published Friday, November 22nd, 2013

5-at-10: Friday mailbag

Another week in the rearview, and we're speeding toward a weekend in which there are a few high-profile college football games. And none of them involve Auburn. That's a good thing this week, considering the roller coaster the Tigers have been on the last month or so.

A solid group of questions this week. Thanks.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's take a moment of silence as famous psychic Sylvia Browne has died. Who saw that coming — well other than Sylvia Browne of course?

From Chas9

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

— teamed with —

From Tiger Dave

  • photo
    Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on to the field in this Oct. 26, 2013, file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Do you see Saban ever leaving Alabama? I know the 'Miss Terry in Austin house shopping' rumors were everywhere a few weeks ago, but I don't see him going to Texas. The NFL -- he already did that had failed.

He's going to be at Alabama forever isn't he?

9er and Tiger Dave—

Excellent questions each and they are kind of similar. Let's explore.

All of us as fans look at the super-successful coaches in college basketball and football and wonder, "Why would they want to leave X now that they have it built into a power?" Well, the answer to that is layered and a big part of it is why guys like Coach Cal and Saban and some of the elite are the elite.

1) They are extremely competitive and extremely confident in what they do. They know in their core that their system will work at every level, and testing that system at the highest level is an appealing challenge.

2) The job at the next level is all about the job. Period. The head coach of the Knicks does not have to speak at the Brooklyn Knicks Club or the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. He does not have to press the flesh with season-ticket holders Jerry Seinfeld or Spike Lee or other big-time boosters. He coaches basketball every day. Huge plus for the pro league there.

3) The NBA and the NFL as organizations are not worried about how many text messages you send your players. The lack of the big brother that is the NCAA would have to be extremely attractive, especially to Cal (who is routinely called to the principal's office in Indy) and Saban (who is such a control nut and order freak that any outside intrusion or limitations would be infuriating).

As to the specific people in each question:

We believe coach Cal would be a hit in the NBA. Big-time. His system is flexible, he won with a point-guard offense in Memphis and has done it working inside out first at UMass and now with UK. He is a wicked underrated X's and O's guy that knows the game better than most everyone gives him credit for. (Because he and Saban are the best recruiters this side of the Uncle Sam poster, each gets sold short on his nuts-and-bolts coaching skills. Cal is one of the five best offensive minds around and Saban is the best secondary coach on two legs and may be on the Rushmore of defensive minds of his generation.)

That said, the Knicks are broken and we believe Cal to be smart enough to cherry pick his situation for more than just the dollars. Carmelo Anthony is the most selfish superstar since Allen Iverson hung up his Reeboks, so that's hardly the piece around which we can see him building. But we certainly could see Cal eyeing an NBA chance.

In some ways the one-and-done thing could help UK keep Coach Cal a little longer because another reason coaches look around is when they have a program rolling, they may want new challenges. In some ways, even as good as UK is right now under Cal, he has to rebuild it almost every year.

As for Saban, well, Tiger Dave, even if Saban left some time this afternoon, Alabama is going to be the team to beat through 2015 because of the weapons cache he has assembled. It's mind-blowing how well that dude recruits.

And that is his primary strength and it serves him exceedingly well in the college game. As for his time in the NFL, it's easy to forget that Saban had convinced Drew Brees to come to Miami, but the Dolphins team doctors did not feel he was going to hold up physically so they passed. And without a QB in the NFL, Saban started looking around. Stupid doctors, because if Brees goes to Miami, here's saying Saban and Co. have a Super Bowl rather than the Saints and Saban could still be in the NFL and Alabama would still be lamenting how Shula deserved one more year or whether Rich Rod was in play this time.

Saban's role as the prince of perfection in his process does not directly translate as well in the NFL, where the salary cap gives everyone a talent ceiling. Saban's process is built in large part on the assembly of world-class talent — and he's arguably the best talent evaluator in the college game too — and motivating from within, which also allows him to limit the talent pool of his competition. But Saban's ability to evaluate talent and his defensive talents would allow him to succeed in the NFL in the right scenario.

The only things that could possibly be attractive to Saban and force him to leave the Capstone are a) the chance to win a national title at a third school and Texas offers that chance in full flush; and b) the chance to rewrite his NFL history.

Money is certainly not a part of it because whatever anyone offers, Alabama would almost certainly match.

So in short — after doing it in way too long, we talk too much — we can see Cal trying the NBA in the near future. Tiger Dave, Saban is going to be in Tuscaloosa a while longer and as long as he's there, the title chase goes through Tuscaloosa too.


Orange Drinker

I have read your stuff from the beginning, back when you only wrote a few paragraphs. Man, how many keyboards you go through a month?

OK, we have been invited to Game Day party for the UT-Vandy game. There are a few co-workers who are Vandy grads who are going to be there. For the most part they have been pretty calm about the recent reversals of the two programs. I'm a little cautious about this because while everyone is pretty cool at work, what happens when the 'Co-Colas' start flowing and things get heated?

Would you go, knowing that your boss is going to be there?

OD —

Great question and you have come to the right place. First question we have is, is your boss a Vandy guy or a UT guy? This is big in both directions.

We're going to assume he's a Vandy guy because, let's face it, more times than not Vandy guys become the boss. It's how the SEC power structure works.

Now that said, if you're going to go full Game Day Orange Drinker, it would likely be best to skip the event entirely. If you are bound and determined to go, know these four tailgate rules:

1) Bring more Co-Colas than you plan to drink and share. That guy is always invited back.

2) If this is a road Game Day, drink less than you planned. Maybe go Co-Cola, water, Co-Cola, water, water. Find a pattern that works for you. If it's a home Game Day, and you have full run of the upstairs, well you can be more aggressive. Home or road also affects your diet. If you are on the road, you may not want to go neck deep in the buffalo wing dip or the chili cheese fries. Do not — repeat do NOT — be the tailgater that has to go No. 2 on a road Game Day. Seriously.

3) Choose your attire accordingly. If this is an office-based event, go with UT golf shirt. The more raucous the crowd, the more aggressive you can be. That said, face paint is for clowns and jerseys are not an option unless you are under 14, an attractive female or the jersey in question is handed to you by someone you call coach..

4) Come armed with at least one, semi-unknown fact. It can be obscure or humorous. Know that if Vandy wins, this would be the first time since 1925-26 that Vandy has back-to-back wins over UT (that forced the Vols to hire General Neyland, so they could beat Vandy. You may have heard of him.) You can talk about announcer Brock Huard, who is working with Mark Jones on the UT-Vandy broadcast. Some interesting Huard tidbits — his middle name is Xavier, he looks like he should have been in "Top Gun" and he and his brother Damon each played QB at Washington and in the NFL, making them the poor man's Hasselbecks, who are the poor man's Mannings, so the Huard's are the homeless man's Mannings. Whatever you like and feel free to use any of these, but having an early tidbit that awes the crowd gives you a chance too be 'That' guy at the tailgate. Don't over do it and try to be 'Know everything' guy, but one or two tidbits gives credence to the rest of your dialouge. Then you can be 'That' guy. Unless you throw a deuce at someone else's tailgate.


From a host of you

  • photo
    UTC head coach Russ Huesman argues with line judge Seth Bussey about a call.
    Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Do you think UTC makes the playoffs?

Gang —

And since we've spilled about 12 gallons of ink already, we'll try to move quickly through the last few.

In truth, we believe the Mocs need some help this weekend. If Furman and Samford each win — Furman plays Wofford and Samford plays Elon — the Mocs could be the one without a playoff seat when the music stops Sunday.

As Stewwie pointed earlier this week, the SoCon has not been a very good league this year and does not look like a three-bid league. If Furman and Samford win Saturday and there are tri-champs of the league, UTC likely will draw the short straw considering its schedule and the fact that UTC will be on a two-game losing streak.

In the dichotomous world that is being a UTC football fan, there's a very real chance that the Mocs could share a conference title — their first since 1984 — and still end the season disappointed.

And that fact — being disappointed with 8-4 — quite possibly is Russ Huesman's greatest accomplishment. And the lack of a playoff spot in Year 4 looks to be his biggest shortcoming. Dichotomous indeed.


From Believer

We all know you heart Cam Newton. But the biggest game of the weekend is Manning vs. Brady, who you got?

Believer —

Brady. Always Brady.

We think Peyton is amazing and the changes and adjustments he makes are sick. He is on pace to have a record-setting year that could never be topped.

But here's the view we'll forever take:

If we're drafting a quarterback to win a big fantasy football game, we'll take Peyton and take our chances.

If we're drafting one to win a big game in November and beyond, we'll take Brady. Over everyone else ever.

Yes, we believe Tom Brady is the best ever. His combination of stats — personal and team — and titles in the ultra-competitive, salary cap era makes it clear choice for us. Brady is the best ever. And we think Manning is right there in the group right behind Brady.

Peyton has perpetrated a ton of stats and has harvested hallowed hardware in all directions. He has four MVP trophies and likely will add a fifth this season.

And his career stats will ultimately be better than Brady's.

But Brady was better in big games, and better in all games. Brady's winning percentage is the best ever — and he'd have to go on a 15-game losing streak to fall down to where second-place Joe Montana is. Manning is third.

And don't start with Brady had "Belichick" and the better defense. Belichick was on his way of being a defensive coordinator until Brady came along. And yes, Brady's defenses were better back at the height of this rivalry when the Pats and the Colts traded AFC heavyweight titles. But are we going to discount Manning's offensive benchmarks because he played with a slew of Hall of Famers as opposed to the best weapons Brady had — other than one year of a motivated Randy Moss — were journeymen like Deion Branch and Wes Welker.

It's Brady. (For now — until Cam passes him. Kidding, kidding.)

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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jomo11 said...

UT vs, VANDY. . . . .pulling out all the stops, Gray unis, that all important dot-com bowl on the line, to be 6-6, etc. . . .And now we read this is a big game for recruiting . . .the bar for sucess has really been set low. . Wow have the mighty fallen

November 22, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.
chas9 said...

I once arrived at Neyland on a private train with an open bar. Boy was that fun. Don't remember much of the game, but at least I didn't have to drive home.

The Vandy observation reminds me of a cheer I heard once on the campus of one of our fine local private schools: "That's all right, that's OK. You're gonna work for us some day." Of course that's also the answer to the question: What did the Baylor coach say to the prostitute?

Thoughtful and fun answer to the worst nightmare in the capstone and bluegrass states question. Saban is 62, Cal is 54, so the roundballer has more years to get itchy, maybe more mountains calling his name.

The Naismith watch list is out and they're watching UK's Julius Randle, James Young, and Andrew Harrison, UT's Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes, and two other SEC players. None from Billy Donovan's squad.

On the football front, UK will be without three misbehaving Cats tomorrow, including dangerous receiver/punt returner Demarco Robinson. Looks like UGA will cover the spread.

Remember Signal Mountain's Reese Phillips? "In a way, I'm kind of disappointed I didn't get an opportunity to see him play this year," UK's Mark Stoops lamented on the Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday. He confirmed that Phillips had moved up to No. 2 on the Cats' quarterback depth chart.

November 22, 2013 at 10:45 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Coach Cal was 72-112 [.391] as head coach of the NJ Nets, 1996-99. That was before the Russian ga-zillion-aire owned the Nets. For the next mail-bag, a$king the obviou$, how is important is owner$hip in pro $port$? Rushmore of best owners? Rushmore of worst owners? Rankin Smith had to be among the worst...


November 22, 2013 at 10:57 a.m.
chas9 said...

Got to thinking about how 'melo is not mellow, and neither is Coach Cal when a player gets off script. And while 'melo is one of the worst, it'd be hard to choose a whole NBA roster of high talent, low maintenance, unselfish players. So maybe Honest John is more suited to the college experience. He seems like a daddy, stern when needed but always loving. I'm not sure daddy works in the pros. Actually, I'm not sure what works there.

And hasn't Mr. Hare been dead long enough that Auburn could drop his name from the stadium sign? Who knows or cares about Hare? Didn't Mr. Tortoise beat him by a field goal?

A judge has sentenced Lindsay Lohan's mother to community service. It's unclear why the judge thinks she has anything to offer in that department.

November 22, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Good stuff about Reese. Good player, better kid.

If people didn't care about Hare, how do you explain all those clubs for men and the billion-dollar Rogain.

And, besides, AU folks are traditional by nature. You know what they say, "Hare today, Gone tomorrow." We live in today good sir, tortoise be danged.

BiB —

You are in, and we'll have to do some thinking.

Jomo —

So who are you pulling for , 'Dores or Orange? Discuss.

November 22, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Keep in mind, 5, this Pats defense is missing Vince Wilfork, maybe the best nose tackle in the game, Jerod Mayo and Tommie Kelly, all out with season-ending injuries. If they're healthy, this Pats D is stalwart. The secondary is still pretty shaky, even with Talib. But the front seven would be one of the best in the business. And how many receivers, tight ends, running backs, etc., has Brady had around him through the years, as you alluded to?

Furman stinks. And they could win the SoCon? All I have to say to that is ... Furman stinks (there's actually another verb that starts with s that I would like to use, but this is FOIB). Elon stinks, so Samford should roll over them. But in the crazy upside down world of the 2013 SoCon (who saw Wofford being 5-5 or App reeking or ... well, I did call Georgia Southern being 7-4), place no bets on the wheel.

November 22, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Rodney Harrison:

"I think Peyton has been so unfairly judged because he really didn't have that defense over the years like Tom," Harrison said. "Tom had a lot of veteran players, a lot of really good defenses, where if he didn't play particularly well, he knew that he had a defense with a lot of veteran players that could save him. Whereas, Peyton didn't really have that advantage. If Peyton was on our team, I think we could have easily won three Super Bowls, no doubt about it."

Well said. And I'll take it a step further. If Tom and Peyton had switched teams for their whole careers, we'd be looking at Peyton and Belichick like MJ and Phil. 5 or 6 Super Bowl wins easily. There'd be no debate as to who would be the greatest in their respective professions.

November 22, 2013 at 2:17 p.m.
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