published Friday, November 29th, 2013

5-at-10: Friday mailbag about traditions, being the sports editor and an Iron Bowl contest

Gang, here's hoping each of you had a blessed Turkey Day. We believe Thanksgiving, as much as any of the holidays, is about traditions. And in that approach, we praise and followed sportsfan's tradition suggestion of charitable donation. We recognize Maximus' traditional plea for Russ Huesman to get a contract extension. We believe Spy should make the sunset sitting — the swamps of coastal region are wicked underrated — a tradition, maybe it would help mellow the aging warrior. We have long-since embraced the annual tradition of football, food and family — the latter two in appropriate doses of course.

We also highly recommend the Friday football fandango that is the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, the most memorable Friday in recent memory was the day after Thanksgiving in 2010 — Auburn rallies to beat Alabama, and then we race to cover Signal Mountain win in the state semifinals of the high school playoffs. Good times.

We're willing to embrace new traditions — there are reports of whiskey-fueled cars, to which we say, "Hey, we want to have more in common with our car, so we may as well drink the same thing. If it starts eating at Wally's, though, things may get awkward."

From the news of the weird, camels may be the source of MERS. If we had to bet which disease camels spawned, we'd have picked the kissing disease. MUMPS DAY! Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike.

From the "Talks too much" studios, guys thanks for sticking around for 800 of these daily ramblings. Good times. And share you answers to these questions if you like. Heck, we've even mixed in a holiday contest. Good times.

From 5-at-10 rookie

Jay, I read the Thanksgiving thing you and the sports department did in the paper. I thought it was very well done.

Who came up with that idea? I have to admit I'm a long-time subscriber to the paper and used to love Roy's Thanksgiving column and I hated that the paper didn't continue that tradition.

It got me thinking about being the sports editor and made me wonder what's the toughest part of your job?

Thanks and a friend of mind just got me started on the 5@10 -- it's pretty good and you should write more in the paper.

Rookie —

Thanks for the kind words and welcome to the show. Pull up a chair and stay a while.

We too have been a long-time fan of former Free Press sports editor Roy Exum's Thanksgiving column. It's perfectly his and his is perfectly suited for this area. In fact, Roy's was so good that when we started as the sports editor a little more than 10 years ago, the idea was floated about re-starting that. It was kiboshed for a couple of reasons: 1) The Executive Editor at the time said no and 2) Roy has so much success with it that anything similar would have felt like a cheap imitation.

That said, deputy sports editor Ron Bush and the boneheaded sports editor always looked for ways to have some sort of Thanksgiving tradition. More times than not it was one of our talented writers presenting a particularly moving human interest story, and that was fine.

This year, we trotted out this this, which was each of out writers and editors presenting something in the sports world for which we are thankful. We also thought David Cook's Thanksgiving column David Cook's Thanksgiving column was particularly well-done.

We're sure Roy will write his Thanksgiving column and we're sure it will be as good as ever and as popular as ever. And we're sure there will be at least one line in there that will make us say, "Man, wish we had written that," which is quite possibly the biggest compliment a writer can pay.

As for our day job, well, there are several difficult aspects that are high-arcing and simply part of the landscape. The hours can be a chore — it's not uncommon to start on the 5-at-10 at 6 a.m. and wrap the day's sporting events and activities around midnight with the Mrs. 5-at-10 and a Co-Cola — and there is a certain percentage of folks who are not going to please no matter what we do. It's important to juggle that perception among as many fan bases as possible. In the month of November, the sports editor has received complaints that range across this sprectrum:

• Why do you love Alabama/Why do you hate Alabama

• Do you know what state Chattanooga's in? Why is there not more Tennessee coverage? (Yes, this one makes us laugh too.)

• No one cares about UTC/UTC is the hometown school you owe them (This is one of favorites because it is whacked in each direction. One, plenty of folks in Chattanooga care about UT-Chattanooga. Two, we do not owe anyone anything. Period. It's our papers job to reflect interest not generate it. And as many of you know, the Mocs — from top to bottom — get more and better coverage than any program their size anywhere, and that's a commitment we have across the staff.)

• You only cover the private schools/You hate the private schools (We know we're in good shape when these are about even.)

• You love Baylor/You hate Baylor (Same as above)

• You only cover us/put us on the front/whatever when we lose. (Gang, we plan which games we're going to staff frequently a week in advance. We plan where the stories go frequently by 4 p.m. in the afternoon. If we knew who was going to win — and thusly planned to torment you and your team — we'd go to Vegas and make some real money.)

• You're a racist. (This one particularly goads us to tell the truth, because more times than not, the world of sports is the last meritocracy we have. If you are successful, you will get ink. So it goes.)

Sorry to get on a tangent, but it started rolling — and we probably offered way more of an inside look than you needed.

As for the toughest part of our gig, well, it's two things. One is balance. Balance in our split between work and family and balance in the coverage we plan and present in a market like Chattanooga with this many diverse interests and loyalties.

The second one is a little out there. No matter how good our paper is on given day, we have to come up with a way to try to be better tomorrow. That's taxing, especially on the days when you're really good. That said, one of the best things about our job is that on the days we're really bad, we get another chance the next morning to make up for it.

Either way, we know we're just the steward of the TFP sports section for a brief moment in time by comparison. This is our sports page — the community's — and we're just taking a turn behind the wheel for a while and enjoying the ride.

Thanks for the question and thanks for reminding us why we should be thankful.


From chas9

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.

  • photo
    Tennessee guard Josh Richardson, right, passes the ball to guard Antonio Barton (2) as he's pressured by The Citadel's Dylen Setzkorn during the first half of Monday night's game in Knoxville.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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?

9er —

We said it before this week, you know your hoops.

Let's take these in a titled order:

Yes you can win with a shoot-first point guard. Marcus Smart thinks so. Kemba Walker knows so.

We don't think Thompson should replace Barton. As you said Barton is shooting 70 percent and shooting 70 precent from anywhere does you know good sitting next to Coach Dale no matter how many passes you make before letting it fly. We think Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin should explore playing Thompson at the 1, Barton at 2, McRae at the 3 with Maymon and Stokes inside. It would leave you undersized against UK and some of the bigger teams in the league, but it gives you a chance to score in variety of ways. Be it McRae or Barton creating a shot or Thompson creating a play.

This team has offensive firepower but assists will not be as easily acquired as some may expect. Follow along: McRae is guy that creates his own shot and is a wing player more than a spot-up shooter. Stokes is an old-school, back-to-the-basket guy — well he is when he's embracing his role and putting himself in the best place to succeed — and one, two, three dribbles in a post move are not uncommon. As for Maymon, he has always been kind of point-four/a passing power forward so that's not conducive to generating a slew of assists.

So it goes. Last night's gross 78-70 loss to UTEP certainly was an example of the Vols struggles generating good offensive looks. The numbers are kind of staggering: UT shot less than 35 percent and had 15 turnovers to only eight assists and lost against a a mediocre opponent despite out-rebounding UTep 46-28 and shooting 13 more shots and 13 more free throws.

Whatever the solution, The Conz needs to figure it quickly. We are an admitted fan of The Conz, but if is not part of finding the solution, he may be part of the problem.


From Tide hater

OK, there's no secret to which side I'm on in Saturday's Iron Bowl and I don't particularly like Auburn. I'm just tired of the Alabama is King mumbo jumbo. Enough.

A friend and I have different opinions on what the best rivalry in sports is, one of us says the Iron Bowl and the other says Duke-UNC.

What do you say?

Thanks and thanks for the 5@10... have you thought about trying to get it on a bigger website?

Tide Hater —

Thanks for the kind words and for the email.

As for the bigger website, well, we're obligated to make the timesfreepress.com site as good as we can, and if the 5-at-10 helps that pursuit, then mission accomplished.

  • photo
    Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (76) and offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio (71) react after a win over Auburn in this file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Iron Bowl is the best — and worst — rivalry in all of college sports. Period. There is no rivalry that means more to those involved on a day-in, day-out basis. It's nuts. Heck, if you heard the Harvey Updyke story and the teams involved were left off the story, you'd guess Alabama-Auburn.

In fact, we believe the Iron Bowl to be the best rivalry in all of sports period.

Here's our ballot of best rivalry sport-by-sport (feel free to share yours):

College football: Auburn-Alabama (Michigan-Ohio State and Army-Navy are next)

College hoops: Duke-UNC (but Louisville-Kentucky is gaining quickly)

NFL: Steelers-Ravens

NBA: Celtics-Lakers (and LeBron vs. everyone)

MLB: Astros-Marlins (of course it's Yanks-Red Sox)

Thoughts?


From Billy-in-Brainerd

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.

B-i-B —

You bet Tech can win. Let's review the three key points here, while first acknowledging the obvious: Mark Richt has owned Tech to the point that he is cashing rent checks to allow the Jackets time to use Grant Field. Dude is 11-1 against the Jackets. Ouch-standing.

As for the good for Tech on Saturday:

• The triple option is a tough nut to crack in one week of preparation, never mind a holiday week. Plus, when Todd Gratham, PhD, is involved in that preparation, well, edge Jackets. In fact, unless it's a hot dog eat-off, wherever Grantham is involved, give the edge to the Jackets.

• Hutson Mason is making his first start. This can't be overstated. We believe Mason has the skills to be successful and was fine last week, but when he entered last week, the game was comfortably in hand. Making your first start in an in-state rivalry can be tough sledding.

• Paul Johnson is likely coaching for his job. That type of motivation — partnered with Johnson's offensive aggressiveness — can lead to a complete and total unpredictability that could be intriguing. Would it shock us if the Jackets came out in a shotgun? Nope, because Johnson can't leave anything back in this one.

Enjoy the game, and Grant Field is one of the more underrated game-day experiences around.


From Sportsfan

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?

Sportsfan —

We're running low on time. We'll answer this in Monday's 5-at-10. Deal? Deal.


From Spy

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?

Spy —

We know StuckinKent believes in his soul THE Ohio State loses to Michigan State. If that scenario plays out, FSU is a clear invitee. And if all that craziness ensues, the BCS could be left trying to figure out a way to keep Clemson out of the title game.

One thing that is unclear about your scenario is if Auburn beats Alabama and then loses to South Carolina in your stated game of what if, Alabama could get back into the mix.

But in basic terms, the scene you floated out likely means FSU and Oklahoma State will be in the title game. And to make matters more confusing, what happens if Jameis Winston's legal matters are decided before the ACC title game and he's arrested? How would that affect the voters, especially if a Winston-less FSU beat Duke 9-3 in the ACC title game?

Buckle up gang.

Oh yeah the contest.

Iron will Iron Bowl Contest.

Rules are simple: Send us who you got and the score. We'll start with Auburn 35-34 (and yes it's a heart pick) Order of deciding this thing: Winning team, spread of victory, total points scored with Price is Right rules in place.

Thoughts? Who's in and feel free to sound off.

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.
chas9 said...

Jay warned us yesterday about the brutal Starkville Bulldawg prune with gilt unis. He was 110% correct. Hard to watch. I had to break out my old B&W TV. But I still dislike more the highly saturated ALL RED 'Zona costume.

How about this guideline? Unless you're a male figure skater, don't wear the same color head to toe. Is there any color that looks good when you wear it all over?

Speaking of over-saturated, could you tone down the Porky Pig pink on Roy's face? Yes, his Thanksgiving column is/was what Roy did bet. And David Cook's columns are always awe and thought inspiring.

I like your suggestion for an improved Vol lineup. Good time to shake it up. It's hard to argue that The Cuonz doesn't have the talent to win. Somehow, the whole is always less than the parts. Perhaps this team will finish the season strong, like last year.

Agree that Alabama U and Auburn U is the best rivalry, and that UL-UK is gaining on the Tobacco Road thing. And didn't Gators-Seminoles used to be interesting?

According to my perceptions the heavy ratio of column inches devoted to Knoxville U vs. all others is a bit less under Greeson than under Exum (and others), and that's a good thing.

Perhaps the most valuable principle I've learned to appreciate is balance in all things.

November 29, 2013 at 10:37 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

"No one cares about UTC/UTC is the hometown school you owe them (This is one of favorites because it is whacked in each direction. One, plenty of folks in Chattanooga care about UT-Chattanooga. Two, we do not owe anyone anything. Period. It's our papers job to reflect interest not generate it. And as many of you know, the Mocs — from top to bottom — get more and better coverage than any program their size anywhere, and that's a commitment we have across the staff.)"

I wish to concur on this. TREMENDOUSLY. I grant you UTC has a long way to go in order to obtain the hardcore following of an SEC school BUT...unless you live in a college town where the local college is a party of one (like in Boone or Elon), most FCS schools rarely get ANY major coverage if they are located in a medium or large/sized metro market. I've brought this up several times but both UT-Arlington and UNT are more or less direct peers of UTC and you know how much coverage they get from the Dallas Morning News?

Yep. Exactly.

Even big brother school SMU up the road is lucky to get a 1-2 front page write-ups a year during football season (Unless they upset at UT (the other one) or A&M or Tech.

I grant you Jay I would love a shot at Frierson's or your job (and I'm scholastically qualified for it) but I also know the balancing act is brutal to say the least.

November 29, 2013 at 10:42 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

On sports rivalies:

For the NFL, you can actually do a whole column if not special on what people would consider the top ones. My opinion is the top-tier one to be Chicago/Green Bay. The others, including the often heated division rivalies we have between Philidelphia, Washington, and New York (Giants), are more geared toward regional and not national rivalies. Just me though.

MLB: Again regional only but by all accounts Rangers/Angels. Those series ALWAYS sell out or the ticket prices are very high end. Same with Red Sox and Yankees because those teams usually play one series at home with the Rangers per year.

Rangers/Oakland is also becoming something of a hot-ticket as well but not as much as the previously mentioned.

November 29, 2013 at 11:25 a.m.
chas9 said...

More on the Duke-UNC rivalry: The Chapel Hill crew isn't holding up its end of the deal. Tonight's 'Zona-Duke game will be better than The Sky Blue team v. Duke this year.

Smart is an awesome scorer. But he's exceptional. And don't mention Kemba around me. He hurt us almost as bad as Laetner did.

Tennessee-Xavier is tipping it off about now. Let's see how they fare in a repeat match up from two or three weeks ago.

November 29, 2013 at 1 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

You cannot win with a point guard that is absolutely no offensive threat. I give you the vastly overrated Ed Cota as an example. There was nothing like watching UNC go 4 on 5 while on offense.

November 29, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - I'll take Bama 42-35 in OT. Sorry. Also, I predict Musberger gets a restraining order after a pre-game interview of Ms. Webb.

November 29, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: Bama 35-17.

November 29, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Bama 32-30

November 29, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.
chas9 said...

U of Bama 30, U of Auburn 24

November 29, 2013 at 5:02 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang, we'll leave the guess open until tomorrow around lunch and folks can either add them here or email them in and we'll try to post them by 3 p.m. (Eastern).

In other news, and we'll discuss this more on Moday, but Press Row — our radio show with TFP SEC ace David Paschall — returns to 105.1 FM on Monday.

Give us a listen — it don't cost nothin'.

November 29, 2013 at 6:45 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Auburn 34 Bama 31

Yes that's from the heart.

November 29, 2013 at 10:50 p.m.
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