It's championship week in college football, which means a lot of media types don't have game previews, or conference slates to discuss at length (we always have you covered here in the Holy Land, of course). Sometimes, the media will reach for stories in order to fill column inches or airtime. And sometimes, the media itself will drag out one of their own to do both things.
ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports, which for some reason means they get to decide the people that are most important to give information. For whatever reason, they decided on Skip Bayless, as their Deacon of Debate on their show "First Take". It is truly awful, as many noted media types can attest. Bayless, who came from a sportswriting background in Dallas, Chicago and San Jose, lives to stir pots, doing so with the biggest of trollfaces when talking about Tim Tebow or LeBron James.
Normally, Skip will stay clear of the rarefied air of the college game, arguing with Screamin' A. Smith about pro football or basketball. He'll delve, sure, as there is air time to fill, but he usually doesn't mess with our game.
Get out your popcorn and your FJM goggles, friends. Let's go to work. Of note: to save space, I didn't do the whole article. This isn't because it wasn't worth doing, but because I value my sanity.
You can't convince me Johnny Manziel deserves the Heisman over Manti Te'o any more than I'll probably be able to convince you that, right now, Johnny Football's team could beat Notre Dame, Alabama or Georgia.
Seeing as Skip has been trying to convince the world that Tebow could actually be a legitimate starter for any team not based in Jacksonville, he's right on the damn money here.
But both statements are all too true and precisely what's wrong with college football. Heismans shouldn't be won by a quarterback with an all-time great nickname whose beyond-Cam Newton pass/run stats camouflage two bad second halves in Texas A&M's two biggest home games, both losses.
A note on Johnny Football, if I may. This is not an all-time great nickname, ok? This is akin to Joe Theeeeeeesman changing his pronunciation to rhyme with Heisman when he was at Notre Dame. The kid's name is Johnny and he plays Football. That's an observation, not an all-time great nickname. It's like re-naming Bayless "Skippy Hackwriter". Just an observation.
One day, when Manti Te'o, the Next Ray Lewis, has retired after 15 or so NFL seasons as a perennial Pro Bowler, maybe we'll have that eight-team college football playoff.
If Te'o is the Next Ray Lewis, then is he the one who snitched on on whomever did this? (h/t @Drewmagary)
You will find no bigger media fan of Manziel's than I am. I was skeptical last year, as he redshirted, when newspaper friends in Texas told me longtime high school reporters called Manziel the most amazing prep player they'd ever watched. That's a mouthful, podnah.
Yet after watching Manziel start to finish in five games this season (Florida, LSU, Mississippi State, Alabama and Missouri), I'm ready to say he'll win two of the next three Heismans, at least. But he shouldn't win this year's. Te'o should, and it shouldn't be close. In fact, I'm embarrassed over the sudden media hysteria to elect a two-loss Johnny Football over an undefeated Manti Football.
And here begins the trolling. Bayless takes his piece, gushes about Manziel for five graphs and then...burries the lede so deep you need a shovel. "I LOVE JOHNNY ZOMG ALL THE HEISMANS except this one, you see." That's next level trolling.
Also, you co-opted the all-time great nickname and used it with someone else in the same sentence. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
...All Te'o did was become the first-game-to-last driving force of college football's best defense -- better even than Alabama's or LSU's. Te'o was by far the biggest reason Notre Dame kept shutting the mouths of doubters (such as me).
No one shuts your mouth, Skip. We've all tried.
As coach Brian Kelly played a dangerous game going back and forth between QBs Everett Golson and Tommy Rees, Te'o became the face of the program, the leader of the offense as well as the defense, the William Wallace going "Braveheart" at Michigan State and at Oklahoma and at USC this season. In L.A.'s Coliseum on Saturday night, Te'o led the charge on two fourth-quarter goal-line stands that allowed only three points.
First sentence of this graph: true story. Te'o has been the face of ND, and has really been the only thing to stand out other than Brian Kelly's mug when things go wrong. It loses traction at the end, when Te'o was the one who led the charge. Did you watch the USC game, Skip? I haven't seen two completely different but totally predictable offensive game plans in my life. Te'o and the D made the stops. But I'm blaming Lane Kiffin for horrendous play calling.
Game after game, Te'o was literally all over the field. Like Ray Lewis, he outstudies and outthinks quarterbacks. At 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, he can run with backs and cover tight ends. Saturday night, he intercepted his seventh pass, tied for second in the nation. At Michigan State, Te'o had 12 tackles and won his highly anticipated collision with running back Le' Veon Bell, who managed only 77 yards on 19 carries, often getting his psyche rocked by a man just as quick and powerful, Notre Dame's No. 5.calling.
More Ray Lewis comparisons. Can we stop with Ray Lewis? He's a guy almost as egotistical as Skip is, for shit's sake. More importantly, Bell ran for 77 yards on 19 carries? Not bad for Te'o. Also, not the best (#foreshadowing).
Please don't tell me it's an unwritten rule that inside linebackers can't win the Heisman. Of the 124 FBS schools, Notre Dame's offense is tied for 75th in points per game. Notre Dame kept surviving and silencing us critics because of its defense -- because of Te'o.
No doubt, Te'o is the face of the best defense in the county. But it kind of is an unwritten rule, isn't it? Defenders don't win the Heisman - only four* of 77 have ever done it, most recently Charles Woodson in 1997. Is there an argument that Te'o is "more excellent" than Manziel, Kansas State's Colin Klein or Ohio State's Braxton Miller? Isn't there an argument the other way around, too?
*Ernie Davis won in 1961, has HB/FB/LB super combo.
If [Manziel] had closed the deal at home against Florida and LSU, he would have my Heisman endorsement over Te'o, even though Manziel is only a freshman. I wouldn't care if he were a pure freshman who had graduated from high school a year early. Great is great no matter the age. And Johnny Football is simply the most exciting player in college or pro football. Yes, or pro.
Oh my God. Pro football, too? BullFuckingShit. Pro football has dudes who kick other dudes in the nuts, and referees who couldn't officiate a middle school game, and ALL OF THAT is more exciting than a redshirt freshman more famous for getting arrested and dressing as Scooby Doo. And I'm biased, but I think XBRAX360 has better moves.
If you can outplay the nation's No. 1 team in its stronghold in November, you deserve to be ranked higher than ninth.
Missouri didn't have starting quarterback James Franklin on Saturday night at A&M. But on Nov. 3 in Gainesville, Mizzou's defense hung in and lost only 14-7 to Florida. Saturday night in College Station, it was 42-0 with 3:33 left in the first half.
Hold on a second, isn't this article supposed to be about Manti Te'o?
Right now, A&M vs. Manti's team or Nick Saban's on a neutral field for all the marbles?
I got Johnny Football's team.
And that's...it? That's all there is? Hold on a second.
This is an article endorsing Te'o for Heisman, yet, the entire endgame is how Manziel and A&M would beat anyone for the national title. You're telling me I just read 1,350+ words about Te'o as the next Heisman winner, and all I got out of it was an article about how Manziel could beat Te'o?
Jesus, people, this Bayless character is better at trolling than I thought.