I was practically forced to do it.
Every Friday afternoon for the past few weeks, I’ve been asked by a Southern Pines-based radio station for my two cents on Scotland’s football matchups. It’s a quick one-minute recording session, where I rifle off facts, statistics and generally try my best to not sound like a goofball. I always hated the sound of my own voice, and I feel more than a little trepidation when I ask the radio personality to play back my interviews. He tells me I sound good, but I beg to differ.
But prior to the Scotland/Jack Britt game last Friday, I was asked a simple question: “What do you predict will happen?”
I had the first three weeks of the season and a whole mess of hype at my disposal to make a judgement call on the game between the Fighting Scots and Buccaneers. The size of Jack Britt’s lineman, the hostile Buccaneer home fans, Scotland coach Richard Bailey’s return to his former haunt, and the Scots’ talented-but-unproven playmakers all buzzed about in my head as I tried to record my session without uttering “uh” every five syllables.
And then it came time for my prediction…and I picked Jack Britt, the third-ranked team in North Carolina, to edge the Fighting Scots. I didn’t predict a final score, and I didn’t predict a tail-whipping either.
It was a fairly safe bet, right?
Given my dubious track-record for predictions, I should have known that the exact opposite of my “expert opinion” was going to happen. I wish I could count how many times people yelled at me after they bullied yours truly into guessing the outcome of a sporting event. Just last year in fact, I could feel the strain on my relationship with my lovely fiance as she asked me to help her set up her weekly fantasy football lineups. It was her inaugural season and she needed help.
I would tell her to start a quarterback, and then said quarterback would lay an egg while her backup QB did his best Joe Montana impersonation. But seriously, is that really my fault? Fantasy football is a cutthroat world, and you have to learn to sink or swim on your own merits. She had to learn to spread her wings, and I regret nothing.
Of course, my penchant for false predictions occasionally bodes well for me. I might as well have had a rain cloud hanging over my head all last week as I dreaded my New York Jets’ first week matchup against the Buffalo Bills. The starting lineup of Gang Green failed to score a preseason touchdown for the first time in 35 years, and that combined with Tim Tebow’s domineering presence all but spelled doom for the New York Giants’ disgruntled younger brother, at least in my eyes.
And what do we do? We post the highest point total of the week in an all-out thrashing of the Bills. Go figure.
All of this and more is why I was arguably the least surprised person in the jam-packed visitor stands as Scotland dismantled the Buccaneers on their home turf.
Those massive Jack Britt linemen? They had little impact on the game as the Scots imposed their will all game long. Hostile Buccaneer fans? They remained largely silent while the Scots imposed said will all game long. Bailey’s homecoming? Didn’t phase the coach or his players as they came out more focused and prepared than the Buccaneers.
Talented-but-unproven Scotland playmakers? Yeah, try telling that to TreShawn Gregory and his three touchdown receptions from sophomore quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe, who also looked like a grizzled veteran against the “powerhouse” Buccaneers.
At some point during the game as I was writing like a madman, my cell phone vibrated. I look down to see a text message from my co-worker and fellow reporter Johnny Woodard, who had a mere two-word question of his own to ask me.
Yeah, I have a new prediction: Don’t ever listen to any of my predictions ever again. I should have known that I wouldn’t get off the hook that easy.