We're set to kick off the awards for today with the nod for best writing. Fortunately, this is an easy award, since even if we were to pull a caper and name our own recipient for the award, we would end up using the actual winner. The wisdom of crowds worked to perfection here, just as it did in Rwanda, Germany and Cambodia. (Um, we'll edit those examples on the second draft. Why didn't we win this award again, dammit?)
Soundtrack: Paperback Writer, of course, featuring one of three times in the Beatles oeuvre where Ringo Starr got to drum like a badass.
Best Writing: Runner-up. There's quantity and quality, and rarely the two shall meet. (College Football News, Sauron's eye is upon you and unblinking!) One of the few to combine the two is T. Kyle King, the proprietor of Dawg Sports and a legal brief-spouting font of delicious policy wonkage nimbly soldering together human intelligence, humor, and the awkward bits of logic that makes up illogic of large orders like the NCAA's Recruiting Rules.
A prime example of Kyle's tasty wonkage, which is really when he's at his best:
In a classic example of self-interested actors working to everyone's economic advantage through the invisible hand, the C.F.A. heightened the popularity and marketability of college football, which boosted everyone's exposure and revenue, for the have nots as well as for the haves. Anyone who doubts that proposition needs to stand in front of the mirror and ask himself this question: "Are Boise State's, West Virginia's, and, heck, Georgia Tech's football programs better off or worse off because ESPN televises Thursday night games?" These W.A.C., Big East, and A.C.C. teams are not a part of the B.C.S. "Oligarchic" Super Division, but they are beneficiaries (however unintended) of the C.F.A.'s efforts. John F. Kennedy was right that a rising tide lifts all boats.
Kyle will pull no mystical shrouds of beautiful bullshit vapor over your eyes, but he will crank out lucid, pointed, and taut prose inevitably leading to some argument or another that you, pinned in an armbar of logic, cannot wriggle out of of without resorting to insult, calumny, or lies. Thankfully, in all of our disagreements with Kyle, we always have an ample supply of all of these handy.
And the winner is...
Sunday Morning Quarterback. The pinnacle of college football writing today. Today, anywhere, anyone, anywhere. He's a better prose constructionist than any of them, a one-man set of Wonder Twins capable of morphing into whatever tool you need. (In case you wonder which cartoon character we'd be, it's Meatwad, the character with three presets: moron, bridge, and hot dog.)
A girl on each arm like he's on Elimadate: SMQ wins.
SMQ: Um, Illinois. The Fighting Illini? He was decked out...he didn't mention he got fired at Florida, like, more than two years ago?
AB: The Fightin' what? Where the hell is that?
SMQ: Illinois? It's...Illinois.
SMQ: They were, um, 2-10 last year. Last place in the Big Ten.
AB: This be some bull shit.
Lucidly analytical and vivacious? Check:
But in Scarbinsky's case, he makes no value judgments. Just an observation: in spite of his reputation, Nick Saban is not a Terminator who takes no prisoners. If Bama partisans want a face-stomping monolith who will icily excise every potential misdemeanor impulse from his players out of sheer fear, they - like every other team - will have to lower their rigid expectations to reality. In its complete absence of finger-wagging alone, Scarbinsky's column is a beacon of the form compared to the utopian do-gooding of Freeman and John Adams and the like.
Journalism that helps readers better understand its subject with nary a soapbox? In football? In a newspaper? What a concept.
Outlandishly brainy and bitchy? Yup:
I think anyone with any experience on a college campus (whch includes Freeman, I think, his history of bogus credentials notwithstanding) can say with a good degree of certainty: kids drink, fight and smoke pot everywhere. All the time. That is a prototypical college experience in a nutshell, and not remotely worth this kind of effort unless people are actually getting hurt and/or locked up. Tennessee players engaging in run-of-the-mill misdemeanors have the misfortune of getting caught at an unusually high rate, just like the poor cavalcade of underage drinkers at Georgia. His program looks bad, but Fulmer is right to respond to this overexcited finger-wagging: if every beer, joint, shove and ill-advised ride home committed by college players was caught by the police and reported in the paper, and every coach held to this standard, there'd either be no coaches left, or the athletic dorms of America would look like Guantanamo Bay.
Again, no one's better. No one. Strip the gears, rebuild the engine, pop the restrictor plate off the engine, and he's still lapping you on the ovals, short tracks, and road courses. Our own words are an insult to his fine writing, writing you may find at any spot on his site. We'll stop typing now and just bow in the general direction of Austin, Texas, and declare you the winnah. We suggest you, reader, do the same. Congrats, SMQ. We promise/threaten to do our best to burn your superior brain out with alcohol the next time we see you.
Next up: Best ACC blog over at RTT.