It’s not often that we agree with the writers who ply their trade with The Hayride, a web blog that is decidedly pro-Bobby Jindal—especially when the blog refers to Baton Rouge District Judge Janice Clark as a “bully” for threatening to jail members of the LSU Board of Stuporvisors for their failure to comply with her order to release public records to the media.
That said, we rarely call out other bloggers for their opinions because we believe in everyone’s right to his or her own opinions. It’s a position we hope they hold in the same high regard and to date, The Hayride has called me out only once and that was for a sloppy error on my part.
So, we both go about doing our thing, each reading the other on a regular basis and most times disagreeing with the other’s position. That’s the First Amendment working at its best and I hope it can remain that way.
Today’s post by Oscar about the Sports Illustrated series about Oklahoma State and Les Miles found us agreeing in part and adopting a slightly different conspiracy theory, thanks to the suggestion from a friend who put the bug in our ear.
- That the SI exposé is a piece of tabloid journalism best suited for the now defunct Weekly World Guardian: agreed.
- That the series was written by an Oklahoma Sooner fan who has his own agenda. Agreed.
But that is as far as our commonality of conspiracy theories goes. His is a bit limited and localized; mine is much more far-reaching and spiced with more intrigue, kind of like the grassy knoll, the inside job on the Twin Towers, Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate and CIA drone assassinations all rolled into one.
No, wait. That CIA drone assassination thing just might be real.
Oh, well, never mind. Here’s our theory.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has been kicking butt in the Bowl Championship Series, almost to the point of boredom.
Since 1998, its inaugural year, SEC teams have won nine titles. The ACC, Big Eight, Big East, Big Ten and PAC 12 divided the remaining six championships.
Even more humiliating to the other conferences, the SEC has won the last seven consecutive titles and eight of the last 10. And let’s not forget that in 2011, the championship game featured two SEC teams, Alabama and LSU. With the exception of LSU’s 2003 title and Auburn’s squeaker over Oregon in 2010, all 10 SEC wins have been by double digits.
We’ve already seen how anemic the NCAA is in both its ability to investigate reports of wrongdoing and to mete out appropriate punishment. To illustrate that weakness, one need only look at the Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush, USC “investigation,” the Cam Newton “investigation,” and the Johnny Manziel “punishment.” A half-game suspension? Really? If Manziel was innocent of selling his autographs (and we’re not suggesting guilt or innocence here), he should have received no punishment. If he was guilty, he should be ruled permanently ineligible under existing NCAA rules. A half-game suspension is a joke. Let’s just split the baby.
So, it is left to hack journalists, with the help of the weak sister conferences, to do the dirty work.
It’s this simple: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC can’t compete on the field with the SEC, so they compete in the only way they can—character assassination, innuendo, and stories based on interviews with players who may or may not have an axe to grind. No matter, if the stories can weaken the SEC’s stranglehold on the national championship it’ll open the door to those schools whose boosters are starting to grumble about the lack of top-tier competiveness.
This is not to say that “student-athletes” (I hate that term) don’t screw up. Of course they do; they’re kids away from home perhaps for the first time and they will test the waters. LSU has had its share under Miles and he did exactly what he should have done in each case: He fired the players. And they were front-line players: Ryan Perrilloux and Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu (the latter after everyone in Baton Rouge had purchased black market Honey Badger T-shirts). I personally disagree with Miles’ decision to allow Jeremy Hill back on the team, but on balance, I like what I see in Miles as a decent human being and a very good coach, his detractors’ opinions notwithstanding.
I recently had lunch with Miles, along with my two sons-in-laws. One son-in-law was the successful bidder on the lunch which benefitted an organization for the hearing impaired. I went in expecting Miles to show up, go through the motions but to be largely aloof and distracted from the moment at hand, to simply go through the motions of fulfilling his public relations obligations.
What I saw was a man who was most attentive to his guests, quite talkative (a talkative Les Miles, imagine that!), friendly and receptive to any questions we might wish to lob his way. He spent most of the lunch talking about the difficulties experienced by his brother, who has been deaf since birth and how teachers initially believed him to be mentally retarded. We found a Les Miles who was able to talk openly about a very personal subject; we saw a man who was warm, open, congenial and personable—traits not normally associated with his predecessor at LSU.
But back to our original point. Is it coincidence that all those stories have come out in recent years about Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State, and now LSU? Three of the four—Florida, Auburn and LSU—have BCS championship trophies (LSU and Florida have two each). Mississippi State was indirectly involved in the sordid Auburn-Cam Newton story and LSU, in addition to being a two-time BCS champion, is joined at the hip with the latest accusations at Oklahoma State by virtue of Miles having coached at both schools.
Of course, it was never necessary to do a hatchet job on Arkansas. Former Coach Bobby Petrino took care of that himself in that bone-headed motorcycle accident with a female employee/girlfriend as his passenger.
Do the Florida, Auburn and Oklahoma State stories represent the opening salvos in the campaign to take down the SEC? Perhaps. Stranger things have happened.
If so, you can look for the next shoe to drop somewhere around Tuscaloosa. (‘Bama, after all, has three BCS trophies.) There are already stories circulating about former ‘Bama players Luther Davis and D.J. Fluker. Fluker, now with the San Diego Chargers, recently tweeted that he took money while a member of the Tide football team. That may explain why ‘Bama Coach Nick Saban lost his temper (what else is new?) and walked out on his weekly news conference on Thursday. (It also explains why I shall never have a Twitter account.)
Whether or not this scenario plays out, one thing is for sure: Sports Illustrated, like the rest of the print media, has fallen upon hard times. Unlike most other periodicals, however, SI seems to be taking desperately sordid measures to forestall the inevitable: the death of a once great but now sadly mediocre—or worse—publication.