By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
NEW YORK -- As you know, I'm not a big fan of the cheap and easy insults that fly around the blogosphere. Many, but not all, bloggers clamor for access to pro and college teams with little success, and while I'm a new member of the community, I feel like a 15-year news career means I'm qualified enough to assert that the mean-spirited nature of the genre doesn't help their cause.
Trash talking behind the safety of your laptop with somebody who you'll never see face to face is not a good look this fall.
An intelligent, or at least open-minded discourse is what I prefer, but then I have to remind myself that we're talking about college football. Fans of this particular entertainment form are not reasonable people. I'm not saying that to be cute; I really think fans of all sports can be idiots.
I once wore my Cleveland Indians cap to an interleague game at tradition-steeped Cinergy Field, Astroturf and all, against the Cincinnati Reds. It was sometime around 2000. It was a little later in the season, and I think the Indians were contending for a playoff spot. I watched a great battle between lefties Denny Neagle and Chuck Finley. Another lefty, Russell Branyan, came to bat with a man on first, two outs, and his Indians trailing, 2-1, in the top of the ninth.
Branyan lined a shot into the left-field corner that was an easy double. The Indians' third-base coach waved his guy home, but the left-fielder grabbed it cleanly, rifled a frozen walnut to Barry Larkin, who relayed home for the game-ending out at the plate. My squad lost, but more importantly, I'd just watched a great baseball game on a gorgeous Friday night in a playoff atmosphere at an otherwise boring ballpark.
And when trash talkers busted me for the logo they saw on my hat, it just sounded, felt and looked so juvenile. Does anyone's life truly get better or worse because a sports team full of people you'll never meet won or lost?
My point is this: root for your squad, for sure, but relax for a second and accept that you have nothing to do with your favorite team's success or the failure of its rivals.
I bring this up because although I've quickly become a fan of spartyandfriends.com, the Comments section after a Big Ten preview post has devolved into that oh-so-tiresome-my-conference-is-better-than-yours shouting match.
When will people start to accept the cyclical nature of things? All things come full circle. Do we not remember that elites like USC, Oklahoma and Penn State, for example, were down for a spell before a recent resurgence in the last decade?
I'm all for a hearty and spirited debate, but don't change the rules after it's started. If you want to blast Ohio State for losing four or five big games in the last three or four seasons, or the Big Ten overall for its inability to win bowl games, go ahead and do it. But if someone fires a shot at your squad for its own shortcomings in recent years, don't talk about all-time winning percentages, because that's a conversation for which Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State will all be glad to pull up a chair.