5-at-10: SEC media blitz, Vick and more Penn State

5-at-10: SEC media blitz, Vick and more Penn State

July 17th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks too much" Studios, here we go...

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days, Thursday, July 21, 2011, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

SEC media days, prequel

OK, we discussed having questions that won't be asked. And in an effort to be an equal opportunity offender, we'll give one for each school that steps into the spotlight each day.

South Carolina - "Coach Spurrier, how has Stephen Garcia been and when do you think he may join the Gamecocks staff in a mentoring role?"

Texas A&M - "What's the biggest feeling about the move: Being invited to the SEC is like Charlie finding a golden Wonka ticket or being put in the SEC West is like Daniel getting invited to play in the lion's den?" (Wait, that may get asked.) OK try this: "With all that smooching your fan base does, UGA coach Mark Richt and his wife can feel completely comfortable making out on the sideline right? You guys are down with PDA, huh?"

Vandy - "Coach Franklin, have you already started packing your office and do you plan to treat this season as a victory tour before heading off to a bigger gig?"

Missouri - "Pinkel? Is that your real name? You made that up right?"

And let's not forget that SEC commissioner Mike Slive will take the mic today.

Here are few questions Mike likely won't hear:

"Mr. Slive, have you been approached about interviewing for the UTC AD gig?"

"Mike with all of the offseason discussion of the new playoff, how were you able to devote enough attention to the women's equestrian season?"

"Mike, with the power of the league right now and potential new TV contracts and even a network on the horizon, don't you think it's time for you grow an evil mustache and practice your Moo-HA-HA-ha-ha laugh since the SEC is going to be the Colombian Cartel of college sports?"

"Mr. Slive, if you had to pick your fav Harry Potter book, which is it?"

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Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick walks onto the field before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Vick comes clean

Before we knew the evil that is Jerry Sandusky and before we learned of the sickening silence of Joe Paterno and the rest of the Penn State enablers, we really thought Mike Vick and his dog-fighting ring was the worst sports scandal ever.

Well, Vick has a new book coming in September and USA Today has some excerpts that are quite telling, in that Vick reveals that he had no intention of telling the truth. From Vick's "Finally Free" which is set to be released Sept. 4:

"I knew how to lie with a straight face. Sad to say, Commissioner [Roger] Goodell bought into what I was saying, and I think he truly believed me that I was telling the truth. I deeply regret not telling him the truth from the outset.

"It was a very nervous time for me. I knew I was going to try to lie my way through the whole dogfighting case and see if money, good lawyers, and manipulating the system could get me out of the position I was in - which was a terrible position."

Fortunately Vick was unable to game the system, and he paid his debt with years in prison and millions and millions in fines, fees and lawsuits.

More telling for the 5-at-10 was the part in which Vick says he spent more time scouting dogs and breaking down tendencies of the fighters than he did preparing for his day job or reading the Falcons' playbook. Wow.

Vick's excerpts did three things: 1) We're going to read his book now; 2) As brutal as the dog fighting was, it's kind of staggering to think what Mike Vick could have been as a football player if he had devoted himself to it; 3) As much as we know right now about the Penn State mess, at some point one of the central figures involved will right a book and it likely will be worse than we think it is.

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Speaking of Penn State...

NCAA president Mark Emmert spoke openly for the first time since the scathing Freeh report detailed the layers of cover-up and the deafening silence that permeated Penn State and allowed Sandusky to be a child sex predator for decades.

Speaking to Tavis Smiley on PBS on Monday night, Emmert obviously has followed the case - who hasn't - and appears open to any and all measures of punishment:

"I've never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university and hope never to see it again. What the appropriate penalties are, if there are determinations of violations, we'll have to decide. We'll hold in abeyance all of those decisions until we've actually decided what we want to do with the actual charges should there be any. And I don't want to take anything off the table."

And if that is not clear as a bell that the death penalty is in play, try this one on for size. Emmert again: "This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like happened at SMU, or anything else we've dealt with. This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal. Well it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it's really an unprecedented problem."

You know the 5-at-10 believes the NCAA should come down full force on the football program. It was worse than a lack of institutional control in the football program; it was complete institutional control by the football program. And that's way more dangerous and damaging than rogue boosters or cheating coaches.

The school has promised changes and even started Monday by announcing that the organizers of "Paternoville" - the place where students camp out before home games - are changing the name to "Nittanyville" after the terror and damage to the legacy of Penn State? Here's wondering if they will honor the victims at the first home game, and if they do let them have the first ever "Moment of Screaming." A moment of silence seems like what started this whole thing, you know?

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This and that

- Brentwood Academy defensive back Jalen Ramsey committed to Lane Kiffin and USC on Monday. Ramsey is the top-ranked player in the state of Tennessee and the Vols finished third, behind the Trojans and Vanderbilt, in the chase for his services. The state of Tennessee has seven four-star prospects according to Rivals, and Tennessee has commitments from two - DE Jason Carr of Memphis and OT Austin Sanders of Bradley Central. Three - Ramsey, RB Mark Dodson (Ole Miss) and DE Frank Herron (LSU) - have committed to out-of-state schools. Two more - RB Jordan Wilkins and athlete Corn Elder - are uncommitted.

- Tough deal for Joey Votto, the Reds slugger who will miss up to a month after knee surgery. Know this: Votto, who played a year here with the Lookouts, is a really good dude.

- We can be critical of the good folks at ESPN at times, but we should all offer our heartfelt thanks for the replays of the best college football games from last season that they have been running for the last couple of weeks. Well-played indeed.

- Speaking of TV choices, we were struggling last night - no Braves on a Monday in July means T-R-O-U-B-L-E - and stumbled on "Tombstone" with Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and a slew of familiar names and faces. We'll say it, "Tombstone" has aged like Raquel Welch. That movie is still as enjoyable and watchable as it was when it was released - almost 20 years ago.

- Kevin Youklis got a standing O in his return to Fenway on Monday night. Booby Valentine did not.

- Gang, don't forget the Openly Open Championship Championship. Pick five golfers - or four if you want to pick Tiger Woods - and the best four finishers count. Add the places up and the low score wins some tickets. Maybe NASCAR in the A-T-L. Braves could be in play. Maybe - BIG maybe - some UT-NC State duckets. Deadline is Wednesday night. Questions? We already have McPell's entry and a few others. Jump in, the water is warm.

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Today's questions

There are a slew of sports cliches that are cliches because they have proven true time and time again. There also are a few cliches that are cliches in name only - meaning they reached a level of acceptance and now they are believed to be true whether they are or not.

Take the cliche, "You have to establish the run in the NFL." Puh-lease:

Here are the top-five rushing teams from 2011:

Denver - 164.5 yards per game

Houston - 153 ypg

Carolina - 150.5 ypg

Minnesota - 144.9 ypg

Philadelphia - 142.2 ypg

Want to know who finished last? Yep, the New York Giants at 89.2 yards per game. The same New York Giants that won the Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots, who ranked 20th in rushing.

With that knowledge and the physical demands on the position, would you give multi-year, big-dollar deals to running backs - like the ones Matt Forte and Ray Rice got Monday? And, who are the best three running backs of this generation? Seriously, with Adrian Peterson trying to rehab a serious knee injury, we possibly could be at an all-time lull in the position?

We'll give LaDainian Tomlinson the top spot for the last decade, but who else is worthy of discussion?