From the soon to be named studios, let's go.
NFL - more questions than answers
The divisional round of the NFL playoffs was filled with, "Whoa, did that happen" moments. So it's fitting that we still need answers heading into the NFL's Final Four. (Side note: Did you know that "Final Four," as well as March Madness are trademarked by the NCAA? Seriously.)
1) Who was the genius that said you can't win the whole thing without a great quarterback? (The 5-at-10.) Who was the yahoo that thought the Packers were going to walk through the playoffs (Yep, the 5-at-10, again.) Who was the goof that said NFL defense is overrated? (Guilty, again, but as long as the Pats stay alive, we're not completely wrong about that. And we did go 3-0-1 in our NFL picks last week, hitting the overs in the NFC games, nailing the Pats minus-13.5 and pushing on the Ravens' 20-13 win.)
2) Did the NFL pass a rule that Green Bay's receivers had to take a shot of Jack Daniels for every "duh" comment Troy Aikman made? ("Turnovers will be crucial," and everyone drinks.) That has to be the reason the Packers dropped so many balls, right?
3) Who thought Tim Tebow would place a direct phone call to the Man upstairs and pull out an Immaculate Reception II or the Divine Interception or the Field God or something that would scare the stumble off Tom Brady's face? (No one that was thinking clearly - heck the Pats beat Denver by 18 in Denver a month ago, so the New England beatdown was not overly surprising. And it kind of looked like Tom Brady was a little bit irritated, right? He had the "Hey, I'm still Tom Brady and I still have more Super Bowl rings than anyone still playing. Remember me?")
4) Who thought the best game of the weekend would be a Saints-49ers shootout? (No one, that's for sure. And that leads us to the following 49ers tangents...
a) What a great moment for Vernon Davis, huh? After being removed from the field four years ago by then-coach Mike Singletary for a lack of effort, to make that catch in that moment for a franchise with that move history was awesome in its awesomeness. And normally we would have a litany of jokes for anyone who squalls on a football field that does not have to be rushed to surgery, but that joy and release and gratification was pretty cool. (Although, here's saying Vernon is getting grief from his teammates today.)
b) When did Alex Smith flip the switch? Wow, if you had to pick one guy to lead a last minute drive for a TD to win last Thursday, Smith would have been seventh of the eight NFL QBs still playing (ahead of Texans QB T.J. Yates).
c) When did Jim Harbaugh become the best football coach on the planet? Say what you will, but if you had a job opening and endless funds, who is your first call? Thought so.
5) Loved our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's take here (Wiedmer: Could Eli become known as the best Manning QB?) on the rise of Eli Manning, and toss out this question: If Eli leads a banged-up Giants team to Super Bowl No. 2, does he pass brother Peyton? We say yes, but are interested in all views.
More UT staff drama
Hope Derek Dooley enjoyed the 72 or so hours after hiring Sal Sunseri, and the after glow of the praise of landing (yet another) former Alabama assistant. Lance Thompson, the first Sabanite to be plucked by UT (he left Alabama to join Lane Kiffin in the famous 13 months that every Vols fan wants to forget), reportedly is heading back to Tuscaloosa for a similar position on the defensive staff there.
With all staff moves, the decisions and reflections come back to the head coach. With that in mind, let's play a little point-counterpoint:
Pro-Dooley: Hard to blame any defensive coach for wanting to coach for Saban.
Anti-Dooley: This is assistant No. 6 that has left without getting a promotion.
Pro-Dooley: Thompson left when he was not considered for the DC job, so it's more sour grapes than anything.
Anti-Dooley: OK, that may be true, but it took Dooley almost two weeks to pick Sunseri and it took Saban and Co. not much more than two days to locate and lure Thompson to be Sunseri's replacement. (And if Saban is moving quickly to re-hire Thompson in this situation, don't you think Thompson could be viewed at least as Sunseri's equal?)
Pro-Dooley: Hey, UT went 5-7 last year, and lost to Kentucky. It's time to replace some assistants.
Anti-Dooley: True, but defense was not the Vols problem. And the only part of the UT defense that under-achieved was the secondary. (Quick: Want to guess who is the only defensive assistant still on staff? Yep, defensive backs coach Terry Joseph.)
College hoops rewind
Wow, crazy weekend of hoops, huh? Strong effort from UT in a tight loss to Kentucky. Impressive showing by Ohio State and Duke on the road. Puzzling implosion by UNC at a better-than-anticipated Florida State.
So it goes.
We're fully expecting Chas9 to swing by later and give us the Top Tenn teams in Tennessee (and maybe give us a little UK intel), but until then here is the 5-at-10's eight that are elite:
1) Kentucky: They have more NBA talent than at least seven NBA teams.
2) Syracuse: Starting to become believers.
3) Baylor: Unbeaten and Perry Jones may be the best player you don't a lot about.
4) UNC: Saturday's loss aside, ton of talent.
5) Ohio State: When healthy, the Buckeyes are tough - ask Indiana.
6) Kansas: May be a touch high, but the young Jayhawks are only going to get better and may have a higher ceiling for improvement than any team in the country.
7) Michigan State: Any coach getting more consistently underrated than Tom Izzo.
8) Duke: We feel the Devils are flawed, but even a flawed Duke team is better than almost everyone else.
This and that
- Our NBA ban ended Sunday, and as we started catching up with the comings and goings in the league, we noticed three things: Kobe is doing work (as EC pointed out last week), the Philadelphia 76ers are leading the East (when did Andrew Toney and Dr. J), there are a lot of bad, Bad, BAD NBA teams, and the lack of an offseason has only magnified that.
- Joe Paterno spoke to the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins for a story in Sunday's Washington Post. Three quick thoughts: Jenkins is getting great access (she along with Dan Flesser of the Knoxville News Sentinel broke the news about Pat Summitt's early on-set dementia) but we wonder if there was some questions that were denied by Camp Paterno; we wonder if Paterno is buying that load of back-pedalling, soft-talk, double-speak that he is trying to sell and we wonder if he would buy it as an excuse from one of his players in the 40-plus years he was the head coach at Penn State?; we wonder that for all the talk Camp Paterno about looking forward to Joe telling his side, this was all they had?
- Former Baylor School golf star Harris English made his debut as a full-fledged PGA Tour member this weekend at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Enlgish struggled on Sunday, shooting a 5-over 75 to finish tied for 67th. (English pocketed $11,275.)
We watched the Golden Globes last night and three things became apparent to the 5-at-10:
1) When you have two kids under the age of 4, the two things that suffer the most are your sleeping habits and keeping up with current movies. (We were tickled any time Cars 2 was nominated last night so that we felt like we had a dog in the fight. So it goes.)
2) OK, whoever came with automatic microphone deserves a Golden Globe of their own. Seriously, when you have winners ranging from Morgan Freeman to 4-foot-5 Peter Dinklage, who won for "Game of Thrones" the auto-adjusting mike was like the award show version of air conditioning (one of those inventions that previous generations didn't think were overly important, but now that you have it and are accustomed to it, there' no doing with out it). Side note: When Dinklage won and his speech started to drag, do you think the show's director said, "Keep it short?"
3) And on to the question: Freeman was honored with the top overall Golden Globe last night, and when they showed dude's resume, Freeman is VASTLY underrated. In fact, he's an underrated Hall of Famer, and his 1989 - "Driving Miss Daisy," "Lean on Me," and "Glory" - may be the single greatest year for a movie star of all time. We're making the Tim Duncan All-Stars - the honorary team of guys from all sports that people know are stars, but may not realize they are superstars/all-time greats - the sports branch of Team Morgan Freeman that covers all pop culture. So, if you have five people in pop culture, who is the starting five of Team Morgan Freeman?