Welp, we're at the doorstep. We're almost done with another college football season.
We have one bowl game left, and it's the big one. And it's the big one that it should be - Alabama vs. Georgia. But the final chapter of the 2021 season feels oxymoronic because in so many ways, 2021 is the new beginning of the game.
The portal. NIL. Player empowerment, which even leads to the craziness that will be Caleb Williams in the portal in efforts to secure an NIL. Seismic conference shifts. Coaches jumping ship - and doing it from blue bloods mind you - so secretly Billy Zane's character from "Titanic" is offended. "I have a child."
Expansion whispers becoming chats and soon will become screams.
The complete crumbling of the facade of parity.
"Almost Famous" would say, "Yeah, it's here and it's happening." "Bull Durham" would say, "We're dealing with a lot of (bleep)."
We have opinions about all of them. That's what we do, and that's a target-rich environment.
But the only way to find real solutions for any of these is to have a college football czar with real power. The NCAA has the effectiveness and discipline of a substitute teacher.
The system is broken, and even the parts of the broken system with which I agree - I am for NIL and the idea of the portal but not the wild West it has become - have been so unsupervised that now those appear to be out of control.
And this is not coming from a bitter Auburn fan who will be forced to watch our two biggest rivals play for the title Monday.
This is coming from a college football fan who is watching as more and more ideas and avenues become more and more detrimental to the sport and more and more needed changes get twisted and exploited.
There are fewer and fewer teams who have a shot every year, especially now that Dabo Swinney is facing Saban-esque staff turnover and his latest 5-star QB on signing day turned out to be a 2.5-star QB on Saturdays.
That fact - the lack of real hope for so many, and friends, Cincinnati pooped in the punch bowl of the Group Five for the next decade - endangers the sport as a whole. And we can't blame Saban or Kirby or THE Ohio State, that's their job, to get to the top and stay at the top.
A leader - or leadership team - must be formed, and former far away from Indianapolis. My idea? Put it in Atlanta - home of the college football Hall of Fame - and make Bill Curry the first CFB czar. Let him, and his team, address the big issues of the moment, and secretly command Bill to groom his successor along the way. (Side note: In my personal dealings with the man, there are few people across all of sports I respect as much as I do Bill Curry.)
Because here's the deal, the folks - especially the ones at ESPN who have a very large and lucrative personal interest in expansion - who think expanding the playoffs will solve a lot of these issues are dead wrong. Gang you could have had 4 playoff teams or 24, and I still think we get to Bama-Bulldogs, whether it would have been Monday night or the Monday after Selection Sunday.
Expansion just guarantees the elite a spot in the field, and worse over a expanded playoff field would be a huge cut to the remaining beacon and strength of the game - the greatness that is the regular season.
I love college football. I hope others out there love it enough to try to keep it great.
OK, it's been quite the ride for the Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success, Bowler Optional contest.
And in almost everyday, this has been the hardest year by far. With all the picks due before the start of the first bowl, well, last-minute opt-outs, COVID outbreaks and random coach movement or even a horde of locust (allegedly) made picking almost impossible.
Which brings us to the leaders and laggers with a shot to cash in. Well done, gang. Or, so impossibly badly done, you get a well done too. Hey, picking losers can be every bit as entertaining and financially rewarding as picking winners.
We had 67 possible points through the 4-point games, 44 possible points since Friday, so the max with the 10-point straight up title game in play (players picks in parenthesis) is 111
HGLIII - 53/39 - 92. (Alabama) Sweet buckets of red-hot picks, after leading after the first two rounds HGLIII hit five of the six 5-point games - missing only Ole Miss, which I believe would have won if Matt Corral doesn't roll his ankle - and both semifinal games. This may be as good a pick entry as I can ever recall gang.
Brent R - 51/34 - 85. (Georgia.) And there are the two folks who have a chance to win. And in truth - Brent got both semifinals and missed Ole Miss and THE Ohio State - these two sheets have been great from the start. Well done fellas.
As for the contenders for the assuredly-not-first-but-in-line-for the-second-prize folks, here you go:
Fat Vader - 27/15 - 42 (Georgia)
RTR19 - 21/17 - 38 (Alabama)
Not all wins are equal.
To that end, UTC got an impressive win. Going on the road to Wofford without three contributors, including standout big man Silvio De Sousa. Here's more.
That's worthy of a visor tip.
Conversely, UT needed overtime to escape Ole Miss, which was without its leading scorer, in a game not even James Naismith's momma could love.
Both are wins, of course, but each tells a strikingly different tale.
For the Mocs, this crew is deep and balanced and can survive hurdles.
For the Vols, well, it screams that Wednesday - and the offensive offensive output that UT had against Texas Tech in NYC earlier this season - was one of those days that UT could lose to anyone. Yes, the Vols defend at an elite level, and defense travels, but that type of shooting is inexplicable for a ranked team.
The traits above of the Mocs and the Vols will be magnified come tournament time too.
This and that
- So raise your hand if you know someone who may have made a UT-Ole Miss under in-game bet only to lose because of OT. Or someone who had a four-leg parlay with the final piece being Iowa State minus-5. Or a player prop parlay of Kyrie Irving plus-20 points and 4+ assists and 4+ rebounds for him to finish with 22 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Yeah, me neither.
- So now the NFL has more teeth and clarity in the rules about pre-draft interviews than what they have for what is a catch on Sundays. Cool. Also of note in this conversation, did you know the Wonderlic is almost dead too. And some sports writers are taking a victory lap about that too. Wow.
- If Tom Rinaldi still worked at ESPN, what would be the odds of a super-touchy-feely, Rinaldi special on Stetson Bennett before Monday's title game. Here's Paschall with all you need to know about Bennett, who we all know loved UGA so much he walked on and transferred out and transferred back, a win away from being cemented in Bulldogs lore. (Side note: The Bennett walk-on story trails only the "David Pollack and David Greene played youth league football together" in repeated Georgia history.)
- Golf returns today. And I'm in for it.
Remember the mailbag people.
As for today, let's review.
It was a a year ago that the tragedy in D.C. happened. What a waste and it remains a nightmare.
Wow, "Wheel of Fortune" debuted on this day in 1975.
"YMCA" by the Village People hit No. 1 in the UK on this day in 1979. At its peak, the record sold more than 150,000 copies a day. In truth it's still a stadium fav.
Rushmore of 'village' and be creative. And remember the mailbag.