5-at-10: Friday mailbag with Pearl, NFL social police, Manziel and Tiger Woods

5-at-10: Friday mailbag with Pearl, NFL social police, Manziel and Tiger Woods

February 28th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, another excellent week in the books. The weekend looks promising - or it may snow. Who knows? Someone get David Glenn on the phone.

From the "Talks too much" studios, we believe we can fly, we believe we can touch the sky.


Jay- for the mailbag, How can UTK work out a re-hire of Pearl, if NCAA says no since show-cause doesnt expire til August?

Jomo -

The show-cause penalty is the NCAA's biggest weapon against a rule-breaking coach, and in truth, it is a good option when used properly. The show-cause punishes the former coaches involved in the misdeeds and not just the school, program and future players.

Tennessee head basketball coach Bruce Pearl no longer has a job at the school.

Tennessee head basketball coach Bruce Pearl no longer...

Of course, the NCAA rarely uses it properly, giving Bruce Pearl a three-year show-cause and letting Frank Haith get back on the bench after five games. Pearl's three-year show-cause penalty will be completed in late August.

Any school that wants to hire Pearl can petition to have his show-cause penalty lifted before the Aug. 25 expiration date.

But if the NCAA says no, the penalty will run it's course, they have a slew of options, but they can't forbid a school from hiring Pearl. In fact, the NCAA could not officially have forced UT to fire Pearl three years ago - granted they often make it clear that the punishments against schools will be much more harsh if a coaching change is not made.

So let's say School X - we'll call them the Pennessee Bols - has a coach that has struggled. They are looking to replace this coach, who is a good dude and a good leader but a mediocre coach who has not won to a level that meets his talent or satisfies his fan base and never has made the NCAA tournament.

Again, this is completely a hypothetical. So let's suppose School X, the Pennessee Bols talks to Bruce Pearl, and they come to an agreement. The Bols brass petitions the NCAA to lift the show cause. They say, "Hmmmmm. Nope."

The Bols can still hire Pearl, they just know that the NCAA may hit them with some sanctions or restrictions or penalty from the previous sins of Pearl. It seems somewhat impossible though that the NCAA - even as dense as they can be - would want to reopen the scrutiny and public ridicule it would rightly receive by not wiping the last four months off Pearl's penalty, considering the over-the-top feel of Pearl penalties, especially compared to the decisions the NCAA has made in other cases since.

But even with a show cause, the NCAA can not forbid a team from hiring anyone.


From B.H.

Jay, I have been meaning to call Press Row for the last month or so -- you and David are excellent. Seriously, like really good.

I was going to call in and ask you about the NFL looking at playoff expansion, what do you think?

Thanks and thanks for the 5-at-10.

B.H. -

Thanks for the kind words and for listening. It's been fun doing the radio show and interacting with listeners and readers. In truth, that is one of the most-enjoyable part of the radio and the 5-at-10 - you seldom get immediate feedback writing for the newspaper, and when the sports editor gets feedback, 95-percent of the time it's negative. So tat give-and-take and feedback is a lot of fun.

We believe the NFL will be a 14-team playoff field (up from 12) sooner rather than later. We believe it will be 16 in the not too distant future.

And here's the rub on all that - the league screams safety in rule changes and approach and whatever? How is it safer adding extra games? Safe is only important when it does not conflict with goal No. 1, and that's making cash. In his recent state of the league to the owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league does $10 billion annually currently and he wants to get to $25 billion by 2027. To do that, more product must be available.

To wit, that means more games and/or more teams.

(PS - We can all agree that the only thing the NFL cares about safety is not having to write $1 billion checks to cover law suits in regard to safety. In regard to concussion rules and safety, the NFL has done more hand-washing than a germaphobic Kindergarten teacher.)


From Stewwie

Jay, what are your thoughts on the NFL's consideration to start flagging players who use the N-word?

Stewwie -

Excellent question.

In the grand scheme of things, as a 43-year-old white guy, my view on this is meaningless.

But the layers of this issue are far greater than just the intolerance that resonates with the N-word. Side note: You really have hit a high-water mark of offensive when you get the letter-word combo working. N-Word. F-Word. A-Rod. You get the idea.

The layers of this decision reach beyond whether the term is offensive, and while we are obviously a 40-something white dude and have zero credibility to decide what offends black people in particular or others in general, the debate of the offensiveness of this word must come up considering that more times than not in the NFL the term is used between black people.

And if the NFL is asking it's referees to start policing manners and trash talk, what other terms are offensive. Homophobic slurs. Foreign slurs. Southern slurs. Where do you draw the line? Include them all? Exclude them all? Is the league going to be an equal opportunity protector of every group? Maybe they should be. Maybe not.

Also, it's a touch puzzling how the NFL can rule that one offensive term, like the N-word, which in our view is the nuclear bomb of slurs, is worth a 15-yard penalty, yet the league stands staunchly behind the Redskins decision to keep their nickname.

The hard part about policing offensive terms, is that your are forcing a third-party to decide what is offensive to someone else. We know folks, rightly or wrongly, that use the N-word as a term of endearment. The NFL says Washington's mascot is a term of respect.

To caption this with the universal umbrella that the NFL is a workplace and should have the same rules and outlines as the TFP or wherever you work is ludicrous.

The culture of the locker room, the nature of the job, the essence of what they do is totally different and the realm understandably is also completely different.

If you picked a fight at work, you'd be gone. if you picked a fight in an NFL practice, you'll get separated. Apples and Orange Bowls.

In a perfect world, we'd do away with the N-word because it is a hate term that harkens back to a time of social and governmental injustice for all of us.

But the NFL playing field on Sundays seems to be a strange place to start that cultural revolution.


From Tom

Would you take Johnny Football with a first-round pick? Thanks and thanks for the 5-at-10, it's great.

Tom -

Thanks for the kind words.

Johnny Manziel will be a first-rounder because, as our co-host on Press Row David Paschall has accurately said many times, of supply and demand. There is a noticeable demand of teams that need help and quarterback - and there always will be - and the supply, especially in this draft class, is noticeably questionable.

So with that in mind, Johnny Football will be a first-rounder. And in truth, we like Manziel's ceiling more than that of Bortles or Bridgewater. We'd likely feel better spending a first-rounder on a more sure-fire star-power guy - and this draft has a slew of them - and looking to get a Murray or a McCarron later in the draft.

The answer to your question though is no, we would not spend a first-rounder on Johnny Football. We completely understand why someone will and if we were say, a team in the mid-teens and if Johnny Football is falling, then we certainly would be looking to make a deal to a QB-starved team for the right to take Johnny Football.

And the main reason we would avoid Manziel is because of his size/style combo. At less than 6-feet and less than 210, a mobile QB could last exactly two months and never be the same.

This is not Fran Tarkenton's NFL, when he could escape and out run linebackers. This is the modern day NFL when speed and size ratios are NASA equations and the potential for career-ending at any moment. Yes, that potential is there for anyone, but a 5-11-plus QB that likes to run invites that way more often than most others.


From Shecky (on Press Row on Thursday)

If the over/under is 2 for the number of majors Tiger Woods has left to win, what say you?

Shecky -

Thanks for the call yesterday and for the question.

And you deserve a special shoutout for the late suggestion of the Claret Jug for our Rushmore of Trophies. While the Jug likely would not have cracked the top-four, we should have had it on the nomination list.

We'll take the under on Tiger, and we think that for two reasons.

First, since Woods private-life implosion on that fateful Thanksgiving night, his air of confidence and invulnerability have been weakened. Greatly. In truth, we thought when all of Tiger's private-life secrets were exposed he would start winning every other major because he was so dominant while carrying all those secrets. A clear mind, we foolishly thought, would make Tiger even more overwhelming.

In truth, the dents and dings and spots on the emperor's new clothes eroded his armor more than we ever believed. Tiger needed to feel invincible and when people started taking shots and the backlash came, he felt it more than we ever thought possible.

It was not a clear mind as much as a weakened confidence that has been the lasting description of Woods in the post-martial break-up.

And without that confidence, Woods has been a merely average putter. He once turned every 6-footer - regardless of the course or the situation - into a gimme. Dude was so money that you were surprised when he missed one. Now? Not so much. Case in point: Tiger hit 14 fairways Thursday and 12 greens but shot a 1-over 71 because he needed 30 putts. Old Tiger could get through 27 holes with 30 putts.

Secondly, with that confidence fading and the new-era of young guns drooling at the shot to take down Tiger - let's face it Rory and his age-group grew up going to the range and pretending to beat Tiger then coming home and playing Tiger on Sega or Nintendo, so playing Tiger was a dream rather than a nightmare - his intimidation factor has all-but evaporated.