published Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

5-at-10: Fab 4-plus-1 picks, Iron Bowl prep, Hall of Fame ballot, Thanksgiving guest list

Gang, with the holiday coming and the limited 5-at-10 planned on Thursday, we have made some changes.

That said, we need a mailbag entry or three and could have some breaking news for you come Friday.

Anyhoo, let's do the Turkey Trot. Or the Home Run Trot. Just as long as we don't get the trots.

From the "Talks too much" studios, you either get better or you get worse, you never stay the same.

Fab 4-plus-4 picks

OK, we know the picks normally hit the streets on Thursday. You know this too.

This is a holiday week and with Black Friday becoming Turquoise Thursday we thought, "Hey, what would Les Miles do?" And gang, any time you find yourself in a tight spot — "Boys, we're in a tight spot" — you can a) look up a real Les Miles quote; b) quote the movie "O, Brother Where Art Thou" or c) Look pensive, put your hand on your chin and nod while slowly saying, "Saban."

Let's go with a. Deal? Deal.

Houston minus-9.5 over SMU: "We have to respond to what has happened and enjoy the opportunity to improve and work hard at it and return to the team we are very capable of being." We originally picked the over in this game, and that was understandable. we have since adjusted that view after Friday morning's news that SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert would not play.

Fresno State minus-7 at San Jose State and over whatever the over is: "I don't know about other teams and the buoyancy of other teams." Buy the half of course. We, like Les, are not familiar with the float-ability of either team, and we, like Col. Jessup, are not familiar with the packing habits of PFC William Santiago. What we do know is this: San Jose State can not tackle. Fresno State can score and has a bracket-busting BCS spot for which to play. We strongly recommend this one for added bouyancy in your entertainment account.

Toledo minus-7 at Akron: "The want to have had the players on the field make the timeout call in that spot is certainly is a great call." Buy the half of course, again. Toledo is an upper-crust team in the MAC, which is a league with a few high-quality teams and several dreadful other. Seriously, other than Michigan State, the landscape of football in Michigan is woeful and all of the directional Michigans are padding other teams' records in the MAC. Anyhoo, Akron is bad but has won a handful of game because the bottom of the MAC is really bad. Toledo is good, which is better than bad and certainly better than 7 points better than bad.

Ohio State minus-14 at Michigan: "Now, we refute this now put into this position, how do we get a play snapped? I suggest that it's very difficult." One of the tough things about picking games during rivalry week is putting a proper gauge on the emotional stakes and swing of those involved. That said, this is a great value bet considering that Ohio State is way better than Michigan and has way more skin in the game overall. Think of it this way: A tight win is no good for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, considering they are looking over their BCS shoulder at one-loss teams and trying to defend their merit. The Buckeyes need to drop the hammer. The rivalry part of this gives us cause, but only for a moment. This one will be 48-14 rather quickly and allow you some high-quality channel flipping on Saturday.

Florida State minus-27 at Florida: "It's always enjoyable for me to be in a stadium filled by fans from two teams in one state." Yes, Les, that can be fun, especially when one side is way, Way, WAY better than the other. Get on this now. It's only going up, and it's another game to disassociate the passion from the present. This is the worst Florida team since before Spurrier started wearing visors. The Gators will have a tough time getting to 14 points. Do you think the Seminoles, who have scored 41 or more in every game this season, are going to start stuttering now? Add to the fact that there will be a ton of FSU fans in the Swamp, and 27 seems like a great value. Wow, read that last sentence again, that FSU laying 27 at Florida is a 'great value.' Egad. Coach Boom goes the dynomite.

Baylor minus-12.5 at TCU: "Minus being undefeated, I think we're on point." TCU is flawed. Baylor is irate. Any one thinking Baylor is not going to score 60 in this one?

Clemson plus-6 at South Carolina: "That may be the reason. It may not be the reason." Les is great. In fact, Les Miles is the perfect blend of Dabo and Spurrier — witty and clever, successful and unpredictable. Clemson is a better football team front to back, and while South Carolina's defensive front has dominated this game in recent years, Clemson has 13 more sacks as a team this year. And in truth, the most productive defensive end in the country will be in this game — but it's Clemson's Vic Beasley rather than USC's Jadeveon Clowney.

Missouri minus-4 over Texas A&M: "Certainly with time, he'll be potentially a great ball player." Johnny Football is magnificent on the field. Johnny Football does not play defense, though. Does any team in the country get less respect than the Missouri Tigers? Consider this: They are No. 5 in the BCS and have yet to play a CBS game. They are 9-1-1 against the number and they still are a single-digit favorite at home. That's because of A&M's Heisman-winning quarterback. Thank you Johnny Football, for everything.

Ole Miss minus-3 at Mississippi State: "If we're defending, come see the trophy, it's in our trophy case. We're not defending it; it's there." Buy the half of course, again. The Egg Bowl has bigger stakes now than before. This is a bonus pick for the internet folks — since the picks in the paper run on Friday and this game is Thursday, we'll omit it from the TFP. That said, do not read too much into last week's results. Ole Miss is better than MSU, and playing better options is the only way to matriculate your entertainment account up the ledger.


Iron Bowl

Is it possible to overhype this Iron Bowl? Heck, ESPN has already had two Tom Rinaldi pieces and it's only Wednesday.

Here's one vested guy's check list for Iron Bowl success:

For Alabama, starting fast is paramount. The Tide have bludgeoned folks for the better part of two months. Heck, even the relatively close game against LSU became a 21-point win. Alabama knows they belong on this stage; Auburn is hoping to get comfortable on this stage. If the Tide do not start quickly and let the Tigers gain confidence and the Jordan-Hare crowd get rolling, this one could be a thriller. Of course if the Tide start fast, this one could get one-sided quickly.

  • photo
    Whether pitching the ball to one of his backs, running it himself or throwing a pass, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall keeps the offense moving at a high velocity.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Conversely, Auburn needs to be in a one-score game to start the fourth quarter. Yes, Alabama is the country's A-list mega-star and has been on this stage more than any other team in recent years. But Alabama has seldom been in a one-possession, got-to-make-a-play-on-third-and-6 game. Auburn lives that drama almost every week. Alabama is better prepared to handle the magnitude of the moment; Auburn is completely comfortable handling the pressure of the final two minutes of a one-score game. Which team gets to dictate the scenario to its strength will be in control.

As for the player to watch, that's easy. If Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall throws for 250-plus (as long as it's not all in the fourth quarter of a 49-21 game) then the Tigers are going to be ahrd to handle. Alabama feasts against one-dimensional offenses. Auburn has chosen to be one-dimensional because in truth very few teams have been able to stop the Auburn running game. The Tigers will not be able to get by on the running game alone this week. So step to the center stage Mr. Marshall. Are you ready?


Hall of Fame ballot

The most recent list of eligible candidates for the baseball Hall of Fame was released Tuesday night. There are a few names on it you may recognize. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are the cream of the crop of the new names on the ballot, joing holdovers Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa from the PED-timeout crop of last year.

The veterans committee also has big-time names Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, George Steinbrenner and Marvin Miller.

There also are hold-overs Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.

Voters are dealing with a lot of stuff, and while candlesticks make a nice gift, there are some tough choices to be made.

If you had a ballot and could vote for as many as five former players and two from the veterans committee, who you got?


This and that

— Does a guy like Jordan Lynch, the record-setting quarterback of unbeaten Northern Illinois, deserve Heisman consideration? We say yes.

  • photo
    UTC coach Russ Huesman watches a scrimmage at Finley Stadium.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Major kudos to the UTC football sweep of the coaches awards, with David Tull getting defensive player of the year and the Huesman clan — pop Russ and son Jacob — getting coach and offensive player of the year. The bar has been raised for the Mocs and for the Huesman household. Here's hoping the rest of the clan brings some hardware to the Thanksgiving table.

— So AJ McCarron's worried about Katherine Webb's safety at the Iron Bowl. Two things: a) Alabama fans have the recent history of acts of lunacy; b) Quite telling that AJ is worried about the safety of his squeeze more than his own safety. Man, there's a real chance Alabama beats the brakes off of Auburn.

Reports on say that the website Deadspin has purchased a baseball Hall of Fame ballot from a voting member and intends to make 'a mockery and a farce' of the process. OK. Seems like the baseball writers have done a pretty good job of that so far, no?


Today's question

There's a slew to discuss — and we need some mailbag questions heading into the holiday.

But if you need a talking point, here you go:

If you could invite anyone, which four people from the sports world are you having over for Thanksgiving and why?


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.
chas9 said...

I been looking for a line on FSU-UF and couldn't find one so I set it at 40. If you can get 27, jump on the Fighting Seminoles with both feet. Seriously.

How in the name of Jimmy the Greek can UNC be favored over Cutcliff's crew? Take Duke and the 5.5 points and bet the farm. And pawn your wedding ring and bet that, too. Seriously.

Yesterday I asked "Seriously, why would the Iron Bowl attract more viewers than the Tide v. Johnny Football tilt?" and got no answer. Before you answer, seriously look at these numbers.

Bama v. A&M attracted a 9.0 rating, 21 share, the best TV audience since 1990 for a regular season afternoon game. For perspective, Auburn v. A&M drew a 4.2 rating, 9.0 share, meaning 6.7 million were seriously watching.

November 27, 2013 at 10:06 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Does Jordan Lynch deserve consideraton? Yes, he does. Will he get much? No, he plays at NIU. If he played at a top teir BCS conference school he would be getting it. Remember, the Heisman is now an award for a QB or RB at a top ten school. If you are the best player ever at a small school, or a school with a bad record, or if you are a defensive player or non-skill position offensive player, forget winning it. The big schools spend thousands of dollars sending out promotional information on their candidates. I salute the Jordan Lynchs of the world.

Who would I vote for? Short list for me, don't have to use all five. Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas as players and Bobby Cox as a manager. Let the others wait.

Who for Thanksgiving dinner? Childhood idol Willie Mays. Fave golfer Arnold Palmer. Also would go with another golfer, Phil Mickleson. Final one would be Bob Uecker for entertainment!

Now, must wish all a Happy Thanksgiving and drop this video for your enjoyment!

November 27, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.
TennFlyer said...

For Thanksgiving dinner -- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I'd buy a chicken but the four of these guys could juice it up to a 20 pound turkey in no time.

November 27, 2013 at 10:15 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay with Thanksgiving on us, How about sports Turkey of The Year ? nominations : A-Rod, Lance Armstrong. Aaron Hernandez, The Marion County Football coaches, The referee at the UTC-GaSothern game, Richie Incognito, for Vol Fans the always hated Fulmer-Hamilton-Kiffen-Dooley, Coach Carl Pelini . . . the biggest Sports Turkey those *&%#@? Boston Marathon Bombers, may they rot in HE-double hockey sticks

November 27, 2013 at 10:28 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

MT- Extremely well-played on the WKRP clip. I watched the reruns on and off with my folks when I was old enough to comprehend the humor. By far, this was one of their BEST episodes. Why it never made any of the top 10 "funniest moments in television" has stumped both me and my mother for 20 years.

November 27, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

The Missouri situation was obviously going to happen all the way back when CBS picked Alabama-Tennessee over Missouri-South Carolina. Why they did that is STILL beyond me considering how obvious it was that they weren't going to be showing a Mizzou game at that point. Mizzou is one of the best teams in the country. They are better than Auburn (barely). They will give Alabama all they want in the SEC Championship Game, and if it's Auburn, Missouri will win. (On the Auburn beating Alabama will be such an emotionally and physically draining win the Tigers won't be able to bounce back).

Is Murphy playing Saturday for Florida? It's important to realize that Florida played South Carolina close just a few weeks ago. Crazier things have happened than Florida keeping it close against Florida State. Not that I expect it. Clemson will lose to South Carolina I think. It's in Columbia. They haven't beaten South Carolina in forever. And they always seem to lay eggs in moments like this. I just don't buy them.

Jordan Lynch gets an invite to the Downtown Athletic Club. That's my expectation.

November 27, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.
chas9 said...

I've been skeptical that Antonio Barton can lead The Vols on to victory, so I was receptive to Downtown Patrick's story Saturday praising his PG backup, Darius Thompson. The freshman had 5 steals and 7 assists against Tennessee State to Barton's 0 steals and 2 assists. Both played 24 minutes.

Patrick quotes McRae as saying Thompson is a great 3-point shooter, but he hasn't shown it yet. Barton averages 10.8 ppg (hitting on an awesome 70% rate), while Thompson averages only 2.8 ppg. But Barton has played 27 minutes per game to only 16 for Thompson.

Still, playing seriously fewer minutes, Thompson has more assists than Barton, more rebounds, and three times as many steals.

Barton does have a strong assist to turnover ratio, but at only 2.3 assists per game, he's not doing enough to run the offense. When your point guard racks up five times as many points as he does assists, do you really have a point guard?

Maybe The Cuonz needs Antonio's point production now, but when his other four excellent starters get it rolling, I think Thompson will be the starter.

Questions for the bag: Can you seriously win with a shoot-first point guard? And how far in to the season does Darius replace Antonio as the starter? On a team featuring McRae, Maymon, and Stokes, shouldn't assists be easier to come by?

Have a glass or two of Mogen-David with your turkey.

November 27, 2013 at 10:45 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

That was a spot on analysis of the Iron Bowl. Mcpell Jr & I both said that yesterday morning in the car. Final score prediction 34-31. Heart says Auburn pulls it out in the end, but brain says "you dummy its Bama!" So take the 10 for entertainment purposes. Lynch deserves an invite to DAC, the kid from BC will probably win it in a close one. HOF - Glavine, Thomas, Maddux, Cox & LaRussa.

November 27, 2013 at 11:04 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Question for Mr BI Spy the 4th...and the mailbag, if you need one:

I am headed to the Flats Saturday. Can the 3.5 point underdog-at-home Jackets win? G-Dawg is not a fan, but Grantham has had success against Johnson, right?. Thanks.


November 27, 2013 at 11:05 a.m.
chas9 said...

I'd invite Cosell, Iron Mike, Yogi and Gabrielle Reece, don't need to explain. I'd like to have Ruth, but he'd drink all my beer and I'd have Ali, but he'd spill gravy all over the place.

November 27, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Great list of folks. And yes, Ruth and Mantle would drink you dry.

And you know your hoops. We'll see on the Barton thing. If dude is hitting 70 percent, why pass in the first place?

As for the most watched, well, the AU-A&M comparison is out the window.

Alabama is the Death Star of college football. Or the Dale Earnhardt. Everyone watches the Tide now because everyone has an opinion on the Tide. Plus, the high-volume interest from THE Ohio State fans, the FSU fans, and the rest of the BCS viewing public, plus the passion and the intensity of the rivalry, plus the fact ESPN has been there all week, we'll predict at least a 9.5 and could see double digits.

BiB —

Sure Tech can win. Grantham is involved and Aaron Murray is not.

McPell —

Hope it's that close. Got an eerie feeling the Tide is going to put its collective foot on Auburn's neck and not look back. We think AU is ready for this game in a lot of ways. We know Bama is ready, and having Jake Holland lining up at MLB trying to slow TJ Yeldon does not inspire confidence in the Tigers.

Stuck —

Murphy is a game-time decision, and the number reflects that at least there's a chance he'll play. When it gets confirmed that Skler Whoshispants is the starting QB, the number will go to 35. And there will be plenty of ticket available.


Yes, WKRP is infinitely underrated. Can remember watching that before MNF as a tot. Good times. Wow. Loni Anderson.

Jomo —

Dr. B has his local Turkey tradition.

You nailed it with the Boston bomber for sure. Although A-Rod's a first-ballot Turkey Hall of Famer.

TennFlyer —

Excellent group. And somewhere Lance is wondering, "Why is TennFlyer mad at me?"

MT —

Exceptionally well played. Thanks for the laugh at the clip, and your Heisman rationale sadly is spot on. Gordie Lockbaum would have not chance vs. today's PR machines.

Normally we prefer the less is more approach to hall of fame ballots, but this group is so stacked.

We'd go Maddux, Thomas, Glavine and Biggio as players and LaRussa and Torre, each of whom have more WS titles than Bobby. Eventually all of the non-players listed above will get in, but that's how we'd do it.

November 27, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

William of Brainerd,

Jackets can win this game. Last year was the only year Grantham has really done much against Tech's offense. His first year, Tech ran up and down the field for nearly 500 yards rushing. They also committed four ghastly turnovers.

jomo, nice call all the way around on the Thanksgiving turkeys.

And while Loni Anderson was Jennifer Marlowe was fetching to behold, Jan Smithers as Bailey Quarters was the two-seam sinking fastball on the outer edge of the plate.

Congrats to Tull and Huesman (coach) on their SoCon awards. My pick for offensive player of the year (and yes, this is through Eagle colored glasses) is the pride of Sprayberry High, Jerick McKinnon.

November 27, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

OK, 5, if you can follow this train of thought (this isn't like the "page of the month" club for James Joyce's works they had at Emory University. Seriously. There was one) ...

Clemson beats South Carolina. A&M beats Missouri. Ohio State loses to either Michigan or in the Big 10 title game. Stanford loses to Notre Dame (not as likely) or in the Pac 12 title game. Florida State beats Florida then beats the ACC Coastal sacrificial lamb. South Carolina, now in the SEC title game, beats the winner of the Iron Bowl in the SEC championship. Now, all of these could happen. Some of them are very likely. Some are a little less likely but not entirely implausible. And if they do ...

Who's in the national title game?

November 27, 2013 at 2:06 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - I know the season isn't over yet, but for the Friday mailbag...briefly (it's a holiday and there's lots of football to watch)...what good things from season 1 does Butch Jones have to build on for the 2014 season?

November 27, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
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