Media hero-worship shifts to Nick Saban and Alabama

Now that the media has fed on the Penn State scandal for the past year after building up Joe Paterno as a saint on the sidelines for the past 40 years, some are naturally moving on to other subjects to deify.

With Alabama coming off of two National Championships in the past three years, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Nick Saban is the next coach to get glowing coverage from many in the media. Rachel Bachman and Ben Cohen have just written a profile of Saban in the Wall Street Journal where they take great pains to explain Saban’s greatness. Here’s an example of some of the gushing “analysis.”

The stunning volume of victories and championships and NFL draft picks has Alabama redefining college-football success as we know it. How, exactly, does the Tide do it?

Really? Redefining success? This sort of dominance over several years hasn’t been seen before in college football? Didn’t Alabama lose a game last season?

The writers go on to explain Saban meticulous attention to detail in the recruiting process, and I guess there’s some insightful reporting into Saban’s methods. But is there anything really new here? Saban is at one of the top football factories in the country and he’s grabbing the best recruits. It’s no different than what other successful coaches have done, and probably less impressive than what Urban Meyer achieved several years earlier at a school that doesn’t have Alabama’s tradition.

More notable, however, is that they also don’t dig into some of the less noble tactics used by Saban and others in the SEC like oversigning which is mentioned in passing near the end of the article after they’ve nestled Saban comfortably on his pedestal.

Here’s another nugget from the article.

“He’s incredibly honest in the recruiting process,” said former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, the starter on the 2009 national-title team who now plays for the New York Jets. “He tells kids, ‘Hey, you’re going to come in and redshirt. Look, you’re going to do this. You’re going to do that.’ He tells them exactly what he thinks. I think a lot of people respect that because so much of the recruiting process is an unknown.”

Wow. Saban sounds great. I guess it’s nice to hear this from Saban’s starting quarterback, but wouldn’t we learn a little more about what really goes on in college recruiting and at Alabama in particular by talking to some of the kids who lost their scholarship after one year because they weren’t quite as “special” as Saban thought when he recruited them? Of course we would, but that wouldn’t fit the happy storyline being promoted here. This isn’t about reporting; it’s PR fluff.

If the writers or the Wall Street Journal wanted to do some reporting, they might have considered looking into the random nature of NCAA enforcement and sanctions, and how many schools are learning to dodge the NCAA by just refusing to self-report problems. That’s why a tattoos for memorabilia scandal brings down a coach at Ohio State, while an alleged suits for memorabilia scheme reported in detail by SPORTSbyBROOKS gets ignored by the national media, Alabama and the NCAA. If a story doesn’t make it to ESPN or SI, it just didn’t happen. Right? Perhaps if publications like the Wall Street Journal would do some real investigating relating to this topic, they might have a real story about Alabama, or on the other hand they could say with confidence that Alabama student-athletes were avoiding the pitfalls encountered by players at Ohio State and North Carolina.

Some might argue that this was a simple football story, and there’s no need to bring in the ugly side of college football every time we discuss a top program. I get that, and it’s a fair point. Sometimes we all just want to enjoy the games. But when we get a profile exalting the recruiting “genius” of millionaire coaches like Saban, it’s journalistic malpractice to settle for token mentions of issues like oversigning and ignore well-documented allegations of misconduct.

Rick Reilly recently wrote a column where he admitted to “engaging in hagiography” as one of the many journalists who turned Joe Paterno into a saint. Of course Reilly had no idea of how that image would ultimately be destroyed, but he regretted focusing only on the positive spin surrounding Paterno’s success. A professor had called him and warned him that Paterno wasn’t a saint as everyone assumed, so there was a real story there had Reilly decided to actually do his job. Just like there’s a real story around all of today’s best coaches as well. Some are better than others, and many of them try to run clean programs. But it’s hard to take profiles like this one about Saban at face value if the issues bubbling under the surface are ignored.

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Why fans hate LeBron James

This video alone should explain it.

I’m tired of the new chorus of Lebron apologists. Idiots like Jeff Van Gundy are saying they don’t understand why people root against him. Jackass Rick Reilly saying that Lebron is “somebody you want your kids to have as their hero.” Now Mike Wise is chiming in.

I won’t bother listing all the obvious reasons, partly because Pat McManamon sums it up perfectly in this column.

But there’s one thing that none of the apologists mention – arrogance. People hate arrogant punks, particularly those who can’t back it up. Lebron pranced around with his new teammates, preened at a rally in the most shallow city in America and then proclaimed he would win a string of championships. Then he wilted in the most epic collapse by a great athlete anyone can remember.

The new apologists are basically arguing that we should all love him because he hasn’t been arrested, he doesn’t beat his wife girlfriend or hasn’t abandoned his kids. Wow, talk about setting the bar low.

Like Tiger Woods, Lebron James makes millions with his carefully crafted image. His playful attitude may be sincere, but Lebron always cared more about his “global icon” status than anything else. Are we supposed to worship arrogance and self-promotion?

We can blame his age or those around him, but many fans hate Tiger and Lebron because their carefully crafted images turned out to be a fraud.

Nobody with a brain ever doubted his talent, so if he ever finds a way to play consistently under pressure he’ll probably win his championships (unless the great Kevin Durant stops him). That might help redeem some of his past failures and lack of nerve on the basketball court, but he’ll have a long way to go to account for his off-the-court behavior.

Rick Reilly kicks Jimmer Fredette while he’s down

Brigham Young Cougars’ guard Jimmer Fredette reacts during a break in overtime of his team’s play against the Florida Gators during their NCAA Southeast Regional college basketball game in New Orleans, March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Ah, Rick Reilly. We love him here at The Scores Report. Whenever Anthony and I get together for a drink or dinner we always start off with a moment of silence in honor of Sir Rick. (That’s what we call him.) Without Rick Reilly’s genius, neither of us would have ever become writers. It was Sir Rick who inspired us.

Juuuust kidding. Can’t stand the guy. He can write, and he’s the King of the Schmaltz, but we can’t stand the guy.

Example #247, his postmortem on the BYU/Florida game, entitled, “Jimmer grows dimmer.” (Like I said, genius.)

Except for a stretch in the middle, when he was brilliant, Fredette was brutal.

Yes, he scored 32 points, but he took 29 shots to do it. He seemed to be wearing a blindfold from the 3-point arc — 3-for-15. Plus, he committed six turnovers and wandered aimlessly through the lane on defense like Moses in the desert. I’ve seen dead people play better defense. At least they occasionally trip people.

If his last college game is what he’s bringing to the NBA, then I’d say, in five years, he’s got a really good chance to be your Provo area Isuzu dealer.

As Reilly notes later, Fredette played 44 minutes against Florida and is asked to carry most of the scoring load for his team. His defense is definitely suspect, but he can’t be expected to expend a lot of energy on that end of the court if his team needs him to score 40 points to win. Cut the guy some slack.

“He’s a little Maravich,” a guy in a BYU shirt told me.

No! No, he isn’t! He’s not within a mile of Mardi Gras floats of Maravich. Maravich could get his shot off from the bottom of a swimming pool. He could get 40 in handcuffs. He averaged 44 points a game in college (to Fredette’s 28 this season) and that’s without the 3-point shot. With it, studies of his game film have shown, he would have averaged over 55.

Of course he’s not Pete Maravich, but why is Reilly devoting precious column space on on the rambling delusions of a BYU fan? Fredette doesn’t have Maravich’s handle, though he does have a wide range of scoop shots that would make Pistol Pete proud.

It was one of Fredette’s worst shooting nights of the season, but he still managed to score 32 points and lead his team to overtime. Reilly only wants to kick him while he’s down.

Where was he when Jimmer dropped 52 points on New Mexico, or 43 in a home win against a very good San Diego State defense? Or even five days prior to the Florida loss, when Fredette hit 7-of-12 three-pointers en route to BYU’s 18-point win against a pretty hot Gonzaga team?

Shooters shoot. And sometimes they have a night like Jimmer did against Florida.

After all the kid has accomplished this season, why does Reilly feel the need to devote 900 words about what he’s not?

Rick Reilly’s lame jokes undercut his argument

Rick Reilly wrote a piece about how TCU’s win over Wisconsin proves, yet again, that college football needs a playoff. I agree with just about everything he says, but then he writes this:

What a lie this BCS era is. They say a playoff would take too much time away from school, yet Oregon’s players will have had 37 days off when they play again.

They say with this system, “every game counts.” Except of course, TCU’s epic win over Wisconsin to stay undefeated Saturday. Counts exactly as much as a rainbow to Stevie Wonder.

Here’s what was going through my mind as I read that section…

What a lie this BCS era is. Yep. They say a playoff would take too much time away from school, yet Oregon’s players will have had 37 days off when they play again. Yep. They say with this system, “every game counts.” Except of course, TCU’s epic win over Wisconsin to stay undefeated Saturday. Not epic, but yep. Counts exactly as much as a rainbow to Stevie Wonder. Wait, whaa? Leave Stevie out of it!

Seriously, dude is blind. He’s had enough to deal with in his life without a sportswriter (who has won National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times — sigh) invoking his handicap to make a lame joke so that his column will seem like it’s funny.

This is why I don’t generally read Rick Reilly. I read this piece because I’m in favor of a college football playoff and I wanted to see if he had anything new and/or interesting to add.


Rick Reilly’s rules for rushing the court

Every so often, Rick Reilly comes up with something good. Here are his rules for rushing the court:

This has got to stop. Therefore, here are the Ironclad and Unbreakable Rushing-the-Court Rules. From now on, you can NOT rush the court if …

• You’ve won an NCAA title in the past 20 years.
• You’ve been in the Final Four in the past five years.
• The team you just beat is not in the top three.
• Or is ranked within 15 rungs of you. (Somebody do the math for Wake.)
• Or is really a football school. This includes Florida, Texas and Ohio State. Get over it.
• You’ve beaten this same team in the past five years.
• You won the stupid game by more than 10 points. There is no such thing as a PRTC (Premeditated Rush The Court.)
• You’re a university and you just beat a college.
• Coach K comes to your coach’s clinic.
• You have a dead-mortal-lock lottery pick on your team.
• Your team has appeared in a recent “One Shining Moment.”

I think RTC has become something that fans want to do at least once in their college career, so they make up an excuse to do it. That’s understandable, I guess. And I’d rather fans be too exuberant at times (NCAA) than asleep in the stands (NBA).

Here are a few random thoughts:

– I don’t like the 20-Year Rule. Really — Arkansas (1994) and UNLV (1990) aren’t allowed to rush the court if they beat a #1 team on their home court? Let’s make it the 10-Year Rule.

– I buy the Final Four, Top Three and 15 Rung rules, though I’d make it a 10 Rung Rule. If you’re ranked 12th in the country and just beat the #1 team at home, I get it.

– I don’t like the “really a football school” rule. A top three team is a top three team. Period.

– I buy the Repeat Rule, but not the 10-point rule, especially if the home team is a big underdog. PRTC is fine with me.

– The last four? Meh. Lots of teams appear in “One Shining Moment” — it doesn’t mean that they didn’t just get a huge win at home.

So what do you think of Reilly’s rules? (He does offer up a few exceptions.)

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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