Picking is a crapshoot

By By Tom Quinn and By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

It is mid-October, which means that it’s time for me to start kicking myself for not giving more of my money to the Salvation Army. Or the March of Dimes. Or the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good.

You see, every summer I spend a king’s ransom on a whole bunch of football preview magazines that, in theory, will tell me everything that I need to know about the upcoming season.

But by the second week of October, I realize that every single one of those magazines I purchased is totally worthless. Their predictions are way off. I could probably put together a better preview by having my little sister rate the teams according to which school had the cutest boys.

With regard to the Mountain West, the one error that just about every preview magazine had in common was ranking TCU at the top of the conference. The Horned Frogs, however, seemed determined to prove everyone wrong, losing their first two games to Utah and BYU.

I guess I can’t be too hard on the preview mags; the Frogs had the entire conference fooled.

“TCU is the best by far,” said New Mexico head coach Rocky Long in a preseason interview with Lindy’s Sports Annuals. “They have most of their players back?I’m not sure how you can not name TCU the favorite.”

My favorite prediction of the whole preseason, however, didn’t involve the Frogs at all. Street and Smith’s predicted that San Diego State would have a big year, citing Chuck Long’s football expertise and a talent-loaded roster as the primary reasons.

Lindy’s gave SDSU even more love, ranking the Aztecs sixth in the conference, going so far as to say that they would be a darkhorse candidate for a bowl bid.

I don’t know where those writers are right now, but I would love to be able to point at them and laugh. The Aztecs, after all, have looked like a Division-III team so far this season, and will certainly get my vote for the team most likely to be chased off their home field by a mob of angry fans.

Although I like to mock others, my predictions haven’t been a whole lot better. One month ago, I had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the thick of the playoff hunt by now. These days, it looks more like they’ll be competing for the top draft pick.

But we sports writers can’t seem to help ourselves. Sometimes we get so caught up in our visions of the future that we seemingly forget that whatever games we’re talking about haven’t happened yet.

This week’s example? A local sports writer, while actually apologizing for making faulty preseason football predictions (oh, the irony!), dropped this bomb: “After today, BYU and Utah will be tied for the MWC lead with 2-0 records.”

This article ran Saturday morning, when Utah was 2-0 and BYU was 1-0 and getting ready to play San Diego State in Provo. Granted, I’d have a better chance of dating both Hilton sisters at the same time than the Aztecs had of beating the Cougars, but I still have to laugh at that particular prediction, especially considering the context.

Had BYU lost, that writer might have felt a moral obligation to make yet another public apology. In the second go-around, however, you could bet that he would have done what everyone should think about doing from now on: kept his predictions to himself.