Sunday, October 07, 2007

Upset at Upsets

There have been a great many unexpected results in college football this season, which is cool. Or at least, it used to be cool, before college football became College Football Inc., a joint venture of Viacom, News Corp. and Disney.

Stanford beat USC last night 24-23. The winning touchdown came on 4th and goal with under a minute to play. It came after Stanford converted on 4th and 20 to keep the final drive alive. Awesome. Put this game in the books of a rivalry that began when Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House. Give a hoorah for the legendary program of Ernie Nevers, Frankie Albert, Jim Plunkett, Bill Walsh, and John Elway.

The employees of College Football Inc. didn't see it that way. And since once is forced to listen to these nitwit shills while watching college football on television, there was no escaping their consternation. Stanford had disrupted the top 10. They had WRECKED the story line. Shame on them. Thank goodness LSU rallied. Kirk Herbstreit would've died on the air otherwise.

College Football Inc. believes its economic well-being depends on the fortunes of about a dozen schools who form their Premier League. Interlopers are not welcome. It is significant that the very best college game of last season, Boise State's win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, is still portrayed as a fluke. When Lou Holtz talks about Appalachian State beating Michigan, he sounds like he's discussing the Crash of '29. What was a glorious triumph once again proving that in sports all things are possible was also a direct threat to CF Inc.

Boston isn't a big-time college football town, which speaks well of us, so I follow the game at a distance. What is most striking is the entire game is presented from the point of view of the overdogs. If some Florida State linebacker goes on a shooting spree in the library, it's seen as almost as much of a tragedy for Bobby Bowden as if he'd lost to Wake Forest.

In terms of unpredictability and drama, the revamped Big East is by far the most interesting conference in college football. CF Inc. HATES the Big East. It can't be marketed, except as offering entertaining football, and who cares about that. The only topics that matter are who'll be in the BCS (not really a) Championship Bowl game, and which overrated running back will win the Heisman.

I had a stirring conclusion prepared for this post, but on further review from the booth, it will be abandoned for a comment made on ABC last night by some commentator, not Brent Musberger, whose name I can't remember, lucky for him. As you may know, the Disney empire has conducted a poll of the usual experts to determine the 25 greatest college football players of all time, and is revealing their names once or twice a week building up to whichever incorrect decision they make as to who was number one. Don't bet on a guard.

Yours truly is following the poll for the trainwreck fascination of what the hell the network decided to do with O.J. Simpson, the greatest college running back of my lifetime. But I digress. The issue in question here is that one George Gipp of Notre Dame was ranked 22nd or so. And the commentator was flabbergasted.

"Sure, I know about George Gipp," he said. "But he played A LONG TIME AGO!"

There you have the ethos of College Football Inc. Win one for the men aged 18-34 demographic.


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