It’s probably a by-product of many journalists being of the MTV generation, but I’m taken by the short attention span and the readiness to draw final conclusions about the 2008 season displayed by the punditry class after last weekend’s games. Sure, it’s the pundit’s job to opine, and it’s not like there wasn’t plenty to comment on – the Mountain West’s domination of the Pac-10, Chase Daniel’s incredible performance level and Southern Cal’s inexperienced offensive line not missing a beat were all noteworthy – but the way a lot of the media has raced to wrap up a regular season that has only been on display for three weeks’ worth of games is a bit staggering.
I’m a homer, so some of my displeasure started with this hit job on Georgia by CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel. I don’t have a problem with Georgia dropping in the polls this week because of the way the games played out in Columbia and Los Angeles, but to argue that, as Doyel does, Georgia’s lofty preseason ranking is a mistake because Moreno and Stafford didn’t play as well in the fourth quarter as he thought they should have is silly. No team should be judged that broadly from such a narrow perspective.
CFN’s Richard Cirminello thinks the Mountain West, based on one admittedly terrific weekend, has passed the Big East and ought to start lobbying for that conference’s automatic BCS berth.
ESPN.com’s Pat Forde says the season is already down to three teams.
On the local level, it’s all about Georgia dropping to third in the national polls and style points. The AJ-C’s Chip Towers frets at his blog and in a story. Pretty much every media outlet in the state follows the same line, so it’s not just the usual trolling for traffic story the Atlanta paper so often indulges itself with.
On one level, I wouldn’t be surprised if Richt is somewhat amused by this, but on another, you have to wonder if he’s worried that it might become a distraction for his players. From Towers’ blog post, we have this Q & A exchange:
Q: Are you concerned your players may feel the need to earn style points during games?
Richt: “They better worry about winning.”
Q: Has all the poll talk been a distraction in the locker room?
Richt: “It’s not been that bad in the locker room. It’s been harder outside the locker room with fans,” Richt said. “Like I told the team, the preseason polls are just kind of an arbitrary stab in the dark. As the season rolls on, everybody has a better idea who they want to vote for. There’s still an awful lot of football to be played. Our goal is just to continue to win.”
How novel. Richt’s a coach who sees style points in grinding out wins over the course of a season. You wonder if the media will catch up to his point of view as this season progresses, given Georgia’s schedule (which, even though it took a slight hit this past weekend, still looks more formidable than any other national title contender’s right now).
Do any of these pundits remember the early game last year that was seen as season defining? Florida 59, Tennessee 20. That one sure told us a lot about how things would wind up. Relax, guys. Let the game come to you.