You may or may not have noticed there wasn’t a Pembroke Mafia Football League picks column last week.
That’s OK, because last week is already ashes in the dustbin of history. This week is where it’s at. It’s where I’m at, anyway. I was here last week, too.
One of the biggest things on my to-do list this week is to find a mascot for the PMFL, which is short for the Pembroke Mafia Football League.
I started off thinking the Brussel sprout would be cool, mostly because as far as I know nobody else uses the Brussel sprout for a mascot, but also because I happen to like Brussel sprouts with butter on them.
But I worry about the side effect it might have on some of our Pembroke Mafioso’s gastrointestinal peace of mind. There’s only so much plumbing up here in Pembroke you know — and these guys already use it enough as it is.
Then I thought of Jason from the Friday the 13th movies, but I don’t want to give our county commissioner Noah Covington any ideas. He’s on too many government boards.
So, how about a raccoon with sharp teeth and a grin called Pete? He could wear a sombrero and a corduroy jacket with patches on the sleeves, just like a normal raccoon. No, wait, I don’t like that either. Back to square one.
If you can think of a good mascot for the Pembroke Mafia, let B.J. Clark know. He’ll be glad to hear from you. Especially if you call him at 3 a.m. When you do, make sure you breathe funny into the phone when he first picks up so he’ll know you’re 100 percent raring for him to hear what you have to say.
He also likes being called Bandicoot Butt Burl in a high squeaky voice. So go ahead, call B.J. At 3 a.m. Tell him Noah wanted you to do it.
In the meantime, a college football thought: My dad, who grew up in the Upstate of South Carolina less than 10 miles from a certain cow college called Clemscum and even worked there before joining the Army to see the world and fight commies, is pulling for Clemscum to beat Ohio State.
I’m serious. He said it Sunday. To me, his only son.
"This will be the only time in my life I have ever pulled for Clemson," he said. "But I can’t pull for Ohio State."
I about fell over. Not because Dad is pulling against Ohio State — many of us nth generation Southrons do, and for reasons that have little to actually do with football and a lot to do with a war that ended in 1865.
Nope, I’m amazed he’s pulling for Clemson.
This is a school my grandfather hated in part because Clemson fenced off land he hunted on as a boy and turned it into some kind of research something-something-something-to-do-with making better bacon and cheeseburgers.
I think that’s why my branch of the particular family grew up Gamecock, except for one weird black-sheep cousin who was Clemson most of his life and then got mad at Dabo Swinney and became a UGA fan.
He wears a UGA hat when he fishes off bridges up there and cusses about the government. He’s about the size of a doublewide refrigerator, so you can’t miss him if you’re anywhere around Seneca. If you see a doublewide refrigerator with a Duck Dynasty beard and a cammo UGA hat fishing with a Zebco off a bridge up there in the Upstate, I’m related to it.
Still, the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and in this case the thing to do is pull for Clemson to whup up on Ohio State and then Alabama to whup up on Clemson. Now, for the usual part where I explain what the PMFL is and who’s a made member.
The PMFL picks football games. The winner gets free chicken wings at Noah’s house for a year because B.J. Clark runs the show.
We do have a new addition to the Pembroke Mafia. Anna Chafin, the CEO of the Development Authority of Bryan County has joined up. She said she’s so good at picking football games she paid for college and bought a couple cars and a new houseboat by taking turkeys like us to the cleaners. We’d probably better be on our toes.
Actually, I made part of that up too. Anna graduated from Mercer, which didn’t have a football team while she was there and only allows smart people to attend. Come to think of it, that’s probably why it didn’t have a football team.
Anna grew up a UGA fan, and both her parents and her husband graduated from Georgia. But, her husband is a Florida fan. "We didn’t tell my dad until after he paid for the wedding," Anna said.
Far as I’m concerned, that’s awesome. The only thing worse than Clemson fans are Georgia fans. Except for Ohio State fans. They’re worse than Clemson and Georgia fans put together.
As for the rest of the Mafia, you should already know them but I’ll reintroduce them anyway — there’s our fearless leader, B.J., and there’s Ernest Mitchell. They’re both retired Navy and big cheeses in the Pembroke American Legion.
There’s also Noah, whom I already introduced. He’s our local government connection — Noah’s on the county commission and development authority, and I hear tell he’s considering a run for a house seat currently held by a woman over in Bulloch County.
OK, I made that up. Noah’s running for president in 2020. That’s why he’s grown that beard again. The one that makes him look like Mr. French on that old TV sitcom "Family Affair." That or a short, somewhat pleasant Sasquatch named Moe.
And there’s Trey Robertson, the next superintendent of Bryan County Schools. Right now he’s an assistant superintendent in charge of sprinklers and dry erase chalkboards. They have a lot of assistant superintendents over there these days, it’s hard to keep them all busy.
Next is Mike "Vanilla Rice" Clark, who is a diehard Georgia Southern fan; and Mark Rogerson, who is too young to have a nickname this week. I don’t know what Mark does. I think he goes to football games if he can find somebody to drive him.
And there’s famed Bryan County News Assistant Editor Ted O’Neil, who is from Michigan and is thus a Michiganite or Michiganese or Michigananian, or whatever they call those Eskimos from up that way.
And then there’s me, Jeff "Booger" Whitten, the managing editor of this paper and the clown who writes this malarky when he’s not too busy doing other stuff.
On to the postseason standings:
Mark is in first place so far with only eight misses so far during our playoffs.
Yours truly and Noah are in second with 9 misses; Ted is one game back with 10 misses; Trey, Ernie and B.J. are tied with 11 misses and Mike has 13 misses. Bring back the option Mike, you’ll fare better.
Per Pembroke Mafia ordinances and the memorandum of understanding we reached with Anna, she enters the postseason in the middle of the pack. Just like most stuff cooked up by the government, I’m not sure what that means exactly, but B.J. will figure it out next week. On to the reason for the season, the picks:
Texas San Antonio vs. New Mexico State: Everybody takes Texas San Antonio.
San Diego State vs. Houston: B.J. takes the Aztecs – now that’s a cool mascot – while everybody else takes Houston.
Appalachian State vs. Toledo: Ted goes with Toledo, the rest of us take the Billys.
Central Florida vs. Arkansas State: Ted and Trey take Arkansas State, those with real football knowledge take Central Florida.
Tulsa vs. Central Michigan: Noah and Ted pick Central Michigan. Rest of us take Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes. Sweet name. Might take it.
Western Kentucky versus Memphis: Mark and Ernie pick Western Kentucky, the rest go with Memphis.
Philadelphia vs. Baltimore: Mark takes Philly, rest of us go with Ravens. Mark might think he’s picking a sandwich.
Green Bay vs. Chicago: All Packers.
Tampa Bay vs. Dallas: All Cowboys except me and Trey. We’re going with Famous Jameis.
San Francisco vs. Atlanta: Everybody picking Falcons. Even me.
New Orleans vs. Arizona: Noah and I take Saints, rest go with Cardinals.
Indianapolis vs. Minnesota: Mike, Noah and Ted take the Colts, rest of us taking Vikings. Purple is the new orange.
New England vs. Denver: Noah’s beard takes Denver. Heh.
Oakland vs. San Diego: Oakland rules.
Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati: Ted takes the Bengals. The rest of us want the Steelers to win. To be honest I’m neutral and hope they both lose, but you got to pick. I’m also mad at BJ for making me have to spell Cinncinatti, er, Bengals.
Have a great week everybody. You’ve all done very well.