published Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

5-at-10: SEC duplicity, potential coaching carousel, Hangover quotes and should questions

Remember Friday's mailbag and enjoy the final week of summer. Sigh.

From the "Talks too much" studios, tigers love pepper; they hate cinnamon.

SEC intrigue — sort of

We head into a college football weekend of blah so staggering that ESPN's College Football Gameday is heading to North Dakota State. (Major props to JMC for pimping the NDSU program from the very start. Well-played indeed.)

That said, there are two SEC games this week that will serve as extreme measuring sticks for two first-year coaches.

  • photo
    Butch Jones
    Photo: Donald Page / University of Tennessee Athletics

Butch Jones and the Tennessee Vols are a 17-point underdog at Florida. Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers are a 17.5-point underdog at LSU.

Giddy-up.

Butch and Co. had a Custer-sized chance heading across the country and facing an Oregon team that is going to pants a lot of folks. That loss was more about Oregon than Tennessee, and even those with the deepest tinted orange glasses can buy that.

Saturday is different, though. Saturday — even as a 17-point underdog — is against a Florida team that has tortured Tennessee fans for a generation. And this is not exactly a Florida juggernaut, especially offensively.

For Auburn and Malzahn, Saturday's opposition is tougher as is the challenge, so the fact that the visiting Tigers are the same longshot as the Vols screams Vegas believes Malzahn's club is further along than the Jones' gang.

  • photo
    Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley prepares to pass in this file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A large part of that perception has to be the positive steps Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has made in the first three weeks and the stagnation of UT counterpart Justin Worley to the point that the Vols were re-auditioning for the part of QB1 this week.

Still, for each of the new coaches at programs starving for improvement in the cut-throat realm that is the SEC, Saturday is a fair litmus test for each.

Which team has the better shot at keeping it close? Discuss, and we'll share our answer around lunch.

Not at the table Carlos.

————

Bo Pelini

  • photo
    Nebraska's Bo Pelini, front left, greets Chattanooga's Russ Huseman after their Saturday, Sept 3, 2011, NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bo Pelini believes Nebraska fans will forgive his off-the-cuff, off-the-record rant that was taped a few years ago about bandwagon Cornhuskers fans that included a couple of choice words that would make George Carlin's ears perk up.

We agree about fans being able to forgive the occasional frustrated rant, especially when it was delivered in what was perceived to be a private moment.

But Pelini's biggest hurdle right now is whether or not he has peaked with Nebraska, the program being a top-half team in a mediocre Big Ten and little more. Even though Taylor Martinez has somehow been allowed to play college football for like 12 years — feels like dude has been in college as long as the 5-at-10 was, and we took a couple of junior years and a redshirt or three — what was the last highlight for Pelini and the Cornhuskers?

And the timing of the release of this rant could not be much worse, considering it comes on the heels of Nebraska turning a 21-3 lead into a 41-21 loss at home last weekend against UCLA.

The audio tape and Pelini's cussing language will not sink his ship; the video tape and the Pelini's coaching limitations will.

Which leads us to the very real possibility that we could go into the offseason with USC, Texas and Nebraska jobs open. Sweet coaching raises and rumor milling madness, are we ready for that?

We say you bet. And Gus Malzahn is off the market.

Do you know if the hotel is pager friendly?

————

Wildcard races

Baseball enters the final stretch — we have always believed that baseball is background music until the 'er' months — and there are several teams fighting for the two wildcard spots in each league.

Let's explore:

If the season ended this morning, in the AL it would be:

1) Boston (magic number 3)

2) Detroit

3) Oakland

Wildcard play-in: Tampa Bay at Texas

If the season ended this morning, in the NL it would be:

1) Atlanta (magic number 4)

2) L.A. (magic number 2)

3) St. Louis

Wildcard play-in: Cincy at Pittsburgh

The rest of the division leaders have magic numbers of more than five.

The AL wildcard standings are:

Tampa Bay and Texas tied with identical 82-68 records.

Cleveland is 82-69 and a half-game back. Baltimore is two back and Kansas City and the Yankees are 3.5 back. Each team has 11 or 12 games remaining.

In the NL wildcard, the Pirates are 1.5 up on the Reds, who are 4.5 ahead of the surging Nationals.

God bless the 'er' months. And put your pants back on; we feel uncomfortable having to ask twice.

————

This and that

— How are we into preseason NHL? Technically, it's still summer until Sunday. E-gads.

— You guys know how much we love Barkevious Mingo and how we believe Barkevious was put on the fast track to being an NFL first-rounder by his parents giving him the name Barkevious. There simply are not many accountants or dentists walking around with Barkevious Mingo, C.P.A., or Barkevious Mingo, D.D.S. on their cards. Meet the tennis version: Tornado and Hurricane Black. (Side point: You have to be careful very careful with girls' names, though, because you are could be headed to center court or center stage. Right Spy?)

— We keep a particularly close eye on the odds and the spreads and the things that affect the world of gaming — for entertainment purposes only of course. This has the makings of a historically one-sided weekend, considering Miami is a 60-point favorite over Savannah State — only the third 60-plus-point pick ever (FSU -65 over Savannah State last year and Hawaii -60 vs. Northern Colorado in 2007), according to RJ Bell of pregame.com.

— We mentioned it Monday, but the Vegas guesstimation for Johnny Football's late TD to cover the spread against Alabama was a $5 million windfall for the house in Vegas. That's why they build those really nice buildings. You probably get this a lot... did, um, the real Caesar live here?

  • photo
    Atlanta Falcons fullback Jason Snelling (44) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— The Atlanta Falcons are banged up to a point that they are likely going to be catching 3 at Miami on Sunday. We are worried about Mike Smith, Matty Ice Ice Baby and the rest. That said, we fully endorse the idea of throwing the ball to Julio Jones 20 times a Sunday. Dude may look kind of funny, but we believe he's the best wide receiver on the planet not named Calvin Johnson. Julio Jones needs a nickname. Now we know for sure we just added two more guys to the wolfpack.

————

Today's question

Play along with any of the above of course. And remember the Friday mailbag and know that just about any thing is fair game. (Keep it clean Spy. Ew, Alan did you just eat sofa pizza?)

Feel free to weigh in about who will be the hottest name on what could be the hottest college football coaching market, maybe ever.

But if you still need a talking point, let's go to any of these three 'should' stops:

Should the NCAA pay athletes?

Should the PGA quit taking calls from Johnny Golf Fan about this rule infraction or that improper impediment?

And the StuckinKent special, Should the Pirates and the Royals make the World Series, would you watch?

Discuss. (I should of been a cop.)

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...

Hey, J--Could you please channel a conversation in which Bo Pelini explains how to have smooth relations with the press to Lane Kiffin? (Or Nick Saban or Mike Tyson, your choice.)

Did you see the butt slide at second base in the Cincy-Houston game? It's worth looking for the video.

Jerry Palm predicts that Bowling Green and The Green Wave will go bowling this year, but not The Mean Green. He says you can't spell Music City without UT, and Auburn can't spell anything. That is, no bowl in AU's near future. Maybe Vegas knows more tan Palm does. How about Julio "Caesar" Jones? No? I'll keep working on it.

September 18, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

"We head into a college football weekend of blah so staggering that ESPN's College Football Gameday is heading to North Dakota State. (Major props to JMC for pimping the NDSU program from the very start. Well-played indeed.)"

O_o

"I know what would be be a ratings gameday winner. How about ESPN College Football Gameday live at the Fargo Dome to watch to 'F-C-S' teams go at it" said nobody.

Why the sudden change of heart? Has the Tennessee/Florida game lost THAT much appeal?

And yes, this is news to me.

On baseball, Ron is definitely in the hotseat (Who are these "Braves" you speak of?) after dropping the last seven before last night's win against Tampa. Instead of going after Oakland for the Division, we're now fighting for a spot in the Wild-Card. OUCH-standing.

Major props to Weeds regarding the mother of all re-boots with NCAA. It's rare gems like these I wish his columns were syndicated from time to time.

September 18, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
chas9 said...

Both favorites will cover the spread, but I'll guess that AU keeps it closer because The Gators will learn from The Ducks' tapes how to burn The Vols, and if UT is trying new combos, there'll be the bugs that come with unpracticed/untested stuff.

September 18, 2013 at 11:32 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

When listing why GameDay was coming to Fargo - must have been some sort of malfeasance - they listed first the back-to-back FCS titles and then the Bison's record the last two years before mentioning the win over K-State. Which is not NDSU's first win but just its most recent win over a FBS/BCS program. I did not make the trips to Fargo with my Eagle brethren the last two years but they did say the place is really, really loud and NDSU is really, really good.

Is Taylor Martinez related to Stephen Garcia? At least, because of his speed, he's not called Taylor Swift, even though they are both skinny (girl could use a sammich. And sweetie, if all these guys is leaving you, maybe the problem ain't them. Just sayin'.)

As for your questions today, 5, I go no, yes, yes. A player as good as Andrew McCutchen needs to be on the national stage.

And my question for you is - aside from the upper end zone seats for the Falcons-Patriots game are $100 minimum right now, which means the Spy ain't a-goin' - do you think Belichick in his Emperor hoodie looks at AJ McCarron and thinks he could replace Anakin Brady at his side? There's a lot of Brady to AJ's game. Arm. Brains. Doesn't mind leading comebacks time and time again.

September 18, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Spy-

I'm not disagreeing with any of that, I'm just thinking in terms of TV Sports 101. "Big Ticket" programs like ESPN GameDay, College football on CBS, etc. are usually reserved for "Division 4" teams with an important key factor: Branding.

People watch in large droves for games involving an SEC, Big 12, ACC, or Pac-12 school. Either due to 1) Brand loyality [i.e. fans or alumni of said school] or 2) Gambling or "Entertainment" as we call it on here.

That said, how many people have really heard of NDSU? (Not counting their 15 minutes of Appy-State like fame?). I never heard of them until I went to the game formally known as the Super Bowl of Chattanooga in neighboring Frisco last year.

Does NDSU have a rabid fanbase worthy of GameDay notoriety? Hell Yeah. Could they give Alabama fans a run for their money? Hell Yeah. Is that "old guy" from GameDay going to talk about NDSU in the same breath of respect as Alabama, Texas A&M, or UCLA? He'll probably phone it in so fast like all the other media snobs do with "medium-sized" programs it will be beyond painful to watch.

I maybe full of it on this, I just find it weird is all. Like seeing Bigfoot on South Beach in Miami.

September 18, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Stepping out on a skinny limb, but Auburn upsets LSU and Les Miles throws up a chunk of sod. It'll be interesting to see how the Vols respond this week after being taken to the woodshed.

September 18, 2013 at 1:25 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

MC Pell.

Florida is not the Florida of the Spurrier-era. But they are ranked with a fair amount of seasoned players. Also, to the best of my knowledge, Oregon is the only team trained to make plays in less then 15 seconds. Most teams in college football (except for maybe your triple option teams) perform plays between 18 to 20 seconds. There really is almost no comparison. Unless Tennessee is still in shell shock by Saturday, it should be a more competitive ballgame.

September 18, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I wouldn't be surprised if both the LSU/Auburn and Florida/UTK games are more competitive endeavors than one might think upon first thought. The Plainsmen and Bayou Bengals have a history of close games and tight finishes. As bad as Auburn was last year, they only lost to LSU by two-points. For all the talk of the Vols quarterback woes to this point in the season, if bad Jeff Driskel rears his head Saturday the big gray can stay in this one.

In other news from the wide world of sports, Australian rugby player Anthony Watts has been handed an eight-game suspension for biting an opposing player's penis during a game. Say what you will about Ndamukong "a boy named" Suh, but he never chomped an opponent's John Henry during a football game. At least not yet.

I hope ESPNU carries fan day in Lincoln, Nebraska. I would like to see Coach Pelini at the autograph table. If you slack-jawed corn-shuckers can manage to form a single-file line, I will sign autographs in spite of the fact that none of you illiterate goobers can read. I'll even take a picture with your ugly kids.

September 18, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
jgreeson said...

McPell —

From your lips to Miles' yard to God's ears.

Heck, we just want to be involved in an old-school, LSU-Auburn, mid-2000s war again.

JMC —

We think it should be more competitive too.

But question: Does Vegas believe Oregon is only 11 points better than the Gators? If that's the case, if Florida plays Oregon and it's Ducks minus-11, we'll take the Ducks, thank you very much.

Spy —

Isn't Belichick trying to do that with Mr. Ryan Mallett. AJ McCarron is starting to play his way up draft boards and the Pats have too many other needs to waste a first- or second-rounder on the guy who will replaced Brady in five years.

9er —

We did catch the butt slide. Good times. Unless you're the slider. Wait...

We'll have a Bo Pelini-Kiffin sit down in Friday's mailbag. Deal? Deal.

September 18, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.
jgreeson said...

GD —

Do what? There was goober chompin' going on Down Under?

So that's what a vegamite sammich is.

OUCH-standing.

September 18, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

5 - Does LSU have an old barn/gym near the stadium?

Hoodie will trade Mallet to the Raiders and pick up McCarron & 5 defensive tackles...oh wait Al is dead, right?

September 18, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Yep Jay, you heard right. There was some goober chompin' going on down in bush country. And as every avid follower of Australian Rugby knows, biting another dude's tallywhacker will get you an eight-game suspension every time.

I don't know if it makes much of a difference, but in the southern hemisphere they go down the other way around.

September 18, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay-

You're asking the WRONG person. I don't gamble because I associate gambling with trying to get rich and you don't get rich you have to deal with "Carter" from "Get Carter" (Stallone reference).

September 18, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.
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