Quick Slants: Chasing publicity

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You know, it was frantic enough when the sculptors of the Mount Rushmore of Self-Promoters went looking for mountain large enough for Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, P. Diddy, and Terrell Owens. Now, with Missouri's antics, those poor guys might have to rent out the Andes.

In a strange twist, it seems as though the University of Missouri has taken matters into its own hands regarding all things postseason football awards. The athletic department, for the better part of the last year, has been responsible for the creation and updating of ChaseTheHeisman.com, a Chase Daniel-themed site promoting -- you guessed it! -- the Heisman Trophy candidacy of Chase Daniel. While the school also pushes some of its other players for different awards, Daniel is clearly the target of the site's affection, offering all of his statistics since high school, current records, photos, videos, and-my favorite- a "testimonials" section. You know, from satisfied customers or something.

And that's not all. If you're a super duper Chase Daniel fan, you can also use this page to add the "Chase for O'Brien Award" app to your Facebook page, or subscribe to all the relevant slurping via RSS feeds. It's literally your Google for all Chase Daniel-related information. Actually, one day it may overtake Google. It's that big.

But the epiphany comes after you've browsed the site for more than five minutes. After you've waded through the privacy policy, the feedback form, and the unsettling picture of Kirk Herbstreit apparently being held hostage by the Missouri Tiger on the main page. And after you've recovered from the sudden jamming-down-your-throat of Chase Daniel as a Heisman frontrunner, model citizen, and possibly U.S. President. That's when you finally come to a crazy realization: "Wow, this site takes itself way too seriously."

On some level, the University of Missouri is merely attempting to make its star player, and by extension its football program, more nationally known. For a school like Missouri, which has never been regarded as an athletics powerhouse, that's not necessarily a ridiculous concept. The intentions are true, and it's certainly a fine display of camaraderie in support of its program's players and successes.

However, something about the whole campaign feels a bit more obsequious than it should. It's a little too Mack Brown-ish for my liking. It's a little too much like giving yourself a nickname. Sure, the Heisman Trophy has always been a bit of a beauty contest, but who ever thought that a Web site would have any effect on the judging? Toward whom is this site targeted? And are voters really going there and having their opinions swayed?

Who knows.

I'll ask the obvious: While watching Joe Paterno "coach" from the booth on Saturday night, was I the only one wondering whether his headset was playing re-runs of Lawrence Welk instead of the Penn State game plan?

I know, I know -- it sounds awfully inappropriate to direct any criticism towards such an iconic and revered coach, but watching Paterno in the booth as of late has been a plot in and of itself. Never, while wearing a headset, has Paterno been seen actually talking into a mouthpiece. In fact, most of the time, he doesn't even have a headset on, raising yet another reasonable question: How much can he actually be coaching?

Look, Paterno is set to turn 82 in two months. Spry or not, the man is a senior citizen. And contrary to popular belief, his wizardry isn't responsible for Penn State's sudden resurgence. It's a nice story and all, but it's not true. If the Lions had recognized earlier that Anthony Morelli wasn't suited for an offense requiring an athletic quarterback, perhaps this march toward BCS glory would've occurred in 2006 and 2007, not just 2008.

So, my proposal is that Penn State gives Paterno an honorary, figurehead contract with access to the suite of his choosing in Beaver Stadium. Let him recruit. Let him travel with the team. Give him a headset if he wants, even if it's tuned to Perry Cuomo's greatest hits. Whatever. Let him be part of the program if he wants, but quit pretending that the man is still the same fiery coach he was 40 years ago. Likewise, be a little more public that Penn State will have a head coach "by committee," and for God's sake, name a successor so that recruits know which way the program is headed.

Either way, this charade that Joe Paterno is drinking from the fountain of youth needs to stop.

LSU's Ricky Jean-Francois should have consulted the Internet before running his mouth about taking out Florida's Tim Tebow. If he had done his due diligence and read TimTebowFacts.com beforehand, he would've known that Tebow can eat five times his body weight in tigers. And perhaps then his Bayou Bengals wouldn't have been so jinxed headed into The Swamp on Saturday night to lose 51-21. There's really nothing else to say on this topic.

According to Clemson officials, football coach Tommy Bowden resigned during a Monday sit-down with Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips, amid a disappointing season and growing speculation that Bowden was holding compromising pictures of Phillips for the last eight years.

(OK, so I made that last part up. But how else could he have avoided the axe for so long?)

Regardless, the dismissal of Bowden as Tigers coach was long overdue. In his 10 seasons at Clemson, Bowden tallied a record of 72-45, but failed to win an ACC title. This year was supposed to be his best chance at accomplishing such a feat, as his Tigers entered the year ranked ninth with (supposedly) the nation's premier rushing attack. But, uh, things did not work out. Clemson was annihilated in its opening game against Alabama -- which doesn't look as terrible with the Crimson Tide ranked No. 2-but then killed its chances of remaining relevant by dropping games against Maryland and Wake Forest. With Bowden's mark of 3-3, I give him credit for seeing the writing on the wall and exiting stage left.

It's certainly not the October that Tigers fans hoped for, but let's give Bowden credit for being smarter than the Clemson athletic department and realizing that he was not helping matters. Plus, by quitting now, Bowden preserves his integrity and avoids a messy offseason divorce that would've likely occurred. More importantly, he steers clear of any coup attempts by seething boosters and ensures that he'll always remain one prideful rung above his brother Jeff on the ladder of Bowden Brothers. And that's gotta count for something, doesn't it?

1. Better cheering prop? Thunder Stix or Rally Towels2. Likelier Saturday upset victim? Georgia or Ohio State 3. Hotter cheerleading squad? Oregon or USC 4. Better Halloween decoration? Strobe lights or Fake spider webs 5. Next coach to get fired? Phil Fulmer (Tennessee) or Greg Robinson (Syracuse) 6. Better West Virginia role model? Chris Henry or Pacman Jones 7. Likelier Notre Dame record? 8-4 or 9-3 8. Better "hawk" style? Mohawk or Fohawk 9. Bigger football pet peeve? Unlucky throwback jerseys or Missed extra points 10. Deeper 2008 conference? Mountain West or Big East

Last week: 2-1

Wisconsin (+3.5) @ Iowa Clemson (+1) vs. Georgia Tech Missouri (+6.5) @ Texas

Ty Hildenbrandt writes Quick Slants every week. Check out his podcast at SolidVerbal.com and e-mail him at tyhildenbrandt@gmail.com