5-at-10: Patriotism and soccer, gambling's next step, Lane train on the move?, best holiday

Tim Weah of the United States clears the ball in front of Wales' Neco Williams during a World Cup Group B match Monday in Doha, Qatar. (Associated Press)
Tim Weah of the United States clears the ball in front of Wales' Neco Williams during a World Cup Group B match Monday in Doha, Qatar. (Associated Press)

Happy Black Friday. 

Regardless, my happy and stuffed to the gills tuckus will not be partaking in anything remotely resembling Black Friday. If that’s your cup of tea, then swing on that sucker till your lips melt. And especially find local merchants to patronize if possible.

Nope, my post-Thanksgiving Day list looks like this:

6 a.m. — Rise and shine

6:05 a.m. — Coffee. Lots of coffee. LIke John Coffey from “The Green Mile” only spelled different

6:10 a.m. — 5-at-10

8 a.m. — Make breakfast for the family

9 a.m. — finish previously mentioned 5-at-10

10 a.m. — Office for betting newsletter

1 p.m. — Home for the U.S.-England kickball contest.

What? You were unaware I’m neck deep in the World Cup hoopla? Of course I’m not paying attention to the arrogant game. But I am an American, and not unlike watching the U.S. every four years try to beat Norway in the luge or Jamaica in the 100 meters, we can all support the red, white and blue.

(Side note: Speaking of a different color — green — here’s betting England kicks the every-living stuffing — you call it stuffing, I call it dressing, wait, different stuffing — out of our boys today. Put it this way, which even a novice in the ways of the arrogant game can understand: I know the names of several players on the England side; I know the words to the U.S. team’s national anthem. Edge: England.)

(Side question on the side note: We’ve now seen the Peyton-Beckham commercial for Doritos, right? Anyone else rooting for Peyton to slug Mr. Posh Spice by the end of that ad? Yeah, me too.)

(Side question on the side question: The pull-at-the-heart-strings-holiday commercials hit the air during the NFL extra-ganza Thursday, but did you have a favorite? Discuss.)

So, there you go. It will be “U-S-A! U-S-A!” around lunch with a 3:30 ish look at Arkansas-Missouri. Man, the holidays rock.

Let’s handle our business.

Rushmore of “Thanks" — Noonan’s girlfriend saying “Tanks for nuttin’” in “Caddyshack,” Thanksgiving of course, Ferris singing “Danke Shein” at the parade on his day off, and "Thanks for the memories."

Rushmore of female sports stars who have accomplished the most for women’s athletics — Billie Jean King, Pat Summitt, Janet Guthrie and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.   

Rushmore of TV actors who played super heroes — Adam West as Batman, George Reeves as Superman, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, Bill Ferrigno (or Lou Bixby) as the Incredible Hulk. Now if SNL counts, Mike Myers as “Middle-Aged Man” with Chris Farley as his sidekick “Drinking Buddy” was pretty aces too.  

You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on UT and the NCAA still chatting about the Jeremy Pruitt experience.

From BigDog

How does it feel at 31-10 with the over at 43? 

Keep writing. 

Big Dog — 

Thanks for reading and the for the feedback on the "Plays of the Day" gambling newsletter. (If you still have not signed up — and remember folks, it’s free — you can do so here.)


It feels a little nerve-wracking, but sitting at 31-10 in the fourth needing a couple of points is way better than sitting at 21-10 in the fourth, you know?

In truth, though, the scenarios and dominos that always play out in gambling scenarios are quite predictable once the game gets going. Of course, guess which way the game will go and which script it will follow is arguably the biggest trick in sports betting.

For instance, Thursday’s "Plays of the Day" picks took a couple of one-point losses: 

— We had the over 54 in Bills 28, Lions 25. That one played out in somewhat of a predictable fashion, especially with Detroit’s poor clock management. That was a beat, but not necessarily a bad beat.

— We also had Dallas minus-9 in the Cowboys’ 28-20 win over the Giants. This one was an egregiously bad beat considering a) the Cowboys dominated the second half, b) the Cowboys led 28-13 with less than 90 seconds left, and most painfully, c) the Cowboys missed a mid-range field goal that would have iced the game outright and against the number.

But, when the kick sailed wide, you could see the tumblers click. The Dallas defense played soft and took out several key players. The refs were content to call nothing. The Giants hustled through a 90-second drill with no timeouts and scored an anything-nut-meaningless TD with 8 seconds left.

A lot of the current analytics dudes would have gone for 2 there, but of course, the Giants successfully kicked the PAT that foiled Dallas bettors and pushed the total from under to over.

That sequence got me thinking that, with the rise in betting across the country and the growing acceptance of it from the leagues, teams and networks — it used to be a wink, wink deal as Al Michael would say something on the lines of “That TD really mattered to some of you” — there will be a gambling expert on bigger games or back in the studios as needed.

Not unlike the former refs who are now the replay guys for the networks, there will be betting voices. Because anyone with money on either side of the Dallas-Giants game — and gang, there’s a real chance that puppy drew well north of 40 million viewers — knew the importance of the field goal try in the moment.

And those folks would much rather hear the scenarios, the probabilities and the impacts than the two goofs who replaced Joe and Troy and their ugly U.S. Soccer sweaters.

But I’m not bitter or anything.

From Jack

So you still want Lane now? Auburn sucks and you deserve that (bleep)hole. You dumb (bleeps) should have never fired Gus and now you are getting what you so.

Jack — 

Thanks for that email sir. It speaks volumes.

Jack is a regular heckler but mostly it is just insults or gloating. And being an Auburn grad, he’s had plenty of material this fall.

Yeah, I’m still cool with Lane, even after the last two losses that were not overly impressive. 

(Side note: While I was cool with the decisions that led to loses in Bills-Lions and Cowboys-Giants and believe I was on the right side for each, it was foolish to not put more stock in the Lane-Auburn footsie distraction before Thursday’s Egg Bowl. Still, it was a stout week for the "Plays of the Day.")

I think Lane has a natty in him in the right situation, and moreover, I believe Lane will be a maestro in the portal and can address the QB issues ASAP. Those are much needed attributes. (If it is Lane, it also would work to make Cadillac your OC since Lane calls his own plays anyway, you know?)

But here’s the other thing: I’m tired of folks saying Auburn should not have fired Malzahn. Why? Malzahn had a supremely talented crew in 2013-14 and may have underachieved with it all things considered. Plus, Malzahn every year lost at least one and normally two games that he shouldn’t have, and of course every Georgia fan would have loved for Auburn to keep Malzahn because the Bulldogs whipped him like a rented mule.

Which brings us back to the “shouldn’t have fired” conversation. Hasn’t almost every power program in the last couple of decades or so canned someone that was good but not great or good but failed to reach expectations?

UT canned Fulmer. Georgia sacked Richt. (And Donnan before him.) Alabama has a few, as did Florida and Notre Dame and so many others.

It only becomes the belly-aching picture of dysfunction when you don’t get someone who is better, and that’s the punctuation that’s needed in this narrative.

It’s not that Auburn shouldn’t have fired Gus; it’s that Auburn should have hired someone much better than Harsin.

Kiffin — and Freeze, and heck, several of the high school coaches I know — are assuredly better than Harsin.   

From GG

Jay, I’ve been reading a long time and have always wondered which holiday is your favorite? If this could be in the mailbag that would be awesome.

GG — 

OK, we can all agree that we take Christmas out of the discussion. That’s everyone’s favorite if I had to guess.

Thanksgiving’s up there for me but not  No. 1

New Year’s Day is my favorite, believe it or not. Love the new beginning each year. Love the wall-to-wall college football. Love my black-eyed peas and grits-and-turnip greens. (Not the biggest greens fan, so I put them in grits. Chef’s kiss, because they are mighty fine, Clark.)

Thanksgiving is right there behind July Fourth at 3. Memorial Day has a soft spot, too. Labor Day would round out the top 5.

While that question could cause some conversation to which I could listen, there is no debating which "holiday" is the worst.

New Year’s Eve is a clown show every year. And I’m not the world’s biggest Halloween fan, either.

So there’s that.

From Jacob

Are you ready to admit Ohio State-Michigan is the best rivalry in college sports?

Jacob — 

Nope. I’ll forever put Auburn-Alabama at the top of that conversation.

THE game between THE Ohio State and Michigan is second, though. 

What would you put third?

Have a great weekend friends, and try not to eat too many turkey sandwiches on white bread in the coming days.

My over/under is 8, and the over is minus-150.

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