Fab 4 picks
So we're off and running. College football is on us like the hateful looks to the stinky kid in class.
(Side question: We all had at least one stinky kid in class, but did the stinky kid in class know he was the stinky kid in class? Discuss.)
And while Dabo Swinney and Brian Kelly would like a reset, the Fab 4 was very content with our Week 1. We landed several overs — and going to continue to ride a couple of all-over-all-the-time candidates this week — and finished 5-2.
That'll do, pig.
But that also leads us to an important lesson heading into week 2: Be wary of the overreaction in the view of your favorite college football analyst on the numbers that Vegas posts.
Was Clemson that bad or was Duke that much better than we thought? Is MTSU dreck or is Alabama truly back with anger on its mind? Is THE Ohio State offensively inept or is Indiana good defensively?
The week 1 "Oh my goodness" overreaction can be expensive. But it also can be profitable.
Let's make like Spalding Smails and do some picking, and friends remember to shop around for the best prices available.
Utah minus-7 at Baylor. The Utes crushed Florida (sorry, JTC) and now get their veteran QB back. Baylor lost at home last week and now turns to its back-up QB. Surprised this line is not bigger — which gives me a little pause — but I think Baylor School is better prepared to host the Utes than Baylor University.
Auburn-Cal over 54.5. Auburn is team 2 on our weekly "Play the over until you see otherwise" slate. Hugh Freeze and Co. are great offensive minds, but they are defensively challenged in terms of depth and high-end talent. That means points — weekly. And until they face heavyweight defenses like Georgia and Bama, any Auburn total in th 50s is a green light.
USC-against-whoever over whatever. Hello to the numero uno in the "Play the over until you see otherwise" team picture. Last week, USC went over the total on its own ball. This week — at home against Stanford with a total of 69 — the Trojans could do it again if The Cardinal keeps it close.
Oregon-Texas Tech over 68. Bo Nix, welcome to the "Score or die" part of the show. As for Texas Tech, well the Red Raiders are desperate after losing to Wyoming last week.
Vanderbilt-Wake Forest over 56. Saw the 56 and thought, "Hmmmm, is the annual tuition (as in $56K) for each of these fine institutions?" Maybe, but it's a total that's totally too low for a Vandy team that has a player at QB and a defense that has allowed 41 total points in wins over Hawaii and Alabama A&M. Wake allowed 17 points to Elon last week. Heck, UTC won't allow 17 points to Elon, and UTC got whipped by North Alabama.
Notre Dame minus-7 over NC State. I am buying into Sam Hartman. And if I could, I would grow a Sam Hartman mustache. Mustache, friend or foe? Discuss.
Texas A&M minus-4.5 at Miami. Yes, another road favorite. But here's what I believe in terms of the Aggies Saturday: OC Bobby Petrino is a dude when it comes to calling plays. Do I want him watching my kids? Of course not, but when it comes to in-game play-calling he's as good as anyone. (Side note: Come mid-October, Georgia fans are going to be longing for Petrino's in-game aptitude compared to Bobo's run-run-play-action predictability.) Also, A&M has played; Miami has not. And the Aggies have a monster chip on their shoulder from last year's debacle.
Last week 5-2 (71.4%)
This season: 6-4 (60%)
Does it have to be either or
Speaking of Texas A&M, the Washington Post had this story with this headline: "Behind the Lines of Texas A&M's Diversity War."
Click-worthy right? Of course it is. Major university. Red state politics. And one of the great buzz words on the interwebs in "diversity."
This checks all the boxes for the web crew.
But here's something that dawned on me after reading the first three paragraphs: If forced to choose for 18-year-olds, which is more important, diversity or mental health?
Sure, they each have value and merit and are worth addressing, but this is the second paragraph — the nut graph in newspaper vernacular — regarding an email sent to A&M faculty over the summer:
"The university would drop a required lesson on 'respect & inclusion' from a semesterlong program open to all first-year students, according to the email. This was necessary, an official wrote, in light of a new state law that bans, in part, mandatory diversity training. In its place, A&M would add a lesson on mental health."
First, a required course on respect and inclusion seems a lot like overkill. Could that not be part of orientation? And yes, even suggesting such likely will make some of my haters fire of the email with the r-word and point out my whiteness.
That's cool. I am not a racist, and I am assuredly white. Those can be mutually exclusive.
A&M walked backed the decision after the expected backlash for a short time, but the last sentence in the above graph got me thinking: Which affects more people across college campuses, work places, all walks of life, the need for diversity or the need for awareness about the importance of mental health?
The importance of the latter can't be overstated, especially for first-year college students dealing with so much adjustment and change in their infant steps into the adult world.
The state of Texas making it illegal for schools to have "diversity" initiatives is just as kooky as any governmental body mandating them in my view.
But in a day and age when our homeless population is skyrocketing and inflation is killing the middle class, the polarizing rails of the shock and awe arguments become 10,000 words for a D.C. newspaper in College Station, Texas.
Still, I applaud A&M for the mental health class for its first-year students because that seems like a universally sound idea.
Good-bye to a great one
There's a lot to unpack above, but we'd be remiss if we did not spend at least a few graphs on this news.
He actually did it five months ago — yeah, the timing seems quite apropos considering the layoff-filled summer for the four-letter monster — but kept it quiet.
I have met Mortenson multiple times. He was always very courteous and very cordial, which is not as common as you would like to believe when you are talking about media interactions between supremely famous folks like Mortenson and relative nobodies like me.
Plus, he was part of the dynamic AJC sports crew back in the 1980s and into the 90s that made me fall in love with newspapers.
I told him that the last time I saw him, which was at a Falcons game several moons ago at the Georgia Dome.
Enjoy your time Mort. You have earned it, sir.
This and that
— Braves played. Braves lost. Wait, what? This the last-place Cardinals right? C'mon fellas, let's get it together.
— The Plays went 2-0 Wednesday. Good times. We mention it here because if you are unaware of my Plays of the Day gambling email newsletter, you can sign up here. This week you can also enter to win tickets to Saturday's UT game. So there's that.
— We will have our NFL picks for tonight's season opener in the above mentioned Plays email. Deal? Deal.
— Holy bleep, Crash Davis WON his divorce settlement and has to pay his ex-wife more than $63K a month. A MONTH. Oh my. I'd rather my wife kill me in my sleep than divorce me. And know I am doing everything in my power to avoid both.
— While I can never fairly compare generations, I will offer this. Salma Hayek — at 57 mind you — is my generation's Raquel Welch. Prove me wrong.
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall with some news and notes on the Vols.
— Sad day for those of us who appreciate thought-provoking TV sports journalism. ESPN has bagged "Outside the Lines" in a cost-cutting move and HBO did the same with "Real Sports." I get it, especially for ESPN, which is saving every penny to overpay for live sports coverage, and neither may have been appointment TV for me. But whenever I came across either show, I always stopped and almost always was pleased that I did.
— The Bosa brothers are dudes. Here's the skinny on Nick getting a huge deal from the 49ers. Bosa brothers or Watt brothers? Discuss.
It's an anything goes Thursday — AGT as the cool kids call it — and we are open for all sorts of discussion.
We'll start here. Apparently some memorabilia from the band Queen sold for millions at auction recently.
If you could have one piece of musical memorabilia — and think of it as a keepsake not as an investment — what would it be? I am going to say Willie Nelson's famed acoustic guitar Trigger.
As for today, well, my oldest is 16 today. So everyone wish Lee a Happy Birthday.
In his honor, who makes the Rushmore of Lee, other than my son of course, because, well, I'm biased like that?