Remember Friday's mailbag and hold on.
From the "Talks too much studios," here we go...
Early polling numbers
In the season of the big elections, we have to take a quick sneak peek at the projected computer numbers that have been crunched heading into Sunday's release of the first BCS poll.
According to Yahoo!Sports, the computers have a skewed look at the college rankings compared with the traditional polls. Granted a loaded weekend of action and drama can change these numbers in the blink of Spy's non-patched eye, but here we go:
2) Notre Dame
3) South Carolina
4) West Virginia
Yes, everyone's juggernaut Alabama is fifth in those standings. Sweet buckets of vengeance, there's a bizarro Harvey Updyke with a technology background out there looking for the computer version of a tree virus to send to the BCS lab.
Granted the human polls will correct this and Alabama will likely be no worse than second in Sunday's BCS standings and most likely will be first. Also of note in that top five is the omission of Oregon, which finished sixth.
And before you folks get to backstabbing the "sports debacle" BCS quicker than you can say replacement referees, if the magic solution that is the four-team playoff was in place this year, the match-ups most likely would be:
Alabama vs. South Carolina and Oregon vs. Florida
Yes, that would be better than the BCS decision, but if the SEC got three of the four teams in the playoffs, the Interwebs would melt, at least three Catholic Cardinals would curse the SEC (wait, that may have already happened at Auburn) and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney would spend more time on Capitol Hill than Roger Clemens.
There are two monster issues for Tennessee's offense this weekend in the monster match-up with Mississippi State in the Vols' biggest swing game of the season.
The first is the same issue that Johnny Vols Fan has been worried with since Tyler Bray became UT's starting quarterback: Will Bray deliver in the moment of a tightly competitive SEC game. We don't know. You don't know. Derek Dooley doesn't know. Heck, Tyler doesn't know (and sadly, if Tyler doesn't believe it, it doesn't matter if the kid can throw a football through a Cheerio).
The other big concern for the UT offense is the talented cornerback duo roaming the field for Mississippi State. Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay are players, and more alarming for Bray and Johnny Vols Fans everywhere, they are play-makers.
As out UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown told us here, http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/oct/10/vols-receivers-test-superb-msus-dbs/, almost everyone involved believes as the MSU defensive coordinator does: When Banks and Slay go against Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, it will be "pro football players on pro football players." In fact, we see Banks and Hunter as likely first-round guys and Patterson will test off the charts and likely would be no worse than a second-round pick. (We love the draft. You know this.)
What does that mean for a UT team looking for a signature win for its coach and its quarterback? It means that Raijon Neal will need to continue to be durable and productive, because if those two corners can count on safety help over the top, that's going to be tough sledding. It means than Mychal Rivera and Zach Rogers will need to produce. It means that Bray may need an extra second or two from an offensive line that has exceeded expectations and kept their quarterback upright against a Georgia front seven dotted with NFL talent.
It also means that at least once come Saturday night, the thought of two NFL WRs against two NFL DBs will drift to the wonderment of what would it be like to have three NFL WRs out there. How would this offense look different knowing what we know now about Cordarrelle if Da'Rick Rogers was still in the 865 rather than the 615 in Cookeville playing for Tennessee Tech. We'll never know of course, but as Rogers is trying to create space and make plays, the thought of that being Rogers or Patterson is haunting.
Playoff baseball's version of Shoney's
There is a full buffet of baseball on tap today. It's a smorgasbord for crying out loud. (Side note: That smorgasbord is a fun word to say. In fact, it's cracked the top-five fun words to say: 1) gubernatorial; 2) mustachioed; 3) discombobulate; 4) Onomatopoeia; 5) smorgasbord.)
Two things jumped out at us looking at the schedule of games today. One, wow, how quickly can we rap this up today; two there were still a lot of empty seats left for playoff games in some of the most excited and either traditional or victory-starved baseball cities around. Let's take a look:
St. Louis at Washington
Series: Tied at 1
Time: 1:07 on MLB Network
Pitchers: Carpenter vs. Jackson
Tickets: 2,000 left as of 7 a.m.
Of note: This is the first time Washington has been in the postseason since moving from Montreal. Granted the 1 p.m. start time could turn some folks away, but there are millions of Federal employees in D.C., and we all know they can take the afternoon on our dime.
San Fran at Cincinnati
Series: Cincy leads 2-1
Time: 4:07 on TBS
Pitchers: Zito vs. undecided
Tickets: 7,000 left as of 7 a.m.
Of note: The Reds are on the brink of getting to the NLCS for the first time since 1995, and the Great American Ball Park is going to have a great many folks dressed up like seats.
Baltimore at New York
Series: Tied at 1
Time: 7:37 on TBS
Pitchers: Gonzalez vs. Kuroda
Tickets: 3,700 left as of 7 a.m.
Of note: We kind of give Johnny Yankees Fans a pass here for these reasons: 1) The playoffs don't start for the Yankees until the ALCS; 2) Tickets are through the roof expensive at the Stadium. That said if you watch it on the Yankees network, you're going to have to listen to Michael Kay and/or John Sterling. And we'd rather listen to Andre Ware yodel, Verne Lundquist read the unabridged version of the Brothers Karamazov and listen to Lee Corse break down algorithms. At the same time, yelling into our ears.
Detroit at Oakland
Series: Detroit leads 2-1
Time: 9:37 on TBS
Pitchers: Scherzer vs. Griffin
Tickets: 4,000 left as of 7 a.m.
Of note: This is the one that kind of leaves us puzzled. The A's have been a great story - the picture of a small market club overachieving and making Moneyball 2 for crying out loud. The Tigers have the reigning triple crown winner and could clinch. It's going to be 64 and sunny at first pitch according to weather.com. And there's 4,000 seats left?
A few years ago, Johnny Braves Fans were hammered for not filling the Ted for a playoff game. So it goes.
This and that
- OK, word came down that Derek Dooley has a broken hip and will coach from the press box Saturday. Looking back on Dooley's time in Knoxville, he's been delivered one bad break after another. Whether you think he is the solution or the problem, whether you believe he's on the verge of breaking through or in over his head, there are three facts we can all agree: He's got great hair, the orange pants are boss and he has had two-and-half-years of brutal breaks. The LSU game two years ago (and if they win that one how much different is his run, and at the very least 0-12 is not the first stat folks know about Dooley). Four five-star players leaving or doing bone-headed things to get kicked out, including two five star safeties (Janzen Jackson and Darren Myles) who certainly would have helped a broken secondary. Pushing your chips in with Tyler Bray, who will likely never be confused with Cool Hand Luke in the mentally tough department. Now the hip. Dude deserves a break.
- Jerry Sandusky maintained his innocence in the hours preceding his sentence of at least 30 years in prison. Fittingly at 68, it almost assuredly equates to the rest of his life in jail.
- The NFL and Roger Goodell have issued new suspensions for two of the Saints involved in Bounty-gate. Not shockingly, Jonathan Vilma's year-long suspension remained the same. Here's saying that Vilma and Goodell are not going to get together for a cocktail anytime in the immediate future.
- Terrell Owens took to the social media begging for a job in the NFL. We think Terrell Owens could be a contributor to a slew of NFL teams - including the receiving-short Jets - but if T.O. is looking for a reason his phone is not vibrating, T.O. needs to look at T.O. Sports folks will put up with untold amounts of junk from guys that are stars. It's part of the BID-ness. They will not however put up with junk from contributors, the math doesn't equate. And T.O. is more junk than contribution right now.
- Manute Bol, the late 7-foot-7 center who was the tallest player in NBA history, has a son who is a promising hoops star. At 6-5 in the seventh grade, Bol Bol has serious skills. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/manute-bol-son-looks-one-america-most-promising-102945165.html. Which is more eye-popping, that he's 6-5 at 13, that he looks that much like his dad or that his name is Bol Bol?
- Pete Rose is auctioning his personal copy of the letter that banned him from baseball. If you have the interest and the means, the auction starts Oct. 15 and the bidding starts at $100K.
They had the 30th reunion of Cheers this week, and watching the folks get back together, two questions jumped out:
First, is there a more underrated great TV show than Cheers? Consider the overflow of Rosanne or Two-and-a-Half Men or any number of the shows that are running in syndication, and name the last time you saw Cheers pop up on the dial? This show was so money during the day. In fact this show was so good it managed to maintain its excellence after two major cast changes - something that is next to impossible.
Second question, which actor from the Cheers shows had the most post-Cheers success? Here's out top five:
1) Woody Harrelson - Dude's a nut job but he's made $100 million as a B-plus-list movie star
2) John Ratzenberger - dude has been the voice in like 100 Pixar films from Toy Story to Cars
3) Kelsey Grammer - Frasier Crane
4) Bebe Neuwirth - A Broadway staple
5) Ted Danson