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MIKE FREEMAN BOLDLY DEFENDS CHRIS LEAK'S RIGHT TO MEANINGLESS PRIZES.

A great rhetorical device in politics is boldly asserting a value or viewpoint no one save the most bloodthirsty, depraved psychopath would dare disagree with, thereby implying that your opponent likes eat babies/run over the poor in his Bentley while chuckling and wearing a top hat/send naked Polaroids to Osama Bin Laden using stamps paid for by tax-payers. Whether you agree with the agenda or not, one of the funniest examples of this for us is saying you're "for life," as if your opponent will boldly assert his pro-death stance, put on a bull's skull cap, and immediately rip the heart out of the moderator's chest on camera.


Actually, Senator, I AM pro-death.

It's just an example of cowardly, meaningless rhetoric in service of provocation and nothing more, forever shifting the actual argument to excitable talking points instead of actual substance. Segue to Mike Freeman's column on CBS Sportsline about Chris Leak's manhandling by Urban Meyer, a prime example of cowardly, meaningless rhetoric in service of an architect devoid of imagination, intellect, or a functioning gear besides "hack-ish columnistspeak."

Yes, this will be a fisking, but as a challenge to ourselves, we will dismantle Freeman's column without the benefit of profanity.

Yes, we're shaking a bit just typing this, but we can do it, dammit. Actually, we can't do it, so we asked Mike to share some of his wisdom with us and fisk his own piece. Enjoy:

Mike Freeman, who was fired from the Indianapolis Star for claiming a degree from the University of Delaware he never earned, begins with this:


Mike Freeman lets you in the mind of a master.

Some coaches love to look smart. They get all gooey inside when appearing more radiant than the next guy. They embrace humility in public and then when the cameras are off chuckle about disemboweling the coach on the other sideline or out-filming him in the film room.

Some coaches are the most egotistical, glory seeking people you will ever meet.

Which brings me to Urban Meyer.

MF: Some coaches like to be total two-faced charlatans. Which is just what I just called Urban Meyer without actually doing it! Journalizm izz EZ! And by admitting that in public and even on the sidelines Urban Meyer usually keeps his head down, acts in a subdued manner, and doesn't even break a smile after scoring the most ballyhooed retro touchdown of the year, I've managed to plant the seed in the readers' mind without actually relying on even the slimmest of anecdotal evidence.

Better still, I've concealed any and all knowledge behind a cloak of "journalistic privilege," which not only allows me to stab away happily, but convince you that this column is a favor, a peek behind the scenes that you can only get with your buddy Mike Freeman, who lied about getting a degree despite working a profession living and dying by its fact-checking.

Excellent coach, decent guy, kinda smirky. He coaches the rapidly ascending Florida Gators, a team that has a good chance to go undefeated this year.

They might be the most purely talented team in college football. They might have more NFL players on that roster than even Ohio State or Texas.

MF:Perhaps you thought I, Mike Freeman had some kind of bias running here based on the fact that Meyer, whose press conferences have been prison gruel bland and generally distrusts the media, has been more Lloyd Carr and less Steve Spurrier with the public. I counter this by saying he's decent, just as someone with a law degree from Yale and a keen understanding of rhetoric would! And that his team is talented, no less! And lest you think I'm too chummy here, I call him "smirky" just to reinforce the ad hominem undercurrent. I didn't ask for these powers--I was just born lucky ol' Mike Freeman! I'm going to go masturbate to my own reflection while you read the next bit.

Yet there is no better example of a coach wanting to look like Stephen Hawking at the expense of his own players than what Meyer is doing now. Namely, Meyer is building his clip file and cameo highlights on network television at the expense of Chris Leak, the most under-appreciated player in recent college football history.

MF: I read stuff. I watch Nova. Stephen Hawking, you see, invented the black hole. And he's got cancer, and has to sit in a wheelchair and talk with a Speak 'N Spell. Urban thinks he's that smart. I'd be betraying my Ph.D. in astrophysics from U of I, Champaign-Urbana if I didn't point that out.

I also haven't watched Chris Leak struggle against fast defenses in the red zone in this offense, sailing tipped passes through the back of the endzone and making toothless run-fakes. But that would detract from my point, which is that Urban is a preening jerk of a coach, something they've never, ever had at Florida before. Oh, for the days of humble Galen Hall!

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Meyer is screwing Leak out of a potential Heisman so Meyer can look like he's the smartest guy in the room.

MF: Make no mistake about it. Meyer is making quarterback Tim Tebow -- the backup, the rock star, the television series, the prophet, the galactic emperor -- the star of this Gators team while diminishing Leak.

And the Heisman, in case you didn't know, is way, way important. Doesn't Meyer care about having Leak mentioned in the same breath as Jason White? Or Eric Crouch? Doesn't he understand that this is a team sport, and that the greatest and most noble calling of a coach is to put his players into positions for shiny trophies and endorsement deals?

Another thing: any time you say, "Not to put too fine a point on it," that's exactly what you're about to do. Another little insider's insight from your buddy Mike, ol' boy. No charge for that one.

Meyer is using a crowd pleasing, freakish, circus-like, two-quarterback, ham-hocked, stunt-fest, LeakBow offense, and in the process undercutting Leak and ending any chance Leak has to sneak into the Heisman race.

Leak will be the only guy in the history of the NCAA to lose the Heisman to his backup.

Man, that's just rich.

MF: Again I give 'em the shake 'n bake! By rich, I really don't mean that. In fact, I imply that Leak will lose the Heisman to Tebow here and can't even possibly meant that. I also accuse him of running a two-quarterback system just to show how brilliant he is, which has also never happened with success at Florida before.

Leak is doomed when it comes to the Heisman. Finis. Kaput. Why would anyone vote for Leak when the perception around the country is Florida runs a two-quarterback system?

I have never seen a talented senior quarterback, who has never been arrested, never publicly mouthed off, always the good soldier, treated this shabbily by his coach. It is awful what Meyer is doing to Leak. No amount of positive pub or Jeremy Foley bullying of the media will change that.

MF: I've really never seen this before. Someone sent me an email mentioning this "Major Applewhite." A fake name if I've ever heard? Was he in F Troop? Wacky television reference in the house! Being a former senior editor at Esquire, I'm more than capable of pulling this stuff off in my sleep.

And Jeremy Foley really does bully the media. Really. Doubt me? He actually beat Pat Dooley bloody with a barstool last Wednesday night, and nearly brained me with a flying beer mug. He can be so scary! Sometimes I don't ask questions just because of the berserker gleam in his eye. He's killed before...I just know it.

How you can make up your mind about a quarterback after only having three years of game tape on him? It's an outrage.

Can somebody please challenge Meyer on this? Can we stop being so giddy over something that is more gimmick than genuine?

MF: Another insider's tip from Journo-Ranger Mike: don't ever, ever let results, evidence, or facts obscure the truth. Use powerful words like "gimmick" so that everyone feels cheated, since most people do. You don't have to call someone a fraud to get people to think he is! Journolizm iz EZ!!!111

The leading Heisman candidate is Troy Smith from Ohio State. If the Buckeyes go undefeated, he deserves the honor and will likely get it. Yet Leak is right there. When you are the starting quarterback for the hottest team in the nation, the second-ranked team in the country, you have a great shot at winning the award. Normally you do, that is.

Leak should be in the hunt, but he isn't because Meyer insists on looking professorial by running his LeakBow spread gizmo.

MF: You know, I'll let you in on a little something here. Sometimes Mike Freeman has a little...difficulty, we'll say, in getting the ladies to drop digits. And people talk, I know they do. They say, "Mike! Buddy! How about using aftershave? Or maybe...soap?" But that's just using a tool you don't need, man. I let the ladies take me as I am, and if "eau de Freeman" doesn't reel 'em in like Bassmasters, then they're not the fish I'm looking for.

Perfect example: I've never used a putter in golf. Who needs one when a driver does the job just fine? Ditto for a sand wedge or a five-iron. If you're not leaving divots the size of hairpieces in your wake on the course, then you're just not playing real golf. My handicap, by the way, is 0.

It's just about using the tools you've got. Anything less is just fraud.

The LeakBow is not nearly as effective as it is made out to be by fans and some in the media. Tebow is basically a glorified fullback. Florida would still be undefeated if Tebow had stayed on the bench where he belonged.

MF: I'm on fire at this point, as you can see. I can even make statements like the fact that Florida would be undefeated at this point without Tebow, which no one can possibly prove either way, and readers will just slide along like the brainless slugs they are. The main point: readers will believe anything they read in a column. They're like little Ron Burgundies: put it on the teleprompter, and they'll say it even if it's completely unverifiable.

To wit: I once accused Dom Capers of being a mountain goat that could walk on his hind legs and wear a headset. Look where he is now!

Tebow can have his turn next year, can't he? What's the rush?

That jump-pass by Tebow against LSU was Pop Warner; it was the stuff we did in high school football. What Division I coach pulls that crap? A showoff, that's who.

Meyer screams: "Look at me! Look at me! Look at how cute I can be!" He is a show-boater, strutting and preening, doing so at the expense of his starter.

MF: Again, the "gelatinous reader" thing: cut your best stuff into tiny, digestible bits so people can really, really savor it. Imagine it's a sizzler special at Applebee's; you wouldn't want to just cram all that goodness in your gullet at once, would you? No, savor it slowly in measured bites. That spicy, tangy goodness takes time and a generous accompaniment of 2 for 1 daquiris to make it work, which I know thanks to my degree from Johnson and Wales Culinary Academy.

And again, just because something works does not mean it's good. Evidence, schmevidence should be the rule. Journo-Ranger Mike is letting all the tricks out of the bag today, but when you're a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, you've got some to share.

Leak is steaming over this. He won't say it but it he is. Look at every Heisman quarterback hopeful in recent history. None of them had a head coach trying to force-feed a freshman into the lineup.

MF: Again, I keep getting these crazy emails about that F Troop guy. People, I watch Nick at Nite, too!

I assert here that Leak is steaming. Who knows if he is? That would require evidence and work, which is totally a drag. Just assert it and move on as an Oxford man like myself would.

Did Pete Carroll treat Matt Leinart this way? Does the human sweater vest in Columbus try some two-thrower shenanigans? Did Vince Young look over his shoulder? Is Brady Quinn splitting time with a freshman?

No, no, no and no.

MF: Again, these emails about Ohio State and Texas using two quarterbacks in the past. People, the past is old and smells funny, so don't bring it up, okay? (I know this for a fact: Master's in History, UT Austin '91, y'all!) Why don't you just send me an email about how much better Betamax is, or how they need to bring back Misfits of Science, huh? Hey-O! (I saw that bit on a blog. Those things are so raw!)

Answer your own questions, too. Remember: your readers are adorable, clueless chimps who need direction and firm rules. Keeping that in mind, here's the roundup. Remember: slow. It. Down. Not only do you keep their eyes firmly on the bananas, but readers will never suspect you're padding space in your column! You're that much closer to those daquiris!

Meyer will win multiple national championships. Who knows, maybe he will win one this year.

But in doing so, he will have tossed one of his own players to the wolves.

Or the Gators.

MF: Always, always, always end with a dramatic generalization of doom, condemnation, or moralizing pablum. Turns 'em on every time. See? I've just written a whole column about the individual taking precedence over the team and made it seem noble, justified, and righteous when in fact I'll crank out a column saying the exact opposite thing tomorrow. In fact, I could have written a final line at the end and really gotten some reaction. Watch:

Meyer will win multiple national championships. Who knows, maybe he will win one this year.

But in doing so, he will have tossed one of his own players to the wolves.

Or the Gators.

OR THE ENTIRE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.

Now that's got some kick, sonny! But being a graduate of the London School of Economics, I understand the need to spread out your resources carefully. The power of being a columnist, even one for CBS Sportsline, has its limits. That's just Ranger Mike looking out for you again.