The official power rankings of college football media who hate college football
It’s been a really weird few months in college football. Uncertainty led to canceled seasons, which led to uproar, which led to reversing cancellations. Meanwhile, like everything in this country, many in the media became entrenched in their positions citing a commitment to “reporting the facts.” Even with valid reporting, the bias was often evident in the framing of said facts and the choosing of which facts to emphasize and which to omit.
Oh, and let’s not forget the context here. A context of a pandemic in which unknowns reign supreme and medical professionals rarely agree. Yet, somehow, many in the media continue to express certainty over what course of action is best.
Is it absurd for media members to express skepticism and caution regarding a return to collegiate sports? Absolutely not. But it’s absurd to express that skepticism with such certainty that leads to condescension and mockery toward those who reasonably disagree. It’s absurd to repeatedly reference a reliance on “science” when the science is all over the map and the actual medical experts frequently disagree.
Differing opinions and thoughtful skepticism are good and contributing elements in important discussions. But that’s not what we have in 2020. In 2020, we have hot takes and tribalism. In 2020, we have college football writers who seemingly are all-in on the position of college football should not return while staying silent on colleges opening for tens of thousands of students to attend class. In 2020, we have writers screaming about outbreaks and myocarditis without knowing much about either.
It’s been revealing. Why does it seem like so many college football writers despise the sport they cover?
It’s not just the pandemic-related content. Once the COVID-related columns run their course, the writers will turn to bashing the overpaid coaches, demanding players get paid, complaining about the unfair postseason, calling for the hiring of a commissioner of the sport and ridiculing southern football fans who take the sport too seriously. If college football sucks so much, why not cover something else?
It’s hard not to consider the political undercurrent that undergirds most opinions these days. We’re all aware that the electoral college map often resembles the map of the college football conferences. Writers will push back when accused of being political, but is it really so outlandish for normal fans to view things this way?
Writers tend to fall into clear partisan camps even with opinions on college football’s return. Rather than praise those in the sport doing their best to work through a difficult situation, columnists would rather point fingers at politicians (on the wrong side of the aisle) who are politicizing college football while failing to acknowledge that their side is doing the same thing.
Let’s be clear, there’s no easy path. It could end up that the SEC and Greg Sankey reverse course and cancel the football season at some point. But much of the criticism seems to be either politically-driven or motivated out of a general view of superiority over the dumb rednecks down south.
There are times when criticism toward the sport is important, and the media plays a crucial role. However, many in the media have done themselves a massive disservice in their approach to covering college football during this pandemic. Objectivity has nearly vanished. Columnists too often seek the approval of fellow media members rather than humbly acknowledge that both sides might have valid points to make.
And, strangely, somewhere along the way, it certainly seems like many college football writers decided they really dislike college football. They forgot that college football is fun. They forgot that for tens of thousands of kids, it’s an incredible opportunity with fond memories that will last a lifetime. They forgot the pageantry and tradition. They forgot that Saturday afternoons in the sunshine are a much bigger deal than getting likes on Twitter from fellow columnists.
The disconnect between the media who cover college football and the fans who enjoy it has never seemed greater. And while that gap widens, the condescension toward such fans seems to grow.
Our team here at Saturday Down South enjoys the sport that you all enjoy so much. We’re no different from you. It just so happens that our job is to cover this great sport. We’re thankful for it, and we have fun with it. So let’s have some more fun, shall we?
Rankings are synonymous with college football, so let’s do some rankings. It’s time to present our power rankings of college football media who hate college football.
1. USA Today’s Christine Brennan
While Dan Wolken led the power rankings for a good part of 2020, Christine Brennan made a late surge with her recent “darkest day” column. Brennan labeled the Big Ten’s announcement of football returning as the darkest day in Big Ten sports history. Critics were quick to point out some previous tragedies such as Jerry Sundusky and Larry Nassar, but hey, playing football is obviously worse.
Note the date: 9/16/20, the day the vaunted Big Ten became the SEC. It choked. It got scared. It sold its soul for football. My @usatodaysports column on the darkest day in Big Ten history: https://t.co/uaWfgpgSqO
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) September 16, 2020
The darkest day column is Brennan’s follow-up to her column just days earlier in which she noted that while she loves college football, she just can’t watch this year.
I love college football — always have, always will, grew up with it, covered it for decades — but can’t watch it right now. This is the riskiest roll of the dice in college sports history. Schools can’t know what they are unleashing in their communities. https://t.co/v9ydr8wskA
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) September 11, 2020
Maybe she can stop writing about it too?
2. USA Today’s Dan Wolken
The obvious leader in the clubhouse if you were to poll college football fans on Twitter, Wolken has been entrenched in his “do not play sports this year” take for months. I like Wolken. He’s a legitimate reporter who I believe takes his job very seriously. But for some reason, boy, has he doubled and tripled down on his position over and over.
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) September 15, 2020
Months ago, Wolken remarked that the NBA bubble would be a disaster. It’s been a resounding success. Since then, he uses his Twitter feed to highlight what seems like every positive COVID case on a college campus (asymptomatic or not), praise the Big Ten’s thoughtfulness as it panic-decided to cancel its season and of course write columns about how SEC coaches love when their players get COVID-19.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 15, 2020
3. CBS’s Dennis Dodd
Dodd is a well-respected college football reporter who usually does a great job writing about the sport. Dodd lands at No. 3 on the list, however, because he seemingly can’t put his political leanings aside and would probably prefer to cover the Ivy League rather than be associated with the dumb football fans in the southeast.
Remember two days ago, the @ivyleague? One P5 AD told me the Ivy's move would have "no influence" on the big boys. Guess what? At least the Ivy can look itself in the mirror amid this madness. https://t.co/bfN9MZgGqG
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 10, 2020
Dodd’s tweet about how only the Ivy League could look itself in the mirror is a big contributor, but he closed this summer by carrying the Big Ten’s water with his latest column in which he rationalizes the Big Ten’s dysfunction using that keyword that these writers just can’t get enough of: science.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) September 16, 2020
Science prevailed! Or … the Big Ten leadership is just a disaster.
Honorable mention: Darren Rovell
I wouldn’t call Rovell a college football writer necessarily, but he gets an honorable mention. While most of the media pushed back on the idea of college football writers “rooting against college football,” Rovell maybe rooted against the return of the sport the hardest. His tweet mocking southern states, the spread of COVID and the desire for football is one of the best examples I can recall in recent memory of why so many people can’t stand the media.
Many SEC fans wanted their states and their economy open and their right to not wear a mask. How’s your football season looking, guys? pic.twitter.com/DKmGf2AQQ4
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 11, 2020
Of course with new cases now declining in many of these same states, Rovell has not followed up to ask the south how football might be looking now.
Thankfully, despite the angst communicated by many in the media, college football is back. In the words of Jim Harbaugh, “Stay positive. Test negative. Let’s play football.”