While Alabama coach Nick Saban welcoming Lane Kiffin back into the SEC is a strong sign of the Apocalypse, the most significant signal to look for the Four Horsemen happened with the result of the BCS National Championship game.
No, I’m not talking about my brother David’s favorite college team (he lived in Tallahassee for a few years) claiming the crown, nor am I talking about Florida State ending the SEC’s run of seven straight national titles.
What I’m refering to is when Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston led the game-winning drive in the game’s final 79 seconds it not only gave the Seminoles their third national football title, but it also handed the coveted Banner Pick’em Panel championship to none other than Ron Moore.
The longtime local prognosticator edged out radio broadcaster Keith Arnwine by a hair to claim the coveted title.
As Auburn’s letdown of SEC fans sunk in, so did Arnwine’s grasp on a second straight pick’em panel championship.
The big, lovable Moore (at least by his lovely wife, Debbie) held a three-game lead going into the bowl season but found himself behind Arnwine by a game with just two contests remaining.
“It really wasn’t the national championship game that did me in, but the night before when Arkansas State beat Ball State,” Arnwine said while being chastised about his defeat by broadcast partner Terry Evans on the air during the recent Cleveland-Walker Valley basketball games.
The night before the big game in Pasadena, Moore went out on a limb as the lone believer that the 7-5 Red Wolves could upset the 10-2 Cardinals in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile. They did, pulling him even with Arnwine in the panel.
With just the national championship game remaining, things still looked good for Arnwine as he was flying with his kind as the War (Bald) Eagles were the choice of five of the nine panelists. The three who agreed with Moore on the Seminoles were the trio bringing up the rear in this year’s predictions.
In a great game for the BCS finale (next year we start the four-team playoff system), it looked like Auburn was going to be able to bring the title back to the state of Alabama for the fifth straight year and give Arnwine back-to-back championships, but the fickle finger of fate favored the big gentle Bear instead.
Moore can now try to collect his Pick’em Panel prize of a free lunch at Pokeys, purchased by Banner Sports editor Richard Roberts, who has weaseled his way out of being on the last two panels (we’re going to make sure he’s back in it next fall).
All kidding aside for a moment, Ron and Keith both displayed tremendous prognosticating powers to the tune of better than 72 percent. Moore’s 258-97 record came in as being correct 72.67 percent of the time, while Arnwine at 257-98 boasts a 72.39 mark
While the battle for the top spot carried the most drama, it should be noted that “Yours Truly” slid past Jonathan Higdon into third place. Coming in with a 241-114 record for a 69 percentile, I took advantage of the boss’ son slipping with a 16-19 postseason record (I think Richard actually did his bowl picks for him).
Sporting the same hair style as Arnwine, Higdon’s plummet allowed Cheryl Holloway to move to tie him for fourth place at 238-117, but 67 percent isn’t too shabby.
The bottom four spots on the panel stayed the same as before the bowl games, with radio legend Gary Ownbey (236-119) edging Banner sports writer and hockey fanatic Saralyn Norkus (235-120) for sixth place.
Although he was just below .500 on his bowl picks (probably because he was so busy delivering Santa’s presents), Matt Hoffman stayed out of the cellar in his first year on the panel with a 230-125 mark. You’d think with his beautiful wife Jenny (she’s 6-foot-1 and holds a black belt) being the paginator who usually filled in the panel for publication that he’d have done a little better.
Bringing up the rear, new Banner sports correspondent JD Cannon besmirched the family name (he’s my nephew) by finishing dead last at 222-133.
It should be noted that even the worst of our panelist boasted a 62.5 percent success rate, so for such a rag-tag bunch we proved that we could pick more than just our noses.
Although we’re no “Leonard’s Losers,” we did better than just flipping a coin.
OK so much for this year’s picks, now get me out of here, Percy.