No Nuance in the Narrative

ATHENS – When talking about sports we often let emotion get in the way of fact.

I was watching TV Wednesday – which is something I really shouldn't do considering the quality of analysts on TV these days – when out popped the overused and exaggerated line we've all gotten used to hearing:

"Aaron Murray can't win the big game."

I tried my best, and succeeded, in not throwing the remote through the TV – not because Murray has been a superstar in "big games", but because the line has been used so much analysts just assume it to be true… the facts be damned.

Consider: Aaron Murray and Georgia have lost two games against traditional rivals (Georgia Tech, Auburn and Florida) since he took over as quarterback. I know rivalries are not considered "big games" by a lot of national pundits, but I can assure you any time Georgia plays in one of those games it is a big game.

Exhibit A: This should ende the Murray-can't-win stupidity in its tracks – #10 Georgia 17, #2 Florida 9.

That's a big game.

That's a win in a big game.

That's a win in a big game where Aaron Murray was the quarterback.

That's a win in a big game where Aaron Murray threw the game-winning pass.

But I surrender – the TV talking heads say Murray can't (even though he has) win the big game… fine. I know facts are not always allowed on TV.

My issue with the Aaron-Murray-can't-win-the-big-game silliness several fold.

First – Just say he doesn't play well in "big games", because there have been numerous times for sure that has been the case.

Murray has struggled against South Carolina and Florida, and that's where the bulk of this criticism comes from. He's had a hard time performing in all of those games for sure. That's an accurate portrait of what's going on.

Just say that – say that and you are right all of the time.

Has he played poorly in all of Georgia's "big game" losses? No. Has he played well in all of Georgia's big game wins? No.

Murray played great against Auburn in 2010 (15 for 28 for 273 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions) and Georgia lost. He played really bad for three quarters against the Gators in 2012, but had the game-winning throw in the fourth quarter (Murray was 12 for 24 for 150 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions… yuck).

To say he doesn't play well in big games – that's not always true. But it's totally inaccurate to say he doesn't win big games… because he has.

Second – Is there no nuance left in sport? I mean if you are getting paid to "analyze" college football, shouldn't you really analyze it – not just regurgitate what is not really fact? I mean, you are allowed to do your own research, and discover what is fact and what is fiction.

Has "analysis" of college football gotten so low on TV now that people just say what they have heard over and over rather than what is true? Is a loss to a ranked team held against Murray more than a win over a ranked team? It sure seems that way, and that's what seems to be going on here. Murray and the Dawgs are 4-6 against ranked foes in the last two years. That's fine… not an unreal record, but you would have thought he's never been on a team that's beaten anyone other than Coastal Carolina before if you were to tune into TV these days.

And yet this information isn't classified – Edward Snowden isn't releasing it every now and then. Its widely available in media guides and on this thing call the Internet, or "The Googles" as it is known from time to time.

I know it shouldn't, but it amazes me how little research these "analysts" put into their job. One today was showing highlights of how Alec Ogletree, who doesn't play for Georgia any more, didn't hustle to the ball. Was there no footage of Amarlo Herrera loafing available? Go ahead and "analyze" Ken Malcome not hitting the hole hard, too – that's just as relevant.

Perhaps the better term would be "critic" rather than analyst – because that would be a better portrayal of what's going on. I mean, really, if these folks were just called critics it would make a lot more sense because the word analyst implies some detailed examination of the subject matter, but it seems obvious that's not the case.

But what do I really expect? I mean, Lou Holtz, amazingly, is still propped up in front of a camera, so standards are pretty low.

Finally – Have you heard anyone say that Teddy Bridgewater has never won the "big game" before? I haven't. You know how many wins over ranked teams Bridgewater has? Two. I'm not sure if he can win the "big game" or not, but he did beat Florida last season (wait, Murray did, too?) in the Sugar Bowl – and that means something. The other win over a ranked team for Bridgewater was a 38-35 win over West Virginia in 2011.

Now, like Murray, Bridgewater has some bad losses on his resume. Murray and Bridgewater both had a turnaround on their hands when they took on starting jobs at their schools, but Murray didn't get blown out by 8-5 Syracuse and lose to 5-7 Connecticut last year.

And yet there's no discussion of that when Bridgewater is discussed – only the win over Florida… that's all we hear about with him – just the Sugar Bowl.

The point? This really has nothing to do with Bridgewater. It has everything to do with what's wrong with "analysts" on TV.

There is a systematic lack of detail with a slew of TV talking heads. Many ignorantly continue narratives that are factually false about the subjects they discuss. It gets old and is the reason I don't watch much in the way of non-live sporting TV… its just not good quality.

I guess I am expecting steakhouse-like food, but I'm at the drive through. I should know better by now. TV is not always in the business of news – it is in the business of entertainment… and those are often two very different things.

I understand that this is the media world we live in – nuance is hard to deliver in print nevertheless in a two-minute segment. But I expect better; people subscribing to cable outlets that cover college football deserve and are paying for better – but they are not getting it.

Perhaps my disappointment is not alone. It could be one explanation as to the reason why one sports cable company lost just shy of than a million subscribers in two years, and had its viewership cut by a third in that same year.

Is it because Aaron Murray is being picked on? No – that's dumb – that's the sort of sophomoric analysis you hear daily on TV. It's not the reason. It's one very small reason that people get annoyed with TV these days.

At least mine just doesn't have a remote stuck in the middle of it… for now.

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