Monday, February 26, 2007

When will the madness stop?

Ok, I’ve had enough. I wasn’t going to mention it, I wasn’t going to dignify the silliness with a response but I just can’t take it any more. I’m talking about the now infamous letter “To Fans of the Big Ten and College Football” where Jim Delany removes any doubt that he is indeed an ass. Basically Jimmy boy says to the college football world that we’re (by ‘we’ I mean the Big Ten) better then you because we have academic standards and the SEC is full of fast dumb guys that find it a challenge to tie their shoes in the morning let alone pass a college class… or something like that, I’m paraphrasing of course. Now when I first read it, I chuckled at the shear nuttiness of this letter; Delany came off sounding like a jaded little kid name calling all the other kids before taking his ball and going home. The letter really served no purpose other then the aforementioned proof of Delany’s assholidness, but it sure did manage to universally piss off every SEC fan. Go check out any one of our SEC blogger brothers, I’m sure they are still fuming about it. So it had its upside, especially in this dead time before spring practice starts, but it just isn't worth the effort that some have demonstrated and it’s silly on so many levels.

Nuttiness Level 1
In his letter, Delany references this article by the Chicago Sun Times where writer Taylor Bell quotes, our good friend Tom Lemming. Cardinal sin number one for Delany was refuting something that uses Lemming as its “source,” he’s an idiot and not worthy of Jimmy boy’s effort.

''The Southeastern Conference is much faster on defense than the Big Ten,'' said Lemming, ''In the Midwest, people are thinkers. In the SEC, they rely on athleticism and aggressiveness on defense. They pride themselves on rushing the quarterback. They appear to be much more aggressive than the Big Ten.''
Like most everything that comes out of Lemming’s mouth this is just an insanely stupid comment. I never realized that the Midwest was the place thinkers went and the south was home to fast dumb guys. I think if you asked some of the current players on Big Ten teams they would take offense to a comment like that and so would kids in Florida or Texas. Justin King, one of Penn State’s fastest players and Pennsylvania native, didn’t pack up and move to Florida because he was lightning quick and the numerous Academic All-Americans in the SEC didn’t move to Chicago because they had good grades in High School. Both regions have their fair share of intelligent players and guys with blazing speed, it’s silly to think otherwise.

Apparently he’s really smart and really Midwestern

I guess in the Big Ten we don’t pride ourselves on aggressive pass rushing, no we rely on slow thinkers. In 2005 Ohio State and Penn State were two of the best defenses in all of college football and I keep coming back to the fact that the Big Ten was 2-1 in head to head competition with the SEC in the bowls this year. Both PSU and Wisconsin were underdogs, in everybody’s mind, against supposedly far superior SEC teams with their SEC speed, yet both defenses shut down said speed. Wisconsin gets the extra hat tip because for the second straight year they have beat a “superior” SEC team in a game they were a heavy underdog. Not to rub salt in a wound but Tennessee with their proud, aggressive defense managed to sack Penn State QB Anthony Morelli zero times, something that happened 23 times over the course of the year: where’s the superior speed? Delany’s first mistake was trying to defend a moronic article that has no substance, it’s like defending a conspiracy theory; it’s an act of futility.

Nuttiness Level 2
Speaking of conspiracy theory, that’s exactly what Delany is in danger of creating when he brings in the “academic” argument.

Fortunately, we have been able to balance our athletic and academic mission so that we can compete successfully and keep faith with our academic standards.
So what are those standards and why is the Big Ten any different then other conferences? An argument becomes dangerously close to conspiracy theory when you have no data to back it up, and Delany offers none. Of course our SEC blogger brethren then run off and try to refute said comment with its lack of data and it just starts to become noise. What is the determining factor to prove the academic argument right or wrong? Academic All-Americans? Graduation rate? Admission standards? Number of football players taking Hotel management or Communications as their major? There is no way to prove either side of the argument.

Nuttiness Level 3
So now the craziness builds to an epic level and boat loads of time and effort are being wasted on trying to win an un-winnable argument. Need proof - look no further then the EDSBS and MGoBlog where Orson and Brian attempt to link the number of scholarship offers handed out per school with academic standards. It’s a very long line to draw, one that gets so fuzzy it’s almost impossible to discern after a while. The exercise is supposed to analytically prove team’s standards by the number of scholarship offers given out in a period of time over and above the number allotted by the NCAA. By this, one is supposed to be able to extrapolate a school’s shiftiness by the number of players they lose and therefore have to replace. In other words – which school is taking chances on academically challenged athletes? Got a headache yet? The argument is getting way out of hand and we’re grasping at straws here because fallacies abound. Did Northwestern offer 19.2 scholarships per year over the last six years because they have tougher academic standards or did fewer top flight athletes choose to go there? Did Oregon State offer 29.3 per year because they are losing players left and right to academic ineligibility or was it a combination of large classes and early graduation? Certainly 20 and 22 offers in ’02 and ’03 aren’t unwieldy. Is Delany’s point valid because the SEC offers 25.1 per year compared to the Big Ten’s 22.1? The answer is no, his point is not valid because of this data and neither is invalid, in the end we are no closer to an answer.

Like the theory that we never landed on the moon, the Delany argument of the Big Ten’s academic superiority is difficult to debunk.

Fact or Fiction: was he fast enough to be from an SEC school?

We can spend the next few weeks digging up all sorts of data for one side of the argument or the other but it will be a waste of time – we’ll never get closer to a definitive answer. Let’s just move on and get to the real subject at hand – Charlie Weis’ fat man mistrial.

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