So while I should be celebrating the startof another football season, especially with some exciting match-ups last night and some blowouts against teams I generally don’t care for (I am looking at you Blue Donkeys), I found myself getting angry last night about silly things that get under my skin. They are not even football-specific, but are culturally specific.
1. Sports broadcasting as marketing and not information.
We get a lot of news from all different sources that are little more than propaganda machines for certain ideologies. I think we all know that most media sources, even if unconsciously, push agendas that target their base. It just frustrates me when it is so obvious, and when it deals with sports, when we are all watching what is happening and know when they are blowing smoke up our butts or not.
Case in point:
Adam Schefter tweeted this last night:
Cleveland is going to have a hard time keeping Johnny Manziel on the bench for very long.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 29, 2014
That was following another tweet that I can no longer find on his feed, in which he described an impressive-sounding series of plays that Manziel made. So I investigated these claims, thinking he must be doing great. Here was his stat line:
6-for-17 for 83 yards passing with one TD.
The thing is that this was against players largely vying for roster spots, so it was not against the Bears’ top players, but rather against their scrubs and scrubs of scrubs. For those keeping track, that is an ESPN RTG of 71.4. Rex Grossman and Brian Hoyer both outperformed him. Hoyer was at least playing against the best of their reserves, as many starters got held out this game.
So rather than report on what actually happened, that Manziel had a sub par game with two highlights, Schefter throws out pure marketing gibberish to further “Tebow-ize” Manziel.
You would think that the Pac12 Network, being a pillar of amateurism and collegiate excellence, would be different. (I almost threw up typing that). Unfortunately, in order to toe the line of Pac12 exceptionalism, the only reports of the WSU game were about the amazing Washington State offense passing all over 2013’s 123rd-ranked passing defense, which only returned one player from last year’s squad. Those reports kind of neglected to say that Rutgers was beating them even with that sieve-like defense.
Here is the deal, I know it is all about money. Everything is. Everything you see in media has $$$ attached to it — and those dollars dictate what you see, hear, and experience. I just pine for the days when they were a little less obvious about it. Manziel will probably not be amazing. He is in a tough city to win, has no one to throw to, and honestly is not the most talented QB. The Texas A&M game last night shows you how much their system feeds guys, just like Mike Leach’s system does. But for now, he is popular, selling jerseys and getting butts in seats, so they are making the most of him. And right now the Pac12 needs to establish itself as the SEC-killer conference.
So don’t expect the whole story. Just expect the part of the story that proves the points that the people delivering the message want you to hear.
2. Just throwing a popular coach’s name onto a team doesn’t cover up their flaws.
Washington State is the darling of the Pac-12 these days. The scrappy up and comers from the furthest reaches of prairie hell are riding the land-locked pirate ship known as the SS Mike Leach. It is a fine and exciting ship and will do amazing things in the Palouse. Some day.
Right now, though, the Cougars are a team that has SERIOUS questions about their defense, their offensive line and their top receiver from last season. While they were able to torch the Scarlet Knights regularly through the air, they had no answer for the pedestrian Rutgers offense, couldn’t tackle, and didn’t seem to understand what running the ball looked like. For good reasons.
The thing is, just like Sarkesian at UW, there was a perception of the sleeping giant built with internal timelines of when that giant would wake up. “Oh by year three in this system, watch out!” Or “After 4 years we are finally going to see what coach X can do!” We have seen it before, even here at OSU. Heck, the season is still young — and we in Beaver Nation know all about slow starts and fast finishes.
What bothers me is that there is no recognition that teams have deficiencies, because the coach is popular and the majority of people think those type of coaches are are going to work miracles.
Look at USC. This weekend they will have only six scholarship offensive linemen available to play. They will be without two of their best defenders due to injury and ridiculous behavior, and they just lost senior running back Anthony Brown (who was injured) for confusing reasons. Regardless, the Trojans have talent, but there are so many obvious flaws that people are just glossing over.
We will see how it plays out for all of these teams, but lets not just let the brand established by their coaches dictate what is really there. This is going to be a rough season for most teams in the Pac-12, and we are going to eat our own all year because of all the talent and good coaches. Teams with obvious flaws should not be given a pass simply because most of America knows who runs the show.