Hey there cats and kittens, I’m here to put together a viewer’s guide for your weekend in college football, and we’ll get to that, but please allow me to introduce myself: I’m new here to Heavy.com but not new to the intertubes. Feel free to ridicule my prior work here, here, here and here. You can also listen to my podcast, Two People Arguing, which I co-host with Casino Joe Scumaci here. I’m the Heavy version of my idols Will Leitch and Drew Magary and I’m here to entertain you whilst talking games that are forthcoming this weekend.
I get that you’re going to hate me for a while because I’m new, and I’m at peace with it.
So some stuff about me: I’ve traveled a fair amount, love my BBC, enjoy foreign policy more than I should and, lastly, I’m available to be berated on Twitter here. I’m vaguely Will Leitch approved if that helps you.
If that doesn’t help you, go step on a lego. But that’s not a proper introduction. Here’s a proper introduction:
Often when a college player screws up, broadcasters and writers will lament that they wouldn’t want their personal history at 18-21 to get that kind of coverage. I agree with them, because I was a medium-man on campus, and I was terrible.
And I’m going to tell you about it in detail.
In the fall of 2001 I entered the State University of New York at Oswego with the confidence of someone who had been a successful writer — paid to write sports by local newspapers and by Newsday, the paper that owns Long Island — and with an arrogance that was profound. If there had been a draft for writers to skip college and go straight to an outlet, I would’ve declared like many a high school basketball player before the one-and-done rule. I would’ve been just as prepared. Watching the hoops guys go right into their vocation actually made me jealous. I wanted to head right into a newsroom and college could teach me nothing.
I was right about that, ironically. College didn’t teach me anything, other than how to make decent friends, handle my liquor and screw up personal relationships. All things I could have learned as a stringer for a newspaper or a part-timer for Deadspin. Sadly, Leitch hadn’t invented Deadspin yet. He hadn’t even gone through his emotional chemotherapy yet.
I was where I was too soon. And I had the ego to match it. I said and did stuff as stupid as any of the non-rape allegation stuff Jameis Winston has been associated with. Life had yet to slap me around, as it eventually would.
I was sports director of the college TV station, news director of the campus radio station and a columnist for the newspaper. I was 19. My ego was nuclear. Not that it helped me any. Girls walking up to me saying “I saw you on TV,” which is an opening line that should be all a hot 18-year-old sorority girl has to say to achieve their star-humping goal, was met with me saying “Thank you!” and asking questions about how I did. Which was both vein and, as Keith Olbermann wrote in “The Big Show” in vein if you were hoping to parlay this “fame” into something an 18-year-old would want from pretty sorority girls, shows that I had no idea what I was doing.
I wasn’t the only one. The other talented people at Oswego my age all ascended at the same time. I will not write their names, because I have no desire to be sued and actually don’t remember them, but our egos were all nuclear-sized and our talents were firecracker-sized. We were terrible. Our team had the arrogance to cover the live feed of the Iraq War in 2002-03 in ways that, since YouTube didn’t exist I can’t show you, thankfully, but man were dumb things said. The intention was good; the execution, woof.
Sins I will confess: I hated, hated those people after a while. And they hated me. And we were all right. We were 19-year-old kids with power and fame. Neither of those things should be given to people that age. This is not the era of King Tut. I was a horrible egomaniac, and dammit I was easily among the most self-aware of the group.
I was in a fraternity and had other interests, that helped. I progressed as a person as a result of those social structures. But what still distinguished me was the pyrotechnics I was involved in with a small town and a huge campus-TV presence.
Now, years later, I don’t remember their names. I’m not kidding. Part of that is my travels and my extra schooling and experiences. Part of it was that I never really cared about them at the time. But if you’re asking me, seriously, to name them, I can only come up with one name. I have lots of people and memories that mean a lot to me in college, but those people aren’t among them. Yet they were a part of what I was most famous for at Oswego.
I have to believe that that is the case for a fair amount of the athletes we cover. There are members of the team, lots of them, that have genuine extracurricular lives and are still NFL prospects and associate with their teammates out of necessity. Lots of college athletes I’ve covered deal with their teammates the way you deal with a co-worker. Sure you might like them and chat with them, but they’re not important to you and if you change jobs you’ll think nothing of never speaking to them again.
Let’s face it, do you think anyone on the Florida State football team is gonna text Jameis in a few years? Not unless they’re worried about the alleged whereabouts of their alleged sister that Jameis allegedly said hello to, allegedly.
Glance Game of the Weekend
Florida at Tennessee (TV: SEC NETWORK, 12:00 PM EST)
Your weekend starts early, by football tailgating standards, in the SEC East as the flailing Florida Gators travel to Knoxville to face the emerging Tennessee Volunteers. Last week for the second consecutive year, played a more established Georgia team and scared the life out of them. That, plus last year’s win at South Carolina and great recruiting, has been enough to comfort even the grumpiest of Vol fans. But this week is different. This is the first SEC “MUST WIN” for Head Coach Butch Jones and company. The Florida Gators are in a tailspin under embattled head coach — and likely soon to be high-priced defensive coordinator — Will Muschamp. This game is, to Tennessee fans, a perfect example of two programs passing each other in the night. Tennessee on the rise, Florida on the decline. If that narrative doesn’t come to pass, expect things to get very tense in Big Orange Country.
Haterade Game of the Weekend
(3) Alabama at (11) Ole Miss (TV: CBS, 3:30 PM EST)
Can we start with the fact that the SEC West is absolutely insane? It’s possible, later this season If Arkansas wins a few games, every SEC West Team will be ranked in the Top 25. All of them. That’s extraordinary. And you, if you are not of the SEC, HATE the SEC. You also probably hate Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, if for no other reason than this. This is the heart of your tailgating. As the SEC always is, even if you hate them. And nobody is more hate-worthy than these two teams. I wrote about this previously, here, but in the spirit of being the new guy at the website, I’ll revisit:
I attended Cambridge through a joint University of Tennessee & Ole Miss College of Law program. I had a few Tennessee classmates and a few classmates from other schools, but the overwhelming majority were from the University of Mississippi. Some were benign. The overwhelming majority drove me out of my mind. It was like central casting for people who’d star in the prequel to “Dinner for Schmucks.”
The dreaded: experience + predisposition = causes me to despise Ole Miss beyond what is rational.
Therefore, I take special pleasure in victories against a university populated by people who do stupid stuff like this. As for Alabama, of course you hate Alabama. They have this guy. And this guy. And they’re always so obnoxiously competent. That this game is going to be fun is beside the point. Watch it with the disdain it deserves.
Reservation Games of the Weekend
Arizona at (2) Oregon (TV: FS1, 10:00 PM EST Thursday)
You’re going to be up late for this one, but the best team not in the SEC, Oregon (who is the Georgia of the Pac-whatever number they’re arbitrarily calling themselves) are playing and it’s one of the best games of the slate. It’s also a good excuse to stay up late and booze on a Thursday. Use it. You deserve it. Football!
(6) Texas A&M at (12) Mississippi State (TV: ESPN, 12:00 PM EST)
Kenny Hill is sensational, just like his predecessor. Kevin Sumlin’s system has established A&M as the new go-to for incredible quarterback play and offensive pyrotechnics. Combine that with the best Mississippi State team Dan Mullen–who
will probably is going to be under consideration for the Florida job–has ever had and you’ve got yourself a gem in Dixie.
(15) LSU at (5) Auburn (TV: ESPN, 7:00 PM EST)
Nothing like starting Brandon Harris against a Final Four contender on the road. Again, the SEC West is absolutely insane. Try to stay sober enough to comprehend this game. I’m not saying it’s mandatory. Just try.
I like to conclude these columns as they begin, with a little something besides football, so here you go:
Fancy Writer Quote Of The Moment
From Babylon Revisited:
“I heard that you lost a lot in the crash.”
“I did,” and he added grimly, “but I lost everything I wanted in the boom.”
Enjoy the weekend and the games, everyone.