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Modern Manners (cont.)

Posted: Monday December 5, 2005 11:32AM; Updated: Monday December 5, 2005 4:26PM
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2. The Anti-Drew Olson Bias

Gripe: The UCLA quarterback has far better numbers than USC's Matt Leinart this season, but Leinart always gets mentioned for the Heisman while Olson does not.


If Leinart "never makes a bad decision", and is "uncannily accurate" and makes the correct read "every time", why has he thrown more than double the interceptions that his crosstown rival Drew Olson has? It's a crime that Olson lost the Unitas Award (to Leinart) considering he's leading the nation in passing efficiency and TD:INT ratio ...

-- Ian, Durham, N.C.

Ah, the Book of Numbers (sandwiched between Leviticus and Deuteronomy). Before Saturday, Olson did lead the nation in passing efficiency and his 30 TD passes-to-three interceptions was by far the best in the nation. But, if numbers were the sole yardstick with which to measure a quarterback, the Unitas Award would be mounted on a cement base in Lubbock, Texas.

No, there are ineffable qualities that must be considered when taking into account the quarterback position. If you run it strictly by a numbers basis, well, it's all apples and Orange Bowls. But, as stellar a season as Olson has had, how many folks outside of Westwood can you think of who would rather have had Olson starting for their team than Leinart last Saturday?

Leinart actually had a poor game against the Bruins? But he is a proven leader and, while its incontrovertible that he has the best supporting cast in the country, he makes plays -- Did you see that fourth-and-eight desperation-cum-improvisation shovel pass he made to LenDale White in the third quarter for 11 yards?

If numbers were all that mattered, Joe Montana would never have been drafted. Heck, he almost wasn't. And we all saw how that turned out.

Olson had a fantastic season. But he's not Leinart.

3. The anti-LSU bias

Gripe: The letter below explains it all.

Why is there no consideration given to LSU for the Rose Bowl if either Texas or USC loses? And how is Penn State ranked higher than LSU in any poll? It makes no sense to me.
--Mike, Raleigh, N.C.

Before Saturday, I was completely with Mike on this one. I never mentioned LSU as a Fiesta Bowl candidate because I assumed, solely for the purpose of making the Fiesta Bowl column less tangential than it already was, that LSU would win the SEC title. And I never addressed the possibility that Mike brought up in his note.

However, he has -- or at least, had -- an excellent point. The national media's love affair with JoePa this autumn (and Sports Illustrated is as obsessed with his renaissance as any) has completely engulfed the Bayou Bengals' story -- which, considering how they were a team not only dealing with a first-year coach but with residual effects of Hurricane Katrina as well, was a deserving one.

It wasn't that LSU was better than Penn State. However, the Tigers did beat three teams currently in the Top 25 and had the same record as the Nittany Lions. No, even if you think LSU was not as deserving as Penn State, they definitely -- before Saturday -- belonged in the same Rose Bowl conversation as the Nittany Lions. But, from everything I read and heard, the Tigers were largely shunned.

Media bias for a venerable coach? I think so.

Victims of bias (real and imagined) will always be with us in college football, in sports and in life. Don't believe me? Check out this e-mail I actually received last Monday pertaining to an aside I made in the Fiesta Bowl column regarding KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas show next weekend (Dec. 10-11):

How dare you leave us off your list of KROQ participants. It's not like we're headlining the second night or anything!
Sincerely, Dave Gahan, Lead Singer, Depeche Mode

Eight in the Box

1. So I'm hanging out with SI writer/reporter Mark Beech and his lovely and funny girlfriend, Alison, on Saturday night, watching the Florida State-Virginia Tech game. Beech says, "If Florida State wins, that's helps your anti-playoff argument." I think what Beech was trying to say, between spoonfuls of my homemade chili, is that he'd rather have a champion that wins week-in and week-out than one that clinches its division, takes the equivalent of three games off, then awakens in time to win its conference title game.

So would I.

By the way, the chili was pretty good. I had a bowl of it during the second quarter of the UCLA-USC game and was still repeating like a Howitzer during Dane Cook's opening monologue on Saturday Night Live. And for those of you who caught his act, I just want to say that I did not open a jar of cashews last night.