Possible mailbag discussion here. I thought about it back when the Ohio State guy wanted to boycott "ESPN College GameDay" and the Rushmore today about Heisman snubs reminded me — we used to think ESPN was biased against the SEC and loved the Big 10. The Big 10 loves those nooners (maybe because it's so cold there? not sure) and ESPN always had that kick right after Gameday.
They had a few not-so-flattering commercials, especially that elevator with the UT fans, and pretty much made sure Woodson got that Heisman instead of Peyton.
Did we imagine that [because] of where we live or would you agree? I just figured they got wise to where the crazy support and money was (insert David's statistic about the cheapest championship tickets here) and decided they better start loving who paid the bills.
However, we always have to add that if and when USC and Notre Dame are relevant, the National media loves them the most.
Great talking point, and yes, there was a time that many of us thought ESPN was making fun of the SEC.
Then the SEC Network happened, and let's be real clear about the connection: ESPN covers all sorts of sports, but it blankets those sports that the network has partnerships with.
It started with college hoops, which was the first sport that ESPN started to broadcast. (And in truth, while the great matchup of Bird and Magic in the late 70s was a springboard and the amazing upsets of the 1980s were awesome, you can't downplay ESPN and Dickie V's role in college basketball becoming a national craze.)
Then it went to MLB and even the NFL (well, that one is everyone's biggest beat). Now, with college GameDay, college football is a cash cow for ESPN, and the partnership with the SEC Network is clear.
(Also of note: The current CBS-SEC deal will be multiplied by at least five and possibly 10 considering the ratings, and we all know ESPN is going to get in on that bidding big time. Right now CBS pays the SEC $55 million a year for a season worth of the best games from the best conference. Three of the five most-watched college football games were on CBS this year. Here are the games that drew more than 7 million viewers: LSU-Alabama (16.64), LSU-Georgia (13.7), THE OSU-Wisconsin (13.55), THE OSU-Michigan (12.42), Iron Bowl (11.43), Penn State-THE OSU (9.43), Notre Dame-Georgia (9.29), Oklahoma-Baylor title game (8.7), LSU-Texas (8.63), Oklahoma-Texas (7.25), Auburn-LSU (7.18). Five of those, including the top two, were on CBS.)
That's not a knock on ESPN, that's just a fact. In truth, Fox has become more Big Ten-based because it has the best game in that conference each week. In truth, I'm most surprised that CBS did not get more into college football than it has. (And yes, if CBS ponies up and gets an extension with the SEC, here's hoping they overhaul that announcing team. Gary was distractingly bad this season.)
I am not sure ESPN had a for-sure slant against the SEC back in the day, but we know ESPN is right there now. Because it makes good sense. And big dollars.
This week's Rushmores:
Rushmore of 12s — "Adam 12" (may have had the lunch box), 12 gauge, 12 days of Christmas, TB 12 (as in Tom Brady, and Roger Staubach is my No. 2 12; yes Staubach > Bradshaw fight me).
Rushmore of TV cars — General Lee, the Gran Torino from "Starsky and Hutch," KITT and off the board with the awesome ride "The Beverly Hillbillies" take to Californ-I-A. (If we went cartoons, we'd go with the Mystery Machine, Fred Flintstone's ride that flips over with the brontosaurus ribs at the beginning, "Speed Racer" and the four-door family truckster with the dented fender that Homer and Marge drive in "The Simpsons.")
Rushmore of Heisman snubs — Peyton, Herschel Walker's freshman season (which was better than his junior season), Adrian Peterson in 2004 (he had almost 2,000 yards and lost to Matt Leinart, who was not even one of the best two players on his own team), Tommie Frazier in 1995.
Rushmore of TV Christmas specials — "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman," "Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas." (Yes, "Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas.")
Where is MLB going with realignment in minor league baseball? I read that after they get rid of 42 teams they want the remaining teams to realign closer to their affiliates. How would that work? Teams change affiliations every season, does that mean that teams will be dropped in the future if they aren't close to a major league team? MLB also wants to bring prospects in to the major league teams to work out and be evaluated by using analytics. Sounds like they would like to do away with the minor leagues completely.
I don't think the minor league baseball issue is about location or facilities as much as it is about cost-cutting.
Fact: Minor league players have filed suit about better wages.
Fact: Minor league players deserve better wages.
Fact: Of the thousands of minor leaguers — each club has roughly 150 players in their minor league systems — a dozen or so are going to have more than a cup of coffee in the bigs.
So how do you keep costs down with increased wages? Fewer employees.
Now, location and facilities have a connection, for sure, but I truly believe that is the genesis of this.
I also believe that major league teams see teams like the Braves and the Cardinals that own their minor league affiliates and the money that generates. (And it's hard to blame them, because if the MLB teams are paying the biggest expense of players and personnel, then why should they not want to generate more profits? It's eliminating the middle management part of it.)
As for the analytics and the changes, well, that is centrally locating the process, which again is about costs in large part. Right now, each major league team has roving scouts and instructors.
If they eliminate one minor league team for each franchise and the players start the training process in the spring training facilities — a place they can charge admission for and generate revenue from — that gives them two seasons at the facilities they already own and operate.
(Cue "The Godfather" scene in Don Vito's office between Sonny, Michael and Tom: "It's not personal. It's strictly business." And that business is all about money.)
Jay, we know you love the draft. Does this record setting season with LSU make Burrow the first QB picked?
Kudos to Joe Burrow, who cleaned up at the Home Depot Awards and will likely be a runaway Heisman winner this weekend.
We love the draft; you know this. As for the hierarchy of positions next year, I'd be hard-pressed to take anyone in this draft over Burrow. (I'd definitely take Trevor Lawrence over him, but Lawrence is not eligible yet.)
I think Chase Young is the best player in this draft class, and I think Clemson defensive hybrid Isaiah Simmons is one of the most intriguing prospects of the last decade.
But the top five QBs in this class would be Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jacob Eason and Jordan Love (he's from Utah State).
Great question. Love the draft. You know this.
OK, our pick of "The Little Drummer Boy" did not meet Chas' standards in terms of Christmas songs, so let's hope our picks can continue to sleigh (See what we did there, Spy?)
NFL picks are 48-30-2 against the number (61.5 percent); the college hoops picks — we rolled with Northern Iowa over Grand Canyon last night — are 11-9 (55 percent) against the number; NBA picks — War Doncic as Dallas covered over Detroit — are 2-0 against the number. College tonight, we'll lay the big number with Indiana minus-16 over a terrible Nebraska bunch. NBA tonight, we'll ride with L.A. on the road. (That's actually the Clippers minus-5 at Minnesota rather than the LeBron's at Miami, which is unbeaten at home this year.)
As for the NFL, let's explore.
Tampa Bay minus-3 over Detroit. The Lions are 1-7 against the number in their last eight. The lone cover was in a loss to the Bears on Thanksgiving when David Blough hit two big TD passes earlier. Buy that hook for safety reasons.
Pittsburgh minus-1.5 over Buffalo. The over on this one is close to 35, which is minuscule. And it makes sense. Two great defenses for sure.
Minnesota minus-1.5 over L.A. Chargers. Vikings are chasing a playoff spot; Chargers are chasing fans. Edge Vikings.
Green Bay minus-4 over Chicago. Aaron Rodgers > Mitchell Trubisky. It's science.
Jacksonville-Oakland over 45. Maybe this is wishful thinking, because in our fantasy football semifinal we have Leonard Fournette and Josh Jacobs. Here's hoping for multiple TDs for each of those dudes.
In your bowling for bowls I don't think the Cotton Bowl is listed. And one of these days we need to have a conversation about Ted Simmons. I'll put him up against Steve Garvey any day (unless the contest is how to cheat on your wife).
This was not submitted as a question, but sadly Stan is right. So we are punting the Cotton Bowl because we've already received several dozen entries.
So we'll go without the spine-tingling tilt between Penn State and Memphis. Sorry Lions, Tigers bear with us.
As for the lament about Ted Simmons being a Hall of Famer, Garvey was just a random pick from the names on the list. I don't believe Garvey should be in the Hall either, but his resumé is better than Simmons' — as a player and as a playa.
Garvey — 1 MVP, 1 MVP runner-up, three other top-six finishes in the MVP voting, 10x All-Star, 38.1 WAR, 4x Gold Glove winner; .294/.329/.446 lines with 2,599 career hits 272 HRs and 1,308 RBIs in 19 years. (and the last five years with the Padres dropped his career average from .301).
Simmons — 0 MVP, 0 MVP runner-ups, 1 top-six MVP finish, 8x All-Star, 50.3 WAR, 0 Gold Gloves, .285/.348/.437 lines with 2,472 hits, 248 HRs and 1,389 RBIs in 21 years.
As for the contest, we need the entries by lunch on the 19th. Deal? Deal. The entry sheet is below. Email your picks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Doesn't cost anything to enter. Winner gets some stuff.
Also, pass it along to your buddies and the Mrs. and anyone else you think would be interested. The more the merrier. The spreads listed below are final, friends, there will assuredly be line movements between now and kickoff on a lot of these games, but these are the lines we're using.
One-point games (maximum 9 points):
Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo vs. Charlotte (+5.5)
Frisco Bowl: Kent State vs. Utah State (-9.5)
New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (-4.5)
FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern (-5.5)
Boca Raton Bowl: SMU vs. FAU (+3.5)
Camellia Bowl: FIU vs. Arkansas State (-3.5)
Las Vegas Bowl: No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington (-3.5)
New Orleans Bowl: No. 20 Appalachian State vs. UAB (+16.5)
Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Marshall (+17.5)
Two-point games (max 18 points):
Hawaii Bowl: BYU vs. Hawaii (+2.5)
Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (FL) (-7.5)
Quick Lane Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Pitt (-10.5)
Military Bowl: North Carolina vs. Temple (+5.5)
Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State vs. Wake Forest (+3.5)
First Responder Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan (+2.5)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Nevada (+6.5)
Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Tulane (-7.5)
LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana vs. Miami (OH) (+14.5)
Three-point games (max 18 points):
Texas Bowl: No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (-6.5)
Holiday Bowl: No. 22 USC vs. No. 16 Iowa (-1.5)
Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force vs. Washington State (+2.5)
Music City Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Louisville (-3.5)
RedBox Bowl: Cal vs. Illinois (+6.5)
Birmingham Bowl: No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College (+6.5)
Four-point games (max 24 points):
Belk Bowl: Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech (-3.5)
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Florida State vs. Arizona State (-5.5)
Liberty Bowl: No. 23 Navy vs. Kansas State (-1.5)
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Wyoming vs. Georgia State (+7.5)
Alamo Bowl: No. 11 Utah vs. Texas (+6.5)
Camping World Bowl: No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State (+3.5)
Five-point games (max 30 points):
Orange Bowl: No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia (+13.5)
Outback Bowl: No. 18 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Auburn (-7.5)
Citrus Bowl: No. 13 Alabama vs. No. 14 Michigan (+7.5)
Rose Bowl: No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (-2.5)
Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor (+7.5)
Gator Bowl: Indiana vs. Tennessee (PK)
Peach Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 LSU (-13.5)
Fiesta Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson (-2.5)
National champ (just the winner no spread) is worth 10 points.
Enjoy the weekend, friends. Go Navy. Beat Army (and the spread).