Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I am just a stupid blogger.

Nothing aggravates me more than listening to someone speak out of their rear end. This happens from time to time to everyone I’m sure. It’s particularly annoying to listen to someone do it in a situation in which they have an enormous amount of influence. Just recently on CBS, Gary Danielson skewed statistics to argue for Florida in the BCS Championship game. Tim Brando, going with the pro-SEC theme that CBS shamelessly employs, began highlights of the Penn State-Tennessee game on New Year’s Day (a game in which Penn St. won) by saying, “Now let’s remember that the outcome of bowl games does nothing to prove which conference is better.” Brando might as well have been wearing an “I Love the SEC” T-Shirt. Anyhow, those are just a few examples of national TV analysts using on-air time to influence the viewing public. Those instances don’t hold a candle, however, to the ridiculousness that was Kirk Herbstreit’s diatribe against bloggers during the Rose Bowl.

One thing that I have come to know in the last year and a half is that the only genre in which bloggers are viewed across the board as being idiots by the “professional” folk is the sporting world. MTV had a blogger on their New Year’s Eve special to speak about celebrity news where the blogger was permitted to opine freely on various subjects. I couldn’t believe it. That opened my eyes to the fact that bloggers aren’t viewed as a giant group of idiots by the entire world—just the sports world. Herbstreit went out of his way to drive home that point during the Rose Bowl. On numerous occasions, the idea of Lloyd Carr taking heat for his big-game struggles was brought up on air. Brent Musberger asked aloud if Carr deserved “the heat.” Herbstreit went on and on about how “the bloggers will be logging on to their computers after the game starting up the Fire Carr talk” as if all bloggers share one brain. He did it in such a condescending manner that he essentially dismissed Michigan bloggers as a whole from holding any rational thought. I suppose that when I wrote a few weeks back about being annoyed by Gary Danielson’s slant-job on CBS that I should have said, “there go those ex-quarterbacks again making idiotic arguments on TV.” Because all ex-quarterbacks have the same views on everything, right?

There are a lot of people (yes, bloggers count as people) that are happy with Carr. There are a lot of people that aren’t happy with Carr. To insinuate that a) all bloggers hate Carr b) bloggers are the only people that take issue with Carr’s recent struggles, and c) being unhappy with Carr’s performances is somehow an indefensible position is irresponsible and flat-out wrong. I am familiar with most Michigan blogs and I can’t even name a blogger that openly speaks disdain and hatred for Carr. I am sure there are a few out there but there certainly isn’t nearly enough for Herbstreit to even comment on them.

I’ll give you a quick summary on how I feel about Carr because I think it is somewhat important in terms of how I view Herbstreit’s jabs. I like Carr as a person. I like that he is a holdover from the Bo era. He is a diehard Michigan fan which is something both have in common. However, his strengths as a good human being have little to do with being successful as a football coach. His in-game adjustments leave a lot to be desired. His teams are often unprepared in big games. His teams often under-perform. These are not opinions. These are facts. On the flipside, he is a very good recruiter and very good at instilling values unto his football players. The problem with the Carr debate is that many fans are either overboard on the anti-Carr wagon or overboard on the pro-Carr wagon. When you have a situation like that, tensions are high and people start to insult each other. It’s very rare that you see two UM fans intelligently discuss the pros and cons of Carr. I really like the stability of the program. Carr is largely responsible for that. That doesn’t mean that things are great. It just means that things are stable. The Ohio State football program was extremely stable when it canned John Cooper for losing to Michigan and losing many of its bowl games. Simply being stable is not always enough for a top ten college football program.

Michigan does things differently than every other college football program. At Michigan, respect and integrity come before winning. Carr won’t ever be fired simply because he is a good representative of the University. The Fire Carr talk is wasted breathe because it will never happen. I think there are many young coaches in America today that could bring Michigan to a level that Carr could never accomplish. I have felt this way for many years. I am not a bandwagon jumper nor am I a fair weather fan. This is an opinion that I have held ever since Michigan hired Carr in 1994. I always thought it was a bit presumptuous to think that the best possible person of all of the coaches in America for the Michigan football job just happened to be the guy that was named interim coach after the head coach was fired for disorderly conduct. That is not a knock on Carr. I just think that it is important to remember that the Michigan program was running somewhat on auto-pilot long before Carr took over. To argue that Carr is the right man for the job simply because Michigan has won a lot of games under Carr is not using sound logic. There are a lot of bad coaches (not saying Carr is bad) that could win 8-10 games at Michigan every year. You can’t just look at a winning percentage to argue for or against Carr. I personally think Michigan needs an upgrade at the head-coaching position. As a fan of the University and Carr as a person, I am willing to wait until Carr retires for that to happen.

According to Herbstreit, my last two paragraphs were unnecessary because apparently all bloggers feel the exact same way about Lloyd Carr. But, humor me for a few more minutes if you will. Is it really unreasonable for anyone to be upset with Carr’s performances? Who was the last high-profile coach to go 1-5 against his main rival and 1-4 in his last five bowl games and not face tremendous pressure? The only coach that I can think of that was that poor in both categories was John Cooper. I’m sure Herbstreit knows as well as anyone how that situation turned out for Ohio State. The result of that firing was that Ohio State became the top program in college football (if you want to say USC is number one, I won’t argue). Jim Tressel came in and fixed all of Ohio State’s flaws. The same arguments that can be made in defense of Carr are also the arguments that were being made in defense of Cooper at the time. Both Cooper and Carr have impressive winning percentages and both consistently fielded good football teams. So now Herbstreit is taking shots at bloggers—some of whom don’t even have a beef with Carr—for getting on Carr when his own University fired a good man that fielded good football teams much in the same way that Carr has. It is perfectly reasonable for a Michigan fan to feel that the administration should make the same move that Ohio State made. That doesn’t mean that’s the right decision. It just means that it’s reasonable for someone to feel that way. Even if Herbstreit disagrees, his portrayal of Michigan bloggers as being irrational is ridiculous.

I understand that people sometimes use a blanket description unintentionally. I don’t think that is necessarily the case here. Herbstreit only perpetuated what is an already-held belief in the sports world—bloggers are idiots. It seems every time a sports personality wants to make a point on TV about an irrational viewpoint held by a certain group of people, that personality almost always uses “bloggers” as the culprits. Bloggers are responsible for seemingly everything. If one guy starts a “Fire such and such” website, you will undoubtedly hear someone on TV utter the phrase “the bloggers are at it again” deflecting the doings of one person to the entire blogosphere.

I don’t know what fueled Herbstreit’s rant. He obviously has some sort of vendetta against bloggers. However, just because one person pissed you off at some point doesn’t mean that every person in that sub-group is a moron. If that’s the way Herbstreit wants things to go, then fine. I’ll file him under the “compulsive gambler” and “convicted felon” categories since both he and Art Schlichter (convicted felon and compulsive gambler) were both Ohio State quarterbacks. I’ll also file him under the category of accepting gifts from a booster since both Herbstreit and Troy Smith played QB at Ohio State. Sound fair?

This obviously struck a chord with me since I am a blogger. I don’t subscribe to the idea that my opinion is somehow dumber than everyone else’s because I choose to keep an internet journal. To have my opinion dismissed on the merits of simply being a blogger is insulting. Bloggers are made up of the same people that every other group is made up of. To Herbstreit, though, all Michigan bloggers are the same. All Michigan bloggers irrationally hate Lloyd Carr. Since Herbstreit knows me so well, I should just let him write my posts for me. In fact, all bloggers should just allow Herbsreit to post a blog encompassing their collective thoughts. I doubt he would agree to do it though because he could no longer blame bloggers for all of the irrationalities in college football.

If Herbstreit is still intent on the blanket characterization of bloggers, then we can all just start grouping him with all ex-quarterbacks, ex-Ohio State Buckeyes, and TV analysts. I’m sure Herbsreit has no problem being seen in the same light as the freaky-deaky Marv Albert. Sound fair, Herbie?


Anonymous said...

I was watching the game and I thought the exact same thing. I'm not a U of M blogger so he wasn't talking about me, but to be so anti-blogger on such an issue like that is ridiculous. As a U of M fan and a Red Wings blogger, I took offense at what he was saying. I just couldn't believe it...

Jake said...

Thanks for the comment, Christy. Nice blog by the way! I linked it on my blogroll. Sorry it took so long.

sabir said...

Great post. I don't think Herbstreit put that much thought into his comment about bloggers (like many of the comments analysts make), but I completely agree with your assessment of Lloyd Carr and his critics.

Personally, I think we need to look outside the family for Carr's replacement when he decides to retire. USC gambled on Pete Carroll, a coach who previously had no connections to USC, and it has paid off for them big time. "The Michigan Way" has become outdated.

Jake said...

Thanks Sabir. I wish (hope) you were right about Herbie. He went on and on about "bloggers". It sure seemed like he had a bone to pick. I'm sure if you asked him he would try to put it in context but it's a little too late for that. He came off as being extremely pompous and righteous. Not that he cares but I lost a lot of respect for his opinions.

Anonymous said...

You're not as alone as you think; most political bloggers are viewed as idiots too

Mat said...

While summarizing the opinion of bloggers (like any other group of large people with diverse opinions) into one oversimplified statement is foolhardy, there is some validity to what Herbstreit and the others have said about bloggers.

Bloggers tend to be included in the more extreme parts of the fanbase. They are typically the people that put more time, effort, and passion into their teams. As such, they often represent a fringe of the fanbase that isnt necessarily representing the opinions of the fanbase as a whole.

If youre passionate about wanting to fire Carr you might get on a website and post your thoughts. If youre just pissed about how the season ended but still like the job that Carr is doing you probably aren't going to write anything (which I think is the case with 99% of UofM fans). Like you said though, on this issue people are very passionate on both sides.

The problem the media have with bloggers is the lack of accountability. For example your post states things as "facts" that are actually opinions. The line between editorials and factual reporting are completely blurred.

When using the term "blogger" they probably include people who post anonymously on the blogger's pages which is inaccurate but simpler than just saying "people who post on the internet" or some other wordy phrase.

So unfortunatly for you the term "blogger" means much more than just a blogger. It means the rabid fanatical over the top fans. Anyone reading this page knows that isnt always true...but there is some truth to it.


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