FILE - ESPN Monday Night Countdown personality Adam Schefter on the set before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Flop 4 picks  

So upon further review, we did finish 4-3 rather than 2-3 last week because Auburn did what Auburn does and Georgia did what Georgia does.

Good times.

The three-TD line against a slow-moving UK bunch scares me Saturday. Auburn at Arkansas scares me as a fan but not as a bettor — although that line is rising like the ire in Nick Saban's post-loss blood.

With that, like how Ralph Wiggum views his nose, let's get to some picking, shall we?

Alabama minus-17 for the game and minus-10 for the first half over Mississippi State. Guns ablazin' early and often for a Tide team that is ticked. TEE-icked. Side skinny on betting Alabama in SEC games: They can only take a certain number of folks to Saturday's nooner, and how far down the Alabama depth chart (when they clear the benches) do you have to find dudes who would NOT start for Mississippi State?  

Missouri-A&M over 59. Scared of the line because this is a classic letdown spot after a week of being the belle of the college football ball after beating Bama. But that Missouri defense is slump-proof. Egad, they are really charming when they try to tackle folks.

La Tech minus-6.5 over UTEP. The Techsters (are they still called the Techsters?) have been good to us. And a week off to stew should give La Tech an edge against a team that is playing its seventh game of the season with a bye looming next Saturday.

Nebraska minus-3 over Minnesota. Boy, have the Huskers — Hickory! — burned me consistently. But like that dove-eye, middle-school chasing the hot girl with the hot girl name — in my middle school (back in the stone age) there were a high percentage of Ericas and Nicoles, for what that's worth — I come back for the Scott Frost moment. It almost happened last week. But I think Big Red gets well against a Minnesota team that may still be rowing, but needs a new boat.

Florida minus-11 over LSU. The injury opt-outs are mounting for the Tigers. A noon kickoff usurps LSU's greatest home-field edge. Orgeron is losing his grip inside and outside the program. Add in how flummoxed Dan Mullen was on how the Gators played in a lackluster rout of Vandy, and this one will get nasty. Consider this: For CBS to pick a Georgia-UK game — and yes, it likely will decide the East — that is a 23-point spread over a Florida-LSU game that is barely a two-score line, well, this one feels like it's going to get one-sided quickly and stay there.

Michigan State minus-4.5 over Indiana. Shhhh, but Michigan State is pretty good. Also of note: Former longtime SEC DC and current MSU HC Mel Tucker made the genius move of bringing in a slew of SEC transfer portal dudes. Disgruntled former SEC players > Hoosiers, unless we're talking tires or college hoops.

Last week: 4-3

This season: 20-23


Bad journalism 101

Interesting chain of events in the world of journalism on Wednesday.

First there was Adam Schefter and the email between him and then-Washington GM Bruce Allen. It centered on Schefter sending a raw and pre-published story to Allen, who Schefter called Mr. Editor, and reportedly asking "Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked. Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to file this to espn about 6 am."

The media writer from the Sporting News does about as good a job outlining the acceptable and unacceptable parts of this scenario.

And for all the stones — rightly and wrongly being thrown at Schefter, the biggest one is the complete unbiased appearance of writing on something like labor talks and negotiations — like Schefter was — and giving that kind of editorial control not only to a source, but a source with an incredibly vested interest in one side of what is supposed to be a balanced ''news'' story.

(Side note, part I: By all accounts Schefter the dude is a fine person and very approachable. By this account, Schefter the journalist has a checkered past that makes these decade-old emails feel like just a line item on a laundry list of questionable ethical decisions.)  

(Side note, part II: As we are wondering how these emails got out about Jon Gruden — and how they benefit the NFL in distraction and deflection from the growing juiciness of the Washington Football Team lawsuits — and the spinning plates of jazz hands and "look over here at the games and the highlights" from Bristol, this detail came out: ESPN has landed a five-year deal with the NFL to show the new Monday night wildcard game starting this January. Simply put, it will be the five most-watched ESPN programs over the duration of that deal, and projected to be worth billions. Now ask again how impartial ESPN is when covering the NFL.)

Then there was the news from Katie Couric's book that the longtime TV personality edited out Ruth Bader Ginsburg's harsh quotes about kneelers during the anthem. Couric said she did so to ''protect'' RBG.

First, not sure RBG needed ''protecting'' from much of anything.

Second, that's the job of PR folks and press secretaries, not the press, Katie, and I feel certain she should and did know that.

Third, there's no telling the accuracy and balance on any number of stories of Couric's through the years that will — and should — come into question after a revelation like that.


From the files of good journalism

Sadly and understandably, all of the above dwarfed to me what was the most interesting journalism side story from Wednesday.

In Norman, Okla., an enterprising student newspaper sportswriter found a good pair of binoculars and an angle from a public building from which he could see the Sooners' practice fields. Said enterprising young Woodward or Bernstein reported that Caleb Williams, the freshman QB who came off the bench to relieve the struggling Spencer Rattler and save OU's bacon in the Red River Rivalry, was taking the reps with the 1s in practice.

This made Lincoln Riley have kittens, because we know the following:

A) College football coaches love to have kittens, especially at the media's expense.

B) College football coaches are completely sure that their depth details are akin to launch codes in terms of national security and way more important than some break-in at the Watergate Hotel. (Side question: How many of our history-starved American citizens would have zero idea that Watergate — and the suffix-gate for every scandal since — was the name of the hotel?)

C) College football coaches loathe any message they can't control. (Maybe Schefter should be a college football insider?)

Now whether it was linked or not, this security breach caused Riley to cancel all OU-sponsored media events until after Saturday's game, when it feels likely Caleb Williams will start, star and then be unable to talk to the media because of Riley's soon-to-be-archaic rules about freshmen speaking with reporters.


This and that

— One more thing about the journalism flap. Sadly, more and more folks care less and less. To wit, the Sooners fans — folks who would be that student reporter's main readers (i.e. customers in a growing business-starving media world) — are livid that said reporter 'betrayed' the team by reporting the news. And there are far more folks tickled to be screaming about Couric's liberal bias rather than being concerned about the ethical violations and the eroding (eroded?) trust of so many of our national voices.

— Speaking of the Gruden email trail, it's fair to wonder how wide and far these emails will reach and land. Caveat: Gruden's words and stances are wrong and boneheaded and indefensible. Clear? Good. Well, considering that Jay Gruden — Jon's brother — was coaching with Washington at the time, you have to wonder the length and width the ripples of this will reach. There are 650,000 of those suckers, folks.

— Holy buckets of more dollars than sense. According to this, someone at a charity auction paid $1 million for four tickets to Coach K's finale at Cameron vs. UNC next winter. A million buckets for four tickets? They better be sitting next to Elon Musk and heading beyond this atmosphere. 

— Thought this was interesting. college basketball beat ace Matt Norlander has the Mocs ranked No. 98 in the nation in his preseason review of all the D-I programs. It's one spot behind Furman. Here's his ranking of teams from 69-to-200.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall and his picks this week.

— Rivalry countdown, and while the questions about Army-Navy vs. Auburn-Alabama from Wednesday are worth discussing, is anyone surprised — especially in the South — that the Iron Bowl advanced? In fact, I voted for the Iron Bowl. The next round of the next round of the 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge on which is the most entertaining college football rivalry is up and running. Fire away.


Today's questions

First, if you have a mailbag question, fire away as quickly as possible. Going to try to get that done tonight because we have a busy morning planned for Friday before we head back to the 423.

Second, who you got at Dodgers-Giants tonight, and maybe more importantly, Braves fans, who do you want to see in the NLCS?

Next, give me the Bucs and lay the 7 (but try to find the 6.5 if you can). Also of note, a whole lot of these Thursday night games are going under. Whether that's because of a lack of time to put in an appropriate gameplay, who's to say.

As for today, well, it was 29 years ago today that Sid Bream slid and Skip Carey made all of us tear up.

Great times.

Rushmore of Sid. Go.