5-at-10: Free tournament contest, Chattanooga and TSSAA look good together, Matt Ryan and Falcons future

FILE - Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the pocket during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
FILE - Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the pocket during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Madness for everyone

OK, yes, it's close. Yeah, I'm excited.

OK, BID-ness first. First-out, Last-in Challenge. Go. Send me which No. 1 seed you think will lose first and which double-digit seed will dance longest. Deadline is Thursday evening when the first game is tipped, because I believe there will be a lot of folks who may think a green-clad 11-seed playing in the play-in round may be around a while. Email me your entry at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

As for the dance, well, we went over some bracket tips on Tuesday. Even offered my Final Four - Zags, Bama, Illinois and THE Ohio State - which feels rather chalky. Here's the look ahead.

Still, there is the elephant in the room. What will the games feel like? Limited crowds. A very different feel in the all-Indianapolis pods.

And it's not like college basketball is riding a wave of momentum into this thing.

Last weekend I watched more college hoops than I can recall. It was fun, and the product was entertaining as well as impressive, especially in the Big Ten.

But the interest, like across all sports and all of TV, was down and that has played out in the TV numbers. The Big Ten title game Sunday was the most-watched college hoops telecast of the season with a 2.2 rating and 3.68 million viewers. Those numbers were down from 8% and 7% respectively from the 2019 Big Ten title game. The ACC title game was down more than 55% in ratings and viewers from 2019 and was the lowest since 2010. The SEC title game was at 1.0 rating and 1.6 million viewers - down 33% and 28% from 2019 - and ranked as the lowest in 12 years.

The selection show was down 12% from 2019 and without Kentucky and Duke, the ratings for the tournament will be anyone's guess.

On the right side, the selection show was still the most-watched sports program of the weekend and believe it or not, this side of the NBA All-Star Game, the most watched non-NFL sporting event since the November Masters.

Welcome to town

War Chattanooga.

War Tim Morgan, the Chattanooga Sports honcho who was key in this. (Although as a die-hard Bama fan, maybe we should say Roll Tim, but then I'd break into hives.)

War good news.

As TFP sports editor and prep sports guru Stephen Hargis told us Tuesday, the TSSAA accepted Chattanooga's bid to host the 2021 and 2022 state football championships.

Hard to find a bad side to this headline.

Economic impact. Solid chance for our city to impress some great young people across the state. Opportunity for all of us to see some of the best high school players from all over the state right here in our back yard.

Tip of the visor to all those involved. Count me.

Chips and rips

So, Matt Ryan restructured his deal to help the severely cap-strapped Falcons with their cash situation.

Oh, Matty Ice did not exactly do it for complete altruistic reasons. The extension means more guaranteed money and all-but assures him being in the A-T-L for at least the next two seasons.

(Side note: In all the moving and shaking with the Falcons, did you signed a punter named Dom Maggio? Seriously. If you are Mr. and Mrs. Maggio, do you really go Dom there? And if you are going to go Dom, then shake-it-up and go full tribute - and a little country too - with Joe Dom Maggio. Thoughts?)

Anywell, Ryan's deal creates $14 million in cap space for the Falcons, and puts some clarity on the Falcons' all-important fourth pick.

It's hard to see them taking a franchise QB there considering that Ryan will me a cap anchor for at least the next two seasons.

And then there's this: If you do not go QB, the elite difference makers in this draft are at WR and while JaMarr Chase and Devonta Smith will make any team better, the last area the Falcons need to spend that kind of draft capital on is receiver.

It also begs another question that unfairly spins the leadership tag on QBs that is counter-intuitive to every professional's view.

Why do folks expect QBs to take less for better players around them? Hey, I love the TFP and love what I do, and I know I'll never make Matty Ryan money, but are any of us leaving money on the table so our employers can 'afford' better co-workers?


This and that

- You know the rules. Here's Paschall's prose on Georgia's first spring practice since 2019. Sounds strange, right?

- Pretty sure Andy Dalton won't be adding this to his résumé any time soon. Chicago's Super Bowl odds after signing Dalton were 50-to-1. Chicago's Super Bowl odds before signing Dalton were 40-to-1. So you're saying there's a chance.

- Damian Lillard can flat play hoops friends. He dropped a 50 burger on the Pelicans last night, and not in a, hey let's run it up and see how many he can get. Want necessity? He scored half a hundo in a 125-124 comeback win. Want efficiency? He scored 50 on 20 shots. Want history? Here is the list of most 50-point games in NBA history: Wilt (118), MJ (31), Kobe (25), James Harden (23), Elgin Baylor (17), Rick Barry (14), Dame Time (12). You like apples? Well, Dame's got the numbers. How you liked em apples?

- Here's Riley Green with a song that hits me directly in the feels because of the way my kids loved my father. "I wish Grandpas never died." And know this, about two weeks ago, I picked up Ray-Ray, my 10-year-old daughter, from school. (Side note: She was named for my wife's grandfather, who she adored.) This song comes on and I start singing. (Side note, part II: I am going to be the King Dad of embarrassing moments. In fact, it's why I started growing this mullet, which is glorious. Now the kids love it. Who knew?) Anywell, I giving this one a go at about a volume of 9 on a scale of 10, and when the chorus hits - "I wish even cars had truck beds, and every road was named Copperhead and coolers never run out of cold Bud Light; I wish high school home teams never lost and back-road drinking kids never got caught, and I wish the price of gas was low and cotton was high; And I wish honky tonks didn't have no closing time, and I wish Grandpas never died." Well, I'm tearing up and Ray_Ray offers, "Daddy are your eyes sweating?" God bless little girls. I wish everyone gets to be a girl-dad, and I wish grandpas never died.

- OK, it's probably happened to a few of us. Your email gets hacked and some weird stuff gets sent from your account. Awkward, right? Well, I'm on the email list for a church up on Whiskey Hill where our kids went to preschool. The church. They did not attend Whiskey Hill Pre-K. Although Whiskey Hill Post-K could fit right in with the rest of the SEC West, provided it's football recruiting was top-25 and its baseball was pretty stout. Anywell, so the church's pastor's email got hacked over the weekend, and man, I couldn't help but think of the stress a pastor would have wondering if Ethel, the co-chair of Boomers for Christ, got something untoward from the preacher's email.

- Weeds referenced some college hoops as well as the TSSAA's wise decision to take in the scenes of the Scenic City in his column this morning. And Weeds on college hoops is always better than most. Here are Weeds' words. And, for those interested, here's the link to the Sister Jean bobble head. True or false on a Wednesday: You'd pay $25 for a Sister Jean bobble head.

- Hey, I know we're swimming in celebrity news. Everything from whether the Queen Mum is in the KKK or what Jay Cutler's ex is doing and who she is doing it with. But have we gotten to the place that I need to wake-up and cruise the news services in my morning gatherings and see who took Punky Brewster's virginity? Here are the details from Soleil Moon Frye about how - wait for it - her first was Charlie Sheen. Winning? Oh well.

- OK, I'll read this. A former Clemson point guard/turned shoe rep who was jailed as part of the 2017 FBI sting into college hoops, is writing a book called Black Market. Heck, I'll read it for the discussions of Auburn's Chuck Person and the Mr. 'Strong-bleep Offer' himself, LSU coach Will Wade. That said, Merl Code's quote about the book seems overly self-serving considering, uh, Merl, you were doing the exploiting. "It exposes an ecosystem that predominantly preys on the abilities of the poor to enrich the already wealthy," he told reporters. "I hope that my memoir and experiences can bring about a serious discussion, examination and ultimately become a lightning rod for change." How noble of you Merl. And here's betting you wrote the book for nothing and all the proceeds will go to help fund those 'discussions' and 'change.'

- If you will allow me to boast for a moment, my uber-talented wife was named to this list from NoogaToday.com of 16 women 'who deserve a place in Chattanooga's archives' in honor of March being Women's History Month. That's pretty awesome, K. Way to go.

- I'm not going to put the cart before the horse, but this headline made my eyes water and caused me to stutter for 15 minutes this morning as I walked in a circle and wondered how many minutes 'til Wapner. Sarah Bianchi, the former director of economic and domestic policy for Joe Biden when he was VP, said the president will propose $1 trillion worth of new taxes. Oy vey.

Today's question

Which is the more famous nun, Sister Jean, Sister Delores (Sister Act 1 and 2, which was a surprisingly solid sequel) or the Flying Nun? Discuss.

Which famous person would you most want a bobble head of?
Which is the better drinking holiday, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo or New Year's Eve? (Quick reveal: New Year's Eve is last of those three on my list to be honest. And no Spy, Easter is not a drinking holiday.)

Which witch is your all-time favorite?

Hey, Which Way Wednesday is always a two-way street.
As for today, March 17, let's eschew the Rushmore of Patricks and focus on a Rushmore of Kurt Russell movies, since Mr. Goldie Hawn is 70 today.

Go and remember the contest. And the mailbag.

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