5-at-10: Coaching hot seats, potential BCS woes and baseball blahs

5-at-10: Coaching hot seats, potential BCS woes and baseball blahs

October 29th, 2012 in Sports - Columns

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley closing watches the minutes of the Vols 38-35 loss to South Carolina.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

College football review, part I

Loved our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's take on the current unrest in Dooleyville here.

Dooley's claim that UT "could still have a really good season," is laughable. Even if the Vols win out, 8-5 with a win over Duke in the Music City Bowl is not a "really good season." Not by UT standards, any way, and if you're content to lower the program's expectations, then you should be content for Dave Hart and Co. to do the same thing.

That said, in the first part of our college football rewind, let's review the five famous cats with the hottest coaching seats in the country (these do not include Kentucky's Joker Phillips, Arkansas interim coach John L. Smith and Frank Whoshisvisor at Boston College; those cats are so gone their seats are not hot anymore, more like cooled pieces of burnt toast - they aren't enjoyable but they aren't hot anymore either):

1) Gene Chizik, Auburn: As late as 72 hours ago, we thought Chizik could survive the worst Auburn season in more than 60 years. Then Saturday happened - Texas A&M coming to the 334 and leaving a Gen. (not Mike) Sherman-level of destruction in their wake - and it's clear that Chizik has lost the program. We've said this multiple times, but if a coach is in the crosshairs and his team does not at least play inspired, that should speak volumes about his worth and stature in the locker room. How inspired was Auburn on Saturday? Well, it was 42-7 at halftime. At home. And if this move is inevitable - which is crazy to think considering Chizik and Co. lifted the BCS crystal ball 21 months, 18 days and roughly 10 hours ago - do it sooner rather than later. First, there's going to be a slew of high-profile jobs open. Second, if you run him now, it gives you a chance for the new coach to keep together a stellar recruiting class. Third, running him before the Alabama game robs the Tide the joy of executing another AU coach. And make no mistake, what Alabama is going to do to Auburn late next month is going to make the Spanish Inquisition appear humane.

2) Derek Dooley, Tennessee: You know this. Derek knows this. Stevie Wonder can see this is a sweep-or-go-home stretch. Even then, should it be enough? We ask that knowing that the Vols were in position to tie or take the lead on the road against South Carolina and Georgia. We ask that knowing that UK has a better SEC record since the start of 2011. Pick a side and there is plenty of ammunition for the opposing view.

3) Mack Brown, Texas: And if you think this won't draw some eye-popping resumes, well, you're wrong. Brown's run is coming to a painful conclusion, and Saturday's come-fron-behind win over a disastrous Kansas team did little to quash it. Texas still has dates with TCU, Kansas State and Texas Tech down the road, and you know Johnny Longhorn Fans everywhere are not enjoying the attention and success SEC rookie Texas A&M is getting right now. And the Aggies are doing it without a TV network. Wow.

4) Lane Kiffin, USC: This was supposed to be the high-water mark for Kiffin, and Saturday's mismanaged and miscue-marred loss to Arizona was brutal. First, Kiffin was out-coached by RichRod. Second, if Arizona is going to put 39 on the board what does Oregon have in store for the Trojans this weekend. Third, the NCAA sanctions will hurt the Trojans for the next few years, so this year's preseason No. 1 will unlikely return to that lofty spot for a while. Finally, never forget that USC AD Pat Haden inherited Kiffin rather than hired him.

5) Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech: We think PJ gets another year - and in truth, we think he's a great coach and a good dude - but the natives are getting restless. Tech is 3-5 and those wins are against Presbyterian (2-7), BC (2-6) and Virginia (2-6). Not unlike Chizik and Auburn, Johnson and the Jackets face two measuring sticks each year - how are you doing and how is the other team in the state doing. This year, Chizik and Johnson are failing in both regards.

Coming Tuesday: Names you need to know in the coaching carousel.

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Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray celebrates with Bulldogs fans following Saturday's 17-9 upset of previously undefeated Florida.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

College football rewind, part II

Let's cover this in a quick-hitting top-five list. Deal? Deal.

1) 5-at-10's Pop proved right again. The lasting sports quote from our Pop is, "That's why they play the game." Georgia, Notre Dame and Ole Miss among others proved that is as true today as it was then. Ole Miss continued Hugh Freeze's resume building with a win at Arkansas. As for Georgia and Notre Dame, well, no one thought either had much of a shot. No one thought either was as good as their records showed. Phooey. Georgia punched Florida in the face (welcome back Jarvis Jones) and Notre Dame went to Norman and put the Sooners in a Figure Four.

2) UTC stumbles in triple overtime. The Mocs were close - a muffed punt was the game-changer - to a program-changing win. It's yet another reminder about the difference between being better and being one of the best, and until the Mocs can deliver a win in one of these types of games, Russ Huesman and Co. can know they have made the program better. But there still is work to do.

3) Alabama. Any questions? Side note: The Tide opened as a 10-point favorite at LSU this Saturday, and we're trying like the dickens to get someone to answer the phone at Carlo's Entertainment Brokerage House ASAP. Oregon opened as a 7-point favorite at USC, and if Carlo picks up the horn, we may discuss that one too. For entertainment purposes only of course.

4) BCS debacle on the horizon. OK, there's no sense in getting too worked up about this, because something along these lines sets up every November. But the BCS has a potential disaster on its hands. The top four in the BCS are, in order, Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon. Each is undefeated, and each agrees that Alabama is the best in the country. That means that if unless two of those three lose, there's going to be chaos. (Well, if two of the top four stay unbeaten, the BCS will work its magic once again, and we don't see anyone beating Alabama.) And the only thing that could be worse for the BCS folks than having three or four of the top four unbeaten is this: Picture Alabama staying perfect, including pounding Georgia in the SEC title game; KSU, Notre Dame and Oregon stub their toes in November; Florida handles FSU... Yep, that likely would mean an Alabama-Florida BCS title game, and the anti-SEC backlash would make the American Revolution look like peace talks.

5) The Fab Four keeps rolling. We made a late switch Friday - taking Western Kentucky minus-7 rather than the total because of the weather in Miami - and cruised to a 4-1 showing. That said, we're pretty busted up about the loss. La. Tech was a 30-point road favorite and missed three first-half field goals and blew a slew of scoring chances in a 28-14 win over New Mexico State, which scored its two touchdowns in the final minutes of the game. In fact the NWSt coach DeWayne Whoshiswhistle said after the game that they were happy they didn't join "the 70-point club," meaning the the multiple teams La. Tech has scored 70 or more against. Oh well. In the reversal of fortune category, we're 4-0 picking Clemson this year after going 1-8-1 last year with the Tigers. With Clemson, Ohio State, North Illinois and WKU wins, we're 31-14-2 this year. Some how, our entertainment revenue does not match those numbers, though. Stupid NFL.

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San Francisco Giants' Ryan Theriot reacts after scoring from second on a hit by Marco Scutaro during the 10th inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Giants win the pennant, errr, the whole thing

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series. They put the pieces together and played better than everyone else since Sept. 1.

Does anyone else feel unfulfilled this baseball postseason? Granted four-game sweeps like the broom job the Giants put on the Tigers can suck the life out of a championship series. And yes, the drama was usurped when Kung Fu Panda round-house kicked Justin Verlander in Game 1.

Still, what was the moment of this postseason? A-Rod sitting out the decisive game of the ALCS and getting some chick's digits from the bench? The botched call at Turner Field?

Not sure if there's any way to prevent a season from coming to a silent conclusion like this one - and granted for Johnny Giants Fans, this was probably a great month - but for a lion's share of the country, it was a forgettable October.

And with NFL heating up, college football going nuts, NASCAR hitting the homestretch and the NBA starting, baseball can't afford to be forgettable in October.

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This and that

- We'll have more on the NFL in Tuesday's Power Poll, but we must apologize to Mike Smith and the Atlanta Falcons. We thought you were headed to a blood bath in Philadelphia on Sunday. You stood tall and delivered the goods in a hostile environment. As a lifelong Falcons follower - growing up in Smyrna right outside the A-T-L, our Pop had season tickets from '78-to-'82 - we have cautioned ourselves into believing in Falcons greatness. There's been too many disappointments - curse you, Eugene Robinson - but this team looks different than any Falcons club we can remember.

- Hey, that's right. Now we remember. Jimmie Johnson is the best NASCAR driver with four wheels and a clutch. Oh yeah. Thanks for reminding us. And if you think Alabama or Jimmie are not going to be in it until the end, well, you're wrong.

- We're hoping to have more on this on Tuesday, too, but we need to get this out there: We're truly stoked to see how LeBron James handles this season. James and the Heatles are the favorites to win it all again. After getting the "He can't win a championship" monkey off his back, how will King James respond. Will he step into the role of global killer like MJ and or the "Outbreak" virus that was engineered by Donald Sutherland (side note: Donald Sutherland plays a good creepy guy) or will he be the modern version of Dr. J and smile and glad-hand and make an occasional highlight play that takes our breath away? We're really hoping for the former. James in destruction mode against an NBA dotted with fun and elite teams could be excellent.

- And we could not agree more with our prep ace Stephen Hargis in his distain http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/oct/29/Stephen-Hargis-tssaas-board-hurts-athletics/ of the TSSAA and picking playoff teams. Sweet buckets, doing high school postseason this way feels as antiquated and poorly planned as using leaches to keep a fever down. Seriously, this is the best we can come up with for filling out the high school football bracket?

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Today's question

It's a free-for-all Monday.

Bring whatever you'd like to the table.

If you need a topic, how's this... Who had a worse weekend:

- Gene Chizik

- Scott DesJarlais

- Jim Leyland

- A sports fan in Oklahoma, where the Sooners got slapped around by Notre Dame and the basketball team dealt James Harden, a valuable piece in the Thunder's title hopes. (That said, we think the Thunder gave up a shot at the title this year but will be better for the long haul by dealing Harden for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin and two future No. 1s).

Discuss.