College Football Mailbag (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday May 16, 2007 12:53PM; Updated: Monday May 21, 2007 2:51PM
Thanks for your new Fifth Mailbag Commandment. Is anything worse than sports fans referring to their favorite team as "we" or "us?" It's maddening.
Your new fifth rule isn't going to fly. As someone who was raised a Gator, and currently goes to school there, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't claim to be part of the "Gator Nation" and refer to it as "we." Sports teams are representations of the school, and anyone who does or has gone to a certain school is fully allowed to say "we" when talking about their team.
This was the only one of the five commandments that elicited backlash, so I stopped and considered whether there may actually be scenarios in which it would be acceptable for someone not on a team to refer to it as "we." And the answer I came up with was ... not in a million years.
Don't get me wrong, one of the things that makes college sports so much more riveting than the pros (at least in my mind) is the legitimate sense of ownership fans feel when the team in question plays for their school. So I do understand where J.B. is coming from. However, there's still a significant difference between saying, "My Gators kicked Ohio State's butt" (I've got no problem with that), and, "We kicked Ohio State's butt." Umm ... no you didn't. You sat in the stands and watched the Gators kick Ohio State's butt.
Your criticism about Chan Gailey got me thinking. Do you think a head coach in the NFL has an advantage coaching at the college level over his counterparts? He usually has a poor history in the NFL or he'd still be there, so what makes the Pete Carroll's do so well and what's your prediction for Bill Callahan at Nebraska?
This is turning out to be a Callahan-heavy Mailbag. But that's OK, because Mike brings up a topic I've formed some pretty staunch opinions about within the last year. Of all the head coaches who have made the transition from the NFL to college in recent years, the only one who's had any raging success is Carroll. And I've always found it interesting that many of the very things that worked against Carroll in the pros -- his rah-rah personality, his player-friendly approach and his aggressive schemes and play-calling -- have been his biggest sources of success in college. This tells me there's almost no correlation between success at the two levels, and that in fact NFL experience may actually work against guys in college. Why? Because in college, unlike the NFL, it doesn't pay to be conservative.
Think back to last year's bowl season. Florida won a national title running an offense in which the backup quarterback was the top running back. Boise State won a BCS bowl running trick plays no NFL coach would dare run in a million years. USC won the Rose Bowl by literally abandoning any notion of offensive balance. College football has become increasingly synonymous with unconventional strategy. But NFL-bred coaches like Gailey, Callahan, Dave Wannstedt and Karl Dorrell tend to be among the most conservative in the nation. (Remember last year's Cotton Bowl?) They may win some games that way, but you don't win championships in college by playing not to lose.
Stewart, I've read your column for a couple of years and have never been compelled to write in until you were looking for a new Mailbag Crush. I nominate Kate Mara, granddaughter of New York Giants owner/legend Wellington Mara. Not only is she football royalty, but she was in We are Marshall.
You don't even have to change channels for your 2007 celebrity crush. How about Sarah Chalke from Scrubs?
Both Kate and Sarah were mentioned frequently in the first round of e-mails, as were two Entourage ladies, Emannuele Chriqui (Sloan) and Carla Guigno (Amanda), The Office's Rashida Jones (Karen), Friday Night Lights' Minka Kelly (whom Jimmy Traina previously claimed), Heroes' Hayden Panettiere (c'mon guys, she's 17) and, a truly under-the-radar choice, Rachel Specter, the RGX body spray girl.
I recently watched an episode of E's The Girls Next Door (admit it, you watch it, too) that illuminated the process by which Hugh Hefner picks the Playmate of the Year. (This year's choice, incidentally, is a recent Oregon State grad who posed for her first cover in Beavers colors. I have a whole new respect for that school.) Basically, he uses the reader poll as input but at the end of the day, he ultimately makes the call. So that's how we're going to treat Celebrity Crush. All of the aforementioned ladies are fine nominees, but I can't say whether any of them are going to make my final cut.
How many times are you going to keep insisting that the relative strength of conferences is "cyclical" when you simply mean that it's mutable? If you can find a cycle in any of this, you should apply your talents to the stock market. For crying out loud, you're a professional writer.
Listen, smarty pants. I write about football for a living. Therefore, I don't have the foggiest idea what you're talking about. But once upon a time I did buy stock in a rising computer-software company. It had a funny name I kind of liked -- Microsoft. A few years later, I got a call from my stock broker saying I wouldn't have to worry about money anymore. Which is nice. It gives me more time to worry about the important things.
Like whether the Pac-10 is better than the Big 12 or vice versa.
(P.S. Parts of the aforementioned story were exaggerated for dramatic purposes. Greatly.)