This is the last Pembroke Mafia Football League picks column of the year.
It’s also the last newspaper of 2016.
Did I plan it that way? Nope. I never plan anything. Just ask my cranky coworkers, who wonder why it is I’m always looking around for stuff (car keys, hats, stories, my car, the door, my office, something to eat) and never have enough copy ready in advance to fill those huge empty newspaper pages, especially on holiday deadlines when half the staff is gone off somewhere.
I can’t help it. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants guy.
Regardless, there’s a neat sort of symmetry going on here – last and last, so to speak. At least, I think its symmetry and I hope it’s neat. The bee’s knees, as the kids say.
For the uninitiated, the Pembroke Mafia Football League, henceforth to be known as the PMFL, is a loosely constructed consortium of various fair minded, upstanding American citizens who together share a love for college football and for getting their names in the paper through me, the PMFL reporter.
They are, in no particular order, B.J. Clark, retired Navy admiral; Ernie Mitchell, retired Navy admiral; Trey Robertson, working stiff at Bryan County Schools, where he’s an assistant superintendent in charge of many important things; Anna Chafin, beloved chief executive officer of the Development Authority of Bryan County and a Mercer grad, so be very afraid; self-proclaimed handsome devil Mike Clark, future bro country rap music star; Mark Rogerson, who lied about his age to join up and is so far doing pretty dang well for a 3-year-old; Ted O’Neil, assistant editor of the Bryan County News and a Michigan-ite who word has it is also a Ted Nugent fan; me, the reason for the season; and the famously bearded Noah "Rosy Cheeks" Covington, county commissioner and future appointee to a certain president-elect’s cabinet as minister of something or the other to do with something I can’t spell.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s do some business.
First, the standings:
Rogerson is in first with 18 misses. Ernie and B.J. are tied for second with 19 misses. Noah and Ted are in third with 20 misses. I am all by my lonesome in fourth with 21 misses. Anna, who came in late and had to suffer the consequences, is tied with Bro Country Superstar Mike with 22 misses, and Trey, whose day job keeps him erasing blackboards long into the starry night, has 24 misses.
Ever the optimist, B.J. believes it’s anybody’s to lose. Except for Trey. He’s toast, already.
This week’s picks:
Pittsburgh versus Northwestern: Everybody is taking Pitt except Noah. I’m abstaining.
West Virginia versus Miami: Ted, Ernie, Mark, Mike and Noah pick the billhillies from east Ohio. The rest of us take Mark Richt and the ’Canes.
Texas A&M versus Kansas State: B.J. Ernie, Ted and Noah select the Wildcats. The rest of us go with the 12th man.
South Carolina versus South Florida: B.J. and Ted go with the Bulls. The rest of us know football glory when we see it, and that means we take the mighty mighty mighty Carolina Gamecocks. And then the Chicken Curse bites us in the dingle dangles. Trust me, it’s been happening to my dingle dangles my whole life.
Virginia Tech versus Arkansas: B.J., Mike, me and Noah take the hogs. Rest of the banana boat goes with the Hokies.
Colorado versus Oklahoma State: Mike, Ernie, Ted, Anna and Noah take the Cowboys. Rest of us take the Buffs. In my case, it’s because I’m buff. Well, for a fat 55-year-old man I’m buff.
South Alabama versus Air Force: Trey and Anna take South Bammy. Rest of us take the Falcons. I used to make fun of the Air Force for being a day job compared to the real military – which is mostly the Army followed by the Marines and Navy. But the Air Force does have jet fighters, and that’s pretty cool. They also have lightning bolts on their helmets. You can’t beat lightning bolts on helmets, in my book.
Georgia versus TCU: Everybody goes with the Bulldogs. Except me. I’m picking TCU. The only teams I hate worse than Clemson and Ohio State are UGA and North Carolina. And Rascal Flatts. I probably hate Rascal Flatts worse than all of them combined. Have you ever heard them sing? It should be against the law.
Stanford versus North Carolina: Mark, Trey, Anna and our mysterious special guest picker go with the Heels. Rest of us dudes pick the Cardinal.
Tennessee versus Nebraska: Mike, Ernie, Ted and Annie pick Nebraska. The alternative is what happened for those not named Mike, Ernie, Ted and Annie.
Lousiville versus LSU: Mike, Mark, Anna, Noah and me take LSU. Everyone else picks the Cardinals. I’d pick Louisville if it weren’t for Bobby Petrino. He sticks in my craw.
Georgia Tech versus Kentucky: Ted picks Kentucky. Rest of us go with the world’s greatest football coach, Paul Johnson.
Michigan versus Florida State: Ernie, a Floridian of some sort, and Ted, a Michigan State alum, pick the ’Noles. Rest of us take Michigan. I just miss hearing Bobby Bowden saying "dadgum." Coaches don’t say "dadgum" much anymore, do they? Dadgumit.
Clemson versus Ohio State: Me, Mark, Trey and Noah take Clemson. Everybody else goes with the Buckeyes. The Ohio connection in South Bryan is so strong I bet if the Buckeyes win the championship there’ll be 10 more subdivisions off Highway 144 with "Buckeye" somewhere in the name before next season starts. Buckeye Plantation, Buckeye Bowl, Buckeye Woods, Buckeye Creek, Buckeye Lagoon, Buckeye Spanish Moss, Buckeye Chateau, Buckeye Meadows, Buckeye Buckhead, Beavis and Buckeyes ….
Alabama versus Washington: I’m picking the upset.
Oklahoma versus Auburn: Mark, Ted, Trey and Anna pick the Sooners. Us good old boys stick with Awwwbern.
Penn State versus Southern Cal: Mark, Mike, Trey and me go with the Trojans and the song girls. The rest pick Penn State. They don’t have song girls like USC-W has song girls.
Florida versus Iowa: B.J. Ted and Trey pick Iowa. Rest of us are pulling for the Gators of Gainesville, Florida. That’s home of the world’s biggest collection of mullets. The place where barbers go to learn how to cut hair like it’s 1989.
Youngstown State versus James Madison: Ted and Ernie take the Penguins. Knowledgeable football fan,s like the rest of us, pick James Madison. This is the team that beat North Dakota State in that Walmart warehouse known as the Fargo Dome. I’m not sure the New England Patriots could do that.
National Championship game: B.J. and Anna take Ohio State, me, Noah and Trey pick Clemson, everybody else picks Alabama.
Tiebreaker (total points scored in championship game): Mike 55, Mark 66, B.J. 58, Ernie 50, Ted 68, Anna 55; Noah 58, me 99.
That’s it folks. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, enjoy your News Years and remember, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. So vote for Pedro.