Monthly Archives: September 2009

Well, at least there’s no more QB controversy

And now for some levity.

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Filed under USC, We lost to fucking Stanford?!

The case against Scott Wolf

WordPress.com’s UI is fantastic. This really is one of the better blog services out there: excellent editor, a helpful public base providing custom themes, a healthy system encouraging inter-wordpress.com-traffic, a great group of coders, etc. The only real drawback is the drawback of every single other blog provider: the ability to save drafts. This is a necessary ability, but it also forces me to stare at posts I once thought viable for years on end. Some of the titles are still pretty funny to me even now: “Texas Tech to feature all Tesla coil offense”, “Tennyson on the Orgeron”, “Ohio State AD files XBox Live restraining order against Florida AD”…. Some are confusing, like “Saban launches invasion from orbital station”.

The title of this post is a draft I’ve had saved for more than two years now. Two years, nine months and eleven days, actually. But I’ll get to that.

Scott Wolf is the Daily News’ beat writer for USC football. He has a blog. On the sidebar of this blog he’s included, probably proudly, the following description of himself:

Scott Wolf has covered USC for the Daily News since 1996. A USC graduate, he covered his first Trojan game in 1984 for the Daily Trojan. Scott is known as the “scourge of the Internet message boards,” according to radio host Petros Papadakis. Despite this moniker, there’s no truth to the rumor he takes pleasure in antagonizing the “Internet geeks.”

It’s about the only thing on his blog that doesn’t have regular typos.

***

The part, above, about Wolf including that description of himself isn’t backed  by any evidence. He doesn’t run the site, so it’s possible the person or persons who do run the site included it for him. Wolf strikes me as the type who gets a hard-on writing about himself in third person. He also strikes me as the type to put quotations around the words “Internet geeks”, but not because he wishes it to be known that this term is an accusative appellation and not necessarily how he feels about college football fans who gather online; rather, Wolf is the kind of guy who likes misquoting. Did Petros call them “Internet geeks” during one of his radio shows? Is this actually Wolf’s term for such people? If so, this is a case of accurate quotation by the person who maintains his blog. Take note, Scott: it can work.

Also, the part about acknowledging a lack of evidence.

***

This is not to say he should be acknowledging a lack of evidence. Such acknowledgment ought to come in the form of not writing a mind-witheringly stupid sentence based on God-knows-what-but-whatever-it-is-it-isn’t-evidence. This is the job of the college football beat writer. It is in almost direct opposition to the job of the college football opinion columnist. I’ve never wanted to ask Bill Plaschke for his sources; I just want him to occasionally include more than one sentence in a paragraph.

Scott Wolf does commentary, by the way. It’s just hard to distinguish it from his reporting.

***

I don’t consider Scott Wolf the “scourge of the internet message boards”. The scourge of internet message boards can mainly be found on YouTube, posting racist screed using “u” in place of the second person singular and generally ruining my viewing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze clips. Scott Wolf is not even the scourge of internet college football message boards. That honor is reserved for anyone who takes part in a debate about the Pac-10 and SEC.

USC fans do hate him, though. Many for the wrong reasons – and by now it must be apparent I feel there are right reasons – but at least their hearts are in the correct place.

I would venture to guess they hate him because he seems  overwhelmingly against everything they hope for in a season: unity, success, confidence in one’s chosen team and its staff. Frankly, I kinda like Scott Wolf because he’s a dick. (Also because he champions Matt Grootegoed whenever he gets a chance.) Anyone who has to cover Pete Carroll on a regular basis needs teflon to resist Carroll’s unending pseudo-but-sometimes-real philosophy of upbeat rainbow dappled unicorns competin’ on jacked up Competition Tuesday. Unfortunately, Wolf’s teflon happens to be his ability to throw out journalistic objectivity and write things like this:

But going your own way can be risky business: So far, none of Carroll’s disciples demonstrated they could be successful head coaches.

Holt and Ed Orgeron were abysmal failures at Idaho and Ole Miss, respectively.

Carroll’s one-time close friend and college mate, Greg Robinson, was a disaster at Syracuse.

It’s way too soon to judge Sarkisian or Kiffin (at least with Tennessee) or DeWayne Walker, the first-year coach at New Mexico State.

Waitwhat?

***

He got paid to write that, too.

***

I won’t go over how ridiculous it is to include Robinson (an obvious failure at Syracuse but also never a “disciple” of Pete Carroll – with whom Robinson did coach in New York from 1990-93, and in 1994 in Carroll’s only year as the Jets’ head coach; I don’t think the two years spent at North Carolina St. as an assistant to the then-assistant-Carroll is too relevant  – and, if he was indeed a “disciple”, he could also be described much more accurately as an “‘actual, real, using the description provided by Oxford’ disciple” of  Terry Donahue at UCLA and Mike Shanahan in Denver since Robinson spent more years on both their staffs and at more formative periods in his career, i.e. the eight years in Westwood right before Robinson’s first NFL job, during the Bruins’ most successful period ever – seven consecutive bowl wins (three of those in Pasadena), four Pac-10 titles and three ten win seasons – and the six years under Shanahan that included back-to-back Superbowl wins with a guy named Elway, all of which seems much more in line with the “disciple” talk especially when paired with names like Holt, Orgeron, Sarkisian, Kiffin and Walker, all of whom were actual disciples of Carroll in that they are known for coaching under Carroll and were awarded bigger jobs directly after their association with him due to a presumption of the distributive property’s effectiveness in football hiring processes, the above all of which Wolf vaguely acknowledges with the terms “one-time close friend and college mate” in an almost endearingly opaque attempt at transparency as if those words justify Robinson’s inclusion in a list he doesn’t belong in but is a part of because the author wishes to either extend his data set at all costs, further prove Carroll’s now tenuous reputation as a giver of gifts and leader of  men, or both… and, shit, the only one talking about Carroll’s now tenuous reputation as a giver of gifts and leader of men is Wolf himself since he’s certainly the only one who considers Greg Fucking Robinson a disciple of Pete Carroll), because, frankly, it’s beneath me.

***

I considered, many times over the past two years, making this post a blow-by-blow take down piece using every error in grammar, judgment, morality and what-have-you Scott Wolf has perpetrated on me during his tenure at the Daily News.

(I say me because I don’t care much about what he does to the others who read his stuff and reel at the ugliness of it all; too often they call him a fag, or make fun of his lisp, or change his name to Benedict Wolf or something equally asinine. This offends me, but so does Awbarn and Kal and all the other crimes against humanity committed everyday, online, at those internet message boards Scott Wolf believes he is the scourge of.)

I’ve never been able to block off the five years of my life necessary to commit myself to such a task, though. And the thought of having to wade through all those… ugh. Can’t do it. Cannot do it.

***

I was sorta kidding when I said I kinda like Scott Wolf because he’s a dick. His kind of insouciance makes me waffle about hating something so obviously wrong. I firmly believe one of the most American qualities one can have is the willingness to defy authority. It gave birth to our nation, after all. But I’m not sure Wolf plays the devil’s advocate because it needs playing; assuming that means I’d have to assume he has our – as in his readership’s – best interests at heart, and that means the truth. I don’t think the truth is his goal, and that might be the worst thing someone could say to me if I worked at a newspaper.

Scott Wolf is great at reminding us of Pete Carroll’s faults, whether that be wasting a redshirt year or burning bridges with Norm Chow or not having Reggie Bush on the field during 4th-and-2. He loves bringing up USC’s shortcomings in all sorts of things like Song Girls tryout transparency or the money-grubbing nature of the athletic department (yeah, seriously: because no other athletic department in major college sports tries to milk alumni for all they’re worth). But he doesn’t do these things to keep the subjects on their toes and thus more likely to mend their ways. Nor does he do these things to remind us not to march in lockstep. He’s not even doing them to say, “Hey, Mr. Best Coach In College Football, don’t think you’ve got everyone ready to eat your pablum.”

I think Scott Wolf does these things because he is a dick. That’s the only conclusion I’ve been able to come to over two years, nine months and eleven days.

***

Sometime slightly before two years, nine months and eleven days ago Scott Wolf wrote that USC kicker Mario Danelo’s death was an “apparent suicide”. He never divulged his source(s) on this error, nor should he have. What he should’ve done is fact check. The emergency workers would be a good start. Close friends and family are next. The police assigned to the case are also viable leads.

I hope that he was simply too stupid to bother verifying the case’s designation as an “apparent suicide”, or that some of the sources he cited were in fact the ones he consulted to verify this. Certainly there were several wire reports that carried the following…

Police Lt. Paul Vernon said Sunday there “didn’t appear to be a crime involved,” and “it was fairly apparent that this was either an accident or suicide.”

… which is a reasonable assumption once you rule out foul play. Maybe Wolf was too stupid to notice the words between “apparent” and “suicide”. I actually do hope that.

The alternative is that Scott Wolf rushed off to write an attention grabbing article.

Either way I’ve never forgotten that, nor forgiven it.

***

This post is fractured out of necessity. I’m not sure why Wolf’s article about Carroll’s coaching tree set me off, but it did… and out came all the little injuries Wolf’s inflicted on my soul over the years. There are simply too many grievances to try and focus.

The obvious question is, “Why don’t you just not read him?” The obvious answer is that I read everybody, and everything, related to USC football. The less obvious answer is that Scott Wolf offends me in a way not even Skip Bayless is capable of: he continues to get paid to write, poorly, about my first love. And I feel like it’s my duty to be there when he fucks up, if only to say, “Hey. Dick. You fucked up. Stay the hell away from my baby.”

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Filed under The Media, USC

Moron

In the first week of September last year, I wrote about a Scotsman discovering a love of college football:

…he senses there must be some central source of divinity that has left its mark on others, who in turn have passed on their share and created a whole nation of people endowed with a shard of the immutable properties of the universe, i.e. the 4th quarter comeback.

It’s true. There is a central source of divinity leaving its mark on others, who in turn passed on their share and created a whole nation of people endowed with a shard of the immutable properties of the universe, i.e. the 4th quarter comeback. That central source might be Matt Barkley’s injured right shoulder, or, if I’m epistemologically trepidatious, the force, animus, phenomenon, pantheon, thing, whatever it is, that decided to lift me off the floor where I was laying prostrate trying to sacrifice to the gods of 2nd-and-19 at your own five. I’m not too hung up on naming this thing.

There is no other game in the world that can bring you so low and then elevate you so high. I am high right now. As the very wise Nick Hornby wrote in the only book to capture what I experience every fall

The truth is this: for alarmingly large chunks of an average day, I am a moron.

For alarmingly large chunks of the next six days I will be a moron, gazing off into the distance and thinking about Joe McKnight’s redemption, Stafon Johnson’s rabbit feet, the o-line’s beautiful, beautiful sveltness and, of course, Matt Barkley’s 19-year old right arm.

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Nothing long, or verbose

I’m nervous. But not that nervous, which ought to make me more nervous. All the quotes from Barkley re: The Shoe are disconcerting, because all it takes is two short runs and an incomplete pass and Columbus becomes a shit show with USC having to claw its way out, which usually means a couple of fingernails torn off, minimum. Then again pretty much all the unit matchups favor the Trojans.

And then again, there’s this: night game in the Horseshoe against the Sweater Vest and a gazelle named Pryor.

Oh well: USC 31, Ohio State 20.

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On Barkley

A commentator on this blog once gave me sound advice amounting to this: “Your duty as a college football fan is to root for the non-starting quarterback.”

The quarterback competition in question was John David Booty, with an injured thumb, versus Mark Sanchez.

The above advice is unsound when applied to names like Tebow – who the hell is Florida’s backup, anyway? I think it might be the transfer from Texas John Might-Be-Named-Brantley, but this is shooting from the hip at best – and Leinart. It’s very unsound when you’re Washington State or Michigan. The former had to hold campus tryouts last season to flesh out the depth chart, and the latter attempted to suit up med school cadavers midway through the Big Ten slate.

Still, it’s sound advice. I was fine with Aaron Corp. More than fine, really. He shredded defenses at Orange Lutheran High and made a mockery of the CIF state championship game. He’s mobile, which is nice. (Correction: he’s mobile, which is fucking awesome in ways I can’t begin to explain but have something to do with a primordial fear of quarterbacks who can run and are from Houston and have the initials V.Y.) He avoided interceptions. That’s a big one, considering this season’s road schedule is going to hinge on turnover ratio. He’s put in his time, and who doesn’t want to see that rewarded?

Guilty as charged. I wanted Barkley to start. My bone marrow wanted Barkley to start. The bone marrow of my unborn great-grandchildren, who will one day tend to hydroponic soybean and hemp farms on Mars and probably make a killing off the neural stimulant black market in Pavonis Base Two, want Matt Barkley to start. I can accept this wholehearted devotion to potential even if its going to hurt a seemingly nice elite athlete like Aaron Corp, who must feel a bit bewildered right now.

I wonder at the Willy Pipp comparisons. Baseball is almost always a game about being still. Major league players all seek to find that magical line called statistical precedent and straddle it; I think if they were offered the opportunity to bat .700 for a single season or bat .350 for fifteen years they’d probably pick the latter. Perfect game, or twenty wins? Unassisted triple play in a call up game from Vasalia, or a career full of gold gloves? Aaron Corp is no Wally Pipp, because even one game can make a hero out of a college football player. Look at UCLA’s Patrick Cowan. Google his name and you’ll get to watch his gray matter ramify out his facial orifices as Rey Maualuga rearranges his cranium into something like a Mandelbrot set on acid, but UCLA fans will always remember him as the Guy Who Denied USC A Ticket To The Dance. Aaron Corp’s story so far is pure tragedy in a way Pipp’s never could’ve been. He was the starting quarterback at USC and he would’ve kept that job if he’d simply won. Gehrig was always going to be greater than Pipp, whether it was that day or some other day. Corp’s only chance was against Ohio State. We all knew it. It’s a shame he won’t get it, because even if Barkley flounders there’s no way the Golden One will ride the pine for the next two years. Pete Carroll is no gambler. He’s goofy and slightly retarded in that endearing vapid cheerleader kind of way, but he knows what’s up. Matt Barkley is his ticket to The Dance, which is incredibly odd to say because the starting quarterback for a championship team has been, very often over the last few years in both college and pro, the guy who doesn’t lose the game.

Corp was the respectable, dependable, sane choice. But Carroll – and I – want something grander, even if the only grandiose move right now is to build for next year. Ask me again after Ohio State and I might have a different answer, but for now I feel bad for Corp and holy fucking shit Matt Barkley is going to start on Saturday.

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