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.”

8 Comments

Filed under The Media, USC

8 responses to “The case against Scott Wolf

  1. Soccer sweaters are gay

    Scott Wolf is not a fag because of what he writes…he’s just a fag. Hope that helps.

  2. Perfectly said, Jonathan.

    For all the irresponsible reporting Wolf has demonstrated over the years, it’s his carelessness over Mario that I will always cite when explaining my hatred. Mario was a great guy and someone that deserved more than to become a catchy headline for a talentless hack of a writer.

    Proof of being a shitty human being aside, he’s overrated as a beat reporter with an inside scoop on all things USC. I haven’t read his blog for about as long as this post has been sitting in your queue, and I’ve yet to be more than a few minutes behind on a breaking news story regarding our beloved Trojans. And like you, I want nothing more than to have this ingrate stay the hell away from something I hold so dear.

    Lastly, I’m also of the opinion that stooping to the level of ad hominem attacks and childish namecalling do nothing but weaken your argument and make you look like an immature asshole. But, seriously, the guy looks like Gargamel. C’mon. He’s a dead ringer, you must admit. With that said, it would make a lot of sense for him to move across town and cover those smurfs in Westwood instead, right? Am I right? Double zing.

    Love the site, by the way. Fight on.

  3. NJTrojan

    CJ Spiller to USC! Oops, Scott jumped the gun on that one just like with Mario.

  4. DP7

    Today’s article bothered me because it was all about how all the disciples deeply want PC’s approval, but he didn’t actually provide a source saying that, or really even explain why they would want his approval. It was just kind of “trust me, they really want to make him proud.”

  5. Great to see you back and posting!

  6. eli

    “The obvious answer is that I read everybody, and everything, related to USC football.”

    I couldn’t have put it better. One thing I take comfort in is that regardless of Wolf’s blatant ineptitude or plain penchant for being a dick, none of us have to pay a dime for his (or the daily news’) content.

    Also, while he may be excessively contrarian in his effort to be ‘objective,’ he has to realize that his relevance and popularity is directly correlated to USC’s success. If we ever return to seasons a la the Hackett era, I guarantee you he will change his tune (if he still has a job by then).

    Michael Lev deserves a shout-out for being everything that Scott Wolf is not.

  7. Anonymous

    He needs to stop giving boise st. first place votes EVERY WEEK! I hope the AP pulls his voter status.

  8. Anonymous

    Scott Wolf is awesome for telling it like it is, even when fans don’t want to hear it. I appreciate his honesty and his keeping USC a bit more honest because USC has a problem with honesty/cheating.

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