Reminder, we're still accepting e-mails for our Friday mailbag. We got the submissions yesterday, including the side note from SteelerFan. (Tough break about the big game guy.) SteelerFan sent in an item about the baseball game attended by Ferris Bueller, Sloan and Cameron in the 1980s teen classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." The movie was filmed in Chicago, of course, but SteelerFan asked who was in the game. The 5-at-10 saw the movie in the theater and knew who the opponent was, but the rest of the answer had to be researched.
Here we go (with more on Steeler Fan's trivia at the bottom)...
Pearl's of wisdom
Bruce Pearl's return to the SEC was met with a rude ending in Rupp Arena. The Kentucky Wildcats played well; Pearl's UT Vols played well in spurts.
The 5-at-10 watched the entire game (who says we don't do research), and two things were troubling - two things other than announcer Jimmy Dykes' constantly referring to a nail on the floor at the foul line that is.
First, the Vols got outhustled. Maybe you can blame that on the huge home-court energy that Rupp provides, but still. This was a nationally televised game, with your coach returning from an eight-game SEC suspension, after all. But UK out-worked the Vols, especially inside, and UT's frontcourt makes Josh Harrellson look like Mel Turpin for crying outloud.
Second, UT continues to search for an offensive identity, and these Vols will always struggle when Tobias Harris is that much of a non-factor.
What's more puzzling, was a second-half possession coming out of a timeout that led to a Harris lay-up. The 5-at-10 knows you're asking, "A lay-up, what's puzzling about that?" Well, glad you asked. It was obviously a set play that obviously led to exactly what the Vols wanted - Dykes described in perfectly after listening in on the UT huddle during the break.
The puzzling part was, why was that the only time the Vols used it? Seriously.
College hoops update, Vol. 3, Chapter 3
The bubble pressure is starting to.... bubble. Thank you, and remember to tip your waitress.
Anyhoo, several teams are walking a dangerous high-wire act as we approach the final month of the season, including the UT Vols, who fell to 15-9 with last night's loss.
As friends of the show at SportTalk noted on Tuesday, the Vols have to find a way to get to 18 wins in the regular season. Dr. B (he's a doctor, after all) believes these Vols will get there, but they have, Have, HAVE to get to 18 before the SEC tournament. That has to be the baseline, whether they have wins over the Pitt Panthers, Villanova Wildcats, Harlem Globetrotters or L.A. Lakers on their resume.
Georgia also is in bubble range after a home loss to Xavier on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are 16-7 and do not have the resume the Vols do. The next month in the SEC will be interesting.
Tonight's big game has to be UNC at Duke (9 p.m., ESPN). Sure each team is in but this game is college hoops' version of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry in football. And recruiting. Let's just move along.
Titans staff changes
Maybe we oversold new Titans coach Mike Munchak's loyalty after all.
One day into his new regime, Munchak fires his former boss, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.
"We struggled last year to stay on the field as an offense," Munchak said. "I'm stating the obvious. But we need to find a way - whatever that offense is, whatever that system is - we have to make first downs and stay out there."
First, the 5-at-10 believes time of possession is an overrated stat. Does it help? Sure. But would you rather have a 10-minutes, 14-play drive that ends in field goal or return a kickoff for a touchdown. Holding the ball and moving the ball are not the same as scoring the ball.
Second, if Munchak views last year's offense as a failure - and he should - how does this make sense. So the O-Line coach gets promoted for a bad offense and the offensive coordinator gets canned. Then isn't that an indictment on Munchak's work and the Titans entire offensive fraternity too, and (Cue the "Animal House" music), "if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg: isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but I for one am not going to stand here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!
God bless you and the United States of America. Even you Christina Aguilera, you Anthem-basher you.
The man holds all the Cards
Albert Pujols is entering his final year under contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols has set a deadline of Feb. 16 to get an extension done. Pujols has said he will veto any trade offers.
Now, it's the Cardinals move.
Quick background here: Baseball players are paid huge sums of money - the average salary is around $3 million per. Pujols is far from average. He's a three-time NL MVP who is one of four players in history to have a .330 average, a .600 slugging percentage, 400 homers and 1,200 RBIs. The other three are names you may have heard of: Lou Gerhig, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
Pujols is expecting something along the lines of the 10-year, $275 million deal Alex Rodriguez signed in 2007. If anyone deserves that amount of coin, it's certainly Pujols.
But the Cards have to decide which is more expensive: spending a quarter of a billion dollars on a first baseman who will be 41 when the deal is up or the PR backlash if they let the club's biggest star since Stan "the Man" Musial walk.
Clearing the path for Crowell
Georgia Bulldogs leading rusher Washaun Ealey has been suspended indefinitely by coach Mark Richt. You know this.
Second-string Bulldogs running back Caleb King has been in and out of RIcht's doghouse for off-the-field and academic issues. You know this, too.
There appears to be trouble in the running back air in Athens, but there is help on the way. It was not lost on the 5-at-10 that our UGA ace David Paschall ended his story in today's TFP with this clear and powerful sentiment:
"A week ago, Georgia signed tailback Isaiah Crowell out of Carver High in Columbus. Crowell was rated by ESPN.com as the No. 1 tailback nationally."
There may be better recruits and better players, but is any freshman entering next season with bigger expectations of production than Crowell? The 5-at-10 will examine this more on Thursday, but remember last year's top two ranked running backs - Auburn's Mike Dyer and South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore - each topped 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman.
Figures to be an interesting offseason, huh?
Before we go, here's a little more on the Steeler Fan trivia: Ferris and the gang watched the Cubs play the Braves, that part the 5-at-10 remembered. The other tidbits can be found here http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12877 including this golden breakdown.
"Ferris Bueller and his pals were at the June 5, 1985, tilt between the Cubs and the Braves. The foul ball that Ferris caught was hit by Atlanta rightfielder Claudell Washington (#15) in the top of the 11th inning. The game was tied at two (not scoreless, like the pizza guy claimed) and backup second-baseman Paul Zuvella (#18) was being held on first by Leon Durham (#10) after a leadoff single (the fourth hit of the game, and Atlanta's first hit since the fifth). Washington would end his at-bat with a flyball to leftfielder Davey Lopes. The next batter, Rafael Ramirez, would wind up hitting a two-run home run and the Braves would go on to win 4-2. The movie, however, cut away before that happened..."
And remember kids, anytime we can reference Bruce Pearl, Mike Heimerdinger, Claudell Washington, Raffy Ramirez and Leon "The Bull" Durham, it has to be considered a strong 5-at-10. Right?