It used to be that whenever I read someone opining that "the media hates Ole Miss," I immediately began to conjure up images of black helicopters and tinfoil hats. Such a statement--being in that it suggests a far-reaching and overwhelmingly useless conspiracy--always came off as a paranoid delusion.
Now, you may count me as paranoid, and you may count me as delusional. The media does hate Ole Miss.
Let's consider exactly what happened this weekend in as-neutral-as-possible terms and then look at how different agents reacted to said events, shall we?
- The Associated Press' number four team in the nation loses by six during an ESPN Thursday night game--games which are notoriously difficult for away opponents--to an unranked, middle-tier in-conference foe. Poor quarterbacking, suspect play calling, and a porous offensive line keep the favored visiting team out of the endzone for three quarters. Still, the game was never truly out of hand and one could argue that either team was only one play away from winning or losing the game at any given moment.
- The Associated Press' number five team loses by eleven during the College Gameday Game of the Week--a Saturday night primetime affair. Said team was the heavily favored home opponent against an unranked, middle-tier in-conference foe. Furthermore, said team is believed to play in one of the most intimidating football settings, with over 100,000 fans raucously supporting their every move. However, poor quarterbacking, conservative coaching, and special teams blunders limits the home team to a mere ten points. The game was put out of reach during the fourth quarter but was a very close battle for the first three.
I shouldn't have to explain this, but for clarity's sake, the first game is Ole Miss at South Carolina and the second is Iowa at Penn State. So, just how have the mainstream media outlets reacted to these games?
For starters, the Rebels were over-hyped and remain overrated until proven otherwise. Penn State, on the other hand, doomed themselves with their on-field mistakes while Iowa is for real. Ole Miss dropped 17 spots in the AP poll to number 21 whereas Penn State dropped 10 to number 15. Iowa breaks into the poll, jumping up to number 13, leaving South Carolina in the mildly-respectable "others receiving votes" category.
And then there's Gregg Doyel--a guy who preps himself for every piece he is writing by slamming his cock in a desk drawer while wiping his ass with sandpaper--and his typically angry, inexplicably bitter garbage. I didn't even read past the second paragraph because I have told myself that I am never going to read anything he writes again, but I think we all know it hyperbolically bashes someone for something which really isn't that big of a problem. He also "Mitch Alboms" us somehwere in there by attempting to tie whatever sports-related topic he's bitching about this week to some greater societal evil as he perceives it. With Gregg Doyel, it's "shame on everybody but Gregg Doyel" because he's the only person alive to realize where we all went so, so wrong.
Was I right? Yeah, I thought so. I think it is fair to mention here that Doyel spent a fair portion of his childhood in Oxford and, during said time, was apparently sodomized with a garden fork by an Ole Miss grounds keeper. I swear to God/Allah/Yahweh, that guy is so skewed against Ole Miss that Mississippi State fans are wondering just where he gets off.
So what I am supposed to gather from all of this is that Ole Miss is overrated whereas Penn State beat themselves. Iowa is the real deal whereas South Carolina, well, isn't. Frankly, if I were a South Carolina fan, I would be just as irked by all of this. Iowa gets praised for defeating a top-five team whereas South Carolina gets an "oh well, yeah, good show, but really you didn't win that as much as your opponent lost it; sorry South Carolina." Granted, I think Iowa likely wins against South Carolina in a head-to-head, but not by very much at all.
It almost seems to me as if everybody was a crouching tiger, waiting to strike the Rebels as soon as they lost, where- and whenever that was going to be. I certainly expected the "ha LOL @ Ole Pi$$" message board backlash, namely because dipshits who post on internet message boards are incredibly predictable, and I cannot say I didn't expect some sort of flame from the mainstream media--but I certainly didn't expect it to this extent.
I know that I am biased; I run an Ole Miss sports blog. But, in my mind, there is no way you can argue that Penn State's loss to Iowa is any "better" than Ole Miss' loss to South Carolina. There just isn't. Ole Miss barely lost in heavily unfavorable conditions whereas Penn State lost by two scores in very, very favorable conditions. As for excuses surrounding the horrible weather for Saturday night's game (namely, a torrential downpour lasting all afternoon and night) or Ole Miss' short week of practice, I say no dice. Iowa suffered through the same horrendous weather, just as South Carolina suffered through the same short week of practice. Such attempts for justification simply won't fly with me; just as they shouldn't with anyone who's paying attention.
I also am completely dumbfounded with the media's aggression with their assertion that Ole Miss was overrated. We all knew they did not deserve a number four ranking, as even most die-hard Rebel fans would have quickly conceded such. The problem is that, if it was so incredibly obvious that Ole Miss was overrated, then why were they so highly rated in the first place? The media's vitriol should only be directed back at themselves. It's not as if Houston Nutt, his players, or we fans voted Ole Miss to the number four spot in the Associated Presspoll; the media did. They are the reason we were overrated. For ESPN's Chris Low--a guy who I am a fan of--to say the "Over-hyped Rebels" were "exposed" (article linked above somewhere) is a bit annoying because he himself picked Ole Miss to win the SEC West.
I also find incredible folly in the blatant double standard at play here. Even before the game, pundits were predicting an Ole Miss loss because we were yet to play anyone significant, as if Penn State's murderer's row of Akron, Syracuse, and Temple was anything to base their ranking on. Jevan Snead's poor performance (7/21, 107yards, 1TD) was used to downplay the Rebel quarterback's Hiesman "candidacy" and NFL legitimacy whereas Daryll Clark's performance (12/32, 198yards, 1TD, 3INT) wasn't nearly as scrutinized--likely true because he isn't thought of as highly as Snead, but I still think my point somewhat remains. "Ole Miss can't handle the spotlight" while "Iowa and Kirk Ferentz have just got Joe Pa's number."
So, yes, I am saying that the media hates Ole Miss just as much as they love Penn State. I have heard it for years and am now a very firm believer in this. Perhaps the ignorant and misguided "Ole Miss is RRRRRRRRAAACISSTT" feelings still hold strong. Perhaps our small stature and even smaller fan-base make us a convenient target (I dare ESPN to alienate Southern California or Texas). Perhaps people just don't like us. Whatever it is, I'm sold.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the supermarket. I'm fresh out of tinfoil and need to fashion some new headwear for myself.