LITTLE ROCK — A bad case of angst was cured by an E-mail invite to again participate in Poolsville, a low-cost college football-picking contest with weekly yucks provided by the CEO and participants.
The summons to take part had been in doubt since last fall because of whispers that a columnist gained an advantage by asking for early notification of the games in a particular week. The writer admitted the request and receipt, contending he used the heads-up to promote the joy of Poolsville participation and that such knowledge was actually detrimental since it meant more time to be confused by the wealth of information available.
At one time, there were rumors of use of PEDs (professional edification direction), but the statute of limitations apparently expired before those spreading such gossip could file the legal paperwork.
Notably, none of the allegations were mentioned in the material from the Poolsville CEO. Instead, much of M.D.’s communiqué involved deadlines and an explanation of scoring.
To the first point, aging has made him less tolerant. Previously, he would consider pleas from those who turned in their Saturday picks hours after the 5 p.m. Friday deadline. This year, midnight Friday is the end-all unless a Thursday game is included.
“So, if you are … drinking … on a Friday night and realize at 12:30 that you have not sent in your picks yet, you might as well just order another drink rather than text them to me along with the picture of the guy who is dressed like Stone Cold (Steve Austin),” M.D. said.
Even though the $10 entry fee can be paid electronically or mailed to Poolsville Prize Headquarters and a four-week window to ante up is generous, some fees did not arrive until mid-November last year. Three people who never paid are serving a lifetime ban.
As always, a disclaimer is included: “ … I make NO MONEY off this pool,” explaining that all entry fees are used to fund multiple payouts at the end of the season.
Even though the first five games won’t be unveiled until Thursday, Alabama-USC, LSU-Wisconsin, Clemson-Auburn, Oklahoma-Houston, UCLA-Texas A&M, Georgia-North Carolina are prime candidates. If five of them are included, consider this a preemptive denial of inside info.
Broached during a college football discussion on ESPN, the idea that a two-loss SEC champion is a lock for the College Football Playoff is ludicrous. Such a declaration ignores the performances of teams in other Power Five conferences and independents such as Notre Dame and Boise State.
Although unlikely, what if champions from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big 12 are all unbeaten? No way, an 11-2 winner in Atlanta gets in ahead of four with perfect records.
How about one or two unbeatens and a couple of 12-1 champions or a once-beaten Notre Dame, with all its star power, vs. an 11-2 from the SEC? Tough sell still applies. The exception might be an 11-1 Big 12 winner with no chance to impress in a conference championship game.
Top to bottom, the SEC is the best, which is the basis for the argument in favor of a twice-beaten Alabama or LSU or Tennessee or Florida displacing a Power Five conference champion with a better record. However, despite all the “any given Saturday” talk, every division winner has been 7-1 or better since 2010. That year, a 5-3 South Carolina lost to unbeaten Auburn 56-17 in Atlanta.
Also in play is the fact that the ACC has an opportunity to sully the SEC’s reputation.
For example, Florida State plays both Ole Miss and Florida, teams that are picked no worse than third in their respective divisions. What if Clemson thrashes both Auburn and South Carolina? How about Georgia, considered second-best in the East, losing to ACC dark-horse North Carolina or Georgia Tech or both?
Tennessee is the only one of the three favorites in each division that does not face a serious non-conference threat.
Harry King is sports columnist for GateHouse Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org