5-at-10: Friday mailbag with fake news claim, Steelers bias, UCF angst, SEC and Candy Land

5-at-10: Friday mailbag with fake news claim, Steelers bias, UCF angst, SEC and Candy Land

November 9th, 2018 by Jay Greeson in Breaking News

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to the tip from regular J5, who sent us this link to a bill has been proposed in Nashville to legalize sports gambling in Tennessee. Wowser. More on this later.

From Mighty Steelers

HOW ABOUT THOSE STEELERS?

Did you really think the Panthers could compete? It's time for know-nothing's like you to realize that the Steelers are the best organization in NFL history and have the best offense in the league?

Here's another thing — I am sick and tired of loud mouths like you bringing up Big Ben's mistake 20 years ago. Let it go and you better recognize that Ben R. is one of the 10 best quarterbacks ever. Two Super Bowls. Three games with more TDs than incompletions. Six games with perfect QB ranking. Yes, Peyton was better, but Ben is better than the overrated Tom B. and can make every throw that your husband Aaron Rodgers does.

It's fake news, biased "journalists" like you that are there reason Trump has to make America great again. #MAGA.

Wake up and start writing the truth!!!

Mighty Steelers — 

Well, you know you are in for a treat when this is an actual letter and not in the hate mail category. (Truth be told, those have been merged this week, because the hatred yields questions that we found interesting.

As for Mighty Steelers' angst, well, let's review some things: 

a) thanks for listening to the radio show, which you must do, because that's where the conversation of Ben Roethlisberger being accused of molesting a woman in a bar bathroom in Milledgeville, Ga. And if we are going to be accurate, well, that happened in 2010. (Side question: Could you image what would have become of that trial and those charges in today's #MeToo climate?)   

b) we hope you will start reading the column, because we're happy to discuss politics, but it's clear you are not up to date on the discourse around these parts. We frequently point out media failures and the call for more professionalism from my fellow professionals in this profession. That said, know this Mighty S., as bad as the look of fake news or real media bias damages my professions, jack-wagon assertions like your that try to peg everything you disagree with as "fake" or "biased" hurts your side of the discussion.

c) Yes we did think the Panthers would compete, and the back-breaker was not Big Ben. The back-breaker was the pick six and the pass rush the Steelers have found. That pass rush — TJ Watt is a dude, Cam Hayward is a dude, and they come from a variety of angles — will serve them well in the postseason, especially against the Chiefs and super-talented but inexperienced Patty Mahomes. (And shame on us forgetting the short week effects of the team on the road in the Thursday night showdown. On Thursdays, the home team is 6-2 with an average margin of victory of more than four TDs.) 

As for the Steelers being the best organization: We think they are right there for sure. But if you want to start listing history — it's been nine years since the Steelers last hoisted the Lombardi — you can't gloss over the pre-Steel Curtain parts of the Pittsburgh pro football history. And that history was dreadful. Dread-Jul.

Best offense in the NFL? I do not agree with that. Top 5? Yes. But are the weapons better throughout than what the Rams, Chiefs, Saints or Pats have? Will they be better if they put a fresh and motivated Le'Veon Bell on the field in nine days? Could very well be. We know this: No one is going to want to try to figure out what to do in January with this bunch if Bell is worked back into the offense. Wow.

As for Big Ben, beyond his handsy bathroom antics of eight years ago, it's an interesting chat about his place in history, current, past and all-time.

All-time: To suggest Big Ben is a top-10 dude in the history of the league — cue Ron Jaworski, in a loud whisper, "The NATIONAL Football League" — is flawed on its face. How many people beyond those that have Terrible Towels for curtains would even put him higher than fifth in his generation? Granted it was a generation that included Brady, Manning, Rodgers and Brees, but still. Those four are clearly better — fake news allegations aside — as well as the accomplishments and resumes of Montana, Marino, Unitas, Favre and Elway.

Couple of names we'd toss out in different directions in terms of Big Ben: Is he better or worse than Terry Bradshaw, because let's be clear, both of those dudes have multiple titles in large part because of the pieces around them. What about Troy AIkman. (Aikman is a very interesting comparison because we think each is a little underrated in the prism of history but each also has been blessed with their surroundings. Airman gets a little more credit than Big Ben in my eyes because when he arrived in Dallas, the Cowboys were dreadful. When Big Ben got to Pittsburgh, everything else was in place.)

Here's an interesting talking point, however: If you could redo the 2004 NFL draft that featured Roehlisberger, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers going in the top half of round 1, does the order change. (Remember it went Eli 1 to San Diego and he was traded to the Giants for Rivers, who went 4 and Roethlisberger went 11.)

The stats on those cats are amazingly close, well, other than Eli and Ben having two Super Bowls each and Rivers toiling in success starved San Diego/L.A. for his career.

Ben — 53,953 yards, 350 TDs, 181 Ints, six Pro Bowls;

Eli — 54,059 yards, 347 TDs, 234 Ints, four Pro Bowls;

Philip — 52,584 yards, 361 TDs, 169 Ints, seven Pro Bowls.

Of course, those stats certainly can be viewed as 'fake' if you buy into our guy Mark Twain's theory of there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

From Adam (and this was posted in the comments late Thursday on the 5-at-10) 

Ya da ya da duh. It's writing like this that makes "Golden" knights fans certain of lacking respect that has been earned... By winning games that is. If that is still important. Rather than debating like a bunch of drunk frat kids on fictional games. Fresno is a great team this year and deserves to go to the NY6 along with UCF. Too bad it writing like this that keeps the G5 in the gutter. Not knowing the name of the college team chosen to insult says a lot about the entire body of work. Think about that.

Adam —

Fair point, and more than anything the 'Golden' rather than 'Black' was meant as a joke in terms of the 'Golden Boys' of the Group of Five argument. But without the punctuation — would have been better with the apostrophes around the Golden — you're correct it looks like mistake.

That said, and we appreciate the post and having a wide variety of views and opinions. All are welcome around these parts.

Winning games is important. But there are a lot of things that matter. Playing elite-level competition. Preventing Temple from going for 650-plus yards. You're not one of the folks that believes 29-1 UCF basketball team would be better than a 22-9 Duke or UK are you?

Hey I get the stakes financially and the passion of fandom. And there's the essence of time, because it was not that long ago that Arkansas State was winning a ton of games in impressive style but after hitting three home run head coaching hires — Freeze, Malzahn, Bryan Harsin — the success has turned for ASU since. UCF had Scott Frost and he was aces. Josh Heupel looks like a home run too, but at some point someone is coming for him too. Can the strong of rising star hires continue because when that stops, it can change everything. (And to be fair, that's true for almost all college football programs, but when it turns, the monster programs can money whip potential candidates and buy out contracts. Will UCF be able to do that? You may know that more than me, but a bad hire for a Group of 5 program or a mid-tier Power 5 program can be devastating. For the power players, it just gets to be really expensive.)   

Do you really think that an unbeaten UCF deserves a spot in the playoff over a one-loss Michigan or any one-loss Power Five conference champ?

And in the simple business model, there's no way that Fresno and UCF both will get the 'golden' tickets to New Year's Six bowl games. No way.

Don't hate opinions like mine for that. Hate the business model. 

Thanks for the feedback, and sorry for the confusion.

That brings us to this week's Rushmores.

Rushmore of characters in Westerns (last 30 years): Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday; Clint Eastwood as William Munny; Robert Duvall as Gus McRae in Lonesome Dove (released in 1989, and this one is without debate friends); Curly in City Slickers. (Side note: For those of you who dropped Butch and Sundance, that movie will be 50 years old next year. Seriously.)

Rushmore of elephants: Babar, Dumbo, Big Al, Horton.

Rushmore of Sallys: Mustang Sally, Sally Ride, Sally Field, "When Harry Mey Sally"

Rushmore of board games: Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Risk. (And this was this week's hardest. Dear goodness, this one feels incomplete on so many levels. And someone offered an inspired 'Strategy' which was way closer than most may know.)

From Todd C.

Jay, the 5-at-10 and the radio show are what I for on weekdays. Keep up the great work! I heard the SEC has released the 2019 football schedules that includes a second off-week. Is this a good idea for the SEC? Are they doing it to prepare for an 8-team national championship? Do you think they will ever add a 9th SEC game for each team?

Todd —

Next year's second off week, I believe, has to do with a funky twist on the calendar in terms of number of Saturdays between Labor Day and the first Saturday in December, which has become the landing spot for the SEC championship. Here's the slate

Labor Day is Sept. 1 next year and the season starts on Aug. 31. There are then four Saturdays in September and October and five in November, which means there are 14 weeks between Week 1 and the SEC title game Dec. 7.

 Now we do know — and Paschall talked eloquently about this on Thursday — that coaches Smart, Saban and Malzahn are among those in the league that want a nine-game SEC schedule.

But the extra bye week is a quirky foot note. Not a plan to expand. (Although here's betting Adam and Johnny Black Knights Fans everywhere would be all for that, sooner rather than later.)

From Tom

Jay:

Vols: "Lackluster " comes to mind, also think it points to what other observers have commented, that the "OL" recruits that Lyle brought in were overrated, with a few obvious exceptions. Remember, this is the same bunch that went 0-8 last year in the SEC. 

Do you have any insights as to why Kellar Chryst not getting more game reps?

I understand that Garantano is the future, but the Stanford transfer clearly reads defenses quicker, display's good skills in general. 

Pruitt: I think the verdict is still out on his ability to be a head coach. Agree he is refreshingly honest and straightforward. We will know more by the end of next November. As to his grammatical skills, do you really think the "Legion of the Big Orange Miserable " will give a damn if he is seriously competing with the likes of Saban and Kirby. Same thing would have applied to Phil's "girth" at the time. And do you think that Saban would continue to get away with how he treats the press/media if he was not consistently winning?

Tom 

As far as Keller Chryst getting more reps, well, sometimes you have to keep an eye on winning the war as much as only losing the battle by 10 rather than 21.

And, to be fair, Guarantano was aces in the road win at Auburn. Aces.

We agree that there are still questions about Jeremy Pruitt, but for the most part we have would give him a B-. The results have not been there, but the talent is questionable.

His team has played hard in almost every instance. Yes, the Florida implosion was a bad look in that the team looked ill-prepared and Florida's recent spiral only makes that blowout loom larger.

As for the personality, well, fair point. And Mark Richt's super-good-due image — which was well-deserved and earned; he is a super-good dude — helped him in times of frustration among Johnny Bulldogs Fans.

As for Saban, yeah, we do. Because he's the best. He was even worse with the Dolphins, and he was going to be there for as long as he wanted. (And may still be there if Danny Kannel's dad — the Miami team doctor — had not told the team to sign Daunte Culpepper rather than Drew Brees. Stop Kannel family.)

As for the diction, well, maybe not, but in this day and age, the 'ah shucks-isms' left the building with Bobby Bowden. There's too much CEO-ing to be done and we believe that.  

From Jules

Board games: if I only had a dollar for the number of games of CandyLand I've played since my four-year old found out about it. And I try to let her win but it's hard with that game, I've even considered stacking the card deck. Thoughts on letting your toddlers win to avoid the scene if they don't?

Jules —

We have set a number of decks at the end of a long family game night of CandyLand. Or any other board games in question.

We're not 100 percent proud of the decision to let a tired child win to avoid the fit, but sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. Especially when we are talking about toddlers.

Now, when they get older, that's not an option. But do the lessons of winning and losing really come before the age of 4 and hinge on whether someone gets Double-Orange, the Cinnamon Role or has to go all they way back to the Candy Cane.

From Steve

The Andy Griffith Show was aces with Barney, but not so much without Barney, but did you like the show better with Goober, or Gomer? I'd go with Goober. I'd also go with the black and white versions as opposed to the latter colored versions. Just me though. 

Since you mentioned NFL teams tanking, it reminds me of an interesting convo with a fellow UT fan while standing in line to vote yesterday. He had a theory that initially i laughed at, but later, had me saying "Hmmm." He has a theory that UT Coach Pruitt is playing younger, less experienced, maybe even less talented players this season on purpose, considering year one a "throw away" year. His argument was that Coach doesn't really want to do "real good" this season because he knows that we have to recruit better talent, and he wants to be able to sell immediate playing time to the top recruits. This conversation went on for the 15 minutes or so, and he presented some decent evidence. Players that last year and year before we thought were talented, but haven't seen the field under Pruitt. I still believe that Pruitt and his staff have put out there who they feel the best 11 on each side is, BUT, i also believe that if 2 players are equal, for a new coach, it would serve best to play the younger of the two, with focus on building for years three and four. I think there is a smidge of validity to his argument, I mean, Butch had consistently good recruiting classes, could he have missed on all of those guys? Is our problem there is no talent, or there has been no development of talent, and for a 4 or 5 star guy, how much "development" does there have to be? Anyway, we know that "tanking" happens in all sports that have drafts, is there a form of "tanking" in NCAA football? Second to that, which is a better recruiting tool, Opportunity for immediate championships, or immediate playing time?

Steve —

Excellent questions.

First, for the group: Other than Barney and Andy, who makes the Rushmore of Mayberry. Discuss.

We'd go Gomer for the simple reason of the "Citizen's Arrest" episode. A classic.

We believe new college coaches crave culture. They crave recruits. They crave getting their with their guys.

Can that come across as tanking at times? Maybe, but we do not think it's the same thing, because real tanking secures a hard and fast and tangible benefit.

College losses only give you the recruiting pitch of playing time, but that is also countered by the anti-pitch from your rivals of going to a losing program.

And we are in a time in college sports — especially in basketball — that the recruits as watching the NBA super teams and banding together to go to the super power programs. Saban is getting five-stars to come and wait and play special teams.

That's unheard of.

The most interesting wrinkle of your friend's theory is the slow roll of not wanting to win too much in year one.

That's intriguing, but it seemed to work out so far for Gus Malzahn, don't you think? (Could he be better? Yes. Should they be better? Yes. But still.)

And there's no debating the axiom in college football of, "If you're going to lose, lose young."

Enjoy the weekend friends.

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