Football’s back, and Jim Jividen’s got all the right picks. Why shouldn’t he? He’s been betting against the spread since he was 8.
I placed my first ever bet when I was 8. It was on the 1978 USC/Notre Dame game.
I mean, the team I bet on won; I was a USC fan because of OJ Simpson and the Trojans won outright, but they failed to cover the field goal I gave.
Yes, I was betting college football games against the spread when I was 8. Yes.
Who took my action?
My childhood could be described as curious.
When I was in the first grade, I overheard a couple of the older kids, probably battle-scarred, wizened third graders, debating the existence of the Easter Bunny. It wasn’t exactly Lincoln vs. Douglas; I believe the extent of the intellectual nuance to the dialectic was, “There is too an Easter Bunny!” “No sir.” “Yeah huh.”
To be fair, however, Honest Abe often considered “yeah huh” to be a rhetorically sound comeback.
Jefferson Davis: Mr. President, given the explicit reservation of the 10th Amendment, you simply haven’t the power to compel the Southern states to abandon our…peculiar institution.
Lincoln: Yeah huh.
Which explains why the Gettysburg Address was only 24 seconds long. Either that or Lincoln had to beat the shot clock.
I had never really given its existence any critical examination. Of course there was an Easter Bunny. Mom said so. There was an Easter Bunny the same way there was an orange Nerf football stuck in the tree outside. I had never heard any speculation to the contrary, and while, no, I hadn’t actually seen the Easter Bunny—I had never seen China, either, but I figured it was real. And China never brought me candy. Anyone who brings me candy oughta get the benefit of the doubt. If they’re playing in LA and you want to bet USC, you gotta give the field goal. Other kids learned about the birds and bees from their parents, I learned how to factor in the vig.
Nevertheless, the introduction of this alternate belief into my consciousness was enough to get my first grade neurons firing:
On the night before Easter, a giant candy lovin’ rabbit comes to my house to hide eggs in the living room.
I slavishly composed my anti-Bunny argument, which was comprised primarily of obvious violations of Godel’s incompleteness theorem and the middle plank of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and took it to a bench conference with the primary font of my prior understanding of the Easter Bunny—my mommy.
Me: Given the evolutionary issues alone, wouldn’t it be fair to say that your so-called “Easter Bunny” is actually a fabrication of Nixonian proportion?
Mommy: Nuh huh.
My memory is perhaps a little fuzzy on the exact language of the conversation, but the bottom line was that, eventually, she broke and copped to being the Easter Bunny herself. Incidentally, my mother also confessed her identities as Aquaman, D.B. Cooper, and the lyricist to “I’m a Little Bit Country; I’m a Little Bit Rock-n-Roll.”
Once I sorted out that the mom hid the eggs…well, there was a next step that, although painful, was unavoidable:
On the night before Christmas, a fat dude in a red suit comes down a chimney that we don’t have to leave me presents in the living room.
Me: I’m beginning to see a disconcerting pattern of duplicity, mommy—if in fact that is your real name. Perhaps you’d like to take a moment to consider your role as one of the twin demons of deception? What about Rudolph? What about Rudolph? The craven use of a lonely animal shunned by his peers to manipulate the minds of impressionable children. What about the elves? Working all year round in freezeshop conditions to make my pitiful orange football which no one ever bothers to get out of that tree. Can’t you see how wrong that is? Exploiting the least among us who are most in need of our protection? Does Santa run a union workshop? Is the North a right-to-work Pole? What about the mining of the Cambodian harbors? What about CREEP and the enemies’ lists? What about the 18-1/2 minute gap? What about Donny’s purple socks? For the love of god, how can you possibly respond to the purple socks??
And then I paid her the dollar I lost on the SC game.
Hopefully, you won’t lose any dollars on these picks. I won’t have this level of prose for you each week, but if I can win you some Easter candy money, I assume you won’t complain.
NCAA Season Win Totals (a better play than individual games)
Oklahoma St over 8.5
Stanford over 8
TCU over 7.5
Ohio St. over 8.5
Florida over 8
NFL Season Win Totals
Arizona under 6.5
St Louis under 6
Atlanta over 9
Tampa over 5.5
Philadelphia under 10
Pittsburgh over 10
Cleveland under 5
Buffalo over 7.5
Miami under 7
San Diego under 9
Kansas City under 8
Oakland under 7.5
NCAA Week One
Texas San Antonio +6.5 South Alabama
Stanford -25.5 San Jose St.
BC +1 Miami