In case you didn’t know it, today is Hobbit Day.
It’s the day when we put aside all our differences to celebrate Hobbits, and go look it up if you think I’m blowing smoke.
Hobbits, in case you didn’t know that, are short people with large, hairy feet and names like Frodo and Bilbo. They live in the Shire in a land called Middle Earth and always end up being hornswaggled by a certain wizard into doing heroic things that usually have something to do with rings and elves and wizards and nasty creatures called orcs. Then, having good retirement plans, they go home and have first and second breakfasts and third lunches and smoke pipes while they write their memoirs.
But not all Hobbits who leave the Shire to go adventuring go fight Mordor or wrangle over rings and things.
Some leave the Shire as young hobbits and go on to do other things, like coach college football.
Away from the Shire, some even grow quite tall.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is the poster child for that branch of the hobbit family bush because, hey, he’s Dabo Swinney. That’s a hobbit name if I ever heard one. Height-wise, Dabo is like a Hobbit LeBron James. He even dances like a hobbit Denny Terrio.
Another coach with hobbit DNA is the great Les Miles over at LSU. For one thing, he’s not tall. For another, well, have you ever seen his feet? You notice they never show his feet at press conferences? There’s a reason for that, and I suspect it’s because they’re large and covered in fur the same color as his hair, whatever color that is. Sort of peppermint flake rust, or something. Anyway, Miles has also been known to eat grass, which is what hobbits sometimes do at press conferences. It settles their stomachs.
Nick Saban is probably short enough to qualify for hobbithood, but I think he’s too cranky and they would’ve thrown him out of the Shire for being too Saban. I used to suspect Lou Holtz was either a hobbit or a leprechaun, but now I think he’s just a Lou Holtz, which is in itself something to behold.
But he could’ve been a hobbit, and a good one, too.
Now on to the reason for the season, also known as the Pembroke Mafia Football League. It includes B.J. "Big Bilbo" Clark, Ernie "Big Frodo" Mitchell, Mike "Sam Gamgee" Clark, Mark "Call me Seth" Rogerson, Noah "Gandalf the Lt. Governor" Covington, Trey "Hobbit Dawg Fan No. 1" Robertson and me. We’re all football experts and we’re all really cool.
But, some of us are better at picking than others. After three weeks of picking, Trey and B.J. are tied for first with only 11 misses. Mark, Mike and Noah have 13 misses, Ernie has 15 and I have 17. That means I’m in last.
This week’s games, selected by B.J. and no bear:
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M: Two teams that should be in the Southwestern Conference. Everybody but me and Trey go with the Aggies. And if you ever wondered what A&M stands for, it’s this: Apples and Moosehead.
Wisconsin vs. Michigan State: Everybody takes the Spartans. Oh, and my coworker, an MSU alum, has never read "Lord of the Rings," or been bitten by fire ants. Amazing.
Louisiana State vs. Auburn: Trey, Noah and B.J. take Awberrrrn. The rest of us go with LSU and them Bayou Bengals and the Head Hobbit.
Air Force vs. Utah State: Mark and Ernie pick Utah State. The rest of us pick Air Force. Even me, and I’m still skeptical.
UGA vs. Ole’ Miss. Mark, B.J. and me take the Rebels, the rest take those silly mutts from Athens. That’s Athens, Georgia, mind you, and not the cradle of modern Western civilization. There’s a difference.
Oklahoma State vs. Baylor: Trey, Mike and Noah take the Cowboys. The rest of us go with the Bears.
Florida vs. Tennessee: Time was this was a great game. It’s turning into a great one again. B.J. and I pick the Vols, the rest of PMFL selects the Gators.
South Carolina vs. Kentucky: Mark, Noah and I pick the Wildcats. Everybody else picks the Gamecocks, the fools. Will Muschamp is no hobbit. He’s what happens when you get too cocky and the Chicken Curse has to come stomp you back into the mud.
BYU vs. West Virginia: Mark and I take Brigham Young. Everybody else takes West Virginia. I hope they keep it.
Clemson vs. Georgia Tech: Dear Paul Johnson, please beat the stripes off those silly orange Tigers from Pickens County. Signed, all Gamecock fans and real Americans everywhere. As for who picks Clemson, everybody but me and Easy Eddie Ernie.
Boise State vs. Oregon State: I can’t in good conscience pick a team with a blue football field. There are some things in this world that need to be left alone, and grass is one of them. Grass is beautiful the way it is, green. Noah and I take the Beavers, everyone else has no couth.
Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina: We’re unanimous. It’s the Tar Heels.
Georgia Southern vs. Western Michigan: Trey feels the pain on this one, because he’s a Georgia Southern grad picking the Broncos. I can sort of feel his pain, because I’m also a GS alum, and I’m also picking Western Michigan. I’ve just about had it with the powers that be at that school in Statesboro people used to call the 13th grade. First they hire Brian VanGorder, who got rid of himself, then they do away with those 1 p.m. Saturday games and start playing most of their season under the lights when most people would rather be home watching reruns of Andy Griffith, and lately they’ve gone into the Sun Belt, which is kinda like joining JROTC instead of the Army. What’s more, they keep tinkering with the uniforms and have two offensive coordinators from Valdosta who wouldn’t know the Georgia Southern option if it hit them upside the head. Glad I got that off my chest. Hail Southern. Everybody else picks the Iggles.
Stanford vs. UCLA: Everybody picks Stanford, a school none of us probably could’ve gotten into.
University of Louisiana Lafayette vs. Tulane: Ernie and B.J. pick the Green Wave. The rest of us take the Lafayettes, or whatever they are.
Oh, and we’re boycotting the pros this week.
Eat your vegetables, thank a veteran or public safety officer, pet a dog and please drive safe out there.
Whitten, who admits to having Hobbit in him, is managing editor of the Bryan County News.