Yesterday morning, while driving into work, I was alarmed to discover all four of my XM Radio presets simultaneously playing Rihanna songs. Imagine that. All four at once. Rehab, Take A Bow, Shut Up and Drive and Don't Stop the Music. Was it Rihanna Day or did they just turn over the airwaves to a crazy chick and her iPod? I couldn't escape. It was my own personal Disturbia.
But it got me thinking: How many times have we seen a similar situation in college football? You know, how often has something been so force-fed to us that we've started accepting it as fact?
Tim Tebow is, of course, the most notable example. Highly regarded as a top recruit, Tebow burst onto the scene during his freshman year as a virtual battering ram for the national champion Gators. A year later, he became the youngest player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. This year, he was unanimously anointed college football's messiah before we ever had the chance to blink. So, after much media saturation, we've just conceded Tebow's more indestructible than Chuck Norris in a suit of armor. And really, Tebow could've gone 0-12 this season and that opinion wouldn't have swayed.
This goes on all the time in college football, and not just in Gainesville. There are plenty of other teams, people and notions that have been so overplayed, we've stopped arguing and started believing...
"Playoffs in college football are not logistically possible"
Nothing's been better than watching college football talk in circles about playoffs in its FBS division. The sport has long argued "the regular season is a virtual playoff." When people shot holes in that, however, "our student athletes would miss too much class," became the battle cry. And when that got old, the NCAA just started saying it wasn't logistically possible because ... uh ... because it said so. That's right, just talk to the hand, because the stubborn, greedy fools running the BCS don't wanna hear it. And neither do I. If the NCAA can hold a playoff for every other football division and conduct a 65-team basketball tournament in March, why can't it organize a true, end-of-the-year playoff system for FBS?
"Charlie Weis is a genius"
Witnessing the Charlie Weis era has been a lot like dating a pathological liar. Don't get me wrong, I've always liked Weis. But there seems to be a major disconnect between his rhetoric off the field and the product he puts on it. Yet, many people maintain an aura of confidence about Weis' ability to right the ship and return Notre Dame to glory. However, this notion is taking on more water than the Lusitania. Especially when you consider his contract.
"Joe Paterno is as active as ever!"
Let's send this one out to Todd in Gordon, Pa., who e-mails every week to say what a horrible person I am for disrespecting Joe Paterno. But this just in, Todd: While the man is certainly a legend and role model, he's been "coaching" from the booth for most of the season and attempting the "work from home" trick whenever he can during the week. Wake up and smell the roses. This man will soon be 82-years old. Find me a guy his age who is still as active as he was at 41 and we'll parade him in front of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Clemson is terrible"
Wait, Clemson is terrible. My bad.
"The SEC is better than your conference."
While there's no question the SEC is usually one of the better leagues in college football, there's no Indian caste system stating the conference is the best every season. Sometimes, it's not. You know, like, this year. Believe me, we all know this brand of football is physical and produces more NFL talent than any other. But it's about time somebody mentioned that, besides Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, the SEC isn't nearly as deep in 2008 as its been in previous years.
"Wearing alternate jerseys will give us a psychological edge"
I distinctly remember an e-mail from a Georgia fan which explained the Bulldogs would surely beat Alabama because they were slated to wear their black jerseys for only the third time ever. Nice logic there. Did you know Flava Flav is a Viking because his hat has horns? Obviously, Georgia never got that victory, and it doesn't feel like these alternate unis ever work for any team. Just ask Notre Dame about its green shirts. I'd love to see statistical data on the winning percentages of teams wearing the vaunted third jersey. With the exception of Oregon, which plays in different unis each week, teams can't be winning more than, what, 30 percent of their games when dressed in special attire?
The biggest shock during Saturday's action came not on the field, but in the announcing booth. That's right, ABC temporarily suspended its "Find Paul Maguire" game and let the affable commentator inside the warmer confines of the Kinnick Stadium press box during the Iowa-Penn State game. What gives? Maguire has become more of a novelty on ABC, as the announcer has bounced around and called games from the nooks, crannies and spider holes of nearly every stadium he's visited. My theory several weeks ago was that ABC was secretly trying to get Maguire to quit by denying him the simple luxuries of the booth, a la George Costanza during his rocky stint at Play Now. If Saturday was any indication, though, Maguire has weathered the storm and climbed his way back from obscurity. It's dumbfounding.
Penn State was so surprised, it lost.
Random question: How wide was Mark May's smile on Saturday when both Penn State and Notre Dame lost while Pitt became bowl eligible? Just wondering...
In a rather strange twist of fate, former first-round bust Ryan Leaf saw his newfound coaching gig come to a screeching halt when reports surfaced that he'd allegedly asked a West Texas A&M player for a pain pill to help him deal with an injury. Leaf has since resigned, but the investigation continues. No word on whether the lingering "injury" was actually Leaf's entire NFL career.
Kidding aside, it's a sad setback for Leaf, who had seemingly begun to embrace his lackluster professional career and use his experiences to mentor young athletes. Even if the allegations prove false, this still figures to be a deathblow to another career opportunity for Leaf, who could probably offer a lot of valuable insight on sports, stardom and how not to deal with the media.
I will not heckle Alabama fans. I will not heckle Alabama fans. I will not heckle Alabama fans.
1. More intriguing formation: Wishbone or wildcat?
2. Better Heisman candidate:Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) or any other Heisman candidate?
3. Better Tecmo football game:Tecmo Bowl or Tecmo Super Bowl?
4. Hotter coaching seat:Tommy Tuberville (Auburn) or Charlie Weis (ND)?
5. More overrated conference: Big 12 or SEC?
6. More overplayed question:Breed of the Obamas' future dog or 2012 Presidential candidates?
7. Better BCS outsider: Boise State or Utah?
8. Better Apple products description: Cutting-edge or overpriced?
9. Likelier Michael Crabtree decision: Stay in school or go pro?
10. Likelier BCS champion:Florida or Alabama?
What'd it take for Washington State to cover its first line of the season? That's simple: Ty Hildenbrandt betting on 41-point favorite Arizona. Yeah, that didn't work out. Onto the picks...
Notre Dame (-3.5) at Navy
Duke (+11) at Clemson
Texas (-13.5) at Kansas
Last week: 1-2. Season: 8-7.
From reader David in response to last week's BCS-to-professional wrestlers column:
As a huge wrestling fan and a football fan as well, that column was great. Perfect picks, especially the Umaga one.
You hear that? PERFECT. I'm ending this column on a high note. The end.
Ty Hildenbrandt writes Quick Slants every week. Shoot him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his podcast at SolidVerbal.com.