5 at 10: Friday mailbag

5 at 10: Friday mailbag

December 9th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton tales a self portrait with fans during the team send-off from the Auburn Athletic Complex on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011 in Auburn, Ala. Auburn plays Oregon in the college football BCS Championship Game on Monday.(AP Photo/Cam Newton)

From WarEagle

Last year it was easy to shop for our family. Anything with the AU on it during the run was gold. Now, I'm at a loss. Any thoughts for sports gifts this year? Thanks, and the 5@10 is awesome.

WarEagle,

Hey, we're right there with you. We loaded up on SEC title game stuff a year ago and as Banya said on Seinfeld, "It was gold, Jerry. Gold."

We'll start with the worst possible sports gift this season, and then throw out a quick list of five things that would be cool:

If you know a St. Louis Cardinals fan, let's say the No. 5 Pujols jersey or T-shirt is less than a hot item right now. In fact, one St. Louis store was giving away all Albert Pujols gear Thursday after news hit that Albert is headed to Anaheim (Store gives away jerseys while Metro East man hawks anti-Pujols shirts).

Here's our top 5 ideas:

1) Tickets are the gold-plated standard. In fact, in the Bull Durham quote, "Well, candle sticks always make a great gift. Or maybe we could find out where they're registered, maybe get them a nice place-setting or something. OK, let's get two," tickets are the equivalent of candles sticks AND place settings. They're that good. (And one size fits everyone.)

2) Classy team gear. Simple T-shirts, hats, etc. Coffee mugs are a safe bet here too. Be careful, though, there are a lot options and most of the fringe stuff - crazy pants, jerseys, etc., - must be a personal choice.

3) Tervis Tumblers. Look them up and trust us.

4) If you have the means, hook someone up with the NASCAR racing experience. It is AWESOME.

5) Alcohol. Hey, sports and drinking go hand-in-hand (especially for Auburn fans this year compared to last).

Florida coach Will Muschamp, right, and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis watch near the end of a 17-6 loss to Auburn in their NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

From scole023

5at10,

Thanks for the SEC shirt. I like to win stuff.

Does it not feel like there are more coaching changes this year? Who made the best hire and who would you target if your team needed a coach?

Thanks, and you still talk too much.

scole023,

Glad you enjoyed the short and nice job on the pick. It does seem like there are a few more openings this year, especially since the Penn State job has rightly not gotten a lot of talk and THE Ohio State has already been filled.

The two coaches we think deserve a big-time shot are Louisville's Charlie Strong and Air Force's Troy Calhoun. We'd make each of those guys say no. From there, we'd look to make a splash hire - an NFL guy or a Gus Malzahn or Manny Diaz or Kirby Smart. Would it work? Who knows, but if you're looking for a new coach, what you were previously doing obviously wasn't working either.

That said, there have been some PUZZLING decisions during this coaching scavenger hunt. Let's take a closer look:

- Arizona State pulled its offer from SMU coach June Jones, who accepted the job and now has to go back to Dallas with egg on his visor. Now, the Devils have been rumored to have high interest UT defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Hey, Wilcox is a good coach who has a bright future, but that would be a big reach. (And if he does leave every UT fan would play greatly for Wilcox to take the Vols' O-Line coach with him.)

- After interviewing Phil Fulmer, Kansas goes with a different re-tread in Charlie Weis. Really? (Although if Ralph Freidgen was the next to interview, maybe FEChancellor's rant about the local restaurant scene in Lawrence, Kan., needing a boost was more facts than comedy. Hey, at least by hiring Weis, any leftover XXXXL shirts and jackets that were ordered for former coach KU Mark Mangino a few years ago can be used now.) Seriously, if you're going to hire a re-tread, Weis at 35-27 is better than Fulmer, who was 152-52 with a national title? OK.

- UNC and Arizona appear to be the early winners. UNC got a good one in Larry "The Hat" Fedora, as CJ can attest. Arizona moved first by firing their coach during the season and landed Rich Rodriguez for a discount price - which means he can throw some cash at a big-time staff. Well-played indeed.

- Texas A&M is left still looking for its guy. Heading into the seventh circle of hard that is the SEC West, having a new coach is hardly an ideal situation. After firing Mike Sherman there have been rumors that have ranged from safe (Kevin Sumlin) to the surreal (there's talk that the Aggies are interested in Mark Richt). (Side question: All the Georgia fans that have been on the Fire Mark Richt bandwagon, does this news make you happy or scared?)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Curtis Painter sits on the bench next to receiver Reggie Wayne after throwing an interception during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

From OTWatcher

What is on the 5at10's Christmas list?

Thanks, and thanks for the 5at10.

OTWatcher,

We've been blessed beyond all expectations, so our Christmas list is pretty limited. (We been given so much, it's hard to ask for much more.)

But since you asked, here's a quick list of five things in 10 words or less - that's right the always loved 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10

1) Bowl names to return to normalcy: More Sugar and Rose, less sponsors and causes

2) For the Colts to get the No. 1 pick in the draft: We love the draft, and this would be AWESOME

3) Success for our teams to create intrigue: Hoping the Dodgers, Tigers and Falcons can keep us interested

4) A better short game: A few more 5-foot putts would always be appreciated

5) Continued 5-at-10 fun: It's been a great year; thank you all.

UT fans reach out toward security guards as they line the field in the fourth quarter.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

From CelticVol

Hey 5@10,

My question for you this week involves the use of 'we' and 'us' in referring to 'our' teams. Are there any rules in using these words and if so what are they? Like do you have to be a fan of X team for x number of years before you can say "We beat X team?" Or do you have to suffer for a few rough seasons before you can use these terms? One thing that irritates me is when someone just all of a sudden becomes a fan of X team and begins saying 'We beat yall.'

P.S. It's week 1 of the fantasy football playoffs. I need advice. Should I start LeGarrette Blount, C.J.Spiller, or Desean Jackson in my flex spot this week?

C-Vol,

Let's answer the last part first: When weighing fantasy options, you have to try to make an educated decision, make the call and try not to look back and second guess. (That said, it's fantasy football's Murphy Law that when torn between two players, the one you don't pick will lead the highlights on Sunday night with at least two TDs and 100-plus yards as he languished on your bench behind the guy you picked, who rolled his ankle in the first quarter. And you then will look back at a four-point loss saying, "What if...".)

DeSean Jackson is an easy strike - dude ha all but quit on his team because of a contract dispute. And in turn the Eagles have zero confidence in him. (Plus he hasn't been in the end zone since week 4).

Spiller's increased production - he has 33 carries in the last two weeks after having 21 total before week 12 - the last two weeks makes him an interesting play, but he's more risky than Blount. Go with Blount and hope the Bucs look to ground and pound Jacksonville.

As for the "We" question, the 5-at-10 has chilled about this in recent years. Professionally, no sports reporter should EVER toss out a "we" or "our" unless you are prepared to be heckled beyond recognition. And that's how it should be - and with that in years past the 5-at-10 would use a familiar heckle to anyone who tossed out a "we" (Dude: "We really played well Saturday." 5-at-10: "What time is practice tomorrow?").

We have softened on that approach in certain sports because we seen first-hand how fans ache for success so badly and align themselves so directly with there teams. A few years ago, we would have said that unless you show up at practice regularly and participate in team meetings, then the "We" needs to stay in the clubhouse. But we've changed. In fact, we have a sliding scale of when you can say "We":

Do's

If it's your signature team, you're clear. Steelerfan can say "we" when referring to the Steelers. C-Vol, in a calculated move gets a two-fer. If you have a clear and decisive team for which everyone knows you support, then you're clear. That guy in your office who aches for the Falcons can say "We," about the Dirty Birds. The guy you know who wears that Kobe jersey too often can say "We," about the Lakers. You get the idea.

If you're in the South, you get a free SEC football pick. It starts with young kids in Alabama, but it has morphed across SEC country and now it's just a fact: You have to pick an allegiance to an SEC team if you live in the South. Whether it's a family pick, where you went to school, the rival of your rival, a spousal pick by association or what have you, you have to have an SEC team if you live in the South. You can say "We" when referring to them.

If you're a soccer hooligan. Soccer nuts are just like SEC nuts, they just can't use their hands. (So in this case, they can say "We," they just can't use sign language to say "We.")

(And don't forget the quid pro quo rule - If you are having a conversation with an opposing fan about their team and your team, and you each are using "We," when talking about the other guy's team, it is considered polite to use "Your" and "Y'all" when possible.)

Don'ts

You can't have more than two "We" teams. And that's non-negotitable.

While a big part of fandom - especially in the South - is picking at your buddies and giving as much grief as possible, the "We" has to stay true to your team. There's no "We" by association. Case in point. C-Vol, by the definition of his name hates Alabama. Everyone realizes this. So let's say he goes to a BCS title game party. Everyone knows he's cheering for LSU. And that's fine. But when Spencer Ware gets stuffed at the line or Jordan Jefferson gets sacked, C-Vol is prevented from saying, "We can't block Alabama."

If you every break-up with a team, or worse yet you abandon them because of struggles, know that the "We" usage is a privilege not a right of fandom. If you used to say "We" about the Vols, but because of struggles or a disdain for Dooley or whatever you now say "UT" - or worst of all "them" - then you have forever forfeited your "We" rights. On the scale of betrayal, fan betrayal is third-worst behind betraying country and then family.

Those are our views on it. Anyone have any others.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks with side judge Don Carlsen before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

From Steelerfan

Jay,

Twelve games into the NFL season the two teams at the bottom of the league's "total defense" rankings are the Packers (31) and the Patriots (32). Still, these teams are the odds-on favorites to meet in the Super Bowl.

Please compare/contrast this to the college game, where two defensive powerhouses, LSU and Alabama, will play for the national championship.

How did things get upside-down like this?

Steelerfan,

First, it's good to hear from you - you've been a little bit like your team this fall, laying back quietly and just when people start to forget, bang, there you are.

There are several parts to the answer to your question.

First, it's a little bit of timing - last year, Auburn and Oregon took two very mediocre defenses to the BCS title game.

Second, it's the nature of the NFL. The talent difference between each team is very small at most positions (your boys' slugfest with Cleveland last night is good example of this) at every position other than QB, and since the game is geared around QB play that's the reason the teams with the best QBs are the best teams. The teams with excellent QBs - like the Packers and the Patriots - and have two fundamental defensive flaws from the start. One they spend a huge chunk of their salary cap on those QBs, so there's less of the pie to share with top-notch defenders (and to be fair, the Steelers do a better job than most about judging talent and keeping or letting go free agents). Plus, when you have a great quarterback, you tend to score quickly and play with a lead. This means your defense is 1) on the field too much and has more opportunity to give up points and yards and; 2) If the game is getting late, protecting big leads is hardly a matter of preventing points or yards as much as it's taking time off the clock.

Third, as for the college guys, the biggest on-field difference between the SEC - the league that come Jan. 10 will have won six consecutive BCS titles - and the rest of college football is across the defensive lines specifically and on the defensive side in general. The SEC big boys get bigger, faster and stronger athletes on defense than everyone else in college football. Period. And that's overly obvious this year - the SEC has the top four defenses in the country and five of the top nine.

Great question.