Monday, September 27, 2010

SEC Week 4 Takeaways

Last weekend was huge. It really set the paths for most teams in the SEC. Some have to hope others lose (Arkansas, South Carolina), some just need to maintain (Alabama, Auburn), and some are just lost (Georgia).

Alabama & Arkansas: Alabama continues to be bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else. What we also saw this weekend was that they were more mentally tough. Go back and watch that game closely, and you'll see early in the fourth quarter many Arkansas players (offense and defense) started with some trash talk.

While I am not anti-trash talking, I feel that there are times it can show weakness. Or at least an insecurity. When I saw this happening Saturday, I thought, "this is a nervous football team." And sure enough, fourth quarter mistakes did Arkansas in.

Throughout all the on-field talk, Alabama maintained confidence and poise. I'm not saying they didn't say anything back, but at no point Saturday did I think Alabama was going to lose the game. When they made their plays to win the game, I was not surprised.

Arkansas, I believe, has come a long way under Bobby Petrino, and if he can find someone close to Ryan Mallett to follow up in the year's to come, they will be contender for the West title.

As I wasn't surprised when Alabama made their winning plays, neither was Alabama. Saban's "finish" concept has taken a complete hold over this program, and the players expect to make the plays as well.

Auburn: Cam Newton continues to play Heisman-level football. He's got stiff competition with Denard Robinson, Terrelle Pryor, Kellen Moore, and - maybe - Mark Ingram.

But aside from Robinson, I'm not sure if one guy is carrying his team any more than Newton is for Auburn. Some question if he can make it through the SEC season without being injured, but if you watch closely, I'm not sure how many hits he really is taking. Because he's living on a two-way street, as he delivers quite a few hits himself.

And Maisel is right on. Auburn could be very dangerous in the very near future.

LSU: Yes, that was a Jarrett Lee sighting Saturday night. Jordan Jefferson has been flat out terrible. He hasn't thrown for 100 yards since the opener, and only hit 45% of passes Saturday.

Complicating matters is that I can't figure out if Les Miles either overthinks or underthinks in situations like this. Despite the troubles, they've been winning (in the truest Les Miles' fashion), and as of now, Les isn't going to rock the boat. We'll see how long that lasts, because Florida and Auburn are right around the corner.

And it's tricky. If you make the change while you aren't losing, it's quite a risk, because if LSU goes down - that's the easiest item to point at. And a fan base that, let's face it, has been uneasy at best in terms of confidence in their head coach, would have another piece of ammunition to call for his ouster.

Ole Miss: Congrats on the win, Houston. Now you need to beat Kentucky, because it gets real tough after that. I'm not sure if you're on 'hot seat' status, but someone's got to be on it in the SEC, and Mark Richt may not be around next year to take it for you.

But there's not much to learn about this Ole Miss team that is worth holding on to, because the season's shot, and the team without Masoli will be different next season.

Mississippi State and Georgia: Big win for Dan Mullen. Along with last year's Egg Bowl win, a victory over the bigger Bulldogs gets him a great second 'signature' victory.

It's at least disguised as a 'signature' win for Mullen, as it was against a Georgia team that can't get it's starting wide receiver or starting running back on the field at the same time, and with a fan base that is barking for changes louder and louder each week.

Even with the bad luck with AJ Green, it's a real bad spot for Mark Richt. He's already gotten rid of the defensive staff, and while the same change on the offensive side may quell some of the talk, that only seems to be delaying the inevitable. In science, if one variable remains constant while all the others change, but the outcome remains the same, then you should probably change that one variable. That variable: Mark Richt.

Unless Georgia fans are content with being anywhere from the second to fourth best team in the East every year, it may be time to cut the cord.

And Mississippi State is ahead of (2-2) where I thought (1-3) they'd be through four weeks, they're in danger of picking up 8 wins this year. Quite a coup for Dan Mullen while Houston Nutt and the school up north are floundering.

Florida: Florida is Florida, and they have played very well in the second halves of games. But what concerns me about the Gators is that they are 90th in passing, 48th in rushing, and they've played less-than-stellar teams thus far.

Are they hiding something? Maybe, because they'll need to bring more to the table for this weekend's game in Tuscaloosa.

South Carolina: Where to start?

I didn't agree with bringing Connor Shaw in that game, despite my love affair for Steve Spurrier. Maybe things were getting too good for South Carolina, and Steve wanted to mix it up. If he wanted a controversy or if he wanted headlines, he got them.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling this will be a turning point for South Carolina, and it's one for the worse.

Kentucky: Blah. Nice effort against Florida.

Vanderbilt: Didn't play, but I wouldn't have watched anyway.

Tennessee: Thank god they won that game. But isn't carrying a receiver off the field to celebrate a win over a CUSA team that was picked to finish last in the conference? A bit much, I say.

But Tennessee did escape, and I believe that does say something for the team. Dooley knows that this team is not very talented, and perhaps they can grow from these tough games, maybe appreciate-every-win kind of stuff.

They're going to LSU this weekend, and while I think LSU wins that game, the Tigers are on some thin ice with their QB. Maybe an opportunity for Derek Dooley to make a splash?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

9/26 NFL Locks Are In

Tracked down the locks for today's NFL. Let's get some of that cash back from yesterday.

Kansas City +3
Jacksonville +2
NY Jets +1

Good luck.

Saturday's Gambling Recap

Tough one yesterday. If I have it correct, my picks went 1-4. The most disappointing items:

1) South Carolina +3', at Auburn. Not one of my posted plays, but one I made anyway. I don't understand why Connor Shaw was put into that game. And after reading his article, I don't think Parrish does, either. What's even more disappointing is that if Alshon Jeffery had made the tough catch (or if Shaw had thrown to his back shoulder, more likely), we could of gotten the South Carolina cover at 3'.

2) Tennessee -14, vs UAB. Tennessee was embarrassing Saturday. Overtime against a team that was picked to finish last in CUSA? If you were there, and you booed, good for you.

3) Boise State -17', vs Oregon State. Close, but Boise was supposed to use this national TV opportunity to pick up some major style points, and they didn't do it. I saw them let a mediocre Pac-10 team hang around for way too long.

4) Oregon -13, at Arizona State. Arizona State is not good, and Oregon had been scoring a point a minute so far this year. They should of easily handled ASU by at least two touchdowns.

5) Alabama -7', at Arkansas. Yep, I was disappointed here too. Although the stats don't totally favor this position, I believe Alabama throws the ball on first down WAY too much. Apparently the coaching staff has something against 2nd and 5, because the odds are that if you give the ball to Ingram or Richardson, you'll probably get 5 yards. But they'd much rather enjoy the possibility of 2nd and 10, I guess. I had this beef with Alabama last year, too, and it worked out okay. But it didn't help my pocketbook yesterday.

The only shining moment from yesterday: I took my posted plays yesterday and put them in a 5-team moneyline parlay. Paid out just over two-to-one. And it kept Saturday from being a total disaster.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tracked Down the Locks for 9/25

Got in touch with my man, and ever the contrarian, we go head to head on a few games today. But, that's the way it goes. And with the line movements, maybe we'll both get a win.

Here they are:

Georgia Tech -7'
Boston College +4
Arkansas +7
Auburn -3
Cal +6'

Good luck.

9/25 College Football Plays

10-5 so far this year on college football, and that is with two HORRENDOUSLY bad beats last weekend (USC & Auburn/Clemson over).

But we can't live in the past. We're up on the season after all, and all we can do is look forward, and keep winning.

So don't worry about the bad karma. Only focus on the positive. (Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.)

On to your winners for the day. Of course, I'll be tracking down my man for his locks, and they'll be posted in a bit.

Virginia Tech -5'
Tennessee -14
Alabama -7'
Boise State -17'
Oregon -13

*I understand there is a lot of movement with these lines this week, but these are what they had when I placed them this morning. If available, always buy half-points.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Invisible Hand Should Guide Troubled Universities, Not the NCAA.

I was listening to Colin Cowherd this morning, who, I believe, was commenting on this article about the University of Florida's 'problem' with the number of football players who have been arrested over the past four years. According to the Orlando Sentinel, there have been 31 off-field arrests with 25 different players since summer 2005.

The article references Bryant Gumbel on HBO's Real Sports:
"driving drunk, robbing a convenience store, and hitting your girlfriend are all worse offenses than dealing with an agent..."
Bryant's got a point, but when it comes to the NCAA's responsibility - of which I have had my disputes - I don't think the disciplining of schools with law enforcement issues should be under the NCAA's umbrella.

It should be up to the school itself.
"At the end of the day, here's the question: How much crime will you tolerate from students who are on scholarship? If you have the privilege to come to this school for free when everybody else has to pay, how many of these guys is too many when it comes to crime? Is it one? Is it 10? Is it 20?"
- Jeff Benedict, an English professor at Southern Virginia University
I'm a free market kind of guy. Let these schools make their strategic decisions, and we'll see how it plays out.

Just like how some schools don't accept students with ACT scores lower than 24, and others who will accept anyone with a 16 and their check clears, I believe it's up to the school administration to determine the public relations balance they wish to have.

And that's why degrees from Columbia and Vanderbilt mean more than degrees from Arizona State or Western Kentucky? (Think about it. If you were hiring, Columbia or Arizona State? Thought so.)

That's the question that Universities need to find where they, as an institution need to find their footing. Is it okay to win with less-than-stellar people

Would a team/administration ever embrace an 'outlaw' persona? I say yes, as long as they are winning. It's happened before. Back in the late 90s and earlier this past decade, "Criminoles" was a pretty common term for Bobby Bowden's crew down in Tallahassee. Do you remember the "International Rules" for Sebastian Janikowski? That was also the same year Peter Warrick scored two touchdowns in the national title game (when previously in the season he has a little problem with Dillard's).

And remember, people didn't care back then. At least FSU fans didn't. It's fine to point fingers and call other programs dirty, but when it's your team (and you are winning) it's no problem.

That's where we sit with Florida. Florida's won two national titles since Urban Meyer's been the coach. As long as he's competing for and winning SEC and national titles, those in the Florida administration are going to let all the arrests slide.

But once (or if) the on-field results go sour, then it's a much quicker trigger.

However, I don't believe it's up to the NCAA to decide whether or not an institution should allow those who are outside the law to participate in collegiate athletics.

At some point, the colleges themselves have to decide their own standards, just like they do with ACT scores. If the player wants to break the law, then it's okay to play at Florida. And as long as Florida officials are okay with being identified as a 'troubled' university, then it's no problem.

Let the free market play out. Because one of these days, the 'troubled' programs won't be able to get everyone out of the clink in time for Saturday's kickoff. And when that school starts to lose because of this, they'll right themselves.

It's the free market, baby. Laissez Faire.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Please, Pac-12. Keep it Simple.

According to the reports, the PAC-10 will become the PAC-12 after this school year, with Colorado and Utah jumping in. The conference is now looking at how the schools will be divided up.

The Pac-10 athletic directors will meet Oct. 6-7 in San Francisco and the presidents and chancellors will convene there on Oct. 21. Splitting the divisions will also be discussed. A "zipper concept" is an option, dividing natural rivals into opposite divisions.

Another concept to be raised is splitting the northern and southern schools but using three scheduling "pods" of four teams to provide a rotating schedule that would allow northern teams to play in California regularly. Under that scenario, each team would not be guaranteed to face each divisional opponent each season.
My advice: Don't overcomplicate the matter.

That's what happened with the Big Ten...
As you may recall, the TBD conference divisions:
Division A - Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Division B - Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

Maybe more Ohio St/Michigan
wouldn't be so bad after all...

The folks in charge of the new Big Ten, wanted two things: 1) Ohio State and Michigan in the championship game, and 2) Michigan and Ohio State to continue to play during Thanksgiving week.

To play in the championship game, teams of course have to be in separate divisions.

Unfortunately, those two items work against each other, as you know, that sets up the possibility of a Michigan and Ohio State matchup two weeks in a row. This is incredibly troublesome, especially if there is a national title bid on the line. If they split the wins, what does that do for us?

It either creates a whole lot of confusion over who really is the Big Ten champ, or whether or not the Big Ten lost out on a national title shot because their two best teams played each other two weeks in a row (assuming that Michigan and Ohio State are the conference's top two teams).

What if they split the wins, and one still makes the title game? Doesn't that go against the grain of almost every football season? Late-season losses count more. It is possible to lose in September or October, make up ground, and still play for the championship, but not November.

That's why I don't like how they split those two and left them with their final-week game. That's dumb. (By the way, the Big Ten has also done this with Illinois and Minnesota, but they aren't as much fun to talk about.)

Good conferences don't do this. Good conferences like... the SEC, of course.

I understand that I am an SEC guy, and I believe that Mike Slive can do no wrong. But that doesn't discredit me from saying that his system works. (Five national titles since 2000, with a current streak of four.)

And you never, ever end up with two teams playing each other back-to-back. Because the SEC is smart in how they set up their schedules. Year after year, the SEC schools arrange their schedules so that they end each season with a heavy dose of intradivision or natural rival games.

The late-year combinations...
Alabama: LSU, Miss. St., Auburn
Arkansas: Miss. St., LSU
Auburn: Ole Miss, Georgia, Alabama
Miss. St.: Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss
Ole Miss: LSU, Miss. St.
LSU: Ole Miss, Arkansas
Georgia: Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Tech
South Carolina: Florida, Clemson
Tennessee: Vandy, Kentucky
Florida: Vandy, South Carolina, Florida State
Vanderbilt: Kentucky, Tennessee
Kentucky: Georgia, Vandy, Tennessee

That was compiled after looking at the schedules of all SEC teams over the past four years. Only in one instance are interdivisional games close to the end of the year, and that's Georgia & Auburn. (And sometimes they play with two weeks still remaining.)

But under no situation have they played an interdivision game on the last weekend of the season. Why? So that they don't run the risk of those teams playing back to back. Also, it helps create drama, especially if both teams are still in the hunt for a shot at the conference title game.

If it is already decided that Ohio State and Michigan are going to be in the Big Ten title game, then what is the point of the first game? Are both teams going to "show" everything they have? Will they play everyone like it is a game they HAVE to win?

The questions could continue on forever.

This is what the Pac-12 needs to avoid. Don't follow in the footsteps of the Big Ten. Follow the much more precise (and simple) footsteps of the SEC.

What's nice about the Pac-10 is that they have pretty clearly defined natural rivals:

Oregon/Oregon State
Washington/Washington State
Arizona/Arizona State

Toss in Utah/Colorado, and it all shapes up nicely.

So, all of these rivals need to be in the same division. And because of geography, I recommend the following to be locked in:

Division A: UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State
Division B: Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State

That leaves the combos of Stanford/Cal and Utah/Colorado. Either could fit in either division. Utah and Arizona share a border (and Colorado is a jump across the Four Corners). But Utah and Colorado would easily fit in with the northwestern schools as well, due to climate, and Colorado especially with culture.

Cal and Stanford are in California, so that naturally makes them a good fit for USC/UCLA, but they also could make it up and down the I-5 pretty easily for the northwestern schools.

And when, in the report above, they refer to the 'pods' and 'playing in California more often' this obviously means Los Angeles. The good news for the Pac-12 is that they have TWO teams in Los Angeles.

And, if they followed the scheduling model of the SEC, with their one permanent intervdivisional and two rotating opponents, half of the northern/intervdisional schools would be playing in Los Angeles every year. (It works, trust me. Get out a sheet of paper - you'll see.) Or if you want to go with nine conference games - even better. Lock in two, and float two. Whatever.

But don't overcomplicate the matter, Pac-12. NO "ZIG-ZAG". Sometimes one division is going to be better than the other and not everyone is going to get to play in LA every year. Those are the breaks.

Piece the conference divisions together with the option of Utah/Colorado going north or south. Doesn't matter. And then schedule like the SEC with intradivisional games dominating the end of the year.

It's not rocket science, it's football.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It Starts Early in Alabama

I'm sure I'm not the first to have this up (or anywhere close to it), but it seems that Drew has pledged his collegiate allegiances.

Problem is, I've seen grown men act in almost the same manner.

And I can't tell if these folks are playing a joke or what, but the little girl is cute, so here it is:

RIP: The Hoff

America failed us yet again last night, opting to send David Hasselhoff home instead of Margaret Cho.

I just can't imaging anyone phoning in a vote for Margaret. She hasn't been funny in years, and isn't even disaster-interesting. At least with the Hoff, there's a chance he'll do or say something ridiculous, so I could see why people would phone in for him.

Well, take your cocktail today and give the master of the green screen a toast.

Here's to the Hoff.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Breaking Down "Dancing With the Stars"

Because of my curiosity with The Situation and David Hasselhoff, in addition to my, well, interest in Audrina Patridge, I am giving Dancing With the Stars a go this year. We'll see if it holds up.

I have been watching with a good bit of irregularity over the past few years. I know that Emmitt Smith won a few years ago, and that both Jerry Rice and Ochocinco have done well. But, I'm in no way have I been a consistent viewer.

Anyways, my thoughts and reactions:

1) First and foremost, Brooke Burke maintains her status as a perennial hottie. I recall watching her on E!'s Wild On! as a kid, and thinking that I was getting away with something wrong. (As soon as I would hear mom or dad walking in, I'd turn the channel.)

Which makes me wonder about whatever happened to Art Mann, Brooke's co-host on Wild On! Dude has the greatest job in the world, and disappears. Apparently - after a Google search - he's hosting a show on Mark Cuban's network. Can't say I've seen it. But, I guess it's better to have once been on the top, than not at all. The next time you're at the beach, poor one out for Art Mann.

2) Tom Bergeron is really in his element on this show, isn't he? Makes hosting a show look like a walk in the park. Hollywood Squares, America's Funniest Home Videos (yep, that show's still on) - doesn't matter. Dude is a pro.

3) Audrina met all of my expectations for the night. Hot and hot. I don't know what she danced, and didnt' care. But the judges have something against her, and it may cost her in the end. Judges' score: An awfully low 19.

Brenda Warner
4) Remember when Kurt Warner's wife looked like a peacock and called St. Louis radio stations? She doesn't look like that anymore, and I don't know what her listening habits are currently.

What I did see on the show was a guy that isn't going to win this thing. Absolutely nothing stood out, and I had forgotten about him as soon as he was off the screen. Somebody at ABC needs to crank that bagging groceries story quick, or else Kurt's going to get the heave. Judges' score: 19.

5) Someone named Kyle Massey then appeared. He worked up a good sweat and proceeded breathed heavy. I was hoping that a judge would tell him that some cardio might not be a bad idea.

Anyone got an idea where this kid is from? I mean, without a Google search. Me neither. Judges loved this kid. Judges' score: 23.

6) I wonder how much of Rick Fox's backstory DWTS will actually bring up. You know, how he has a kid out of wedlock, how the National Enquirer caught him running around on Vanessa Williams, and how he dates a girl 11 years younger than him.

Nope, I expect sunshine on the man who is supposedly the most beautiful man to ever hit the dance floor on DWTS. Why ruin it? Right, ABC? The judges fawned. Their score: 22.

7) Margaret Cho is a disaster. I understand they are going for the "can Margaret Cho be sexy?" angle, but please - no one's buying it with that spare tire she was wearing under that kimono Monday night. (I know, I'm going to hell.)

While her performance was ridiculous (meaning there were attempts to be funny in a competition where being funny doesn't help), I couldn't help but try to think about the first time I saw Margaret Cho, and I swear it was on the old Stand-Up Spotlight show on VH1. Now, I couldn't find Margaret Cho on it, but if you'd care for a refresher, here's one:
The judges thought she was terrible as well. And we all nodded our heads. Judges' score: 15. That apparently is the minimum score.

8) I guess Brandy has managed to stay relevant, because she's on this show, and it doesn't appear to be a joke.

Remember when Brandy went to Kobe Bryant's prom? Could that have been her high point? And even more telling is the other side of that equation. You would think that Kobe Bryant could of had any girl of his choosing at Lower Merion to go the prom with him. Instead, Kobe gets a pop star that he barely knew to go with him. Vain, anyone? I guess you never recognize foreshadowing when it happens.

Brandy was blah, but she knows what she's doing. Judges' score: 23.

9) Meet Bristol Palin, your public advocate against teen pregnancy. (Nervous stares around the room.) Bristol's got a lot working against her: I believe the left would want her out of the spotlight soon as possible, so she won't be picking up any votes there. And a lot of folks on the right blame her mom for fouling up John McCain's White House bid.

But worse, she's stiff. And not necessarily on the dance floor. When asked if her life had changed since joining the cast of DWTS, Bristol replies, "Yes, it has a lot." And that was it. America loves personality, and Bristol is anti-personality. The judges decided to be nice. Judges' score: 18.

10) Mrs. Brady is 76? Holy crap. For 76, Florence is friskier than most 22 year old coeds. The judges felt like she was old too, and gave her a score of 18.

TPS Reports? Screw that.
11) Michael Bolton. I was hoping that we'd get to see the one who didn't suck, but alas. Stiff and he's in the middle of a tour, I'm sure this will be a short stint for him.

He's also not as much fun to make fun of since he cut the hair. Judges' score: 16.

12) The Situation is going to be dynamite on this show. He doesn't get through the first show without pissing off the judges. (In Sitch's defense, it didn't seem that the judges got his 'nice suit' joke at all.)

I was watching Snooki and Pauly D on Chelsea Handler's show last week, and they gave me the head's up on this - Situation can't dance. A victim of today's age of everyone just getting on the dance floor and just humping - it appears that The Situation may finally in a spot that he's not in control, and he can't drink or talk his way out of it.

And with the judges already having him on their sh-tlist, I don't see this ending well. Pauly D isn't there to jump on this grenade for you, Sitch. Judges' score: 15.

13) I really do think the Jennifer Grey story is fantastic. When I was reminded of the Patrick Swayze connection, it actually was touching. She did great, but I did find it like the judges were trying to make her cry on national television. (Hint to the judges: once you see the eyes start to well up, let the Swayze references go.) Although I'm sure it will be, I hope that they don't keep bringing it up in the effort to make Jennifer Grey ball all over the place.

And we all know what's coming at some point. "Time of My Life" and Baby will be flying across the dance floor. While I appreciate the notion, it's going to be too much cheese for me.

But why hasn't anyone brought up Charlie Sheen?
The judges loved her. And so will America. Judges' score: 24.

14) I have thought a lot of things aout David Hasselhoff over the years, but this was the first time this crossed my mind: he looks old. What's worse is that this makes me feel old.

I know he's been a joke and parody of himself over the past 15 years, but he was also Michael Knight. And when I was a kid, Michael Knight was awesome. I guess seeing the Hoff stumble around, out of shape, really takes a lot out of me. He is entertainment, but he's not a dancer.

Here's to hoping he can find a way. Judges' score: 15.

15) Predictions: Clubhouse leader has to be Jennifer Grey. She's got the story, and she can dance. Going home: Margaret Cho. Won't get any help from the phone voters, as they'll all be scrambling to save The Hoff and The Situation.

We'll see if I make it to next week.

SEC Week 3 Takeaways

What I learned about SEC football this past weekend, team by team...

Alabama: The patsies may be out of the way (apologies to San Jose State and Duke, and maybe Penn State), but Bama is looking strong. Mark Ingram is back - and I know it was against Duke - but big is big and strong is strong and fast is fast. He's all of those. And so is Trent Richardson, so is Julio Jones, and so is everyone else on this team.

Before the season, I predicted Alabama to go undefeated, with the only question game being Florida. And as so-so as Florida has been, I don't think it's a question anymore.

Arkansas: Don't give Ryan Mallett time. Ever. The problem is, if you do blitz him from all angles, he's still likely to pick you apart. Whenever Arkansas needed a big play Saturday, Petrino dialed it up and Mallett delivered.

I believe Arkansas will be dangerous this year, especially against inexperienced secondaries. The critics have stated this to be a weakness for the Crimson Tide, so we'll see if Petrino, Mallett and friends can take advantage of this next weekend in Fayetteville. I don't think they will, but maybe it'll be closer than I once thought.

Auburn: While I like Cam Newton a lot, my only beef is that I do't believe that he can beat good teams from the pocket. At least not consistently. But it may not matter, as for the first time since Cadillacs were in the Auburn backfield, the Tigers have playmakers. Almost too many of them.

I love Dyer, McCalebb, and Newton. I'd love Mario Fannin if he could find a few carries. One question is - assuming the stats at are correct - how is it that Kodi Burns has only had the ball 4 times through three games (two of those were passes)? I'm not saying he's a world-beater, but he's on the field a lot. I just figured he'd be getting more touches.

But Auburn did win a big, close game this weekend, which is always a good thing for the growth of a program and new coaching staff. I (and many others) once questioned the hire of Gene Chizik. To this point, I've been proven otherwise. Perhaps Auburn is in good hands.

LSU: What I learned here is that this upcoming weekend is when we'll actually learn anything about LSU. And we might not learn anything then. Or the next week. In fact, as it has turned out - LSU's first real tough game may not be until they play Florida on October 16th.

It's such a weird thing trying to understand LSU. I guess that's because it's just like trying to comprehend/justify crazy. This is a team that will be 5-0, likely ranked in the top 12, and they are currently 112th in passing and 32nd in rushing. How do they do it?

But whether I like it or not, Les always finds a way.

Mississippi State: While I greatly appreciate what Dan Mullen has done to this point (he was the best hire going in to the '09 season, between himself, Chizik, and Kiffin), they aren't to the point yet where they can compete for a win in Death Valley. They're better, but not by that much.

The curious factor breaks in when once Mullen gets State to that level - will Mullen have moved on to another job? Perhaps one where he could coach for victories in Death Valley all the time? If LSU ever finds themselves in a spot where they can finally rid themselves of Les Miles, don't be surprised if Dan Mullen's cell phone gets a few calls.

Ole Miss: What else can I say other than that they were terrible, and - if the SEC and NCAA would allow it - I would just forfeit the rest of the season if I were them.

I am a fan of Houston Nutt. But not because of his coaching prowess. I like characters, especially in the SEC. (That's why I like Bruce Pearl so much - a good character.) And Houston is that: a character.

But the uninspired, frustrating, confusing, fill-in-your-adjective-here game this past weekend could be a sign of the beginning of the end of the honeymoon for Houston in Oxford, MS.

Tennessee: I'll give the guys in orange some credit. After I deemed this game to be the most ambiguous UT/Florida game in my lifetime and that there was no hope in Knoxville, Tennessee came out and showed some life for three quarters of football Saturday.

What Tennessee fans can hope for now is that the NCAA slams Lane Kiffin, and not Tennessee. Hope that Bruce Pearl's transgressions stay over at Thompson-Bowling, and hope that Mike Hamilton is quickly shown the door.

Florida: I know they won in Knoxville, but I am not seeing a dominant team our of Gainesville. Brantley's "golden arm", as it has been referred to, seems to be more like a cheap knock-off.

Something's different about this year's team. And not in a good way. Maybe somebody familiar has a chance at the SEC East title.

What did we learn about them this weekend? Nothing at all, at least from watching them. But Florida's lack of dominance is telling me that the East is no longer a one horse race.

South Carolina is moving the ball well with some big receivers and the best new running back in the SEC.

But the schedule doesn't help the Gamecocks this year. They have at Auburn and host Alabama this year, and if they aren't able to either of those games, a win over Florida may still not get Spurrier back to Atlanta.

Georgia: I learned that they helped Ryan Mallett to his first big SEC road win. And, from what I've heard from my Dawg-friends, the fan base is restless. If not for Mark Richt's head, then Mike Bobo's.

Kentucky: We don't know anything about this team other than they can beat their totally depleted in-state rival. Mike Hartline is still the quarterback, and as long as that is case, they won't be a title contender. Look for Kentucky's slide to start this weekend.

Vanderbilt: I learned that when Robbie rides, he rides the "W" Train.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

9/19 NFL Locks Are In

Tracked down my boy for some NFL knowledge. He passed some my way. Let's do this:

Tampa Bay +3'
Redskins +2'
Jets +3

Looking forward to my Sunday glued in front of the RedZone channel.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ole Miss Can Pack It In

It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote a piece defending Houston Nutt's loss to Jacksonville State. The team was thrown for a major loop where they were told that their new quarterback wasn't, then was, eligible for that weekend's game. I felt like it was unfair to Ole Miss, as their game conditions and goals were altered by the NCAA's mistake, and it was a large element towards their loss that weekend.

This time, I've got no one (that's not a Rebel) to help shoulder the blame.

Ole Miss is bigger, stronger, and faster than the Vanderbilt Commodores. With that combination, you should win football games.

Instead, Ole Miss was never able to establish any kind of offensive consistency or purpose. Time and again, Jeremiah Masoli would scramble, looking for a slot or bubble screen that Vanderbilt was prepared for. And I'm sure at some point in the day Rebel fans were checking the want ads to see if they could find Dave Rader another job selling furniture.

And on the occasions that Rader, Nutt, and Masoli did put themselves in scoring position, twice were sure touchdown passes dropped by Ole Miss backs.

Ole Miss was so bad Saturday, that during a fluff sideline interview with the Dean of Students - a guy named 'Sparky' - said that Ole Miss should find a mascot that can tackle because the team needs the help.

That's embarrassing.

There's Robbie, riding the
'W' Train.
At least Robbie Caldwell, who got a Gatorade shower out of the deal, was excited...
@RobbieCaldwell: Great win today for the Dores! We are riding the "W" Train back to Nashville!
But the whole thing was a disaster for Ole Miss, start to finish. Those of us watching on television were sure to notice all the empty seats at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Now, I understand some of those sections were Vanderbilt's visitors sections, but from my television screen, I saw plenty of prime seats available between the 20 yard lines. And the end zone? A ghost town.

When you mix all of these instances into one bowl, it's an ugly smelling stew for Ole Miss.

Before the game, I had been planning on writing something for this game. I was going to take the angle of the possibilities for redemption for this Ole Miss team, and because of their struggles with Masoli early, it could be a good story to watch for the rest of the season.

Of course, I thought Ole Miss was going to WIN this game. Foolish me.

One of the items that I had ready to go for what I had planned was how in 1999, the Alabama Crimson Tide had been able to overcome an early-season loss to Louisiana Tech and rebound to win the Western Division, and beat Florida in the SEC title game (their second win over Florida that year).

The point was going to be that there was hope for the season, and now that SEC play was here for Ole Miss, anything was possible. They had a playmaker of elite ability, and that Ole Miss fans should not feel like their season is over.

Well, now, I'm here to tell you...

Ole Miss' season is OVER. OH-VAH.

On a day that Ryan Mallett and #13 Arkansas went to Athens and beat the Georgia Bulldogs on a last minute drive, Razorback fans are beating their chests and shouting their "I told you so's" in regards to Houston Nutt.

I believe, before this year, those chants had fallen upon deaf ears, as Ole Miss fans chalked up those taunts to a jilted fan base who didn't appreciate who they had.

But after today, those in Oxford may start taking those taunts with a little more credibility.

Tracked Down the Locks for Today

I've been on the horn, and tracked down today's locks. All new games from my plays, so if you're a degenerate, today is your day.

Virginia Tech -20'
Colorado -13'
Washington +3
Texas Tech +3
Arizona -2

The money is out there. Go get it.

9/18 Picks Are Up

Let's Play Ball.
4-1 last week, 8-2 overall. That's not too bad. Let's keep it rolling.

Get out the chalk, because we are throwing it all around this week. Just couldn't see these teams playing within these numbers.

Ole Miss -11'
Alabama -23'
USC -11'
LSU -7'
Auburn/Clemson over 55

I'll be tracking down the locks, and will have them up shortly.

Good luck.

Colin Kaepernick: Mea Culpa?

Kaepernick: Still a Douche.
Nah, I think he still sucks. I just didn't realize that Cal wasn't going to make any adjustments in the second half. For a defense like that to allow 50 points against what is a glorified triple-option team. I guess I'm eating crow.

Jeff Tedford, how could you do this me?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Snooze-fest? What Is Happening To Tennessee?

The Third Saturday in September was once one of the great weekends in college football. Fans in the SEC East planned their New Year's destinations by what would happen in mid-to-late September.

This year, Florida visits Tennessee on September 18th.
Smokey's snoozin this Saturday.

And no one cares.

A benchmark weekend in what, for many years, decided who would be playing in Atlanta for a shot at the SEC crown, and possibly the national title.

Instead, we have the University of Tennessee in the midst of multiple NCAA investigations involving several sports, with their third football coach in three years, and a frustrated fan base. Or, is the fan base just disinterested?

This year's game has the least amount of hype/attention that I can remember since, well, ever. I believe that the off-field issues involving Bruce Pearl and what may-or-may-not have happened with Lane Kiffin has taken Volunteer fans' focus away from the field.

But perhaps that's a good thing. Tennessee, after all, isn't that good this year.

However, they weren't supposed to be good last year - but there was interest and - to the diehards - even hope for Tennessee football. Vol fans were still lapping up the Kiffin Kool-Aid, and there was curiosity about how the young, brash coach would handle the Tebow-lead mighty Gators in Gainesville.

And despite losing 13-23, many Tennessee fans took away a slight moral victory in what was predicted to be a blowout. Perhaps Tennessee football wasn't dead after all.

Too bad the kid jumped ship and went west.

Now, a year later, there doesn't seem to be any hope for Tennessee, and if the NCAA has anything to say about it, there won't be for a long time.

But one thing is for sure - this weekend, there's no hype in Knoxville. Tennessee fans may be wise in sleeping through this one and maybe one day they'll wake up from this nightmare.

Colin Kaepernick? Not a Fan.

I've been on the road all week, so it's been difficult to update the blog. (However, we've had quite a run with the daily play, thank you very much.)

By the way, the Detroit airport sucks, and the people at the Delta counters were something other than helpful.

When checking what I was going to watch on the television when I got back, I saw that Cal and Nevada were playing tonight. Let me make yet another statement that I have no statistical foundation for, and one that will probably come back to bite me in the end:

Colin playing against the JV, getting all the love.
I think Colin Kaepernick sucks.

He's got huge numbers and lots of hype. Big deal. Look at those numbers a little bit more closely, and you'll see.

Last year's 8-game winning streak that helped the Wolfpack to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl against SMU? Here's a list for you: UNLV (115), La Tech (65), Utah State (113), Idaho (105), San Jose State (109), Hawaii (94), Fresno State (97), New Mexico State (101).

Those numbers? Why those would happen to be their defensive rankings from last year. Seven teams ranked 94th or lower.

So, tonight, when you're feeling vomet-ous with the Kaepernick love from the talking heads, remember - this dude puts numbers up against scrubs, and you won't have to worry about him playing on Sundays.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Super Quick

She doesn't have anything to do with
this post. Too bad.
I'm on the road, and had a super post done on my iPhone. Then, my fat fingers deleted it, and there was no getting it back.

Succinctly, what I was going to say:
1) Cell phone service on college campuses needs improvement, STAT.
2) Virginia Tech continues to live in college football purgatory.
3) Andy Reid's life got even more troublesome.
4) The Dallas Cowboys don't learn from their old mistakes. Continue to assemble talent, don't establish team.
5) South Carolina only needs to win one more game (Florida), and they'll be in Atlanta.

I promise you, the whole thing would of been great. It was full of interesting, funny, and insightful commentary. Take my word for it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Locks Are In

I tracked down my boy, and he's got quite a slate of locks for today.

Without further ado...

Army -3'
Iowa St. +13
Oklahoma -7
Notre Dame -3'
Air Force -1'
UCLA +6'
Michigan St. -26

Now, let's all become millionaires.

Week 2 Initial Plays

Week 2 is here, and the matchups this weekend are out of sight. Gather up the TVs and put them all together, and create your own gameday center.

And in honor today's plays, we go with a YouTube classic... What's that I smell?

Sorry, Tennessee fans. Today is not going to be your day.

The picks:
Oregon -11'
Alabama -13'
Florida -16
Georgia/South Carolina OVER 46'
Miami/Ohio State OVER 47

Last week, we went 4-1. My boy's locks did us right too with 3-1 (overlapping on one game). I'll try and track down the locks for today as well. And if we're feeling anything else later on, I'll post them, so check back here or my Twitter for the updates.

Good luck.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kid Nails Lou Holtz

From the Rick and Bubba Show, this dude is a spot-on Dr. Lou.

- posted from the road

Location:Colonial Dr,Tuscaloosa,United States

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Love Dan Mullen, But Not As Much As Some People

Dan Mullen doesn't know why he's
not catching more points, either.
I guess I'm establishing a hard line on this - and I'm sure it will come back to bite me - but how in the hell is the Auburn/Mississippi State game tonight back to a one-point spread?

Wagerline shows a convincing lean towards Auburn, so there must be heavy dollars on the bulldogs to keep this line down. My question is who is putting down this much money on Mississippi State tonight? And would they be interested in paying what I paid for a condo in downtown Memphis?

I am so convinced of the outcome of this game that I wanted to jump in early last night when the line was at 3. I didn't want it getting too far away from me. Fool on me, because now I'm trying to figure out if I should double down with the lower line.

Maybe I should be concerned: I am a Regions bank customer, and perhaps the boys who own Regions bank are ringing their cowbells and using my dollars so they can double up on the bulldogs. (Kidding - no added transaction charges, please.)

But whoever you heavy-pocket people are, are you forgetting that this is Mississippi State? I know they beat the hell out of Memphis last week and that you are excited about Dan Mullen, but they are still the team that is going to win only one or two SEC games this year (Kentucky and maybe Ole Miss), and Auburn isn't going to be one of them.

More Cowbell.
I've gotten some feedback that Davis Wade Stadium (the noise) will be too much for Auburn to handle. And I can understand this: the Malzahn offense requires a lot of motion and formation changes. I just have the confidence that in year two (and all preseason) that Cam Newton and folks will have the hand signals down.

The last time Gus Malzahn visited Davis Wade, Arkanas won 28-14. The offense was outperformed that day, but keep in mind that Casey Dick was Arkansas' quarterback. Between them, I'd give the edge to Cam Newton.

While I love Dan Mullen and appreciate Mississippi State, I'm not buying the hype just yet. Auburn's winning this game, and since the line is so low, that's who you roll with.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NCAA Has To Be Tough, Because They Can't Trust You

The argument about whether or not college athletes should be properly compensated will be debated until... they start paying them, I guess.

AJ Green was looking to make a little extra coin by - allegedly - selling one of his game-worn jerseys. And we all know that this is not a big deal on the surface, and some folks are going with the stock "cry for the athlete" position. That's fine, but I see where the NCAA is coming from on this one.

I am a firm believer in the human condition. And that condition is that, on the whole, humans are greedy, greedy people. You find a loophole for someone with incentive and initiative, and watch them go.

And that's why this rule is in place. (Well, actually, this is why, but nonetheless.) The NCAA has to draw a hard line on this.

Not sure if you've noticed, but sports memorabilia can go for some pretty hefty pricetags. And I've never understood why, but people love this stuff. I have a friend in Talladega, AL whose basement is a shrine to... well, junk. Tons of it. Every Playboy ever, Bear Bryant signed footballs, so much Richard Petty stuff that it would make you sick, and it's everywhere. Although I could never get him to admit it, but I'd say that over the years, he's probably spent close to $100,000 on his basement decorations. Stuff that I consider worthless.

The point of bringing that up is that it's hard to get a proper grasp on an accurate financial value of memoribilia, because people's emotions become involved and generally speaking, the more emotion, the less rational the decision-making process. (For you math-geeks, that's an inverse relationship.) And sports are extremely emotional.

So, it's not unheard of to see someone buy a jersey for an obscene amount of money. And under that premise, how observe would it be for someone to overpay AJ Green for a game-worn jersey?

And what if this overpayer was a overzealous fan, or program booster, or - better yet - connected to an agent?

Now, I'm not saying that this is what happened in AJ's case, but this is why the NCAA can't take any chances. If they allow players to sell their gear, it won't be long before 'somebody' pays Terrelle Pryor, Matt Barkley, or John Brantley $50,000 for a pair of game-worn shoes.

Maybe Jordan Jefferson could score $5k for a practice jersey.

Noel Devine could sell a jersey and finally some satisfaction for going to West Virginia.

No telling what Tebow could have gotten for a game-worn jock strap. (And Gary Danielson with the high bid...)

So, as bad as I feel for the players and their predicament, we have to remember that people are greedy, and when given the opportunity to exploit a rule - they'll do it, because it's not against the rules.

This - allegedly - was against the rules. And let's just hope the punishment is fair (like just give the money back), and we can get AJ back on the field soon.

For Ole Miss Fans, Not A Good Week

Aside from dropping the season opener to an FCS school, and getting jerked around by the NCAA, there was one other item that popped up on my television screen this past weekend that should bring even more concern to fans of the red and blue.

Oxford, Mississippi, how did you let it get to this point?

And just so that there's no confusion, I will gladly disclose that I enjoy Star Wars. When someone mentions Admiral Ackbar, I know who they are talking about. But that doesn't mean I want him on my sidelines.

Perhaps I have misplaced my sense of humor on this. But it seems to me that as a school/football program, a major point of emphasis is to NOT be a laughing stock of your rival school fan bases. Isn't that the point of message boards? What about tailgates? I've always understood these platforms to be the opportunity to make fun of their rival schools, often in the direction of said rival school's fans.

When the Admiral Ackbar issue first arose, I pleaded with Ole Miss fans to quash this rumor as soon as possible. Chalk it up to the crazy Internet, and never look back. Instead, Ole Miss authorities never ponied and did what they were supposed to - which was to say that there was no way in hell that a Star Wars character was going to be the mascot.

But, no. And I'm done advising Ole Miss fans on what to do about this. If you are going to allow your University to put you and your friends on a platter to be made fun of by every other school in the SEC, then that's your choice.

Isn't it about positioning? And where you want to be, what you want to be known for? Ole Miss had been known as the place that bred Miss America contestants. Cowboy boots and skirts. Hotty Toddies. The Grove.

Now, as the University officials have allowed, and now ESPN is broadcasting to the world, Ole Miss is the school that almost had a Star Wars character as their mascot.

Get ready to hear it, Rebels. After Gamecocks chants (non-South Carolinian in nature), the message board/tailgating chatter this fall will be brutal. Hope you don't mind the word 'nerds'.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unfortunately For the Broncos, This Is As Good As It Is Going To Get

Last night's win for the Broncos was everything that could have been expected from the blue crew: an exciting last-minute drive with some luck along the way. Detractors have been complaining about the questionable personal foul on the last drive, but calls are calls - some go in your favor, some don't.

Boise again did what they have done time after time - when asked to prove themselves, they have. So, now is the time that they deserve a shot at the title, right?

But we can't argue about what they deserve. We've got to play in the system that we have. And whether it's their own fault because of the conference they play in, or others (big name programs won't play them) - Boise State is still on the outside looking in.

And this year will be no different.

Despite the high preseason ranking - which helps - Boise still needs an Everest amount of help in order to make it into the BCS title game. Kirk Herbstreit can plead coyly to 'BCS voters' on national television all he wants - that doesn't do the only thing that would help Boise.

Everyone else needs to lose, and lose a lot.

While, at this point, it's impossible to predict the BCS computations, I've taken a look at the schedules of the current top 16 teams in the coaches' poll, a component of the BCS formula.

And I found out some interesting stuff. We're familiar with the notion that your schedule matters, and the rankings of the people you play, your opponents' opponents, etc. I used the top 16 ranked teams because I couldn't really see anyone outside of that group rising up to win a national title. And historically, rising up from past the top 15 is extremely rare.

But, in the end, it's the schedules that will doom the Broncos. Theirs, and everyone else's.

What will end up happening this year is that during/after a succession of 'nobody' games from Boise (New Mexico State, Toledo, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech...), other highly ranked teams won't be playing 'nobody' games. And, they'll pass Boise in the standings. Impressive wins over other good teams make a difference in the moment, and the Broncos will be left out in the cold.

My predictions:
Week 7: Florida jumps TCU with win over LSU (especially if they play Alabama close).
Week 8: Texas slides past Boise State with wins over Oklahoma in week 5 and Nebraska in Week 7.

What was a promising outlook is foiled through time by a lack of quality opponents over the last two-thirds of the season. Should everyone do what they are supposed to do this year, Boise could fall to #5.

But what do they need to happen to keep the dream alive?

Oklahoma needs to beat Texas. Florida could beat Alabama, and Alabama needs to return the favor in the SEC title game. Althought I doubt it'll happen, Ohio State needs to drop a game that they shouldn't (Wisconsin). It could go on forever.

But, under the assumption that Boise is undefeated after the first weekend in December, these types of teams would beat them out for the BCS:
A) One-loss SEC championship team
B) An undefeated Big XII champion
C) A non-Ohio State undefeated Big Ten champ
D) A one-loss Ohio State (loss is early - Miami? - run it from there, win Big Ten)
E) An undefeated Oregon (who play no one all year, by the way - Tennessee doesn't count)
F) Undefeated ACC champ
G) Undefeated Big East champ (I know, but they are a BCS conference)

And I realize none of that is terribly ground-breaking, but it demonstrates just how many opportunities there are for Boise State to not get a shot at this thing, despite the high ranking early in the year.

They are going to get leapfrogged somewhere during the season. It's going to happen. And I believe that other schools (Ohio State, Alabama) have the opportunity to recover from any early season losses and win out and still stay on top of Boise State.

If the Broncos want their shot, they don't need to just win out, because it's still not just up to them.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Does Midnight Strike Tonight for Boise State?

Boise State/Virginia Tech goes down tonight, and I've been eyeing the Vegas line to see what the public has been thinking about this game. According to Scores And Odds, what started out with Boise as a 2' favorite, now the Broncos are getting 1'.

Money pushes the line, because, according to, a higher percentage of the public is taking Boise State. So, who to believe? Big money or the people? Vegas wasn't built on winners...

And I've noticed that despite the high preseason ranking for Chris Peterson's crew, I can't help but acknowledge what I have felt as a bit of an anti-Boise push by members of the media. I was listening to a national show on Fox Sports last week, where the guest or host was poclaiming how they are tired of "ESPN shoving Boise State down our throats". It just seems that there has been a sentiment this year (in my opinion) where we are hoping for this cute story to go away.

Gonzaga isn't cute anymore. They're in the tournament every year, and have long since shed the 'Cinderella' tag. Is this where we sit with Boise?

As for tonight's game, I don't know what to expect. I believe I'll pull for Boise tonight, because I don't believe in Virginia Tech's national title opportunities no matter what the outcome tonight. You can pretty much count on Frank Beamer and crew screwing up national title hopes at some this year anyway, because... they do it every year.

So, tonight, I'm down with the Broncos. Although many may feel that tonight is the beginning of the end for Boise State, I can only respond with - every other time it was supposed to be the end for the Broncos, what happened?

Oklahoma, '07 Fiesta Bowl
Oregon, '09
TCU, '10 Fiesta Bowl

What's one more night?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ole Miss Fans, It's Okay to Point a Finger at the NCAA

It may not get you the game back, but it may make you feel better.

Earlier this past week, I wrote the following in regards to Jeremiah Masoli's Friday reinstatement by the NCAA:
Still curious to me is that how different the reaction would have been from Ole Miss fans had the first game's opponent been more of a challenge. While Ole Miss has been playing Memphis in Week 1 back to 2004, other SEC schools in recent years have opened up with Clemson, Virginia Tech, USC, and others.

While it won't make a difference in Ole Miss' situation this year, the NCAA again stole repetitions from a player and a team that, in Houston Nutt's mind, is competing for an SEC or national title.
I was wrong, and I was right.

I was wrong in thinking that no matter who was playing quarterback for Ole Miss this year, they were going to start the year 5-0. What I SHOULD of said was that it wouldn't have mattered as long as Ole Miss KNEW who was going to be the quarterback. Big difference.

You can join Mark May and all the other moral soapbox folks as they fling Holy water on Nutt, Masoli, and Ole Miss, proclaiming that the Rebels deserved what they got. You try and skirt the rules, and this is what you get.

And talk like that is garbage. Ole Miss' loss to Jacksonville State can be all chalked up to a lack of repetitions in game week, as well as Ole Miss altering what they wanted to accomplish on Saturday. I'm sure that Nutt had intended to win the game, but because of all the last minute eligibility changes (he is, he isn't, he is...), the Rebels were put into a terrible spot.

Perhaps it would of been better had Ole Miss not played Masoli at all this opening week, even after winning the appeal on Friday. They had planned from Tuesday on to have Stanley as the #1 guy, and hope for the best.

If you want to criticize Nutt on this point, that's fair game. Definitely a possible miscalculation. Stanley even played well in his split time with Masoli: 6 of 10, 133 yards, and 3 TDs - which indicates to me that Ole Miss was good enough to beat Jacksonville State... If they hadn't had this turmoil.

I'm sure that Nutt felt pressure to play Masoli, as there was so much publicity and contention in having him at Ole Miss. Houston probably just wanted to hurry up and get him on the field, because once he's on the field and plays well - the nay-sayers disappear quickly.

And this is where I was right. The NCAA's decision to enact their moral compass and explore the "academic motivations" behind Masoli's transfer - without any precedence - threw Ole Miss into a tailspin this week, and Houston couldn't steer them out of it.

The NCAA's inaccurate ruling on Tuesday changed how Ole Miss prepared for this ballgame. No matter what Houston Nutt may say publicly in reference to the confidence he may have in Nathan Stanley, Masoli is Houston's guy. This was proven to me in the overtime periods: despite Nathan Stanley throwing for 3 TDs and getting the majority of reps this past week, Houston felt that Masoli gave him the best chance to win in crunch time.

I also wrote this earlier this week:
Before the NCAA determines when it is appropriate to enact their moral compass, it might be a good idea to acknowledge what the rules are - before they really screw up a football season.
Spoke too soon. Because this time, they did screw one up. Ole Miss may or may not recover from this weekend, but I'm sure that Dan Mullen and crew are loving the fact that they can point at the first weekend of the 2010 season and tell recruits that while the Bulldogs were embarrassing Larry Porter's Memphis Tigers, the Ole Miss Rebels were busy losing to an FCS school that ranks as the 6th or 7th football program in its state.

Ole Miss fans, I feel for you on this one. There's a fair amount of blame to go around on this one, but be sure to toss some the NCAA's way. They helped screw up your season.

Some Locks Thrown My Way

I got it touch with an old friend, and here is what he gave me as his locks for today:

UConn +3' Michigan
North Carolina +11 LSU
BYU +2 Washington
Notre Dame -10' Purdue

Glad to see we agreed on Notre Dame, and while I liked BYU before, now I've been given the push to go with it.

My Initial Plays For The Day

College Football has started, and if it had not been for me foolishly not buying a half point in the Utah/Pitt game, we'd be looking at a great start to the year.

I don't have many 11:00 games picked yet, if I do anything at all. But as of right now, this is what I feel good about:

Alabama -37.5 San Jose State
Mississippi State -20' Memphis
Michigan / UConn OVER 52
BYU/Washington UNDER 56
Notre Dame -10' Purdue

Keep checking back here throughout the day. And, if you get the opportunity to buy any points, DO IT.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hope For SNL Lies With A Pharaoh

Now, honestly - if you added up all of the talent of the current SNL cast, would it even come close to Eddie Murphy in his prime? Go ahead, add it all up - not even close.

Too bad that it's quite a shame that Eddie is only a shadow of his former self. Outside of Shrek and a few fart jokes in The Nutty Professor, I'm not sure he'd make the current lineup. Regardless, he's not as funny now as he was in that clip.

But there could be some good news for the late-night weekend variety show. Meet Jay Pharaoh. Seems that Lorne is reaching back about 25 years to what was a good idea...

Sometimes it's just best to go with the formulas that you know work.

NCAA Joins Houston Nutt in His Efforts Toward "People-Helping"

Houston Nutt on Tuesday:
"We're in the people-helping business. I want to plead with that subcommittee. He's done nothing but what he's supposed to do."
Do we extend a 'Bravo!' to the NCAA for this decision? I'm not sure that would feel right.

Of course, as you've heard, Jeremiah Masoli is now eligible to play immediately for the Ole Miss Rebels. I am curious about a few items, including: 1) How they ever got to this decision in the first place, and 2) what would the reaction have been should Ole Miss' first game was against Clemson, North Carolina, or Virginia Tech?

According to my simple mind, the NCAA got to this point because they didn't like their own rule. As I detailed earlier in the week, if you don't like it - get rid of it. But it really shouldn't have gotten to this point.

You can argue that Jeremiah Masoli never deserved this opportunity in the first place, and I can admire you as you stand upon your moral soapbox. Unfortunately, if you argue that, you're likely not an Ole Miss fan. And even more unfortunate, if this had been YOUR football team, you'd been raising hell and screaming that he had done everthing according to the rules. So, don't give me that 'it's a privilige to play' crap. It's not a privilige to Jeremiah. It's a way for him to get to the NFL and make a lot of money. (Don't forget he was to be a Heisman candidate, if not for his troubles at Oregon. And who knows... he could still end up being one.)

The NCAA was trying to make that argument earlier this week when they declared him ineligible. And guess what? They were WRONG. That's a big reason why the appeal HAD to be successful - because even the NCAA has allowed this stuff to go on before. Greg Paulus, Kenneth Cooper - there was never an "academic motivation" to any of it. And the NCAA knows this.

Still curious to me is that how different the reaction would have been from Ole Miss fans had the first game's opponent been more of a challenge. While Ole Miss has been playing Memphis in Week 1 back to 2004, other SEC schools in recent years have opened up with Clemson, Virginia Tech, USC, and others.

While it won't make a difference in Ole Miss' situation this year, the NCAA again stole repetitions from a player and a team that, in Houston Nutt's mind, is competing for an SEC or national title. What if this had been done to Alabama? Or Texas? Or Florida?

Before the NCAA determines when it is appropriate to enact their moral compass, it might be a good idea to acknowledge what the rules are - before they really screw up a football season.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lane Kiffin Will Burn USC to the Ground.

My thoughts take me to the Hindenburg. What was a terrible disaster is now, upon reflection, an almost surreal event that despite the tragedy, is an amazing and curious item to watch. It was world-altering history in action, right before your eyes. After the Hindenburg, people gave up on airships, and when people think of zeppelins now, they only think of that big ball of fire falling to the ground.

Oh, the humanity.

Lane Kiffin's debut as USC was more amazing than I ever thought possible. I mean we knew he was an arrogant, but Thursday night took him to almost Roger Clemens-like levels of pompousness.

For a coach to have his team march down the field three straight times and go for two - in the first quarter (and a little bit of the second, I believe) - in the first game of the season is unbelievable... but when you take into account that the coach is Lane Kiffin, very much believable.

I am convinced that if things had not gotten tight, he was going to go for two on every PAT last night. (And the fact that it got close enough to make him stop had to be sweet for all the Kiffin-haters.) But nevermind that he had to stop, it confirmed something I had been suspecting for some time: Lane Kiffin is actually a twelve year old. Now, I never got a good camera angle of this, but I'm pretty sure he was calling plays with an XBox controller.

And the swagger of that Trojan team last night. Boy, did they have it. But this is a major problem. While Pete Carroll had swagger, (and of course they eventually had some troubles) Pete's swagger felt a little bit more controlled. Maybe it was because of the on-field success (probably was), but with Pete Carroll you would just assume that he knew what he was doing. With Lane Kiffin, there is no doubt - he has no clue what he is doing.

It's what I 'reckless swagger'. You know how small children don't understand that their actions have consequences? Lane is still operating at that intellectual level. From the first play last night, the Kiffin attitude was prevalent. A small scuffle on the kickoff. The 'intimidating' head-shaking and woofing after every play. Fumble a punt? No problem - recover it and talk smack. They did it all.
Lane Kiffin told Shelley Smith of ESPN last night that his actions are "calculated". And that's a problem. He thinks he's being smart. Well, he's not. I was trying to come up with a good comparison last night, and the best I could do is that USC is now AAU football. And I think it's going to be a disaster. How can anyone expect this team to play disciplined, concentrated four quarters of football, when their coach goes into the game going for two every opportunity?

How is Monte Kiffin okay with this? I don't understand it.

But in the end, it should be fun for the rest of us. Just think of it like the Hindenburg. While it was tragic for those involved, it is a interesting and entertaining watch.

Now That It's Finally Here, My SEC Predictions (That I've Had On My Computer For Over a Month)

The season starts tonight, and while I keep my closest eyes on the weekly point spreads and unfolding locker room drama, it would be nice to go ahead and get my predictions down so that the world can bask in my whimsical knowledge of SEC football.
With details to come later on, I present you with my W/L predictions for the 2010 SEC football season, with schedule breakdowns below:

SEC East:
  1. Florida (11-1, 7-1)

  2. South Carolina (10-2, 6-2)

  3. Georgia (9-3, 5-3)

  4. Tennessee (6-6, 2-6)

  5. Kentucky(5-7, 1-7)

  6. Vanderbilt (2-10, 0-8)

SEC West:

  1. Alabama (12-0, 8-0)

  2. LSU (10-2, 6-2)

  3. Auburn (7-5, 4-4)

  4. Arkansas (8-4, 4-4)

  5. Ole Miss (7-5, 3-5)

  6. Mississippi State (6-6, 2-6)

Finish it up in December with the rubber match. Alabama over Florida in the SEC title game.

As for the team-by-team schedule breakdown, here we go:

Florida (11-1, 7-1)

Wk 1, Miami-OH, Home, Win

Wk 2, South Florida, Away, Win

Wk 3, Tennessee, Away, Win

Wk 4, Kentucky, Home, Win

Wk 5, Alabama, Away, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 6, LSU, Home, Win

Wk 7, Mississippi State, Home, Win

Wk 9, Georgia, Neutral, Win

Wk 10, Vanderbilt, Away, Win

Wk 11, So Carolina, Home, Win

Wk 12, Appalachian State, Home, Win

Wk 13, Florida State, Away, Win

On my count, Florida has 11 Wins for sure, with only one questionable game against Alabama. What makes this work is that there are no real tests for Brantley in September, so by the time he gets to Week 5 against Alabama, he should be ready. Florida's schedule could not have worked out any better for their situation. Best Case: 12-0, Worst Case: 11-1.

South Carolina (10-2, 6-2)

Wk 1, Southern Miss, Home, Win

Wk 2, Georgia, Home, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 3, Furman, Home, Win

Wk 4, Auburn, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 6, Alabama, Home, Loss

Wk 7, Kentucky, Away, Win

Wk 8, Vanderbilt, Away, Win

Wk 9, Tennessee, Home, Win

Wk 10, Arkansas, Home, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 11, Florida, Away, Loss

Wk 12, Troy, Home, Win

Wk 13, Clemson, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

6 wins for sure for Spurrier, 2 losses are set against the SEC big dogs in Florida and Bama, but Spurrier has FOUR questionable games this year. And perhaps my SOS bias shines through, but with all the trouble Tennessee is in coupled with the pressure Mark Richt finds himself in this season, I'm going out and saying that this is the year that it all falls into place for the Head Ball Coach. The Clemson Game is winnable, but the early season results will dictate what happens to the Gamecocks this year. Both Georgia and Auburn in September. Here's hoping that Stephen Garcia has gotten it together. Best Case: 10-2, Worst Case: 6-6.

Georgia (9-3, 5-3)

Wk 1, La-Lafayette, Home, Win

Wk 2, South Carolina, Away, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 3, Arkansas, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 4, Mississippi State, Away, Win (*Danger Game!!)

Wk 5, Colorado, Away, Win

Wk 6, Tennessee, Home, Win

Wk 7, Vanderbilt, Home, Win

Wk 8, Kentucky, Away, Win

Wk 9, Florida, Neutral, Loss

Wk 10, Idaho State, Home, Win

Wk 11, Auburn, Away, Win (*More Danger)

Wk 13, Georgia Tech, Home, Questionable - predicting Win

8 Wins, 1 Loss, and 3 Question Games. Like the Gamecocks, Mark Richt and his kids are playing for #2 in the SEC East. Gotta beat SC for that to happen. Richt does get a boost having a cakewalk through middle third of the season, and that will help him keep his job for 2011. Best Case: 11-1, Worst Case: 8-4

Tennessee (6-6, 2-6)

Wk 1, UT-Martin, Home, Win

Wk 2, Oregon, Home, Question - predicting Win

Wk 3, Florida, Home, Loss

Wk 4, UAB, Home, Win

Wk 5, LSU, Away, Loss

Wk 6, Georgia, Away, Loss

Wk 8, Alabama, Home, Loss

Wk 9, So Carolina, Away, Loss

Wk 10, Memphis, Away, Win

Wk 11, Ole Miss, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 12, Vanderbilt, Away, Win

Wk 13, Kentucky, Home, Win

5 Wins, 5 Losses, 2 Question Games. Dooley will have a tough October, as he'll be in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. And, it's possible that he could lose 5 or 6 straight from Oregon to South Carolina. Vol fans won't like that. Good news is that the Vols will finish the season well, and a win over Ole Miss would be a big bonus for this program. Best Case: 7-5, Worst Case: 5-7.

Kentucky (5-7, 1-7)

Quickly: Joker starts the year with 3 Wins against Louisville, Western Kentucky, and Akron. Then the ball rolls downhill with 6 straight losses to Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi State. Back to winning times against Charleston and Vanderbilt before finishing the season with a loss in Knoxville.

There's nothing questionable about it. Kentucky wins 5 games this year, right on the button, and they lose seven.

Vanderbilt (2-10, 0-8)

Even quicker: Vandy beats Northwestern and everyone loves Robbie Caldwell. Then they lose to LSU, Ole Miss, and UConn in Wk 5. Robbie carries the torch one more time with a win over Eastern Michigan before rattling off six more losses against Georgia, So Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Wake Forest game in Wk 13? Questionable, but I'm predicting a loss. Good news is that by Wk 8, everyone's forgotten who Robbie Caldwell is - and that's how the Vandy coach should be. Best Case: 3-9, Worst Case: 2-10.

Alabama (12-0, 8-0)

No need for the weekly breakdown here. Bama beats everyone, with the only questionable game coming against Florida in Wk 5 at Bryant-Denny. I predict a win for the home team here. Bama has no luck in scheduling, as it seems everyone has a bye week leading into their game. (With 6 SEC opponents) The Tide can only respond with a bye week prior to LSU.

Pay close attention to the dynamics of Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram. With Ingram out in Wk 1, and going week-to-week after that, it'll be interesting to see how quickly Richardson is sent in to be the premier back should Ingram struggle in his return. Best Case: 12-0, Worst Case: 11-1.

LSU (10-2, 6-2)

Wk 1, North Carolina, Neutral, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 2, Vanderbilt, Away, Win

Wk 3, Mississippi State, Home, Win

Wk 4, West Virginia, Home, Win

Wk 5, Tennessee, Home, Win

Wk 6, Florida, Away, Loss

Wk 7, McNeese State, Home, Win

Wk 8, Auburn, Away, Win

Wk 10, Alabama, Home, Loss

Wk 11, La-Monroe, Home, Win

Wk 12, Ole Miss, Home, Win

Wk 13, Arkansas, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

I know, I know. As president of the Les Miles Is A Buffoon Club, you would think that the SEC's coach on the hottest seat wouldn't have such a shiny outlook from me. But I can't find games that they are going to lose. Not enough, anyway. 8 Wins for sure, 2 Losses, and 2 Questionables. And I think he's going to win those.

The UNC game will show a lot about where Jordan Jefferson is starting the season, if he plays well, good tidings for LSU. So good that they may go into November with only one loss. Of course the Auburn and Arkansas games are big for the SEC West #2 slot. And, who knows they do play Bama in Baton Rouge. Les has gotten luckier before. Best Case: 10-2, Worst Case: 8-4.

Auburn (7-5, 4-4)

Wk 1, Arkansas St, Home, Win

Wk 2, Mississippi State, Away, Win (*Danger Game!!)

Wk 3, Clemson, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 4, South Carolina, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 5, La-Monroe, Home, Win

Wk 6, Kentucky, Away, Win

Wk 7, Arkansas, Home, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 8, LSU, Home, Loss

Wk 9, Ole Miss, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 10, Chattanooga, Home, Win

Wk 11, Georgia, Home, Loss

Wk 13, Alabama, Away, Loss

5 Wins, 3 Losses, 4 Question Games. Chizik's crew could be all over the board this year. I think they break even on it. Weeks 3 and 4 make or break Auburn's year, and their tough games at the end of teh season. For a GREAT year to be possible, they need to go into week 11 with 7 wins. Best Case: 9-3. Worst Case: 5-7.

Arkansas (8-4, 4-4)

Wk 1, Tennessee Tech, Home, Win

Wk 2, La-Monroe, Home, Win

Wk 3, Georgia, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 4, Alabama, Home, Loss

Wk 6, Texas A&M, Neutral, Win

Wk 7, Auburn, Away, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 8, Ole Miss, Home, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 9, Vanderbilt, Home, Win

Wk 10, So Carolina, Away, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 11, UTEP, Home, Win

Wk 12, Mississippi State, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 13, LSU, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

Could be a wild ride for the Hogs. 5 Wins, 1 Loss, and 6 Question Games. That's tough. We'll see where Arkansas is in October, as Weeks 3&4 make or break it. Best Case: 11-1, Worst Case: 5-7.

Ole Miss (7-5, 3-5) - Since it changes daily, I'm going under the assumption Masoli doesn't play...

Wks 1-5: Jacksonville State, Tulane, Vandy, Fresno State, Kentucky - ALL WINS.

Wk 7, Alabama, Away, Loss

Wk 8, Arkansas, Away, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 9, Auburn, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 10, La-Lafayette, Home, Win

Wk 11, Tennessee, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 12, LSU, Away, Loss

Wk 13, Mississippi State, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

6 Wins, 2 Losses, 4 Question Games. Ole Miss fans may not be thrilled with me, but just think - before the NCAA gave Jeremiah Masoli the stiffarm, I had you all at 9-3. Flip the Auburn and State games if he becomes eligible.

Ole Miss will of course start the year 5-0, no matter who is playing behind center. But after that Week 6 bye week, things get real tough. But underline two games this year to make or break it for Ole Miss - Arkansas and Mississippi State. Need to win both of those. Best Case: 10-2, Worst Case: 6-6.

Mississippi State (6-6, 2-6)

Wk 1, Memphis, Home, Win

Wk 2, Auburn, Home, Loss

Wk 3, LSU, Away, Loss

Wk 4, Georgia, Home, Loss

Wk 5, Alcorn State, Home, Win

Wk 6, Houston, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

Wk 7, Florida, Away, Loss

Wk 8, UAB, Home, Win

Wk 9, Kentucky, Home, Win

Wk 11, Alabama, Away, Loss

Wk 12, Arkansas, Home, Questionable - predicting Loss

Wk 13, Ole Miss, Away, Questionable - predicting Win

4 Wins, 5 Losses, 3 Question Games. Brutal schedule, and it's tough early to boot. But there are some exciting games for State. Houston should win CUSA, and with some good luck, Dan Mullen could take the Bulldogs bowling this year. Best Case: 7-5, Worst Case: 4-8.

And there you have it. Of course South Carolina could lose tonight and blow it all up. But I don't think that will happen.

Although it does seem that we'll have the same two teams in the SEC title game for the third straight year, there should be lots of excitement in the SEC this year. The five teams that will be all over the place: Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, and Ole Miss. And of course there's always the thrill ride of Les Miles' clock management.