But that is only the end of the story. The real fun (fortunate for literate Americans; unfortunate for vagabond sports editors employed in Huntsville, Alabama), however, is the journey to this glorious conclusion.
In a piece appearing in yesterday's edition of the Madison County Record, sports editor and resident village idiot Justin Schuver attempts to convey to the tens of Record subscribers college football's "best" and "worst." Syracuse Post-Standard staff writer Donnie Webb provided his beatdown of Schuver earlier this morning. Now it is time that this notebook brings the goods.
Rather than cropping Schuver's article in totem and penning a running diatribe against it, I'm simply going to expose the article piecemeal and attack Schuver surgically.
Justin Schuver Doesn't Research: Traditions
In pertinent part:
Best tradition: Dotting the "I" at Ohio State - It's something I've never gotten the chance to see live, but you have to admit the idea is absolutely fabulous. For that one brief moment, the Ohio State band's sousaphone player has to feel like he or she's on top of the world as he or she runs to dot the "I" in the band's "Script Ohio" formation. (Honorable mentions: Texas A&M's Yell Practice, Clemson's Death Valley rock)Quite frankly, "Dotting the 'I'" at Ohio State is pretty awesome. Any tradition that has incorporated Jack Nicholas and Bob Hope is unstoppably awesome. However, the real issue with Schuver's listing is his nonchalant assessment of "Clemson's Death Valley rock."
Worst tradition: Auburn fans rolling Toomer's Corner after a win - T.P.ing is a great way to celebrate a football victory. If you're a high school freshman.
First of all, it isn't called "Clemson's Death Valley rock." It is called "Howard's Rock," named after former Clemson head football coach Frank Howard. The rock, of course, has one of the most interesting histories in college football:
Secondly, while one of college football's most vaunted traditions, it is not better than (in no particular order):
In either 1964 or 1965, a Clemson student (class of 1919) named S.C. Jones, went to California and stopped in Death Valley, CA, and found a white flint rock which he brought back with him. The rock was presented to Coach Frank Howard as "being from Death Valley, CA, to Death Valley South Carolina."
The rock laid on the floor in Howard's office in Fike for a year or more. One day Howard was cleaning up his office and he told Gene Willimon, who was the executive secretary of IPTAY, to, "take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the ditch . . . do something with it, but get it out of my office." Willimon didn't think that was the way a rock should be treated. After all, it had been brought 3000 miles by a very sincere Tiger fan.
In September of 1966 it was placed on a pedestal at the top of the hill, a gameday in which the Tigers managed to come back from an 18-point deficit with 17 minutes remaining and win by five points against Virginia.
Contrary to what is mentioned in the previous section about Howard's Rock, the team does not rub it for "Magical powers". A player is allowed to rub "the Rock" if they are going to give 110%. Coach Howard was quoted as saying "if you are going to give a hundred and ten percent you can rub my rock...if you are not going to give a hundred and ten percent keep your filthy hands off my rock". Many times announcers who either don't know the true story behind "the Rock" or don't feel like explaining it on television will over simplify it by making the "magical powers" reference or some variation thereof.
- The Cadets' march over to Michie Stadium at West Point;
- The Army-Navy procession prior to the annual Army-Navy game;
- The "12th Man" at Texas A&M;
- Jump Around and the Fifth Quarter at Wisconsin; and
- Touchdown Jesus
Justin Schuver Doesn't Research: Stadiums
In pertinent part:
Best stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama) - It has a nice location and seats a large crowd without being obnoxiously big. The scoreboard is nice while not terribly intrusive and the acoustics are great. Following its new expansion, this stadium can match up to any field in the country. (Honorable mentions: Doak Campbell Stadium - Florida State, Jordan-Hare Stadium - Auburn)First of all, I am not going to attack Schuver's assessment of the best stadiums in the country. However, the fact that LSU's Tiger Stadium, Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, and Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium are missing from this list is an absolute farce. At night, there may be no better place than the three I have just listed to watch a football game. Frankly, Schuver's conclusions smack of homerism and misguided television perception.
Worst stadium: Carrier Dome (Syracuse) - Football was not made to be played on turf. Football was not made to be played indoors. Apparently the folks in upstate New York missed the memo. It's like watching a game in a warehouse.
Now, onto his cheapshot against the Carrier Dome. From a pure football standpoint, the Carrier Dome is not the cat's meow. There is much to be said for playing outdoors on turf. However, even conceding this argument, the Carrier Dome cannot be considered the college football's worst stadium.
Out in Moscow, Idaho, the University of Idaho Vandals play in a glorified barn called the Kibbie Dome. If you are in the market for a visual representation of this abomination, I submit the following:
Also, if Schuver truly has a disdain for domed stadiums, how can the Carrier Dome outpace the Metrodome in Minneapolis? As a large, barren, off-campus facility that is forced to share its playing surface with a baseball team, the Minnesota Golden Gophers easily play in confines that are poorer than that of the Syracuse Orange.
Justin Schuver Doesn't Research: Color Schemes
In pertinent part:
Best team color combination - Iowa (black and yellow) - Legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry chose these colors because they were the same ones worn by the then-dominant Pittsburgh Steelers. The yellow also reminds a viewer of corn, which is of course Iowa's signature agricultural export. I like the colors; they're unique but they don't clash or look garish. (Honorable mentions: Notre Dame - blue and gold, North Carolina - powder "Carolina" blue and white)Are you serious, Schuver? Blue and orange looks worse than this:
Worst team color combination - Florida (blue and orange) - Ugh. Just say no. These two colors look awful together. And that boring helmet with the bubbly cursive "Gators" doesn't help the look one bit.
Looks even worse on a uniform.
In pertinent part:
Best name: Nebraska Cornhuskers - It's easily shortened, it's colorful and it's unique. It identifies itself with the state and flows well with the word "Nebraska." Plus if you're a Nebraska fan you get to wear a giant ear of corn on your head, and who wouldn't love to do that? (Honorable mention: Alabama Crimson Tide, Notre Dame Fighting Irish)Shuver's assessment that Syracuse has the worst nickname in college football is one of the greatest logical fallicies ever created. To wit, Schuver lauds Nebraska for having an easily shortened name that is colorful and unique.
Worst name: Syracuse Orange - This is political correctness gone amuck. The original name of Orangemen had historical significance but the new version sounds like the name of an Arena League football team.
Doesn't that exactly describe Syracuse's moniker?
- No other college or university in the country has the nickname "Orange";
- Crayola and I agree that it is very difficult to find a nickname more colorful than "Orange"; and
- Every hardcore Syracuse fan shortened the moniker "Orangemen" to its current permutation even before the university's administration took what was then seen as a radical paradigm shift.
Moreover, is "Orange" any worse than Harvard Crimson, Dartmouth Big Green, or Stanford Cardinal? All these school's moved to the "It's not just a color, it's a state of mind" nickname following efforts to placate well-intentioned protesters. While all the moves were motivated by political correctness, all show an institutional willingness to progress out of the 1800's and actually respect both its students and local tribes.
Unlike the aforementioned three schools (with the possible exception of Dartmouth College which has referred to itself as "The Green" or "The Big Green" for what appears to be eons), however, Syracuse has a tradition of referring to itself as the Orange. To chastise the university for its nickname, consequently, is a failure to recognize its long and storied history.