College Football Mailbag (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday August 15, 2007 12:46PM; Updated: Thursday January 17, 2008 3:30PM
Congratulations on writing the dumbest college football article ever. Please step away from the dungeons and dragons and watch more college football.
I'm sorry, sir. To which article are you referring?
It sounds like you are talking about national perceptions of college teams, not national power teams. Get it straight idiot!
Oh -- that article.
As hard as it may seem to believe, last week's "four-tier hierarchy" caused my in-box to swell just a little bit (at one point there were 520 unread e-mails sitting in my "Mailbag" folder, and I could have sworn I'd already read several hundred). Many of them, like the two above, were not exactly warm and endearing. On Monday night, I did a search for the word "idiot" in my inbox -- it came back with 27 hits.
But that's OK. I'm just glad so many people found the topic so interesting. The overwhelming majority of the "hate mail" came from our friends in Georgia -- the team that touched off this whole discussion in the first place -- many of them fired up by an Atlanta Journal Constitution writer's thorough rebuttal to my argument. It included all kinds of well-researched info about all-time wins, bowl appearances and conference titles, which the readers then pasted into their own "arguments" and sent to me -- even though I specifically requested that potential hate-mailers "spare me any lists of all-time winning percentages, bowl wins, conference titles and whatnot." And why was that? Because as the very next line said -- and as Mike from Charlotte so cleverly deduced -- "being called a 'powerhouse' is more about public perception than it is reality."
In fairness, the overwhelming majority of the non-Georgia respondents had no problem grasping this concept, and in fact I was surprised at just how little complaining there was about my placement of readers' favorite teams. As for my placement of some of the other teams -- that was a different story.
The three most common complaints were:
1) The inclusion of Penn State and Alabama among the "kings." True, neither of these programs have been particularly powerful this decade (for 'Bama, longer than that). However, they built up no shortage of clout in the decades before that, and I hardly think that's evaporated nationally. Just look at the massive coverage Nick Saban's offseason in Tuscaloosa has garnered, as was the case with JoePa's "return to glory" two years ago.
2) The inclusion of Colorado and Washington among the "barons." Again, if college football took place in a vacuum where anything prior to, say, 2002, has no bearing whatsoever on public perception, then yeah, these two would be at the bottom of the heap. However, seeing as both won national titles in the '90s, contended for several others not long before that and appeared in the top five as recently as 2000, I hardly think placing them on the tier just below elite is inaccurate.
3) The inclusion of Notre Dame at all. People resent the media's love affair with Notre Dame. I get it. The Irish keep getting blown out in bowl games, they don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the other "kings," etc., etc. Believe me, I get it. That's why there's an entire chapter in my book, Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls titled, "What's the Deal with Notre Dame?" And here's the deal: If a national network still feels you're worthy of an exclusive deal, and if major bowls still fall all over themselves whenever you're available, and if top-flight recruits still want to come play for you, guess what? You're a national power. Sorry, everybody else.
I will admit to a couple of mistakes. In retrospect, I wish I'd placed Arkansas one tier higher and Clemson one tier lower. Other than that, I feel pretty good about the rankings. In fact, while I admittedly emphasized "perception" in establishing the tiers, two readers -- Keith from Dallas and Mark Van Moer from Champaign, Ill. -- sent me a pair of links after the fact that show they're pretty steeped in reality, too. The first is a list of all-time AP poll appearances, of which the 13 "kings" all ranked among the top 17. The second one was even more validating: Over the past 40 years, the 13 kings all happen to rank among the top-14 in winning percentage.
The one outlier that sneaked in at No. 12? Yep ... Georgia.
Stewart Mandel is an idiot!! Good thing you have a grasp on the English language because your football knowledge is well below average.
See -- there's that word again. On the positive side, at least it's printable in a family publication.
Have you ever heard of a current player (Mike Hart) slamming a decorated alumnus (Jim Harbaugh) the way Hart did and getting away with it without any punishment? Mike Hart essentially punched the U of M establishment in the mouth, and no one said anything to him about it.
Andrew, you make it sound like it's obvious that Michigan would disapprove of Hart's comments. It's quite the contrary, actually. While Hart's comments were certainly the harshest of the bunch -- saying, "He [Harbaugh] is not a Michigan man, and I wish he had never played here" -- I can't imagine Lloyd Carr is going to come down on his player considering the coach himself called Harbaugh's original comments "elitist," "arrogant" and "self-serving." If anything, it seems the "U of M establishment" feels Harbaugh was the one doing the punching in the mouth.
Personally, I find the whole spat a little ridiculous. Harbaugh's observation about Michigan's academic policies wasn't exactly ground-breaking. News flash, people: Every school in the country -- at least every school that wants to win football games -- admits players who wouldn't normally qualify for admission and/or steers them toward more "flexible" majors. So it's pretty absurd that Carr, Hart and former running back Jamie Morris (who claims he's disowned Harbaugh as a friend) are acting like the new Stanford coach is some sort of fire-breathing dragon. A simple "no comment" or "We don't agree with Jim's opinion" would have sufficed.
However, Harbaugh -- who I realize was just trying to trump up Stanford when he said what he said -- could have avoided the whole situation in the first place if he hadn't opened his big mouth (which, while refreshing to reporters, is quickly becoming a source of trouble for him) in the first place, or if he'd just made some vague, general reference to "other schools" or "football factories" rather than singling out his own alma mater.