5-at-10: Free agency, bracket watch, public/private split and the year of Wooderson

5-at-10: Free agency, bracket watch, public/private split and the year of Wooderson

March 12th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks too much" studios, if rapper Kurtis Blow had a son and named him Joseph, he'd be Joe Blow.

NFL free agency

Now that was a fast first day of free agency.

The roster machinations of the NFL are fascinating because of the balance between need and fiscal well-being.

Still, on the first day of free agency, teams spend like a pocket-loaded 16-year-old at the Cheetah. Do they pay any heed to the legitimate Pro Bowl players such as Demarcus Ware, Darrelle Revis and Julius Peppers who are being cast away because of unruly cap numbers? Of course not.

Look at the numbers thrown around on Tuesday to guys who are not exactly household names. Zane Beadles got a five-year, $30 million deal. Yes, Zane Beadles. Jared Veldheer got a five-year, $35 million deal. Egad.

Here's some winners and losers from the first day:

Cornerbacks - It's a passing league and Tuesday the guys that can defend the pass were winning.The money being tossed to cover corners Aquib Talib, Alterraun Varner, Vontae Davis, et al. is staggering.

Denver - The Broncos added Talib and safety T.J. Ward to strengthen their secondary and appear to be the front-runner to sign Ware. Denver realizes that Peyton Manning's window is shrinking, so charge.

Atlanta - The Falcons began the process of over-hauling their lines of scrimmage by adding guard Jon Asamoah, defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai. They also re-signed defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. Expect the Falcons to continue to address the lines of scrimmage early and often in the draft, too.

Jonathan Martin, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers - an organization that can handle the turmoil around his situation - and play for the coach that recruited him to Stanford.

As for the losers, well, here you go:

Kansas City lost three of its five starting linemen on Tuesday. That's less than desirable.

Tennessee lost its best cornerback in Varner, who anchored the best part of its best unit last year. Plus, despite a plethora of needs, the Titans added only Dexter McCluster (who also left the Chiefs). We like McCluster, but a third-down specialist/kick returner seems like a piece for a team a game away from the Super Bowl rather than a game away from .500.

Running backs continue to feel the financial sting of their devaluation. Little to no movement in that regard, especially among the big names, and big-time talents like Darren McFadden are being forced to look at one-year deals.

---

Basketball tile

College hoops update

Before we get rolling, let's review what was an awesome give-and-take on our Rushmore on Tuesday's Press Row. In honor of college basketball tournaments, we have a slew of special Rushmores planned, including a month-long special bracket that we'll toss out today. Tuesday was the all-time ACC hoops Rushmore. This was firmly based on college careers, and after a river of calls, we finished on David Thompson, Ralph Sampson, Christian Laettner and Tyler Hansbrough. Thoughts? (And yes, it was very difficult to leave off Jordan, Lenny Bias and a slew of others.)

Thanks to everyone who played along yesterday. Good times indeed.

1) Thanks to a link sent by watchdog reader Jomo, the Birmingham News has an interesting report on the sliding attendance at SEC basketball games here. Jon Solomon reports that the SEC averaged 10,380 per home game, which is the smallest since 1984-85 and still could drop more since potentially hosting NIT games could still have an affect on that number. Ouch-standing. According to Solomon, seven league schools went up in average attendance and seven went down, but the overall number also is a little inflated by Kentucky's almost 23K a night average. (And yes, these are announced crowds and to believe Auburn 'averaged' 5,823 per game is like believing in tracking Sasquatch on a unicorn.)

2) We feel certain that our very own master bracketer (bracketologist is overused) StuckinKent will chime in some time this morning. Until then, we'll use Joey Brackets list of the 16 teams battling for the final eight at-large NCAA tournament bids and when/who they play:

Last four byes - Pittsburgh (Notre Dame-Wake Forest winner on Thursday), Stanford (Washington State late tonight), Nebraska (Ohio State-Purdue winner on Friday), Xavier (Marquette on Thursday)

Last four in - Tennessee (one of three teams, including Arkansas, on Friday), St. Joe's (one of three teams, including Dayton, on Friday), Dayton (George Mason-Fordham winner on Thursday), Arkansas (Auburn-South Carolina winner on Thursday)

First four out - Cal (Colorado-USC winner on Thursday), Minnesota (Penn State on Thursday), St. John's (Providence on Thursday), Providence (St. John's on Thursday)

Next four out - Southern Miss (UTEP-East Carolina winner on Thursday), FSU (Maryland on Thursday), Missouri (Texas A&M on Thursday), Georgetown (DePaul tonight)

3) Here's a recap of the teams already in the NCAA tournament: Mercer (A-Sun), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Delaware (Colonial), Harvard (Ivy), Manhattan (MAAC), Wichita State (Missouri Valley), Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley), Wofford (Southern), Gonzaga (West Coast), North Dakota State (Summit), Mount St. Mary's (Northeast), UW-Milwaukee (Horizon). The only title game tonight is Boston University-American in the Patriot League as the big conference tournaments go full speed tonight.

---

Preps debate

There's a real chance that the TSSAA - the governing body of high school sports in Tennessee - will discuss a complete public-private school split today.

We do not expect any big news today. But that's only about timing, not the message.

There are vibes coming across the state - and in Georgia, too - that scream sooner rather than later, high school sports will be completely divided between public and private schools.

Man, the layers of this are mired and cloudy, too. You could slice the division of high school sports 100 different ways and someone is still going to be upset about unfairness because in the end people are emotional about their kids and about their sports. And when you start talking about their kids' sports, well, you can go from emotional to irrational to over the top in a big hurry.

Buckle up gang, because this is coming.

---

This and that

- Buzz Peterson was sacked by UNC Wilmington. Buzz, one of the nicest and most-respected guys around, was 9-23 this season and 42-82 in four years. Ouch-standing.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- From the "What's wrong with people" file: A New Jersey 2-year-old was sent to daycare with 48 packets of heroine in his jacket. The father of the toddler was charged with endangering a child. Man, there should be a Darwinism/common sense clause to capital punishment and some bozo that sends his child carrying heroine to daycare moves to the front of the line.

- Interesting collection of birthdays today. Mitt Romney is 67. His less-than-kindred spirit Ron Jeremy is 61. (In the euphemistic world of job titles, the birthday site that listed Jeremy as a "reality star" deserves bonus points.) Two of baseball's best outfielders of the 1980s also were born today, as Dale Murphy turns 58 and Darryl Strawberry turns 52.

- How bad do the Braves expect the Kris Medlen news to be? Well, they signed Ervin Santana this morning to a one-year, $14-million contract and will have to part with a first-round pick to make the deal happen. Ouch-standing.

Today's question(s)

We're spanning the full buffet here today. So feel free to chime in on any of the above.

But there is a slew of stuff to discuss:

Matthew McConaughey arrives at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Did you hear they are making another Fletch? We're cautiously optimistic about this, considering that we loved, Loved, LOVED the first Fletch and the sequel was a lot better than people remember. (For God's sake T-Boo put your pants back on.) Thoughts?

When did we arrive at the place that Matthew McConaughey is the world's best actor of the moment? After starting as Wooderson in "Dazed and Confused" McConaughey spent a decade taking roles that allowed him to act like McConaughey, and that's cool. Pacino has been doing that for a decade or more and Cruise certainly has embraced being Cruise (well other than Tropic Thunder, which could be Cruise's best work since All the Right Moves). But after winning an Oscar and being a front-runner for an Emmy for HBO's True Detective, McConaughey is poised to make history. Yes, Wooderson would be the first male actor to win an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year. CUH-razy.

With Darryl Strawberry celebrating his birthday, who is on your Rushmore of wasted potential? Strawberry - and former Mets teammate Dwight Gooden - could certainly be considered, no?