5-at-10: Monster questions for UT, UTC and UGA

5-at-10: Monster questions for UT, UTC and UGA

October 24th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, remember the Friday mailbag and to practice random acts of kindness. It's good for everyone, the random acts of kindness that is - the mailbag is just good for us, and that's OK.

We're in a strange spot. Normally we offer five sports-related things at 10 a.m. (hence the 5-at-10 moniker), but today we're loaded with questions about the three main college football teams within the reach of the TFP. Let's try to find some answers.

From the "Talks too much" studios...

Derek Dooley

Derek Dooley

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

More Dooley whispers

Tennessee faces a dilemma. The Vols have fallen into football mediocrity. They have underachieved in big moments and against the bigger-named foes. This is not new.

There is a divide among the fan base.

Group A (pro Dooley) begs more time for this staff. They point out that the losses - except for Alabama - this year have been more competitive than the last couple of years, and everybody's getting trucked by Alabama. There's the money concern. There is the need for stability.

Group B (pack up Dooley) points to the numbers, and they are pretty. Dooley is 0-14 against ranked foes. He's Vandy-and-11 in his last 12 SEC games. This trip to South Carolina would extend both of those sour runs and give Dooley an 0-5 SEC start for the third time in his three years. (Plus, for the love of everything orange, why does Cordarrelle Patterson only get three offensive touches against Alabama? Why? Oh the humanity? Let's put it this way, if you were facing the Monsters from Space Jam, and you had Michael Jordan, Bugs, Porky and the gang, is MJ only getting three shots? We think not.)

Both sides must agree that Derek Dooley's job is in jeopardy, whether it's a matter of hours or the dreaded "one more year" we're all in agreement that this is not acceptable in the 865. Beyond that, the questions roam.

Whether this weekend is it for Dooley, whether UT has contacted Jon Gruden, whether the folks at the Body Farm in Knoxville are working on a Nick Saban clone from old Oatmeal Creme Pies, a piece of hair and burnt skin, who knows. We don't know. You don't know.

There are only a few folks that know for sure, and they - Gruden, UT AD Dave Hart, a small circle of big-money boosters that include several Haslams and some other folks, the Body Farm doctors, NASA and Honey Boo Boo - aren't talking.

Here's a bigger dilemma for the divided Vols nation: Do you want Tennessee to win Saturday? Your first instinct is, "Of course we do you 5-at-10 goofball," and that may be your final answer.

But if the Vols win Saturday at South Carolina, the talk and dreams and whispers of Gruden - true or fictional - or some other rock star coach swooping in to Knoxville would surely be gone in a flash.

Is this one win enough to right the ship for Dooley and Co.? Would it be enough for the pack-up Dooley group to change sides?

UTC faces big moment

We wrote this time two years ago that the Georgia Southern game could have been a program defining moment for UTC. (Read it here, it's not terrible.)

These Mocs face the same Eagles program Saturday at Finley. The stakes are enormous.

Each controls their own destiny. Each has an elite defense that features an All-American defensive lineman. Each looks to run first (GSU looks to run first, second and always). Each is constructed for a lengthy playoff run.

Georgia Southern is 6-1, ranked No. 2 in the country and almost assured of getting the chance to spread their wings in the FCS tournament.

UTC is 4-3 and has spent almost all of its house money. UTC needs to finish strong - at least 3-1 over the last four - to qualify for the playoffs.

These are the moments that programs like Georgia Southern are built upon. The Eagles are 12-point buck for most of the teams on their schedule. They are forged by the pressure of taking everyone's best shot and delivering against that pressure. It's not something that happens in a season or three.

UTC coach Russ Huesman has done big-time work. The culture has changed in and around the program. The talent is light years better that it was before Huesman arrived, and in truth the Mocs will be even more talented next fall despite the loss of Williams.

But next year can wait. There have been too many "wait til next year" for the Blue and Gold and their fan base.

Are they ready? We'll see, because you can bet Georgia Southern is.

What's happening in Athens

Georgia players are bickering at each other - Shaun Williams calling out inside linebackers as SEC ace David Paschall tells us here.

The fans are restless. Georgia is loaded with talent, but it appears destined for another unfulfilling nine- or 10-win season.

Georgia coach Mark Richt talks to his players on the sidelines.

Georgia coach Mark Richt talks to his players...

Photo by Patrick Smith /Times Free Press.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course. There are a slew of teams that would love to have a 10-win season right now. But the Bulldogs are becoming the Dale Jr. of the SEC: They are going to have a big following; they are going to run near the front; they are going to have some success and look good in the driver's seat; but they're really not a championship contender. Not among the elite.

Again, there is nothing wrong with winning 10 games every year. It made legends out of a slew of great coaches, and it was the measuring stick of great season for most of the last generation of college football. That was especially true in the pre-BCS era when even if you won 10 or 11 games, things may not work out to win the whole shebang.

That has changed. In fact, it's another way that Nick Saban is terrorizing his peers. Georgia has faced Saban and Alabama once - in 2008 - yet is overwhelming success changes the perception of the good thing Mark Richt and the Bulldogs have going in Athens. Saban's bad years are 10-win seasons.

If you're a Georgia fan, would you trade Mark Richt's stability for the craziness that is Auburn right now that includes a national title 18 months ago?

This and that questions

- Who will win the World Series? We think the Tigers get it done. And as StuckinKent pointed out yesterday, the Tigers have pledged not to pitch ace Justin Verlander on short rest. So in truth, the Giants really need no weather delays.

- What in the world is the TSSAA playoff scheme and why can this not be about seeding and standings? Here's the latest and greatest TSSAA blunder. This is head-scratchingly bad.

- Nike is preparing to offer Rory McIlroy $250 million bucks to be their golf spokes-dude. Wow, that's a huge chuck on coin. And we don't really have a question other than, can we have a chunk of that for the sports-science research being done here at the 5-at-10 campus?

- Did you see Todd Christensen's rant after the Wyoming-Air Force game? Sweet buckets of blue language and blushing blocking backs. Dude went nuts. N-U-T-S. Sorry, but as a public figure and face of any organization, this should cost him his job. Period.

Today's actual question

OK, we have said rightly for at least the last couple of years that Aaron Rodgers is the new Mr. Big Shot quarterback in the (cue Ron Jaworski) NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. We're all on the same page.

We're now on board with the fact that Rodgers has wrestled the "Mr. Big Shot Commercial Star" away from Peyton Manning. Rodgers is so money, and his State Farm Discount Double Check commercials have moved into the conversation about the Rushmore of sports-related TV commercials.

Here's a breakdown of the candidates as we see them:

The old-school Miller Lite commercials, highlighted by Bob Uecker and the "must be in the front row."

Mean Joe Greene's one-time stellar performance in the iconic Coke commercial. This in movie relations, is Chris Farley's "Tommy Boy" since there's nothing else on either resume beyond that one great one.

MJ-vs.-Bird, "Nothing but net" McDonalds commercials.

Tiger Woods bouncing the ball on his wedge an insane number of times and then whacking it out of midair.

Peyton Manning's Sprint commercials.

Terry Tate office linebacker.

Aaron Rodgers' Discount Double Check with "Show us what you got Raji, Raji."

And too many ESPN SportsCenter commercials to name. In fact, there's a fair point to be made that the ESPN commercials are the fourth best show on the network behind the 30-for-30 series, live games and actual SportsCenter.

Whatcha' got?