win on the facts or the law you just make a patriotic speech, and walk out....

November 21, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
compspeed said...

What do the NFL HOF folks have against Jerry Kramer? He should have been in years ago and once again he gets overlooked.

Great clip link MocTastic..one of the greatest scenes from one of the best movies of all time. I'm biased because I lived most of what is portrayed in Animal House.

November 21, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Excellent clip.

And kicked in the ding — that's from the opening part of Eddie Murphy Raw. HIGH-Larious stuff.

Granted it's tough to defend A-Rod in any point, but Selig's point of view here is a fair request. Not about the investigation per se but about the length of the suspension because Selig is the one that handed it out.

C-Speed —

A-men about Animal House. After spending six years in a fraternity at Auburn, we thought Animal House was a documentary at first.

Great times.

November 21, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JG six years? You were on a fast track plan! I spent 9 and 1/2 glorious years at UTC! Why rush out to the mean world, just have to go to work and you don't get free student tickets to ballgames any more...and tuition then was in the hundreds, not thousands.

November 21, 2013 at 10:42 a.m.
chas9 said...

MT--Free tickets? Great deal. But Duke's student section was largely empty for its NIT game vs. UNC-Asheville because college kids can't afford the $70 ticket.

And Rupp's student section was really thin for the Tejas-Arlington game. The announced crowd was only 20,305, smallest in five years. (How many schools can precede 20,305 with "only"?)

It's not just the Cameron Crazies and the BBN. Live attendance is off all over in college basketball, as in football.

And NASCAR.

I suspect thedifference between six years and nine and a half years is a reflection of the rigor of the respective curricula at the two institutions.

Marriage is a fine institution, but who wants to be institutionalized?

November 21, 2013 at 11:32 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Chas9...or the amount of time I spent working. Took one whole year off to work and had multiple semesters where I just took night classes. I had to pay for tuition, books, car expenses, insurance, etc. I was in no hurry, I enjoyed college life.

November 21, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Jay, your man-crush on Cam Newton is one of the worst kept secrets in the 5-at-10. This will only exacerbate your fondness for all things Cam. Following the Panthers' Monday night win over the Patriots, Cam celebrated at the Waffle House. "Poppin' bottles at the club" may do it for most high-profile athletes, but Cam appreciates the finer things in life like smothered-and-covered hash browns.

In other NFL news, Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud took to Twitter to denounce critics of the dirty birds. His theme was that fans don't have a playbook, don't understand football, and could not possibly "fathom" what is going on out there. Perhaps he has a point, but I feel confident you could show replays of the last couple of Atlanta games to an elderly Bolivian immigrant that has never seen an American football game before and they could surmise that the Falcons stink.

The name that sticks out to me in the list of semifinalist for the HOF is Don Coryell. Some say Coryell will never be inducted as his teams never won a championship and he had a losing record in the postseason. However, in the modern era of football I would say that Bill Walsh is the only coach that would qualify as more influential in the way offensive football is executed today. Coryell was pass-happy at a time when some of the old guard still considered the forward pass a gimmick that would eventually run its course.

Is A-Rod getting jobbed by the system? Would anyone care if he was? For some folks it's a fine line between getting screwed and having karma kick you in the sack.

November 21, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Live attendance is down — thanks TV — and you're spot on, the "only" 20-plusK in attendance is a nice problem to have.

You have to be crazy to be institutionalized, right.

MT —

We commend you for working your way through. We however took a lax approach to our studies and a slow walk through the Plains. Had a bunch of fun though. Maybe even learned a thing or three.

GD —

There you go. Right when our Bromance with Cam is teetering from respectful to stalkerish, you go and push it over the top.

That's good times right there. You know what would be awesome — to have money like Cam or any of these guys and head into the Waffle House and pick up the joint's check. Just pay it all and not tell anyone. Good times.

And A-Rod is hardly a sympathetic character — Karma has a mean roundhouse kick — but if Selig is going to hand out 211 games, he should have to explain why.

Good call on Coryell. Dude was an innovator.

November 21, 2013 at 1:21 p.m.
chas9 said...

Ken Berger, so-called NBA Insider, says The Knicks will go after Calipari. Don't see him leaving the Bluegrass. Do you?

November 21, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang —

FYI. We changed one of the Fab 4 picks. We have received word that Mississippi State quarterbacks Prescott and Russell are each battling injury and could be game time decisions. That would make Arkansas seem like a better play.

We know that Arkansas coach Bret Bielema will be in attendance so that evens things out a bit.

Either way, there are better games on the board, so we changed the MSU-Arkansas pick with Tulsa and added a Michigan State entry. Thank you.

And if you're curious about tonight's NFL game, we like the over 52.

November 21, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

C-Niner + Jay-G,

Would Cal take a pay-cut & go to the Knicks? Also, would "1 & done" work there?

Billy-In-Brainerd

November 21, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

But 5, Selig hasn't testified in any of these cases. So there is precedent for him not testifying. And lawyers, judges, etc., don't like messing with precedent.

You could go all Tony Parker and Steve Nash too. My vote's for Bill Walton. He's from San Diego via Planet Grateful Dead.

November 21, 2013 at 3:29 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Check the bag for our answer on Coach Cal.

BiB —

One and Doners may not fly in the NBA, but he could recruit free agents better than anyone else.

Spy —

Thought about Parker and Nash. Walton's from Planet GD, huh. Or San Diego, which we all know means whale's... Agree to disagree.

And yes, Selig has never done one of these, but all the rest have followed the protocol of 50 games or a 100 games or what have you.

211? We want answers. We want the truth.

You can't handle the truth.

November 21, 2013 at 3:38 p.m.
chas9 said...

BiB--Laugh if you want to, but I think Cal would be as successful if the one-year minimum stay were changed to three or four years. His strength is recruiting, but he coaches 'em up, too. And he's a genius with the chemistry set.

Did you ever have a chemistry set? If so, was blowing things up your first experiment?

November 21, 2013 at 3:59 p.m.
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