published Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

5-at-10: NBA drama, Riley Ferguson, should SEC teams play FCS teams and what would you ask Dale Jr.

Today is the Lil Ms. 5-at-10's 4th birthday. Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

Hey, it's a short week, but remember the mailbag. Great back and forth yesterday. Well-played all around.

From the "Talks too much" studios, believe and achieve.

NBA playoffs

The melodrama that has become the NBA playoffs has myriad of players and faces and storylines. It's part Chuck Barkley, part Greek tragedy, part social implosion and culture experiment. Sadly, the title "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was already taken.

Wednesday, as brilliant as the play of the Thunder was on the floor, the continued distraction of Donald Sterling resonated across the league.

  • photo
    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Rochelle, during a Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles in this 2010 file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Russell Westbrook was simply dominant, giving arguably the best individual performance of the playoffs with 40 points, 10 assists and five steals, as the Thunder evened the Western Conference finals at 2 with a thumping of the Spurs. Westbrook not only looked like the best player on the floor — which is saying something when the league MVP and the best power forward ever were also in this game — he looked like arguably the second-best athlete in the NBA.

He was quick and powerful on each end and made erstwhile playoff nemesis Tony Parker look small. In fact, in a matter of two games in OKC the Western Conference Finals storyline has switched from the experience and balance of the Spurs to the youth and athletic ability of the Thunder. This one has the feel of Game 7 back in San Antonio.

(Side note, No. 1: Hey NBA, we know you are distracted and have a lot on your plate, but for the love of everything decent can we please excuse Joey Crawford from the rest of these playoffs in general and every Spurs game in particular. There is a well known issue there considering Joey C once bounced Timmy Duncan for laughing. C'mon, this needs to happen.)

As for the Sterling matter, despite reports that the racist ogre was looking sell the Clippers after his controversial remarks were caught on tape by his mistress, the attorney team for Sterling has now said they will fight this to the end. Here is the response from Sterling.

(Side note, No. 2: Raise your hand if you're shocked by this. Of course your not. We knew this was going to be the case and even if Sterling was wavering, the attorneys stand to make eight or nine figures in billing considering this thing could take years and the reported value of the Clippers is rising beyond $1.5 billion and beyond.)

Of course his wife of 58 years Shelly has said she is cooperating with the NBA rather than her husband and his hooker.

In other news, LeBron and the Heatles are headed to Indianapolis looking to secure their fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals. No word yet if Lance Stephenson has insulted LeBron's wife or D-Wade's kids yet, but the day's not over either.

———

Riley Ferguson

As our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here, Riley Ferguson appears to be no longer part of the Big Orange Universe.

And with that reported decision, it looks the quarterback mess in Knoxville has one fewer option. That could be a good thing in a matter of deciding who the man will be and it could be a very good thing in the court of public opinion.

Let's explore.

This now is a two-guy race with Justin Worley and Josh Dobbs. After Nathan Peterman's performance at Florida — we call it that Swamp Thing, and it's not a compliment — these have to be the guys.

Ferguson never grabbed the job — and we all know that no one had a firm grab on it to be begin with — despite the reports of the strongest arm and the competitive streak and the rest. Hey maybe Ferguson transfers and finds Cam Newton type success somewhere else (not holding our breath on that one) and join the list of Tajh Boyd and Bryce Petty and the rest of the 'former' UT QB commits/players who found success in other pastures.

That said, Ferguson, who was the only one of the four that did not see action last year during a redshirt season caused in part by a leg injury, had found a mythical status within the UT fan base. He had become Paul Bunyon meets Sasquatch meets the Loch Ness monster arm, and that storied reputation was the classic, "We've seen the other guys stink, so Riley has to be better."

If Ferguson was left in the back-up role come fall — which seemed to be the case since the senior Worley appears to be in line for the QB 1 spot by most accounts, at least to start the year — the howls for him to play would come as soon as the first three-and-out.

So it goes and so it happens. God's speed Riley and say hello to your big blue ox Babe.

———

Investment or money pit

Two drastic differences in approaches to events and venues that are strangely connected.

Four cities have voted against hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics after the debacle that was the Sochi games that cost Russia in excess of $51 billion to host. Yes $51 billion.

There appear to be only two candidates left — cities in Kazakhstan and in China, places where the people do not get to vote in such matters — and the future from there is unknown and far from certain.

Hey, hosting an Olympics is a lot of coin for a flash in the pan exposure, so short-term jobs and the pat on the head from the IOC. Hooray.

Think about the money spent and the lasting images of the 1996 Atlanta Games. It's been less than 20 years and other than the spring board it became for Billy Payne and the whole Richard Jewell fiasco and Michael Johnson's gold shoes, what's left.

Which brings us to the vote in Cobb County last night — hi, hometown — and the 5-0 approval from that county commission to budget almost $400 million to build the Braves a new stadium just north of 285.

The Ted was the hosting venue of the Olympics and 20 years later it is dated and it's tenants are looking to move to the suburbs. At least the Cobb Commission made the Braves sign a 30-year contract.

Now image the leftover images of the luge track or the downhill skiing venue. Not exactly multi-use facilities, you know.

———

This and that

— The Cowboys lost linebacker Sean Lee to a torn ACL on day one of OTAs. Ouch-standing. Somehow this will be Tony Romo's fault.

— C'mon Curtis, what was that? Curtis Jackson, aka rapper 50 Cent, threw out one of the worst first pitches ever. Man, we expected Carly Rae Jepsen to be challenged, but 50 this hurts.

— A paper in Australia owned by Rubert Murdoch published a photo of Kate Middleton's tush. There could a riot in England — or the interweb may melt. One or the other.

— Jim Thorpe would have turned 126 today. And even at that age, he still would have been on the short list of best athletes around.

— Wow the Williams sisters both fell at the French the morning. Maybe it was the BoP curse and they each got a late start because they needed an extra Moon Pie or some pudding from the Southern Star? Is this the worst state of American tennis ever?

———

Today's question

We have a few today, so feel free to pick and choose.

  • photo
    Dale Earnhardt Jr., will be the featured speaker at this year’s Times Free Press Best of Preps banquet.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• As TFP SEC ace David Paschall shares here, http://timesfreepress.com/news/2014/may/28/fcs-foes-to-remain-part-of-sec-scheduling/, the SEC will continue to schedule FCS foes. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? We'd have to believe UTC is happy with that decision.

• Anyone have any suggestions on what we should ask Dale Jr. during the Q&A at Thursday's Best of Preps banquet? Discuss. (P.S. The best suggestion — be it here or on today's Press Row on ESPN 105.1 and right here on timesfreepress.com from 3-6 p.m. — could win two tickets to tomorrow night's event.)

• Heatles-Pacers tonight, who 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 ...

13
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...

Jay- the FCS games vs. SEC, looks like here to stay. However, if it were to go away its not the end of the financial world for the UTC's of the world. 10 years ago when UTC had a athletic budget of $8-9 million they were getting $400,000 for those games. Today with UTC budget in the $13-14 million range they are still only getting around $450,000 for these games. It's nice to have but not as big a percentage of the budget as it used to be. . . ... . . .Even the the most optimistic UTK fan has to be pretty down on the Ferguson thing. Clearly Dobbs and Whorley are AT BEST average SEC caliber QB's. And Peterman, who was the worst coaching decision by Butchy to date is just terrible ( Could you imagine if Dooley had made the call to start a QB who had never played against Florida ? Butchy sure has a nice honeymoon ). . . . . I guess what you will now see is after the first bad QB performance by a UTK QB this year, the UTK fans will now add a new partner in the law firm of blame - Fulmer, Hamilton, Kiffin, Dooley, Counzo and Ferguson . . .

May 28, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
MocTastic said...

The SEC should schedule FCS teams, as a matter of face that should be a league rule, one FCS game per season. It is a win win unless you are the Univ of Florida. You get a game you should win, you get a good gate of which you keep most of the money, and the FCS teams gets a nice payday that is a sizeable percentage of their athletic budget. If every SEC and ACC team played one FCS game it would equal out with respect to their rankings/polls/stats, unless of course you lose the game.

I read that this Ferguson kid is likely headed to Charlotte, which is home and where his brother plays. Interestingly, his grandfather was born and raised and lives in Chattanooga.

May 28, 2014 at 10:13 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

"Now image the leftover images of the luge track or the downhill skiing venue. Not exactly multi-use facilities, you know."

No (cow pie) Sherlock. All one needs to do is check out the venues (including the luge track) in Sarejavo. Add negect + an ethnic civil war due to pent-up grievences in a 50 year time spam, and you got the makings of something resembling the movie set of the first Robocop movie (which I'm always reminded was actually shot in Dallas). The fact Kazakhstan is on the short list is worth it's weight in late-night talk show host jokes and obviously there would be that guy who plays Boret.

"The Cowboys lost linebacker Sean Lee to a torn ACL on day one of OTAs. Ouch-standing. Somehow this will be Tony Romo's fault."

Yep, right across the street while I was at work. Until the new facility up in Frisco is built which the local news down here has been drooling over.

" ...the SEC will continue to schedule FCS foes. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? We'd have to believe UTC is happy with that decision."

It depends on the program. I'd rather see established FCS programs vs. ones just now getting back on their feet (looking at you Western) buit that's just me. I just hope there is a LOT of hype and 423 representation come October as everyone has been clammering for a Mocs/Vols gridiron mash-up. Jury is still out if I plan on making the trip home for this one live as I'm taking a heavy chuck for two straight weeks in July for Lindsey Sterling/Forth of July/any and all activities with family/friends I don't get to see.

May 28, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Coach Pop tried to let his hustlin' backups make a big comeback last night and it actually almost worked. As a result, the Thunder felt compelled to leave their starters in through most of the 4th quarter to try to put the game away. I know the Thunder stars are young, but the extra minutes played (compared to the Spurs' starters) just might catch up with them in Game 5.

Yes, Joey Crawford once tossed Duncan for laughing. And Crawford was punished for it. But truth be told, Crawford is a pretty good ref and has not had any crazy incidents like that since.

I agree with Sterling's response to the NBA in regard to his punishment. You'd think that with a maximum fine and a lifetime ban, he'd committed the worst infraction in NBA history! But it's not even close. And this has been handled very poorly by Adam Silver. If he'd only given Sterling an indefinite suspension at the time in order to better assess the situation and deal with it after the playoffs, Sterling would not be in the news right now. But instead, they have an owners' meeting 2 days before the Finals start. And there's a buzz about selling the team (which probably means they're simply trying to get an idea of FMV before the owners force a sale, which could drop the price a bit). And even then, we know Sterling's fight will only just begin at that point. Way to overshadow the games with this crap, Adam Silver.

May 28, 2014 at 10:54 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

A hidden value about SEC games for UTC and Southern Conference teams is the location and the fan friendly approach. Getting $450-500K to drive to Tuscaloosa or Knox-Vegas is way better than getting the same coin going to Oklahoma, where it would cost 2-3x what it does in SEC country. Plus, the Mocs will sell some tickets to folks here to go to Knoxville, whereas only the seriously invested headed to Norman.

MT —

Interesting point about making everyone schedule one. Had not thought in that direction. We'll look into that — although the Big Ten has already banned it if memory serves.

The end of playing FCS schools will come when either a) the big five break free and keep all the football money for themselves or b) when the College Football Playoff known as the College Football Playoff goes to eight teams and strength of schedule will really matter and losing as many as two games will not kill your chances. (And that's when the SEC will go to nine conference games, too.)

JMC —

Good to see back around. And yes, Borat would get at least one sequel out of the Olympics going to his home country.

Stewwie —

Interesting suggestion about indefinite suspension until after the playoffs. Not sure it would have worked in the moment — we know you think Silver acted hastily but there are plenty who believe he acted swiftly — but the fact that this is overshadowed a fun postseason has been disappointing.

That said, the 'worst' infraction is debatable for your specific industry.

In team sports within the locker room it is gambling as much as anything, and Pete Rose paid the ultimate price for that.

Among ownership — within the confines of business relationships with fans and players — racism is close to the pinnacle. Ask Marge Schott.

That said, it will be really interesting to see what the NFL does to Jim Irsay. And for those that say the NFL kept the Super Bowl out of Indy because of Irsay's antics, well, that would be stupid. That hurts the whole city for one man's actions. Of course, we are talking about Roger Goodell.

FOR GOODNESS SAKES, we HAVE to fix the EXTRA POINT!!!!!

May 28, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--Dead on description of how Proctologist B and his ilk saw Ferguson through rose-colored glasses. Fact is, when you're UT or UK, you just have to hold your nose and tough it out with mediocre QB's until you can get better talent in. We Wildcats hope the Signal Mountain kid develops into Bret Favre, but don't bet the farm on it.

Ask Dale, Jr., why his holy father didn't rise from the dead after three days the way many said he would.

May 28, 2014 at 11:15 a.m.
chas9 said...

So Chattem will make Cialis locally. Any of you guys work there? Can you get me free samples?

Did you see the video of Fitty Cent throwing out the first pitch? Almost as bad as the hero cat's flub from the mound.

UK's softball team beat #3 UCLA twice to make the college world series (one of eight teams). Kentucky's pitching ace (and Soddy-Daisy native) Kelsey Nunley won two games, running her season record to 29-9. Her NCAA tournament ERA is a minuscule 0.87. Bama and Florida are also still in the hunt.

May 28, 2014 at 11:47 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Speaking of FBS vs FCS in FB, what about a SEC--OVC + an ACC--SoCon Challenge? Each FCS team gets 500 Large minimum. Hey, the SEC Network needs programming. And when will the ACC have a network?

Billy-In-Brainerd

May 28, 2014 at 12:02 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[In team sports within the locker room it is gambling as much as anything, and Pete Rose paid the ultimate price for that. Among ownership — within the confines of business relationships with fans and players — racism is close to the pinnacle. Ask Marge Schott.]

Not sure I see a need for a difference in standards. If racism is wrong, why should there be two separate rules for players and owners? If LeBron were caught on tape saying he didn't want his wife bringing white people to games with her, what would happen? I guarantee that he would NOT be banned for life from the NBA. A reasonable fine and suspension maybe.

So why should Sterling be treated any differently? It'd be one thing if he held a press conference and said that he would only sign white players, white coaches, white admin folks, etc. and then went out and did it. That would certainly be grounds for termination of ownership because he willfully would be violating the law and also intentionally damaging the brand of the NBA with his racist views.

But it's hard to accuse Sterling of putting his racist views into practice when the majority of his team (and also the head coach) are black. And he never intended to make his racist views public. Magic, LeBron, and the media have all scared Silver into bringing down the hammer for private, non-criminal thoughts that were unfairly (and most likely illegally) made public. As Cuban said, this is certainly a slippery slope.

May 28, 2014 at 12:15 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Stewwie point in case, Jay Z, agent and minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets currently sports a necklace containing a "Five Percent Nation" emblem. Read up on the Five Percent Nation and in particular the founder's views on white people. Some quotes from one of the "leaders" and founders: "The first lesson I learned from the Five Percent was simple: F**k white people. "White people are devils." "Whiteness is weak and wicked and inferior — basically just an errant child who needs to be corrected."

Where is Adam Silver on this?

Update: I understand that Jay Z has sold his minority ownership, but he is still an agent licensed by the NBA. Should Jay Z still be accepted by the NBA? Orlando Sentinel on this: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/os-would-jay-z-have-been-caught-on-the-slippery-donald-sterling-slope-20140502,0,3167674.post

On a totally different note, Happy Birthday to little Miss 5 at 10!!

May 28, 2014 at 12:39 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, are the SEC teams going to schedule teams of the Georgia Southern (when it was FCS) and North Dakota State ilk, or will it be more toward the Western Carolina end of the scale? And perhaps the payouts aren't the percentage of the bottom line they used to be, but FCS teams still seek these games out. It is their biggest payday of the season for some.

May 28, 2014 at 12:56 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Great point, MT. And yes, despite Jay-Z not being an owner anymore, the NBA could take steps to ban him and his music if they really wanted to. But of course they won't and we all know why.

Again, why no outrage from the media or from the NBA for Larry Johnson's twitter comments to start an all-black league? (These comments were actually referenced in the Sterling doc to the NBA to show that the league normally turns a blind eye or lightly punishes offensive comments. Well...unless the offender's name is Donald Sterling.)

Or how about Sir Chuck asserting that "we are a black league" after the Sterling saga began? How offensive and non-inclusive of a statement toward the other 25% of players in the league! But of course, the NBA will take no action on those comments.

May 28, 2014 at 1:41 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Butchy sure has a nice honeymoon--Jomo11

Not here, pal. Haven't bought in yet, and I'm no fan of Butch's offense let alone the present execution of same.

10 Ring, I've pined for a home and home with Oklahoma for years. One reason to schedule powerhouse teams in a certain conference or geographic zone is to raise awareness of the program for recruiting purposes.

No doubt losing by twenty nets the Vols too many long term benefits. Well, I got what I wanted. I just wasn't careful when wishing.

May 28, 2014 at 2:02 p.m.
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