Hey, gang, we still have two spots open in the mailbag — it's been a crazy week. That said, unless you want to read some 5-at-10 haikus Friday, we need a couple of letters.
From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton (2) celebrates with teammate Nick Fairley (90) following a 28-27 win over Alabama in an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
NCAA done investigating Auburn
After almost 13 months, countless accusations, who knows how many metric tons of newspaper and gallons of spilled newspaper ink, the NCAA has announced it has closed its investigation into Auburn involving the Cam Newton saga (which also included the four former players that went on HBO and said they were paid by Auburn boosters and coaches).
Here's the NCAA's statement:
After conducting more than 80 interviews, the NCAA has concluded its investigation into Auburn University. The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process. As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding. As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton laughs as he drops back to throw as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Here's TFP SEC ace David Paschall's story on the matter (NCAA clears Auburn).
Whether this was expedited by Auburn coach Gene Chizik's questioning of an NCAA official at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., is hard to know. What it does mean is that the phrase "Where there's smoke there's fire," must officially go on the out-of-date list in regard to NCAA matters. It can join dated phrases like "the bee's knees," and "the cut of your jib."
Regardless, whether you believe Auburn did absolutely nothing wrong or did an absolutely everything right in covering its tracks (or absolutely anything in between), there is no denying that the Auburn Tigers are the 2010 BCS champions. And barring some surprise revelation, there is no asterisk either.
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (7) in the second half against Kentucky in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. LSU defeated Kentucky 35-7 in an NCAA college football game. Mathieu was called for interference on the play. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Fab 4 (plus 1)
We're 19-8-1 against the number. That's pretty strong — not as strong as the 14-3-1 start we had, but still.
Here are a couple strange gambling numbers from friend of the show RJ Bell before we get into our picks:
— Overall, double digit favorites covered 16 of 18 games last week in college football;
— All nine top 10 teams in action last week covered (and by an average of 13-plus points)
What does it mean? Hard to know but if you think last week was a fluke, then be careful with double-digit favorites this week because not that long ago, the books were almost a perfect 50-50 split between favorites and underdogs (the numbers were 129-128).
The 5-at-10 thinks there could be an edge here. With 11 major programs still unbeaten halfway through the season, 'style points' are taking on an extra importance.
On to the picks:
LSU minus-15 at Tennessee: This number will grow the closer we get to kickoff, but it's hard to see the Bray-less, and Hunter-less Vols offense scoring more than 10 against the Tigers defense led by Honey Badger. Honey Badger don't care.
Georgia Tech minus-7 at Virginia: Buy the half if you can (some people call it the hook, but we call it a sling blade, hmm-hm).
East Carolina minus-14 at Memphis: We apologize for not sharing this trend with you earlier this season. Memphis is less than good. If Memphis was a golf swing it would be Al Czervik's. If they were a movie, they would be "Disorderlies." If they were a song, well you get the idea. Memphis is 1-5 (with that win coming against Austin Peay), and of those five losses only covered against MTSU, which was a 23-point favorite. (Yes, MTSU was a 23-point favorite. Let's just move along.
South Carolina minus-3 at Mississippi State: With the entire mess that was Stephen Garcia now no longer part of the USC equation, let's watch if Connor Shaw spreads his wings a little bit.
For the second week, there are several games that look good in the plus-one spot, including Oklahoma, Georgia, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. But we're going to stay with what we know, and take:
Alabama minus-23 at Ole Miss: If you think that's a lot of points, answer this question: How high would they have to set this line before you pick Ole Miss? Is it 30? Is it 35? Let's say it's 35, then 12 points on any pick is a good swing.
OK, Texas is good
Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz hits a 3-run home run in the 11th inning in Game 4 of baseball's American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers,j Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
The Texas Rangers are on the brink of back-to-back World Series trips. Yes, the Texas Rangers, who have a 3-1 ALCS lead over Detroit because in large part because Nelson Cruz is trying out for the tole for Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, 2011.
It's important to remember here, that the Rangers, yes the Texas Rangers, were believed to be a one-year wonder after losing ace left-hander Cliff Lee to the Phillies in the offseason. And as we all know, the Phillies are done for the season (That noise you heard is a high-five from several Johnny Braves Fans and a Rick Flair-style "WOOOOOOOO," from EC).
The Rangers, however, keep on keeping on.
Know what else this does? Let's say the Rangers find a way to win five more games — one more in the ALCS and four World Series games against the winner of the Cards-Brewers NLCS — and raise the trophy. That means coupled with the Mavs win last June in what appears ti be the final NBA Finals for a long while, the Dallas Cowboys are the area's biggest pro sports flop.
This and that
Tiger Woods tees off on the sixth hole during the final round of the Frys.com Open golf tournament, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, in San Martin, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
— This guy is seeing a whole team of psychiatrist. The fellow that threw the hot dog at Tiger Woods during last Sunday's golf tournament, said he was motivated from the movie "Driven." Brandon Kelly told authorities after flinging his lunch at Woods, "As soon as the movie ended, I thought to myself, 'I have to do something courageous and epic. I have to throw a hot dog on the green in front of Tiger.'" Nothing else really to say here, huh?
—Rob Sloan caught a spectator shuttle 20 miles into a London marathon and rose the final 6.1 miles before running through some shrubs and crossing the finish line for third place. After initially denying that he cheated, Sloan fessed up that he cheated. We have two questions: First, who cheats to finish third? Second, if the shuttle was a VW, would it be considered the world's largest performance-enhancing Bug? (Thank you, we'll be here all week.)
— Wow, BISpy was right, the Boston Globe's story on the Boston Red Sox meltdown in September was awesome. Granted it took two "sittings" to finish on the old iPad, but it was awesome. Check it out. Plus, former Boston GM Theo Epstein has taken the 5-at-10's dream job as GM of the Chicago Cubs. All he has to do is win one World Series — he won two in Boston, and a lot of folks would say that was a taller order — and he's Abe Froman, sausage king of Chicago forever.
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, left, and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, right, joke at the 50-yard line prior to their NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, at Williams-Brice Stadium, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick)
It's free flow Thursday. Grab the mike and go.
Here are some possible topics:
The Auburn/NCAA verdict is good/bad because...
LSU/UT is going to roll/surprise because...
This whole Signal Mountain High School thing makes me...
Or whatever floats your sports boat...
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...