The disillusionment of Stewart Mandel

You know, a few weeks ago, suddenly realizing that my old Twitter intro about the Coaches Poll was anachronistic, I updated it with this sentiment:

Sometimes it feels like college football is that girlfriend you were crazy about who dumped you for some rich dude nobody really liked.

Events of the past week or so haven’t improved my mood.

It appears I’m not alone in feeling like that, as evidenced by Mandel’s open letter to college football.  I won’t say he’s as far along in his pessimism as I am – I don’t know how anyone can characterize conference realignment as a harmless development that “didn’t make tailgating on a fall Saturday or watching 14 straight hours of football any less enjoyable” – but there’s much of what he says that resonates with me, including this beauty:

And you know what’s really maddening about college athletics leaders? That some are more willing to forgive a football player for striking a woman than they would if that same player wanted to transfer to another school.

Some second chances are better than others, as long as it’s a coach making the decision.


Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

50 responses to “The disillusionment of Stewart Mandel

  1. Connor

    I used to follow college sports exclusively and derided professional sports as shallow and materialistic. I can see know that I was just naive. Ironically though it’s been the tone-deaf insistence by the leaders of college sports that their’s is the true, pure version, played by young people for nothing more than the joy of competing, that I think will ultimately drive me away. Professional sports may be a lot of things, but at least they are fundamentally honest about themselves.

    • Russ

      Very true, Connor.

    • Ricky McDurden

      Shorter university presidents and their AD flunkies:

      “The less we say about it the better
      Make it up as we go along
      Feet on the ground, head in the sky
      It’s okay, I know nothing’s wrong, nothing”

    • Chi-town Dawg

      Very well said Connor and I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments.

  2. I truly believe deep in my heart that this is all ESPN’s fault. This all is the logical outcome of making a commodity of the sport. Commodities are made to be traded and invested in. And with the money comes the desire for more money.

    Gotta admit, I probably won’t be watching a lot of football this fall. I’ll be listening to my dawgs, and that’s about it.

    • ESPN aren’t the only greedy parties in all of this. As Connor state – one needs to look no further than the leaders at the schools and conferences to figure out where it all has gone awry.

      • Oh, I agree, but the party that started the moneyball rolling was ESPN. It was they that opened up the school and conference leaders to the lucrative possibilities.

        • Trust me – I get what you’re saying. However, you could naturally extrapolate that blame to us since we’re the paying audience here, right? Just because ESPN had the money didn’t mean the conferences had to whore themselves out to obtain it.

          • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

            Of course they did. Like the girl who said “$100 for a BJ? What kind of girl do you think I am?” ESPN knows what kind of girl she is; it’s just price negotiation that’s left.

  3. Sides

    Has conference realignment really been that damaging to you as a college football fan? Tailgating is great no matter who is playing. As I get older I don’t get to watch 14 hours of football but there are just as many entertaining games (if not many more with SECN, PAC12 network, and others) as there were before realignment. Does Colorado playing USC and Nebraska playing Ohio State bother you that much? Texas A&M has been involved in some of the most entertaining conference games in the past 3 years.

    • I would much rather watch Texas A&M play Texas every year than watch them play any opponent in the SEC, entertaining or not. I would rather Missouri had not even gotten an invitation to the league, much less in the SEC East, period.

      So, yes, realignment has been bad for college football, and it’s only going to get worse.

      • Russ

        Add Oklahoma – Nebraska to the list. There are many others. I’m glad (and a little surprised) that Georgia – Auburn survived.

        Sides, would you feel the same way if you quit playing Clemson every year? Rivalries like that are what make (made?) CFB special to me.

        It’s now painfully obvious that we’re just watching NFL-Lite, except as Connor stated above, the NFL is more honest about what they’re doing.

        • Sides

          Of course I want to play Clemson every year. That rivalry survived SC dropping out of the ACC, going independent, and joining the SEC. We play because the schools and the fans want to play. I guess you could call all of those events realignment. Texas and A&M could play if they wanted to. My guess is eventually they will play again and the rivalry will become better because of the current animosity. I can’t believe Nebraska-Oklahoma is that important to anyone on this site. Nebraska will play Oklahoma occasionally and create new rivalries with Michigan and Ohio State in the Big 10.

          • Well, obviously I must defer to your belief of what I find important, but I could have sworn that Nebraska-Oklahoma was one of the touchstone CFB games for me growing up and for years thereafter.

            I must have it confused with Georgia-South Carolina.😉

            • Sides

              I am sure that series was great in the 80’s but times also change. Tennessee-Fla was great for me to watch in the 90’s but it hasn’t been much to see over the past 10 years. If they were put in two different divisions it wouldn’t bother me too much. UGA and Clemson still seem to have a good rivalry even though they don’t play every year.

          • allthegoodnameswereused

            That odd sense of bewilderment that you are feeling over why some of us would give a rat’s ass over some of those games? That’s precisely the feeling some of us have over the notion that some people don’t give a rat’s ass.

            Don’t even get me started about the playoff.

    • Has conference realignment really been that damaging to you as a college football fan?

      Absolutely. It’s made a shambles of the SEC’s cross-division schedule.

      And there’s something wrong in a world where Nebraska-Oklahoma isn’t an annual event.

      • Sides

        Is realignment a one time event that happened over the past couple years? The reason there is a cross-division schedule is because of a realignment in 1994. That realignment worked out great for some schools (Arkansas and SC). All the schools in the SEC seem to have benefited from this realignment. I think adding Texas A&M was a great move by the SEC. I wouldn’t be surprised if the SEC added 2 more schools to go to a 16 team conference with 4 team divisions (like the NFL).

        • Cross-division scheduling began in ’92.

          And, no, that’s not the event I’m referring to. It’s the more recent one, accompanying the expansion to 14 schools, that’s caused the scheduling problems, both with football and basketball.

          • While 12 is great, we lost Auburn-Florida as a result. The War Tiglesmen used to take a lot out of UF the week before the WLOCP and probably was a significant contributor to our traditional domination of Jort Nation.

            It’s another true traditional rivalry that went away as a result of expansion and realignment.

        • reipar


          I think it is an age of the fan thing. I can understand how the guys who grew up in the 70’s thought Nebraska-Oklahoma was a big deal. I mean they got three tv stations and probably only saw two games on Saturday so this was huge.

          The younger fans they see conference expansion as a good thing as they grew up watching many more games on a Saturday and wanted to see good matchups over watching two teams with a storied history and a blowout game.

          • The Nebraska/Oklahoma game had national title implications at some point during every decade since the 1950’s until it went away a few years ago. I’m a youngish commenter here (in my early 30’s) and I considered it to be one of the huger games on the schedule growing up.

            • Reipar

              Nebraska has not been good since 2001. They did not move to the big ten until 2011. That game has not been relevant since the 90’s. If Nebraska was still playing Oklahoma still would not be a relevant game.

              • Oklahoma-Nebraska ended as a rivalry when the Big XII was formed, and they put OU in the South and Nebraska in the North. All of that was done to give Texas what they wanted … keep the Red River Shootout. That decision was the first step that eventually led to Nebraska to the B1G.

          • Otto

            Has the latest round of expansion brought good match ups? Maryland and Rutgers are not exactly storied additions to the B1G.

            The SEC has gained the most in terms of good matchups. A&M and Manziel against Bama, Mizzou making the SECCG.

      • Otto

        South Carolina was a warm up game for most of Dooley’s time in Athens with the obvious exception of the late 70s/ early 80s. UGA went 14-0-1 against SC ’60 to ’77 . Clemson was a far bigger game. I like doing a home and away with Clemson with a 6 year or so break between meetings. I stand firm on on the 8 game SEC schedule with Auburn being permanent, GT and 1 other power 5 team, neutral site or home and away.

        OU/Nebraska was must see TV.

  4. KershDawg

    Both your comments and Mandel’s completely echo my sentiments. A few years ago I couldn’t get enough of any college football game available to my viewing eyes; now I pretty much tune in to the Dawgs only and may watch another SEC matchup or two at most. I know that most of my friends are beginning to feel this same way as well. Who/what is going to give first; us or the powers that be?

    • Otto

      While I also watch less, I disagree with the reasons. I watched a couple of BigXII games on the 2nd screen and pass interference flags were falling everywhere. Parity has actually decreased my interest in the game. I also do not care to watch shoot outs.

  5. JCDAWG83

    Raise the entrance requirements for football and basketball players to be equal to that of tennis, golf, equestrian, soccer and volleyball players and 90% of the problems will go away. Make this change an NCAA rule, not a school or conference rule so everyone is being fed out of the same spoon and college football would return to what most of us remember and loved.

    • You want the NCAA to regulate school admission standards? Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

      • Russ

        I get the optics problem, but what stops the NCAA from saying an athlete needs XX score on the SAT or ACT to compete? Regardless of the school, it’s the same standard to play. If the school doesn’t want to admit because they feel the score is too low, then let them go alone. I’d rather the NCAA set a high standard to get back to actual students competing. The studs that can’t make that could go to the CFL or some NFL developmental camp/league that would most likely spring up.

        • I get the optics problem, but what stops the NCAA from saying an athlete needs XX score on the SAT or ACT to compete?

          Its member schools.

        • but what stops the NCAA from saying an athlete needs XX score on the SAT or ACT to compete?

          It already does in the sliding scale that exists. That number is just lower than what is required for a normal student because its what the member schools directed the NCAA to do.

      • Tim In Sav

        I believe the NCAA could most certainly make a rule wherein student- athletes would have to meet the requirements for any other student.

  6. ASEF

    I just sent my wife our son’s summer schedule. Between basketball and football workouts and camps (he’s a rising sophomore), he has, on average, 4 hours of committments 6 days a week. One week off in July.

    As a nation, we are obsessed with sports. Kids as young as 3rd grade are travelling to tournaments as far as 4 hours away: in multiple sports, every weekend.

    When you watch those youth programs at work, you see something like college sports a little differently – those athletes have invested literally thousands of hours in their sport. By the time they reach their senior year in high school, a lot of their families have spent more on coaching and travel expenses than they would have spent on tuition.

    Broadcast mediums find an audience and monetize that audience’s attention to the Nth degree – they’re really damned efficient at it. So I do think the audience plays the major role here.

    So, what I find fascinating is the suddenly popular pose that Stewart’s striking. Is he really jaded – or did some part of him recognize that’s the pose his audience wants to see right now?

    There are two popular kinds stories on the front pages of national sports pages this summer: odes to disgust and Jim Harbaugh’s latest wardrobe choices. And it will stay that way until the clicks start migrating to other content.

    For my money, one of the best sports stories this year was Marcus Paige. Two time Skip Prosser award winner, three time Academic All-American. Lightly recruited out of Iowa, he made himself into a POY candidate his senior year – and then had to completely remake his game to make room for a sophomore PG. All of that happened while media members like Pat Forde mocked him and his teammates – despite the fact that he entered UNC 2 years after the academic fraud was shut down. He gets to the Final Four his senior year and damn near wins it – all while the national media is printing columns urging fans to root against him because of the jersey he’s wearing.

    He loses the championship in heart-breaking fashion, and then he goes into the locker room and gives as gracious a post-game media session as you would ever hope to see. Cam should take notes.

    Those stories are there in abundance – but there’s no audience for them. No one feels like they are putting pressure on the powerful to change their ways with stories like that.

    I think Stewart’s still full of crap. He’s just out in front of a parade.

    • Broadcast mediums find an audience and monetize that audience’s attention to the Nth degree – they’re really damned efficient at it. So I do think the audience plays the major role here.

      Absolutely. If they thought we didn’t care, they wouldn’t spend much time on it.

      • Otto

        I think NASCAR is a great example of how the monetized everything to the Nth degree. They changed rules, the cars, PC drivers without personalities, etc and now NASCAR is on the decline. Yes they try to change it to maximize what they think we want but in the end destroy what was the draw in the 1st place.

        In my opinion the BCS was great for college football because it created controversy, and you could run the table and still not make it in or be in a big debate for best 1 loss team. The playoff has taken away reason for me way to watch championship games outside of the SEC, or possible play in or elimination games like Michigan/tOSU, UCLA upset USC etc. The networks and conferences are trying to monetize the game and in doing so reduced my interest.

        • 83dawg

          Oh, I agree.
          Have been going to NASCAR races since the 1970’s.
          After Big Bill passed on, the franchise fell into the lap of someone educated in business but didn’t understand racing.
          NASCAR turned into a TV thing with the fans an afterthought.
          and the tracks were rewarded with 50% attendance and tearing down grandstands

          And yes, I see this happening in college football.

  7. AusDawg85

    Perhaps this was the beginning of the end:

    As much as it opened-up CFB to expanded TV coverage, the real money race was on and our dear UGA was at the center of this landmark lawsuit. But to be perfectly clear, I’m not blaming the fans, instead I’m aghast at the stupidity, greed and arrogance of the leadership in CFB ever since. They are stabbing the Golden Goose with as many knives as they can handle just to “get their piece”.

  8. RugbyDawg79

    Maybe College Rugby finds a door to come through –true student Athletes and a fun game to watch ! Oh yeah they wear Red and Black and the games are free.

    • sniffer

      Might want to keep that to yourself, 79. If it gets picked up here and all these commentators start coming around, you’ll soon be the target of everybody’s unhappiness at not firing the coach soon enough and “when will we ever win a championship?”

  9. Athens Dog

    I’m admittedly old school…….ok an old fart. But i miss Nebraska – OU, Texas – Texas A&M…..hell I would like to go to Baton Rouge more than every 15 years………

    The tone deaf tunnel vision exhibited by “leadership” in college football is frightening. I don’t think we are far away from 4 super conferences and a 16 team play off.

    I guess then I’ll realize that the old days are gone forever. It sure was fun going to games with my folks when it was all so much simpler (no tv)

    • Otto

      If you go old school. UGA went to Baton Rouge in 52 and did not go back until ’78. After ’78 it was 8 year later in ’86 when UGA went down to Baton Rouge.

      • reipar

        Exactly. People seem to think before conference expansion we played everybody every year. Take a look at how infrequently we played UT before the SEC east was formed. People love to talk about we are losing the tradition, but many times the tradition was not there in the first place.

        • Speak for yourself, John.

          I thought the SEC’s expansion to 12 teams in ’92 hit the sweet spot. Expansion to fourteen? Not so much.

          • Senator, you hit the sweet spot with this comment. There was no real need to go to 14 except Mike $live’s ego.

          • Jared S.

            Agreed. We should have stayed at 12 by picking up A&M and dropping Vandy. A&M in the West and shift Auburn to the East. But nobody asked me. =(

            • Otto

              Vandy isn’t leaving nor either of the Mississippi schools. I like the 14 team model and it doesn’t me one bit that UGA doesn’t go Baton Rouge more often.