Fab 4 picks

OK, who loves to hunt entertainment more than us? Be it a Masters pool or Madness bracket or the ever loving flow of college football picks around these parts, we all love to be entertained, right?

(If we had to do a quick Rushmore of the most 'talented' entertainers ever, who you got? We think of the many talents of a guy like Sinatra, the elite moves and range of Elvis and/or Michael Jackson, and the amazing versatility and elite humor of a young Eddie Murphy. We can't forget Carrot Top and Gallagher too. This will be tough.)

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Twentieth Century Fox
Eddie Murphy portrays the captain of a crew of tiny, human-looking aliens that arrives on Earth in the perfect disguise - a spaceship shaped like the spitting image of the captain.

Any way, where were we? Oh yes, entertainment. Our NFL picks are the model of mediocrity. We are 4-4 after two weeks, which means with the added surcharges for non-entertaining picks and buying the half, we are in slight hole. Not like the senator's daughter in "Silence of the Lambs." More like the chubby gopher stuck in the hole in "Caddyshack."

Of course, after a college season at 60 percent — a number that we were quite proud of against the spread — our entertainment prowess took a kick to the shins when the Magic 8 Ball went 4-0 last week. Alas.

So, we'll offer our four picks this week on the two NFL games, and offer some more Magic insight from the Ball of 8 tomorrow. Deal? Deal.

New England minus-3 over Denver. It's funny how the narrative here has been about the trash talking rather than the likely last meeting between Peyton and Brady. Alas. Here's what we know: If the Patriots win they will set the record for most Super Bowl appearances with nine. The Patriots. If Brady wins, he has a chance for history with a fifth Super Bowl ring. For perspective, that would mean Tom Brady has 10 percent of the Super Bowl titles ever. Ever. Wow. We're a little surprised this is still only a field goal line — yes, but the half of course. 

New England-Denver under 44.5. Anyone think the Patriots are content winning 21-6? Of course. Anyone believe the only chance the Broncos have here is for it to be a 17-17 game going into the final two minutes? Yes, yes we do. Each scenario — and in a lot of ways each team's goal — is to stay slow. That screams under.

Carolina minus-3 over Arizona. OK, the Cardinals have looked dreadful recently and are lucky to still be here. The Panthers have lost once all season, and that was when they played poorly at Atlanta and the Falcons needed super Julio Jones things to win. We expect a great game here — in fact this could be the rare 3-point line you could take a two-game teaser with each side and float the line accordingly — because it's the NFC title game. The last eight NFC championships have been decided by one score and four of the last eight went to overtime. Games that close magnify home-field advantage, but absolutely buy the half. Buckle up. 

Carolina-Arizona under 48.5. Two of the highest scoring teams in the league meet and we're taking the under? You betcha. Couple of things: One, weather could be a real issue, especially for the warm-weather, climate controlled Cardinals. Two, We expect some offensive hiccups because of the pressure involved on a couple of quarterbacks who had great years but are not regular fixtures in the springboard to the Super Bowl. 


College football odds

Saw this recently about the college football odds to win the 2016 college football playoff.

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Tennessee head coach Butch Jones points to the scoreboard during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Tennessee won the game 19-8. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

No. 1 — Alabama at 6-to-1.

No. 2 — Clemson at 7-to-1.

No. 3 — Michigan at 9-to-1.

Nos. 4 — Oklahoma and Ohio State at 10-to-1.

No. 6 — Jomo's Tennessee Volunteers at 12-to-1.

Wow, right? In year three Butch Jones has the Vols on the short list as the favorites to win the whole thing.

Two other tidbits from the most recent odds, which were released after the decisions by underclassmen to go to the draft or return to school:

First, we love Houston at 50-to-1 because of talent, belief and the simple fact that the Cougars should run the table and will get a lot of buzz since they may start the season ranked in the top 15. It's a stretch to think they could win it all, but at 50-to-1, that's a great price. By comparison, Georgia and Auburn are at 33-to-1, and Florida and its toxic quarterback scenario is 40-to-1, and here's saying Houston has a better chance to get to the dance than any of those three.

Second, not to be a damper on the feel-good-Tennessee parade that is the offseason to date, but do you remember who had the sixth-best odds according to Vegas to win the 2015 title? Yep, your Birmingham Bowl champion Auburn Tigers.


College football recruiting

Well, we're here.

We're here in the recruiting process where we wonder why this isn't a bigger deal.

We're to the place that major college programs looking to move a spot or three in the mythical rankings set by Rivals or 24/7 dumps a kid who has been a long-time pledge in an effort to get a kid who may have an extra magical star from an online guru.

We're to the place were, among all the bemoaning and bellyaching about 'paying players' and exploitation, we can't help wonder why more attention is not paid to the unethical nature and downright seediness that comes with college football recruiting.

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Michigan head coach Brady Hoke shouts to his team as they play against Ohio State in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Michigan 42-28. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The two most noteworthy examples of the over-recruiting practice came this week from Tennessee, which dumped a three-star Memphis linebacker, and Michigan, which parted ways with an offensive lineman who was the last of Brady Hoke's commitments.

It's a difficult situation, for sure, because everyone does it. But the fact that a whole of folks are doing it — adultery and cheating on your taxes come to mind — hardly excuses it.

It's also worth noting that as awful as college basketball recruiting is (and it's downright dirty to the point that writing this much about it makes all of us need a shower) is actually more on the up-and-up than college football recruiting when a commitment is given. 

Unless there's a coaching change, schools honor commitments far more often than not in both directions. They seldom pull offers, and once a player commits, most major college coaches stop the recruitment of said player. Unlike football where 'soft verbal' is not only the description of Morgan Freeman reading "50 Shades of Grey" it's a way of life and a phrase we all recognize, commitments are generally viewed and honored by opposing coaches.

And one of the reasons for this is that college basketball has an early signing period.

It's time for college football to get one too.

(And don't even get us started on the need for full four-year scholarships. If folks like Jay Bilas and the student-athlete advocates want to enact real change that would have a real effect on the lives of all student-athletes, forget the stipends and 'exploitation' claims for the stars of the money sports at the top 15 percent of all athletic programs. Those are the only places that can afford to pay all the athletes.

If they want to make matters better. Four-year schollies. Protection among the decision process. More transfer freedoms after coaching changes. Sorry for the tangent.)


This and that

— How much is a state of the art facility worth? Just as the soon-to-be L.A. Rams. When Fobes ranked the values of the NFL franchises, the Rams were 28th at $1.45 billion. With the announced plans of the move to L.A. and the new $1.85 million stadium the Rams, according to Forbes, doubled their value and are now the third most valuable NFL franchise at $2.9 billion. (Dallas is No. 1 at $4 billion; New England is second at $3.2 billion.)

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Ooltewah basketball head coach Andre Montgomery, assistant coach Karl Williams and Athletic Directer Jesse Nayadley enter the courtroom to appear before Judge Rob Philyaw in Hamilton County Juvenile Court to make a plead in failing to report student abuse.

— According to reports Lynda Carter will not be in the new Wonder Woman movie. Somehow this seems unjust. Side note: For a youthful lad in the late 70s, Wonder Woman and Charlie's Angels were appointment TV. Granted we may not have been completely quite sure at the time why we enjoyed those shows as much as we did, but you get the idea.

— Tennessee got housed by Vandy in Knoxville on a snowy night in K-town last night. We're not Adolph Rupp, but when you are down 24-0 on first-half 3s, well, that's a recipe for a whipping.

— ESPN's Outside the Lines is in town for the Ooltewah assault case.

— The Buffalo Bills hired Kathyrn Smith, making her the first full-time female assistant coach.


Today's question

Happy 76th birthday to Jack Nicklaus.

Here's an awesome story on the Golden Bear that includes the great quote "I played golf all my life to retire and go to work."

Nicklaus is a contender for so many cool Rushmores, including easy inclusion of best golfers ever and a finalist for best nickname ever — Golden Bear is sweet.

But what about the biggie. The ultimate Rushmore of sports, not unlike the actual Rushmore of presidents.

Jack has a great argument right there with you name it. 

Let's take a swing at the biggie: Rushmore of sports icons. Who you got.