5-at-10: Fat Friday mailbag with officiating, NFL attrition, NFL TV dominance, and Matt disapproves

Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) is defended by Vanderbilt forward Myles Stute (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama won 78-66. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) is defended by Vanderbilt forward Myles Stute (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama won 78-66. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Let's handle some business before we get to your inquiries.

First, from the news department, there is a warrant out for Joe Mixon's arrest for "aggravated menacing" for waving a gun in a woman's face. Patience in these matters is prudence because investigations must be done on matters of the heart in he-said, she-said scenarios.

That said, Mixon has a rancid history in terms of his demeanor and actions with women, and if he's guilty, the punishments -- legally and professionally -- should be severe.

Second, you know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols filling our their football coaching staff. Hard not to say Josh Heupel could hire The Elephant Man and considering his two-year 180 with that program, Heupel would get the benefit of the doubt. (Side note: He would not get that same grace if Jeremy Pruitt was being added as an analyst, I am afraid.)

Third, here's Hargis -- rules and all -- on the TSSAA and area muckety-mucks trying to iron out an extension for the state football championships to stay in Chattanooga.

Remember the Super Duper Props Drop -- a Super Bowl props bet contest that could win you a free lunch. More details here.

As for the Rushmores, it goes a little something like this. Hit it.

Rushmore of QB1s -- Brady, Manning, Montana and Elway, but boy I wrestled with a lot of names for that last one. I struck the compilers off the list like Brees and Favre. I think Marino has a staunch claim to be where Elway is. So do Aaron Rodgers and Steve Young, who is maybe the most underrated all-time great QB ever to take a snap. And to be honest, I don't think it's going to matter anyway in a few years because Patty Mahomes is going to strong arm his way into the conversation sooner rather than later.

Rushmore of boy band members -- (As Spy rightly noted, the correct answer is none, because no one would have a boy band Rushmore, right?) And I'm not sure of the "boy band" definition from before my time. Was the Jackson 5 a boy band or a family band? Were the Monkees? In my version of the post-1980 boy band folks, it's Justin Timberlake, Bobby Brown, Harry Styles and whomever is the lead dude of BTS, which is the most popular musical group globally since the Beatles and maybe ever.

Rushmore of sports deaths that surprised/sadden you -- Roberto Clemente, Dale Sr., Kobe (although the overblown coverage on that made it feel like he was a head of state), and if you allow me to go off the board and personal, I will never forget hearing on Monday night baseball -- it used to be a thing on ABC, trust me -- as the Yankees were playing that their captain and catcher Thurman Munson had died in a plane crash. I wasn't around for it, but Lou Gehrig is in that conversation, too.

Rushmore of famous living rodents/varmints -- Punxsutawney Phil is the GOAT groundhog, and that's with sharing Bearddawg's appreciation of General Beauregard Lee. (Side note: Kind of surprising that anything famous called Gen. Lee has not been forced to change its name by now. Heck, I'll bet a dollar against your dime that the Dukes boys' car "General Lee" is no longer welcomed at those car shows. Thoughts?) Also, apparently a lot of the other weather-guessing varmints disagree with Phil's assessment this week, according to this story in Forbes. Seriously, it's in Forbes. To round out the Rushmore, give me the social media star that is the water-skiing squirrel, Mr. Jingles from "The Green Mile" and Henry Hill who ratted out all his crew in "Goodfellas."

To the bag.

From Bicycle Bob


I watched a game last night in which the undefeated home team was called for 19 personal fouls to the visitors' 35; home team won in OT.

Have you got a statistic for SEC basketball on what percentage of fouls are called on the home team? I believe that over the course of a season, with the same group of teams playing home, it ought to end up at about 50%. Or is there a reason you can offer as to why visiting teams would commit more fouls consistently over the course of a season of games for the league overall?

Also, since video review doesn't seem to matter (vast majority of calls are not overturned), then doesn't some sort of limit need to be placed on the number of official stoppages to review things? It is killing the momentum of the game and is especially damaging to basketball.

Kind regards.


So I assume you are speaking of the Alabama-Vandy game from earlier this week.

Here are the splits of free throws attempted at home and on the road for each SEC school:

Alabama -- 24.8 and 24.5

Arkansas -- 28 and 21.5

Auburn -- 22.8 and 19.4

Florida -- 24 and 21.3

Georgia -- 23.5 and 18.4

Kentucky -- 19.2 and 17.2

LSU -- 17.8 and 18.3

Mississippi -- 18.6 and 14.3

Mississippi State -- 20.8 and 16.7

Missouri -- 19.5 and 17.4

South Carolina -- 17.0 and 13

Tennessee -- 20.6 and 16.9

Texas A&M -- 24.3 and 25.7

Vandy -- 18.8 and 16.7

To your point, only two of the schools have attempted more free throws on the road than they have at home. The numbers are total road games, because I believe the divide would be more extreme in conference games.

Because the human element of the officials is real. I am not saying the fix is in, but the human urge to hear cheers rather than boos is innate, even when it is ignored as frequently as refs do.

But it's still there.

The bigger part of your question is the monstrous need for a better review system in college hoops in particular and in sports in general.

We have spent more than a bit of time speaking this week about how this is the worst officials have ever been. I don't ever recall a time to be referred to as the Golden Age of officiating, do you?

I think the levels of scrutiny are higher than ever -- both in terms of fandom and financial investment in terms of sports betting.

I think the 24/7 news cycles make refs and missed calls an overly easy target because every fan can sympathize with every opposing fan when their teams get jobbed. Plus, the folks in the media rarely need or get to speak to the refs/umps, which makes ripping them all the more easy. Never mind it's an easy stance.

Personally, I think all sports should fully embrace the technology we have in every way possible or get out of it altogether.

Because there are some bad ripple effects that have come from technology.

The longstanding make-up call in basketball -- you know, if a ref knows he missed an over-the-back on a rebound but the ball gets tapped out, he can fix it right there -- is dead.

Baseball's microscopic milliseconds when a sliding runner comes of the base with the glove tag still applied feels over-the-top if we're not going to, you know, enforce the strike zone.

And most of all, football referees at the major college and NFL levels are now conditioned to call games differently, letting plays continue or play out so the replay can override them. Of course, letting those plays play out gives the edge to the call on the field, and all the while we still have three old dudes carrying sticks connected by chains to mark the progress of the offense and the effectiveness of the defense.

Great question.

From Mike B


I watched both NFL conference championship games and frankly was disappointed in the product being presented. The NFL has become a war of attrition with so many teams decimated with key players and position groups either out or badly injured. Do you think the NFL is bearing the fruit of an extended season, more playoff games and even Thursday night and overseas games? Yes, injuries are part of it but when your season hangs on key backups (with too many instances to mention), it is tough to watch.

Mike B,

The NFL has always been that in some ways, but it's even more that way these days.

I think the league -- which jacked the salary cap by a record $16 million heading into next year -- sees that too. I think emergency third-string QBs will be added to postseason rosters moving forward.

Sure, a Week 12 game would be fun for Christian McCaffrey to run the Wildcat in an injury-forced scenario. But in the NFC title game? No thanks.

That said, I am sure the NFL will counter with some overwhelming stats. The AFC Championship Game averaged a 25.5 rating and 53.12 million viewers on Sunday, which made it the highest-rated and most-watched conference championship game since Patriots-Chiefs five years ago. The NFC game was more impacted by your injury-impact scenario, but even in a one-sided game in which the 49ers could not throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield, FOX averaged a 22.7 share and 47.5 million viewers.

By comparison, both of those numbers outdrew the top non-NFL broadcasts of 2022 -- the 2022 national championship game between Alabama and Georgia and Day 10 of the Winter Olympics -- combined.

Moreover in the NFC title game, the viewership peaked at 52.3 million viewers in the 5:15-5:30 window when the game was no longer in doubt.

My best guess for the spike? Sports wagering with more and more folks watching to see if the game stayed under 44.5 points or if their various player prop bets had a chance to convert.

To your question, Mike, the attrition is real and it makes the GM managing the roster and the cap a huge feather in every NFL team's fedora.

Either way though, we are tuning in at record numbers.

Want to guess how many of the top 100 broadcasts in 2022 were NFL games?

Answer below.

From Patrick

Pillow fight of the year is on (Wednesday) night at 9, with Tech vs. Louisville. Oh for the love of Lancaster "Flash" Gordon and Tom "The Terminator" Hammond, what has happened to those two once-proud programs?


Growing up, Georgia Tech basketball was the most fun sports event to attend in Atlanta.

Granted, that's as much a testament to the sad state of the Falcons, Braves and Tech football as well as the head-banging-against-the-wall realization that the Hawks were never going to be better than the fourth-best team in the East.

But that Tech run was amazing.

And what the Jackets are now is amazingly embarrassing.

I think Josh Pastner has to go, and truth be told, no hoops coach at Tech or in Athens should be this overwhelmed. There simply is too much talent within a 50-minute drive.

And that's only going to expand as Atlanta continues to grow.

How much talent is there in high school basketball in the metro-Atlanta area. OK, before I came to Chattanooga, I was the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal in Cobb County.

At that time, Cobb had 14 public high schools, which is roughly the same number as Hamilton County now.

All of those high schools in Cobb were bigger than the biggest high school here. That's fact one.

Fact two, the competition was mind-blowing. How much so?

My last basketball season in Cobb County, we did our all-county team, which is like Best of Preps here but, again, it's only one county.

On that team was Josh Smith (NBA first-rounder), Patrick Ewing Jr., Kevin Kruger (Lon Kruger's son), and most telling was Morris Almond -- who went on to lead the nation in scoring at TCU and was a first-round pick -- was a second-team selection.

It's the level and the sheer numbers involved.

Trivia answer: Of the 100 most watched broadcasts in 2022, 82 of them were NFL related. In 2018 -- used because of COVID-19 and the comparable TV calendars for the Winter Olympics, World Cup and mid-term political elections, 61 of the top 100 broadcasts were NFL-related.

From Matt

Jay, I started reading because my brother said you were good. He also said you were funny and had some good picks.

I think my brother is full of (bleep) about you. This sucks!




Have a good weekend, friends.

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