Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ramblings on Race

I don’t know enough about the current racial situation in this country to have an opinion, but of course I’ll ramble about it for a while. As an older middle class white person living in the suburbs I am far removed from my days playing football at a majority black high school. I may have had black friends and classmates every year I was in school, but I never experienced what they have to go through being carefully watched by police officers. I may have lived near Little Five Points and near Piedmont Park and worked downtown at the CNN Center, and I may have ridden MARTA many times, but I really have no idea what black people experience. Does that make me racist?

I'm going to refer to African-American people here as black people, because that is a term used by the media. In no way do I mean to slight or disrespect anyone. This entire essay on racial tension will probably come off as entirely na├»ve. Words can be taken out of context. My hope in writing is that I will better understand and work through how I feel and respond to this terrible smudge on our formerly great country.  

The police have an incredibly tough job and I appreciate what they do. I could never be a policeman. The type person that graduates from high school and sets out to work in law enforcement often enjoys wielding authority a little too much. In their youth they often go too far. Many are white, with rural roots as opposed to the inner city. Patrolling high crime areas can be thankless, dangerous duty.  These are often in areas where black people live. To have to live in a world where law enforcement always keeps an eye on me and assumes I am up to know good would be a terrible thing. As it is, whenever I see a police car while driving I automatically slow down. To have to live like that every moment of every day would be sad and oppressive. Yet many live in rebellion from law enforcement, breaking laws both in public and private.

The media and executive branch of the government address only one side of the story and regularly omit the facts. When any police officer has to shoot someone attacking or charging at them with a gun, why does the race of the policeman or criminal matter? If the assailant was breaking the law and appearing as an obvious threat to lives in the area, race should not matter. In the past few months the AJC has reported several times that a white policeman shot and killed a black person, completely failing to mention that the black person was charging at them with a gun. “Witnesses” gave false testimony in the Missouri case. Black on black crime is more prevalent than white on black crime. No one can have it both ways. Is mentioning this make me racist?

Racism has become a word people incorrectly use out of convenience. Many people automatically assume someone is racist when they criticize the current President. Every President in my lifetime has been loudly criticized at one point or another – even the ever popular John F Kennedy. Presidents are criticized for their actions and inactions. Every word said and unsaid is dissected. Toughest job in the world. The criticism has little to do with race. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been just as culpable. 

Recently a legislator proposed their state issue a public apology for the state’s role in slavery. I was glad that most of the commenters about the article thought the proposal was insane. No one alive today was responsible for the way life was lived hundreds of years ago. People in the north have no idea how life was in the South when today’s adults were growing up.

Last May Michael Smith, a public defender in a large Southern city, published his experiences and observations of citizens in the current judicial system, on the American Renaissance website: He describes a world where unwed teenage mothers have babies not to love and nurture, but as a means to secure government support. The jobless fathers hang around all day, just "chilling." When crimes are committed and the public defender shares the reality of the situation he is deemed to be out to get the defendant. 

While what he says may be true in the American judicial system today, I cannot believe he is talking about the black race as a whole. Many blanks advance, particularly through hard work and education. Do blacks outside the United States have the same experience? Blacks in Europe? Incarceration rates of blacks are higher in the US than other countries. 

I hear conversations and wonder if people think about the words they’re saying. Instead of trying to build on one good decision and another people feel hopeless, thinking there is no way out of their current situation – and instead make one bad decision after another. Wise council and the true word of God falls on death ears. Will so many bad decisions not eventually blind them to what is right?

Like following their slave-owner masters before them, today many lower and middle class black people blindly follow shucksters like Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Cynthia McKinney, and Oprah. These “community leaders” have no interest except to line their own pockets with money and power. Instead of positively encouraging people to grow and learn and rise up to achieve greater things these leaders instead tear down and try to drag our entire society down to deeper depths.    

As a tax-paying white middle class American I had an easier route than most blacks. Today we live in an age of the disappearing middle class. Goods and services are becoming harder and harder to pay for. My family is becoming more lower class than upper class. I see how the upper class lives, how children are raised in privilege, go to top tier schools, and get upwardly mobile jobs upon graduation. The rich run in country club circles that I am unfamiliar with. Should I be mad that the rich have opportunities that I don’t? What should my response be? Why should I demand things be given to me? Shouldn’t I have to work for them, even if what I earn is less than the rich? The parable of talents is particularly applicable these days. All people aren’t blessed with equal amounts. Since everything belongs to God we should honor Him with how we handle His possessions.  

Blacks are a religious, church-going people yet there seems to be a complete disconnect between God’s word and the life that’s being lived. So much more “look at me” with all the pairs of expensive sneakers and other bling. Black movies and music glorify sex outside of marriage and being promiscuous much more so than white entertainment. I’m not saying that white movies and music aren’t (they’re typically more violent, in fact), but black entertainment is much more so obsessed with sex. A society of consumption with a hand out for cell phones, rent, childcare, food stamps, welfare, unemployment. City governments and educational boards marred by under the table deals and illegal payments and use of government property. Videos are made detailing how to illegally manipulate the government so they don’t have to work.    

Blacks aren’t the only ones to take unfair advantage of the system. A large portion of white society has also turned their backs on God. Atheist and agnostic and homosexual verbally attack Christians and use the government to enforce their will on others - unlike the blacks who figuratively bite the government hands that feed them by protesting and attacking law enforcement. There are white criminals. Their crimes against white people often go unreported. The TV show Crisley Knows Best is a perfect example of white ignorance. Honey Boo Boo’s family may lead a sad existence but there’s little of the greed and selfishness exhibited on The Real Housewives.

The more I write the more racist I sound. Is this whole race issue just one more symptom of this world’s downward spiral? So many seemingly senseless acts are being glossed over and not addressed by the media and government. Some say we are living in the last days, but it seems like so much could be worse than things are today. I weep for the world my children will live in. God give them strength and courage, and Your love.    

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Swift Judgment?

Many of my Facebook friends, co-workers, and acquaintances badmouth Taylor Swift and I’m not sure why. Does Swift not meet their preconceived notions and expectations for what a music superstar should be? Does she make people’s previous heroes look bad in comparison? Does Swift come off as not outgoing enough? Are these judgments out of lack of knowledge of ignorance? Though far from expert on the subject, I won’t hesitant to chime in.   

While no pop superstar is perfect or worthy of blind devotion, Swift is a far better tween role model than contemporaries like Miley Cyrus or Katie Perry – both in the lyrics and beat of her music as well as the way she dresses and presents herself to her fans. Swift goes out of her way to include her young fans through special webcasts. Even when she guest-starred on a Victoria’s Secret television special Swift appeared more covered up and virtuous than the supermodels on stage with her. Contrastingly Cyrus and Perry often leave little to the imagination when they perform on much more honorable stages like the Grammy Awards. While Taylor has dated several famous young men she has managed to keep any unbecoming details out of the paparazzi.

Unlike the primitive lyrics and beat of today’s rap music or even the sex-filled ballads of many in pop music today, Swift’s songs are clean, creative, and upbeat. Her songs don’t all sound the same and her lyrics can give hope and inspiration to her young followers as opposed to leading them down the path to destruction. Her music videos are colorful, fun, creative, and to repeat - clean. Ever since she was originally discovered Swift has been praised for her songwriting. While Taylor got her start in Nashville and broke in as a country artist, many true country fans are not thrilled with her massive popularity on the mainstream pop charts. Like Katie Perry and Madonna before them Swift has a keen eye for business, branching out into numerous previously untapped markets to capitalize on her massive popularity.

Through it all Swift hasn’t let all this fame go to her head, unlike the self-destructive Miley. Taylor hasn’t alienated herself from her family like Katie. Swift continues to reach out to her fans while maintaining her demure, low-key, cat loving personality. On a recent talk show appearance Swift brought down the house not by singing a song but by quietly distancing herself from John Cleese when their conversation about cats became weird.            

When Kanye West selfishly stole the microphone and spotlight from Swift during her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor answered questions but stayed above the fray, professionally gathering composure to perform a mere five minutes later. The industry and nation condemned West for the outburst. President Obama called him a jackass. While Kanye remained unrepentant he publicly apologized to remain in the spotlight (and later privately withdrew the apologies) Swift’s only formal response came at the 2010 VMA’s when she sang her song “Innocent” from her 2010 album – a song supposedly written about West. The Washington Post proclaimed Swift’s performance a masterpiece. The entire incident is a microcosm of the entertainment industry and Swift’s place in it.

While Taylor Swift is far from perfect, in an industry where the lowest common denominator falls farther and farther people should appreciate the high standard she holds.

Monday, December 29, 2014

So Long Smitty

How can the Falcons fire their all-time winningest head coach and not the GM? The problem isn’t the scheme but lack of good players. So many of the people so disappointed in the Falcons were the same fans who before the season started predicted they’d only win six games. Based on the way the Falcons played against the Saints, Steelers, and Packers I thought they had a chance to beat the Panthers. But Carolina came to play.

After his traffic accident QB Cam Newton said he was reprioritizing his life, but I saw little change on Sunday. His defense forces a turnover and returns the interception down to the shadow of the goalpost. His ten teammates on offense block and fake and push (and hold), allowing Newton to score on a short run. Cam pops out of the pile with a huge smile on his face and starts his Superman celebration, as if he scored the un-needed touchdown all by himself. Still the most arrogant player in all of sport.

The penultimate Falcon game didn’t hold my interest very long. Didn’t do much on Sunday. No services at NP or PCC. Straightened up a little and did lots of laundry and folding. Cooked some pita bread grill cheese quesidias on the panini  press. Watched the movie Left Behind, which was ok but still made far below the standards of most major motion pictures. I read where at least two sequels are planned. Some of the main characters are already signed, but not Nicolas Cage as of yet.

Later I watched the movie “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton” which was surprisingly good. I would recommend it. Not too deep of a plot, no Schindler’s List. Probably on Netflix. Also watched “The Wedding Pact” which was also had its moments.

Tomorrow I need to drive to Bogart (Athens) during lunch to look at some chairs for my mother. Not sure what else I’ll be doing the rest of the week – probably driving Matthew around. Just made an appointment to get my Civic serviced early Wednesday morning. Guess I’ll take my book. I can walk down to Chickfila for a biscuit. Also need to get tires for Will but he’s not carving much time out for it. He doesn’t have much time to spend with MC before school starts.

I’m kinda footballed out but at least better bowls and teams will be playing this week. TV ratings may be up but as usual they will be lots of empty seats. Tons of empty seats in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Will be interesting to see the Peach Bowl attendance under this new non ACC/SEC format. Should be lots of Ole Miss fans but not sure about TCU. Will might go to the game with the Gilberts. He has an old TCU sweatshirt he can wear.

Looking forward to Clemson tonight, followed by Arkansas. Tuesday is UGA and Wednesday is GT. Thursday the two playoff games. I completely missed the SC/Miami game Saturday. Never found out why the NFC Falcons game was on AFC CBS.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Average Teams, Average Bowls

Once again we're treated to average teams playing average football wearing average uniforms (except Lousianna Tech above) in average bowl games with average attendance.

Illinois came back and finally played some halfway competitive football, though they weren't anywhere close to winning. Made the Big Ten conference look bad. In the first quarter the Illini kicker missed an easy field goal, then was caught joking around with a teammate on the sidelines. A few minutes later Illinois scored a quick touchdown and the kicker promptly missed the extra point.

On one interception the receiver was obviously held, then on the return there was a block in the back. In the late game defensive pass interference was called after the offensive receiver had run out of bounds, making him ineligible. 
UNC saved some of their worse football for their bowl game. Mistake after mistake. Four dropped interceptions. Twice they ran into the punt returner before he was able to catch the ball. Only when starting QB Marquise Williams was replaced by his backup did the Heels mount a too late comeback.
The St Petersburg game was the first bowl to be sponsored by the currency of the future one world government. UCF played their worst game of the season, especially on defense. The Knights rushed the Wolfpack QB too hard, allowing him to beat them with his scrambles. UCF should've laid back and took away the rest of the offense and made Brissett beat  them with his arm. As it was Brissett fumbled three times in the first three quarters. but the inability of the UCF defense to tackle was the difference in the game. State blew a great scoring opportunity at the end of the first half. Too bad they didn't play this good against Clemson and Georgia Tech.

With almost every bowl game on ESPN, the sports leader must resort to bottom tier ESPNU announcers to call these early games. Amir, who proclaimed Clemson freshman QB Deshaun Watson "the leader of next year's Heisman race" after one good quarter, called the entire third quarter thinking it was the fourth quarter.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Guitar Man

Found this picture of Matthew on the computer. His Christmas present this year was a huge amplifier to go with his electric guitar.

Tuesday night I cooked turkey sandwiches on the panini press. Cleaned out the fridge and did the dishes. Worked on the computer and watched The Book of Manning on ESPN Classic. Also Letterman reviewing the latest toys...always a fun bit. He hopped on a mini motorcycle and rode outside and down the street into traffic. Also watched One Direction on Jimmy Fallon. Couldn't sleep due to worry about Christmas bills...or maybe it was the caffeine I drank before bed.

Got up early Wednesday morning and cleaned more. Will arrived from Cartersville. We loaded the car, swung by Perimeter Mall and Bass Pro Shop. Took 316 to Athens, then south to Madison. I had heard a 1960s era laughing Indian bobblehead was spotted in an antique store. We had a good time looking but couldn't find it. Saw a babushka nesting doll of Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinski, and several other Clinton girlfriends. Next stop was Chickfila.

Not long after we arrived everyone left for the Christmas Eve service. I wasn't dressed, so I stayed with Dick and Zane and Beau and Grant. They had to leave so I fixed a chicken salad sandwich and took a short nap. When everyone got home we had spaghetti and meat sauce. Love the meaty meat sauce.

Christmas lunch for twenty: ham, pimento cheese, smoked salmon, sausage balls, salad, guacamole, jello salad, meatballs, grapes, coconut cake, coconut pie, coconut creme pie, pecan pie, salsa, etc. Lacking three cousins to sing The Twelve Days of Christmas, but we made do. Two back in Indiana working and Ben down in Orlando with the Clemson football team.

On the drive over Wednesday I realized that I failed to consult the Saragin ratings when I made my bowl picks. Last year that was my secret weapon. Arrived in SC and learned about Central Michigan's big comeback. Thought I had lost another game. Thank goodness they went for two. 

Based on their performance in the first half I don't see how Fresno State got bowl eligible. Looks like they recruited a tall guy who looked like a QB but who actually can't play. Bet they have a short slow QB on the bench who can really play. But based on several earlier bowl games, the second half could turn out completely different (it didn't). 

Anna was driving her grandmother's old Mercedes and ran over a median - messing up two of the wheels. Same thing happened to me once, so what could I say. Not sure who was in the car with her when it happened. With the holidays no one was open to get new wheels until this next Monday.

Friday Ceil drove Anna and her thee girl cousins to Charlotte to shop. No room for Will, who didn't have anything to do. Matthew didn't wake up until after she left, and he was in a bad mood as well. I took M to get something to eat to get him out of the house. I wasn't hungry but M got Bojangles. Then we drove to Matthews NC to get something he needed at Guitar Center. Will felt left out.

Saturday we got up early and pulled out at 7:20 am. Got biscuits at the Camden CFA and didn't stop after that. Made good time and arrived home before noon. Will took a shower and headed out to Cartersville. I showered and ran errands from 3 - 6 pm: (1) The Avenue East Cobb (2) gassed up the Civic (3) Dunwoody Goodwill (4) Perimeter Mall (5) Lenox Square (6) Buckhead Goodwill (7) Sandy Springs Goodwill and (7) Kroger. Traffic was gridlocked all around Lenox but I was lucky enough to find someone leaving near Bloomingdales to give me their space.

After Friday I was kinda footballed out so I rented two movies: And So It Goes, with Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton - a Rob Reiner film. Panned by critics, but I liked it. Seemed short - only 94 minutes. Also rented Left Behind, the latest Nicolas Cage version of the best-selling book. Ceil has really been into movies lately.

My bowl picks continue to go downhill. Where do you want to eat? Last night Ceil was cheering for NC State and I told her she needed to cheer for UCF. Virginia Tech played bad all year (except against Ohio State) but played well today. Penn State's Christian Hackenberg had the 100th best QB Rating and Boston College's Tyler Murphy was top 20 - a candidate for ACC player of the year. Yet the teams went to overtime. 

The Whitakers weren't the only one to have his bestselling author/son home for the holidays. Bob and Myra were hosting Charles and Karen.

Last week Nike and Mississippi State unveiled the Bulldogs' special white Orange Bowl uniforms to the national and local media. This means GT is wearing dark jerseys, after having a very successful season wearing white jerseys in all 13 games. There are rumors that Tech will be wearing gold jerseys. You'd think lowly Russell Athletics and GT would take advantage of the national media to bring attention to their brand by unveiling the gold bowl jerseys in advance, but instead they're keeping it a big secret. Probably because the jerseys will look terrible compared to MSU's.

I picked SC to beat Miami. Now a SC WR quit the team. Wondering if I should change my pick.

Jerry Seinfeld is looking more and more like Matt Lauer.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fall Winter Reading List

Boone, A Biography, by Robert Morgan. While Daniel Boone was every bit the explorer, frontiersman, and hunter that you learned in school, his weaknesses in dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s provided setbacks throughout his life. Ran in the same circles as Abraham Lincoln’s ancestors. Discovered the Cumberland Gap and was one of the first to settle in fertile Kentucky but had to move to Missouri to escape lawsuits due to unfiled land claims surveyed by Boone.
Sycamore Row, by John Grisham. Second novel featuring small town lawyer Jake Brigance and his friends.
Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Detailed but interesting. Explains and affirms much about the way I am wired.
Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World, by Evan Thomas
American Assassin, by Vince Flynn
The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century, by Scott Miller

The Apostle, by Brad Thor. Another thriller in the Scot Harvath series.
Kennesaw Mountain: Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign, by Earl J Hess. So detailed that I had to quit reading, though the descriptions of the places around Cobb County were interesting.
Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography, by Rob Lowe.
Then Again, by Diane Keaton. I like to read books written by stars like Lowe and Keaton to learn about their journey and to see how God fits in their life. Despite growing up in the church, Keaton went out of her way to distance herself from God. Disappointing.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Letter

Dear Friends,

We celebrate the birth of our Savior this year with much to thank Him for. God has carried us through good and bad this year, and we are so blessed as a family. It is our prayer that you had a great year as well, and will have a wonderful Christmas season. Our family has had a wonderful year.

Will (21) completed his junior year at UGA. On Spring Break he road-tripped to UVA, Washington, and Philadelphia with friends. This April Will was baptized at his church in Athens, Cleveland Road Baptist. In May he completed his year as an RA in the new Russell dormitory. This summer he enjoyed serving as an intern at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. In August he moved into an old shotgun house in Athens with five other guys. Will went camping, road-tripped to Charleston, Savannah, and Ohio, and flew out to Oklahoma again to visit Mary-Clayton (and see a buffalo!).

Anna turned 18 in August. For her senior year she dual enrolled at Georgia Perimeter College. Anna continued her work at the art studio in Sandy Springs and increased her baby-sitting load, but still spent a great deal of time studying for school. This spring Anna and Matthew were voted “Most Artistic” in the Veritas yearbook. She attended prom and took several road trips to Athens and Clemson, and went on a summer mission trip with Grace Midtown Church. The highlight of Anna’s year was receiving early acceptance into UGA in mid-November, placing her in a very select group of high school seniors. And thanks to Anna’s hard work we have a real Christmas card this year.

Matthew (16) bought an electric guitar with his birthday money. He takes lessons and practices a lot. He went to several concerts and hung out again with the members of Switchfoot. This summer Matthew made the most of his Six Flags season pass and was able to hang out and do more things with friends. He went to his first prom and also took up longboarding, becoming quite proficient. Matthew attended Passion’s Winter Weekend in north Georgia, Summer Camp in Daytona, and the Service Weekend in Atlanta’s inner city. In early July he went on vacation to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Dollywood with a friend. This fall Matthew enrolled at Legacy Community Academy and joined the choir and yearbook staff.

Ceil took art classes, taught art at Out of the Box Studio, helped out in the Veritas office, worked with two year-olds on Sunday morning, and volunteered at the 2014 and 2015 Passion Conferences. She flew to northern Virginia to visit Dawn and road-tripped to Athens and South Carolina to visit family. All this on top of running the household and cooking delicious dinners most every night.

Dave had a busier year at work, but managed to attend more Braves games (downtown and at Gwinnett, Rome, and Myrtle Beach), sell more on eBay, and collect more bobbleheads. He saw a triple play turned in Myrtle Beach under the Super Moon as well as a Labor Day no-hitter at Turner Field. During the January 28 snowstorm Dave had a six hour commute and traversed the last three hilly miles on foot.                      

And Barney (6) had a great year, being continuously spoiled by his five two-legged family members. In May he had three cysts removed from his back but bounced back like a champ.

In mid-July we enjoyed another delightful extended family vacation at North Myrtle Beach. As always, Ceil’s dad cooked breakfast every morning, catering to his grandchildren no matter how late they slept. The next week he checked into the hospital in Charleston for the heart surgery he had intentionally scheduled for after the beach. Ceil spent two of the next three weeks in Charleston, but was home in Atlanta when her father passed away on August 10th. The Miller’s house was packed with family and friends for the next week. Will spoke at the funeral and Matthew gave the blessing at a meal attended by over 40 family members. Since then Ceil has made a few more trips home than usual. In November we hosted Ceil’s family for the Tech/Clemson game and met even more family in Clemson a week later to attend a game there.

Our family hopes you will be able to experience to true meaning of Christmas, and wishes for you a most happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Rest of the Story

Earlier this month I posted pictures of Miller High School. When I was in Macon a few weeks ago I noticed an article in the paper – the school has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school is also being converted into apartments, with single family homes to be built on the western section of the site. Considering how the place looks now (above) I suppose anything to spruce up the place would be good. Hate that the Miller gymnasium will be torn down.

I didn’t notice the photo above the Miller article until my mother pointed it out to me – my former Baskin Robbins owner Maryel Battin was pictured at the Sydney Lanier house. That article is here:

Worked until six Monday night. Stopped by a store and the bank. Almost went to a Christmas party but didn’t – seemed like it was for all the girls that Will graduated with and few adults. And it was raining. At 5:45 Ceil had called after a long day of shopping. Got home at 7 pm. I played on the computer and didn’t do too much. Ate leftover salad and other leftovers.

Lunch Monday and Tuesday was leftover beef stew, minus the potatoes. This morning I made up my excel spreadsheet 2015 calendar and added the Braves and Pelicans schedule. Will also add the GT and Oglethorpe basketball schedule. Later will add potential Gwinnett, Rome, and Chattanooga dates.

Reid is the best at picking college football games. My record dropped to 3-4. I wished I was out there on the field Monday fighting with those Memphis players. Then the SDSU kicker misses a game-winning chip shot. Gonna be a long bowl season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chad Being Chad

Former Clemson QB Chad Kelly’s arrest in Buffalo NY this weekend made the national news. After being kicked off the Clemson team following the spring game for conduct detrimental to the program, we learned the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly had a great year playing for East Mississippi Community College and had accepted a scholarship offer from Ole Miss. We shall see if the Rebels withdraw the offer. I wanted to learn more about Kelly’s 2014 season.

Here’s what I found on the EMCC website: Kelly's first-team selection extends East Mississippi Community College's current streak to seven consecutive years that the Lions have featured an NJCAA All-American quarterback.  The 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore signal-caller follows in the footsteps of Dontreal Pruitt (now at Troy University), Quez Johnson (Florida Atlantic), Bo Wallace (Ole Miss), Brad Henderson (Northwestern [La.] State), and two-time honoree Randall Mackey (Ole Miss).
Kelly, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., tied for the NJCAA lead with 47 touchdowns thrown and ranked second nationally in pass completion percentage (66.9%).  On the season, the Clemson University transfer completed 303-of-453 passes for 3,906 yards and had only eight interceptions.  Completing his lone EMCC campaign by hitting 40-of-53 passes for 434 yards and five touchdowns against second-ranked Iowa Western Community College, Kelly was tabbed as the 2014 Player of the Year by the Mississippi Bowl Committee following the Lions' recent 34-17 victory over IWCC in the NJCAA Football Championship Game/Mississippi Bowl VII played Dec. 7 in Biloxi.

So Kelly averaged 325 yards and 4 touchdown passes per game. He was also the team’s third-leading rusher with 446 yards (37 per game). EMCC prides itself on feeding players into 4 year colleges and has had 29 players drafted or signed by NFL teams – including RB Antowain Smith.

But how does a four year school know what they’re getting when the Lions play such obviously inferior competition? This year the East Mississippi CC team had a five game streak where they outscored their opponents 269-0. For the season they outscored their opponents 645-91. Over half the points were scored against them in the three playoff games. The closest regular season game was won by 36 points. You’d think at some point they’d quit passing and pull their starters. Perhaps that’s how EMCC attracts so many good QB’s.

8.28 52-14 @ SW Miss CC
9.04 46-10 Copiah-Lincoln CC
9.11 83-7 @ Coahoma CC
9.18 65-7 NE Miss CC (featuring WR Joe Horn Jr)
9.25 51-0 @ Itawamba CC
10.04 55-0 Jones County JC
10.09 49-0 Holmes CC
10.16 49-0 @ NW Miss CC
10.23 65-0 Miss Delta CC
11.01 42-21 Miss Gulf Coast CC (MACJC State Semifinals)
11.08 54-15 @ Copiah-Lincoln CC (MACJC State Championship Game)
12.07 34-17 Iowa Western CC (NJCAA Championship Game)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Leaving and Cleaving

I am worn out. Told you about not getting home until after nine Thursday night. Was crazy hectic the past four days, with no end in sight. We're finding out what we're doing with hardly any planning or advance notice. Friday I found out at 4 pm that I was taking Matthew 20 miles out to Canton for a 7 pm concert at a coffee shop on the square. Left work at 5:35 and raced home, then battled traffic up to Canton. Arrived at 7:10, but the music wasn't to start until 7:30 (then it didn't start until 7:40). M's music teacher plays electric guitar in the band at Revelation Church in Canton. His wife is the lead singer. She grew up in our neighborhood, and we know her parents. 

A short but good concert. M had a hot chocolate. At coffee shops I often order a bottle of Diet Coke, but I spied several designer colas, so I had a Red Rock (bottled in Atlanta). The barista taking our order exclaimed "excellent choice!" The Red Rock tasted terrible, but I looked cool walking around with the bottle in my hand.

The band was finished before 8:30, so we were home by 9:30. Anna was babysitting. Will was up in Cartersville. Ceil was running around Christmas shopping and getting ready for Saturday. When she got home I took her CRV to get gas.

Saturday morning Ceil got up early and continued cooking and wrapping presents. I cleaned the kitchen and loaded the cars, and took the Civic out for gas while quickly running several other errands. In all the hustle and bustle I realized I hasn't told my sister that we were headed to Macon. Knowing they sleep late I texted instead of called. Finally left for Macon at 11:30. 

Traffic was terrible – in East Cobb, north of downtown, south of downtown, and around Barnesville. Matthew was fussy because he hadn't eaten. Sister was out of sorts because I hadn't called her earlier, because we wouldn't be in Macon on Christmas, because I hadn't told her I was at the hospital last Wednesday. I can't make my wife and kids happy, much less my parents or anyone else. A person can only be responsible for their own happiness. Happiness cannot depend on the actions of others.

Finally I exited the creeping interstate and took highway 23 south through downtown McDonough. More gridlock. A 80 minute trip turned into almost three hours. Will and Mary-Clayton arrived 15 minutes before the rest of us. It was the first time she had met my parents or been to Macon. The visit went very well. Thanks to Mary-Clayton everyone was more relaxed than usual and we had a great time at dinner. Ceil had cooked roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls, and coconut pie. We also had homemade brownies and five flavors of ice cream. We hated that my sister and brother-in-law missed meeting Mary-Clayton for the first time. Not sure when they'll get the chance again.

We stayed until after 8 pm. Traffic on the way back wasn't as bad. When we got home Ceil turned on another Lifetime Christmas movie. I worked on the computer then went to bed. I haven't been sleeping well lately. Didn't see any of the bowl games.

Sunday morning I was going to the 10 am service with Ceil, Will, and MC but instead had to take M to the 12:30. Before we left I cleaned upstairs and some downstairs and started the laundry. Sunday afternoon I shopped at six stores and grabbed a Hardees burger. Bought Ceil's present. Back home Anna and Emily were baking cookies. Exhausted, I took a nap and missed the Falcons game. Ceil shopped and gave Barney a bath. W and MC were in Cartersville for her sister's dance recital.

At 6:30 we went to our small group Christmas dinner. Lots of fun. A crowd of nineteen. Dinner was pigs-in-a-blanket, baked ham & cheese sandwiches, day old Chickfila tenders, salad, raw vegetables, chip and salsa, cheesecake, cookies, and a delicious chocolate dessert. Played charades and a game to embarrass the dads. My Emmy Award-winning friend who writes music down at Turner will be attending an NBA.TV taping this Tuesday night. Matthew and his three lifelong friends Daniel, John, and Nathan skateboarded. Anna and her four lifelong girlfriends played trivia. Got home after ten and went to bed. Up early Monday for work. Might go to another party tonight. Maybe not - Ceil's got a ton of getting ready to do.

Genesis 2:24
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.

This verse is repeated in Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7-8, and Ephesians 5:31, so it must be important.

Ceil has been doing superhero work lately getting ready for Christmas. First time in years that she bought and set up and decorated the tree (and the rest of the house). Cooked a meal for the school headmaster whose father-in-law passed away. Made hot chocolate for after the school worship service. Shopping and cooking for parties, get-togethers, and Christmas. After the Thanksgiving weekend she had to take a trip to attend a funeral. She has been going from sunup to midnight. As you know, so often times the overall busyness of the season takes away from being able to experience the true meaning of the holiday.

This will be the first Christmas since Ceil's father passed away. She had a real tough time and this week will be even worse. Her mother isn't able to do much of the stuff getting ready and Ceil hasn't been there to help. People pull at Ceil from every direction. Some aren't understanding what she's going through, selfishly thinking only of themselves. Their mind is made up – no matter how hard I try to explain or how many questions I answer. I am told that I don't care, which hurts and is not true.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bowl Picks (Part Two)

Saragin Power Rating in parenthesis before team name. Point spread in parenthesis after favored team conference affiliation.

12.30 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Nashville) #23 (11) LSU 8-4 SEC (6) vs (36) Notre Dame 7-5 ACC – the Irish have been slumping as of late. Not sure how they will perform in such a minor bowl under their new coach. The game will be close, but the Notre Dame losing streak will continue. WRONG 9-13 (S 16-6).

12.30 Belk Bowl (Charlotte) #23 (29) Louisville 9-3 ACC vs #13 (7) Georgia 9-3 SEC (6.5) – a matchup of good vs evil. The Dawgs face their former defensive coordinator, and several former players who were kicked off the time. A good time for UGA to show the oft-disgraced Bobby Petrino that the road less traveled is the best. The Cardinals won nine games but lost to Clemson and FSU. Should UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo take a head coach position before the bowl head coach Mark Richt could step in and do an even better job of play-calling. Georgia will rebound from their embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech and soundly win the Belk Bowl. CORRECT 10-13 (S 17-6).

12.30 Foster Farms Bowl (Santa Clara CA)
(47) Maryland 7-5 Big Ten vs (23) Stanford 7-5 Pac 12 (14) – the unimpressive Terrapins have to travel cross country to face a tough Pac 12 team in their back yard. Easy win for the Cardinal. CORRECT 11-13 (S 18-6).

12.31 Chickfila Peach Bowl (Atlanta)
#6 (2) Texas Christian 11-1 (3) vs #9 (5) Ole Miss 9-3 SEC – will be interesting to see how let down TCU will be, falling from 3 to 6 in the rankings – and out of the playoff to the Peach. Many teams would fall flat, especially against a tough SEC West school like Ole Miss. But I expect the Horn Frogs to rise to the occasion and win a close game. CORRECT 12-13 (S 19-6).

12.31 Vizio Fiesta Bowl (Glendale AZ) #20 (34) Boise State 11-2 vs #10 (31) Arizona 10-3 (3.5) – the Wildcats will cap off a fine season by beating up on the Broncos, who are out of their element in the desert. WRONG 12-14 (S 19-7).

12.31 Capital One Orange Bowl (Miami Gardens) 
#12 (18) Georgia Tech 10-3 ACC vs #7 (6) Mississippi State 10-2 SEC (7) – the once top-ranked Bulldogs are fading and the Jackets are playing their best football in 25 years. Tech plays in this stadium every other year. Still the experts favor Mississippi State by a touchdown. MSU will win because GT has shunned their white jerseys for dark. Wasn't long ago the Jackets went bowling in dark jerseys they were blown out by LSU. I don't feel good about this at all. And besides, if I pick Tech they’ll lose. I’m picking MSU. WRONG 12-15 (S 19-8).

1.01 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (Orlando) #25 (35) Minnesota 8-4 Big Ten vs #16 (19) Missouri 10-3 SEC (6) – after reaching rock-bottom on a windy day in Columbia against UGA, QB Maty Mauk and the Tigers trounced everything in their way (except Alabama). They’ll keep playing well against upstart Minnesota, whose mascot name escapes me. CORRECT 13-15 (S 20-8).
1.01 Outback Bowl (Tampa) #18 (26) Wisconsin 10-3 Big Ten vs #19 (9) Auburn 8-4 SEC (6.5) – how could such a talented Badger offense disappear against Ohio State? Will they show up against Auburn? Will new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp toughen up the Tiger defense in time for the bowl game? Auburn had trouble against Georgia’s fine rushing attack, and I’m sure interim head coach / permanent legend Barry Alavrez will take notice. But the Tigers are due for a big game, and will kick Wisconsin while they’re down. WRONG 13-16 (S 20-9).

1.01 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (Arlington) #5 (8) Baylor 11-1 (3) vs #8 (10) Michigan State 10-2 – like TCU, do the Bears have the fortitude to overcome being left out of the playoff? Can they stand up and finish strong, or will they pout? Or will we see a repeat of last year’s Fiesta Bowl, when lowly Central Florida beat up on Baylor? The Spartans are a much better team than UCF, perhaps the most formitable foe Baylor has seen this year. When Baylor students graduate they move to Dallas, so playing in Jerry-World will be like a home game for Baylor. But those fans will be filing out in the fourth quarter, tired of seeing Sparty dominate. CORRECT 14-16 (S 20-10).
1.01 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (Pasadena) playoff semifinal #2 (3) Oregon 12-1 Pac 12 (9.5) vs #3 (15) Florida State 13-0 ACC – everyone keeps picking FSU to lose, and they always find a way to win. Jameis Winston is undefeated as a starting QB at FSU, and no trouble he gets himself in can get him kicked off the team. Duck QB Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, which pus a bowl jinx on his head. FSU returns to Pasadena for the second straight year, so they’re in familiar territory. Will they find a way to win one more time? The Noles were unable to stop Georgia Tech’s potent offense, and Oregon’s offense is even more explosive. FSU has yet to face a team a good as Oregon, though the Ducks have faced several great teams. They beat Michigan State convincingly. This game will be close and high scoring, but finally someone beats FSU. CORRECT 15-16 (S 21-10).

1.01 AllState Sugar Bowl (New Orleans) playoff semifinal 
#1 (1) Alabama 12-1 SEC (9.5) vs #4 (4) Ohio State 12-1 – after a slow start Bama is peaking at just the right time. The Buckeyes are playing well but will be no match for the Tide. WRONG 15-17  (S 21-11).

1.02 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Ft Worth) - (78) Houston 7-5 AAC vs (54) Pittsburgh 6-6 ACC (3) – the Panthers will be healthy, and should be able to beat the Cougars in front of a hostile crowd. WRONG 15-18 Pitt failed to recover two straight insides kicks and Houston won a comback for the ages (S 21-12).

1.02 TaxSlayer Bowl (Jacksonville) (30) Tennessee 6-6 SEC (3.5) vs (43) Iowa 7-5 Big Ten – in recent years corn-fed Big Ten teams have traveled to Florida for New Years and beaten up on highly touted SEC schools. The Vols have showed improvement and signs of brilliance this year, but failed to win several big games. This hasn’t been the best year for the Hawkeyes, but they’ll come out on top in what used to be called the Gator Bowl. WRONG 15-19 (S 22-12).

1.02 Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio) #11 (13) Kansas State 9-3 (1) Big 12 vs #14 (17) UCLA 9-3 Pac 12 – I expect both teams to play well. K-State faded in their season finale against Baylor. I’m picking the Bruins to win because they have the better QB. CORRECT 16-19 (S 22-13).

1.02 TicketCity Cactus Bowl (Tempe) (59) Oklahoma State 6-6 Big 12 vs (37) Washington 8-5 Pac 12 (5.5) – the Cowboys beat up on rival Oklahoma in their season finale, and will continue their winning ways in the desert. CORRECT 17-19 (S 22-14).
1.03 Birmingham Bowl (Legion Field) (65) East Carolina 8-4 AAC vs (22) Florida 6-5 SEC (7) – the Pirates are no slouches, but the Gators have responded well to adversity. No upset here – Florida wins.

1.03 GoDaddy Bowl (Mobile) (80) Toledo 8-4 MAC (3) vs (75) Arkansas State 7-5 Sunbelt – Toledo is tough, but won’t win in front of the mostly Arkansas State crowd.

1.12 College Football Playoff National Championship Game presented by AT&T (Arlington) #1 (1) Alabama now 13-1 SEC vs #2 (3) Oregon now 13-1 Pac 12. Heisman winners don’t fare well in bowl games, especially when playing for the national championship. That trend continues – the Tide rolls to a 16th national championship.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hoop Dreams

Had trouble sleeping for a second straight night. Was awake just about every hour of the night. Then I fell into a deep sleep from 5:30 to 6:30, making me 30 minutes late for work. Dreamed I was at the NCAA Final Four championship basketball game. Drew Kelly and I had courtside seats. Not sure who was playing, but Nike aired a great commercial commemorating the 20th anniversary of Arkansas’ 1994 national championship team. It showed each of the starting five (Corliss Williamson, etc) in the present day as older men. Each drove to the basket to make a shot, then as they looked back at the ball going through the hoop they transformed into their younger self. During halftime I was wandering around the arena and got lost in the upper deck. The second half was starting and I couldn’t get back to my courtside seat. They were letting people come down and fill in the vacant seats. I was just hoping Drew was saving my seat for me. Then I woke up.  

Another busy day at work Thursday. When I have too much to do I get grumpy. We were finishing up three hours of pricing meetings and at the very end discovered an error. In the afternoon it took me three hours to submit an on line expense report. Late it took me over an hour to figure out some insurance claims that I’d been putting off. 
Left the office after seven. Found a Chase Utley bobblehead at one store and two pair of shoes at another (one red!). Drove north of Birmingham into Forsyth County to pick up Matthew. Was after nine before I got home. Ceil had fixed beef stew, but M and I had stopped by Wendys. Almost wore the red shoes to work today but I chickened out.

W and MC were off at trivia and didn’t get home until after I went to bed. Anna was also out somewhere. Ceil was watching cheesy Christmas movies on Lifetime – her new thing. The other night she watched Debra Messing in “The Wedding Guest” which is kind of racy for her.

Political comment of the day: SONY didn't make that movie The Interview - the government did.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Upton Here. Upton There.

My response to Drew's question: It is no surprise that Justin was traded. It was only a matter of time. Just because a team trades a player in the last year of his contract - that the team would be unable to afford going forward - doesn't mean the team is rebuilding / being overhauled. Hard to rebuild one year after giving long term contracts to Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons. 

Better to trade Justin now for 4 talented players (see below) than to let him walk at the end of the season and get one lousy draft pick in return. We don't want Justin to do what Brian McCann and Kris Medlen did - turn their backs on the Braves and jump to other teams.

Don't be surprised if Evan Gattis is also traded - that is still possible. After the Upton trade I mentioned that Justin would still probably still be traded. All teams rebuild their offseason because contracts expire, or are about to expire.

As I have said all along, in 2015 the Braves will have just as good a chance to win the division as any other team. Then the playoffs will be won by whichever team is the hottest (and has the fewest injuries). Last year Cardinals catcher Benji Molina got hurt and the Giants beat them. The Cards didn't fire their manager - but they did panic and trade two talented pitchers.

Perhaps BJ will play better without brother around. I've heard reports that new GM Hart won't just hand the CF job to BJ just because he has a big contract - he will have to earn it. They signed a talented Cuban outfielder, who will probably start the year in Gwinnett.

ROB ON THE UPTON TRADE: I think the Upton trade will be a good trade. They picked up 4 guys - each with different levels of upside.

1. It sounds like Jace Peterson is a major league ready infielder. I could see him platooning with Johnson or Callaspo. I don't think they will let Johnson be an everyday player again - regardless of the big contract.

2. Max Fried, the LHP with the TJ; it sounds like he has a high upside, starting in 2016.
3. Dustin Peterson, a really young 3B
4. The one I like is Mallex Smith. He sounds like the type of player who disappeared during the steroid era - a speedy, contact hitting outfielder. He sounds like an Otis Nixon-type player.

I think it is a safe bet that the total value you will receive from the 4 of these guys will be greater than what you would have received from 1 year of Upton + 1 draft pick at the end of round # 1. By my calculations, this take the team's payroll down to around $75MM (not counting Uggla). Now they need to pickup a 5th starter and a veteran backup catcher. I would think that Gattis' days as a catcher are behind him.

ME AGAIN: Brian Asselstine was a talented outfielder who tore up his ankle when his spikes got caught in the chain link fence in the old stadium.

As a kid Mike Lum was my favorite player because he was left-handed like me. One of three players to hit a home run in the club level of the old stadium - not an easy feat. Lum went on to be one of the most successful hitting coaches in the game. The first Hawaiian born player in the majors, lum played first and corner outfield. Over the years when I've needed an alias I've used the name Mike Lum. I'm sure you all can relate.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bowl Picks (Part One)

I failed to take the Sagarin Power Ratings into account when I originally made my picks. Since then I've added it in parenthesis before the school name. Point spread after the favorite's conference name. After my analysis is my cumulative record with the Sagarin record in parenthesis.

12.20 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Superdome) - (74) Louisiana Lafayette 8-4 Sunbelt (1) vs (85) Nevada 7-5 Mtn West – while more are leaning toward Louisiana Lafayette in this evenly matched game, I’m picking Nevada’s running attach to win the day. WRONG 0-1 (S 1-0).   

12.20 Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque) - (49) Utah State 9-4 Mtn West (10.5) vs (103) Texas El Paso 7-5 USA – Utah State wins. I don’t always pick the team that has the shortest trip. CORRECT 1-1 (S 2-0).

12.20 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Sam Boyd Stadium)
(62) Colorado State 10-2 Mtn West vs (12) Utah 8-4 Pac 12 (3) – a good day for the state of Utah. CORRECT 2-1 (S 3-0).

12.20 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise) (89) Western Michigan 8-4 MAC (1) vs (69) Air Force 9-3 Mtn West – the Falcons will better acclimate to Boise’s high altitude and will arrive ready to play, but I’m picking Western Michigan to win the game. WRONG 2-2 (S 4-0). 

12.20 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery) (120) Bowling Green 7-6 MAC vs (125) South Alabama 6-6 Sunbelt (2.5) – with a home crowd on their side, South Alabama wins. WRONG 2-3 (S 5-0).

12.22 Miami Beach Bowl (Marlins Stadium) - (42) Memphis 9-3 AAC (1) vs (50) Brigham Young 8-4 – the Cougars have faced tougher competition all year, and will overcome the longer trip from their cold weather home to sunny south Florida to win the game. Winner’s trophy is that big old ugly piece of “art” out in centerfield. WRONG 2-4 (S 6-0).

12.23 Boca Raton Bowl (FAU Stadium) - (32) Marshall 12-1 USA (10) vs (66) Northern Illinois 11-2 MAC – I’m surprised the spread is ten points. I expect a closer game, but the Thundering Herd overcomes the disappointment of their season-ending loss to beat Northern Illinois. Game to be played early so all the retirees can make it to the 4 pm early bird special. CORRECT 3-4 (S 7-0).  

12.23 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl:
(84) San Diego State 7-5 Mtn West (2.5) vs (81) Navy 7-5 – the Aztecs play at home. The Midshipmen travel across the country. San Diego State wins. WRONG, thanks to a missed chip-shot field goal. 3-5 (S 8-0).

12.24 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau)
(83) Western Kentucky 7-5 USA  (4) vs (104) Central Michigan MAC – the Hilltoppers will be able to better acclimate to the sunny conditions. CORRECT, despite the play of the year by CMU - 4-5 (S 9-0).

12.24 Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu)
(86) Rice 7-5 USA (2.5) vs (98) Fresno State 6-7 Mtn West – Fresno State doesn’t have to travel as far as the Owls, and pull off a mild upset. WRONG - how was Fresno bowl eligible? 4-6 (S 10-0).

12.26 Zaxbys Heart of Dallas Bowl (Cotton Bowl Stadium) (79) Illinois 6-6 Big Ten vs (41) Louisiana Tech 8-5 USA (6) – the Illini have faced tougher competition all year, and are used to playing on the big stage. They’ll pull off the upset. WRONG 4-7 Illinois played terrible (S 11-0).

12.26 Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit) - (63) North Carolina 6-6 ACC (3) vs (72) Rutgers 7-5 Big Ten – while the Heels have the talent to win the game, they’ll play tentatively in the unfamiliar environs of the Motor City. Rutgers is tougher, and will win. RIGHT 5-7 typical UNC (S 11-1).

12.26 Bitcoin St Petersburg Bowl (Tropicana Field)
(55) Central Florida 9-3 AAC (2) vs (60) North Carolina State 7-5 ACC – after a long season, the Wolfpack will be up for this game. They’ll play well, but the Golden Knights will find a way to win, like they usually do. Another game where the best quarterback wins. WRONG 5-8 UCF's worst performance of the year, and they almost came back to win (S 11-2).

12.27 Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman (Annapolis) - (51) Cincinnati 9-3 AAC (3) vs (52) Virginia Tech 6-6 ACC – the Bearcats will beat the Hokies in convincing fashion – they have the better quarterback. WRONG 5-9. The inconsistent Hokies showed up (S 11-3).

12.27 Hyundai Sun Bowl (El Paso)
(44) Duke 9-3 ACC vs (24) Arizona State 9-3 Pac 12 (7.5) – the Blue Devils will have few fans make the trip, so this will be like a home game for the Sun Devils. Duke doesn’t have a chance. Take ASU and the points. CORRECT 6-9 (S 12-3).

12.27 Duck Commander Independence Bowl (Shreveport)
(39) Miami 6-6 ACC (3) vs (38) South Carolina 6-6 SEC – will the Gamecocks continue their tailspin, or rise to the occasion? The Ol’ Ball Coach loves a challenge, especially against a former Florida rival. The Canes have been playing decent football, but I think Carolina finds a way to win. Should be an interesting coin toss with Willie Robertson presiding. CORRECT 7-9 (S 13-3).

12.27 New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium) - (45) Boston College 7-5 ACC (2.5) vs (57) Penn State 6-6 Big Ten – Nittany Lion fans will flood to the Bronx and might stage one of their patented whiteouts, but this game will be won by the better quarterback – Boston College’s Tyler Murphy. WRONG 7-10 PSU QB Christian Hackenberg rose from the ashes for one last win (S 13-4).

12.27 National University Holiday Bowl (San Diego)
(28) Nebraska 9-3 Big Ten vs (16) Southern California 6-6 Pac 12 (3) – the Trojans have a history of flopping in minor bowl games. The Cornhusker faithful will migrate from the chilly plains to sunny SoCal, but I’m picking the Trojans to end a lackluster season on a high note. CORRECT 8-10 (S 14-4).

12.29 AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis) - (27) West Virginia 7-5 Big 12 (3.5) vs (20) Texas A&M 7-5 SEC – though the Aggies played in the brutal SEC West, the Mountaineers played a tough schedule themselves. I’m not impressed with A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, who may still ride the coattails of Johnny Football to a big NFL payday. A&M will fall flat on the Liberty Bowl’s small stage, and West Virginia will take home the trophy. WRONG 8-11 (S 15-4).

12.29 Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando) #17 (20) Clemson 9-3 ACC vs (14) Oklahoma 8-4 Big 12 (3) – as flat as the Sooners played in their season-ending rivalry game against Oklahoma State, there’s no way Clemson can beat a quality opponent with teen heartthrob Cole Stoudt under center. WRONG 8-12 Stoudt had the best game of his career and the Sooners continued their late season slide (S 15-5).

12.29 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (Houston)
(40) Texas 6-6 Big 12 vs (12) Arkansas 6-6 SEC (6) – with QB Brandon Allen healthy the Razorbacks should be able to sneak past the Longhorns in a game matching two old Southwest Conference foes. CORRECT 9-12 (S 16-5).