published Thursday, March 20th, 2014

5-at-10: Vols win, Madness, NFL smokeshow, Rushmore and what would you ask Dale Murphy

Gang, remember the Friday mailbag

Before we get going today, we must tip the Tam O'Shanter to Grateful Dog, who at the horn whipped in two one liners Wednesday. The first one was about someone's finger roll and tippy-toed the edge of the in-bounds line, but the second — "If I was a fan of mixed signals and mood swings, I'd still be married" — was well-played indeed. Nice job sir.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let the Madness begin.

Vols deliver

It was an effort that started slow and finished with an overpowering surge. It was a microcosm of their season. It was a statement for their coach. It was a sign that this team will be a tough out.

  • photo
    Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) drives against Iowa in the first half of a first-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Dayton, Ohio.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Tennessee Vols have delivered again, playing their best with their backs against the wall. We should not be surprised by this.

When given leeway and room for error, these Vols err. They never were able to extend a conference winning streak beyond two games until they were pushed into the corner of win-or-NIT, and since that late February do-or-be-doomed ultimatum game against Mississippi State, UT has fought and battled and played with a toughness that has been lacking for most of Cuonzo Martin's previous two-plus seasons.

After surviving an passionate start from Iowa, which started quickly in part because of the emotional family situation of coach Fran McCaffery, Tennessee worked. They grinded. They started inside out and got another 20-point game from senior Jordan McRae and a river of big shots and big stops from Josh Richardson, who played his best game of the season.

It was a do-or-pack-the-gear moment — something these Vols are imminently familiar with — and UT did. Again.

We'll admit it — The Conz and Co. have answered the bell. They finally have adjusted to not having a point guard and are working around it rather than forcing it to get better. They have become one of the best defensive teams still playing (Iowa scored 65 points in 45 minutes, which is the most UT has allowed in almost a month, and almost 15 less than what the Hawkeyes average per 40 minutes).

And it's all happening at the right time, and in this Dancing moment.

Who's next?

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Contest stuff

We have an expanded bracket-picking column on the website.

Here's what we have so far on the First-Out; Last-In Challenge in which you pick the first No. 1 seed to leave the dance and the last double-digit seed to stay. If we missed your entry, let us know:

5-at-10 — Wichita State; Stephen F. Austin

Mrs. 5-at-10: Arizona; Harvard

TFP ace Uch — Arizona; Nebraska

TFP ace/Press Row cohort David Paschall — To be announced

Press Row cohort Wells Guthrie — To be announced

Dawg747 —Virginia; North Dakota State

scole023 — Wichita State; Tennessee

JJ — Arizona; Tennessee

Billy in Brainerd — Wichita State; Tennessee

Chas9 — Wichita State; St. Joe's

Jomo — Virginia; St. Joe's

McPell — Virginia; Nebraska

Spy — Arizona; NC State

Fred — Virginia; Tennessee

OTwatcher — Wichita State; Arizona State

StuckinKent — Virginia; Providence

Trigger — Florida; Tennessee

Believer — Virginia; Tennessee

ThatIDoKnow — Virginia; NC State

JordanRules — Wichita State; Stanford

There's still time to enter.

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NFL rule changes

The NFL competition committee is looking at several potential rule changes.

The league is all-but assured of making using the N-word a 15-yard penalty, according to those covering the event. Some are even saying this is a done deal. Whatever. We're not sure the guys in the zebra shirts are good enough at all the things they are already charged with to be the morality police too, but whatever.

Here, according to Yahoo.com, is the list of the other rule tweaks/changes on the committee's list:

1) Move kickoffs to the 40-yard line, from the 35, where it is now.

2) Making all personal fouls reviewable.

3) Eliminating overtime in preseason games.

4) Extending the goalposts vertically by 5 feet on each side.

5) Moving extra-point attempts to the 25-yard line, making it a 43-yard try. (This was proposed by the Patriots.) The competition committee separately is proposing one preseason game this season where extra-point snaps will take place from the 20.

6) Adding six cameras to all boundary lines on the field to supplement TV camera angles.

7) Allowing any officials' decisions to be challenged by coaches, not just specific kinds of plays.

8) Protecting players from getting their legs rolled up on from the side — and not just from the back — as a penalty.

9) Allowing the referee to confer with members of the NFL officiating department in New York at the league office during replay reviews.

10) Changing review rules on the recovery of a loose ball — aka, the "NaVorro Bowman rule" from the controversial NFC championship game non-call — in the field of play. This would including reorganizing the replay section of the NFL rulebook. (Which, frankly, needs it.)

11) Keeping the clock running on quarterback sacks at all times of the game.

12) Changing pass interference so that it can be called within a yard of the line of scrimmage.

13) Enforcing defensive penalties behind the line of scrimmage from the previous spot, instead of from the end of the play or from the spot of the foul.

Man, some these changes are extreme and seem certainly more major than players using the N-word or extra points.

Let's review from the top down:

1 — This ends kick returns and limits job opportunities for some of the game's specialists.

2 — Do not have a problem with this one, but it certainly could add to the length of the game.

3 — Whatever. (Here's an idea, why not eliminate two preseason games while your at it. Oh wait, that would cut the chance owners get and gouging fans and season-ticket holders.)

4 — Fine.

5 — Another whatever, but the endless talk of the extra point becomes exactly what we said it was — a giant, Roger Goodell smokescreen, a Rope-a-Dope, or better yet a Roge-a-Dope — when you look at some of the other things on this list.

6 — Should have been done a long time ago.

7 — Should have been done a long time ago. The fact that some game-changing plays can not be corrected simply because they "are not reviewable" is like a murderer getting away because the prosecution stupidly decided to make the defendant try on a glove that was too small. (Hi, Grateful Dawg.)

8 — We really need more penalties open to interpretation from refs that asked to do 100 things and now, instead of watching for holding or real penalties, they are going to have to look at knees and listen for slurs? No thanks.

9 — We'll call this the Mike Pereira rule. Mike Pereira is the former rules chief that sits in the Fox studios and rules on the rules of officiating, and more times than not he sounds way more proper and correct than the refs. This is another safe guard, which is OK. It also is another slow down for the flow of the game.

10 — Absolutely. After the NCAA rule book, the guidelines to the NFL replay system are on the shortlist of things that need a rewrite. STAT.

11 — OK. And we're going to need several other "keep-the-game-moving" rules with all the extra reviews and replay stuff planned. Of course, only in the modern NFL are we making rules to increase the time spent policing and decrease the time spent playing. Roge-a-Dope indeed.

12 — Game-changer. As it's written, this could be a huge change. You think Peyton Manning won't target press cornerbacks who put their hands on receivers in the first 5 yards or third-and-8 with a one-step drop and throw? This would all but eliminate press coverage — it would become standard operating procedure for team to throw a quick hitch and to incite penalties. Playing defense is already hard enough and they have a river of rules trying to increase scoring. Do we really need one more hinderance on the modern NFL defenses?

13 — Need some clarification on this. What if a runner is breaking through and a less-than-reliable-tackling DB is the only thing between the ball carrier and the goalline. If we're reading this right, it would behoove the DB to horse collar or facemask the runner after 15 yards, because the penalty would be assessed from the line of scrimmage rather than enforcing the penalty on the end of the run. And if you're creating a rule that, by design it benefits a team to break intentionally, well, that's a bad idea.

Should be an interesting discourse. Of course, if the debate gets too heated, our boy Roge will either decide that NFL cleats are too long or that all players who do not use the proper fork on their pregame salad will have to miss the first possession.

————

This and that

— We will have former Braves slugger Dale Murphy on Press Row around 3:15 today. What would you like us to ask him?

— Florida State's national title rings are in and they are every bit as flashy as you'd expect. Bling.

— We continued our Rushmore of sports movie bracket Wednesday on Press Row. We have done the Rushmore of baseball movies (The Natural, Bull Durham, Major League and Field of Dreams) and just finished our Rushmore of football movies (Brian's Song, Longest Yard, Rudy and Friday Night Lights). We need help with the seeding. Who do you seed Nos. 1-4 in the Hobbs Bracket and the Crew Bracket?

————

Today's question(s)

Last chance for brackets or contests at the various entries options. You could win stuff.

Is this the best day in sports? It's right there. It's certainly the first of the best two-day combo in sports.

What's your Rushmore of sports days?

We'll start with today (and Friday) and Sunday at Augusta. What else you got?

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.
jomo11 said...

Let the madness begin ! Today and Friday are the two best days in sports, especially since the bowl games are NOT all on New Years Day. . . . . .Those UTK fans STILL want to fire Cuonzo, even though he now has won MORE NCAA tourney games than the great Ray Mears . . . .If Dave Hart doesnt give the man a 3-5 year contract extension, the National media will paint UTK athletics as a bunch of racist hillbillys . . .If Georgia coach Fox takes the Washington St. job, who do you like for Georgia's new coach ? Ben Howland ? who you got, Jay ?

March 20, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
Stewwie said...

My thoughts on NFL's proposed changes:

1) Move kickoffs to the 40-yard line, from the 35, where it is now.

No. The most exciting play in the game is gradually fading away by continuing to move up the kickoff.

2) Making all personal fouls reviewable.

No. If certain personal foul calls are becoming an issue, then specific ones should be proposed to be reviewable.

3) Eliminating overtime in preseason games.

Sure, why not. We still have preseason games? Can't remember the last time that I watched one.

4) Extending the goalposts vertically by 5 feet on each side.

Don't care either way.

5) Moving extra-point attempts to the 25-yard line, making it a 43-yard try. (This was proposed by the Patriots.) The competition committee separately is proposing one preseason game this season where extra-point snaps will take place from the 20.

No. How/why is a high XP success rate a problem? Agreed that this nothing more than a smokescreen for Goodell.

6) Adding six cameras to all boundary lines on the field to supplement TV camera angles.

Yes.

7) Allowing any officials' decisions to be challenged by coaches, not just specific kinds of plays.

No. Too many judgment calls are made to lump "all" into the reviewable status. Similar to #2, specific calls should be proposed to be considered for becoming reviewable.

8) Protecting players from getting their legs rolled up on from the side — and not just from the back — as a penalty.

Fine, if it's not too difficult to enforce.

9) Allowing the referee to confer with members of the NFL officiating department in New York at the league office during replay reviews.

No. This would add additional time unnecessarily. Let the field refs do their own jobs. If they don't know the rules, then they shouldn't be out there to begin with.

10) Changing review rules on the recovery of a loose ball — aka, the "NaVorro Bowman rule" from the controversial NFC championship game non-call — in the field of play. This would including reorganizing the replay section of the NFL rulebook. (Which, frankly, needs it.)

Yes.

11) Keeping the clock running on quarterback sacks at all times of the game.

Yes. Not sure why the clock ever stopped in these situations.

12) Changing pass interference so that it can be called within a yard of the line of scrimmage.

No.

13) Enforcing defensive penalties behind the line of scrimmage from the previous spot, instead of from the end of the play or from the spot of the foul.

No.

March 20, 2014 at 10:40 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Ask Dale if he remembers his first game for the Savannah Braves in Engle Stadium, 1976, where a Lookout bunted the ball and Dale ran out and picked it up and threw it into the bleachers on the first base side. I think it was the first inning. I remember it well. I had read about how the Braves had a great young catching prospect, a young kid named Dale and stood 6-5. Remember him airmailing that throw into the stands and turning to a friend and commenting that that kid would never make it to the majors. Shows you what I know!
Dale did it the way you are supposed to, hard work and being a great person. Wish him our best.

March 20, 2014 at 11:01 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

New Year's Day is still pretty good for a sports day. You don't have the big four or five like you used to but there is still some enjoyable watching. The first few days of baseball season kill it, too, with a lot of afternoon games.

March 20, 2014 at 11:16 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Yep, the Vols looked good, although I question why Conz did not call time out and try to win it in regulation. Coach had plenty of seconds left for a set play.

The Indy 500 once occupied a place here, but I say no longer. Same with Opening Day. Some might say Daytona. Some may say when their college team goes up against its chief rival, see Tennessee v. Alabama, Georgia v. Florida or even more so, "The Iron Bowl."

Ten Ring, on Augusta, it's the weekend, baby. The Super Bowl is a natch as is The NCAA Hoops Title Game.

I'd ask Dale Murphy how his kids are getting along, however, any questions about Mr. Murphy's family might take up the time allotted. How about asking about Bob Horner?

I missed your segment with Reese yesterday. Unavoidably detained, I was. Did he take the Cats over the Vols in November? I think the Cats need to kick the Vols while they're still down. Does he believe Coach Stoops' imprint now permeates the program. If so will can the Cats be confident of legitimate improvement during this season?

March 20, 2014 at 11:19 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

I don't have time to read and review the cows, the chickens, and the hogs, regarding the NFL rule changes (Sorry, I'm at work when I'm reading this).

However, for your Rushmore, mine is the following (all local): First weekend of Rangers regular season, first football Mocs game of the season (whether it's a home or away game, I'm going to find a way to watch it), First Cowboys game of the season (if I'm paying attention), First UT football game of the season (if I can get regional coverage).

March 20, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Well JG...been a little busy the last few days getting ready for a big event involving a former Mocs football captain...however, let us seed your rushmores....hobbs bracket 1. Major League 2. Bull Durham 3. Field of Dreams 4. The Natural...although Fear Strikes Out or Pride of the Yankees or Pride of St.Louise are better than the either the 3 or 4 seeds...Crew bracket 1. The ORGINAL Longest Yard 2. Rudy 3. Friday Night Lights 4. Brian's Song although I would have inserted North Dallas Forty instead of the 4 seed.

March 20, 2014 at 11:39 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Rushmore of Sports Days:

New Years Day, Super Bowl Sunday, NBA Finals Game 1, Thanksgiving Day.

March 20, 2014 at 12:11 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

The NFL's proposed rules changes...If the NFL wants to eliminate kickoff returns they should just do it. After a score place the ball at the 25 yard line and wind the clock. Having pro kickers boot one thru the back of the endzone to start every drive seems to me to be a superfluous exercise.

Unless you're looking to survive the cut on an NFL roster, there is no reason to ever really care about the outcome of a preseason game. The game ends in a tie...Who cares?

Leave the extra point scenario as is. The next time you hear someone opine that extra point attempts in the NFL are a given, listen closely and you will hear Tony Romo exclaim "It's harder than it looks!"

I don't have a clue what rules changes could be implemented to keep players from having their legs rolled up on. I would venture a guess that half of these incidents are friendly fire situations where the player that has his leg rolled on has it done so by a teammate. It's unfortunate, but no amount bureaucratic voodoo in the front office will be able to put an end to the leg roll ups in the game of football.

I hate the proposed rule change concerning pass interference, but I have hated every pro-offense, anti-defense rule passed over the last two decades. The NFL figured out that the average casual fan would rather see a 55-51 shootout as opposed to a 17-13 defensive contest. It is all about the television ratings and those of us that enjoy good fundamental football are outnumbered by those that want every game to resemble the Pro Bowl.

As for Dale Murphy...I might ask what his thoughts are on a paradigm of virtue wing in the Hall of Fame. With so many asterisks flying around baseball these days...This guy had a HOF career, but he bet on games. This guy hit a bunch of homeruns, but he was so juiced up he once hit a sock full of rice pudding 400 feet. This guy was good, but he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. The Murph, on the other hand, had a career worthy of consideration for the Hall and without so much as a hint of scandal. Murphy is so squeaky clean he makes Tim Tebow look like Keith Richards.

March 20, 2014 at 2:58 p.m.
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