published Thursday, January 9th, 2014

5-at-10: NFL playoff patterns, Hall of shadows, college football craziness

Morning folks. Hey, how about that heat wave, huh?

From the "Talks too much" studios, we still believe that children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way.

NFL playoffs

With all the stuff that has happened this week — the BCS title game, the baseball Hall of Fame, the chance to use the Bobby Petrino 'Rock Lobster' photo (High 5, web team, for not deleting that charmer) — the NFL playoffs have actually been under the radar.

Think about that, and in this age of the NFL monolith, when was the last time the NFL was actually underplayed. Wow.

So let's do work today and look overarching trend of the playoff games this weekend. Good times. We will breakdown each in the mailbag tomorrow with a special guest. Gooder times.

Look at the teams left in the playoffs, and all of them other than San Diego have either a) an elite quarterback or b) a young quarterback still in his original rookie contract, which offers enough value and flexibility that you can surround those guys with some legit players. San Diego has a good quarterback in Philip Rivers who is playing above his head and engineered a road upset over Andy Dalton, who fills the young QB with strong supporting cast model.

Still, of those other seven teams, the a or b scenario applies and the head-to-head results will offer us an interesting testament as to which model is more effective. Let's examine.

There are three elite quarterbacks left in the players. Denver's Peyton Manning, New England's Tom Brady and New Orleans' Drew Brees. These guys are responsible for a lion's portion of each team's success and the main reason that each is two wins from going to the Super Bowl.

There are four postseason quarterbacks who are still in the realm of their first contracts, Carolina's Cam Newton, Indy's Andrew Luck, Seattle's Russell Wilson and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. Each of these guys has shown flashes, but each also is aided by standout defenses and deep rosters. Because of injury and bad luck, Luck and the Colts have the thinnest roster of the four mentioned above, but of the young quarterbacks, Luck is the closest to elite status right now, so that's kind of a mixed bag of karma.

So it goes, and we'll see if a balanced roster of defense, depth and a young, inexpensive quarterback of teams like Seattle and Indy can top the quarterback-centric teams of New Orleans and New England.

Since Carolina and the San Fran play, those teams are mirror images, with Newton getting the edge in the quarterback category but the 49ers having the better supporting cast around Kaepernick.

Which would you rather have a young QB and a talented roster for a three-year window of excellence or an elite QB with very limited depth but the knowledge that a Brees, Manning or Brady gives you a chance every week and every season?

As enticing as each option could be, the opposite sides of those coins can cripple franchises. Look at the Titans, who have a young and inexpensive QB but a challenged roster. Or look at the Falcons, who have a good QB but are paying him elite money so the depth has been depleted.

Every team would love to have a franchise QB and be happy to pay him franchise-changing money. Too many teams, however, are being forced to squeeze the square peg of a good QB into the salary-cap-wrecking round hole of elite QB contracts.

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Hall of Famers

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux gives a thumbs up sign during spring practice in 2003.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

By now we all know that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.

We also know that managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa were tabbed for Hall induction late last year.

What a monster baseball day for the state of Georgia. We all know the long connection to the Braves Maddux, Glavine and Cox have, and each will almost certainly go in as Braves. But Torre broke in with the Milwaukee Braves played for the organization from 1960-68 and managed the club from 1982-84. Thomas was born in Columbus, Ga.

As for La Russa, well, the connection is a stretch, but he did play nine games with the Braves in 1971, going 2-for-7 for a .286 average, which was well above his big-league career number of .199.

And as was discussed on Press Row by SEC whiz David Paschall, Thomas, a former Auburn slugger, is the first former SEC player to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Those are just the facts, as for the ancillary details and the conjecture that consumed a part of the sports culture Wednesday, the Hall of Fame voting is broken. Dan Le Batard sold his ballot in protest to Deadspin, which let the public vote on it. (You can read more about that here.)

Most of the names that are left lurking in the shadows of the PED era that belong in the Hall lost support, as guys like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and many others with overwhelming Hall of Fame numbers got fewer votes this year than last. Plus, guys like Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza — two dudes with surefire Hall of Fame ledgers — were again not admitted because of swirling rumors, conjecture and, in Piazza's case, bad skin. Yep, a big rationale against the best hitting catcher of all time is that Piazza had back acne, a common side effect of steroid use. Egad.

Baseball has got to figure out a better way, otherwise silly stunts like Le Batard's will become more and more common and seem more and more like the better way to vote than the current model.

————

College football moves

Wow, how about Wednesday as a zoom-tastic day of college football machinations?

Let's review.

Bobby Petrino is set to be announced as the next coach of Louisville, where he was the first coach to make Louisville relevant. Petrino can slap coach and he has few peers as a play-caller, but his off-the-field history is, as they say in France, crapola.

Reports have James Franklin getting an offer to coach Penn State. We think Franklin is a fantastic coach and has worked miracles in Nash-Vegas. if this is true, it also tells us that the Penn State folks are 100-percent certain Franklin had zero pre-investigation knowledge of the rape allegations against a few former Vandy players.

Johnny Football is taking his signature to Sundays, where he can get paid and not have to worry about it or be chastised for it.

Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is headed to Michigan for the same job. Something tells us Nick Saban did not buy a round of OCPs when he was informed of his OC making a lateral move. Our Press Row co-host and TFP college football ace David Paschall offered a keen insight on Twitter about the potential for a ton of discussion if Saban turns new BFF Lane Kiffin as the Tide's next OC. It would be a move that would melt the internet in Knoxville.

————

This and that

— Great win for Georgia and coach Mark Fox last night as the Bulldogs upset Missouri less than a week after Fox's father died. Good times and the shots of Fox getting emotional on the bench after the overtime win at Mizzou were poignant.

— Big game for the Mocs tonight at the Roundhouse. You have our attention Mr. Wade, now what are you and that merry band of go-getters going to do with it?

— One of the big and nonsensical storylines of the this weekend's NFL games includes Ric Flair, who is a Charlotte guy and a Panthers fan but supported the 49ers last week, even giving San Fran a pre-game pep talk. This did not please Panthers receiver Steve Smith. There is no word how the other Four Horseman feel about this development. But Steve, please remember, if you're going to be the team you got to beat the team. Wooooooo.

—————

Today's question(s)

Gang, buckle up and please remember the mailbag questions. We could use a few. If you do not want to post the question here you can email it jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or send it to us on the Twitter, @jgreesontfp. You also could call Spy on his girl's cell phone at 867-5309 — don't lose that number.

Here are today's lists of talking points and several of these will be discussed on Press Row today from 3-6 on ESPN 105.1 FM. You can also listen live right here at timesfreepress.com. Good times.

The talking points are endless:

Would you be happy or irate as a Louisville with the Bobby Petrino hire?

If you had a top-10 pick would you draft Johnny Football? (And FE to the C, are your Raiders going to draft college football's biggest outlaw?)

Should PED users be allowed in the Hall of Fame? Should only those that admitted to it or failed tests be considered PED users or is everyone guilty? Discuss.

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...

Friday question: What Heisman winners played on national champ teams?

Seems fitting that Maddox, Glavine and Cox all got in together. I thought from the start it was a shame The Bravos let Torre get away. Question: If you're hiring a manager 30 years ago, do you take a young Joe or a young Bobby?

I didn't think they'd hire Petrino, but jomo called it. Hide the volleyball coach and put a no motorcycle riding clause in the contract.

As a diplomat, The Worm makes a great basketball player. A request: Could the 5@10 channel the whispered conversation BFFs Rodman and Kim Jong Un have in their secret boudoir? And does Dennis wear his bride's dress to get things started?

UK won by the predicted large margin yesterday, but like The Vols, it appears that the point guard is holding the team back. Andrew Harrison got only two assists. On the positive side, James Young tallied 26 points and 10 boards, and promising big man Dakari Johnson got eight points in eight minutes.

The Cats need to keep growing, but they still could be final four good. That's what the CBSSports college basketball staff thinks. In their midseason report they voted Julius Randle to their All-American squad and predicted the final four.

Arizona led with six votes, Syracuse and the Sparties got five each, and Duke, UK, and Florida each garnered two.

January 9, 2014 at 10:08 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Good news for other SEC teams, word is that Lane Kiffin is interviewing for Alabama OC job as early as today. To which I ask, has dementia begun to set in with Saban?

Watch for an interesting historical take by an aged Al Davis on Lane Kiffin, parts 2-5 are linked to the right of the video if you go to youtube

January 9, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

If we find out Patrick Willis broke into the Panther locker room before the game and laid Cam out with the steel chair (no consequences since it didn't happen on the playing field) then we'll know Slick Rick had some influence.

Speaking of Wrestlin', I thought I saw Mr. Wrestling II on the front page the other day.

Alabama just looked "off" too many times this year offensively. Maybe plugging in new folks in on the line had some to do with it more than coaches and schemes.

Dennis Rodman's adventures could be the plot for Team America, World Police Part II. I highly recommend the original.

If I want to win and don't care about other factors, I'm happy if I'm a Louisville fan. Going into the ACC he should have them in the playoff mix immediately, if they can get by Florida State in a given year. Same for Franklin if he goes to Penn State, whenever they're eligible.

I plan on seeing the Mocs take that step tonight.

January 9, 2014 at 11:11 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

MT wrote "word is that Lane Kiffin is interviewing for Alabama OC job" - Harvey Updike just poisoned Saban's statue.

I'd spend a 3rd round pick on Johnny Football. How many picks would Pretend Al spend to get him?

January 9, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

So Spy's girl is Jenny? That 'Jenny'? Wow...impressive! Bet her phone rings a lot...a whole lot...

Billy-In-Brainerd

January 9, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Maybe a mailbag question or a topic, how much should we care if "our" teams and players have integrity or at least stay out of trouble, as long as they're scoring touchdowns and hitting home runs. This goes for steroid scandals, spouse and girlfriend abuse, lying to employers, any other wrongdoing.

January 9, 2014 at 11:34 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- interesting that Texas Billionaire booster, Red McCoombs, critical of the Charlie Strong hire and expressing displeasure that he was not consulted. I think with all the TV money that BCS schools now get and other sources of revenue, that AD's are NOT as behoden to big donors. Sure they need them, but in most cases the AD may feel that donor can take his money and go home. Sure they still need donors, but not to the point where they control who is hired and fired. A real change in culture for big schools. As the Bobby Lowder-type days may be coming to an end. . . .your thoughts ?

January 9, 2014 at 11:35 a.m.
chas9 said...

For you who only read the sports section of the paper (MT, fec), here's a tip. Dr. Clif Cleaveland's column (elsewhere in today's TFP) is always worth a look. Today he writes about football. If you're not a UNC grad, you can probably handle the vocabulary.

January 9, 2014 at 11:47 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Now that Franklin is gone to Penn State, Vandy should hire Lane Kiffen . . . . .as much as Vol fans hate him, he was the last coach for UTK when they were any good

January 9, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

My girl can't come to the phone right now. She's busy, if you get my drift. Hey, it's lunchtime and she's whipping up Spy's lunch. What did you think I meant?

5, bigger tool - that Gurnick guy or Dan LeBatard? Talk about making the whole thing about yourself, even if ostensibly that was not your intention. And I will submit that anybody who left Maddux off their ballot needs to dog sit for Kim Jong Un.

Tully, Arn and James J Dillon (not to be confused with Jim J Bullock - at all) could not be reached for their reaction because they are too busy wheelin, dealin, kiss stealin, limo ridin and Lear jet flyin.

But the Spy digresses.

January 9, 2014 at 12:14 p.m.
fechancellor said...

That's right Mocstatic, Al Davis (pbuh) was 100% correct 100% of the time.

Johnny Football to Oakland? QB is a great need, but I'd prefer to address multiple other weaknesses by turning the #4 pick into two number ones and maybe a 2nd. The Oaktown brain trust must decide if Johnny Football is the next Steve Young.

Kiffin in Tuscaloosa? Has Saban lost his mind. What does this mean for Kirby Smith?

January 9, 2014 at 1:02 p.m.
chas9 said...

After losing to Miami in Chapel Hill, The Tar Heels are 0-2 in the ACC and struggling. How'd they beat Michigan State in Lansing? And how does the committee seed this schizophrenic team in The Dance (if they make the cut)?

January 9, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gents —

Amazing stuff.

Spent the morning at the dentist. Side question: Does your dentist make you turn your head and cough? Should we be concerned?

Nah, nevermind.

Be back and in a few.

January 9, 2014 at 1:20 p.m.
MocTastic said...

FeChancellor, I think you mean Kirby Smart, not Smith and Kirby is the DC, not OC.

January 9, 2014 at 1:50 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Done and done about Dennis and menace.

UNC is a riddle wrapped in a puzzle surrounded by an enigma.

And we are a fan of Dr. Cliff (don;t call me Huxtable) Cleaveland.

LB —

Next step is a big one. In recent years, we thought the Mocs played better on the road than at home because of the angst. Hoping for a good show tonight.

Can see that point about winning is the most important thing, but maybe it's a bit fool-hearty to think we can have some sort of semblance of class too. And we said on multiple occasions that if Auburn had hired Petrino right after the Arkansas disaster, we were turning in our gear.

MT —

There's also talk that Lane could be a Vandy name. Wowser. He'd have to live in a hidden local and travel with bodyguards.

Fe to the C —

Steve Young is a very good Johnny Football ceiling. Well-played indeed.

Spy —

Gurnick is a 9 pound hammer; Le Batard is a 9-pound French hammer. Push.

And we thought Jersey Mike made your lunch most days.

Jomo —

That's a high quality mailbagger right there?

McPell —

There's no way you'd ever spend a third-rounder on Johnny Football, M.D., because he will not last beyond pick No. 8 at the worst.

Great stuff gang.

January 9, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

5 - I agree that I'd never get to use, because somebody will pick him quick. I'm not sold on how durable he is with all the chances he takes with his body.

January 9, 2014 at 2:52 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

The prospect of Nick Saban hiring Lane Kiffin as his new offensive coordinator is interesting, and weird. I thought the Kiffin brand had lost most of its value with Lane getting canned by Trojan Man and Monte's worse-than-bad defense in Jerry's World. And how will Laaay-la "you got me on my knees" Kiffin react to a move to Tuscaloosa? It was reported that Miss Layla did not enjoy her time at Big Orange Central with the "Wal-Mart wives of Knoxville" as she dubbed them. What will she think about the Rammer Jammer gals of Ala-damn-bama?

Jay, it's too late to warn you now, but Dr. Strangeglove is not an accredited dentist. The fact that his "office" is an old Chevy van parked just off Rossville Boulevard should have thrown up a red flag.

January 9, 2014 at 3:09 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Baseball Writers of America not only guard the gates of Cooperstown, they guard the guys who guard the gates - LeBatard (French for something I can't repeat in a FOIB) stripped of future Hall of Fame voting.

Good. You don't like the process? Don't participate. Especially when you have the soap box LeBatard has - a column in a major metro daily, a radio show and an ESPN television gig. He's got a whole bunch of ways to broadcast his displeasure over the process.

January 9, 2014 at 3:57 p.m.
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