5 at 10: College football, baseball playoffs and Al Davis has left the building

5 at 10: College football, baseball playoffs and Al Davis has left the building

October 10th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...

College Football Monday Morning Quarterback

Tennessee's quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws to a receiver in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game as he is pressured by Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith (56) on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee offensive linesman Dallas Thomas (71) blocks. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Here are the five things we learned Saturday:

1) There's no way your Tennessee Vols could have had a more painful weekend. A subpar performance became a painful 20-12 loss to Georgia at Neyland Stadium. Quarterback Tyler Bray broke his thumb - read our UT ace Patrick Brown's report here - and will miss at least the next month. The only person who may be more upset than Bray about the injury may be Matt Simms, Bray's replacement who will get the challenge of facing the nation's top two defenses - LSU and at Alabama - in the next 12 days. Yikes.

2) In an era of nicknames for every college football game day, last Saturday was "Style Points Saturday." With the first BCS poll being released and the large number of teams still unbeaten, the big boys in the top 10 dropped the hammer on their foes Saturday. In fact, the nine teams ranked in the top 10 that were in action Saturday, each covered the spread by an average of almost 13 points per game. If you had picked each top-10 favorite in a nine-game parlay, a $100 wager would have paid $33,600, according to friend of the show RJ Bell of pregame.com. But that's for entertainment purposes only

3) There is a lot of mediocre-to-bad quarterback play in the SEC right now. Be it injury (UT's Bray and Florida's John Brantley), ineffectiveness (South Carolina and Ole Miss), inexperience (Auburn, Kentucky and Vandy) or some unknowns (LSU's possible controversy and MSU's inexplicable struggles with senior Chris Relf), only three SEC teams are happily locked into the same quarterback plan this morning they had a month ago.

4) Hard to know what to make of the UTC Mocs, who have lost three straight by four points. At 2-4, they're saying the right things - and the playoffs do start Saturday against Western Carolina, but at some point, winning close games has to become about attitude. You have to believe you're going to get it done rather than waiting for something to happen that prevents you from getting it done. That's a hard problem to solve. That said, the Mocs found a star-in-the-making in quarterback Terrell Robinson. Wow.

5) The Fab 4 got back into the winning column this week, although we were close to making a big run. Our Plus-one pick failed, and we even had considered a slew of others that hit. So it goes. Here's the scorecard:

Oklahoma minus-10 over Texas - If this line feels big, that's because since 1997 this rivalry has had a double-digit underdog only twice. Still, this one feels like a Red River Runaway. Check.

Georgia Tech minus-13.5 over Maryland - The Terps have not played on the road yet. They also have not seen anything like this Jackets' running game - and Maryland allowed 285 yards rushing to Temple last week. Ouch. Miss, ouch is right after the Jackets built a huge lead and sat on it.

Oregon minus-22 over California - In their last 18 home games - all wins - Oregon is averaging right at 50 points per game. Get the weekend off to a good start. Check.

Arizona State minus-3 at Utah - Call it a hunch, and buy the half if you have that option. (If you know what that means, you're nodding your head; if you don't know what that means, just nod your head anyway.) Check.

The plus one game was tough this week. There were about three tied for the final spot: Arkansas minus-10 against Auburn; Alabama minus-28 over Vandy, but we'll go with:

Missouri minus-3 at Kansas State - Call it a hunch, and look about purchasing the half. (Keep nodding.). Miss. Stupid Missouri. Are we sure we want them in SEC?

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Playoff baseball

Milwaukee Brewers' Jerry Hairston Jr. (15) and Prince Fielder celebrate after Game 1 of baseball's National League championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, in Milwaukee. The Brewers won 9-6. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Yes, the Brewers-Cards could be an exciting NLCS. Sure, the Rangers and the Tigers will be a good one, too.

But make no mistake about it, the story of the first 10 days of the baseball postseason is about who isn't here as much as it is who is. The Yankees and the Phillies - two teams that dominated most of the regular season, were dismissed in decisive Game 5s. And the Phillies were excused by a dominating pitching effort from Chris Carpenter, who pulled a Roy Halladay against Roy Halladay.

Now, the questions will remain all winter, especially for fan bases that were expecting at least a World Series trip.

Here's another one for the Phillies, though: That season-ending sweep in Atlanta that allowed the Cards into the playoffs seems the definition of ironic this morning, huh? Here's hoping the Cards at least said thanks after Game 5.

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NFL news and notes

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) falls after being tackled by Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

We'll break down the teams more on Tuesday's Power Poll, but is anybody better than Aaron Rodgers right now?

Seriously, if you had one pick to start a franchise in each of the three major sports (and if EC wants to tell us who the pick would be in MMA, we'll gladly defer to his knowledge), who would it be.

Football - Aaron Rodgers, and it's not that close. (But Andrew Luck would be a nice wildcard pick and Cam Newton would get a lot more votes this morning than he would have before the season started.)

Baseball - This is the most difficult. It could have been Buster Posey before the injury. It could also be Matt Kemp but he's closing in on 30. It's hard to take a starting pitcher because they go only once every five days. We'll take Evan Longoria by a whisker over Carlos Gonzalez and a surprisingly hard to turn down Craig Kimbrel.

Basketball - Kevin Durant, by a whisker over King James. (And they're both better than Michael Jordan at their respective ages.)

* * * * *

This and that

Artists painted the rock on the University of Tennessee campus with half-faces of UT coach Derek Dooley and his father Vince Dooley, former Georgia coach before the game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/MICHAEL PATRICK - NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- Oso wins, Oso wins, Oso wins. Man, dude is the New York Yankees of 5-at-10 contests after having UGA by six in Saturday's 20-12 slugfest. Yes, Sic'em, you had UGA by 9, but as we clearly stated last week, we had invoked the "Price is Right" rule that if you go over you're out. So Oso, who had UGA by 6 and has now won twice on the 5-at-10 contest circuit, wins both showcases - 2 tickets to Saturday's UTC game and a sleeve of Titleists with the Masters logo on them. Here's hoping he doesn't lose any of them.

- Tiger Woods, who as we all know was picked for the President's Cup, finished tied for 30th at the Frys.com Open. Yeah, we don't know what that means either. But the big story from the tournament was some yahoo charged the green while Woods was lining up a putt and threw a hot dog at Woods. Yep, a hot dog. We don't know what that means, either. Wow, the jokes are endless, you know. Thankfully no BUN was hurt. But they did arrest that WEINER. Sadly, Woods was unable to KETCHUP to the leaders after the incident. This will not be a moment for tournament organizers to RELISH. Seriously, we could go on all day. Ask anyone.

- The NBA talks resume today with a not-so-subtle warning from commissioner David Stern, who said he'd have to cancel the first two weeks of the season. Missed games = lost fans. Trust us, NBA, you better make this happen quickly. And repeat after us: YOU ARE NOT THE NFL. You can't afford to miss games NBA. Trust us on this.

- Man, Jimmie Johnson is NASCAR Jason Voorhees. Every time you think NASCAR's reigning five-time points champ is about to be buried, he rises up and delivers another big-time shot, not unlike Voorhees, the impossible-to-kill villain in the "Friday the 13th" series. (And they made 12 versions of the movie, so dude was hard to handle.) Sunday, Johnson won in Kansas, and is now one of three drivers separated by four points for the leader. It's going to come down to the wire, unless they decide that Junior gets an extra 100 points to keep his rabid fan base interested. So it goes. Quick question: How can you stop a series like "Friday the 13th" at 12 when the next one could be "Friday the 13th 13 - Terror Squared" and introduce Jason's son Jason Junior or J.J., which is Johnson's nickname, too.Wait this is creepy. Let's just move along before that chilling "Chi-chi-chi, Ha-ha-ha, Kill-kill-kill" music starts.

* * * * *

Today's question

New England Patriots fans pause for a moment of silence in honor of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis who died earlier in the weekend prior to facing the New York Jets in an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

The NFL lost one of its visionaries Saturday when Al Davis died. The man served in about every function - scout, coach, GM, owner, commissioner, et al. - in the football side of the business and that's one of the reasons he was so respected.

He also changed the game that is professional football. By helping the AFL stay afloat as the league's commissioner until it merged with the longstanding NFL, Davis allowed teams that are today's Raiders, Chiefs, Titans and Chargers among others stick around. Plus, the AFL's addition allowed for the Super Bowl, and the AFL's New York Jets had a flashy quarterback named Joe Namath that made a crazy prediction before Super Bowl III that turned out to be true. Maybe you heard of it, and maybe it helped pour the foundation for the Super Bowl to become the single biggest sports event in America.

Thanks Al, and thanks to his alter ego pretend Al who dropped by occasionally, even as late as last Friday, to share his wisdom and insults for the 5-at-10 family. You will be missed.

As far as the question(s), here we go:

First, we contend that if there was a Mount Rushmore of the NFL (non-players division), here are our five: Al Davis, Pete Rozelle, Vince Lombardi, Art Rooney, Roone Arledge. Who you got?

Second, now that real Al has left the building, Pretend Al will do the same. But we need a regular contributor that has similar spark. Any ideas?

Discuss.