Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

At last, another college football season is almost over

The college football season is about over. Thankfully.
Although I enjoy the sport very much, there will be no sadness on my part when it finally comes to an end. It will, if nothing else, be a blessing. Free at last!
Professional football is another matter. I love it also, almost as much as I love baseball. But college football wears on me because of the amount of record keeping I must do each year.
Well, I don’t have to do it. But somebody has to or it will not get done. That’s the tragedy of the situation. It is altogether too time consuming. I do the record keeping on a volunteer basis, and for a generation or two nobody else has stepped forward to keep the weekly scores of 40 college teams.
And without those records, of course, nobody will know where we stand come season’s end. So I will keep churning out the records, hoping that in a year or two another player will step up and say, “I will keep the scores next year.”
And I will shout, “Huzzah,” because that will mean I can merely keep track of my own four teams and let the others worry about theirs.
This all has to do with a group of friends, many of them trained in legal matters but some not, called the Football Prognosticators. I have been a member of the group for only 30 or 40 years, but I understand its roots go back to the 1940s, when the late John F. Clair Sr. was an attorney waiting to become the first judge of the Willoughby Municipal Court in 1952.
The judge, along with some other stalwarts, including Harry Ohm, founded the Prognosticators with the aim of seeing who could do the best job of selecting college teams that would end the season with the top records.
There have been four Clairs who have been Prognosticators. One of them still maintains the final tally. There are 10 of us now, and by the time the season ends for all our teams, I will have several reams of scores ready for final tabulation.
I emphasize that this IS NOT gambling. It is a game of skill involving so miniscule a payoff at season’s end that it fails to reach the level of penny-ante poker.
Many years ago, one of the players was the late Common Pleas Court Jim Jackson, who objected to my writing about it because he thought it was unseemly, he being a judge and all that.
But as I told him then, and as I repeat today, “Nonsense.” It is just a bunch of friends having fun to see who can outsmart the others by picking college teams that finish the season with the best records.
But I digress.
We have had 10 players for the past few seasons. Each player chooses three teams plus one bonus team. Ten players times four teams is a total of 40 teams to keep track of every week.
If all the scores were listed in the paper every week, keeping track would be a snap. Alas, some of the teams are virtually unknown to the wire services. But they all have computers, so it falls upon someone (me) to look up the scores on the internet.
And since I am not a whiz on the computer, finding scores sometimes takes time away from other activities, for example, sleeping.
We hold a draft of teams each August, and Mount Union is always the first one chosen. The next team that goes is Wisconsin Whitewater. Simple so far.
Linfield is a popular choice, as it North Central Ilinois, Eastern Washington, Lenoir Rhyne and a few others that seemingly never lose. Mary Hardin Baylor never lasts long in the draft.
Our system takes into consideration only the final 10 games of the regular season, no playoff games, so I got lucky this year because I picked Ohio State and it went 10-0, with no losses in its last 10 regular season games.
My bonus pick was Minnesota State Mankato, which also was 10-0. I was fortunate, because one of the other players had John Carroll as his bonus pick, but the Blue Streaks lost to Mount Union in their last regular season game, clearing the way for me to be the bonus champ.
I also had Carroll Montana, which went 9-1 in the regular season – not too bad except for a single disappointing early season loss. My other team was Wisconsin Oskosh, which had a fine season.
The 10 players really do their homework. You can’t merely look at the past season’s results and hope for repeat performances. I found that out the hard way a few years ago when I picked Tuskegee and Middle Tennessee State.
They went from great records one year to terrible the next. It is no fun showing up for the December meeting of the Prognosticators when you have a team with a losing record.
There are several colleges with the same name. Not good. That creates a problem for the official scorer. There are Wesley teams here and there and multiple St. Francis teams, not to mention trying to differentiate between Cumberland (singular) and Cumberlands (plural.)
Well, It’s about over. It will be nice to watch bowl games this year without caring who wins.


Blogger Kasandra said...

One of many obviously great things about getting involved in sports activities at big ten schools will be the overall health rewards it offers.

January 31, 2015 at 12:31 AM 

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