5-at-10: Fab 4 picks (minus 3), SEC football honors, Manning brothers a smash hit

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, right, hands off to running back Rhamondre Stevenson during the second half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Fab 4 picks

Sigh. Another year of picks. Another year spinning our wheels.

Yes, we got north of .500. (Thanks for the motivation, Matt.)

But our goals are loftier than that. There is pride in the finish, though. We could have packed the tent before championship Saturday and limped home a game over .500.

And while we certainly did not go OG Ted Williams on the final day of the season, we did enough. (Side note: Of all the many great Teddy Ballgame stories, the end of the 1941 season is up there. Dude was hitting .3996, which would have rounded up to allow him to hit an even .400 for the season. HIs manager gave him the chance to sit out the season-ending doubleheader and finish on that historic number - remember no one has done it since. Williams said something to the effect of "Bleep, no. I'm a ball player. If there is a ball game, I'm playing." He went 6-for-8 in the doubleheader and finished at .406.)

So we head into the bowls with a 47-45 record. Last year we were a smidge under .500 after a multi-year run north of 56%. Somewhere deep in the interwebs is the all-time mark, but time constraints will force us to move forward with this program.

That's a 0.511 percentage (take that Teddy Ballgame) and a free cushion to pick the pageantry that is the Army-Navy game.


OK, Navy has been aces against the number this year. Yes the Midshipmen are a disappointing 3-8 overall, but have covered the spread in four of their last five and seven of their last nine.

That's the Navy offense, friends. It's difficult to prepare for in a week.

That is, unless you run a similar offense. And run it better.

Like Army does.

I would try to find it at 7 rather than the 7.5 that is commonplace at most shops. And sweet buckets of quick-moving quarters, the over/under has dipped to 34.5. (This game will move so fast, we may only get into two really bad Gary Danielson stories. Bonus.)

Give the points. Go Army, as it beats Navy.

SEC honors

The award season of college football is upon us.

Yes, the Heisman is anyone's guess and feels more like a "Last one standing, turn the lights out" kind of deal this year. I think it will be Bryce Young, if I had to guess, but that's all it would be - a guess.

As for the defensive player invited, I'm cool with it. Especially this year. I just think it was the wrong defensive player. Will Anderson > Aiden Hutchinson in my opinion, and maybe both could have earned an invite. But Hutchison's excellence in the spotlight game that was Michigan's win over THE Ohio State turned back the Tide star.

As for the rest, the anomalies of the award selections like All-American teams and all-conference teams are as interesting to me as anything.

Like, did you see on CBSSports.com's All-American team, two Cincinnati corners were picked, as Ahmad Gardner was a first-teamer and Coby Bryant was a second-timer.

On that same team, in the class categories, there was only one freshman - the extremely talented Georgia tight end Brock Bowers - and four players listed as 'graduate.' That trend will continue.

As for the SEC superlative honors, it was what you would expect in terms of the players. Bryce Young, the Heisman front-runner, was the offensive player of the year, and his teammate Anderson was the pick for defensive player of the year.

To answer our question from last week, the AP panel voted Kirby Smart as the SEC coach of the year, which clearly meant the voting was done before the SEC title game, huh?

Anyone surprised?

OK, the numbers are in.

And the Peyton and Eli simulcast is a home run for its genre.

How about this? In a format that ESPN has to be exploring every possible way to expand, the Mannings hold the top seven spots in viewership of ESPN alternate broadcasts. Yes, the top seven.

Last Monday's Bills-Pats game had more than 1.6 million viewers on the Mannings. ESPN's three-channel coverage - proper, 2 and Deportes - drew 14.97 million viewers total.

It also allowed ESPN to post its highest week 13 number since 2013, which is kind of nuts.

As for the Mannings, it's clear this format works. And I don't know about you, but even as raw and rough around the edges that the first-year in-game broadcasters struggle through, the chemistry and the content earns the highest praise you can pay a broadcaster.

I watch that channel because of them. And that quality is off-the-charts valuable in TV sports. Romo has it. Barkley too. Mickelson will have it.

And the Mannings have it. Big time.

This and that

- That's right, the "Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success, Bowler Optional" contest is up and running. Get the rules, a list of the games and point categories and our official spreads here.

- So we referenced the Lia Thomas situation at Penn earlier this week. Thomas, is a transgender swimmer who swam collegiately for the first three years as Will Thomas and even made second-team all-Ivy League, is dominating women's swimming. Here are some direct comments from a Penn female swimmer given under the condition of anonymity to the very conservative site "Outkick" owned by Clay Travis: "Pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this. Our coach [Mike Schnur] just really likes winning. He's like most coaches. I think secretly everyone just knows it's the wrong thing to do," the female Penn swimmer said during a phone interview. "When the whole team is together, we have to be like, 'Oh my gosh, go Lia, that's great, you're amazing.' It's very fake."

- So an NHL team in Arizona - yes, ice hockey in Arizona seems oxymoronic on its face - is facing eviction. That seems rather odd.

- You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Alabama passing game without John Metchie III, who is a lot better at tackle football than Thurston Howell the Third. Side question: Is the 'the' officially part of Thurston's name? I believe it is. What say you, Skipper? Also, a side note: When Alabama preaches, "Next man up" - the familiar refrain of football teams everywhere when injuries arise - Alabama's next man is likely better than 99% of the rest of the country's first man up.

- Speaking of which, Isaiah Bond, the nation's No. 1-ranked athlete, is picking (wait for it) for his college (almost there) - Alabama.

- UTC played hoops. UTC won in hoops. The Mocs survived a rough second half to grab a 78-73 win at UNC-Asheville. UTC is 8-1 overall and 5-3 against the spread this season.

- Chas asked earlier this week if Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool had a better name than Kentucky running back Kavosiey Smoke. That's a personal preference in my mind but I'd lean toward Bumper, especially if he has a cousin named Bumper Cars. But, if the family follows grammatical protocol, well, let's look at a recent LSU decommitment named Decoldest Crawford. Because if he's the third Crawford, and his siblings are Decold, Decolder and he's Decoldest, well, the name game is officially over and the Crawfords have won.

Today's questions

Did you remember the mailbag?

Are you ready for Christmas? (I am ready for the day but not close on my preparations for the event.)

OK, if the Mannings' brother banter is football gold, what other brother combo(s) could do a sports broadcast or even a movie review? And with the success of appealing to the fans on an alternate broadcast, we need someone to contact, say the Wilson brothers, for a spin on the 2.0 version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, don't you think?

As for today, Dec. 9, let's review.

The first game of the Women's Pro Basketball League happened on this day as the Chicago Hustle played the Milwaukee Does. Yeah, not thinking the 'Does' would fly as a team name these days.

On this day in 1868, the first traffic lights were used. They had gas lamps.

Does 'Red Light, Green Light' make the Rushmore of schoolyard games? Go, and remember the mailbag.