Author: sammano

I'm just a guy...just a man trying to survive in this wacky world, stay true to myself (whatever that means), maybe have some fun, have a positive influence on people and events, and navigate this curvy, bumpy road called life.

College Football Bowlapalooza 2014

College football wrapped up its regular season a couple of weeks ago, and now we have the opportunity to watch nearly 40 post-season bowl gamestrophy over the next few weeks. Some games will be more entertaining than others. Let me remind everyone that these picks are not part of our Pigskin Picks of Profundity and we do not utilize point spreads. There are just so many games, many of them featuring teams that we know very little about. Bowl season is quite unpredictable, and there are a plethora of variables. Some teams are playing for interim coaches. Some are disappointed about where they ended up. Some have a big chip on their shoulder, while others enjoy the fun aspects of the bowl experience a bit too much. Most of these teams will not have suited up for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month. Having said all of that, we’ll give prognosticating these games a whirl. I am going back to an idea that I utilized a couple of years ago. I am dividing all bowl games into three tiers. Tier 1 are the more superfluous games, with second-rate matchups featuring uninteresting teams that will likely be enjoyed only by hardcore football fans and of course fans of the teams involved. Tier 2 games have the potential to be quite engaging. Most football fans will atleast check them out. Tier 3 is the good stuff. These are the games that nearly everyone is excited about and should provide several hours of quality gridiron action. Enjoy!!

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Tier 1

New Orleans Bowl
Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
12/20 11am ESPN
I’m a Wolfpack fan, but there’s no denying that they’ve settled into a pattern of 7 win mediocrity the past few years after going 13-1 in 2010. I know very little about the Ragin’ Cajuns except they are one of what seems like dozens of college football teams in Louisiana. This is basically a home game for Lafayette, but old habits die hard. I’m going with Nevada. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Nevada Z’s Pick – Nevada

New Mexico Bowl
Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)
12/20 2pm ESPN
I have picked against Utah St. in previous bowl games because I didn’t know anything about them. But now I know that they’ve won their past two bowl games. That’s enough evidence for me. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Utah St. Z’s Pick – Utah St.

Potato Bowl (Boise, ID)
Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)
12/20 5:45pm ESPN
I suppose I’ll be all patriotic and pick the service academy. Zach likes the Falcons’ triple option and believes that’ll help them get the win.                     My Pick – Air Force Z’s Pick – Air Force

Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, AL)
South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)
12/20 9:15pm ESPN
A camellia…for those who may be wondering…is a type of flower. That’s cool. Atleast they didn’t name this game after some second-rate retail establishment or a publicity seeking restaurant. I’m a MAC fan so I’m going with the Falcons. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Bowling Green Z’s Pick – Bowling Green

Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2)
12/23 6pm ESPN
Oh where to begin. I was severely disappointed when my alma mater & the C-USA champions chose this game over another one in which they would have faced an admittedly mediocre Big Ten team. The knock on the Herd all season has been that their schedule was weak and they haven’t played any “power” conference teams. Like it or not perception matters in college football and I still believe that Marshall should have taken the opportunity to silence the doubters, even if it would have been against a 6-6 opponent. Having said all that I do have to admit that this will likely be a competitive contest. My residual bitterness about Marshall’s season ending in a low level post-season game on a Tuesday night instead of heading undefeated to a New Year’s Eve bowl or atleast a pedestrian matchup with a “power” conference foe may or may not dissipate in the next several days. Strangely enough Zach feels more loyalty to The Herd than I do, although he does have legitimate concerns about a defense that allowed 67 points to Western Kentucky…something that ruined the perfect season.
My Pick – n/a Z’s Pick – Marshall

Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA)
Navy (6-5) vs. San Diego State (7-5)
12/23 9:30pm ESPN
So this is basically a home game for the Aztecs. Shouldn’t there be a rule against that?? Anyway, I suppose once again I’ll make the jingoistic choice. Zach is in agreement due to his affection for the triple option. My Pick – Navy Z’s Pick – Navy

Bahamas Bowl
Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)
12/24 Noon ESPN
All I know is that Western Kentucky ruined Marshall’s perfect season…those bastards. I know even less about Central Michigan. I’m pretty unforgiving when I comes to sports, so I’m rooting for the Chippewas all the way. Zach likes WKU’s prolific offense.
My Pick – Central Michigan Z’s Pick – Western Kentucky

Hawaii Bowl
Fresno State (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5)
12/24 8pm ESPN
The NCAA oftentimes appears to be rather obtuse, but they are atleast smart enough to have figured out that if you’re going to have football teams be away from home on Christmas then they need to be enticed by exotic locales like The Bahamas and Hawaii. I have a huge problem with a team like Fresno St. going to a bowl game with a losing record, while other eligible teams with a .500 (i.e. not losing) record like Ohio U., Temple, & Middle Tennessee are staying at home. It’s not right. Pulling for Rice may be a meaningless & ineffective form of protest, but it’s all that I’ve got. The Bulldogs have screwed the pooch on three occasions this season when Zach picked them, so he’s understandably going in a different direction this time. My Pick – Rice Z’s Pick – Rice

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5)
12/26 1pm ESPN
This is the game that my Marshall Thundering Herd should be playing in. Instead Louisiana Tech…the team that the Herd defeated in the C-USA title game…gets the opportunity to challenge a “power” conference team. Obviously the Illini aren’t that great, but they played teams like Wisconsin & Minnesota tough in losing efforts and beat both Penn St. & Northwestern. A shaky resume for sure…but I’ll take it. Zach think this will be a close game and likes Bulldogs’ QB Cody Sokol to snag a late victory. My Pick – Illinois Z’s Pick – Louisiana Tech

Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI)
Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina (6-6)
12/26 4:30pm ESPN
This is the old Motor City/Little Caesars Bowl, now being sponsored by an auto shop subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company. I have a feeling most people will be at the mall exchanging the banal yet overpriced Christmas gifts they received from clueless friends & relatives rather than watching a completely superfluous football game. Zach thinks the Tar Heels’ special teams will make the difference.                                                                           My Pick – North Carolina Z’s Pick – North Carolina

St. Petersburg Bowl
NC State (7-5) vs. Central Florida (9-3)
12/26 8pm ESPN
This game would be much more interesting if it were being played in St. Petersburg, Russia instead of Florida. I had the Knights in my pre-season Top 25, and I’ll be darned if they didn’t almost get there. Ah well…close, horseshoes, hand grenades, etc. I suppose I’ll stick with them until the bitter end though. Zach is borrowing my philosophy about teams in better conferences being battle tested and therefore being prepared for games such as these.
My Pick – UCF Z’s Pick – NC St.

Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD)
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
12/27 1pm ESPN
Shouldn’t one of the academies be playing in this game?? Anyway, the Bearcats have been a much better team than the Hokies this season and I see no reason why that won’t continue here. Conversely, Zach believes Va. Tech has a better coaching staff and will win this game with a superior ground attack.
My Pick – Cincinnati Z’s Pick – Virginia Tech

Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY)
Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)
12/27 4:30pm ESPN
Hey look…it’s a game that could be played during every regular season if the people that ran the now defunct Big East football conference hadn’t been complete idiots. The Nittany Lions have had all sanctions removed, as if that pesky sexual abuse stuff never really happened. The NCAA should just go the extra step and restore all of Joe Paterno’s old records. The hook for this shindig is that it is played at Yankee Stadium. I suppose it’s better than playing in Detroit. Zach sees this as an even matchup, and believes that the Eagles’ rushing attack as well as their defensive line will make the difference. My Pick – Penn St. Z’s Pick – Boston College

Belk Bowl (Charlotte, NC)
Georgia (9-3) vs. Louisville (9-3)
12/30 6:30pm ESPN
The Bulldogs had much higher hopes for 2014, but we knew someone would be the odd team out in the SEC. The Cardinals didn’t suffer too badly from the loss of QB Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL, and I must admit to being a bit surprised. Belk, for those who may be curious, is a department store chain on par with JC Penney’s, Dillard’s, & Kohl’s. We don’t have one where I live so I know nothing else. Anyway, I think Georgia will be ready to take their frustration & disappointment out on someone, and it looks like Louisville is the unfortunate victim. Zach is unimpressed with Louisville and thinks freshman backup RB Nick Chubb will have a breakout game for Georgia.
My Pick – Georgia Z’s Pick – Georgia

Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX)
Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)
1/2 Noon ESPN
Soooo…we have a Military Bowl AND an Armed Forces Bowl?? Seems redundant. Anyway, I believe both of these teams will be playing for interim head coaches. The Cougars fired their coach and Pitt’s coach is leaving for Wisconsin. As a long time WV Mountaineer fan I can’t bring myself to cheer for the Panthers. Zach likes the Panthers’ rushing attack and believes it will help them prevail.
My Pick – Houston Z’s Pick – Pitt

Cactus Bowl (Tempe, AZ)
Washington (8-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)
1/2 10:15pm ESPN
This is the former Copper/Insight.com/Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. I like the new name much better. The Huskies fared quite well this season under new head coach Chris Peterson and the Pac 12 might want to look out in another year or two. The Cowboys fell off a bit after posting 9+ wins in 5 of the previous 6 seasons. I think this might be a shootout, and I’m picking the upset. Zach likes Washington to win easily.
My Pick – Oklahoma St. Z’s Pick – Washington

GoDaddy Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Toledo (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)
1/4 9pm ESPN
Those that have perused these bowl picks in previous years may recall my contempt for this particular game. It’s horribly named. GoDaddy is a website building company that can’t be taken seriously with that stupid moniker. Yes it is memorable & catchy…but it’s also juvenile & unprofessional. The game itself never features an engaging matchup, and it is played at the worst possible time. By January 4th the other bowls are over and all that remains is the national title game. Plus the NFL playoffs are underway. With all that going on in addition to the post-holidays resumption of ho-hum normalcy can anyone really be expected to give a hoot about Toledo and Arkansas St.?? I think not. Zach concurs My Pick – Toledo Z’s Pick – Toledo

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Tier 2

Las Vegas Bowl
Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)
12/20 3:30pm ABC
Okay…now things are beginning to heat up. This could very well be the best of the spate of games that begin the bowl season. As opposed to the poor guys who ended up in places like Detroit and Idaho for the post-season these teams get to go to Vegas. Vegas baby…Vegas!! The Rams have had a nice season and were a loss to Boise St. away from playing in the Fiesta Bowl. Their head coach has already departed for greener pastures with the Florida Gators, which puts them at a disadvantage. Zach believes that losing their coach will energize the Rams and they’ll secure the victory.                         My Pick – Utah Z’s Pick – Colorado St.

Miami Beach Bowl
BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3)
12/20 2pm ESPN
I think this is a brand new bowl game…as if we needed that. Atleast it’s a good matchup though. I think this will be a close contest that’ll be decided late in the 4th quarter. Zach sees big things on the horizon for the Cougars (might I suggest an invitation to join the Big 12) and thinks it starts with this game.
My Pick – BYU Z’s Pick – BYU

Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3)
12/27 2pm CBS
It’s Devils vs. Devils!! Did you know that the Sun Bowl is one of the 2nd oldest bowl games?? The Rose Bowl began in 1902, and the Sun, Sugar, & Orange Bowls were first played in 1935. I’m not sure how the Sugar & Orange Bowls have grown to be so much more prestigious than their solar-named brother. At any rate, I still think of Duke as a basketball school. Conversely, the Sun Devils have had a very nice year and were in the thick of the Pac 12 title race until the end. Zach foresees a blowout win for Arizona St.
My Pick – Arizona St. Z’s Pick – Arizona St.

Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)
Miami (FL) (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
12/27 3:30pm ABC
Not all that long ago this would have been a marquee matchup, but both programs have hit kind of a rough patch. The Hurricanes have been mired in mediocrity for about a decade, while it’s just a bad season for the Gamecocks. I refuse to believe that Steve Spurrier, given a month to practice & plan for a very average opponent, won’t be completely prepared. Zach thinks both teams have been inconsistent this season, but agrees that The Old Ball Coach will make the difference.
My Pick – South Carolina Z’s Pick – South Carolina

Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA)
Nebraska (9-3) vs. USC (8-4)
12/27 8pm ESPN
If this were the 80’s these teams might be competing for a national championship, but in the new reality of college football USC is still very good but hardly dominant, while the Cornhuskers are finding out that recruiting 5 star athletes to play in Lincoln, NE isn’t as easy as it was a few decades ago. Nebraska will be playing for an interim coach, while the Trojans seem poised to make another run at the top sooner rather than later. Zach isn’t sold on USC and believes this game is a toss-up.
My Pick – USC Z’s Pick – Nebraska

Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
12/29 2pm ESPN
The Aggies were knocked down a peg or two adjusting to life after Johnny Football, but still had a decent year. My Mountaineers are settling into life in the Big 12, but this may be their fate more often than not for the foreseeable future…a solid season rewarded with a December bowl game that will only draw mild interest. I’m actually looking forward to this game. The thing I notice more than anything about the much celebrated SEC is the overall speed of the teams. WVU might have a tough time matching that speed, but they’ll give it their best shot. Zach believes that A&M will shred the Mountaineers’ defense.
My Pick – West Virginia Z’s Pick – Texas A&M

Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Oklahoma (8-4) vs. Clemson (9-3)
12/29 5:30pm ESPN
Once upon a time this was the Blockbuster/MicronPC/CarQuest/Champ Sports Bowl. They seem to have an issue retaining consistent corporate sponsorship. At any rate, both teams were hoping for bigger & better things in 2014, but stuff happens. On paper this looks like it’ll be a fun, close contest. I hope that is the case. Oklahoma is beginning to have the same issues as Nebraska…just because they used to be elite 30 or 40 years ago doesn’t mean they are going to retain that status in the 21st century. Clemson benefits from playing in the ACC where only the defending national champion Florida St. Seminoles are consistently superior. I think this will be a low scoring game with lots of tough defense, but the Sooners will prevail in the end. Zach thinks Oklahoma’s offensive line will lead them to a crushing victory. My Pick – Oklahoma Z’s Pick – Oklahoma

Texas Bowl (Houston, TX)
Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6)
12/29 9pm ESPN
Despite the pedestrian name of the bowl and the matchup of two 6-6 teams this could be a real sleeper. Both programs have seen better days, but I believe that both will be successful again…eventually. I like the Razorbacks rushing attack to grind out a low scoring victory. Zach concurs.
My Pick – Arkansas Z’s Pick – Arkansas

Foster Farms Bowl (Santa Clara, CA)
Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5)
12/30 10pm ESPN
Formerly known as the Fight Hunger/Walnut/Emerald Bowl, this game is now being played in the San Francisco 49ers brand new stadium. Foster Farms is a California poultry company. I hope that doesn’t mean the game will be a turkey. The Stanford campus is about a half hour away, so this is basically a home game for them. I think that’ll help make the difference in a fairly easy victory. Zach is all bent out of shape about Maryland’s lack of class & sportsmanship. I obviously missed something.
My Pick – Stanford Z’s Pick – Stanford

Orange Bowl (Miami, FL)
Mississippi State (10-2) vs. Georgia Tech (10-3)
New Year’s Eve 8pm ESPN
I find it odd that the venerable Orange Bowl has been pushed back to New Year’s Eve. Ah well…atleast it won’t have to compete with the playoff semifinal games. The Bulldogs were in the national title hunt for awhile but must settle for this consolation prize. Tech is one of those mostly unexceptional programs that occasionally has a really good season. However, their failure to “upset” vastly overrated Florida St. in the ACC championship is troubling. I think Mississippi St. wins this game easily. Zach believes it’ll be a rather close contest, but likes Bulldogs’ QB Dak Prescott to lead his team to victory. My Pick – Mississippi St. Z’s Pick – Mississippi St.

Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Missouri (10-3) vs. Minnesota (8-4)
New Year’s Day 1pm ABC
It’s back!! Well okay…it never really left, but for the past decade this game was known by one of those horribly tacky corporate names. I’m glad that’s over. The combatants are two sneaky good teams that were overshadowed by well-known brands in their respective conferences. The Tigers probably have more team speed and I think that’ll make the difference. Zach is really interested in this game and believes that Missouri will win a close one late in the 4th quarter.
My Pick – Missouri Z’s Pick – Missouri

Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)
Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)
1/2 3:30pm ESPN
This game is officially known by one of the aforementioned crass corporate names, but I refuse to play along. It’s been the Gator Bowl since 1946 and it’ll stay that way in The Manoverse. In addition to the name BS the game is being played after New Year’s, which wouldn’t happen if I were in charge. The matchup is a little dubious as well. The Gator Bowl used to invite 9 or 10 win teams. This is the best they could do in 2014-15?? Having said all that, I think these are two solid teams that are a threat to be really good in any given season (just not this year). I think it’ll be a decent game…not a defensive battle but not a shootout either. The Voices are telling me special teams will be the difference in a Volunteers victory. Zach likes the Hawkeyes by a touchdown.
My Pick – Tennessee Z’s Pick – Iowa

Birmingham Bowl
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-6)
1/3 1pm ESPN
I hate the unimaginative name of this bowl as well as its spot two days after New Year’s. Folks will have had their fill of collegiate gridiron action by now and will be concentrating on the NFL playoffs and the national title game. However, one cannot overlook the fact that at one time the Pirates were in the running for the “access” bowl, i.e. the bone thrown to the best team among the non-power conferences, before going 2-3 in the latter part of the season. The Gators will be playing under an interim head coach since Will Muschamp was fired (and has since become the defensive coordinator for Auburn). I’m not sure who is considered the underdog. East Carolina has the better record, but Florida is battle tested in the SEC. I am known to pull for the little guy, so I suppose I’ll do that. Zach has very little interest in this game but believes Florida will win easily.
My Pick – East Carolina Z’s Pick – Florida

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Tier 3

Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN)
Notre Dame (7-5) vs. LSU (8-4)
12/30 3pm ESPN
Normally these are two teams that would be aiming for a much more valuable prize, but they just so happened to have both had an off year. Kudos to the powers-that-be in Nashville for putting together what is still an intriguing matchup despite what the mundane records might indicate. Neither team has much momentum coming into the post-season, with the Irish on a four game losing streak and the Bayou Bengals losers of 2 out of their last 3. It’s all about pride and trying to build on something positive heading into 2015. Zach has nothing but contempt for both teams, but thinks LSU will win easily. My Pick – LSU Z’s Pick – LSU

Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA)
Ole Miss (9-3) vs. TCU (11-1)
New Year’s Eve 12:30pm ESPN
Both teams were in the thick of the playoff hunt. Many still believe that TCU should be one of the final four. Now it’s time for both clubs to prove themselves. If the Horned Frogs win it’ll add fuel to the argument that they should have been included in the playoff. A Rebels victory would end a mostly positive season on a high note after dropping 3 out of their last 4 regular season games. I’m not totally sold on either team, but I’m going to pick the upset. Zach is one who believes the Horned Frogs got screwed by the playoff committee, and thinks that QB Trevone Boykin will lead TCU to a late win. My Pick – Ole Miss Z’s Pick – TCU

Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ)
Boise State (11-2) vs. Arizona (10-3)
New Year’s Eve 4pm ESPN
I’m really looking forward to this game. It is unfortunate that it’ll be played at 4pm on New Year’s Eve when most folks are on their way home from work and preparing to go out and celebrate the holiday. Like the Orange Bowl the Fiesta is typically played on New Year’s Day in prime time, but the playoff has changed most of the traditional rules. Anyway, the Broncos have proven that they can go toe to toe with the big boys. The “new reality” of college football will likely dictate a move for them to one of the “power” conferences” in the near future (may I suggest the Big 12…which currently has ten teams), but that’s down the line. As far as this game goes, I certainly think Boise St. can hang with the Wildcats, who will essentially be playing a home game. Can they pull off the upset?? I’m predicting a high scoring (over 80 points combined) shootout, with the Broncos winning a squeaker. Zach likes Arizona’s high-powered offense and thinks they’ll win easily.
My Pick – Boise St. Z’s Pick – Arizona

Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL)
Auburn (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (10-3)
New Year’s Day Noon ESPN2
I was really high on the Badgers…until they got blasted in the Big Ten (which has 14 teams) title game by Ohio St. Then their head coach bolted…for Oregon St. I pretty much nailed Auburn’s season in my pre-season rankings. They’re good, but not at the level they were at a year ago. This should be a really competitive contest, and I’m not at all concerned with Wisconsin’s coaching situation since former coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez is temporarily at the helm. I think the Badgers were humiliated in that conference championship game and will be motivated to prove their worth. Conversely, Zach thinks the game will become ugly early, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon (Heisman runner-up) will be shut down, & Auburn QB Nick Marshall will have a great game.
My Pick – Wisconsin Z’s Pick – Auburn

Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX)
Michigan State (10-2) vs. Baylor (11-1)
New Year’s Day 12:30pm ESPN
As former pro wrestling announcer Jim Ross might say, this is going to be a real slobberknocker. Lots of people believe that Baylor deserved a spot in the playoff. The Spartans had a lot of buzz coming into the season but an early November loss to Ohio St. doomed their playoff chances. Baylor’s campus in Waco, TX is less than a hundred miles from the Palace in Dallas, so I expect they’ll have a notable home field advantage. I also think that the Bears will be hellbent on proving that they should have had the opportunity to play for the national championship. Zach, on the other hand, likes the Spartan defense to shut down Baylor and win by 7-10 points.
My Pick – Baylor Z’s Pick – Michigan St.

Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) – Playoff Semifinal
Oregon (12-1) vs. Florida State (13-0)
New Year’s Day 5pm ESPN
Here we go with the four team playoff for the national title. As much as I have complained (with good reason) about the playoff committee and their methodology I must admit that I have no problem with the four teams selected. I think the Seminoles have been far more lucky than good in 2014 but I believe their luck will run out here. The Ducks can match…and probably exceed…Florida St.’s team speed, and though I’m no Mel Kiper Jr. or Todd McShay I will opine that I’d take Oregon QB & Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota over Florida St. QB & former Heisman winner Jameis Winston with no hesitation. Zach has reservations about Oregon’s defense but is still picking them to make it to the championship game. My Pick – Oregon Z’s Pick – Oregon

Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) – Playoff Semifinal
Alabama (12-1) vs. Ohio State (12-1)
New Year’s Day 8:30pm ESPN
There was some thought that the playoff committee wouldn’t put Ohio St. in as the #4 seed because they are down to their 3rd string quarterback. That would have been completely unfair and I am glad the committee didn’t fall victim to that logic. However, the facts can’t be ignored when it comes to this game. The Buckeyes’ defense would have to play the game of their lives to secure a victory. Is that out of the realm of possibility?? No…but it isn’t likely. ‘Bama just has too much size & athleticism in the trenches, and their ground game may be slowed a bit but it won’t be stopped. This feels like a low scoring affair (under 40 total points), with the Tide grinding out a close victory. To say that Zach has disdain for Ohio St. would be like saying President Obama is slightly unethical or Gigli wasn’t a great film. He doesn’t believe the Buckeyes belong anywhere near the playoff and is hoping that Alabama hangs 100 points on them.
My Pick – Alabama Z’s Pick – Alabama

Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
Kansas State (9-3) vs. UCLA (9-3)
1/2 6:45pm ESPN
I’m not sure when the Alamo Bowl became significant enough to get a post-New Year’s prime time (kind of) time slot, but there is no denying that this is an attractive matchup. The Bruins were in the hunt for a Pac 12 title until an inexplicable home loss to Stanford in the final game of the regular season. The Wildcats fought hard in the Big 12 but couldn’t overcome TCU & Baylor. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is the likely difference in a fun & competitive contest. Zach isn’t a bit impressed by UCLA and is picking K St. to win big.
My Pick – UCLA Z’s Pick – Kansas St.

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National Championship (Arlington, TX)
Oregon/Florida St. vs. Alabama/Ohio St.
1/12 TBD ESPN

Oregon-DucksI am predicting an Oregon vs. Alabama title game, which is the matchup that I am pretty sure most folks want to see. Zach AlabamaCrimsonTide2agrees. Can ‘Bama’s defense, ranked 4th in the nation in points allowed, stop QB Marcus Mariota and the 3rd ranked scoring offense in the country?? Will the Ducks’ defense be able to stop the Tide’s ground game, led by TJ Yeldon & Derrick Henry?? Can ‘Bama WR Amari Cooper (who finished third in Heisman voting) escape probable double coverage and make some big plays?? I think it’ll be a close game for 3 quarters, but eventually Mariota will be able to hit a few long bombs and the Ducks will pull away for the surprising victory. Zach believes that Alabama’s experience on the big stage will make the difference.
My Pick – Oregon Z’s Pick – Alabama

The Sammy Claus Wish List 2014

Former President Calvin Coolidge once said that “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” It goes without saying that we should be merciful and exhibit goodwill all year round, but hey…if you can only muster such geniality & compassion a few weeks per year then atleast that’s a start and now is the moment. At any rate, it’s time to present the 6th annual Sammy Claus Wish List. Let me remind you that, in my limited role as tree02Sammy Claus, I wield no genuine authority to bequeath these gifts. My job is to make suggestions and hope that the Jolly Old Elf up at the North Pole is a citizen of The Manoverse and deems it appropriate to fill folks’ stockings as I have proposed. In the previous five years we have actually had quite a bit of success. The original list in 2009 hoped that John & Kate and Heidi & Spencer would go away. The fact that many of you are now asking “Who are they??” is evidence of our achievement. In 2010 we requested a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. That new stadium is now under construction and set to open in 2016. That same year we asked for a college football playoff and for Time-Warner Cable to offer the NFL Network. Done and done. In 2012 we wished for the return of Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, & other delicious snacks that went away when Hostess imploded. Those treats are indeed back on the shelves at your local supermarket. We also hoped for the extinguishing of The Big East in 2012, and not long after that the football conference shut down. Now only a revised and still pretty decent basketball conference (the original idea anyway) remains. Last year we yearned for a new NASCAR champion and we got one. Jimmie Johnson made The Chase but was eliminated. Bob Hope once stated that ““when we recall Christmas past we usually find that the simplest things…not the great occasions…give off the greatest glow of happiness.” Seeing the gifts on this list bestowed in real life makes me happy. Cheerful reading, and may this Christmas season find you blessed & healthy.

 

 

 

The White House
extra sprinklers & fire extinguishers while the current President continues to set fire to the U.S. Constitutioncon1

 

iTunes Users
another free U2 album…whether you want it or not

 

Officer Darren Wilson
peace, safety, & a new job in a better town

 

Star Wars Fansswars
a new hope as The Force awakens

 

Former U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
A happy retirement. Good riddance you old out-of-touch carpetbagger.

 

Fans of Frozen
the wherewithal to let it go

 

Janay Palmer Rice
self-respect, strength, & the courage to eventually walk awayjp

 

Jimmy Fallon
the ability to focus on his guests instead of indulging his own narcissism

 

College Football
a fair, logical, & transparent playoff system

 

The White House
an extra powerful vacuum to clean up as the current President shreds the U.S. Constitutioncon3

 

Former UAB Football Players & Staff
a new home & success in whatever is next

 

Bill Cosby & His Alleged Victims
the truth…one way or another

 

Donald Sterling
tickets to a rap concertsterling2

 

American Schoolchildren
a return to fulfilling & appetizing meals for lunch

 

Kim Kardashian
a pair of pants (size XL)

 

ESPN
more sports, less sociopolitical commentary & obvious bias

 

David Letterman
A happy retirement. You were brilliant for two decades. I’m so sorry you became a weary & bitter old man.letterman

 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
to be trapped in an elevator with Ray Rice

 

John Travolta
reading glasses

 

The White House
extra toilet paper & air freshener while the current President continues to take a huge crap all over the U.S. Constitutioncon2

 

California
lower taxes & rain

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers
a new defensive backfield

 

Business Owners in Ferguson, MO
economic recoveryferguson-looting-4

 

Fans of Honey Boo Boo
books…lots of books…..

 

The View
continued irrelevance & eventual cancellation

 

Florida St. QB Jameis Winston
A short, miserable, unproductive, non-lucrative NFL career. Stupidity shouldn’t be rewarded.

 

Craig Ferguson
Happiness & success in future endeavors. I regret not discovering the hilarity of your Late Late Show until it was almost over.craigferguson_big

 

 

 

As has become tradition I shall end with a quote from the Rankin-Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town:

Santa-and-Jesus“Lots of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give…of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.”

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 16

College football is over except for bowl games and of course the playoff. We’ll deal with that post-season in a few days, but as far as these picks go it’ll be three straight weeks of the NFL. Last week Zach went 3-4, while I went 5-2. That takes my season record to 47-39, while Zach stands at 44-42. These next few weeks will be really interesting though, as I have always found pro football to be much more unpredictable than their collegiate counterparts.

 

 

 

 

 

Miami at New England (-7.5)
The Patriots hold a commanding 3 game lead in the AFC East and would wrap up the division title with a victory. The Dolphins are in the midst of a logjam battling New_England_Patriots_Helmetfor a wildcard playoff spot. They are a skosh better than I thought they’d be, but the Belichick/Brady train just keeps on rolling, which is what I think will happen in this game. Zach concurs.

My Pick = New England
Z’s Pick = New England

 

 

Cincinnati at Cleveland (even)
Cincinnati_Bengals_HelmetThe buzz around this game is all about the debut of Johnny Football as an NFL starting quarterback. I am faced with a conundrum. It wouldCleveland_Browns_Helmet certainly help my Steelers for Cincinnati to lose, but a Cleveland victory would produce ceaseless fawning over Manziel as the second coming of Manning/Marino/Elway/Unitas, which would be intolerable. The last thing that dude needs is his ego stroked. The folks in Vegas obviously have very little respect for the Browns since the pick ‘em odds mean they are getting no home field advantage whatsoever. The Bengals could win this week and then lose their final two games to Denver and Pittsburgh, a plan that sounds peachy to me. Conversely, Zach has bought into the Manziel myth and is rooting for the Browns.

My Pick = Cincinnati
Z’s Pick = Cleveland

 

 

Denver (-4) at San Diego
The Broncos and Peyton Manning have looked a little more…human…this season but are still probably going to win the AFC West and atleast get close to the 13-3 denverrecord they posted in 2013. The Chargers are in the aforementioned wildcard gridlock, and a victory here would be huge. Once again the oddsmakers aren’t giving any love to the home team. I like San Diego, but I think Denver is actually a better team now than a year ago when they went to the Super Bowl. Manning has to know that the window for him to snag another ring won’t stay open much longer, and opposing defenses should look out from now thru January. Zach agrees.

My Pick = Denver
Z’s Pick = Denver

 

 

San Francisco at Seattle (-10)
Most “experts” seem to believe that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is on his way out the door and I have no reason to doubt those reports. The defending champion San-Francisco-49ersSeahawks haven’t been as dominant this year as last and aren’t going to win their division. However, they are in a four way battle with Dallas, Philadelphia, & Detroit for two wildcard spots and a win against their archrivals would certainly boost those prospects. Having said that, I think San Francisco might have one last gasp of respectability remaining. I’m not sure they can pull off a victory, but a 10 point spread is just too much. Zach thinks the Seahawks will win but not cover the 10 points.

My Pick = San Francisco
Z’s Pick = San Francisco

 

 

Dallas at Philadelphia (-3)
These two teams are currently tied atop the NFC East. One team will win the division, but the other still has a decent opportunity to make the playoffs as a wildcard. eaglesThe Eagles get the nominal home field advantage and smoked the Cowboys by three TDs at the Palace in Dallas on Thanksgiving night. I see no reason to expect anything different this time. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Philadelphia
Z’s Pick = Philadelphia

A Weekend Christmas Movie Marathon

It’s winter. It’s cold. There is snow on the ground. Sure you have stuff to do, but going outside and dealing with the real world justChristmas doesn’t sound all that appealing at the moment. Fortunately it is the holiday season…the happiest, jolliest, most heartwarming time of the year. Okay okay okay…I am probably wearing my rose colored glasses, but that is exactly what this is all about. We work hard all week to bring home the bacon and provide the necessities for ourselves and our families, so I think we deserve the best of what Christmastime has to offer instead of beating ourselves into oblivion, which means that instead of facing the hellish experience that is the local retail scene this time of year (trust me…online shopping is the way to go) you & I are going to have ourselves a good old-fashioned movie marathon. Nothing but commercial free Christmas movies & shows for an entire weekend. Heaven on Earth.

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hottoddyNow in reality one would have to plan this activity well in advance with a rather large purchase of DVDs, a trip to Redbox, downloads from Netflix or Amazon Prime, or recording stuff on DVR/TiVo. For our purposes I will just imagine that this has already been taken care of and everything is readily available. The schedule is based on what I perceive as the average “real” life and there are a few rules. We will begin Friday evening after work by first getting comfie cozy & fixing some snacks. My definition of comfortable is a well-worn t-shirt that I’d never wear in public & an old pair of sweatpants. Sexy, huh?? Cozy means that Rocco & I are snuggled underneath a big ol’ comforter in front of the TV even though the heat in The Bachelor Palace is turned to an acceptable level. I sincerely wish I had a fireplace, but life isn’t perfect. The lights are out except for that which emanates from the television. What can I say?? I’m all about ambiance. The snack menu would ideally include hot chocolate (or eggnog) and other assorted junk food (chocolate chip cookies are my favorite). No adult goodiesbeverages for this humble Potentate of Profundity, although I am sure Dr. Seuss, Ralphie, Clark Griswold, & Hermie the Elf would all be hilarious in a whole new way if I was snockered on hooch. The marathon does end at an acceptable time each night because I am not 19 years old anymore and pulling an all-nighter no longer seems like all that much fun. I have learned to embrace the value of a good night’s sleep. And finally I will attend church on Sunday morning and get to bed at a decent hour that night, therefore Sunday isn’t as long of a day as Saturday. I still think we end up doing pretty well, with over 37 viewing hours and watching about two dozen movies & specials. I can’t think of a much better way to spend a weekend this time of year.

 

wreath

 

 

 

Friday

5:30pm      Miracle on 34th Street
We commence with this 1947 classic (in black & white!!) about a Macy’s Santa Claus who believes he is the real deal. The movie opens with the Macy’s 600full-miracle-on-34th-street-screenshotThanksgiving Day Parade, which of course has become the unofficial kickoff of the holiday season. For the love of God and all that is holy avoid the horrendous colorized version like MSNBC shuns truth & logic. There was a remake in 1994 and it’s…okay…but for our purposes we’ll stick with the original.

7:15pm      All I Want for Christmas
I guess this movie was in theaters in 1991, but I’m not sure anyone noticed. I first became aware of it several years later when it allchristmasbegan popping up on TV here & there. The story has nothing to do with the overplayed Mariah Carey song (nor the superb Vince Vance & the Valiants tune), but instead is a charming story about two kids trying to get their divorced parents back together on Christmas Eve.

8:45pm      Lethal Weapon
10:45pm    Die Hard
lethalweaponHey, Christmas movies don’t all have to be about Santa Claus, family hijinks, or anything heartwarming. I enthusiastically endorse Mel diehardGibson & Bruce Willis as two of the best Christmas gifts cinema has ever given the masses. And unlike most other insipid action flicks these films offer a good story, some humor, and yes…even uplifting family values. Plus gunfire, explosions, & car chases. I suppose we can’t leave those out completely.

1am        Mr. Krueger’s Christmas
I had to find a way to shoehorn this little gem in somehow. Jimmy Stewart may be well known for a certainmr-kruegers-christmas-1980b other Christmas film, but in 1980 he also starred as Willie Krueger, the type of lonely old man that society has a tendency to toss aside in their “golden years”. Willie works as a custodian in an apartment building and lives in the basement unit with his cat. He is somewhat of a Walter Mitty-esque character, imagining himself in various situations like conducting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and kneeling at the manger of the baby Jesus on that first Christmas night. Willie obviously craves human interaction & companionship but doesn’t seem to have much of it. This is only a half hour program but it packs a punch in those 30 minutes. You won’t find it on TV but it is easy enough to track down online and well worth the effort.

1:30am      Elf
We end our Friday night on a jovial, fun, and dare I say jolly note with this 2003 offering starring Will Ferrell as an orphan who grows up at The North ElfPole believing he is one of Santa’s elves. He learns the truth and sets out for NY City (passing through the seven levels of the Candy Cane Forest, the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, & then the Lincoln Tunnel) to find his curmudgeonly father, who just happens to be on The Naughty List. Hilarity ensues. A great way to wrap up the evening.

 

 

Saturday

8am          Frosty the Snowman
8:30am    Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
9am          Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
10am        A Charlie Brown Christmas
10:30am Mickey’s Christmas Carol
11am       Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
rudolph3Okay so I lied…we didn’t get much sleep last night. No worries. Buck up little trooper…we’ve got movies to watch!! At any rate, when I cbchristmaswas a kid Saturday mornings meant cartoons. So we will spend this morning watching a half dozen of the most beloved animated Christmas specials of all time. All of these programs have been repeated annually for several decades. A few stretch back to the 1960’s…before I was even born. The Whos down in Whoville, Yukon Cornelius, The Island of Misfit Toys, Burgermeister Meisterburger, evil magician Professor Hinkle…what awesome characters. I am so glad I grew up in grinchsantacominthe era that I did, and even happier that I can still enjoy these delightful stories. There are new specials for kids to enjoy nowadays…Prep & Landing, Shrek the Halls, Merry Madagascar, etc…but I firmly believe that a hundred years from now few of those will still be around while the classics that I love so much will remain.

12pm      Home Alone
1:45pm   Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
The older I get the more questions I have about these films. If the phones are out why is little Kevin able to order pizza?? Why is there a wheelchair in homealonethe McCallister basement?? After going thru all she has for three days why is milk the first thing Mrs. McCallister worries about when she gets home?? You mean everyone on the whole block went out of town for Christmas?? How long was Kevin working those mannequins & the cardboard Michael Jordan (because he had no idea when the crooks were coming back that night)?? Why can’t anyone but Kevin see what a jerk Buzz is?? Why doesn’t Kevin call the police before the Wet Bandits rob Duncan’s Toy Chest, since he knows what time they will be there?? Who thought it was a good idea to give Rob Schneider a job?? Nevertheless I still find both movies quite charming and required viewing during the holiday season. I acknowledge that the sequel isn’t as good as the original, but it is still good enough for these movies to be thought of as a package deal and to be viewed back-to-back in the course of this special weekend.

3:45pm   Holiday Inn
5:30pm   White Christmas
HInnI have to give a shoutout to my brother The Owl for introducing me to these delightful movies many years ago. They just don’t make ‘em like this White-Christmas-1954-christmas-movies-3176714-960-536anymore and that’s a crying shame. Bing Crosby was a multitalented guy that could sing, dance, & act. He does all three in these movies with a little help from Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, & others. Holiday Inn was made in 1942 and isn’t only a Christmas film but celebrates all of our American holidays. There is an infamous scene set during Lincoln’s Birthday (President’s Day used to be two separate holidays…Lincoln’s Birthday & Washington’s Birthday…until the mid-1980’s) in which Crosby and his lovely lady friend sing in black face. Even I…someone who views people that are perpetually offended & politically correct as silly and annoying…understand how that scene can be considered offensive. However, I disagree wholeheartedly with the modern propensity for television censorship. The movie was made during a different era and represents part of our history that shouldn’t be edited to protect peoples’ sensitive feelings. But I digress. Holiday Inn introduced the beloved song White Christmas, the popularity of which led to the second movie a dozen years later. These are both wonderful films, tributes to a bygone age when true talent & skill were recognized and appreciated.

7:30pm    Scrooged
I must confess that I didn’t see this film…made in 1988…until a few years ago. It just didn’t seem like my cup o’ tea and I’ve never found Bill Murray scroogedto be all that entertaining. Unlike some Saturday Night Live alumni who have carved out semi-successful & enjoyable movie careers I have always felt that Murray’s shtick was best when confined to brief comedy sketches and that when stretched out over an entire movie the act grows tiresome. However, though I can’t honestly say that Scrooged would be near the top of my list of favorite Christmas flicks, I do think it deserves a spot in our movie marathon. Murray receives a lot of support from a huge and rather eclectic cast…Bobcat Goldthwait, John Forsythe, John Houseman, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Buddy Hackett, Jamie Farr, Lee Majors, Robert Goulet, Miles Davis, Buster Poindexter (just to name a few). Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton is in this movie…as Tiny Tim!! Wrap your head around that!! The final scene, featuring the 60’s hit song Put a Little Love in Your Heart, is classic. There are dozens of adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but this is probably the goofiest and most unique. It is so out-of-the box that it actually works…much to my surprise.

9:15pm   National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Do any kind of substantial random survey these days asking folks about their favorite Christmas movie and I’ll bet you this third installment in the christmas-vacation-moose-mug-shot-glass-5adventures of the wacky Griswold clan (following 1983’s Vacation and 1985’s European Vacation) would get a good many votes. It gets a lot of play on TV each December, which I hope doesn’t lead to any kind of backlash. Chevy Chase’s post-SNL career pretty much boils down to Fletch and the Vacation series, with this being the best of the latter.

11pm      Viewer’s Choice – A Christmas Carol
It is at this point that I give the power to you…citizens of The Manoverse. There is no shortage of movie carolversions of Dickens’ tale. Some are old black & white films. Some are more recent. Some are animated. Some set the tale in modern times while others are more faithful to the source material. I have my preferences, which I plan on writing about soon. But for the purposes of this project I will leave it up to each individual to pick their favorite. No matter which one you choose it is a great way to end a long but enjoyable day. And maybe when you lay your head down and slip into a sweet & restful slumber you’ll be visited by spirits who will assist in transforming your life for the better.

 

 

Sunday

1pm        A Christmas Story
I trust that church was as awesome as it should be not only during this festive season but each & every week throughout the year. Now we are home acsand have changed back into our lazy clothes. We’re going to skip Sunday dinner today and do some more veggin’ out with festive beverages and snacks. I am well aware that TBS does a 24 hour marathon of this 1983 classic every Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. Most folks probably get their fill of it then. I am not most folks.

2:45pm  Trapped in Paradise
This would seem to be an odd inclusion in our little parade of epic Christmas goodness. You’ve probably never trappedheard of it and even I admit it’s not a very good movie. I have my own reasons for considering it special, but I honestly believe that if y’all give it a whirl you’ll like it too. It has shades of It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, & maybe a little Andy Griffith Show. Originally released in 1994, the story involves three not-so-bright brothers (Nicholas Cage, Dana Carvey, & Jon Lovitz) who rob a bank in a sleepy little Pennsylvania hamlet on Christmas Eve and then, for various reasons, are unable to get out of town. Trapped in Paradise has a brutal 10% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes along with some rather harsh reviews, but I don’t care. I like it and that’s what counts.

4:45pm   The Ref
Not only did the 1994 holiday season bring us Trapped in Paradise, but just a few months earlier we got this gem starring Denis Leary as a thief forced refto hold a bickering couple (and their wacky family) hostage on Christmas Eve. I don’t know why a Christmas film was released in March. It is very strange and maybe one reason why it is a vastly underappreciated movie even two decades later. Unlike many holiday classics it is rarely on TV in December, which is unfortunate. Trust me…if you haven’t seen The Ref you must correct that void in your life right now. Leary is hilarious and Kevin Spacey…in a comedic precursor to his Oscar winning role as a husband & father drowning in domestic misery in 1999’s American Beauty…takes the experience to a sublime higher strata. In contrast to Trapped in Paradise this film received a lot of good reviews and has a 70% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I concur.

6:30pm   The Santa Clause
I’m a sucker for Santa Claus origin stories, and though this movie doesn’t go back to St. Nick’s beginning it does postulate that Santa is a role that is clauseplayed by a never-ending parade of ordinary guys who just happen to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time…a fascinating concept. At the time of the film’s release Tim Allen was amongst the biggest television stars in the world due to his show Home Improvement. I like this movie much better than I ever liked that TV show. Two sequels were made in 2002 & 2006 (they probably waited a little too long) and both are alright I suppose. Feel free to watch the entire trilogy when time permits. However, for the purposes of this project I am including only the original. It is fun and has that magical glow that makes Christmas films special.

8:15pm   The Polar Express
I don’t know what else I can say about this movie that I haven’t previously said on multiple occasions. It is enchanting. Not long ago I was speaking with a former co-worker who has two small children and she told me that their family “doesn’t do Santa Claus” because she & her husband want their children to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I admire the intent but disagree with the method and The Polar Express illustrates exactly why. I understand that there are many devout Christians who hate the idea that Santa, on some level, seems to have replaced Jesus as the center of the polarexpressholiday. However, let’s paint outside the lines just a bit. Those that do allow Santa Claus to be part of the Christmas celebration oftentimes concede to their kids that the guy at the mall or atop the fire truck in the parade isn’t the “real” Santa, that he works for the real Santa Claus who is busy up at The North Pole preparing for the big day. So, why can’t we…using similar logic…say that Santa is a friend of Jesus who is helping to spread His message and shining His light in the world?? The Polar Express has wonderful themes like friendship, faith, generosity, loyalty, innocence, & hope…ideals that Jesus would certainly approve of. In Matthew 14:19 Jesus says ““let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says that “unless you become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Santa Claus is a symbol of childhood that helps people of all ages regain a measure of purity & wonder, if only for a brief moment each December. I see nothing wrong with that. Your mileage may vary.

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10pm      It’s A Wonderful Life
There is only one perfect way to wrap up this awesome weekend movie marathon…with the best Christmas film ever made (B&W!! Stay away from the colorized version!!). I have talked about IAWL here before so there’s not much left to say. It is such an oddity in so many ways. The idea originated as a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, a Pennsylvania man who had authored several books about The Civil War. In 1943 Stern self-published The Greatest Gift and gave it to a couple hundred friends as a Christmas present. Who knew that it would evolve into a tradition that millions still enjoy each Christmas?? One of those who received the story was a Hollywood producer and the rest is history. IAWL was released in December 1946 but was IAWL_2marketed as a romantic comedy…not a Christmas film. It had good but not great reviews and though it was profitable it certainly wasn’t a blockbuster. It wasn’t until a few decades later when local TV stations began showing IAWL countless times…often very late at night…during the holiday season that it became a beloved classic. On the surface a story about a guy contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve seems like the unlikeliest of uplifting family movies, but there is something about it that just seems to speak to the masses. Maybe there is a part of all of us…at one time or another…that feels dissatisfied, unfulfilled, & overwhelmed. Maybe there is a part of many of us that has contemplated escape in some form, whether it be thru something as drastic as suicide or a less messy approach like divorce, relocation, or simply quitting our job. Maybe there is a part of most of us that has seen the dreams of our youth fall by the wayside to be replaced by a life that doesn’t seem to measure up to those big plans we once had. And hopefully the majority of us receive the message, whether it be thru a kindhearted guardian angel or some other outlet, that as long as we have a friend or two, a roof over our head & food to eat, and take advantage of the opportunity that God provides each day to do good and make a difference then life is mostly pretty darn great.

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Okay, so…that’s it. Have fun. Relax. It’s Christmas…delight in it!! And please let me know in the comments what changes you would make for you own custom Christmas Movie Marathon. How would you change the timing?? What films would you choose differently than me?? What kind of snacks would you munch on?? As Charles Dickens once said, “Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home.” I wish you peace & joy during this wonderful season and in all the days of your life.

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 15

We’ve reached the end of the road for college football, atleast as far as these picks go. I’ll do a little bowl pick ‘em, but it won’t count as part of this process. From here on out our picks will be strictly NFL until they finish up.

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It’s conference title game week for all except The Big 12 (which has 10 teams). We now know the 6 or 7 teams vying for 4 spots in the playoff, and the talking heads have had a field day dissecting all related issues. If I hear the phrase “body of work” one more time I’m going to punch somebody. The fact is that the playoff committee is atleast half comprised of folks who have a stake in the outcome and others who have strong ties & loyalty to certain institutions, which taints the whole procedure. When I first heard that college football was going to have a playoff I was excited and imagined that it’d be similar to the way the March Madness basketball field is set. I was obviously wrong. There is very little resemblance between the two and the entire football playoff methodology is flawed. I’ll probably have more to say about it some other time, but for now it is what it is and y’all are here for picks.

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Last week Zach got the better of me, as he went 4-3 while I went 3-4. That brings his season record to 41-38, while I cling to a slight advantage at 42-37.

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas St. at Baylor (-8.5)
baylorBig 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby should be fired immediately. No one is buying the whole idea that the conference doesn’t need to add two teams and a championship game because they all play each other now. We know it’s about the money. The school presidents like the idea of splitting the pie 10 ways instead of 12. And now the commissioner has not only gone against logic and football tradition but he has kneeled & bowed to this damn playoff committee which has entirely too much power and no idea how to wield it properly. They are just making up the rules as they go. Commissioner Bowlsby has stated that…assuming both TCU & Baylor win this week…they’ll be co-champions of the conference, which is idiotic. There are always tiebreakers, and the first one is usually the results of the head-to-head matchup. In this case Baylor defeated TCU 61-58 in overtime on October 11th. Despite that outcome the playoff committee (I’ve got to come up with a catchy nickname for them) haskansas-state-dm seen fit to rank TCU ahead of Baylor, and right now the Horned Frogs are in the Top 4. Bowlsby doesn’t want to cost his conference any money, and doing the right thing by having the head-to-head lead to Baylor being named conference champs might do exactly that. In other words Bowlsby has been castrated by the stupid committee. Moron. At any rate, the way things have gone Baylor certainly isn’t out of the playoff picture, but they’ll need to beat Kansas St. like Adrian Peterson at a daycare with a bag of switches. I think they’ll do exactly that. Zach foresees a shootout and is picking Kansas St.

My Pick = Baylor
Z’s Pick = Kansas St.

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Northern Illinois (-6.5) at Bowling Green
huskiesThis is the MAC title game. I like the MAC. I wish my Marshall Thundering Herd would have never left the MAC. Their teams get very littlebowling green respect and are oftentimes stuck playing televised games on Tuesday & Wednesday nights. However, for true football fans the games are usually more than watchable. I don’t think the Huskies will have any problems covering the points and winning the trophy. This is a rematch of last year’s championship when the Falcons pulled off the upset. Northern Illinois will want revenge. Zach thinks this will be a close game and Northern Illinois will be unable to cover the points.

My Pick = Northern Ilinois
Z’s Pick = Bowling Green

 

 

 

Arizona at Oregon (-14.5)
Oregon DucksI’m really looking forward to this game, which will be played on Friday night at the San Francisco 49ers new stadium. The Ducks are in the ArizonaWildcatsplayoff. A lot of things would have to go haywire for that to change. The Wildcats aren’t going to be pushovers though. Actually they have an outside shot to make the playoff, although it is highly unlikely that all the dominoes would fall right for that to occur. I am almost positive Oregon will win the game, but by how much?? I am normally skittish about such large point spreads, but for some strange reason The Voices are screaming at me, and they are saying one word…Oregon. Zach thinks it likely that Oregon wins but doesn’t believe they’ll cover.

My Pick = Oregon
Z’s Pick = Arizona

 

 

 

Alabama (-14.5) vs. Missouri
Congratulations to the Missouri Tigers. You’ve had a good season. You’ll enjoy a nice bowl destination. But you are not winning the SEC title. Nothing would make AlabamaCrimsonTide2me happier than for all of the top teams to lose and the playoff situation to become complete mayhem. Would an Alabama loss in this game drop them out of the Top 4?? Sadly we’ll never know. And not only will the Tide win, but they’ll roll BIG. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Alabama
Z’s Pick = Alabama

 

 

 

Florida St. (-4.5) vs. Georgia Tech
The one nice thing I’ll say about the playoff committee is that they seem to have Florida St.’s number. The Seminoles can’t be denied a shot to defend their nationalgatechlogocos-3 championship as long as they remain undefeated, but they’ve slipped all the way to #4 in the process of scratching & clawing their way to wins in which they were outplayed for atleast ¾ of the game. A loss in this ACC title tilt would be devastating, as either Baylor or Ohio St. would surely leapfrog into the playoff. The Yellow Jackets are a team I have completely overlooked this season. I had no idea they were 10-2 and even in the conference title hunt. This is a neutral site game being played in Charlotte, NC, which may help Tech a bit. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’ve been hoping for a Florida St. loss like Ralphie wants a BB gun in A Christmas Story. That movie had a happy ending…maybe this game will too. Zach feels the same way.

My Pick = Georgia Tech
Z’s Pick = Georgia Tech

 

 

 

Fresno St. at Boise St. (-20.5)
boise-state-logoThis is the Mountain West title game. It is being played on Boise’s blue turf. If my Marshall Thundering Herd hadn’t shot themselves in the footfresno last week and still had a shot at a New Year’s bowl I’d probably be really interested in this game and rooting hard for a Broncos loss. However, now I simply don’t care, although I’ll probably watch, atleast until it gets out of hand, which may be fairly early. I don’t believe Boise St. will have any problems covering the points. Conversely, Zach is unimpressed with Boise St. and uncomfortable with such a large spread. He thinks Boise may win but won’t cover the points.

My Pick = Boise St.
Z’s Pick = Fresno St.

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Wisconsin (-4) vs. Ohio St.
I must take this opportunity to admit a mistake. Anyone who follows these picks or has read other sports related content here at The Manofesto knows that I like to WisconsinBadgerspoke fun at the Big 12 for having ten teams and the Big Ten for having 12 teams. The problem with that is that in 2014 the Big Ten has 14 teams. I completely forgot that Rutgers & Maryland joined this season. Oops. Anyway, this is the Big Ten title game and is being played on a neutral field in Indianapolis. Everybody has seemingly given up on the Buckeyes after they lost QB JT Barrett to injury and now must rely on a 3rd string QB. As much as I hate to admit it those folks are probably right. With Barrett there is no way Ohio St. would be underdogs in this game…without him Wisconsin is favored by 4 points. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see the Buckeyes beat out Florida St. and both Big 12 contenders for the final playoff spot, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Zach gleefully concurs and doesn’t feel a bit bad about picking against Ohio St.

My Pick = Wisconsin
Z’s Pick = Wisconsin

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 14

Happy Thanksgiving Manoverse!! I hope y’all have a wonderful day filled with family, stuffing, pie, and of course football.

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The college football season is just about over, but it looks like it might go out with a bang. Or it could end on a whimper. I suppose it depends on one’s perspective. I’m tg2rooting for total chaos since this whole playoff thing has been exposed as a complete sham. The bastards finally ranked my Marshall Thundering Herd this week, only to also rank Boise St. one spot ahead and give them the leg up on securing a major bowl bid. Ehhh…I’ll just stop there. I don’t want to go on another rant. At any rate, this is Rivalry Week and features several intrastate matchups that…luckily for us…actually matter outside of winning some kind of ridiculous token like a jug, bell, or axe.

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Last week I went 4-1 while Zach went 1-4. That puts me back in the season lead with a record of 39-33, while Zach is still hot on my heels at 37-35. It’s going to be an exciting finish!! We ride!!

 

 

 

 

 

LSU (-3.5) at Texas A&M
a&mThe Texas-Texas A&M Thanksgiving tradition that was the centerpiece of the 1982 classic Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a thing of thelsu_logo past since the Aggies moved to the SEC. Both teams are indeed playing on Thanksgiving Day…just not against each other. A&M and LSU have each had solid seasons, though both are far out of conference title and national championship contention. This game is strictly about pride and bowl positioning. The Bayou Bengals are getting a lot of love by being favored as the visiting team, but I’m going to go with the upset. Zach, on the other hand, is picking LSU to win by 35 points.

My Pick = Texas A&M
Z’s Pick = LSU

 

 

 

Arizona St. at Arizona (-2)
The Wildcats get the nominal home field advantage, but this is essentially a pick ‘em involving two Top 15 teams. I don’t know enough about either team to speak Arizona_State_logo_blanketeruditely about their relative strengths or weaknesses, so this is a total vibe pick for me. The Voices are telling me to go with the Sun Devils, and so I shall. Zach believes Arizona St. will win easily.

My Pick = Arizona St.
Z’s Pick = Arizona St.

 

 

 

Michigan at Ohio St. (-21)
Ohio_State_BuckeyesThis is one of my favorite rivalries in all of sports, but its impact is somewhat muted in 2014. The once mighty Wolverines are in the midst of michanother rough patch and head coach Brady Hoke is likely going to get canned in the coming days. Conversely, the Buckeyes still have a really good chance to sneak into the playoff, which would be cool with me. It’s weird to see such a large point spread in this game, and usually that’d make me rather nervous. However, since Ohio St. has so much on the line & must “impress” the stupid playoff committee (Al “just win baby” Davis would be horrified), and since, regardless of their impressive history, the current Michigan team is just a 5-6 mess, I’ll roll the dice on a big Ohio St. victory. Zach has absolutely no love for the Buckeyes and extreme faith that his Wolverines can pull off the upset.

My Pick = Ohio St.
Z’s Pick = Michigan

 

 

 

Florida at Florida St. (-7.5)
This is kind of the same deal as Ohio St.-Michigan, but slightly different. The Seminoles…the luckiest team I’ve ever seen…are on the verge of a spot in the playoff, florida gators imagewhile the Gators are a pedestrian 6-4 and have already fired their coach. As a matter of fact this will be his last game since he will not coach in a bowl game. I’m just going to be straightforward about this. I know Florida St. is the better team, but I want them to lose so damn bad I can’t see straight. I’m sick of their jackass thug of a quarterback. I’m sick of seeing them getting beaten for most of a game only to make a late comeback and snag victory from the jaws of defeat. And sadly I am sick of their head coach Jimbo Fisher, a man that hails from the same city in which I live and is a fellow alumnus of the same high school from which I graduated, but a man who has transformed into some kind of fast talking televangelist/used car salesman in the space of a couple of years. Please Florida Gators…please for the love of God put all of us out of our misery. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Florida
Z’s Pick = Florida

 

 

 

Mississippi St. (-2) at Ole Miss
ole missWell here is another team that is in the playoff (at the moment) but shouldn’t be. The Bulldogs were beaten by Alabama a few weeks back miss stbut inexplicably didn’t fall out of the Top 4. I told y’all before the season began that the powers-that-be would twist themselves into a pretzel to shoehorn two SEC teams into the playoff and that is exactly what is happening. It makes me sick. If nothing else important happens this weekend this is one upset that does need to occur for the good of college football. Even casual fans are beginning to notice how rigged it all seems. The Rebels were on a roll until late October but have lost 3 out of 4. That win came against a 1-AA school so it doesn’t count for much. The talking heads have all done their best Bruce Ismay and abandoned Ole Miss. No one seems to be giving them a chance in this game. They’re probably right but I’m still going with my heart over my head, which is why I don’t put real money on the line when I pick football games. Zach disagrees and making the smart choice.

My Pick = Ole Miss
Z’s Pick = Mississippi St.

 

 

 

Oregon (-19.5) at Oregon St.
Oregon-DucksThey call this The Civil War. I don’t know why and am too lazy to find out. I have no doubt that the Ducks will win the game, but the point OregonStateBeavers2spread is interesting. The Beavers are 5-6 and won’t be going to a bowl game once they lose this one, but can they stay within three TDs?? Normally I’d go with the underdog, but once again the evil playoff committee rears its ugly head. Oregon is in and I doubt there’s anything they can do to fall out. Even losing the Pac 12 title game likely wouldn’t matter. However, one would assume they have their eye on being #1 instead of #2, so if Alabama wins but struggles in their last couple of games it might be possible for Oregon to ascend to the top position. To do that they need to “impress” the committee, and I think that starts with a huge win this week. Zach likes the Ducks but is spooked by the spread so he’s picking the underdogs.

My Pick = Oregon
Z’s Pick = Oregon St.

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Auburn at Alabama (-9.5)
auburnY’all remember last season’s Iron Bowl, right?? I think they call it The Kick Six. Anyway, I doubt that this year’s edition can live up to its AlabamaCrimsonTide2predecessor. The talking heads have tossed aside Auburn just like they have Ole Miss, but the truth is that the Tigers are still a very good & dangerous team. They’ll be jacked for an opportunity to beat their arch rivals for a second consecutive year and possibly cost them a playoff opportunity (yeah right lol…even if ‘Bama loses they’re still gonna be in the playoff). Of course the Tide is looking to avenge last year’s devastating loss. I’m not exactly sure how this game is going to turn out, but I think it’ll be closer than 9½ points so I’ll pick the underdogs. Zach has a man crush on Nick Saban and thinks the Tide will roll by five TDs.

My Pick = Auburn
Z’s Pick = Alabama

An Ode to The Ghost of Thanksgivings Past

Thanksgiving…one of our most underrated holidays…is in a couple of days. I am looking forward to a pleasant afternoon with family, food, & a little football. I’ll probably watch the Macy’s Parade in the morning and then watch the 1987 classic Planes, Trains, & Automobiles later in the evening. It will be a lovely day…certainly not a bad way to spend one’s time. But it can never be like it once was.

 

My friend The Owl and I have talked a few times about transitions. There is a progression…one that we define as normal…throughout life. A person grows from a tg1baby to a child to a teenager to an adult. Everyone advances from one grade in school to another until graduation, then maybe they go to college, and then finally enter the workforce. Many move away from their hometown to a different city…maybe even another state or country. And most folks get married and have children. Now I do not need or want any kind of sympathy…that’s not what this is about. But since I have not gotten married or fathered children the significance of these transitions has become clearer to me. It makes a lot of sense really. Having children and then eventually grandchildren allows people to see things thru new eyes and re-experience fond memories with a slightly different twist. Not having the prism of new generations to look thru means that individuals like myself only have our memories. It means that things change but they don’t really evolve. It is what it is and that’s fine, but I can’t help but fondly recall the Thanksgivings of my childhood………..

 

My maternal grandmother…Grandma Pigott…lived in town about 20 minutes from our house. She didn’t drive so my Mom or Dad would pick her up (I did the honors a few times when I was older) and bring her to our house the day before and she’d spend the night. She & my mother got up really early on Thanksgiving Day…about 5 or 6am…and put the turkey in the oven. Then they began fixing all the other accoutrements…sweet potatoes, rolls, green beans, corn, extra stuffing besides what was in the turkey, and of course pumpkin pie. By the time I woke up around 8 or 9am the whole house smelled awesome. You know what a house smells like on Thanksgiving. One never forgets that unique scent.

 

macys-paradeDuring my formative years in the 1970’s & 80’s our entertainment options were pretty limited…atleast by today’s macys2standards. Television didn’t have 300 channels. Video games didn’t become popular until I was almost a teenager and I never really got into gaming anyway. We didn’t have The Internet or smartphones. So I am not ashamed to admit that I looked forward to watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Back then I seem to recall that it was hosted by people like Ed McMahon, Bryant Gumbel, & Willard Scott. I always liked ol’ Willard. At any rate, as I got older I began to comprehend how corny the parade really is, and remember being shocked & disappointed when I realized that those people weren’t really singing…they were lip synching!! The horror!!!! But I never stopped watching. I still enjoy watching, although now it’s kind of a nostalgia thing because no matter what kind of new characters they make balloons out of or how many young pop stars are trotted out to make the show seem hip the truth is that it is essentially the same parade it’s always been and that’s just fine with me.

 

I don’t recall what my father or sister were doing while I was watching the parade. My Dad was probably outside doing something manly. My sister was never the domestic type…especially as a teenager…so, while many girls might have been in the kitchen helping Mom & Grandma prepare the feast, I think she stayed holed up in her room being anti-social. Don’t worry though…she became friendlier as an adult. Actually I was more likely to be in the kitchen asking if I could help. If I was as interested in such things now as I was 35 years ago I’d make someone a heck of a husband.

 

The parade always ended at noon (still does) and in our house that meant dinner wasn’t too far away. We normally ate supper about 5 or 6pm on most evenings, but cpon Thanksgiving Day the meal was ready by 1 or 2pm. Not long after the parade was over my paternal grandparents…Papaw & Mamaw Mano…would arrive. They lived “up the holler” just a couple of miles from us. Now I don’t recall if they brought anything else (they probably did), but one thing I do know for sure…Grandma Mano always made chocolate cream pie, and she made it from scratch…even the crust. To this day I have never eaten a pie as good, and I doubt that I ever will.

 

fturkBy this time football was on. There were always two games back then. The Dallas Cowboys played in one and the Detroit Lions played in the other. Their opponents varied from year to year. I am certainly not a Cowboys fan, and at that time I’m pretty sure no one outside of the Motor City gave a darn about the Lions, but it was football and one doesn’t pass up an opportunity to watch football. NBC aired AFC games and the pre-game show was hosted by Bryant Gumbel before he left for the Today Show, as well as folks like Bob Costas, Len Berman, Paul Maguire, Ahmad Rashad, & a few others, while the games were called by legends like Dick Enberg, Don Criqui, Bob Trumpy, Marv Albert, & Merlin Olsen. CBS aired NFC games and their pre-game show had Brent Musburger, Irv Cross, the lovely Phyllis George, & Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, with games being called by…well, I’m sure there were several announcers but the team I remember best is Pat Summerall & John Madden. At any rate, the games themselves were rarely memorable and unless the Steelers were playing I didn’t really care one way or another, but football was & is an undeniable part of the Thanksgiving tradition.

 

I never really got to watch much of the early football game because soon enough dinner was ready. My mother and grandmothers would do the last minute preparations and my sister & I were sometimes recruited to “set the table”, i.e. put out all the plates, bowls, glasses, & silverware. Our kitchen table wasn’t quite big enough for 7 people, but that was easily handled by my father inserting a “leaf”, the one & only time during the year this was necessary.

 

We never made a big deal out of the head of the family theatrically wielding a large knife and carving the turkey while giving some kind of grandiose speech. I think thanksgiving-dinner_1that only happens on TV & in movies. Usually Mom or my grandmother would just cut it into pieces before it ever made it to the table. We had mashed potatoes & gravy (both of my grandmothers made awesome gravy), green beans (not that casserole stuff with crunchy onions), corn, rolls, traditional stuffing, & iced tea. I was never a fan of sweet potatoes as a kid and usually passed on them, although now I really like sweet potatoes. I believe we oftentimes had deviled eggs as well. I don’t recall cranberry sauce being a central part of our meal. It could be that no one made it or it is possible that it is something at which I turned up my nose and blocked out of my memory. I’m still not a fan of cranberry sauce, mostly because I’m not sure why it’s there or how one is supposed to consume it. Am I supposed to eat it with a spoon?? Do I spread it on my roll like jam?? Is one supposed to dip turkey in it?? I honestly have no idea.

 

After saying grace we engaged in polite conversation during the meal, but there was a lot of “pass the rolls please”, “may I have some more potatoes”, “I need some more tea”, & “Mom this stuffing is really good”. What can I say…we had our priorities straight and the focus was on the awesome meal in front of our faces. I usually ate like a pig, not giving a second thought to children in Third World countries who probably hadn’t eaten as much in a month as I was scarfing down in one sitting. That’s the beauty of childhood…complete self-involvement without a care of what is happening outside one’s own little bubble. After dinner the turkey looked like it had been car bombed by the mafia and I was ready for dessert. Two pieces of pie for this kid…pumpkin & chocolate, both smothered in Cool Whip (not that crap in a spray can).

 

familyThe post-dinner festivities were in our living room. I usually tried to watch some football, and I think my Dad and grandfather may have taken a little nap (damn tryptophan) while the ladies were in the kitchen cleaning up and doing dishes. Old-fashioned?? Unevolved?? Misogynistic?? Ehhh…I suppose some people may have that opinion, but it was the way I was. At some point the cleanup was over and we all sat together in the living room…me, my parents, my sister, & my grandparents. That’s what I remember most of all. It’s the memory that makes me happiest & saddest at the same time. I can always eat. I’ve never not had access to food. But those seven people will never be in a room together again. I’ve mentioned this once before in this space:

 

“After dinner we’d all sit in the living room and shoot the breeze, just enjoying each other’s company. As a child I would mostly just sit there and listen as the adults talked about a variety of things. Families have a certain…rhythm…whenever they talk amongst themselves. A stranger coming into the midst of the conversation probably wouldn’t give a rat’s petoot about the topics being tossed about to & fro, but if you’re in the inner circle you get it. Even kids, who probably don’t understand most of what is being said, have a comfort level with the group. It’s like a cold winter night that all the sudden becomes cozy once one slips under the warmth of a soft blanket.”

 

My mother passed on 14 years ago. All of my grandparents are gone. I wish that I had an hour long video of that post-meal conversation that I could just play over & over.

 

At some point…probably about 6 or 7pm…my paternal grandparents would go home. I would eat another piece or two of pie, this time accompanied by a tall glasspumpkin-pie-21 of cold milk, during the evening. There weren’t any other football games and the tradition of playing Christmas movies on television hadn’t started yet (remember…we didn’t have that many channels). We definitely didn’t go shopping and weren’t preparing to do that the next day. I don’t ever remember Black Friday even being a thing when I was a child. So we just relaxed and enjoyed our evening. What a concept, huh??

 

Thanksgiving was over but there was one last memory to create in the coming days. Even though the turkey had seemingly been destroyed there somehow were leftovers, and one thing we did with leftover turkey was make turkey salad. It seems to me that the task usually fell to Grandma Pigott, and she didn’t have any modern gadgets…no Magic Bullet, no Ninja, no Cuisinart, no Ultimate Chopper. What she had, and all she needed, was a big ol’ knife and a hand cranked meat grinder. It took some effort (I helped her a few times when I was a little older) but you know what…that turkey salad was spectacular and nothing one can purchase at the grocery store nowadays even comes close. She would make ham salad the same way after Christmas and it was equally as tasty.

 

Ahhhh those were the days. They may be gone but not forgotten. I’m thankful for the memories, thankful for my family, and thankful that I have the opportunity to forge ahead and enjoy more good times even if it they’ll have a difficult time measuring up. May God bless The Manoverse this Thanksgiving.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 5.14

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

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With Christmas Creep becoming ever so pervasive and Black Friday beginning earlier & earlier I want to take a moment to give kudos to some Thumbs_upestablishments who will NOT be open on Thanksgiving: Costco, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Marshalls, Pier 1 Imports, Burlington Coat Factory, Crate & Barrel, JoAnn Fabrics, TJ Maxx, Barnes & Noble, Sam’s Club, & Home Depot. I have no problem with restaurants being open on Thanksgiving because not everyone has somewhere to go and a family with which to celebrate with the traditional meal. However, I don’t think that retail shops should be open on the holiday.

 

 

 
jesusI get really tired of people yapping about Christians “ramming their beliefs down others’ throats”. Really?? Cite some examples. I suspect that most anything that would be used to illustrate the point would simply fall under the category of expressing opinions or stating principles, which last I checked was called free speech and not ramming anything anywhere. You don’t want to go to church?? Fine. You don’t even believe in God?? Okay. There will be some Christians who might want to discuss your views and try to show you the light, but again that is hardly forcing anyone to do anything against their will. Believe or don’t believe. Listen or don’t listen. It is your choice. What is really interesting is that the people who hurl these accusations at Christians are the very same folks who have spent the past few decades twisting themselves into knots trying to reshape America and shoving their beliefs…specifically about deviant LGBT lifestyles and abortion…down the throats of the populace under the seemingly hospitable guise of openmindedness, awareness, inclusiveness, multiculturalism, fairness, justice, & equality. And it has worked masterfully. They have skillfully created an environment in which Christians simply expressing Godly values is seen as hatred. Look at our nation in the 21st century vs. just 30 or 40 years ago. If this “fight” were scored like a boxing match in which points were awarded for legal reform and socio-cultural change it is the anti-Christians who would clearly be winning a unanimous decision. So tell me again…just who is shoving their beliefs down whose throats??

 

 

 
RIP Dallas. I loved the original show and was excited when TNT decided to air a reboot “next generation” series in 2012. I watched the first two jrseasons, with the second one including the death of JR Ewing (after the real life death of actor Larry Hagman) and its aftermath. However I admittedly didn’t watch one minute of season 3, and apparently a lot of other folks skipped it as well, hence its cancellation. It was a good long run encompassing a big part of the past 35 years. Everyone involved ought to be proud of the show’s legacy.

 

 

 
mansonCan we please stage an intervention for this woman who is planning to marry Charles Manson?? Obviously she has a screw lose, but she’s only 29 years old. There’s still time for her to get whatever help she needs and resume a normal life. But if she goes thru with it she’ll always be the crazy chick that married Charles Manson. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. We live in a celebrity obsessed culture where talentless people are often rewarded with a certain level of recognition by doing nothing in particular requiring any kind of skill. As a rather private person who prefers to fly under the radar I can’t relate to this desire for fame and sincerely believe we ought to stop indulging people. Getting rid of mindless “reality” TV would be a great place to start, as would denying this woman the opportunity to marry a man she barely knows, can’t possibly love, and with whom she can’t ever have a legitimate relationship.

 

 

 
I’ve been doing my best to stay away from political discussions this year, but I have to offer one opinion. If it were up to me the incoming Republican gopCongress would not have Rep. John Boehner & Sen. Mitch McConnell as their leaders. Been there done that. It’s time for new blood. Of course this won’t happen and the Republicans will destroy themselves from within as usual…just in time for 2016. I hope I’m wrong but I bet I’m not.

 

 

 
I ran across the following thread on Facebook recently:

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Original Post: When I see men post pictures with girls and I rejected them because they were perverted assholes who just wanted a hookup. I think to myself well there is a woman with low self-esteem who will have sex with anyone. Good for him.
Girl #1: Men r dogs
OP: Not all but the majority.
Girl #1: Like 80%
OP: I’m just happy they find what they are looking for.
OP: More like 95%
Girl #1: Most of them are not happy with themselves.
OP: Watch the YouTube video I posted last night. It is heartbreaking and shows men’s true character. Its call Bankok Girl.
OP: Men have way lower self-esteem than women and they are lazy.
Girl #1: True
OP: That’s why they like to humiliate and control women and call it dominance because they know they are not as superior as women.

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crazyWow…bitter much?? First of all, to equate prostitution in Taiwan with all men everywhere is idiotic. I don’t know Girl #1 but I do kinda sorta know the original poster a little bit and she has some legit reasons to be somewhat cynical. That being said, this level of resentment & scorn is disturbing. Yes men can be selfish. We can be juvenile horndogs. Too often we are motivated by the wrong things. But really ladies…is it that bad?? Are men truly that horrific?? And let’s talk about women. Y’all ain’t exactly perfect. The Bible says to take care of the plank in your own eye before judging the speck in another person’s eye. Look, I know women like to get together and whine & complain about men. Guys hang out and talk about women as well. That’s being human. But people should be very careful about what they put out there for public consumption. Both of the women involved in this conversation are…physically…quite lovely. I know the original poster is single…I’m not sure about her friend. But I wouldn’t date either one of them because as pretty as they might be on the outside their souls are ugly & damaged. Most of us have enough problems without becoming involved with a person who might secretly hate us and thinks we are lazy dogs with low self-esteem who enjoy humiliating & controlling others. I’d prefer to remain single.

 

 

 
An historic event has taken place at The Bachelor Palace. I am not a fan of bright overhead light, so when darkness falls across the land I have some bulblamps in my living room that I turn on each evening. A couple of them have those funky looking decorative bulbs, but the others use normal 60 watt incandescent bulbs. It is my understanding that environmentalist wackos have been successful in having incandescent bulbs go the way of 8 tracks, VCRs, floppy disks, & freedom of religion. I just had my last incandescent light bulb burn out, so unless I am mistaken the next time I go shopping I suppose I’ll have to purchase some of those ugly fluorescent things that I’ve been told don’t put out nearly as much light. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate change??

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 13

Okay I just have to vent…again. This college football playoff thing is a complete joke. I never in a million years thought something could be worse than the BCS, but the current system has somehow managed to make the BCS look logical & fair. As an alumnus of Marshall University and a longtime fan of the Thundering Herd I find it outrageously offensive that they have thus far been excluded from the playoff committee’s Top 25. Even some of the talking heads thought this would finally be the week that the Herd was included, but instead Minnesota…a three loss team that was defeated by Ohio St. just a few days earlier…remained in the same #25 spot they’d held previously. Three loss teams Louisville and Clemson (who lost a few days ago just like Minnesota) are both ranked ahead of 10-0 Marshall as well. To add insult to injury, last week on ESPN’s Mike & Mike former Florida St. QB Danny Kanell, whose prickishness just oozes thru the TV screen, said in reference to some highly ranked team (it may have been the Seminoles, who like Marshall have had many question the strength of their schedule) that they can only play theFU teams that are put in front of them. Oh really?? That’s exactly what Marshall has done you sanctimonious assclown, and they’ve beaten the snot out of everyone they’ve faced (unlike Florida St., which is the luckiest team I’ve ever seen and should have lost atleast 2 games already). No one is saying that Marshall should be in the playoff. That’s not the point. The issue is that the committee not even putting them in their Top 25 is ridiculous. It’s basically a bunch of arrogant elitists saying to someone they perceive as “lesser” than them “you’re not invited to our exclusive club”. D*****bags like Kanell even refer to games among the “power” conferences as “big boy football”. The problem with their logic is that the “power” 5 conferences AND the “other” 5 conferences are ALL in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision (what used to be called Division 1-A) and therefore should have equal access to the FBS National Championship. If the “have-nots” aren’t going to have that kind of access then the divisions need revised. Let the chosen ones play “big boy football” while guys like Danny Kanell lube up and pleasure themselves watching it on TV, and allow the teams in the MAC, C-USA, Mountain West, AAC, & Sun Belt to form their own division and play for a separate national title. Maybe some “lower” teams like Boise St. would try to move up to “big boy football”. Maybe some current 1-AA teams would move up into whatever this new “lower” division would be. It’s all good. The point is that we could remove all pretense and let the morons in the media focus their idolatry on their chosen few, while the little guys would still have something legit to play for.

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Anyway, sorry for the rant. Y’all are here for some picks. Last week I went 3-4, bringing my season record to 35-32. Zach was an impressive 6-1 and nailed the prediction that Alabama would defeat Mississippi St. but not cover the 7½ point spread. His season record is now 36-31. This looks like kind of a mediocre week in college football, but I think we’ve found a few noteworthy games as well as a couple of NFL matchups that should be fun. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Arizona at Utah (-4)
Neither of these teams is heading to the playoff or even the Pac 12 title game, but both are solid Top 25 teams that have had quietly successful seasons. The Utes ArizonaWildcatsget the slight home field advantage, but I think Arizona is the better team and will win this game easily. Zach likes the Wildcats by a TD.

My Pick = Arizona
Z’s Pick = Arizona

 

 

 

Louisville at Notre Dame (-3.5)
It’s awfully convenient that Louisville was never given the time of day when they were in the old Big East, but now all the sudden they are in the ACC and the playoff NotreDame1committee awards them a Top 25 spot even though they’ve lost three games (including an early season loss to now 4-6 Virginia) and have such luminaries as Murray St. and Florida International on their schedule. Oh by the way, Marshall also played Florida International and beat them by almost the same margin as Louisville did. The Irish have lost 3 out of their last 4 games and have quietly slipped out of the polls. Not even the idiotic playoff committee ranks Notre Dame. Apparently Minnesota’s victories over Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, San Jose St., & Purdue (honest to God…the Gophers haven’t beaten anyone with a damn pulse…exactly what Marshall is accused of) are more impressive than Irish wins over Stanford and…well, okay…Stanford is the only decent team Notre Dame has beaten and even they are only 5-5. At any rate, I think Notre Dame is going to open up a can of epic whoopass on Louisville, and I hope it happens just to make the playoff committee look stupid. Zach has no love for Notre Dame, but he thinks they’ll win.

My Pick = Notre Dame
Z’s Pick = Notre Dame

 

 

 

USC at UCLA (-3.5)
ucla_bruins2The Battle of L.A. And it may also decides who will meet Oregon in the Pac 12 title game. I suppose UCLA still has an outside shot to make USC_Trojans2the playoff if all the dominoes fall their way, but that is highly unlikely. The Bruins have the slight home field advantage, but I’m not sure that means much considering both teams are based in the same city. I’m going with UCLA if for no other reason than I ranked them 5th in my pre-season poll and they might actually get there if they keep winning, therefore making me look like a freakin’ genius. Conversely, Zach believes that the Trojans will win by three TDs.

My Pick = UCLA
Z’s Pick = USC

 

 

 

Detroit at New England (-7)
New_England_Patriots_HelmetWhen I was a kid the Detroit Lions were a joke. Occasionally they’d have a decent season, but for the most part they were mired in Detroit_Lions_Helmetmediocrity. Not even the great Barry Sanders could lead them to a Super Bowl appearance in the 90’s. But right now they are having a really good season and the folks in Vegas give them 16-1 odds to make it to The Super Bowl. We’ll have a much better idea if the Lions are legit after this game. The Patriots, whose eulogy was being written by the geniuses at ESPN about a month & a half ago, have risen up like one those horror movie killers that never really die. Trust me, there is no one on Earth who’d like to see New England crash & burn more than your humble Potentate of Profundity, but I’d be shocked if that occurred in this game. Zach likes the Patriots…but not by 7 points. He thinks the Lions will lose a close game and cover the points.

My Pick = New England
Z’s Pick = Detroit

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Arizona at Seattle (-6.5)
seattle-seahawks1The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks have been knocked back down to mediocrity quicker & even moreso than I predicted. At thisnflarizonacardinals point it will be a struggle for them to make it to the playoffs. One of the reasons why?? The division leading Cardinals, who own the best record in the NFL. Raise your hand if you saw that coming (put your hands down…liars). However, Arizona has lost QB Carson Palmer for the season and now must rely on journeyman Drew Stanton to lead them the rest of the way. Stanton got off to a good start last week in a victory over the Detroit Lions, but can he keep it up?? If this game were being played in the desert I might say yes, but it is being played in Seattle at one of the league’s most raucous venues. If the Seahawks have any hope of defending their crown this is a must win and I think they will rise to the occasion. Zach has lost faith in Seattle’s celebrated defense and thinks it is the Cardinals who deserve that kind of respect now.

My Pick = Seattle
Z’s Pick = Arizona

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 12

I knew that last week was a giant roll of the dice. Every game involved two highly ranked teams trying to remain in the national championship hunt. Zach & I both went 2-3, splitting the four games in which our opinions differed and losing the one we agreed on when Alabama covered the 6½ point spread with a touchdown in overtime. Close but no cigar for us. At any rate, that brings my season record to 32-28, while Zach is holding serve at 30-30. I’m throwing a curveball this week by starting with a few NFL games, the reason being that our first contest is the Thursday nighter on NFL Network.

 

 

 

 

Buffalo at Miami (-4.5)
As expected it looks like the New England Patriots will easily win the AFC East. However, as I predicted, these two teams are atleast in the discussion for a possibleMiamiDolphins wildcard spot. Actually the Dolphins have been a little bit better than I expected. I’m not sure either one will make it to the playoffs, but I bet none of their opponents look forward to facing them. Miami gets a healthy home field bump from the oddsmakers and I have no reason to disagree. Zach is far less enamored with this matchup than me, but he likes Dolphins’ QB Ryan Tannehill.

My Pick = Miami
Z’s Pick = Miami

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Philadelphia at Green Bay (-5)
eaglesThis should be a really good game. I picked both of these teams to win their division, but both are currently in real battles to be able to fulfill Green_Bay_Packers_Helmetthat prophecy. The Eagles didn’t miss a beat when starting QB Nick Foles went down with a season ending injury and everyone seems suddenly supportive of Mark Sanchez, a guy that was laughed out of New York. It’s funny how things change in the NFL. Meanwhile, the good people of Green Bay have been relaxing per the instructions of their QB Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers have won 5 out of their last 6 games. The Packers get the requisite home field advantage, and if this game were being played a month from now that might be even more relevant…you know, frozen tundra & all that jazz. However I think the Eagles are the better team right now. Zach has jumped on the Sanchez bandwagon but thinks he will get discount double checked by the Packers.

My Pick = Philadelphia
Z’s Pick = Green Bay

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New England at Indianapolis (-3)

Indianapolis_Colts_HelmetThis is the Sunday night game on NBC and I’m predicting a barn burner. Take the over. It’ll be something like 38-28. The question is who New_England_Patriots_Helmetcomes out on top?? I try not to let my personal feelings cloud my judgment (Yoda taught me that), but it is easier said than done. Just a month ago the talking heads were sounding the death knell for Tom Brady’s career. Since then, much to my chagrin, the Patriots have reeled off 5 straight victories. Meanwhile the Colts are easily winning a division in which all three of the other teams are below .500. This is youth vs. experience and I am taking youth. Neither team’s defense is that great, but I think Colts’ QB Andrew Luck has more weapons to utilize and a more reliable running game to fall back on. Zach too has doubts about Indy’s defense and thinks Tom Brady will shred their secondary.

My Pick = Indianapolis
Z’s Pick = New England

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Florida St. (-1.5) at Miami, FL
Not that long ago this would have been the headliner. For about two decades these were two of the elite teams in college football, and whenever they met on the miamiufield, whether it was during the regular season or in a New Year’s Day bowl game, it was an event. Since then the Hurricanes have become just another middle-of-the-pack ACC football team that no one pays all that much attention to. Conversely the defending national champion Seminoles are still in the spotlight, although I am not really sure they deserve it this season. They look like a lock to make the 4 team national title playoff if they finish undefeated, but their schedule, in my humble opinion, isn’t much more inspiring than that of my alma mater Marshall, a team that may finish 13-0 but won’t get anywhere near the playoff. Most agree that Florida St. hasn’t looked impressive against that humdrum schedule, barely escaping losses to Clemson, Oklahoma St., & Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Miami has won three in a row and still has an outside shot to win their division and make it to the conference title game, but let’s be honest…this is their Super Bowl. Winning a December bowl game against another mediocre foe doesn’t have the same level of meaning in Coral Gables, FL as beating their long time arch rivals and costing them an opportunity to play for another championship. Can they pull it off?? It is interesting to me that Florida St. is favored by less than 2 points. Sure they are the visitors, but normally one would assume that being the #2 team in the country would hold more prestige. I guess the oddsmakers have watched the same Florida St. Seminoles as the rest of us and know that they are vastly overrated. Maybe I’m looking thru my rose-colored glasses again, but I’m picking the upset. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Miami, FL
Z’s Pick = Miami, FL

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South Carolina at Florida (-6.5)
Steve Spurrier returns to The Swamp. I had high hopes for the Gamecocks, picking them #4 in my pre-season poll. That is undoubtedly the biggest miscalculationGamecocks I’ve made in my prognostications in 2014. South Carolina is currently 4-5 and faces an uphill battle to even become bowl eligible. Meanwhile, the Gators are a once powerful program that have been going thru some hard times. Certainly 5-3 isn’t a horrible record, but it is far from being in the national title discussion. This is another game that just a few years ago might have been a marquee matchup but will instead be a regionally televised noon game. As noted, South Carolina needs to win 2 out of their last 3 games to be invited to a bowl, and I think that will be enough motivation. Zach thinks the Gators will win the game but won’t cover the points.

My Pick = South Carolina
Z’s Pick = South Carolina

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Nebraska at Wisconsin (-6)
These are two teams that haven’t completely disappointed me, but they have underachieved. I picked both as Top 12 teams, and while the Cornhuskers sit right WisconsinBadgersabout where I picked them the Badgers have bounced in & out of the lower tier of the polls. This game will likely decide who plays Ohio St. in the Big Ten (which has 12 teams) championship game. Both clubs are in the top 10 in the nation in rushing, and I expect this game to showcase that. Wisconsin has the home field advantage and I believe that will hold true. Zach agrees.

My Pick = Wisconsin
Z’s Pick = Wisconsin

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Mississippi St. at Alabama (-7.5)
AlabamaCrimsonTide2Will this be an elimination game when it comes to the national title playoff?? Maybe. Both teams are among the chosen 4 right miss stnow, and the loser will almost certain fall out…atleast temporarily. It’s no secret that the success of the two Mississippi schools has been a surprise to me even if everyone else seemed on board since the pre-season. I have to give the Bulldogs credit though. They have met every challenge and defeated heavy hitters like LSU, Auburn, & Texas A&M. Meanwhile, the Tide has rolled even though they haven’t been quite as dominant as usual. They were extremely fortunate to escape potential losses to Arkansas and LSU. Because I am not enamored with this new playoff system (what can I say…as a Marshall alum I am somewhat bitter) I am rooting for chaos. Ideally that’d mean a ‘Bama win here followed by them losing to either archrival Auburn or in the SEC title game (where the likely opponent would be Georgia or Missouri). If Mississippi St. wins this game then all that’d stand between them and the playoff is a season ending game against in-state rival Ole Miss and the SEC title game. I am more comfortable with the former scenario than the latter because I think Auburn has a better chance at upsetting the Tide than the Rebels beating the Bulldogs. This is how my brain works folks…like it or not. Zach, once again, is picking a team to win but not cover. He thinks ‘Bama will score the victory, but by less than a touchdown.

My Pick = Alabama
Z’s Pick = Mississippi St.