To paraphrase one well-known quotation, nobody ever went broke underestimating the willingness of Tide and Tiger fans alike to give their undivided attention to any damn fool thing said or written about either their team or the team on the other side of the state.
The best example of this doctrine--its patron saint, its unrivaled champion--is, of course, this gentleman:
who has built a long and lucrative career for himself by ignoring those nettlesome questions of "accuracy" or "insight" that usually apply to legitimate media in favor of whatever tall tale the ratings fairies whispered in his ears the previous night. Why, we had a textbook example just last week, when Finebaum spun a yarn about "conflicts" between Tubby and Franklin--even going so far as to speculate on the potential for Franklin's firing--when the closest thing he comes to actual evidence for said conflict is Franklin saying he'll run "whatever works" as opposed to parroting word-for-word Tubby's (hardly counterintuitive) claim that they won't throw the ball 40 times a game. "Whatever works" ... man, is Tubby going to be furious about that! He hates things that work!
The point: if you've ever wondered what the hell kind of people would look at a manatee and come away telling everyone they'd seen a mermaid, the answer is the ancestors of Paul Finebaum.
None of this is news, of course. Nor is it news that Finebaum is perfectly aware of what he's doing, or that nobody comes close to doing it half as well. (Witness the wonderfully contradictory conclusion to the "Tony the Tiger" piece above; after spending 97% of the column explaining why Tubby and Franklin won't work out together, he suddenly claims they'll succeed, purely to toss Tide fans a bone they can pick with him as well. Genius.) What's new is that despite his long-held "Yes, there is such a thing" distaste for blogs, the Master has seemingly adopted a kind of Internet protege in 'Bama propagandists Capstone Report, who he quotes extensively in his Franklin column.
It's easy to see why the Capstone Report would earn Finebaum's seal of approval: whereas his media duties require him to make googly-eyes at the Lowest Common Denominator but retain some measure of balance the Tide homer in him would rather ignore, the Capstone Report is free to wallow in as much bias, hyperbole, and cutting-edge "Rosie O'Donnell is overweight!" jokes as they like. And boy howdy, wallow they do: the Capstone Report is the blog the Lowest Common Denominator would write itself if it became person--specifically, the sort of person who wears "Got 12?" shirts and chants "Rammer Jammer" at his girlfriend after he beats her in ping-pong.
If you wanted an example of said wallowing, you could pick out any post in which the Capstone Report discusses Tubby, Auburn, or pretty much anything Auburn-related. The problem is that this gives you way too many potential options to actually pick from: 11 CR posts this month alone (of 23, nearly half)* deal directly with Auburn in some fashion, despite the fact I've read in many different places it's Auburn fans and Auburn blogs who are obsessed with the Tide, rather than the other way 'round**.
Despite that hurdle, the prosecution would like to present as Exhibit A this post, your honor, entitled
Tuberville is one desperate cowboyWhich makes sense, when you consider the impact of corporate-owned farms on traditional grazing territory, the rapid increase conservation efforts have had on predator populations, the rising price of even the lower-grade heads of cattle ... any cowboy would be desperate these days.
Except, of course, that Tommy Tuberville is a college football coach, and not a cowboy. And that if we're discussing college football coaches who are "desperate," maybe instead of discussing a coach who's enjoyed more success against his school's archrival than any other coach in his school's history, we should discuss the coach who was paid $6 million last year and still managed to lose his entire conference's only game to a non-BCS program, despite the fact that said conference included Ed Oregeron, Sylvester Croom, and the Vanderbilt Commodores? Eh?
Then again, maybe author "Shane" is using one of those so-called "metaphors" the cool kids are talking about these days, in which one thing is called another for the purposes of comparison. Perhaps the first paragraph will clear up the confusion:
The latest public relations maneuver (his high-profile trip to the Middle East) by Auburn head coach Thomas Hawley Tuberville spotlights his classless style. The trip should have been about honoring our great soldiers across the world in the Middle East. Instead, Tuberville – as he is prone to do – seized the opportunity to pull a sales job on the public.
Hmmm. No mention of spurs or horses or the Wild West or anything. I'm still confused.
We do have this, though:
Thomas Hawley Tuberville
Middle name = I are serious writer making serious point!
as well as
Which I'll let Ray Melick and Kevin Scarbinsky respond to***, being the lazy type myself:
Moving on, "Shane" writes
I’ve heard nothing from the media about Tommy’s perception of the experience, because his “seven finger flip-off” is the hottest topic on all the airwaves.
What this sentence literally says: "Because the media is so intensely discussing the seven-finger incident, the media has been unable to discuss the seven-finger incident with Tommy." At least, I think that's it: trying to follow this sentence's internal logic is like walking the stairs in that one Escher drawing.
Somebody will have to explain to me what that childish act really has to do with comforting our armed forces - but whatever floats his boat…
Funnily enough, despite the difficulties "Shane" mentioned the sentence before in finding "Tommy's perception of the experience," it was right there in a Scarbinsky column published a week before he posted. That's really weird he totally missed it.
Anyway, Tubby said the troops asked him to, so there's "Shane"'s explanation. I suppose he can be skeptical of the "the Alabama fan said it was OK" disclaimer if he likes, but somehow I don't think we're stretching the bounds of believability too thin to think the soldiers carrying Tubby off the football field might have been excited enough to ask Tubby to do something he's famous for doing when going off a football field.
(As an aside: I wish I could offer a precise measurement of the amount of irony generated by a 'Bama fan accusing an Auburn fan of blind faith in his head coach in the link above, but when I tried to get a reading my Irony-o-meter's needle jumped around all over the place and the screen shattered. Sorry.)
Everybody and anybody who can grab a mike, camera, or a pen seem to be convinced that Tubby’s actions will aid his recruiting efforts. Tuberville was recruiting? Apparently Tommy’s campaign to promote and highlight his trip in order to spread recruiting propaganda using certain media outlets has been somewhat successful.
In the future, when one of "Shane"'s inner voices interrupts his train of thought with a question like that, he probably shouldn't actually type it out.
As for Tubby using the trip for recruiting purposes, you know what I bet would have been an even more efficient way of working on Auburn's recruiting? Actually working on Auburn's recruiting, instead of going to freaking Iraq. (Also, even assuming Tubby agreed to come on this trip solely for illicit reasons (doubtful, given his family history), I find it hard to believe that if you asked the soldiers on that field if they'd rather have A) a popular, gregarious football coach join the tour because he could maybe get some kind of recruiting advantage out of it or B) not have the popular, gregarious football coach come over at all, that too many of them would pick option B. I would much rather have U.S. soldiers made happy for a few hours for the wrong reasons than soldiers not made happy for the alleged right ones.)
(Also also: if there are so many oodles of pieces out there arguing that this trip will help Tubby's recruiting, why are none of them linked?)
Face it – the man is desperate. Earlier this year Tuberville sends Jason Campbell and Brandon Cox (two former starting quarterbacks) to the top sports radio show in the South ...
Why, whatever show could he mean?
... with back-to-back interviews, while pitching the same message. Cox and Campbell were emphatic about their former coach’s ability to control his players and instill discipline. Each left the audience with the impression that coach Tub was “Bear” Bryant reincarnated as far as tough expectations are concerned. Ironically those appearances coincided with the recent arrest of an Alabama player. Who could blame them? There’s nothing like seizing an opportunity.
You have to give "Shane" credit here. In the interest of fairness, he's noted that Tubby smartly seized a public relations opportunity, even though that kind of cool calculation actively works against his portrayal of Tubby as a crazed, out-of-control recruit-at-all-costs gunslinger. That's what you call journalistic integrity. (You could also probably call it a screw-up.)
Finally, ole’ Hawley’s made the single-most radical move of his career. Tommy (or somebody) ...
Oooh! I know who! Red Herring!
... decided that “turn them in” Tony Franklin and his “Spread”, formerly the pride of the Troy Trojans, is going to enhance Auburn’s image enough to attract top offensive talent. It’s hard for those who’ve been familiar with Tuberville’s philosophy to believe he’s made such a strange hire. Even the most ardent believers in Tommy’s leadership capability have to be puzzled by this bizarre maneuver.
"Shane" should probably name or link to these alleged individuals who are "familiar with Tuberville's philosophy" and find the Franklin hire "hard to believe." Same goes for the "puzzled" "ardent believers," because as is, I'm guessing they don't actually exist. I believe this paragraph is an example of an ancient rhetorical device used by Plato, referred to by most language experts as "just making crap up."
Lately, every move that coach Tubs makes seems to be designed to counter the dynamic recruiting machine that Nick Saban is running across the State.
Of course, we should note that Saban built his dynamic recruiting machine to counteract Tubby's dynamic beating-the-tar-out-of-Alabama-every-single-year machine.
Also, the comprehensive list of "every move" Tubby has made in the offseason apparently consists of:
1. Hire Franklin
2. Go to Iraq
3. Send Cox and Campbell to do the top sports radio show in the South
Tommy has definitely modified his style in an attempt to compete with the biggest challenge he’s faced since his arrival on the Plains.
Yeah, Tommy never would have hired a coordinator with an unfamiliar system from outside the SEC or taunted Alabama in a public setting before Saban arrived.
Many Auburn fans claim Tubby isn’t worried and that everything is business as usual. They point to his recent record and the fact that Tommy just reloads athletes on a whim. However, there have been far too many new techniques deployed by Auburn’s head man and his crew since the last signing day for any reasonable person to believe that it could possibly be true.
Franklin hire date: Dec. 12. Signing Day: Feb. 6.
Revised comprehensive list of "new techniques":
1. Go to Iraq
2. Send Cox and Campbell to do the top sports radio show in the South
Yes, Tommy Tuberville is nervous. In the past he’s been called “The Gambler”, because he always knew when to hold them or when to fold them.
I would have said it had something to do with his penchant for calling fake kicks and whatnot early in his career. Is "know[ing] when to hold them or when to fold them" supposed to be an analogy for calling fake kicks? Because otherwise, I'm not sure what "Shane" is talking about here. Unless between this and the "desperate cowboy" title, he's making a convoluted reference to the 1994 Mel Gibson vehicle Maverick.
Holy crap! That's exactly what he's doing!
This time around, the evidence indicates something far different - - - he’s already laying all his cards on the table. His latest “seven-finger-flip-off”- in front of a world audience - is yet another publicity stunt that serves as a clear sign that Turberville [sic] is willing to do anything to regain recruiting momentum in order to chase down the master.
Or, he could have just thought it was something fun to do for the troops. You know, one or the other.
What's ... unfortunate is that this is pretty much the standard level of discourse at CR. Witness the post just a few days prior labeled "Tuberville: misanthrope," based on a couple of mild quotes about the media and recruiting services said during the same tour on which he was, you know, carried off an Iraqi field on the shoulders of a group of gleeful American servicemen ... that misanthrope.
To be fair, I think this particular subject line (and post) was delivered tongue-in-cheek, but just in case, I've come up with a few more topics for CR posts that will be just as accurate and insightful as "Tuberville is a desperate, misanthropic cowboy":
Tuberville: King of Prussia
Is this plague of frogs good for Tuberville?
Tubby is one talkative cosmetologist
Tommy "Can't Tie a Tie" Tuberville
Tuberville: Paper, or Plastic?
You get the point. I don't think much of the Capstone Report.
But there's a larger point here, too. There's a lot of blogs out there I don't think much of. But the JCCW hasn't made--and isn't going to make--a habit out of giving them the same treatment, since in 99 percent of cases, bad blogs simply don't get read and quietly sink into the Internet ether. (Hell, that's happened to any number of good blogs, too.) There's no point.
The CR, on the other hand, isn't sinking. They've succeeded, though not through providing quality writing or honest, insightful analysis, but through one provident connection and the blog equivalent of prolonged talk-radio screaming. And now the state's most followed, most widely read media presence has presented that screaming as the face of the Alabama blogosphere.
To put it as politely as I can: that sucks. The standard of discourse and analysis from any number of blogs on both sides of the Iron Bowl divide is so far beyond CR's brand of tripe, labeling the source of posts like "Tuberville is one desperate cowboy" "highly respected" (as Finebaum does) is nothing short of deliberate misrepresentation.
Because, honestly, what reason do the likes of "Shane" give us to respect them? Finebaum is free to send his many, many readers the the Capstone Report if he likes. But I am likewise free to scrape CR posts like the ones above off my shoes and ask the few readers I have, Tide and Tiger alike: Please, from this point forward, for the good of this medium--go elsewhere. Finebaum has already poisoned the well for Alabama's college football followers at the MSM level; I, for one, would really prefer to see the third-rate Chinese knockoff version of Finebaum stopped from doing the same to the blogosphere.
*At the time of the original posting. To be fair, CR primary author, um, "CR" has shifted focus a bit since then.
**Not that we're not, of course, this post itself being a prime example. I just tire of the idea, so popular amongst Tide supporters, that Tiger fans are irrepressibly 'Bama-fixated while Tide fans keep their minds and attention perfectly Auburn-free until they (oops!) happen to read the wrong Auburn-related website, come across the wrong Auburn-related newspaper article, accidentally listen to the wrong Auburn-related radio program, etc. Both sides are always going to be rabidly, insatiably interested in what the other is up to, particularly during the long and arduous offseason; we should just admit it and enjoy our, uh, rabidity.
***HT: Wire and Shug