FRIDAY FACT-CHECKING: TERENCE MOORE

Being a columnist for a year wouldn't be so bad. You wake up, get your coffee on, and then amble over to the computer to type a few grafs of palatable banter often completely unsupported by fact or figure. Sounds a lot like being a blogger, actually, minus the constant risk of being fired and the remuneration for your thoughts thing. (Sadly, we've discovered that the road to owning our own silver hot tub filled with pudding does not lie in a business strategy based on BlogAds revenue. Shocking stuff, we know.)

Being a columnist for a lifetime sounds like a living hell, though. It starts with the small things; first you notice that all your conversations take exactly four paragraphs. Second, you begin taping a small, flattering picture of yourself to every piece of correspondence, including personal checks and UPS delivery notices. Finally, you find your self addressing the world like someone confined by the cold iron bars of the Sports Page sidebar. How does a columnist dump his wife?

Lately, it hasn't been that bad.

It hasn't been that good, either.

It's time for a trade.

Now.


Being a columnist will kill you. So will Russian dentistry. Ask Lewis.

The degeneration of Terence Moore as a columnist for the AJC has been one of the paper's more saddening yet fascinating spectacles over the past decade, and a prime example of what we're talking about. Imagine watching a clip of an eighty-year old riddled with cancer taunting a lion into attacking him on the savanna and ending his agony. That's what it's become to read Terence Moore.

Take last Tuesday's column about the Irish coming to Tech for their season opener, where Terence Moore blows some significant unbroken column space talking about what a potentially bad idea it is to simultaneously create piles of cash and national buzz (pun intended) by playing Notre Dame for their first game. Moore's argument?

You’d think The Notre Dame Game was The Georgia Game or something. No, bigger. Thus a problem for a Tech program trying to end its seven-victory-a-season blahs under coach Chan Gailey.

Let’s just say The Georgia Game always brings out the wildest of feelings for Tech people at the end of the season. Now, with much help from Notre Dame just being Notre Dame, and with the national mania already surrounding Charlie Weis in his second season as the Irish’s miracle worker, and with these jacked-up tickets at Tech to create even more hype for The Notre Dame Game, the Jackets could lose even if they win. Translated: Tech players could become an emotional mess for the rest of the season no matter what.

Because Tech's used to leading off the season with total cupcakes like...Auburn, who they beat last year and played tight the year before. Or in 2003, when they played BYU across the country at Provo and lost in their opener before playing Auburn and then Florida state in a brutal three game stretch to finish at Chan Gailey Equilibrium, a mathematical figure equivalent roughly to 7-5. (If Chan Gailey plays you in anything, by the way, he will win exactly 58.3 percent of the time. We all have talents. Chan's is having a mathematical tendency associated with everything he attempts.) Tech's problem hasn't been tight or loose scheduling--it's been Chan Gailey, who will get you the same product every single time no matter if he's fielding a squad of Nandralone-fueled sex offenders or a team of sleep-deprived midgets. Either team would lose inexplicably to UNC before handing Miami a shocker loss to finish at CGE, because that's what his brand of football is designed to do.

In the language Tech students speak: Mr. 58.3%

Worse yet, Moore takes columnist license and makes up facts. Por ejemplo:

Not coincidentally, those in charge of such things at the University of Texas stirred up their already wired faithful even more for The Notre Dame Game in 1996. They made that the afternoon in which they dedicated what was Memorial Stadium to former Longhorns coach Darrell Royal.

We’re talking Darrell Royal, as in Texas’ Knute Rockne.

...It’s just that Notre Dame whipped the previously undefeated Longhorns that day in front of their Rockne, and Texas lost six of its last 11 games.

We'll start with a quibble: a 27-24 victory does not qualify as a whipping. Edging, yes. Flat-out beating, sure. Whipping? Texas' 66-3 loss to UCLA the following year in 1997 is a whipping. 27-24 is a sound but close victory. Sit in the ball-turret gunner's position of columnist long enough, and even the verbiage starts slipping.

What should never slip is the fact-checking. Moore says Texas lost six of its last eleven games, which did indeed happen...in Terencemooreland, where lily-white SEC crowds toss burning feces at every black football player. (Terence, when cornered, is fond of playing the race card.) In our plane of reality, Texas actually went 6-4 the rest of the way, won its half of the Big 12, and then pulled the stunner in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska, rolling out James Brown on fourth and nothing to make a long first down and allowing Florida to squeak into the national title game for Spurrier's only title in Gainesville. (Go ahead, look it up. Terence didn't.)

Being mediocre is to be expected from a columnist. But being factually incorrect? That's blogger territory, Terence, and we'd be more than happy to help you set up a Blogspot account. Plus Moore fails to consider that the Texas team in question, which had Ricky Williams and Priest Holmes in the backfield, had John Mackovic at the helm, who put more talent to the furnace of mediocrity than any coach prior to Phil Fulmer 2005. In fact, his demolition of the 1997 season begs for a full-length management study, so thorough was its ineptitude. But that would mess with Moore's premises, which is the last thing a columnist would want.


It's that guy's fault over there , right?

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