Walter Ford

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August 26, 2013
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Popular 'Beat the Experts' football contest returns to newspaper

As we approach the kick-off of football season, all sorts of predictions fill the air as pundits, fans and game-day gamblers try to prognosticate who are championship contenders and who are bumbling broods of underachievers.

From week to week, fans, bookies and Las Vegas all attempt to determine who will reign supreme and who will fall flat — often, with lots of money on the line.

Attempting to see future outcomes of sporting events is something that has been around as long as sport itself. Those attempts have been the financial demise of some, while others have garnered great wealth and admiration.

The Union sports department has partaken in this predictive phenomenon throughout the years, but it has been about a decade since we last put our predictions up against those of the public.

The last time The Union offered a predictions contest, it was a “Beat the Experts” challenge. Back then, editor Brian Hamilton was an ambitious sports writer with a hoop earring and an ’80s rocker haircut.

Well, its back. Not Hamilton’s haircut or the earring, but The Union’s Beat the Experts Challenge.

The best thing about our challenge is it doesn’t cost contestants a thing. While you may walk away from our contest with weekly prizes from local merchants or the grand prize, a 55-inch big-screen TV from Beam “Easing Living” Center, it won’t leave you wondering how to tell your kid you lost their college fund because Boise State can’t hit a field goal.

Each week, for 10 weeks, starting with the Sept. 6-8 games, there will be a chance for members of the public to show they know more about football than we do.

Every Tuesday, we will release a set of games for which I, along with Brian O’Brien, will choose the winners. If you can beat our combined score, or are the winner for the week, you will be entered into a raffle for the big screen TV.

The basic rules are as follows: Only one submission per person per week, the entry must be on an official entry form and turned into The Union offices at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, by 5 p.m. Friday. If mailed in, the postmark must be no later than Thursday. The tie breaker will be determined by whoever most accurately predicts the score of specified game each week.

Look for the first Beat the Experts entry form in the Sept. 3 sports section.

Little bit about the experts

Most of you know me by now, but to recap. I grew up in Nevada County and graduated from Nevada Union in 2000. I played basketball, football and baseball as a youth. As an adult, I watch, play, analyze, admire, critically review and pontificate about sports non-stop. I have been known to make some bold predictions but usually tend to be safe in my picks. As much as I love the underdog, I rarely pick them to win.

O’Brien is a 1982 Nevada Union graduate and regular contributor to The Union sports section. O’Brien said he first began playing The Union’s “pick ’em” in the late ’70s and has won the contest several times since. O’Brien has two children currently playing high school sports and is excited to be a part of a contest he has competed in for so many years.

There will be a guest expert from week to week, picking winners for all the allotted games. This expert will not count toward the overall record to beat but will serve as a helpful guide for contestants.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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The Union Updated Aug 27, 2013 10:47AM Published Aug 27, 2013 04:37PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.