10 years... and then some
Wow, 10 years. A decade. Today, well kinda.
The 5-at-10 is 10. My daughter turned 10 in May, and as the Mrs. 5-at-10 rightly noted, this little side-line to keep my job interesting has become a part of our family's Monday-through-Friday existence.
Where do I begin?
The genesis of this whole thing was two-fold. This paper was trying to find more ways to engage online, and as the Sports Editor on Oct. 29, 2010, I found my job being way more managerial. From payroll to time cards to schedules to reading other people's copy, my job was morphing into sports department traffic cop as much as anything else. So it goes, and so it went.
Well, I got in this business to write, and getting paid like a writer but pushing papers and doing employee evals was mind-numbing.
So the Five-at-10 was born. (Side note: Yes, it's original name was the spelled out Five because, hey, back then I was an editor and I also wrote about 97 percent fewer words so in addition to there being next to no comments in the early days there were also next to no errors. Wow, how have times changed?)
(Side note on the side note: Speaking of errors, and I am downright embarrassed this is the case, but the 10th anniversary was actually Sunday, Oct. 25. The first edition was not saved in the system because the editors at the time did not think it would take off.)
(Side note on the side note on the side note: Since then, we have had multiple newsroom editors before the bosses wisely handed the reigns to Alison Gerber, and through it all, the 5-at-10 has kept chugging along.)
So as we pause to celebrate 10 years of this journey, I am sorta lost for the right words — cue Spy, "You've never been lost for words" before — this morning.
I will start here — Thank you.
To the casual readers, be it your first day or your 10th year, because I understand more and more as I get older that nothing is more valuable than time, and that you are at the very least willing and hopefully excited to spend a few minutes around these parts on a regular basis means you are giving me your most valuable commodity.
To the regulars, I do not know where to start. I am certain you feel like you know me because I have forever vowed to be open on this forum. But please know that is a two-way street that goes beyond your favorite college team and whether you like or dislike Trump. And gang — the team big is too crowded to start rattling off names because for Pete Brady's Sake the last thing I want to do is leave someone out (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia) — please forever know this: Without you guys and gals and the back-and-forth and the interaction, I would have ended this many moons ago.
And to my family, who have become characters in this craziness. (And the random support and kindness from you guys — be it my kids and sports or the Mrs. photos or what have you — has been awesome in it's awesomeness.) Still, the family has been most accommodating throughout, because this is about to blow your hair back.
Today is the 2,604th consecutive weekday since the first rendition of this puppy. Every single one.
That's right, whether it was Christmas or the 10 Thanksgiving Thursdays. Be from a hospital room with a family member or from the Panhandle, Big Sky Country or before the crew got up in Maui or before the day (and the drinking) started somewhere south around Lake Martin, Alabama.
It's been overwhelming in a lot of ways to think about this. And maybe it's simply perfect — and 100 percent 2020 — that we're pausing to celebrate on the 10th anniversary (plus 4 days). The contests. The arguments. The controversies. The expansion into being part of the radio show. There's a lot that has happened in those 10 years, it's mind blowing to really think about it.
Gang, this is not a fishing line for compliments. It's simply a thank you for whatever role you may play in these daily gatherings because the 5-at-10 has become a thing now.
And that's every bit as much because of you cats as anything we do here at the paper.
Fab 4 truly needs a Fab showing
Yes, we have to rally, and we have been behind the 8-ball of 50/50 all season. Every step forward is met with an equally big step back.
And some of it is the unknown of Corona, especially in the college games. Some of it is the lack of dress rehearsals that are the nonconference games. Some of it is being on the right side and bad things happen.
That's not hindsight being 20/20; that's 2020 being 2020. Take the Rice minus-2.5 pick last week as the Owls lost in double overtime by three. But it got to the extra frames when Rice missed a field goal that hit the right upright, then the crossbar, then the left upright, then the crossbar again before falling harmlessly into the end zone.
Perfectly imperfect, which is so 2020.
So, throw the book out the window, and adjust to the season that no one imagined and the season no one wants to replicate. Let's rework some trends and find some themes, shall we?
I think we shall.
Trends that I believe.
> Iowa has major problems, gang, and Northwestern is way better than the Northwestern of a year ago. What do you get there? You get a Hawkeyes bunch under-motivated and a Wildcats crew that is going to overachieve. Northwestern wins out right.
> Georgia had an unforced extra week to hear about how bad it stunk against the best team in the sport before Jaylen Waddle got hurt. Kentucky's offense is broken and will turn to a run-first QB against a Georgia defense that is a) legit (healthy Bama has out 35 on more on the board the last 18 games) and b) ticked after hearing about Bama for two weeks. I think the UK side total (total points UK will score) is also an interesting bet but 13.5 is a great number. Georgia gets well and rolls beyond the 13-point line.
> I believe Kansas has quit. Period. End of conversation. I believe Iowa State is the opposite of that. So while I'm not going to lay a monster four-TD-or-more line with the four-TD-or-more machines that are Bama and Clemson, I am more than happy to do it with Iowa State, and that's as much an indictment against the Jayhawks as it is a belief in the Cyclones.
> Another four-TD favorite I will believe in is BYU. Why? Well, first, they are going to need style points all year. They are very good and will roll a lot of teams, but to get the attention of the college football elite and the playoff decision makers, BYU 27, Western Kentucky 10 simply will not do. BYU 59, Western Kentucky 13, though gets the point across. And gets us to the pay window.
> Not to get too deep into the gambling weeds, but a first-half total is just like the game over/under. And not to get too much into the depths of which we study this, Alabama has been a first-half juggernaut in its offensive renaissance under Steve Sarkisian. I, like college football guru and excellent Press Row cohost David Paschall predicted in his excellent and always entertaining picks column, think Alabama covers, but the 31-point line scares me for the following reasons. First, Alabama's back-ups have not scored a TD all season. Second, I believe, after the Jaylen Waddle injury, Alabama's back-ups will see time much earlier than normal. That said, I am riding on Alabama to get five TDs in the first half by itself, and when the over/under for the first two quarters is 34.5, well, that's all you need to know.
> I am in on teams who have had a hugely disappointing loss being overly motivated the next week. I am also in on traditionally average teams that had a huge win the previous week not handling it well. The former scenario is in the Georgia pick. The latter scenario tells me to take Rutgers and the 11 at home against an Indiana team that shocked Penn State last week. (This kind of logic also points me to Michigan State and the huge number over Michigan too, but I am a little afraid that Coach Khaki may have a scary offense and a legit dual-threat QB.)
> And one more, so yeah, so let's go old school and turn the Fab 4 into a Super 7. Or maybe a Stinky Seven. Hey, we'll know Monday, right Kevin Cash? Minnesota is ticked and ol' boat rower PJ Fleck will have the Gophers jacked. (Rushmore of gophers starts with the Caddyshack critter, goes to Dave Winfield, the former Minnesota star that was drafted in four different leagues across three sports, Gopher from Love Boat and the Gopher Hole Museum in Alberta, Canada. Hey, how bout a Molson? Lay the 20 friends. Truly. Maryland STEE-inks.
> Heck why not one more, and double the fun of the Fab 4 into the Elite 8. Or the Icky 8. Yeah, we'll know Monday. 'Any well, I think Jeff Brohm is good at this college football coaching thing. I do. And yes, last week he was not on the sideline as Purdue exploited in-fighting Iowa, but this week comes a visit from Illinois, which may be the worst team in the Big Ten not named Maryland, which is a shame because we all know that Maryland a) should be better and b) should be in the ACC.
(Side question: Which college football program SHOULD be a lot better than it is? And considering the last decade, Nebraska and Tennessee have to be in that conversation right?)
Last week: 2-4 against the spread (33 percent, and certainly not entertaining)
This season 17-19 (47.2 percent, and certainly not entertaining)
Speaking of Nebraska and Tennessee
There is more than a little bit of moving and shaking behind the scenes right now in Lincoln, downtown Chattanooga and in the Big Ten office.
That's right, more than a few folks have told me there have been whispers and discussions and efforts made to get the 0-1 Mocs into the Cornhuskers State this weekend for a football game against the 0-1 Cornhuskers.
Yes, the ultimate say will come from the Big Ten main office, and that's certainly a coin flip considering it's recent tensions with the Nebraska program and coach Scott Frost.
Remember, when Nebraska climbed on its "Yeah, we're ready to play even if the Big Ten calls the season" all the way back in August? Yeah, we bet the Big Ten bigwigs do too, and those said Big Ten bigwigs surely are not super thrilled to do Frost and the Huskers a solid.
But on the other hand is the very real realization of the big picture possibilities here.
The Big Ten in a lot of ways has painted its league into a corner. There's the late start. There is a nine-week schedule with no wiggle room or bye weeks. There is the 21-day mandate that positive Corona tests equal three weeks on the sideline. (Yeah, here's betting they find some wiggle room on that last one.)
But we all know the reason the Big Ten relented was TV money, and potential college football playoff money. Period. Not for the kids or the traditions or just about anything else.
And while the Big Ten bigwigs may loathe Frost and Nebraska's leadership, if THE Ohio State or Michigan is rolling but a couple of Corona outbreaks happen and games get called down the road, then this would allow the Big Ten a way out to make sure the Big Ten big boys with a shot at real college football playoff spots — and the huge coin that comes with it — can reschedule a game here or there.
And for UTC, well, it's a no brainer, because a) you get another game, b) you will get unparalleled exposure for the next five days for a program this size — and a whole extra round of the great Rusty Wright Tweet about playing anybody, and c) whatever Nebraska could pay, the Mocs athletic department certainly would welcome it.
Here's hoping it happens.
This and that
— How about this stat that Clayton Kershaw wiped off his résumé with Tuesday's win. Before this week he was one of 10 pitchers with three or more Cy Youngs and the only one without a title; he was one of 10 pitchers to lead the league four or more times and the only one without a title; he was one of 10 pitchers to win an MVP since 1961, and wait for it the only one without a title. Kershaw was the best player without a title since Ted Williams. And that changed Tuesday.
— One more baseball stat, and this one plays into the gambling stuff too. Did you know that the Dodgers were favored in every game. No, not every World Series game, not even every playoff game. They were favored in every game.
— You know the rules. We linked Paschall's picks column above. Here is his report on UT's work in the bye week. Good times.
— Rest in Peace Billy Joe Shaver. As a good friend of mine sent along this morning, "He lived what he wrote. He wrote what he lived." May we all have that kind of honesty in our lives.
We asked it earlier and we want the feedback.
Which college football program SHOULD be better than it is? And why?
And on this special anniversary (everyone should celebrate 10 years, 4 days, right? Can I get a 10-4 good buddy) feel free to sound off about the 5-at-10 in all directions, good, bad or suggestions for improvements.
As for today, Oct. 29, let's review.
Black Tuesday was this day and the stock market crashed in 1929.
On this day in 1960, Cassius Clay made his professional boxing debut.
Rushmore of all-time boxing. Go and remember the mailbag.
And truly gang.
Thanks for a great decade. (And four days.)