5 at 10: NFL, Sandusky spin and evaluating National Signing Day

5 at 10: NFL, Sandusky spin and evaluating National Signing Day

February 2nd, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports

OK, you know what the 5-at-10 loves? well, yes, it is the draft. You know what else the 5-at-10 loves? Theme shows. And celebrating the grit that is General Beauregard Lee (Hey, you can keep Punch-drunk Punxsutawney Phil, we prefer to stay closer to the South whenever possible) and the genius that is Bill Murray, let's go "Groundhog Day" on this special post-ReCruitmas edition of the 5-at-10. (And yes, we know some recruiting junkies that were a) sad yesterday ended and b) were discussing that it's only 365 days - it's a Leap Year, Spy - until signing day, 2013. Seriously.)

From the "Talk too much studios," let's go.

In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, football fans pose for photos in front of the Super Bowl XLVI logo on Monument Circle, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 , in Indianapolis. The New England Patriots are scheduled to face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In this photo taken with a fisheye lens,...

Super Bowl breakdown, Part IV

Groundhog Day quote: "I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! Ned Ryerson: got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn't graduate? Bing, again. Ned Ryerson: I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?" - The endearing and infuriating Ned Ryerson.

This little rant got us thinking about arguably the most pertinent question for the Super Bowl: Who are you cheering for? If you're not a GIants fan or a Pats backer, which of these teams is the most likable. Tougher to answer than you thought, right? OK, which of these teams do you dislike the least? Again, tougher than you'd think.

Here's raising a morning cup of coffee and toasting for the hope of a good game. When you don't have a dog in the fight, all you can hope for is a good fight.

Prop bet of the day: This is where we discuss some of the amazing things you can bet on during the Super Bowl. Of course, you can bet on the coin flip, the first person to score, the outcome, the total number of points scored (in the game, in each half or in each quarter), whether Kelly Clarkson will mess up the national anthem and on and on.

The list is crazy (seriously), and we love looking at the wild proposition bets that are out there. Here's our pick of the day: Give us tails on the coin flip.

We've always said the quickest way to determine if someone has a gambling problem is if they answer yes to any of the following questions:

a) Have you ever bet on any preseason game

b) Have you ever caught yourself checking lines before your morning coffee

c) Have you ever bet on a coin flip

So here we are betting tails. And if you want some crazy stats to impress your friends, here's a doozy. We saw this morning that according to friend of the show RJ Bell of pregame.com, the NFC has won 14 consecutive coin tosses in the Super Bowl. Yes, 14 in a row. How is that possible? The odds against that are 16,383-to-1. And to magnify the run of the NFC's luck on what is the most 50-50 bet of all time, the all-time split on coin flips is 23 heads, 22 tails.

So give us tails to even the score, and that's right, we officially have a problem. Maybe.

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley walks the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game with Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley walks the sidelines during...

Signing day rewind, Chapter I

Groundhog Day quote: "Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today." - Phil Connors.

Before we go any further, there's a ton of recruiting stuff in today's TFP and on other spots on our site. Too much to mention here and well worth you 50 cents. In fact, signing day may be the hardest day in a sports department, and the TFP crew did real work Wednesday.

Yes, recruiting is important. Very important. But recruiting stars of today are not sure-fire stars of tomorrow. We all know this.

So the doom-and-gloom that dominated a chuck of signing day for a lot of fans in most ways is much ado about a great deal of unknown. Is it important? Sure it is. Is it the end-all, be-all of the college football world. Of course not. With that in mind, let's go program-by-program for teams of area interest and grade the recruiting efforts as best we can with the limited knowledge of what we know:

Tennessee - B-minus

Not crazy about the class - not taking an offensive lineman in any recruiting cycle seems curious at best - but considering the distractions of hot seats and the defections of six coaches, piecing together a top-20 class is admirable.

Good: Cordarrelle Patterson was a very nice 11th-hour addition and gives UT the best receiving corps in the SEC on paper.

Bad: The Vols' undersized class - four of the 20 commits weigh more than 240 pounds - does not offer many linebacker solutions.

Big Ugly (lineman that will make a difference): Sweet buckets of snacks, Daniel McCullers is 6-foot-6, 380 pounds. Yes, 380. Big Jim Haslem needs to add another round of donations to make sure they have the budget to feed that youngster.

Georgia - B-plus

After last year's "Dream Team" recruiting haul, anything is going to feel like a let down. That said, there's a lot of talent here, even if there aren't a lot of numbers. And anytime you can add a playmaker like Josh Harvey-Clemons, who may be the rare two-way, linebacker/wideout, it's a good day.

Good: Running back depth had to be addressed, and adding two highly regarded tailbacks in the same class can be tough. Mark Richt and Co. did that with Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley.

Bad: Other than Auburn, Georgia may have been left at the alter more than anyone Wednesday. The Bulldogs finished among the remaining hats for Avery Young (Auburn), Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama) and a few others.

Big Ugly (lineman that will make a difference): Five-star tackle John Theus will likely be coming to a starting line-up near.

UTC - A-minus

Fifteen players and a load of upside. Really like UTC's effort on a lot of fronts. One, Russ Huesman and the Mocs have raised their level of targets, fighting for, winning and occasionally losing prospects in battles with App State, Georgia Southern and FBS schools. Second,

Good: The Mocs needed receivers, and they landed three wideouts and a tight end. Al Thompson is a three-star player according to Rivals.com and could be an immediate contributor.

Bad: Some last-minute defections may have hurt the "feel" of the class, but that's understandable. Would have liked to see what former-committ-current-Vay-signee James Stovall of Bradley Central would have done at Finley.

Big Ugly: (lineman that will make a difference): Not a traditional lineman, but here's saying in three years Kieinta Davis, the Red Bank tight end/D-end/linebacker who missed his senior season with a torn ACL, will be a name we all know.

Alabama - A-plus

Good: The class. There is a lot to like about this group, but the three biggest area of need for Alabama - safety, running back and receiver - were addressed with five-star talents Landon Collins, T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Williams. Nick Saban is the best recruiter since that Uncle Sam poster the U.S. military used during the 1940s.

Bad: There was too much talent. Seriously, and we'll discuss this more in a minute.

Big Ugly: If there was a knock on this class before Wednesday, it was the lack of big-time defensive tackle talent. So, on Wednesday, Saban and Co. go and get four-star defensive tackles Korren Kirven and Dalvin Tomlinson, no big whoop.

If you want the 5-at-10's Good-Bad-Big Ugly on your team's signing haul, just ask.

Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Friday. (AP)

Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with reporters during...

Signing Say Rewind, Part II

Groundhog Day quote: "OK, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today." - Radio DJ

The underlying story of this signing day in our eyes is the changing current from good-natured choices to heartbreaking decisions.

First, there was Landon Collins and his mom going toe-to-toe on national TV about his choice to go to Alabama instead of in-state LSU. While that was uncomfortable and hardly a page out of the Dr. Spock parental support manuel, that was more an isolated drama than epidemic.

However, the rising number of schools and incidents where committed players are being told there is not room for them in this class is going to be a problem that needs to be addressed ASAP. Hey, talk about fixing the BCS or a plus-1 or the $2,000 stipend all you want. But if you want to make a change that matters for the kids that are doing the on-the-field work in college football, the filling-up-a-class and deferring or declining offers at the 11th must be addressed before the next recruiting cycle. At least two players that had committed to sign with Alabama were left without an offer for this signing cycle because Alabama landed better players. Hey, that's the current system, and Saban works it better than anyone, but that does not make this part of it right.

And yes, the kids are prone to committing and de-committing and going back on soft, silent, non-binding verbal pledges. But those are teenagers.

The system should be better than this.

Whether it's the early-signing period we mentioned earlier or limiting the number of offers or making there a new class of commitment - a hard verbal that is considered like signing unless there's a coaching change or probation handed out at the school - there needs to be change.

Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky, center, arrives in handcuffs at the office of Centre County Magisterial District Judge Leslie A. Dutchcot while being escorted by Pennsylvania State Police and Attorney General's Office officials in State College, Pa. Former board members of Jerry Sandusky's charity say its CEO never told them about a 2002 shower incident that is the focus of child sexual abuse charges against the retired Penn State assistant coach.

Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry"...

Photo by (AP File Photo by Andy Colwell/The Patriot-News)

This and that

- "I can probably think of a couple of reasons... pervert" Larry says this when someone asks about stealing a groundhog. While that's funny, this is not. Apparently Jerry Sandusky's attorney is blaming the attorney general on Joe Paterno's downfall. Really? Wow. Just wow. Let's try blaming Jerry Sandusky. The lawyer, some yahoo named Karl with a K, is going to play one in the spin playbook - blame the media for embellishing the story and deflecting blame. Just stop. Let's move on.

- "Can I talk to you about a matter that is not work-related?" - "You never talk about work." This exchange between Phil and Rita goes to the continuing dance between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, who despite consistently claiming to want to fight each other always seem to find other clowns to fight. Someone make this stop. This would not be happening if Don Corleone King were still alive. What? He's alive. Really? Let's move on again.

- "When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter." Phil's quote when he finally realizes there's no way out of his cycle of groundhog-edness (pretty sure we made that word up, so it goes). This goes to the UTC Mocs basketball team, who have lost five straight and face their toughest two-game SoCon road trip in the next 72 hours. The season has been a big disappointment for everyone with a connection to the program, that's no secret. But a little momentum down the stretch could build some steam come tournament-time. And no matter what your thought on the current state of Mocs basketball, we don't think anyone - within the program or the conference - would argue that this team is talented enough to make a run in Asheville next month.

Staff photo by Patrick Smith Calhoun High School quarterback Nash Nance, left, and running back Da'Rick Rogers both committed to the University of Tennessee today.

Staff photo by Patrick Smith Calhoun High School quarterback...

Today's question

How much stock can we put in recruiting websites?

Coaches don't need the help of a recruiting website to assess the talent of high school athletes. You know this. With that said, that doesn't mean the people whose job it is to assess those athletes aren't doing a fine job at it (save the argument about the 5-star kid who's name you can't remember or the 2-star kid that's now starting in the NFL).

Just keep this in mind.

This is the 10th year that Rivals.com has been ranking high school players. Each year they determine which school has signed the most talent based on their evaluations.

This is who they have determined "won" national signing day. You may recognize a few of these teams, they also make up 8 of the last 10 National Championship teams.

No. 1 recruiting class according to Rivals.com:

2002 - Texas (National Champions - Ohio State)

2003 - LSU (National Champions - LSU)

2004 - USC (National Champions - USC)

2005 - USC (National Champions - Texas)

2006 - USC (National Champions - Florida)

2007 - Florida (National Champions - LSU)

2008 - Alabama (National Champions - Florida)

2009 - Alabama (National Champions - Alabama)

2010 - USC (National Champions - Auburn)

2011 - Alabama (National Champions - Alabama)

2012 - Alabama (National Champions - _ )

Do "star" rankings mean anything?