published Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

5-at-10: Super Bowl legacy, Wade Wagon, UT/UTC recruiting bliss and the PED Plaza

Super Bowl

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    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning smiles following an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Peyton Manning is a beast. He is having the best singular season in football history and has a chance to enter the pantheon of the all-time seasons for all of team sports.

It's been that good. To equate, it would be somewhat like LeBron averaging more points and more rebounds than anyone in the history of the NBA and then winning the NBA title — although if LeBron put up 51 a night and 16 assists, well, that would be pretty special.

Anyhoo, as we start to get closer to the actual pre-week fluff that precedes the world's longest pregame show before the game with the world's longest commercials, we pause to appreciate what Manning has authored this year. It's truly special and it has been all encompassing since it started with a season-opening blitz of the defending champion Ravens. In fact, someone on ESPN extrapolated Eli Manning's best 16 games of his career and the numbers fade in comparison to Peyton's 2013 season. It was that extraordinary.

Now Manning has the chance to push his chips into every metric of quarterback greatness. Sure there are some like Stewwie that already believe Manning is the best QB ever. And that's a worthy argument. There are those like Spy and OG who believe Manning to be outside the top-five, which also is a side of the debate that can be measured.

But a win Sunday in the big one would give Manning two Super Bowls and put him in the circles of each determining factor. Multiple Super Bowls. Check. A monster among career passing numbers. Check. Singular greatness. Check. A soon-to-be-minted fifth MVP award. Check.

Dude has a chance to cement an all-time year that would punctuate an all-time career. And in truth, there was more to lose in the AFC title game than there is in this Super Bowl, considering Tom Brady was haunting the other sideline. A loss to Brady's Pats would have been crippling both for the season and for the legacy, because it would be impossible to be the greatest all-time without being the greatest of your generation.

And a win Sunday alters the prism, considering it would give Manning a strong case against Brady and in the argument with the ghosts of the NFL's past and the promises of its future.

Super indeed.

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Mocs hoops

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    UTC men's head basketball coach Will Wade.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

We were on the Wade Wagon from the very start, but even those of us who expected good things in Year 1 have been surprised by the unbeaten in '14 force that that Mocs have become.

It has been a slew of things that have caught our eye. It's the ability to adapt. It's the ability to put aside his desired sets and maximize the skill set the Mocs currently possess rather than force those skills into more challenging positions. It's the fact that his club plays hard and smart, a combination that previously was more difficult than PowerBall numbers to regularly match.

But what else? What else has these Mocs looking the part of a team Jay Bilas speaks glowingly of on Selection Sunday with phrases like "Watch out for Z Mason, a guy that is built like a truck and plays like pianist" in Year 1 of the Wade Wagon?

And we want your feedback, and if a couple of you guys strike up solid questions, we'll relay them to Wade when he visits us on Press Row today in the 5 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM and simulcast here on timesfreepress.com.

Discuss.

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Recruiting news

There are two distinct storylines in the final eight days of this recruiting cycle. The first is familiar, the second is somewhat unique.

First, let's discuss the age-old best way to tell if a commit to your team is someone to be excited about. Sure, there are tons of star-ratings and the interweb folks are much better now than in previous years because of an increase in video and coverage and information.

Still, if your team lands a prospect that bigger programs and/or more successful programs are trying to recruit, consider it a good thing. Take yesterday's running back haul for two of the more followed teams in our coverage area.

Tennessee landed a pledge from four-star runner Derrell Scott, as TFP UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here. Scott picked UT over South Carolina, Florida, FSU and THE Ohio State. That's fine company.

UTC landed Georgia speedster Richarde Bagley, as all-around TFP ace Stephen Hargis tells us here. Bagley is just the latest UTC pledge to pick the Mocs over offers from FCS schools such as Air Force and Temple. Good times.

The other recruiting twist is what kind of affects the weather will have on the final weekend of the recruiting cycle. If snow really hits the deep South — and there are several inches forecast for un-snowy places south of here — the final weekend of travel could be greatly altered.

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This and that

— For the second year in a row, Soda Stream has had to recut its Super Bowl commercial in the 11th hour. This year, Fox told Soda Stream to change Scarlett Johansson saying, "Sorry Coke and Pepsi." Some feel that major ad buyers at Coke and Pepsi pressured Fox to make the upstart make the change. Hmmmmm. No way that type of thing ever, Ever, EVER happens in the world of BID-ness is there? No way we say. Oh the humanity. (Did the sarcasm come through OK there?) We of course would be remiss at this point to say that if Coke and Pepsi — on the outside chance they had anything to do with this — and Fox had just let this commercial happen, Soda Stream would not have gotten half the pub that the pre-Super Bowl buzz has now created. We're about to go buy some Soda Stream stock.

— Recruiting tales of the weird: Dominick Sanders was a longtime UCF commit who had his scholarship pulled because he was not forthright to UCF coaches about taking a visit to Auburn. Sanders did not have a committable offer from Auburn (and committable offer is a new and silly term that could only catch on in recruiting — if you have an offer it should be an offer, no; if the offer is not committable then it's really not an offer). So he commits to Georgia on Tuesday. Glad the kid landed on his feet, and as for George O'Leary and the Knights staff standing firm about being truthful on the recruiting trail, well, OK. But here's saying that seems at least a touch hypocritical, especially in the recruiting world, where we're 100 percent sure the Knights coaches have never spun a story they thought the recruit wanted to hear. "Sure, we'll give you a chance at QB." "No way you'll redshirt as a freshman." Or any of the other gems that are recruiting staples.

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Today's question

There are a slew of talking points above, and we welcome all of your comments here and if you want to discuss anything with TFP college football ace David Paschall and the blockheaded sports editor on Press Row from 3-6 on ESPN 105.1 FM, you can reach us at 423-648-1051.

Here's another item of interest from the world of crazy and sports and crazy sports:

The broken bat that 'roid-raging Roger Clemens threw at Mike Piazza during the 2001 World Series is going up for auction. What a fitting symbol of Clemens career — a bat he shattered with his overpowering stuff that he then flung at an opponent because he's a nut job. Here's hoping renowned Red Sox fan, ESPN commentator and Grantland editor Bill Simmons buys it and donates it to the Steroid-Wing of the baseball Hall of Fame, whenever it is built. C'mon, we're going to have to have a steroid wing because with Clemens and Bonds and eventually A-Rod, the numbers are too overwhelming to keep those guys out. You know it. We know it. And sadly the baseball cheats know it. And the 'roid rage broken bat is the perfect piece of memorabilia for the foyer of PED Plaza.

What odd sports item would you live to have? 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.
MocTastic said...

We have plenty of room on the Will Wade/UTC bandwagon for all to jump on. There is nothing wrong with jumping on as long as you stay on, we all had to become fans at some point. Be part of something special that is beginning to happen. There will be a few bumps along the road, but the destination will be special and we will get there. Go Mocs!

Odd sport items? You could add George Brett's tar covered bat, Bill Buckner's glove from 1986, Craig Nettles' bat full of super balls, Joe Niekro's emery board, and local legend Rick Honeycutt's tack he taped to his finger to cut the ball while pitching.

January 28, 2014 at 10:13 a.m.
chas9 said...

On yesterday's topic: Try a big, big head featuring Ron Shumate in full Afro. And a big Murray Arnold face would shake any free throw shooter.

On Wade's UTC: Looks like The Mocs will dance and The Vols will sit. Ability to adapt is an under-rated skill in basketball and life. The great ones have it.

Weather reports say Kentucky's game in Baton Rouge this evening may have to wait.

Yesterday I caught The Conz on the Vol Calls radio how and I haven't heard so many plain-vanilla coach-speak cliches since Bull Durham's Crash schooled the rookie.

"Just gotta learn from our mistakes and move forward."

"Gotta keep rolling. We're fine."

"Gotta be more aggressive."

And, I swear, "One game at a time."

Granted, after suffering Florida's shellacking, it's hard to talk about it, but The Vols' head man never says much.

I know the talk part isn't as important as the win part. I'm happy to have the reticent Coach Foster leading the Lady Mocs.

And I know Coach Cal's blather is sometimes over the top. But given equal coaching skills, I'd rather hear them say something interesting than something boring.

Billy Gillispie was weak, but UK has been blessed to hear smooth talkers Cal and Pitino, and Tubby was listenable.

Tennessee has had master communicators in Pearl and Mears.

What basketball coaches make your final four in talking, and who are your four most snooze-worthy?

Just a wild guess: Neither Coke nor Pepsi is underwriting The 5@10.

January 28, 2014 at 10:39 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Obviously winning at Davidson will be a tall task. Davidson doesnt lose very many home games. But. . . . if the Mocs somehow pull off the upset, at that point the Mocs might as well "go for it", win the regular season championship and at WORST you are guaranteed an NIT bid.

Jay- what are your thoughts on the matchups with Davidson ? Basketball is a game of match-ups

January 28, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Elon is Davidson Light. Elon coach played there, coached there and has brought the Davidson style to Elon. We played and beat Elon. Elon beat Davidson. We can beat Davidson. Have to get them playing our game, fast and athletic basketball, not slow grinding basketball. Should be a close game, hard to predict the winner. Even a Chattanooga loss if it is followed up by a victory Saturday over Furman would leave us at 9-1. As Dizzy Dean said, who woulda thunk it?

January 28, 2014 at 11:01 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring,

As a follower of one of the NFL's most decrepit franchises, I've been less than enthusiastic where Super Bowls are concerned over the past few years. However this year presents the most compelling story line ever: can Peyton Manning win a ring and be considered the best Quarterback in NFL history, or will he sit out at the lake house spending the rest of the winter watching tape trying to figure out what went wrong? Either way, this game should be one of the most watched Super Bowls ever.

Soda Stream should go with Plan B saying sorry RC, Canada Dry, Sun Drop and Dr. Pepper. Sure looks like NFL's uber sponsor protection racket is in full flower. This is surprising, but no out of the realm of possibilities. The same happened to me many years ago in our little ol' media market.

10 Ring, you are correct in the analysis Soda Stream gains free media by dint of the NFL censorship. If by design, a stroke of brilliance. What exactly puts the scare into the big time soda jockeys?

January 28, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.
chas9 said...

Peyton is manning up.

UK's Dee Ford is being confused with Auburn's Dee Ford and has no idea why her Twitter account is so fouled up with WAR DAMN EAGLE tweets.

Saturday's match between Duke and Syracuse will be eminently watchable.

Agreed, "committable offer" is contemptible. Another recruiting abomination is "get" as a noun.

I'd love to have any article of clothing that has touched Katerina Witt's sweaty, athletic body.

Curiously, after beating Wisconsin and THE Ohio State, Richard Pitino's Gophers still got zero, nada, zip votes in the coaches' poll this week. They did scratch in the press poll (AP). In that and other differences, I think the AP poll is superior, and has been over time. For Friday: Which poll gets it more right, and why?

And when you answer, please don't embarrass yourself by using "intelligence" and "sportswriters" in the same sentence.

January 28, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

There is still some room on the Wade Wagon for sure. And we thought about looking about Buckner's glove but we heard it had a hole in it.

9er —

What if we used the following lead-in to the sentence: "Despite limited intelligence, sprtswriters..."?

And we are pretty stoked for Duke-'Cuse as well, and the story about the British woman named Dee Ford (Twitter handle @dee_ford) and AU stud DE Dee Ford (Twitter handle @dee_ford_) getting confused is funny. In fact AU AD Jay Jacobs sent along his congrats and asked the AU family to do the same to @dee_ford which helped jumpstart her in-box getting filled with WDE references. Jacobs sent the English Ford a bunch of AU gear as a mea culpa.

And we totally concur about coaches and cliches. In fact, as educated as fans are today about the specific sports, coaches better be Saban-esque or Pitino-licious to get away with that pandering down-speak that is "play them one game at a time." Really coach, we thought since you were getting thumped by Florida, you may want to work in a mini-game against Auburn and take two at a time.

FE to the C —

Concur about this Big game having Big interest. In fact, it will almost surely shatter all viewing marks.

Jomo —

We'll breakdown the Cougars either Wednesday or Thursday, but we like this Mocs bunch against everyone left on their schedule. Good times on the Wade Wagon. We will get Coach's input on the key matchups today around 5 on Press Row. Deal? Deal.

January 28, 2014 at 11:44 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

And Will Wade is only 31 years old...a very wise 31...

So O'Leary pulls an offer because the kid lied about taking a visit to another school? Isn't this the same O'Leary that lied about a masters degree on his resume? PUH-lease...

Billy-In-Brainerd

January 28, 2014 at 12:14 p.m.
chas9 said...

Billy--Good catch on the O'Leary act. He's no Bobby Dodd.

January 28, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- i think you mean Wildcats, not sure who the Cougars are ?

January 28, 2014 at 2:42 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

O'Liary also made up being a letterman at the University of New Hampshire.

January 28, 2014 at 4:11 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

"Bagley is just the latest UTC pledge to pick the Mocs over offers from FCS schools such as Air Force and Temple"

Make that FBS, big fella.

January 28, 2014 at 4:13 p.m.
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