Ranting in the Garden

One of the founding publishers of the Blue & Gold News has run a column entitled "Rants & Raves" since his college days at the Daily Athenaeum, and it's one that I've enjoyed since I first started reading it more than 20 years ago. Although I have my own somewhat inventive name for my own irregular column on this site, I am making a one-time change for this edition, because part of his column title is a perfect fit for it.

Bob Bucy, who started the Blue & Gold News with Greg Hunter some 17 years ago, is the author of that column, but I need to borrow the name this week. However, I don't have any raves to throw in there, so you can just call this one "Rants". Or maybe "RANTS" because I'm pretty mad. So with apologies to Bob, here goes.

I am really tired of so many blowhards and pseudo-experts trashing the Big East football conference. The latest case in point is South Florida -- which is looking pretty good right now -- rising up to crush Louisville, thus demonstrating that the Big East is not a one-trick pony. Of course, no one from the national networks, websites or newspapers looks at it that way. To them, it's just another example of the Big East's mediocrity.

Of course, you can't win with these fools. If one team dominates, then the league is a one-man show. If three or four teams compete, then the league is mediocre. At least when they are looking at the Big East.

Who's to say that the same isn't true of some of the schools in the ACC right now? Clemson barely loses to Miami, and suddenly they are great. Florida State squeaks by Miami in a game that was every bit as ugly as the pundits proclaimed WVU-Syracuse to be, does the same to B.C. yet still has a firm spot in every poll. Yet most everyone fires away with the knee-jerk reaction and proclaims them all Top 25 caliber. The same thing is happening in the Big Ten. I wonder when someone is going to have an original thought instead of following the herd around and mooing out the same tiresome drivel?

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I'm also sick of all the urban legends being passed around and repeated about fan behavior at the WVU – Virginia Tech game two years ago. Just like the ambulance-rocking story from the Miami game in 1993, the vast majority of these stories are false – outright lies. The people that continue to spread them, without confirmation or any first hand knowledge of the incident, need a swift kick in a tender spot. And just to help these mental midgets, "firsthand knowledge" does not mean something that you heard from your gardener's hairstylist who has a friend that knows someone who allegedly attended a game once.

Are there some WVU fans that cross the line? Absolutely. And when they are caught, they should be placed on a banned list and not allowed to buy tickets again. Set a fire? If you're a student, you should be expelled. If you are not, you should have to pay for the costs of every fireman and piece of equipment used to douse your stupidity. But the vast majority of people don't participate in this kind of crap, and I'm sick of them being dragged into it.

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While watching a recent weeknight college game, the two ESPN announcers broadcasting the action took several minutes to rip the new Harris Poll for some glaring inaccuracies. Most notably, they bemoaned the fact that no one voted for a 1-2 Oklahoma team (uhhh, maybe they don't deserve it, guys), and that winless Idaho had five points in the voting.

While I agree that second item raises some questions, it's funny that ESPN didn't also question the AP or the USA Today poll, which it continues to pimp on its website.

As I've maintained before, the AP poll is now about as relevant as typewriter ribbons. And their recent voting proves it. Three one-loss teams remaining in the top ten? How about having to earn your way back first? 7-1? I can see it. Two and one? Three and one? Not yet. Heck, the week after Michigan State beat Notre Dame, these dunderheads still had the Irish ahead in the poll! And it wasn't like it was a one game upset by an inferior foe, as Michigan State was undefeated.

Want another example? Texas Tech is ranked 16th, owing to wins over the mighty threesome of Florida International, Sam Houston State and Indiana State. (Apparently Lubbock Middle School was already booked.) Yet, these same voters have the temerity to criticize other schools for supposedly soft schedules.

ESPN supposedly dropped its participation in the USA Today poll because it did not want to have an influence on the stories and games it covered. I'd say that a five-minute editorial rant against the inadequacies of the Harris Poll falls into that category.

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This next item doesn't make me mad – just weary. How many times does Rich Rodriguez have to defend the two-quarterback system?

Granted, it's not the norm. But no one gets bent out of shape when Andrae Wright or Johnny Dingle subs in on the defensive line, or Antonio Lewis and Dee McCann split time at cornerback. Rodriguez has spent a good bit of time explaining the reasons that dual QBs don't hurt his teams, and he has the track record to back him up. Yet, he continues to get questions from clueless interrogators, not to mention unneeded grief on message boards, chat rooms and talk radio.

There's nothing inherently good or bad about rotating quarterbacks. It's just different – just like the 3-3 stack defense differs from an even front like a 4-3. It's all in the execution. Got it? Good.

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Finally, one thing I will never understand is leaving a sporting event early. I mean really early. You paid for your ticket, laid out more cash for travel, and you don't stay to watch the whole thing?

I'm not talking about leaving with a minute to go and your team up or down by 20. I'm talking about halftime. Or the third quarter. When the game is still competitive. Is it that important to beat the traffic? Las week against East Carolina, there couldn't have been more than 30,000 fans left when ECU took possession with a chance to tie the game. I know that at least 6-7,000 of the departees were students (must have wanted to get a head start on that long Saturday night of studying at the library), but there were a lot of other fans already in the parking lot or on the road at that time as well.

Here's a challenge. I'll accept emails explaining why it makes sense to leave early. This doesn't include reasons like emergencies, or a prior commitment that allowed you to only stay for part of the game. I want real West Virginia fans to give me the reasons they leave early.

If any of them are sufficiently convincing, I'll award the best one with a free month's subscription to this site. But suffice it to say, I'm not holding my breath.

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