New Year's Resolutions

With 2007 out the door, 2008 has now arrived. Kyle Lamb looks back on 2007 and forward to the new year. He also talks about everyone's least favorite OSU alum-turned-analyst, Kirk Herbstreit.

I’d just recently sent Kirk Herbstreit a Christmas card and no sooner than the ball drops in Times Square, I see more of the ESPN blasphemy.

Herbstreit, a blasphemer by association, dared to tow his company’s line of preposterous controversy, erring against the side of his partial roots. He suggested that super-recruit Terrelle Pryor may benefit from choosing Michigan – a place other than his alma-mater Ohio State.

And now, I wish to renege on my Christmas wishes to “Herbie” and his declared impartiality.

You see, it’s all part of my New Year’s resolution to block out any and all objectivity in this world. Any sensible prognostications or opining be damned, as I hope 2007 goes out with whimper and 2008 arrives with a subjective bang.

As compelling as it is to hate the talking heads and national pundits for their glaring shock value, attempts to create viewership (or listenership) with whatever audience gets fed up at the jabs going their team’s direction, I believe Herbstreit has solemnly been dubbed No. 1-most hated “analyst” in Columbus, Ohio. Surpassing the title formerly held by his 1460 The Fan co-host, Bruce Hooley.

Herbstreit goes to work in Bristol, Conn., home of ESPN studios, and boldly does what every other Disney sports analyst is paid to do: ruffle feathers. That Dennis Dodd, Pat Forde, Herbstreit or Tim Brando has a method to their madness has become lost upon patrons of Ohio State athletics. Or for that matter, it’s not just Ohio State fans that suffer from an inferiority complex – it’s every team named (insert fan base here).

But for some reason, Herbstreit is the guy that’s supposed to be different. He’s the one that shames his alma mater on Saturday afternoons and evenings, then returns to Columbus radio on Tuesday and puts on his Buckeye happy face, and sugarcoats the masses with bias and warmth. Or sometimes, he takes the antagonistic approach, and just riles people up even more when he, “calls it like he sees it.”

I won’t be taken, Herbstreit. I won’t stand for this standard practice of typical journalistic standards. Of course, if the truth be told, the code of ethics that formerly bonded journalism in television and print media has morphed into a “this is the way it works” type of normality. In other words, reporting the news has been replaced with racy editorials.

Need proof? Just take a gander at any major sports news network’s website after a big event. Tell me if you see an AP type of recap in the lead or more of a columnist’s take.

In other words, there’s a lesson here:  you can either accept Herbstreit for what he is – a run-of-the mill analyst/journalist, or you can roll with the punches and add him to Santa’s “naughty” list like I have, and he’ll be getting a lump of coal next Christmas just like Brando, Dodd, Mark May and Ivan Maisel. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. “Herbie” is just a pawn in this game of creating controversy.

If you remember that, perhaps you won’t feel the need to outwardly curse him through your television sets the next time he says something less-than-glowing about the Buckeyes. And as an ironic aside, Michigan fans think he’s completely biased toward Ohio State.

Think about that, for a second.

I guess Herbie the Love Bug has become an unlovable pest ‘round these parts.

Season’s Greetings

I don’t know about you, but I cannot complain about this past Christmas holiday too much. Santa Claus left plenty of nice little goodies under my tree this year.

Last year, it seems as though Florida made a deal with the devil. Santa had an abundance of gifts for Gainesville, giving them a National Championship in both football and basketball to kick off 2007. Three victories (two in basketball, one in football) came at the expense of the Buckeyes.

So excuse me for being sick of seeing teams becoming sacrificial Gator bait, and instead, see Gator get served up on a platter this year as the young basketball Buckeyes bucked the trend beating Florida 62-49. Then, to kick off ’08 in style, Michigan overcame a four-year bowl drought to “win one for the Gipper,” head coach Lloyd Carr, in his final game at UM.

It’s not that I don’t like Florida. In actuality, I have a lot of respect for coaches Urban Meyer and especially Billy Donovan. What’s not to like? They’re both young, energetic and attract plenty of talent. Neither is too abrasive or too cocky to embrace.

 But this Christmas was more than some Southern cuisine.

Though I respect the mellow, traditional songs of Bing Crosby, Andy Williams and Dan Fogleberg, I simply prefer rocking out to the psychedelic tunes of the Trans Siberian Orchestra. And of course, I also watched my all-time favorite Christmas movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

I must have been a nice boy in 2007, as I was pretty satisfied with my holiday season. Who was naughty and who was nice this past year? Let’s take a look.

Naughty: The NCAA. These geniuses are the master of overreactions. While blatant cheaters are surely running wild out there in the wacky world of collegiate recruiting, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is cracking down on reporter’s blogging habits and trying to outright eliminate text messaging all together. I’ll tell you this, NCAA, when I contribute to your multi-billion dollar CBS contract watching the NCAA Tournament over the internet on March Madness on Demand, if I’m in the arena covering a game, I’ll be sure to blog, blog, blog away just to spite you.

Nice: Tony Romo’s girlfriends. Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson has been a pretty good 1-2 punch for up-and-coming signal-caller Romo. The Cowboys’ quarterback is apparently very good in his hot reads, and I would invite either singing sensation to my huddle any time they want.

Naughty: Terrelle Owens. I know, duh, right? Is Simpson really a distraction to Tony, or perhaps is she distracting you T.O.? Or maybe, she’s not really a distraction at all which makes you a different sort of naughty (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Nice: ESPN (somewhat). The bad boys in Bristol behaved rather well (thus far) for the recent news regarding Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and his apparent self-reported NCAA violations. The Ohio State compliance department alerted the NCAA that Tressel broke the rules last year when flying Stan White and Anthony Gonzalez on a private jet, after they were no longer going to be eligible for the Buckeyes. ESPN elected not to exaggerate the issue. Much kudos is in order to the family of networks for being nice(r).

 Naughty: Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. For sake of time, and considering it’s quite obvious, there’s no need to elaborate.

Nice: Rich Rodriguez. The West Virginia alum and former football coach saved Michigan from what could have been a disastrous coaching search. Unless Les Miles would have had a change of heart (publicly) for the third time, the Wolverines were looking at Brady Hoke as their likely replacement.

Naughty: The WVU fans that are now making death threats to Rodriguez for leaving, and acting like he’s a traitor. Rodriguez got himself a $500,000 raise, added about 40,000 more fans to his home games and will recruit to a school that has nearly 200 more victories. Oh, Rodriguez will still have to scrap for pennies, as he went from one frugal administration to another, but at least this one has more pennies to throw around. But to folks in West Virginia, who could blame him?

Nice: The Michigan Stadium renovation. Take a gander at some pictures of the now-in-progress renovation, and even the most biased Buckeye fans must confess: it looks good. It’s a hole in the ground, but at least now it looks to be a nice hole.

More New Year’s Resolutions:

·         In an attempt to become more slightly more slender, and eat healthier, I vow to concentrate on calcium, vitamins and protein and cut down on the calorie and fat intake. Perhaps this will translate into SEC speed. May I be blessed with uncanny foot speed for a damn’ Yankee.

·         In hopes of eliminating recruiting drama, I wish to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem that plagues the recruiting landscape. Pampered high school athletes and fans’ five-star obsessions have created a game of suspense, playing media types (both print and internet) like a fiddle in hopes of making a dramatic press-conference announcement to disclose a college choice. Blogs, message board cravings and online diaries have not helped, but I believe a reduction in coverage could shape the next wave of high school recruits into a more grounded bunch. It’s not the fault of the current kids though. We’re molding them this way as a society.

·         Lastly, what I crave more than anything more is a playoff system in college football’s Bowl Subdivision. I’ll kidnap every detractor on earth, if that’s what it takes, including E. Gordon Gee. And before anyone calls their local authorities that some smalltime Ohio State reporter is making kidnapping threats, consider this a joke. Think of the scene from Christmas Vacation where Cousin Eddie, played convincingly by Randy Quaid, kidnaps Clark Griswald’s boss, Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray) to pressure him into giving Christmas bonuses to all his employees as he had done in years past. Let’s bombard the who’s who of college football until they acquiesce totally to playoffs.

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