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Staff file photo of The Chattanooga Lookouts

Fab 4 picks

We had way more than 4 last week. Doubled in fact.

And how about those Fighting Akron Arths, laying the 3 and winning big? We hit on the Arths, Alabama, Purdue-Minnesota over 61, Indiana plus-14.5 (and won outright) and under the 46.5.

We missed Texas Tech over Kansas, Oklahoma State vs. TCU, and Kansas State-Texas.

And you know what? It was our best week of the season and pulled us to even on the season. So, a player on a streak has to respect the streak, right? That's what Crash told us.

So let's double the fun on on the Fab 4, which means — Willie Ames shoutout — Eight is Enough.

Mississippi State plus-7 over Auburn. And you know what, I'd put a taste on MSU on the money line. Mike Leach has settled on a QB and is featuring the remaining players that want to be in Starkville, well as much as anyone wants to be in Starkville that is. MSU was below the number threshold a couple of times and played — and played energetically — anyway. Energetic is nowhere close to the top of the list of the adjectives I'd use for Auburn, and when two teams that have had almost all of the season goals dashed meet in December, then you have to take the team playing with energy. (And the 7 — buy the hook — is an added bonus.)

Hawaii minus-20.5 over UNLV. UNLV is bad, and is starting to have dudes opt out. Plus, the coalition of Rainbow Warriors gets the Rebels on the island. Yes please. Seriously, is there anything that feels more betting friendly (and familiar) than chasing the comeback — or hopefully pressing the day's winnings — on a Hawaii game with a solid CoCola buzz a little before midnight? I think that was right behind the Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, in the commercial jingle about America. (It was edited out because it didn't really flow like the others.)

Virginia plus-3 over Virginia Tech. I think Virginia Tech has folded its tent.

FSU-Duke over 57. Two terrible defenses has to equal points, no? C'mon.

Wisconsin-Iowa under 43.5. Remember gang, you don't have to watch a game to win entertainment on a game.

North Texas-UTEP over 63. Pace = points, and both of these teams snap the ball. A lot.

Louisiana Tech-TCU under 54.5. This number is trending the opposite direction, so wait to maximize the number. (Side note: If you are a legal sports wagerer in Tennessee, you are costing yourself money if you are not shopping the four online operators for the best number. For example, Sportsbetting.com has this at 54.5; DraftKings has this at 52. Find whatever variance you can and make the most of it.) La. Tech is starting to have a growing number of opt outs, too.

UCLA minus-3 over USC. Buy the half, and ride the hot hand. How crazy is it that in the craziest of years, somehow Chip Kelly and Jimbo Fisher have both found their mojo this season?

Bonus pick in case we have a cancellation to make sure we have at least eight, because remember, as Dick Van Patton would remind you, Eight is Enough: Rutgers plus-8 over Maryland. Just because.

Last week: 5-3 against the number (62.5 percent)

This season: 34-34 against the number (50 percent)

 

Speaking of gambling

For the first time in my life as a sports fan, college football in general has needed the tangental action entertainment hunting provides.

Seriously, and we'll ask in earnest below, can you remember a season in which you watched less college football? Sure, for those of us who are Tennessee and Auburn fans have reached a frustration point of indifference (and Georgia fans too).

But the cancellations and the absence of ambiance and the energy-less environments have made Saturday honey-do's way more doable.

And the numbers play that out and prove that I am surely not alone. Yes, LSU has struggled, but the TV numbers from what has become the SEC's marquee game for the last decade were wretched.

Bama-LSU drew a 2.3 rating and average 4.22 million viewers, the worst numbers for this rivalry since 2006 and down 76 percent in ratings and 75 percent in eyeballs from last year's meeting between the top two teams in the country.

Yes it was a blowout, and all of Alabama games are blowouts, which means Nick Saban's has covered in six straight games, the longest streak of his career. And we should have jumped on that string earlier, considering we have long held the beliefs that a) Saban does not crush directional schools or foes in money games, b) he always makes sure that if there's a chance he could recruit against someone, he leaves little doubt, and c) the limited number of players on the field means when Saban clears the bench, his second-string guys are better than almost everyone else's starters.

So, in a season of all-SEC games, that means Alabama is 7-2 against the number this season, and the offense simply can't be stopped. (Granted, we are not offering the Tide this week, because of the lookahead factor with the SEC title game looming.)  

Alabama is, according to the ESPN Football Power Index, is the most dominant college football team since the computer program was founded in 2006 and computes to being 35 points better than the average FBS team.

So in a year that is unlike any other in every other term, the class of college football is led by the same team, just like any other year.

 

Best news in 2020, big question for 2021?

OK, because David Paschall, the all-around TFP sports ace, is very good at his gig, he had the scoop on the Lookouts coming of the chopping block and remain an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

Here's his story, and from the quotes from John Woods, the Lookouts co-owner, make it very clear that a) the Lookouts were much closer to being clipped than we al may have realized, and b) Jason Freier, the owner of the Hardball Capital moved Heaven and Earth to keep minor league baseball in Chattanooga.

From Paschall's prose: ""I want everyone in this city to understand that Jason saved the Lookouts in continuing to be affiliated with MLB. We were toast. I've been involved in every conversation, and we were out. He worked 12-hour days to save us."

So that disaster is avoided, but the next hurdle comes into focus, don't you think?

With this knowledge that Freier was the difference between having the Lookouts and not, will that be enough street cred when he comes calling for public funds for help to build a new stadium?

Because that request is not going away. Period.

And, in truth, you can't help but wonder how much pledging for improved facilities Freier made in his pitch to keep his relationship with the Reds, because that connection, as Woods said above, saved the Lookouts.

So, when the request comes and the knowledge is clear that Chattanooga either pitches in or Freier will find someone else who will, well, who knows.

Yes, Paschall's breaking news is arguably the best local sports headline since the pandemic, but the next question looms just as big. Let's just hope we can have crowds come next spring.

 

This and that

— Speaking of LSU, how about the Tigers pulling a page from the Bruce Pearl, "Yeah, we're not going to be very good this year, so, we'll go ahead and take our self-imposed bowl ban this year" playbook?
 

— How about this quote from Mike Tomlin to Washington Football Team rookie Chase Young: "I never want to lose enough games to draft a guy like you."


— Is there a more telling indictment of the state of Tennessee football than this Mike Bianchi column in the Orlando Sentinel that actually takes pity on the UT program and its fans? Egad.

— You know the rules, here's TFP sports editor and prep sports guru Stephen Hargis on the sad news of the passing of legendary high school football coach Tom Weathers. Man, tough year for longtime legends in the high school scene from our area.  

— Hey, how 'bout those Mocs, who are now 5-0 after making a bushel of 3s. Here's more from TFP UTC beat ace Mean Gene Henley. It's the best start for the Mocs since the late 1980s.

— You know the rules, here's Paschall's weekly picks column. Very good stuff, as always.

— The Big Ten changed the rule, as we all expected, and THE Ohio State will be eligible for the Big Ten title game.

— How's this for a strange recruiting battle? Meet Jimmy Horn Jr., a three-star prospect who went from unknown to picking between Georgia and. Jackson State. Yes, a battle between Kirby and Deion.

 

Today's question

Lots happening these days, and your kind words over the last week-plus have been very gracious and much appreciated.

Some interesting talking points today, and a hodgepodge of questions.

True or false on a Thursday, Opening Day 2021 at AT&T will have fans.

Big picture, what coach currently working will leave the deepest "Guy replacing the guy" shadow out there? I ask with a humble nod to the news that Ray Perkins died Wednesday.  https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/sports/college/story/2020/dec/09/ray-perkins-who-followed-bear-bryant-alabama/537576/ Replacing the Bear had to be the biggest "Guy to replace the guy" scenario, no? All-time which was bigger, following the Bear, following Pat or following Wooden?

How much less college football are you watching this year? Is the same? Is it as much as half as much?

You know the drill, and feel free to fire away at the mailbag.

As for today, Dec. 10, let's review.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published on this day in UK and Canada in 1884. It was not released in the U.S. until the following February because of a printing error.

Rushmore of American novels. Go.

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