I'm a big fan of the longevity and fluctuation of the Bowl Season Pool, but one of the unfortunate downsides is the potential for an early end to the 1st place drama. And while the jockeying for positions 2-5 will come right down to the wire, we now have an official grand champion. That man is:
After missing out on a 3rd place finish and a Family Time championship on the final game last year, he's been in top form this time around. With three games remaining, his score is already higher than the maximum possible scorer of any other competitor, and therefore he has clinched first place. Congratulations, sir. All that remains is to see if he'll break the mythical 500-point barrier. Legend has it that Ezekiel "Wishbone" Fontana scored 501 points in the 1894 Bowl Pool, but that was before calculators, so nobody's exactly sure. Regardless, Mooney has already won his money; now he's on a quest to make history.
This is probably the most interesting feature, so it's time we gave it second billing. Dan Mooney, who up to this point had struggled with the emotional disappointment of losing Family Time on the final day last year, struck big with an LSU-28 pick. Brendan joined him with LSU-29, and the Mooneys have raced out to a 61-point lead over their rivals and last year's Family Time winners, the Ryans. I wasn't there to see it, but I can only imagine that Mooney brothers gave each other an emotional hug as the hard feelings from a year ago were buried. Cathartic.
But it's not over yet. The Ryans are still lurking, and Shane Ryan and Dave Ryder have snuck up to third place, just a point behind their cousins. A 60-point lead can evaporate in a single game in Family Time, a reality the Mooneys know all too well.
Elsewhere, McLaughlin and Moore have made a surprising move up to fourth, the Kairallas and Cacchiones are stuck in the middle, and the once-proud Currys are in danger of slipping all the way to last place.
Mooney (Brendan & Dan, brothers): 752
Ryan (Dan & Steve, brothers): 691
Shane Ryan/Ryder (uncle/nephew): 690
McLaughlin/Moore (cousins): 670
Kairalla (John & Phil, father/son): 669
Cacchione (Fred & Tom, father/son): 660
Zehringer/Sarver (father/son-in-law): 659
Curry (Mike & Patricia, husband/wife): 646
Cowell/Fisch (father/son-in-law): 610
The Health Report
Again, we look at the top 10 in the "Max Potential" category to see how they differ from the actual top 10. As the pool gets closer to its end, the disparities will obviously become fewer. But as of now there's still plenty of room for movement. The scores below reflect what each player would get if their last 3 picks played out perfectly. Here's the top 10:
1. Brendan Mooney - 522 - Actual place #1
2. Greg Blanco - 447 - Actual place #2
3. Dan Ryan - 443 - Actual place #3
4. Shane Ryan - 440 - Actual place #15
5. Megan Tateishi - 424 - Actual place #13
6. Andy Watson - 420 - Actual place #8
7. Dave Bragg - 419 - Actual place #4
8. Eric Thomason - 418 - Actual place #20
9. Phil Kairalla - 416 - Actual place #10
10. Keith Farrow/Sean Marshall - 412 - Actual places #7/#9
There's still a lot of pool left to play for the money positions outside of #1.
The Cream of the Crop
Dan "Shoeshine" Ryan just keeps on winning, staying one game ahead of his competition. His record is now a sterling 22-10, and he's on pace to break the all-time winning record of .667% (last year's best finishers were 22-11). Behind him, still only a game out, are Brendan Mooney, Andy Watson, and Shane Ryan.
The Schneid Watch
Robin Cohen correctly picked LSU, but she stays on the Schneid with a 12-20 record. Now, though, Dan Mooney and Jim "Senate" Bennett are only game back at 13-19. It's conceivable that the Mooneys could win Family Time with both the best and worst records in the pool.
Old School v. New School
This one is starting to get surprisingly close. Is there enough time for an Old School miracle? The margin is back in the single digits for the first time in a long time. STAY TUNED.
Old School Average: 322.2
New School Average: 332.1
Helter Skelter vs. Dirty Vegas vs. Shouting Siblings
He's clinched it, folks! Congratulations to Dave Ryder. He has his revenge on Patricia Curry for the embarrassment of '09-'10, and now he can concentrate on the all-important Family Time victory.
Dirty Vegas: 346
Helter Skelter: 295
Shouting Siblings: 208
Young vs. Old
These two are still clinging to each other down in 40th and 41st place, where they've been for most of the pool. Instead of a rivalry, this is starting to seem like a co-dependent relationship. Is it a sign that the age gap in America has been bridged? Or is something more sinsister? (Don't know what I mean by that.) In any case, this will come down to the final game. If Auburn wins, Tom Cowell wins. If Oregon, it goes to Spike. You couldn't ask for more.
Tom Cowell: 275
Spike Friedman: 261
Eric(k)s vs. Toms vs. Females
The Eric(k)s just won't go away, folks, while the Toms are sweating bullets...
Last Year vs. This Year
The improvement continues as minor gains are made with the LSU victory.
Last year: 51.4% picking success rate, 54.1% point conversion rate
This year: 53.7% picking success rate, 57.0% point conversion rate
More updates tomorrow after Pitt-Kentucky.