Pints and Picks Week 12: Cowboys, Irish, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and, you know, Massholes…this melting pot weekend in sports

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Each week, during college football season DPB’s Kyle Magin and Andrew J. Pridgen pour on the prose with Pints and Picks™. Who to wager and what to drink while doing it. This week: #bostonlivesmatter …and so does boxing, sorta. Ladies and gentlemen, Kyle Magin:

maginI

AJ,

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you not to wring your hands about the EST-heavy feel of the college football playoff? Start wringing. Barring a stunning collapse, even by their standards, Clemson is in. Alabama’s chances depend on your opinion of Florida Gators football and their Nov. 28 matchup with Florida State, in Gainesville, but likely the Tide is your No. 2 seed despite a loss to Ole Miss and a generally suspect schedule (Charleston Southern, really?) that absolutely everyone should be questioning.

One of the other two slots is more than likely the survivor of the Big Ten’s season-ending bloodbath between Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. That leaves us with Notre Dame and the Big 12, your feelings on the Pac-12 being noted. As of right now, ND is in.

Let’s game this scenario out, though. If Oklahoma State wins out, they will have passed three of the most advanced and progressive offensive minds in college football in four weeks in TCU’s Gary Patterson, Baylor’s Art Briles and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. Say what you will about the defense in that league and the overall strength of a place that would harbor a combination of Texas, Kansas and Texas Tech, but if you can survive an eliminator including that sort of stretch, you’re in. Also, I have a huge #coachcrush on Mike Gundy. He’s got the slick exterior of a Kiffin or Carroll or Kingsbury but talks like the square-est jawed, most overweight “LET’SPUNCHEMINTHEMOUTH” whistle-swallower ever to waddle a sideline.

Should the Cowboys lose, however? You can’t possibly take a one-loss Big 12 team over the Irish. Oklahoma has an indefensible loss against Texas on its resume, a team Notre Dame blew out before halftime. Baylor would have fallen to that very same OU squad, saddling them with an insurmountable transitive property argument given their other marquee victories over Lamar and Rice. And, nobody better pretend they didn’t see TCU squeak past Kansas or Texas Tech. OSU’s schedule outside of the eliminator includes tightly contested victories over Central Michigan and Texas. Should any one of these teams end up with one loss and leapfrog ND, or really, a one-loss B1G squad, it will prove that parity and not necessarily merit is the selection committee’s mandate.

A few small items before I kick it over to you:

1 Michigan State could get blown out or win miraculously this weekend in Columbus and I won’t be surprised because nothing this team does surprises me anymore.

2 We’re pretty quickly gaining on an offseason with likely vacancies in two of the biggest jobs in college football (SC and Texas) and also Miami. AJ, would you take any of those jobs unquestioningly? Texas looks like a perpetual five-year plan right now and Miami may be reverting to backwater status. SC is the most attractive of the three but expectations are still wildly out-of-whack for a team that needs to take steps towards greatness and not just assume it in a single season.

3 The Canelo-Cotto winner should party his balls off Saturday night because he’ll wake up Sunday to an unwinnable situation. He HAS to fight Gennady Golovkin. He HAS to take shots from a man who only seems to throw Fat Men and Little Boys. He’ll (probably) HAVE to watch his audience defect to GGG after an almost-assuredly painful defeat. The man is Kazakhstani, meaning nobody really hates him. There’s no Hernando Cortez-era animosity between Kazakhs and Puerto Ricans or Mexicans like those two harbor against each other. There’s no one nationality or constituency (outside of butthurt Mayweather fanboys) who won’t embrace GGG as their new favorite on principle. None of this justifies making him wait YEARS into his prime to get a fight of this caliber, but you have to feel a little bit for whomever lands a belt Saturday night. Dude, you’re just renting that, so please go out and have some pre-apocalyptic celebration in Vegas Saturday night. #thehitteriscoming.

pridgenIKyle,

I do have a few answers for for you, three in fact. But those will have to wait for a moment as I indulge in a little re-take on my Pac-12 is getting jobbed piece that you referenced.

Three is the magic number as I have that many clarifications:

  1. I grew up rooting for and went to a Pac-12 college and that makes me an apologist. So fine. I’m outed. Over the years decades, I’ve learned to live with the inalienable truth of Pac-12 marginalization sort of similar to how the makeup guy feels on a Pirates of the Caribbean set. Even if you’re everything, you get nothing. Only I don’t have access to the catering spread to make up for it…Whether it’s the AP or Coach’s poll(s) or the BCS or the four-team playoff version of the BCS, Pac-12 schools have always been the Daniel Radcliffes of the college football (and to a lesser extent) basketball world. For whatever reason, Pac-12 schools have to keep evolving and keep doing it better, faster and more entertaining than the rest of the country to get noticed. The Lt. Pete Mitchell (call sign: Maverick) of the sporting world. Case in point: USC. Though it’s been a sort of two-year transition period (finally shaking the probation moniker of the Pete Carroll years and the misbegotten hiring of a spoiled brat and a spoiled brat drunk as head coach), the University of South Central has still recruited and produced enough top-shelf talent to remain the NFL’s main crack supplier. Coincidence? Nope. Not at all. As much as I could give a couple shits short of a fuck about the Trojans, they’re as close to a professional program as anything in the country (and that’s including the other professional programs of Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State and Jacksonville). I’m not saying regardless of record or station in life that Tommy Trojan should be given the keys to the MVP Chevy Silverado, and I’m definitely not saying automatically hire a SC grad based on the crest of the diploma…but to sort of completely lose track of the decades of dominance and not include them or the conference in the pre- or post-season discussion (let’s face it, the Pac-12 is never in that discussion unless they break the Lifelock on The Network’s servers and get into the mainframe undefeated) is sort of emblematic of this classic and horrible shift we’re experiencing; in spite of the notion that the world is shrinking through technology, we’re getting fed one consolidated corporate stream and that’s through, in sports’ case, a Connecticut lens only. The saddest part of my rant, in other words, is that I’m shouting it in an empty room.
  2. I’m not rooting for Notre Dame to lose next week against Stanford. In fact Kyle, of all the teams you mentioned making it to the dance, it’s the Irish I like best/would actually care to watch. They seem like the only program of that list with any substance; or, let me put it more clearly: like Stanford, their athletes actually have to do that school part. Had Stanford not stumbled against Oregon, it would have been a damn dirty shame to witness one cancel out the other in the last week of the regular season. Much of the South (and frankly, West) views Notre Dame’s conference-busting autonomy with the same attitude as a kid who doesn’t find chicken strips on the children’s menu, like “Why’d you bring me here?” I don’t share that same contempt if only for the fact that Notre Dame has to go out there and schedule the tough match-ups to fill out the weeks. Simply put, I think Stanford’s got more weapons on offense (if Kevin Hogan can quiet his feet instead of being Ben Vereen in the pocket…that’s right, Ben Vereen) and the fastest, sturdiest D-line in the country the likes of which Notre Dame hasn’t seen (once again, I’m looking at you and your abject lack of pass rush Dabo). I mentioned in my column the road trip to Palo Alto not favoring the Irish and I stand by that. I think a 23-10 final is what you’re going to find on The Farm along with your turkey leftovers and yes, I will be chagrined. Because it’s there you see the season prematurely end for two of the best programs in the nation.
  3. What the fuck is going on with our collective memory? Have people forgotten the absolute ass-whoopin (<—link to Professional Wrestling Spanking highlights) Oregon gave Florida State and Ohio State put on Bama last year? If I recall correctly Kyle, both were heavy dogs and both, in spite of one loss between them, “shouldn’t have been there.” (<–Colin Cowherd quote). The SEC felt jilted that it didn’t get a second team in and Florida State was supposed to flick and flitter into the final. But there they were, hung with a pair of convincing losses. To be clear, I’m glad Ohio State helped bring winning back to the B1G, bolstered by the hiring of Harbaugh and the emergence of Iowa, the continued steady play of Connor Cook and the Spartans and the pleasant surprise of a Northwestern—and that conference is definitely abierto even if Rutgers and Under Armour U are the conference’s version of your old PSII without the controllers. Why then, doesn’t the Pac-12 get the same benefit of the doubt on the national stage as well? At this point, if the CFP can’t get it together and schedule out a four-week 12-team playoff (wild card round starting the first week of December) then it’s all for naught.

And, just to clarify, that 12-team system would look something like this if the college football season ended today:

Dec. 4-6:

Clemson – Bye

Alabama – Bye

Ohio State – Bye

Notre Dame – Bye

1 – Michigan v. Iowa

2 – Stanford v. Oklahoma State

3 – Baylor v. Oklahoma

4 – Michigan State v. Florida

Dec 11-13:

1 Clemson v. Game 1 winner

2 Bama v. Game 2 winner

3 Ohio State v. Game 3 winner

4 Notre Dame v. Game 4 winner

Dec. 18-31

Remainder of consolation bowls

Jan. 1

1 Game 1 v. Game 4 winner

2 Game 2 v. Game 3 winner

Jan. 11

National Championship

As you can see, that’s only one additional game on the calendar for the top four teams and two more for one of the top 12 teams. I’m sure an early September match-up could be sacrificed for the effort…which would also eliminate empty stadiums (pre-school starting) and those disastrous week one “upsets” that have seemingly played a disproportionate part in rendering the current system moot.

There you go Kyle. Sorry to extend out my rant a little but like my grandma always said: Don’t point out problems unless you have a solution…or if you don’t care that everyone thinks you’re an asshole.

maginIAJ,

Thank Buddha, then, that you both have all the answers and this sterling megaphone from which to trumpet them 😉

Kidding aside, I like the above plan, and I really think it’s only a matter of time before something like this (probably beginning with a conservative 8 team playoff because this sport is nothing if it’s not basically the embodiment of Nixon’s Southern Strategy and Silent Majority) is implemented because: $$$. That’s right; force the oil barons who run the Big 12 to sit another one of these out and they’ll squeal like pigs because they have a compulsion to be at the trough almost especially when they do not deserve to be. They’ll bray about merit until they don’t merit a seat at the table, then they’ll go collectivist so fast it’ll make Bernie Sanders look like Reagan. I fully expect an 8 team playoff within the next four years.

As far as this weekend is concerned, sports tilts on two axes.

  1. Boston. The Bruins host the Leafs, Big Papi just announced that he’s going to take a big fat overwrought season-long farewell tour (criminal for a guy who drilled walk-offs and then walked off), Notre Dame is playing BC in Fenway, the first football game at the old ballpark since the Johnson Administration (that’s presidential namecheck #3) and New England hosts Monday night football. There’s nothing compelling about the actual gameplay in Beantown this weekend: The Leafs are a half-decade out from their next rebuilding project against an aging Bruins squad, Papi won’t lace ‘em up again for four months, ND is a 16-point favorite and the NFL is a manifestly awful place unworthy of this site’s valued attentions.

//farts, sniffs approvingly//

…BUT, sometimes screaming as loud as possible actually does get you noticed. Doing desperate-ass, marketing-driven things like pimping an 11-month retirement announcement, hosting football in a bizarre place and having Rex Ryan and all of ESPN over to celebrate a season of cheating is maybe the most American thing you can do leading into the most American of holidays. Good on you, Boston, for being the cocky, drunk court-jester of cities.

2) Las Vegas. Vegas, of course, hosts Canelo-Cotto Saturday. Far from being the biggest sporting event of the weekend (every NFL game and I’d guess a majority of the FBS games will out-rate it?), Canelo-Cotto sets a thing in motion that cannot be undone. And that is justice for GGG. Nothing ever works out in boxing like you hope it would, but if GGG can score the winner of this fight and wins with a knockout, you’re looking at a loveable superstar in the sport of boxing. Fight fans love him because punching power like his comes along so rarely. Non-fight fans will love him because punching power like his comes along so rarely. His entrance into the limelight will be one of the first times in recent boxing memory that fans of all levels of engagement with the sport can lock arms and cheer like hell when he dislodges someone’s neck vertebrae. Vegas, therefore, stands as ground-zero for a potential re-emergence of the sport on a multi-fight level the likes of which we haven’t seen since Tyson, and I don’t use that name lightly. Cotto-Canelo *hopefully* sets things in motion which are big and important and cannot be undone, which is why I can’t wait for it.

With that in mind, the alpha and omega kick off my picks this week:

Boston College @ Notre Dame +16

BC is 3-7 in the manifestly ass ACC Coastal Division. Notre Dame is worth your while to watch as you decide if they’re more valuable than our hypothetical undefeated Big 12 team or a one-loss B1G squad in Ohio State or Iowa. ND is 7-3 against the spread this season, including 4-1 in their biggest games (Texas, Ga. Tech, Temple and Pitt against a miss versus Clemson).

Canelo vs. Cotto +235

This is a crazy bet, but hear me out: Canelo (45-1-1) is going to box not to lose. He’s looking to go 12 rounds with a unanimous decision because the payday versus GGG is going to be astronomical in the context of every other boxing match in the past two years save May-Pac. There’s nothing HBO wants more than the last big fighter in De La Hoya’s stable (how crazy is that? It’s Canelo and Bernard Hopkins, who may be retired/eating 4 p.m. dinners at Perkins) matching up against fight fanboys’ favorite son. That the matchup would be a huge fuck you to the Mayweather/Ellerbe cabal is no small part of the appeal. With a literal fortune riding on the outcome, there’s almost no way Canelo doesn’t come out tense, and that’s no way to fight Cotto. Look, for his age (35) and occasional struggles, you’ve never gotten a subpar fight plan out of Cotto, who seems to be able to stick to the script after getting his bell rung. He’s got Freddie Roach in his corner as a trainer for this bout, so I don’t doubt his physical ability heading into the matchup given that he’s not a guy with a lot else going on–camp is just camp and not a distraction from politics and singing and movies like it was for Pacquiao. Canelo is essentially stepping into the squared circle against two Hall of Fame tacticians, one of whom happens to have a hook that’ll make you piss blood. Canelo is quick but not that quick, as we saw when he squared off against Mayweather two years ago. Cotto can handle power, and I think he’ll be the one answering Max Kellerman’s awkward questions about facing down GGG when the final bell rings.

LSU +7 @ Ole Miss

In researching this pick, I found a first grade report card note from Les Miles’ teacher: Student responds well to threats. Spells best with his back against the wall. Look, we’re not in new territory for the LSU ballcoach. The Mad Hatter has the most openly antagonistic relationship with his program’s boosters since Coach Taylor was trying to hold off Joe Taylor during season 3 at Dillon. It’d only be like him to manage a W against the Rebs after back-to-back losses and calls for his head. Without senior linebacker and leading tackler Denzel Nkemdiche in the lineup (he’s spent the week at an Oxford hospital with a ‘personal issue’) the Rebs looks ripe for their annual late-season collapse under Hugh Freeze. Tigers cover.

Baylor @ Oklahoma State Pick ‘Em

Baylor died a horrific death in the fourth quarter of last week’s game versus Oklahoma in Waco. In the final frame, which began with the Bears trailing 34-27 and ended with them losing 44-34, the Bears possessed the ball for a grand total of 2:53. An interception and Samaje Perine’s brilliant between-the-tackles rushing for the Sooners buried the Bears and probably their national title hopes alive last Saturday. Their offense’s quick-strike ability becomes a liability when its defense cannot get off the field, and the Bears have little to nothing in the running game right now. OSU didn’t look perfect last week in a tighter-than-expected win over Iowa State but I expect the ‘Pokes to handle their business in Stillwater.

Alright AJ, take us home…

pridgenI*Phew”

I’m still clutching my side on your Boston take. I think you’re right though, most of us simply warm up to the idea of Thanksgiving by Netflixing the Friends episode of the similar theme where they play football on the Astroturf a la The Brady Bunch. After that if you’re me you then go in the backyard and smoke a little J behind the pile of leaves while listening to “Feels Like the First Time” by Foreigner and wonder how terrible/great this whole 2015 trip around the sun was. Or something.

Aaaaaannnyway, in case you were wondering, I made it back from Utah with a bunch of stuff (good stuff and bad stuff) but mostly just stuff. And I’m not really a stuff kind of guy. I’ll maybe write about this a little more where it’s not buried 3k words deep into this Coney Island shore of inequity, syringes and wrappers, but I will tease here. Recovered was:

  • My Brett Mayne autographed baseball, acquired from the MLB’s version of Crash Davis journeyman catcher Brett Mayne (fmr. Royal, Met, Athletic, Giant, Rockie, Diamondback and Dodger) in Scottsdale. My buddy was trying to get him and Julian Tavarez to come to Babes Cabaret with us. One of them did, the other gave us an autograph.
  • An authentic Lillehammer 1992 Norwegian Olympic Ski Team onesie (don’t ask).
  • Concert Tee from the Ramones 1991 Loco Live Tour. You know, when it wasn’t really super-cool to wear Ramones shirts.

So there you go. Trip: worth it.

A quick answering of your question(s) from up top before I give you two-sentence-or-less Pac-12 picks:

1. Michigan State v. OSU: I was originally going to officially wager on this but because of the aforementioned streaky Spartan and Buckeye play, I’m going to sit back and watch with passive interest as one who has no currency on the game does. For whatever reason, I think Cook and co. can pull the upset because I don’t think OSU is that good and the B1G is due for a shake-up. So, off the record, take Sparty.

2. The College job: What about Minnesota Kyle? I think for now Miami’s done because Donald Trump doesn’t seem to want to be a head coach (yet). Texas could use a man like Jon Voight (I saw Varsity Blues, he can still coach like that, right?) or if there’s any way to reanimate Bo Schembechler, that might be a get. Otherwise, you’re right, rent—don’t buy—in Austin. SC is the most attractive job to me and that’s only because (here we go again…) the expectations in the Pac-12, even or maybe especially by now, from Pac-12 alums have been meted. Sadly, and lick the tip of your Bic here and write it down, I think Chip Kelly gets that job in the off-season. And it will be a scary-perfect match.

3. Canelo-Cotto: I watched Real Pugilists of Greater Las Vegas 24/7 Canelo-Cotto Thursday and I’m pretty pumped for this tilt; thanks also, in large part to your breakdown here. Agree GGG looms large on the endless Southern Nevada desert horizon for the eventual victor, but for a moment I just want to revel in the fact that Canelo has red hair and the real name of Saul.

Now a quartet Pac-12 Picks:

Stanford -12 vs. Cal

Stanford is 8-2. All eight of those wins were by double digits and an average of 17 points. Cal continues to fade. Sorry Bears, if Goff stays next year you get the axe back at home and a Vegas Bowl bid awaits if you can beat Arizona State at home next week.

Washington -12 @ Oregon State

Which Washington shows up in Corvallis? The one that hung 49 on Arizona and beat USC or the one that took a double-digit loss to Arizona State on the road last week? I dunno. The Beavs haven’t won since week 3 against San Jose State at home and have been losing by an average of 18 since. Yikes. They’re due, but will probably save it for the big finish against Oregon.

Washington State -15.5 vs. Colorado

The Cougs are the not-so-best-kept-secret best team in the Pac-12 right now. And, um, besides Stanford Leach has run the table at home.

Utah +2 vs. UCLA

No clue why the Utes are dogs at home. After last week’s overtime loss to Arizona, they’re going to go absolutely apeshit at Rice-Eccles. Lock this one up like your teenage daughter when she says she’s spending the weekend at a friend’s house during Coachella.

maginI
Kyle:

Last week: 2 for 3

Overall: 20 for 37

Boston College @ Notre Dame +16

LSU +7 @ Ole Miss

Baylor @ Oklahoma State Pick ‘Em

Canelo vs. Cotto +235

pridgenIAJ:

Last week: 2 for 3

Overall: 19 for 31 (one tie)

Stanford -12 vs. Cal

Utah +2 vs. UCLA

Washington -12 @ Oregon State

Washington State -15.5 vs. Colorado