Time Out with Alex Sohani

With the 2012 college football season officially finished after Alabama’s romping of Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game, college football fans will have an eight-month offseason to hype themselves up for next season. But in the wake of the seemingly endless 35-game bowl season, an interesting point was brought to my attention in the most unexpected form—a radio show.

ESPN’s Bob Valvano, a weekend radio host for ESPN Radio went on a long winded rant attacking fellow colleagues in the media after the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2. After Louisville completely dismantled the Florida Gators en route to a 33-23 victory, an interesting but common thing happened. Nobody talked about how the Louisville Cardinals were a solid team capable of beating the Gators, or how they came in with a superior game plan. No, almost everyone sitting on ESPN’s set began explaining why the Gators lost, as opposed to giving the Cardinals credit for their impressive victory.

They couldn’t even give Louisville credit for one day, let alone five minutes. In arguably the Cardinal’s biggest football win in school history, the focus was on Florida and how they “blew it” or “didn’t want to be there.”

Sure, for schools like Florida, it’s a common occurrence to be a ranked team on one of the biggest stages in the sport, but if you can’t get pumped up for a Sugar Bowl appearance one year removed from a 7-6 season, there are some team dynamic issues to be worried about. That’s a particularly lame excuse by analysts to explain the game going a certain way.

Valvano went on to give more specific reasons as to why the notion laid out by his colleagues was even more ridiculous, including pointing out that Florida’s defenders continuously displayed high effort throughout the game by knocking Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater off his feet onmultiple occasions.
In general Valvano’s point holds true with major market teams such as those within the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Tech saw an evident example of this when they went out and faced USC in the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

There is plenty of validity to the argument that the Trojans were playing with their backup quarterback or that the super windy conditions in El Paso favored the Jackets’ running attack as opposed to USC’s passing offense. But in typical fashion, the game ended, and talk immediately began by sports analysts everywhere about how USC didn’t want to be in the bowl game and how their disinterest was the sole reason Tech won the ball game.

It’s about time some of these analysts got a reality check and really listened to what they were saying. It appears that these guys are incapable of giving any smaller teams praise. Anytime a team from the SEC is mentioned on TV, you immediately hear the obnoxious speech about how it’s the most dominant conference in all of college football. Yeah, that has held true for several years, but in the minds of these reporters who are supposed to be objective, it just seems preposterous that a team or two from a smaller conference can actually keep up with these big boys. You can even see this media bias in the AP poll with SEC teams continuing to hold high rankings (including Florida being ranked higher than Louisville after the loss, despite both teams having an 11-2 record).

It’s refreshing to hear a voicefrom within ESPN calling out his colleagues as it is by far the largest sports related media outlet when it comes to college football. However, until analysts can admit they’re wrong every once in a while (more often than not sometimes), we will continue to see excuses made for poor performances from big names like Texas, Michigan and Florida while “scrub teams” such as those from the ACC are not given an ounce of credit win or lose.