The "Hype" Myth

Follow the progression:  Prometheus brought fire down from the Gods.  Arthur pulled the sword from the stone.  And Ole Miss underperformed relative to its preseason buzz.

And, no, this does not count as "buzz."

Watch in awe after the jump as I trash the sub-punditry's assertion that history is that thing which dictates a Rebel folding the likes of which has not been seen off the baseball diamond since, well, ever.

"Meme," this is what you call the popular storyline of the off-season.  You know, the storyline that bases its substance upon itself.  We are the "meme" we have been waiting for. 

Now, here is the way that the internet works.  The pundits build you the meme.  And the sub-pundits, which, I suppose includes myself, analyze and criticize the meme.  It's for target audiences.  The pundit is writing for fans - people like my dad who can only ingest so much information and just need the most relevant information about the fashionable meme; they perpetuate the meme so everyone will know what meme they should know about.  The sub-punditry is writing for fanatics who fancy themselves smarter and more informed than the punditry.  These are not stones I throw - I wake up every morning to a recording that reminds me, "You are smarter than Stewart Mandel."

But, sometimes, the sub-punditry gets confused.  It's not their fault.  They just forget the difference between analyzing the meme and creating an anti-meme, like, for example, Ole Miss and, particularly, Houston Nutt perform poorly under high expectations.

First, of all, when has there been hype surrounding Ole Miss football?  We fold regardless of the spotlight, dammit.  If college football writers want to treat Ole Miss '09 like a Clemson or Cal - perpetual Cinderellas that throw up on the prince instead of taking him home - it would be rather congenial of them to pay attention to us pre-season more than once a decade, just to prove the point.  In fact, I am waiting for someone to point me in the direction of anything other than 2000 and 1964, which is a pretty big screw-up, I agree.  The truth is, if you went back through every team's history, you are going to find something like, oh, beating Florida to move to 5-1 before getting your cream puffed against Alabama.  These things happen to every team.  And, speaking of Alabama, they have dropped the ball before, too, sub-punditry.

And what of this anti-meme described as "Houston Nutt Underperforms Under Pressure."  Really?  Really.  Nutt's teams ended the regular season ranked below their preseason spot once. That year was 2007, when they started out ranked 21st by the AP poll and they went to the Cotton Bowl.  That was their highest preseason ranking under Nutt.

I am not one of these people who think Houston Nutt is the greatest coach that ever lived; I'm not even sure he is in the top half of SEC coaches (of course with people like Les Miles and Gene Chizik, there's an argument to be made).  But the idea of Houston being the origami coach has been perpetuated by a fan base that fired Lou Holtz and Danny Ford (by the way, am I the only one who sees the comparison between Ford and Petrino - slimeballs that "proved" themselves in crappy football conferences?).  The fact that Houston Nutt got along with Frank Broyles ought to show that he can handle some pressure.

This is not a defense of Ole Miss forthcoming undefeated season.  Rather, it is just calling a spade a spade - if Ole Miss wins "only" eight or nine games in 2009 it will not be because the Rebels or their coach fold under the spotlight.  It will be because, like most teams and coaches that have avoided the national spotlight, this program and its coach have always been good, but have not always been elite.

Also, I'm calling it, everything embarrassing that is supposed to happen to Ole Miss will happen to Georgia Tech, instead.  Write it down. 

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