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Gregg Doyel: Self-Loather

Posted by biggusrickus on December 14, 2009

There’s nothing quite like a media member criticizing his own profession, especially over things for which he is partially responsible. It’s a bizarre combination of self-loathing and a total lack of self-awareness. If it were done tongue-in-cheek in a self-deprecating way I guess I could understand it, but when it’s angry and strident, like this, I’m just left shaking my head. So here’s the beginning of this shit storm:

Heisman race, BCS matchup products of media’s self-fulfilling prophecy

It’s like he isn’t responsible for hyping up teams or players. He doesn’t even give a nod to his own culpability in the hypefest anywhere in the column. It’s stunning really. You’d think he was a blogger ripping on shitty journalism, when he is in fact part of the shitty journalism problem. A big part. Anyway, let’s get going with the article.

These past four months were a complete waste of time. The 2009 college football season? It was superfluous. Unnecessary.

I suppose in a big-picture thinking sort of way this is true, but since this is not how you mean it Gregg, I’m going to ask you to defend this nonsense.

Back in August, if not earlier, the media foretold the 2009 season. We told you who would play for the national championship, and we told you who would be the serious candidates for the Heisman Trophy, and then — dammit — we made it happen.

To some extent this is true. Predicting that SEC Champion would play the Big 12 Champion was kind of a no-brainer in the world of predictions. A Big 12 team has played in five BCS Title Games this decade. The SEC has won the last three. So way to go media. You predicted something sort of correctly. As for the Heisman, was anyone pimping Mark Ingram, Toby Gerhart or Suh (I’m not fucking up his first name) before the season? Those are three of your five finalists. Also, you all probably don’t know this, but the media has willed every outcome of every game for the past seven seasons. This was immediately after the R&D team at ESPN produced the Willamatronic T930. It’s housed in a secret mountain laboratory in the Catskills and serviced by gnomes.

Never mind that we were wrong in August. Never mind that we didn’t see Cincinnati coming, or Texas Christian, or Boise State. We saw Texas or Oklahoma playing Alabama or Florida in the BCS title game. So it was written, and so it was.

Preseason polls are dumb, but TCU and Boise State started the year at 17 and 14, respectively, in the AP, which is voted on by the media. Cincy was so off-the-radar they were 26th. Sure, none of those teams were considered likely to go undefeated, but they were thought of as quality football teams who could potentially make runs at a BCS bid. Texas, Alabama and Florida, all playing tougher schedules than the three “overlooked” teams went undefeated leading up to their conference championship games. The media thought they would be good. They were good. They are not good because the media has some sort of supernatural power to affect the outcomes of games.

The same goes for the Heisman. As soon as all three finalists from last season announced they were coming back for 2009, we decided they would be the most serious contenders again. It was obvious, after all. Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford won, and he was back. Florida’s Tim Tebow and Texas’ Colt McCoy almost won, and they were also back. That would be your top three this season, and if anyone insisted on injecting a slice of fresh meat into the conversation, fine. We’d scan the roster of the other best team in the country — like we told you, that team was Alabama — and we’d pick someone from the Crimson Tide. We settled on Mark Ingram. If he had a good season, he’d be a finalist, too.

So it was written, and so it was.

And the media in their collective wisdom decided to will Sam Bradford to be injured, because Fuck Sam Bradford, they thought. Nobody thought Ingram would be a serious Heisman candidate heading into the season. Then he had some monster days in nationally televised games and people thought, Hey, this guy is pretty f-ing good and plays for a title contender. Maybe we should consider him. Because that’s the way the Heisman shit works. Tony Pike of the little-known Cincinnati Bearcats was climbing the Heisman ranks too, and then he was hurt. If he’d played in those four games he missed he’d probably have another 1,200 yards and 10 TDs or something, and he’d probably have won the Heisman. He certainly would have nudged Tebow off the finalist list. But the media didn’t want that, so they willed his injury too. The media are assholes.

It’s embarrassing. We turned the 2009 football season into a self-fulfilling prophecy by determining before the season began who should get the biggest team and individual awards, and then by refusing to consider other alternatives as the season unfolded.

And this is why your national title game features preseason number 1, Florida and preseason number 2, Texas. Colt McCoy won his Heisman, based in part on his gritty performance against a one-loss Oklahoma team that saw Texas win 56-54 as McCoy’s desperate heave to the end zone as time expired was caught by Jordan Shipley. It will be known in Texas history as “The Play.” Now, Ingram won the Heisman, but seeing as Doyel is lying about him being a front-runner before the season I’ll call him an alternative to the Big Three. Toby Gerhart, who nobody considered at all before the season finished second, barely. A God damned defensive tackle was one of the five players invited to New York. That’s two out of five alternative cnadidates by Gregg’s own logic. Three out of five in reality.

I don’t know why I’m so angry,

I’m a little baffled too, seeing as you’re a media member and everything.

but I am. It’s not like this is news. The gaseous media likes the smell of its own hot air? Good Lord, I already knew that.

Take this article, for example…

Most people, and sportswriters are no different, prefer not to think outside the box. They don’t want to even consider the possibility of life outside the box.

You’re all sheep! Sheep, Gregg says!

Put me in a box and I feel claustrophobic, but put them in a box and they feel safe. Protected. There is structure inside that box, and structure matters for a group of people who see possibilities in only one shade — the same shade as the slacks most of these people wear: beige.

Are sportswriters known for wearing beige slacks? That sounds like a made-up stereotype. That’s just the kind of antiauthoritarian rebel Gregg is though. He thinks outside the box and invents his own stereotypical attire. “Why can’t Dutch people drive?!,” he might wonder…angrily.

That’s the 2009 BCS national title game. It’s beige. Alabama clearly belongs, and I won’t suggest otherwise, but you know what Texas is? Texas is a boring pair of khaki pants.

So it’s more like a pair of beige slacks with an ironic t-shirt.

Texas Christian beat the crap out of everybody it played, and Cincinnati beat more Top 25 teams than Texas, and Boise State beat the highest-ranked opponent of the bunch (No. 7 Oregon), but those teams are unconventional. TCU is a pair of horn-rimmed eyeglasses, and Cincinnati is a funky shirt with a wide lapel, and Boise State is a camel-hair blazer that’s just out there

And Florida is one of those crazy island shirts with bright colors and parrots and shit. And Georgia Tech is a pair of Wrangler jeans. And Oregon is a pair of Lennon-style glasses. And Oklahoma is a pair of old ratty underwear. And what are we talking about?

and the media doesn’t relate to things that are out there. So the media will stick with what it knows. And the media knows Texas, which is why Texas is in the BCS title game despite having probably the fifth-best résumé in the country.

Well, perhaps they don’t go for things that are out there as a rule, but you know, I’m betting a lot of them would like to have seen TCU play for the title. I mean, your counterpart in shitty college football writing on CBS Sportsline is mocked a little ways down this page for not really feeling Texas.

And when the Heisman is awarded this weekend, the anointed quartet, minus the injured Bradford, will be there. Colt McCoy was pretty good this season, then absolutely horrific in the Big 12 title game, and somehow pretty good plus absolutely horrific equals a Heisman finalist. Tim Tebow was nothing special in more than half of his team’s 13 games. Check out his stats. They’re nothing special. But he’ll be in New York as well. And Mark Ingram? He’s not the best running back in the South (that would be C.J. Spiller of Clemson), or even the SEC (Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss). But he’s going because he’s the most famous player on the most famous team. He’s Gino Torretta.

McCoy was not as good as last year, when he should have won the award. However, even with his bad performance in the championship game, he completed 70% of his passes for over 3,500 yards and threw 27 TDs to 12 INTs. He added another 300+ yards on the ground and three more TDs. I don’t think he deserved to win (and he didn’t), but he certainly belonged in New York. Tim Tebow accounted for 31 TDs, and over 3,200 total yards in his worst season. He also protected the ball for the most part. From purely a running back perspective Ingram is obviously better than Spiller. He outrushed him by 400 yards, scored four more rushing TDs, averaged .5 more yards per carry and had similar receiving stats. You could make an argument that Spiller’s return stats make him a better Heisman candidate, but they don’t make him a better running back. McCluster was awesome the second half of the season, but that’s the problem. He wasn’t a running back for half of it. Are you going to give him the nod as best running back when he has 600 fewer yards and nine fewer TDs? Do you really think he could have taken the pounding over the course of a full season as a running back? He’s like 4’8″ 140 lbs. However, the worst part of this paragraph is comparing Ingram to Toretta. There should be a new word to describe that kind of stupidity. I’m going with “asininipidity.”

Neither Spiller nor McCluster is going to New York, of course. Ingram will go, and probably even win, because voters are idiots.

Or because he’s been really good for one of the best teams in the country.

Simple as that. Mark Ingram’s serious Heisman candidacy confirms that voters are idiots. Hell, Mark Ingram wasn’t as good this season as the true freshman running back at Pittsburgh, Dion Lewis, who had more carries, yards and touchdowns. And Lewis won’t finish in the Heisman Top 10. If he’s in the top 20, I’ll be shocked.

Well, sure. He also played fewer good defenses. When you consider that, the fact that he outrushed him by about 100 yards and scored one more TD is not quite as impressive. There’s also the fact that he averaged .7 yards less per carry and caught six fewer passes for more than 100 fewer yards and two fewer TDs. So, I do not buy your argument that Ingram is worse than Lewis.

Maybe you think I’m giving the media too much credit for the scummy residue on this college football season, but I’m not. The media poll doesn’t contribute to the BCS formula, true, but the media poll sets the tone, and the BCS-approved coaches poll mostly follows it. The media poll went into this season with Florida first, followed by No. 2 Texas and No. 5 Alabama. Boise State was No. 14. TCU was No. 17. Cincinnati was unranked. Assuming all six teams went undefeated — which they did, until the SEC title game — the bottom three had no chance of surpassing the top three. Sad but true, and I offer the coaches’ poll as proof.

As proof of something that everyone already knows? Really, you could have left this whole paragraph out. I will also add that Oklahoma was no. 3 and finished behind TCU, Cincy and Boise State, because they lost. I only include that because he made a big deal out of Oklahoma earlier and chose to leave them out when they weren’t useful to his argument.

The Heisman situation is even worse. Week by week, McCoy and Tebow and Ingram put up modest numbers, and week by week that trio stayed near the top of most of the most prominent Heisman lists online. And you can imagine where the typical voter goes for Heisman information: to the most prominent Heisman lists online. Maybe a maverick voter here or there will substitute a new name into the Chosen Trio — They have Ingram, McCoy and Tebow; I’ll put McCoy ahead of Ingram, and add Toby Gerhart — but by and large, the names are the same. And we have the NYC invitation list to prove it.

I think there is an argument to be made that Spiller should have gone over Tebow, but Spiller finished sixth and Tebow fifth so I don’t see much of an injustice. Ingram and McCoy put up awesome numbers most weeks. Tebow was a little spottier, but he pretty much was the Florida offense. Toby Gerhart barely lost to Ingram. All things considered the two players were almost the same. I’d have gone with Gerhart because of his larger TD total. That said, it is not a huge injustice that Ingram won.

Prediction: Lots of college football voter-types will read this story, and a bunch of them will look up Dion Lewis or Dexter McCluster, because until I wrote those names, lots of voters had no idea how good those guys were this season. You’ve already looked, voters, haven’t you? Good. And look up Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore while you’re at it. He had a better year than one Colt McCoy, and he had a better year than two of Tim Tebow.

That’s nice and smug. I’ve already refuted your Dion Lewis/Dexter McCluster nonsense. Boise played the 98th toughest schedule in the country. There are only 21 teams out of 119 who played lesser competition. You might want to factor that into your votes people who read Gregg’s column and actually take his argument seriously.

But Kellen Moore didn’t fit into the media’s narrative for 2009. We knew how the season would start, and we knew how it would end.

All that stuff in the middle? Details. Pointless details.

Details like Texas and Alabama going undefeated while playing tougher schedules overall than TCU, Boise State, and Cincinnati. Pointless.


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