5-at-10: Coach Prime’s time, SEC (and Bama’s) early struggles, NFL issues with preseason and diversity

Photo by the Mrs. 5-at-10 / A monarch caterpillar feeds on a milkweed plant in the backyard of the 5-at-10 compound. Yes, the Mrs. 5-at-10 makes art; the 5-at-10 almost assuredly will have a Godfather quote somewhere today. What should we name this little fellow? Discuss.

Let's handle our business, and know our business has nothing to do with ticking Coach Deion off.

Our business starts with yet another great photo from the Mrs. 5-at-10, who is quite excited about some monarch caterpillars arriving in our yard. Yay nature.

To the Rushmores.

Rushmore of TV sitcoms with a mostly female cast: "Golden Girls," "Sex and the City," "Laverne & Shirley" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Rushmore of modern actors who died way too young: Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, John Candy, Philip Seymour Hoffman. (Sorry, James Dean is eternally cool, but he's not in the modern era. And I'm old.)

Rushmore of cartoon dogs: Snoopy, Scooby, Pluto, Santa's Little Helper.

Rushmore of pre-modern NFL QBs — Bart Starr, Johnny U, Y.A. Tittle, Fran Tarkenton. (And if we are being honest about the conversations of Vick or Cunningham or so many Black QBs born before the game met their skills, Tarkenton and Steve Young need to be mentioned, too.)

You know the rules. Here's Stephen Hargis doing great Stephen Hargis things with a great high school football story. Also, because rules are rules, here's Paschall on a surprising position of strength for the Vols.

To the bag.

From Tiger Fan

Jay, been a long time but I read your column everyday. War Newspapers!

I remember you wanted us to hire Deion. You were so right!

OMG. Can you imagine what Coach Prime would be doing on the Plains?

Tiger Fan,

I have thought about this a fair bit since the start of the college football season, and yes, I was 100% on the Coach Prime train, even if the only two people on the planet who have ever blocked me on Twitter were Deion "Prime Time" Sanders and David "Evening Time" Carroll.

All of things we thought Coach Prime could do, he's done.

Buzz. Through the roof check.

Recruiting. 100% and then some considering the star-power Deion is still getting to Boulder.

Fan excitement. Maybe not since Bama hired Saban has there been an energy charge through a fan base like what Deion has done in Boulder.

Portal prowess. It's hard not to think — in terms of the question asked — that Auburn would be the buzz of college football with Deion on the sideline, Shedeur taking snaps and Travis Hunter playing every play.

The only downside I could possibly see, though, is Deion is short-lived for the college life.

Dude will be an NFL coach in a few years and will leave a tsunami of issues in his wake.

Would Auburn be better for the next 24 months with Deion? Yep. Even Hugh Freeze would be hard pressed to disagree with that.

Would Auburn be better long term with Deion or Freeze? I'll pick the latter.

From Steeler Fan

Hey Jay,

I'm interested in your take on the SEC's struggles in out-of-conference games this year. Is this an early warning sign of coming parity in college football caused by NIL and transfer rules? It feels like the days are over when the SEC could stockpile talent and run roughshod over the rest of the country. Or perhaps it's actually a sign of more SEC schools reverting to the mean and the end of a super-dominant tier within the league. What do you think? Also, is it making harder to handicap games?

Steeler Fan,

Great question, as always, and yes, I think the changes have hurt the uber-elite, especially in the SEC. And one uber-elite in particular.

I think the NIL rule and the transfer has offered two direct attacks on the all-time greatness of Nick Saban, and his single greatest skill.

Saban is the best recruiter since the Uncle Sam poster. Not only could he convince five stars to come to Bama and wait to play, he convinced them to stay with a very true and very familiar refrain:

"If you come to Tuscaloosa and become a starter, you will be a millionaire by the the time you are 25."

And he was right. Bama and Saban churned out draft picks better than anyone since the Selective Service.

So five stars would come, work, play special teams and go to the league.

Now, those five stars can be millionaires before they turn 20 at any number of places willing to write the NIL check.

And the very presence of the portal hurts Saban's old-school authoritarian ways, too. Question for the group: Has Alabama been more sloppy and suffered more self-inflicted setbacks over the last two seasons than in Saban's previous 15 with the Tide? Discuss.

Still, the SEC — where it just means more of course — is at the top of the heap, which also gets everyone's best shot.

And while the NIL opens the team picture to title contenders from 8 to 28 or so, know this:

When Saban or Kirby convince Bama and Georgia that they need a $30 million NIL (slush fund) to stay at the top of the mountain, they will get it.

And then we will be right back to where we started.

From Kevin

Jay, do you think after the abysmal performances of some of the top QBs in the NFL in week 1 that teams will rethink only playing them for a handful of plays in the preseason? Full speed and taking contact cannot be replicated with a clipboard and iPad. The baseball players don't go down to spring training and stand and watch, they actively participate. Just wondering.


I think this is the biggest takeaway from the last month. That and Aaron Rodgers' injury, of course.

Hey, have you heard that Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles? I know, crazy, right?

Another silent wrinkle of your excellent point, Kevin, is that the loss of that fourth preseason game means even fewer chances.

I get the dilemma for coaches, because if Justin Herbert blows an ACL — or even the very innocent Rodgers Achilles' tear — happens in a late August, the coaches will hear about it over and over.

But the sloppiness from the elite QB1s in Week 1 was undeniable and almost impossible not to connect with the lack of preseason activity.

From John

Jay, the NFL just grinds on, doesn't it? So prominent it is not only on American sports cape, but as a leviathan corporation as well.

Aaron Rodgers is done for the season, and at age 39, it all looks cloudy for him as a player and for the NY Jets' season. His diva years are likely done. His ordeal is a cruel joke on a beleaguered franchise that took a risk on an aging QB. Jim Trotter decries lack of minorities in league offices, but it's just the way it is: Ultra-wealthy white men own these clubs. Life is cruel and unfair and equity means what exactly?

Regardless, like a massive cruise ship, the NFL sails on and on churning out billions in its wake and transfixing all of us who can't live without its hype and majesty.


The NFL is a monolith.

As Hyman Roth said about the gambling industry when he and the Corleones were trying to make Cuba the Vegas of the East Coast in "The Godfather Part 2," "We'll be bigger than AT&T."

The NFL is unstoppable. In almost every metric.

Our concern for others — you really think concussions are happening? — doesn't matter. We want football.

Our society views on fairness in the workplace — Daniel Snyder has been exiled, so was Jerry Richardson, and Lord knows what Jerry Jones does on a daily basis in Dallas — doesn't matter. We want football.

You're right, it's a cruise ship and it's an unstoppable Titanic that just plows every iceberg.

But that's OK. Popularity sells. Heck, USA Today is hiring a Taylor Swift writer. Seriously.

But the equity conversation in sports always gives me pause.

Yes, the NFL and every organization should be aware of diversity and its values at every level.

But why does no one say when there are only a few Black GMs or coaches or coordinators that we never talk about the lack of white running backs in the league.

Yes, getting on the field in every sport is the ultimate punctuation on the truth that the locker room is the last best meritocracy we have in our society.

But if merit matters on the field, then why do we act like merit doesn't matter in front office decision, too.

And when it comes to ownership, well, since the Commanders just sold for something like $6 billion, the only color that matters in those discussions is green.

From a different John

As it relates to the 5@10 ... After all of the famous baseball players that I've met, meeting Charlie Steiner at Spring Training was a highlight. This one kills me every time.


This is not a question and John is a good friend, but for all the heaviness of today's bag, this felt like the best way to end.

Here's the Charlie Steiner ESPN clip that is a bona fide all-timer.

Enjoy the weekend, friends.