published Thursday, September 12th, 2013

5-at-10: Allegations closer to home, SEC watchables, Fab 4-picks and the biggest recruiting mistake EVER

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's go to the park to get the scoop, knuckleheads out there cold shootin' some hoops. (Also, remember Friday's mailbag — there's a spot or two open.)

And now this is happening

From 1,500 miles away, the Sports Illustrated allegations being dump-trucked on Oklahoma State seem like second-hand gossip that goes something like this:

"Did you hear about so-and-so?"

"Yeah. Not really all that surprising, I guess."

"Yeah. It likely happens all over."

"Yeah. Want to get some lunch?"

"Sure."

The Cowboys are facing a tidal wave of allegations that range from paying players to changing grades to a drug culture and shady recruiting practices. It's based on the testimony of more than 60 former players. You know the details.

Well.........

About 6 p.m. Wednesday, YahooSports dropped two stories that allege five former SEC players received payments from a former Alabama player, Luther Davis, who was acting as a runner for agents. This is an NCAA no-no.

And while the SI allegations have an army of interviews, the Yahoo folks have a filing cabinet of documents ranging from wired money transfers to checks to airplane tickets. (Side note: If the Yahoo team sets up camp in your college's town, better batten down the hatches because Wyatt Earp's coming and heck's coming with him.)

The five players named in the Yahoo stories are former Alabama star tackle D.J. Fluker, who reportedly got more than $30,000, former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, current Vols defensive tackle Mo Couch, and former Mississippi State players Fletcher Cox and Chad Bumphis.

To be fair and upfront, the charges seem pretty clear that this was outside parties acting on interests of agents and the players accepting those gifts. Other than not monitoring the activity or catching the perpetrators, the schools do not seem to have been alleged to have committed any NCAA violations.

That said, it is very possible that those former players could be found ineligible because of this and the games in which they played could be forfeited. For Alabama, that would mean a lot. For Tennessee, well, giving back that N.C. State win last season would make it even more difficult to find Derek Dooley's high-water mark.

In the now, Alabama coach Nick Saban met with the media Wednesday night and said he did not want to talk about the allegations. Well no kidding, but in political terms that's like John Kerry meeting with reporters and saying he would like to skip the Syria subject.

No can do, pal, this is what was carrying the news cycle.

So Saban made his statement, took a trio of questions about Fluker and the allegations and walked off. Yep, a three-and-out and we're still more than 48 hours from the kickoff of the Tide's biggest game of the season.

Sweet buckets, think we'll have anything to talk about on Press Row with Paschall from 1-3 p.m. on 105.1 FM today?

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5 SEC things to look for

We could spend a day on Alabama's trip to Texas A&M, but there's a full Saturday to discuss. Look for a Tide-Aggies tail of the tape in Friday's TFP.

  • photo
    Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) stands on the sideline during the first half of the Aggies' Maroon & White spring NCAA college football game at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

1) Here's Johnny!

Johnny Football spent the entire offseason embracing the star/brat pack culture that is the sexy siren of instant fame. Well, now, facing an Alabama team that helped catapult him to that lofty perch among the sports royalty of the now, can he repeat that performance and remind us how he was a star before he was a brat? Are you ready for your close-up Mr. Manziel? You better be. It's impossible to overstate this game for Johnny Merchandize. If he wins, he's a big-game guy with charisma; if he loses, he's a one-hit wonder that fell victim to the pressure. As Crash tells Nuke in the locker room, "Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob." This is Johnny's shower-shoes moment.

2) Directional game in Auburn

Auburn is 2-0 and has reason to believe that last season's debacle was an apparition. The offense has three legit running back threats. The defense has not allowed a TD in 19 possessions — heck last year it was tough to remember 19 consecutive plays in which the Tigers did not surrender a touchdown. Auburn welcomes Mississippi State to Jordan-Hare, and this is one of those games that each team expects to win. Well, expectations are one thing; results are another. The winner of this one moves north in standings; the loser will have a much tougher trek in the always tough SEC West.

3) UT has the need, the need for speed

OK, we'll say it — Top Gun was way cooler then than now. Some movies just don't hold up. You know what does hold up through time: Die Hard. And Hooisers. Make it a good one Strap. You know what Johnny Vols Fans need to hold up Saturday — Tennessee's resurgent defense. Force turnovers. Tackle in space. Make Oregon kick it a few times — punts are perfection and field goals are fine. While time of possession does not mean a hill of beans in this one — Oregon has scored an average of 62.5 points per game with less than 20 minutes time of possession on average — Tennessee running the football is paramount because you can't ask Justin Worley to win a shootout with his pop gun.

4) What channel is the Longhorn Network?

Ole Miss fans will be wondering this for most of Saturday night, since the Rebels go to Austin and will play Texas on its own TV station. Say what you will about Notre Dame, at least we know the location of its personal network — NBC is pretty common. The Longhorn Network? Not so much. We do know that those lovable Longhorns are super cute when they try to tackle people, God bless 'em. If the over/under on this game was 100, would that be too much?

5) How hungover will South Carolina be?

The after-affects of the Gamecocks' SEC-East altering loss to Georgia last week will be present, but will they be there for a possession, a half or an afternoon. We all know that you can't sleepwalk by James Franklin's Vandy teams, and South Carolina has the better roster. Still, a sluggish performance against the Commodores could be flirting with real disaster.

————

Fab 4-plus-1 picks

Last week we went 4-1 against the spread. We were quite please, even if it was not as good as our perfect opening weekend.

We feel the need — no, not the need for speed — to share the disclaimer that past performance does not insure future gains. And remember kids, these picks are against the spread and for entertainment purposes only. And only risk the entertainment with which you can afford to lose.

Giddy-up.

Here's this week picking tip. If you feel good about picking winners, great. But you can have the exact same success picking losers. Follow along as we make picks on four games as much because of the badness of one of the teams involved.

West Virginia minus-38 over Georgia State: The Panthers are bad. Like Sex Panther bad. There are bits of real Panthers in there. Sixty percent of the time, they lose every time. You stay classy, Morgantown. 72-10. We talk about riding hot teams, well, we're going to ride the stone cold Georgia Staters for a awhile, too.

Arkansas State minus-7 over Troy: Troy needed overtime to beat UAB at home. Arkansas State moved the ball against Auburn. We think Arkansas State is the class of the Sun Belt. We think Troy is the best football program between Montgomery and Panama City. Get you some, Spinnaker.

Louisville minus-13 over Kentucky: The Wildcats subbed out quarterbacks 17 times last week. The Cardinals have Teddy Bridgewater. Any questions?

Western Kentucky minus-10 at South Alabama: Every Tennessee fan everywhere knows the Vols beat Western Kentucky by the tightest 32-point margin in history. South Alabama? It has a home loss to Southern Utah.

Maryland minus-6 at UConn: You may want to buy the half here to be safe, but UConn lost to Towson State. We'd didn't even know Towson had applied to become a state, but there you go. This one feels like this week's 31-10, don't turn your neck and cash the check. For entertainment purposes only of course.

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This and that

— If you watch Breaking Bad — the amazing AMC series about Walter White going from chemistry teach to Meth kingpin — are you happy or angry that there will be a spin center on attorney Saul Goodman called "Better Call Saul" in the works? We're cautiously optimistic.

— Gang, we spend a lot of time discussing college football, but if you need an sledgehammer thud of proof that the NFL is the sports monolith right now, well try this on for size. Here are the top 10 watched TV shows for the last week according to Nielsen:

1) Giants-Cowboys, NBC — 25.4 million viewers

2) Ravens-Broncos, NBC — 25.1 million viewers

3) Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick, NBC — 19.32 million viewers

4) NFL Thursday Night Pre-Kick, NBC — 18.03 million viewers

  • photo
    "Duck Dynasty," stars Jase, left, Si, Willie and Phil Robertson, and is the biggest show on television featuring hillbillies, rednecks or good ol' boys. Whatever you want to call them, they are laughing all the way to the bank. Photo: A&E

5) The OT, Fox — 17.6 million viewers

6) Football Night in America, NBC — 14 million viewers

7) Under the Dome, CBS — 11.15 million viewers

8) Duck Dynasty, A&E — 10.5 million viewers

9) NFL Opening Kickoff Show, NBC — 10.1 million viewers

10) America's Got Talent, NBC — 10 million viewers

NBC dominated the week — averaging almost double the viewers in prime time than the next closes network — and we can't name a single non-football show on NBC currently. That, friends is why the Cleveland Browns are worth a billion bucks.

— We have been on the Alabama side of this weekend's game of the century for a while. it's not among our Fab 4-plus-1 picks for a couple of reasons. First, will the background noise be a distraction? Secondly, do you know the last three QBs to beat Nick Saban — Johnny Football, Jordan Jefferson and Cam Newton. That's three alleged outlaws who can run. We're not sayin', we're just sayin', you know?

— Patriots-Jets is your Thursday night match-up, and we have heard way too much about New England's limited weapons. Hello, the Jets are relying on a rookie QB against Bill Belichick.

————

Today's question

There's a slew of stuff to discuss today. Tons in fact.

But, since we love the draft — you know this — and recruiting is somewhat like the draft, let's make this correlation.

JaMarcus Russell is the single worst draft pick in NFL history. There is no debating that, since the best wide receiver (Clavin johnson), tackle (Joe Thomas), running back (Adrian Peterson), middle linebacker (Patrick Willis) and cornerback (Darrelle Revis) were all selected within the next 14 picks after the Raiders tabbed Russell.

Is Tyler Bray the worst recruit ever? Consider the following:

Lane Kiffin had to have Bray. To get Bray, Kiffin undercut B.J. Coleman, forcing him to transfer. Kiffin told Tajh Boyd, thanks but no thanks. Now Bray, he of the back tat, the throat slashes, the loco dance, the sideline tears, the beer-bottle throwing and enough glanced stares to fill the Dunkin' Donuts from here to Boston, allegedly took cash from agents during his time at Tennessee.

Or better yet: When the Vols return to Knoxville next week, which would get you punched faster, orange Dooley pants or a No. 8 Bray jersey?

Discuss, and gang, let's have some fun out there.

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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chas9 said...

Whatever they paid Bray, it was too much.

Popgun? With that and reading between the lines on Patrick's gentle article, I'll stick with my contention that UK has two quarterbacks better'n Worley.

While licking their wounds, Johnny Volsfan can come out to the home show Sunday and ask John Majors how to bring The Vols back to glory days.

Dennis Dodd has a great story pointing out that despite crazy strong credentials (like earning three national championship rings), unless A. J. is named to an all-America team, he won't end up in the college hall of fame.

I agree that Teddy will win by more than 13, but it won't be because of UK's quarterbacks.

September 12, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
chas9 said...

I hope they kept the cameras rolling when the military truck ran over the zombie actor.

September 12, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
Stewwie said...

[Or better yet: When the Vols return to Knoxville next week, which would get you punched faster, orange Dooley pants or a No. 8 Bray jersey?]

At first I would have said the Bray jersey. But most TN fans are so drunk at the game that they wouldn't be able to tell what name and number is on the jersey. So you're safe there. The orange pants, on the other hand, are clear as day no matter your condition. Not so safe there.

Why is the NFL as popular as it is? We all like football, but 25 million viewers is crazy. And 20 million tuned into the pre-shows. That's even crazier. Have the rules changes over the last 10 years to benefit offenses been the major reason for this? Or have other things (such as the popularity of fantasy football or a lack of an interest in baseball) been as much of a reason for the strong draw to watch the NFL?

This got me thinking about the sports I like to watch on TV. The NFL is only 3rd. Out of these 10 sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, Tennis, Soccer, NASCAR, PGA, college football, college b-ball), what do you like to watch on TV the most? Here's my list:

1) College football, 2) NBA, 3) NFL, 4) Tennis, 5) College b-ball, and I don't watch any of the other five. It would be interesting to see what everyone's lists are. I think most of us would have the same #1, but after that, it could be anything.

September 12, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay-

First things first, whose Thayer Evans?

Also, while I commend Yahoo for presenting hard evidence, it's still kinda weird. "Yahoo" is more a search engine (or at least that was how they started out) then a "creditable" news source. That's not to dispute the context of the information but in regards to "branding labels", it reads like Little Johnny Turner's middle school sports blog having the crediable upper hand vs. the sports writing staff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (who are suppose to be big-league professionals in the sports writing catagory). Make any sense?

No comment regarding this Saturday's home game against the Dirty Guv'nas out of Clarksville? I know it's severely overshadowed compared to Bama/A&M and Tennessee's first "real" opponent but still....

Tyler Bray the worst recruit? I would say yes to date. Though if Griffin hadn't wanted him so badly, BJ would never have become a Moc which Huesman stated numerous times accelerated his rebuilding plan by about 2-2 1/2 years. As for wearing a Bray jersey, no Tennessee fan would do ever do that. They will either wear a generic one, a custom one with their last name on it, or "Manning".

The Longhorn Network is a premium channel so you're more likely to find it on a satellite provider a suppose to a cable provider (unless you live in Austin or in an area outside of Austin).

The sheer irony is the fact this very network, while not the primary factor, is what basically drove the wedge between Mother Austin and the last schools they played from the old SWC. Not really popular when the very program its suppose to be an anchor for is floundering. Karma: Rock on!

September 12, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent (and his picks from Wednesday)

Arkansas State and Western Kentucky are tied for the class of the Sun Belt in my opinion. I think chas will agree with me on that one....

While I agree that Georgia State is terrible, WVU only beat William & Mary by 7. Then they only scored 7 against Oklahoma. Yes, Georgia State won't score more than 10. But to cover the 38 points, that means WVU needs to score 49. In other words, they'd have to score 18 more points than they've scored through two games combined. That's what scares me about Georgia State-WVU. WVU could win 31-0, with their offense looking much better, their defense playing flawlessly, and still come up eight points short. That being said, if ever there was a time for WVU's offense to wake up and score, it's this week. GSU is terrible. Terrible. If GSU doesn't cover this week, the spread probably can't be big enough on October 5....when the Panthers head to Tuscaloosa to take on the Tide.

WKU-South Alabama almost looks too good to be true. Hard to believe South Alabama is only a ten point dog. Should have taken that one, but then I got scared that WKU may come out flat after back-to-back emotional wins. If they do, maybe it is closer.

September 12, 2013 at 11:05 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Friend of the show StuckinKent's picks

Louisville -13.5 over Kentucky- Kentucky lost by 9 to Western Kentucky. Now they're going to hang with Louisville within two touchdowns? Come on. If this happens, Tennessee should be inserted directly ahead of Louisville in the polls, regardless of the outcome of the Oregon-Tennessee game.

Alabama -7.5 over Texas A&M- Nick Saban angry. You don't want to see Nick Saban angry. A&M is toast.

Fresno State -9.5 over Colorado- The Buffaloes are 2-0. But they are not that good. Fresno State is good. This is at Colorado and could make this one close, but I think Fresno wins this by at least two touchdowns.

Boston College +14 over USC- The Trojans offense may wake up this week. BC is travelling across the country. But the Trojans offense may not be able to score 14 points, much less win by 14 points. Don't be surprised if BC wins outright. USC probably wins outright, but it's single digits.

Arizona -26.5 over UTSA- This number scares me, but I rode Arizona last week, and I'll ride them this week too. UNLV is better than UTSA (not that UNLV is good). Arizona was on the road last week and is at home this week. They'll win by 30.

September 12, 2013 at 11:05 a.m.
chas9 said...

Good to read from Downtown Brown that Mr. North will get more PT. He's fun to watch. What I can't believe is that Mallard Creek didn't use him more than the numbers Patrick reported.

Stuckey's picks look solid. He'll be rolling in pecan logs after the weekend.

September 12, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Stewwie- I can't speak regarding Fantasy Football because I am not an active participent, but I still believe I have a valid answer based on both personal experience (I live 30 minutes from Jerry's Death Star over on I-30) and comments from online readers (who appear to be local as well) from a recent article off of CNN's sports page.

The popularity stems from one single key factor: technology. As well as economics 101. It is basically cheaper to purchase a 40" HD flat screen from Wal-Mart then the cost of two tickets to Cowboys Stadium. And if you know how to make your own snacks (which I do) and a place to get good spirits on the cheap (I know two; one's in a bad part of town though), then why go see them live? The experience? PULL-LEEZZEE. The average cost of parking at Cowboys Stadium is roughly $75.00. There are places you can park for $25.00/$35.00 but you better bring some really good walking shoes. This is why one fan wrote "the spaces near the stadium resemble a Lexus, Mercedez, Jaguar, and Range Rover dealership." In order to really see the game, you have to be in the first 8-10 rows, those tickets go for close to $1,000. If you're lucky to go in mid-row, all you're really watching is that giant jumbotron which "De-de-de" is the same as watching TV at home. Only now all your money is going to Jerry instead of your savings account.

What about the Party Pass for $20.00? More like sardine pass. Do you REALLY want your Cowboys experience to be rubbing elbows with people you don't know and haven't bathed in a week all while standing up to see an obstructed view of the game? (Just ask Jackie Floyd of the Dallas Morning News, she knows)

My favorite comment (from the same person) stated all the opposing team fans are louder then the Cowboy fans because all the "real" fans are watching the game at home and the ones attending are too busy texting to even pay attention to what's going on.

And because the games are once a week for 16 now 18 weeks a year, the supply and demand are different then baseball or even soccer (MLS is big here believe it or not)

September 12, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

"We do know that those lovable Longhorns are super cute when they try to tackle people..." So when did Ted & BVG takeover the Texas DC position? That agent needs to talk to Bray and get a refund.

September 12, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.
Stewwie said...

JMC,

I agree with your point about the fan experience being more convenient (and certainly much much cheaper) at home than at the actual game. But I don't think that fully explains how/why 25 million people tuned in to watch those games. That is such a high number for TV viewing these days. By comparison, just under 9 million tuned in for the Notre Dame-Michigan game on Sat. night on a fellow network channel (ABC).

Nobody denies that lots of folks like football. But when my friends and I are together, our football conversations are 90% about the college game. I've even got a couple of buddies who love football but hate the NFL simply because it's a professional sport (some of the same reasons some people love college b-ball but hate the NBA). So where are these 25 million folks coming from to watch the NFL? And why is it such a better draw than the big college games?

September 12, 2013 at 12:09 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Stewmeister- One possibility, and this is a complete blind guess mind you, is maybe due to the fact there are only 30 NFL teams as suppose to the 200+ college programs both on regular and online broadcasts. That can definitely fragment the viewership. I mean, I don't care for Notre Dame or Michigan no matter how many times they play on NBC when I can watch Tennessee on ABC, ESPN, or any independent channel carrying an SEC Network game and the Mocs on ESPN3. While I'm sure Fantasy Football plays a hefty role, I'm still sticking with my technology belief as being the main key factor. However, one factor that is present but "off-the-wall" is the fact it was the Cowboys. They are always a big draw ratings-wise because there's no middle ground. You either watch them because you like them or you watch them because you hate them and want to see the opposing team ram the football down their throats. That's why regardless of how medicore their season may have been, they always get the lion's share of Sunday Night "network" broadcast games.

September 12, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.
Stewwie said...

JMC,

Good point about the fragmented viewership and Dallas' following. And the Giants are from the nation's largest media market. But I would counter with this...the Broncos/Ravens drew the same big rating as Giants/Cowboys. Plus, Notre Dame has a very strong following like the boys in Big D do. Both games were in primetime and on a network station. And I don't think there was another big college game on Sat. night unless I'm forgetting. So why did nearly 3 times more viewers watch the Cowboys than Irish? Are there simply that many more NFL fringe fans than what the college game has? I'm surprised the numbers aren't much closer than they are.

September 12, 2013 at 1:44 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Worst recruit ever? I'll go with anyone named Clausen. Rick, Casey, Jimmy and weird cousin Claude Henry Smoot Clausen.

Maryland is much better this year than last year and they have a gamebreaking wide receiver in Mr. Diggs.

More reason to lay money on the Pats tonight, with or without Danny Amendola (say, wasn't that John Travolta's character in Grease? Or was it Saturday Night Live? I digress) ... the Jets LB coach, I do believe, is one Brian VanGorder. Brady and Belichick vs. BVG is a mismatch made in betting heaven. And my love of TB and BB and utter contempt and hatred for BVG have nothing to do with it. Really. Not even a little.

September 12, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Stewwie-

My intension is not trying to one-up you (I would never do that to anyone, especially a fellow Mocs fan) but will definitely agree on the "fringe fan" factor. My reason being I tend to listen nowadays more towards Sirius/XM more then traditional market radio here in Dallas and basically a lot of the "guy" channels including most of the sports ones are have callers/hosts who get mondo stoked over pro-team X on Sundays. The same way we get excited about our favorite SEC teams (which to be honest, a lot of people in other parts of the country do not understand AND tend to ridicule). In some markets, pro-team "X" is like the team to root for (even if the city/town has a college team in a major conference). Also another factor, going back to the Denver game, is that a lot of those viewers probably weren't all Bronco fans from the Denver area past and present but also Tennessee fans who will follow Payton even if he plays for the Iowa Barnstormers (just a possibility mind you). Long story short, I'll definitely acknowledge the fringe-fan factor but regarding the Denver game, I do believe a key factor to those ratings had more to do with The Church of Payton as I like to call it.

-And as he reached back thrusted the mighty pigskin with all his might, the will of the orange tribe of Tennessee allowed the elder Manning's aim to be true an thou scoreth in the fourth. Payton 1:14. (I'm evil ^^() )

September 12, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
Stewwie said...

JMC,

Not a problem at all. Good discussion.

September 12, 2013 at 2:54 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

5/10 in case you missed it this is the 5th anniversary of the score fest between Auburn and Miss St - yes the 3-2 win on the plains. Still gives me the heebie jeebies

September 12, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.
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