Before we get to it, there were two bowl games last night that were strong. Florida State beating Notre Dame in a sold-out stadium in Orlando felt like a big deal. Baylor and Washington accounted for 1,397 yards and 123 points in Baylor's 67-56 win was a big-time event with passion. (Even as a fan of offense, though, the 5-at-10 was begging for someone to make a stop. It felt like having nothing but Reese's for lunch, it was great at first, but it was simply way too much, and you knew there was a stomach-ache coming. Either the defenses were not allowed to have 11 guys on the field or the field was 25 yards wider than normal.)
We got some great questions this week - you guys that closed the week with a flourish and didn't get in hit us back next week. There are a few "2011 looking back questions," and before we start let's clear the disclaimer now: The story of the year was Jerry Sandusky and the destruction it brought to his victims and their families and the collateral damage it caused innocent Penn State supporters, fans and alumni and the reputations it ruined of Joe Paterno and the rest of those that did nothing to stop him. That can't be debated. And from this point forward in the 5-at-10, it doesn't need to be mentioned again.
Now, let's enjoy the final Nickel and Dime of 2011. From the Mama McNabb Stage at the Al Davis Studio, here we go:
Happy New Year 5@10! Here's to another great year of 5@10s. Before we end the year, I have to ask you what have been the 5 worst sports moments of 2011?
Thanks again for another strong question. And taking Sandusky and all of the nastiness that is connected with that whole kettle of fish out of the mix, let's have a little fun. Plus, there's so many ways to interpret "worst" so let's spin it with a little Academy Award-type appeal.
Five worst moments of 2011, the envelopes please:
1) The worst performance on the biggest stage: Christina Aguilera messed up the words to the National Anthem. That's never a good thing, but Aguilera did it at the Super Bowl - with a record crowd of 123 million people watching. Ouch-tastic.
2) The worst ad lib of the year: Congrats Lee Corso, who threw out a word that sounds like "Duck" and would get any 12-year-old a mouthful of soap during College GameDay this year. Hey gang, Corso's schtick is better than most, but it's time. It's time (and that has little to do with the queen mother of all dirty words).
3) The Bobby Petrino Memorial Award for worst exit: To Todd Graham, who left after one season at Pitt for Arizona State. Graham, who was denied permission to talk to the Sun Devils and held an alumni speaking engagement less than 48 hours before heading west, really set himself apart from the field by informing his players with a second-hand text message. You stay classy, Todd.
4) The worst year for an organization: While there was a lot of competition in this category - from the NBA owners and players to the NFL stubbornness - the winner has to be the NCAA. From the scandals at Ohio State and Miami to the unspeakable alleged evils at Penn State and Syracuse to the smoke screen that was the now-on-hold $2,000 stipend to players to the uneven justice to, well, you name it. Let's just all agree that 2011 was a brutal year for the NCAA in regard to public perception. Of course they made another round of record profits. So it goes.
5) The worst athlete of 2011, and here are your nominees:
- Adam Dunn, who hit .159 with 177 strikeouts in the first year of his four-year, $56-million deal with the White Sox. (And you thought Dan Uggla was bad?)
- Albert Haynesworth, who has been passed around more than notes in middle school study hall.
- Chris Johnson, who held out and pouted for a better deal, before coming to the abbreviated camp late and unfocused. Johnson was supposed to be the difference maker on a bad Titans team. Instead, the Titans have surprised and Johnson has struggled.
- Ndamukong Suh, who seems like a really likeable guy off the field and is a wonderful talent, stole the Thanksgiving game with his arm stomp, ejection and then his load of bull explanation. Not cool.
And the winner is... Chris Johnson. Congrats all around (and this may be the first time it's not an honor just to be nominated).
What do you wish the New Year would bring for each SEC Football Coach?
Wow, another great question. And this is the rare week we had more than one choice for the question we spent ENTIRELY too much time on.
We tried to mix these up - some wishes for success, some for help, some for a key player or addition -- and we tried to stay as positive as possible.
Here goes (and Texas A&M and Mizzou can wait until the new year when they are officially members):
Alabama coach Nick Saban: Some enjoyment. He has built the Cadillac of programs and he still has the demeanor of a marathon runner with two in-grown toenails. And of course we wish him as many Little Debbies as he wants.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino: A fresh start. Dude is making hay at Arkansas, but it still feels like his history of weasel-ness overshadows that. Of course when you leave an NFL job by posting a note in the locker room, that tends to happen.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik: Good coordinator hires. Dude won a national title 12 months ago and now he needs two quality hires. Welcome to the "What have you done for us today" world of college football.
Florida coach Will Muschamp: Some points. Wow, other than the uniforms, there was no way to recognize this version of the sluggish and offensively challenged Florida team.
Georgia coach Mark Richt: Some respect from his fan base. Enough said.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips: A quarterback. You can't win in this league - or any league for that matter - without a quarterback. Well, unless of course you devise a diabolical scheme to beat your rival for the first time since 1984 by using all of six plays with a WR at quarterback. But that only works once every 300 years and it has to be when the opposing coach is wearing orange pants.
LSU coach Les Miles: Some lottery tickets. The way that dude's luck's running right now, if tomorrow's headline was "SEC coach wins $100 million PowerBall" isn't your first guess going to be Les Miles.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze: Some players. And plenty of time. And a voo-doo hex to break the curse of the Rebel Black Bear.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen: More cowbell.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier: For one more run to glory. The SEC is more fun when Spurrier is involved and when SPurrier's team is good. Let's have Alshon Jeffery come back for his senior year so the Gamecocks offense has balance. In a wide-open East, the Gamecocks will be among the favorites next year, but it feels like that window may be closing (and we all know that 2012 is Marcus Lattimore's last in college). So let the Ol' Ball Coach have one more moment in the sun - and contend for an SEC title - before he heads off into the sunset.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley: Wow, there's so much he needs. A running game. Some quality assistant coaches. Some unity in the locker room. But our wish for Dooley - and for the UT football family - is clarity. Let Dooley and the Vols win 10 games next fall or let them win four. The wish here is that by the end of 2012, let's have a sense for certain whether Dooley is the guy for UT or not, and let the fans embrace that choice and direction.
Vandy coach James Franklin: A complete repeat of 2011. With the possible exception of the trip to Knoxville, there's no way any Vandy fan could have expected anything more.
How badly will KY beat Pitino's puppies? And what will Anthony Davis' blocks plus rebounds plus points total be?
We'll take this a little bigger. We think UK runs the table from here on out. Starting with U of L on Saturday - a game that figures to be highly entertaining, at least for a while, because of the emotion and the contrast of style: Kentucky can run and score and Louisville can flat guard people - the Cats are about to sprout wings.
We're going to bold here and say that entering the NCAA tournament, there will be five or six teams with 3 or fewer losses. (And yes, Murray State will be one of them.)
As for A-Davis, let's but the over/under at 17 (12 boards + five blocks) and put us down for the over. He's right there among the front-runners for freshman of the year (the Drummond kid at UConn is pretty special, too).
When the bowl season gets completely in the rear view we may have a week of College Hoops Talk, with Linda Richman (like the old SNL gag with Mike Myers).
From 5@10 Fan
Regular reader, first time asker. Two questions if I can: What three events would be in the most need of a mulligan in 2011? And, what was the 5@10's favorite 5@10 this year?
Thanks, and thanks for the family-oriented sports column -- it's a great way to spend an hour at work.
Thanks for the kind words, and we're happy to be anyone's No. 1 time wasting option. Wait... nevermind.
Since it's your first time, you can have the two questions.
Let's see three mulligans. How about these:
1) An actual mulligan for Rory McIlroy off the No. 10 at Augusta National on Sunday of the Masters. His brutal duck hook behind the cabins led to triple and a Norman-esque meltdown. (Side note: The 5-at-10 made par on that same hole not 24 hours later. So it goes.)
2) Rashad Mendenhall would love to re-think before hitting send on the tweet "What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side..." Of course Mendenhall was saying this about the death of Osama bin Laden, and frankly, the 5-at-10 does not need to know anything about any other side and we were swapping High 5s when news of his death rolled in.
3) JR Hildebrand needed about another half a mile and the rookie Indy Car driver would have won the Indy 500. Instead, he entered the final turn on the final lap too high and smacked the wall and cost him the race. Here's saying he'd like to have that one over, huh?
Honorable mention: Alabama's kicker would like to have a couple of do-overs from Nov. 5, but since Alabama as a whole got a do-over, that seems OK now.
As for our favorite 5-at-10, well, there are a bunch - and we're sure there are some we're forgetting, too. We like the ones that have some humor and some seriousness. We had a lot of fun on the nicknames mailbag. We like the ones that generate the back-and-forth with you folks are the best. The 5-at-10 posting something is a column; the 5-at-10 posting something and then all of us kicking it back and forth is a conversation and that's way more fun.
We love the draft stuff (but you know this), and we really like the theme shows, but try hard not to overdo them.
We'll say this and since it ended this year, we had a special place for the faux interviews with Pretend Al Davis, and since he died this year, we'll go with that. Davis was one of the bigger names in sports we lost this year along with Dan Wheldon, who died after a wreck in October after winning the Indy 500 in May, Seve Ballesteros, Harmon Killebrew, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Joe Frazier, et al.
We'd be curious what were some of your favorite 5-at-10s?
I need a couple of rule interpretations, today.
Steelers LB James Harrison literally threw an o-lineman into the quarterback last week. If he does this again, and they happen to hit helmet-to-helmet - God forbid - is this OK?
On a related subject, if Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski were to pick up RB Danny Woodhead and throw him into the end zone from five yards out (like dwarf tossing), would this be a touchdown?
First off, the politically correct term is "little people" tossing. Thank you.
As for the first part of your question, anything James Harrison does is likely to draw a penalty and will certainly draw a fine. Dude is the NFL office's Public Enemy No. 1, and being as such he has a bull's eye on his back on every play. Now this is not saying he did not take some serious steps to earn such a tag - and the magazine interview during the offseason was less than smart. But Harrison is at the opposite end of the spectrum of getting the benefit of the doubt. He's guilty until proven innocent in the ways of violence, so in regard to your question, that scenario technically is not a penalty, unless Harrison does it. Then it's unsportsmanlike, since that is a great coverall because the league views Harrison as unsportsmanlike anyway.
As for the "little people" tossing, this is not allowed. Teammates are not supposed to be able to help advance a ball carrier, but that never stops linemen from pushing the stacked-up pile down field.
Although if this did happen, here's saying we want John Madden to come out of retire and go straight to the telestrator and break that play down:
Madden: OK, Little Danny Woodhead has nowhere to go. He's stuck, like a guy behind a fat woman at the Shoney's, he's got nothing. So what's he going to do? He can't go there, BOOM, there's a defensive tackle waiting to eat him. Although Little Danny Woodshed wouldn't even be a full meal, he'd be more of a snack. Kind of like a brunch item or may be something you'd have for lupper. How come more people don't enjoy lupper - that afternoon meal between lunch and supper?
OK, so Woodenfoot is looking for a way to get into the end zone, and he knows he can't go back to the huddle without scoring because Tom Brady's back there, and you know how those superstar quarterback think. So Woodenchair has to make a play. Has to. But there's nothing....
Until BIG Rob Groznevskikowskinewwski picks up Tiny Woodensolider and surveys the field and pitches him into the corner of the end zone. It was a great play. Until Big Rob celebrated the touchdown by spike Little Danny WoodenBlock. I normally love watching fat guys celebrate, but they may need to get a stretcher out there for that Little Danny fellow.
Happy New Year gang. Be safe.