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.

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's the start of the football season, when every team is undefeated

There’s something in the air about this time of the year.
If the truth were to be told, there are many things in the air this time of year, including an overabundance of political talk, back-to-school sales and the aroma of pumpkin pie cooking in grandma’s kitchen.
That redolence, of course, has more to do with Thanksgiving than it does with the end of summer, but I often get ahead of myself when I contemplate matters of importance as we lurch into September.
One thing that invariably creeps into my mind at this time of year is college football. As baseball season winds down and the Indians are once again out of contention for the playoffs, the topic of college football begins to seep into my consciousness.
In my mind, I separate college football from professional football for one obvious reason. I often can’t remember what that one obvious reason is.
Oh yes, I have it now. One group gets paid and the other doesn’t.
The Simon Pure group, the college bunch which doesn’t draw paychecks, is motivated purely out of school spirit, whereas the professional group, known as the NFL, gets paychecks of several million dollars per year.
Or per month, depending on the abilities of the individual players.
This season of the year also means it is time for the Football Prognosticators Association to sit down, swap stories out of the dim past about what has taken place in the days of yore and get down to the business of making our choices for the 2015 season.
I have told you before about this bunch of gentlemen. I say gentlemen because there are no ladies involved. This is not by any rule or regulation we have, and it has nothing to do with the 14th Amendment. It is just that no ladies have ever shown up for our annual draft meeting.
That is probably because we have never told anyone outside the group when and where the meeting will take place.
(A hint: It has already taken place — at the former Intorcio’s Restaurant in Willoughby, which now has a different name, on Aug. 18. But I digress.)
The roots of this organization, if you want to call them that, go back to the 1920s, when the group consisted of John F. Clair Sr., who served  many years as judge of Willoughby Municipal Court, Harry Ohm, who may have been village clerk, and townspeople like that.
The makeup of the group has, of course, changed dramatically over the years. I have been a member for only about 40 years. There are 10 of us. For all I know, I may be the senior member by now, but there is no way of making certain of that.
First, we determine the order of selection. Then the drafting begins. The first team chosen is always Mount Union.
Any college team can be taken, whether it be any division of NCAA or NAIA.
It seems that John Trebets had the first choice for years, and always picked Mount Union. This year, by the luck of the draw, John Hurley had the first pick, and he took Mount Union quicker than you can say Jackie Robinson.
Geoff Weaver had the second choice and he took Wisconsin Whitewater.
I was holding my breath. I had two favorites, and I was hoping one of them would still be available when it became my turn at No. 6.
Dale Fellows was next, and he seems to be obsessed with Colorado State at Pueblo. Next came Dave Clair, and he took Southern Oregon. So far my two choices were still available.
Rick Stenger picked next, and he took Ohio State. Rats! I wanted the Buckeyes so much I could almost taste the scent of an undefeated season in Columbus.
The good news was that I picked next, and one of my two teams was still on the board, so it took me only a nanosecond or two to shout out, “MHB.”
That would be Mary Hardin Baylor, a team out of Texas which seldom loses a game. And this season I have MHB at the top of my list. Hooray! I am looking forward to another undefeated season.
Here is the way the rest of the first round went: John Trebets took Linfield, Marty Parks chose TCU, Vince Culotta took North Dakota State and Rick Collins selected Oregon.
All 10 of us took three teams plus a bonus pick. I am happy with my three teams. In addition to MHB I have Carroll of Montana, John Carroll and, as my bonus team, Bloomsburg.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of research that goes into making these selections.
I know it is risky taking John Carroll, but I look at it this way: John Carroll and Mount Union, which play each other in the last game of the season (playoffs don’t count), could easily go into that final game with identical 9-0 records.
Mount will be favored, but I will be rooting for John Carroll to go 10-0 and knock Mount from the undefeated ranks, leaving it with a 9-1 season. I can only hope.
So we will be keeping track of 30 choices by the 10 players plus an additional 10 bonus picks.
Here’s some great news: I won’t be doing the record-keeping this year for the first time in about 40 years. The scores will be recorded this year by Dale Fellows’ son Erik. That is not merely a Hooray. It is a Hip Hip Hooray!
No more looking up 40 football scores every weekend.


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