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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Count me in with Every Day Should Be Saturday: I would take a punch for Dr. Z, whose latest article reinforces my slightly uncomfortable love for him. Z writes about some beautiful wackjob who quit his job to compile the most detailed breakdown of NFL passing games ever published. He clearly identifies with the man, relating a story about his own obsessive charting being held up for mockery and a woman who defended it, a woman who cried out "don't you recognize passion?"

That's what I love about Z, passion. I know that when he goes out on a limb to select some who-dat for his All-Pro team that it's backed up with copious research and a knowledge of the game that spans from spinning fullbacks to the modern day. Z goes against the conventional wisdom, and he does it with authority. As mgoblog has noted in the past, the state of sportswriting is generally dire. Z is a shining exception to the dismal rule.

Why? I could say "because he goes against the conventional wisdom," but that's not quite right. mgoblog would like to see a lot of people who go against the conventional wisdom go away. I like Z because he's smarter than I am and he teaches me things. A lot of that is against the conventional wisdom, but only because the conventional wisdom is wrong.

Sounds like I should be right on board Heismanpundit's "Blogger Revolution," but... uh, no thanks.

Lord knows that mgoblog can't stand stupid platitudes, which makes me ill-suited to be a sports fan. I hate witless wonders like Aaron Taylor as much--no, wait--far, far more than the average man. But for there to be an intelligent alternative to the mainstream media it actually has to be, you know, intelligent. I challenge you to find analysis on HP that isn't shallow and facile. The big theory he advocates is that USC, Cal, Boise, Louisville, Utah, and Florida are a sort of new breed of elite college football teams is based entirely on the fact that their offenses are "sophisticated." No justification is given for this. The why and how of the magic beans that makes these offenses go is swept under the rug. There's no explanation of what these offenses have in common, how they differ, and why they're so hard to defend. The whole thing hits about as hard as a schnapps martini. He could be right, but how would I know?

Yes, blogs can provide coverage that the MSM has no interest in providing. Blue-Gray Sky does it almost every day with obsessive detail. iBlog For Cookies busts out sweet charts that tell me something interesting about Michigan's past, present, and future. EDSBS swears really effectively (that's no backhanded compliment, mgoblog loves EDSBS). mgoblog has been known to drop knowledge on suckas and fools from time to time. And none of us are so full of ourselves to declare that it's time for "accountability." None of us follow that up with a condescending lecture on what "Independent Knowledge" is. HP helpfully defines it as "coming up with your own, original thoughts." Excellent. Thanks. I was thoroughly enjoying the mindless parroting of Politiburo opinion forced upon us by the big bad MSM but now... I'm free! Free as a bird that is not a parrot!

Meanwhile, HP is posting highly questionable assertions with little to back them up. And I hate to say it, but College Football Resource is following suit. He's on board the Sophistication Bandwagon and believes that Boise's going to take it to Georgia, which would be great if there was some meat in his analysis. Instead it contains a heaping helping of:

"...Georgia is a fairly low-tech outfit, but one blessed with outstanding athletic and talented personnel." ... "If Boise truly believes it's the better team here, this game will be an annihilation in their favor." ... "The other argument is that regardless of conference, any team that has a truly balanced offense (Hawai'i need not apply) and is putting up those kinds of numbers should reasonably be expected to put up similar totals in any other conference."
Sweet Jesus! Those are the kind of statements you can make if you have numbers or film and damn good reasoning behind it. You just can't say stuff like that and then move on without thoroughly justifying yourself. That is exactly what drives me up the wall about sloppy MSM guys like Dodd.

He got linked to on the Rivals UGA board and they gave him both barrels. Then they reloaded and gave him both barrels again in case he was a zombie. A lot of the commentary was pretty thoughtless... but no more so than what it responded to. And then, finally, a guy named Solon burned the Broncos to the ground, noting that Boise played all of four road game last year and the results were not impressive:
...[Boise gave up] 34 ppg against (not including OT), against a relatively weak slate of offenses--by which, I mean these four teams managed a total of 70 pts in 6 games against BCS opponents last season (though their production fattened up while playing WAC opposition).
His analysis is solid and cogent. (Solon! Get a blog!) It shows thought has been deposited into it. This is not the case for the Boise bandwagon.

Look, guys. It's great to want to change the way sports reporting gets done. There's a lot of it that is maddeningly lazy. But to do it you're going to have to break down some film or explain some concepts or analyze some numbers. Waving your hands and talking about how some coach showing up changes everything does not qualify as a revolution. I can get that from anyone. The Emperor's New Punditry ain't gonna cut it.

As Pogo says, "We have met the enemy and they is us." HP left a comment that basically sums it all up a few months ago. After I attacked his placement of Boise State fourth in his preseason top ten, he responded with more of the same sleight-of-mouth, ending up with an exhortation for me to "be BOLD."

No. Be smart. Smart... and humble.