LSU fans make sure mailbag's never empty

Maisel's E-Mails

Originally Published: September 7, 2004
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

I'm guessing that the relative lack of e-mails I received this week is because of the holiday weekend, so y'all get a pass this week. Reader juices don't begin to flow until the games get played, so no sweat.

That said, you can always count on LSU fans, still aggrieved over the national championship split, to fire off those love letters. Here are three letters from Bayou Bengal fans. I understood the first one. I think I understood the second one. I've read the third one twice and I have no idea what he's talking about.


The fact that USC stayed No. 1 and LSU dropped in the polls this week is evidence of either a DOUBLE STANDARD or FLAT-OUT IGNORANCE among the sports media. The sad thing is either the media don't notice it or just don't care. LSU didn't deserve to win, but found a way to win. USC won basically because of a bogus offensive pass interference penalty. But the media says that USC "showed character," while LSU "just got lucky."

And before you tell me about OSU's kicker losing the game and LSU not winning the game, think about this:

1. If the kicker would have made one of the two extra points in regulation, the score would have been 16-7 late. Under that scenario, LSU wouldn't have gone for the TD (and missed) the first time they drove down the field late. They would have kicked the FG, making the score 16-10. Add the last-minute touchdown to the equation, and LSU wins in regulation 17-16, making the 3rd missed XP irrelevant.

2. If he made both extra points, under the same scenario, the score would be 17-17 going into overtime.

Tell me I'm wrong.

This is EXACTLY why the humans should not be in control of the BCS. They apply a different set of ranking criteria for teams they don't like or teams that are unpopular.

Thank you for your time.
Jeff Porche
Visiting Assistant Professor of Communications
Central Methodist University
Fayette, MO

First of all, Professor, you say "the media" as if you just bit into a lemon. If I read your title correctly, you're a relation to our wonderful family.

Second, I reject your characterization of USC's victory as being based on one bad call. Just as with LSU's victory, there was more to it than that.

The biggest difference that leaps out to me is that USC flew across the country and won before 91,000 fans, about 85,000 of whom rooted for Virginia Tech. LSU played before 90,000 of its own fans, without whom the Tigers probably would have lost.

Third, everyone analyzes a game differently, and through the 125 or 130 different writers, broadcasters and coaches, it's quite possible that their consensus will be more accurate than the consensus of six computer formulas. People calculate these formulas, you know. They aren't mathematical truths discovered by Archimedes hundreds of years ago. I'll put my faith in the people who associated with the game.


I seek the same candid exposure of you and your colleagues that my e-mail address offers you.

A NAGGING QUESTION:
This is unabashedly a conspiracy theory. Are media pundits "persuaded" to espouse teams that gather the largest ratings/viewership for ESPN?

BEFORE YOU HANG UP...please stick around. Why you ask? here is a start:

It behooves you and your peers in higher places to begin addressing the type of coverage that many fans of ESPN would call parity BEFORE some other upstart network does.

FOX called itself fair and balanced at one time but we know who they vote for. CNN still paid the "Fair and Balanced" price. Politics or sports, in a media service capacity, you ignore this lesson at your peril.

It does not matter whether you and ESPN respond to me (doubt it) or, most importantly, to the millions of borderline ESPN fans who are forced to soothe their sports sweet tooth at the almighty ESPN. Speak the truth now or spend your salary wisely.

Yours truly,
Parrot in the coal mine
Ryan Bilbo
Baton Rouge

Ryan, don't you understand? If I expose the conspiracy, my job will be in danger. I can't say anymore than that, or else, OH, NO. THEY'RE ON TO ME. THEY'RE HERE! NO! NOT THE LAPTOP! DON'T TAKE THE LAP ---

Sorry, I was channeling Grisham there for a minute. Ryan, either stop going to see The Bourne Supremacy over and over or cut down on the Red Bull. I know I'm going to regret this, but I'm actually going to answer your concerns by asking you a question:
If we had a conspiracy against LSU, do you really think GameDay would have gone down there and provided a 90-minute commercial for the university on our air?

Hello?


It is no wonder teams like LSU cannot get a fair shake in the AP Poll. One game is scheduled to be nationally televised, and it is on ESPN (not ABC) and is the first game of the season. This is the defending BCS Champion! Week in and week out, you can see any number of USC or Oklahoma games on ABC and ESPN, and their biggest games (as if USC has such a thing) are sure to be held up front and center on a national scale, while LSU at Georgia, Auburn, Florida etc. are all shunned and treated like cancer. This becomes a larger problem when you consider the larger roll the AP plays in the ranking and that SOS is left up to these same AP writers to evaluate. How is a team like LSU expected to get a fair shake under this reality?

Brenden Stewart
Wilmington NC

Brenden, LSU is on TV more often than Seinfeld. If you are asking why LSU is only scheduled on ESPN/ABC once, that's because the SEC has its primary contract with CBS. But I'm really not sure what you're asking.


When will "The Program" be aired on ESPN? Is this a production that will be shown on College GameDay?

Thanks,
Jason Kasinger
Tulsa

To Jason, and the couple of dozen Sooners who e-mailed me from as far away as the Middle East:

"The Program" doesn't always refer to a television program. Sometimes, "The Program" can mean "A Football Team." In this case, those of us at ESPN.com will be writing about the Sooners and posting the stories on the website. That's where the project will stop.


I live about 3 and a half blocks from the OU football stadium. I live in a house with 3 roommates, all students, and we're blessed with a large yard. As is mentioned, parking is pretty sparse for the games. So we hang out front with the rest of the neighbors and hold up signs for $10 parking. Last year, we had to compete with the couple next door because they had their 4 year-old daughter dress up in an OU cheer outfit and hold their sign. So we had to give out free (or more properly, included) hot dogs and the odd beer to those who shell out the cash. The Bowling Green game Saturday is at 11:00 a.m., so we're dispensing with the beer and giving out Irish Coffee (and likely consuming some) with our hot dogs. So if somebody from ESPN.com would like to stop by -- if anyone will be here -- there will be some you guys, and I suppose we could even make and exception for celebrities and waive the fee! We make $150 per weekend and use it to fund spring break. Maybe an interesting tidbit for the new series. Boomer. Michael Kimball
Norman

Let me get this straight: you're competing with a kindergartner by handing out whiskey? Man, I thought politics was cutthroat.


It seems that many of those pompous and arrogant SEC fans are a little nervous about the new ACC. If the ACC is still a second-tier conference, then why all the jealousy? One writer stated that ACC schools needed to do "what it takes to field winning football programs." If that means having over 2/3 of your schools on probation or under investigation for cheating, then I say no thanks. We will continue winning without paying linemen $20,000 to go to school or asking them to spell "cat" on a biology final. Another reader mentioned "middle of the pack" teams that can't compete with "traditional" SEC powers. I was watching the Peach Bowl a couple years ago when "middle of the pack" Maryland played "traditional power" Tennessee. I watched the game with a pompous SEC fan who kept saying the entire first half how this wasn't the real Tennessee and that soon Maryland would be suffering. By the second half, when it was 30-3, he kept making injury excuses. I think EJ Henderson is still making plays behind Tennessee's line! Anyway, SEC fans need to get over their arrogance and face facts that they aren't the only game in town anymore. Thanks for letting me vent. GO TERPS!

Mike Bell
Baltimore

Mike, if you're not a lawyer, you can play one on the Internet anytime you like. That's as airtight as a jar of Aunt Minnie's peaches.


Wow, the SEC fans really have themselves worked up over the possibility of the ACC being tagged as a better conference. To all those SEC fans who say that the new-look ACC has nothing on them, here are a couple things to chew on. Since 1990, 67 ACC teams and 67 SEC teams have finished in the AP Top 25. Breaking that down further, there were 4 champs from the ACC and 3 from the SEC; 27 top 10 finishes in the ACC, 29 in the SEC; 53 Top 20 finishes from the ACC and 54 from the ACC. Those numbers look pretty close to me. The tradition is not there, but that can only get you so far, and we're talking about best conference today, not in history. I'll take today's ACC vs. the SEC any day of the week. Sounds to me like the SEC fans are a little scared that they're dominance is about to end and that the ACC, which sits right in their backyard, will start taking all their precious recruits!

Mark Prince
Washington, DC

I can't vouch for Mark's numbers, because I didn't go back and do the math. Pretty interesting, though. I think we all concede the SEC's historical weight. It's what happens from here on out that's interesting. Long-term, I still believe the SEC will be stronger, because of that history. Short-term, as in this season, I like the ACC.


Maisel Is Lame

After so assuredly predicting Vandy to wax my Gamecocks this weekend, I thought surely you would at least mention the fact that you were not just wrong, but really, really wrong. That spill about Vandy returning 21 starters cost a lot of people money this weekend (it certainly wasn't just you saying that, though). The fact is that only 4 of those 21 are worth a crap. The rest are not good players. I know that S. Carolina is a perennial loser, but we have a good deal of talent on our team and had MUCH more talent than Vandy.

We in the Gamecock nation expect you to throw us a bone sometime this week to make amends. :)

In fact, here's a tip for you: don't be shocked if we beat Georgia this weekend. I know they are good, but we always play them well at home.

Have a good week,
Heath Atkinson
Florence, South Carolina

I know when I'm beat, so I'm joining them. I'll be at South Carolina-Georgia game on Saturday evening.


I read your column quite often, most of the time, I have no problems with the things that you say. I think that most of the time you are reporting in a factual manner, but you made a small slip in your 2003 season is over column on ESPN.com. At the time I wrote this, which is to say, Monday September 6th, Matt Mauck is still a member of the Denver Broncos. Of all coaches I would think that (Mike) Shanahan would see the value of keeping three QBs on the roster. Anyway, as a rabid LSU fan and a not-as-rabid Denver Fan, I was a little shocked to see you report that Mauck had been cut. As a member of the media, (specifically TV news) I am used to seeing little factual errors. In fact nine times out of 10 I can look past the error. In this case though, it took me all of two minutes to find out if Mauck had been cut (as of league cutdown day). Two credible sources; denverbroncos.com and espn.com still list Mauck on the roster.

You are a good journalist, and I enjoy your writing, but it irks me to see things that are reported wrong, when one could take three minutes to check various sources and verify the information.

Thanks for your time and keep up the good work.

Nick Blackhall
KVUE
Austin

I'm driving home from the airport Sunday afternoon and I hear my colleagues Sean Salisbury and John Clayton discussing Mauck being cut and Shanahan's decision to go with two quarterbacks. Good enough for me.

Well, it turns out they had gotten a tip that led them to believe that Mauck would be cut. I misunderstood and thought they were reporting that he had been cut.

By the way, Nick, I love the last line of your very polite note. What good work exactly were you referring to?

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at ivan.maisel@espn3.com. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel E-mails.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com