The Stack is back on this Thursday with not a whole lot to talk about. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed close Kenley Jansen to a five-year, $80 million deal the other day. They also signed another pretty decent player. We’ll keep the wood stove burning all winter long up here in the Great White North which is in the middle of a polar vortex right now. Few other things to talk about too though so let’s get right to it and see what is in “the stack” for today, Thursday, December 15th:
NBA, Player’s Association agree to tentative new CBA deal
The NBA and the NBPA announced on Wednesday that they have a tentative agreement in place on a new labor agreement. The deal is pending approval from the NBA owners and the players. There is an opt-out after six years, but the deal is designed in part for teams to keep current stars rather than have them leave for bigger markets and form super-teams. Salaries will increase, but the minimum age to enter the NBA will remain at 19 which is a shame, because college basketball is really hurting from the one-and-done campaign. The NBA had a chance to help out themselves and develop college basketball more and make the NBA more appealing and they did not. Still though, the fact that there will not have to be any worry about a work stoppage anytime soon is very encouraging for fans and players. The NBA is extremely popular right now and this deal will only help in that regard.
Wake Forest scandal
By now most everyone is aware of the situation going on with the Wake Forest football program and now former radio analyst and former Wake Forest player and assistant football coach Tommy Elrod has been fired by the school for attempt to provide a number of opponents confidential gameplan information since 2014. Wake Forest first raised questions about this after their game against Louisville on November 12th. Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino denied that Louisville ever got plays. Then yesterday Louisville said that they may have received a few plays. Wake Forest did the right thing by firing Elrod. Why would someone who went to school there betray his school and program so badly? Now it becomes a matter of whether or not those schools that received and accepted the information should face any penalties. It’s tough to tell, but if schools lie about this, then they should be punished with a fine and maybe a suspension for the head coach. That would include Petrino who seems like a scum of a human being wherever he goes. Remember what he pulled with the Atlanta Falcons? Or at Arkansas? Just saying. The ACC needs to look into this.
College Football weekend forecast bowl game edition
College bowl season officially starts on Saturday (some would say it starts with the first afternoon bowl game on a weekday). Hopefully you have signed up for Capital One Bowl Mania on espn.com (join the SportsLounge Season4 group and test your skills against yours truly and others). If not, you still have a couple of days. Believe it or not, we will be picking each game and giving you a rough estimate of confidence for each game. Let’s take a look at the games for Saturday and we’ll throw the Monday game in there as well…
Saturday December 17th
North Carolina Central vs. Grambling (Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl) Noon ET ABC
If you’re a Capital One Bowl Mania pick ‘em purist, you know this one shouldn’t really be on there. Grambling appears to be the far superior team.
Pick & confidence point: Grambling (1 if you want to be a purist, otherwise somewhere between 30-35)
New Mexico vs. UTSA (Gildan New Mexico Bowl) 2 PM ET ESPN
UT-San Antonio is new to the bowl game experience. They are building a pretty good program down there though. For New Mexico this is a home game, so will they really be amped up for the “bowl experience”?
Pick & confidence points: New Mexico, 25-29 point range.
Houston vs. San Diego State (Las Vegas Bowl presented by Geico) 3:30 PM ET ABC
I often wonder what happens to a team when they lose a head coach before a bowl game. That’s what happened to Houston, but they have a new head coach from within the program in Major Applewhite. They will be ready to play. Donnel Pumphrey is a tremendous running back for the Aztecs, but Houston is a better team. Hopefully they aren’t too disappointed by playing in this game and will show up ready.
Pick & confidence points: Houston, upper 28-32 point range.
Appalachian State vs. Toledo (Raycom Media Camellia Bowl) 5:30 PM ET ESPN
I like App State a lot. I even picked them to beat Miami (FL) this year. Well that didn’t happen, but they still have a good team. Toledo can score points though so this should be a pretty entertaining game to watch.
Pick & confidence points: Appalachian State, 7-12 point range.
UCF vs. Arkansas State (AutoNation Cure Bowl) 5:30 PM ET CBS Sports Network
Like New Mexico, UCF isn’t exactly getting a great bowl experience since they are playing in the city where they go to school. Arkansas State was tremendous in the Sun Belt conference, but Scott Frost has done a good job this year at UCF. They have more playmakers and they will win this game.
Pick & confidence points: UCF, 15-20 point range.
Southern Mississippi vs. UL-Lafayette (R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl) 9 PM ET ESPN
Southern Mississippi has won the most New Orleans Bowl games in the history of said bowl game. They add to that on Saturday.
Pick & confidence points: Southern Miss, 20-25 point range
Monday, December 19th
Central Michigan vs. Tulsa (Miami Beach Bowl) 3:30 PM ET ESPN
Seems like a long time ago since Central Michigan beat Oklahoma State. Tulsa scores a lot of points and I think they can outscore the Chippewas from beautiful Marlins Park.
Pick & confidence points: Tulsa, 30-35 point range
Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks 8:25 PM ET NBC & NFL Network (streaming live on Twitter)
The Rams fired their head coach on Monday (Jeff Fisher). They have a lot of dysfunction going on right now and they have to fly up to Seattle on a short week to take on a Seahawks team that was blown out by the Packers on Sunday? I don’t like their chances. Seahawks will roll in this one. Their defense is going to have a big game.
Prediction: Seahawks 38 Rams 7
Coming up Friday: NFL Week 15 preview and predictions
Check out this week's "The Sports Block" podcast here.