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Plum Diamonds Lab Grown Diamond Rings
Ivan Maisel E-mails


Monday, January 10, 2005
By Ivan Maisel

<!-- template inline -->I'll be honest here. The e-mails below are a lot more polite than the ones that they represent. The All-Bowl team brought out a visceral reaction in readers, especially Ohio State fans who are convinced that the lack of Buckeyes on the team is further proof of a vast ESPN-wide conspiracy against the university.

If we had a conspiracy, I feel sure I would have gotten a memo about it. I get memos about company goals, software upgrades, TV ratings, Internet traffic, grammar, style, picnics, holiday parties, hirings, resignations, and cafeteria construction. But no.

That e-mail must be on the same e-mail chain as the supposed conspiracy against LSU. Many Tiger fans celebrated the first anniversary of complaining about sharing the national championship with USC by complaining about the references to USC's back-to-back titles. I made a point of referring in the story to three straight "AP national championships," which has the added benefit of being factual, but LSU fans paused in their goodbyes to Nick Saban to complain nonetheless.

Plenty of USC fans complained about Matt Leinart watching Vince Young from the All-Bowl team bench.

I got no e-mails about a column written last week by T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times, in which he referred to me as a "slow-talking hick from Alabama." I was sure that among the dozens of TJ's readers, one of them would have written.

I considered hiring a libel attorney, until my wife pointed out to me that facts are not actionable.

On with the e-mails:

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I guess Braylon Edwards' three touchdowns and 10 receptions and 109 yards of offense is not worthy of you All-Bowl Team?

Neil Herriman
Augusta, GA

Neil, Edwards played great, but we're not filling out an 85-man All-Bowl roster. We picked a team. If it makes you feel any better, he was the last receiver I deleted.

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</TD></TR><TR><TD width=195>[font=verdana, arial, geneva]Ted Ginn, Jr., was good in Ohio State's bowl win, just not good enough for the All-Bowl team.[/font]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Mr. Maisel: I have been a long-time fan of your work, and I greatly respect your opinions. I am curious as to how Ted Ginn, Jr. and Mike Nugent were omitted from your All-Bowl team. I am not trying to take anything away from Dusty Mangum's last second kick that defeated Michigan, but Mike Nugent's performance in the Alamo Bowl made him the all-time leading scorer in Ohio State history. During the game, Nugent kicked three field goals, two from 37 yards and one from 35 yards -- how often have you seen a college kicker be as automatic as Nugent? As for Ted Ginn, Jr., his all-around performance should have at least merited an honorable mention. Even though he only scored one touchdown, he had many big plays running and receiving that prompted ESPN's announcers to call him a Heisman candidate for next season.

Chip Minnich,
Avon Lake, OH

Chip, Nugent was the last player I deleted from the roster. Thanks for taking nothing away from Mangum. It came down to an either/or situation. Mangum's single game-winning kick impressed me more than Nugent's performance in a rout. As for Ginn, I understand his impact as well. It was greater than his numbers, which, although good, didn't measure up to the other players. Don't forget that there are 28 winning teams and not even that many positions for players.

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Agreed, USC looked rock-solid against Oklahoma. It's also true that USC beat Auburn 23-0 in '03. But -- the current version of the Auburn Tigers, with an outstanding secondary, and cat-quick defense, bear little resemblance to the team of '03. Football is about matchups and Auburn matched up very favorably to USC. No, we'll never know who would won the game, had those two teams squared off.

Auburn would've made a game of it, though, and I, for one, given all the intangibles that this Auburn team possessed, think that the Tigers would've found a way to beat those Trojans.

By the way, I really enjoy all your columns and observations. You're very knowledgeable and, above all, unbiased!

Merritt Falkner
Dothan, AL

The main reason I included this letter was because I once dated a woman from Dothan. No, her name wasn't Falkner. Plenty of Auburn fans objected my crowning of USC as the undisputed national champion. The word "undisputed" may have been piling on, given the feelings of the Auburn fans. However, I can't find anyone outside of the Auburn fans who believes the Tigers are No. 1. As far as the trophies are concerned, undisputed is correct.

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I'd hesitate to call the mid-90s Huskers a dynasty, so by any definition of the word, USC falls short. While USC is inarguably a very good team, they don't quite fit the mold of the "all-time-great" teams. They were the better-coached and better-prepared team, but they were also a team almost custom-built to exploit the few but glaring chinks in the armor of the OU defense. Throwing out last season and what I consider a "mythical" national championship (like the split national championships of the early '90s), this season's USC team is very much like the '94 Huskers, a team that was the best in the land without being mythically so. Nebraska outscored their opponents 459-162 (remarkably similar to USC's 496-169 point totals this season), but struggled with Wyoming and an Oklahoma team that finished 6-6. Southern Cal squeaked by BCS-wannabe Cal and survived an encounter with a feisty Oregon State team that finished the regular season 6-5. The 1995 Huskers, on the other hand, rank with the greatest college football teams of all time. Their point differential was an unbelievable plus-464. The only "close" game Nebraska played that season was a two-touchdown victory over a scrappy Washington State team (led by Mike Price) that lost eight games that season, but only lost two by more than 14 points. Nebraska averaged a 38-point margin of victory for the entire season, and enjoyed a slightly higher 39-point average victory margin in Big Eight play. Nebraska played in four National Championship games in a five-year span from 93-97, winning three of them. USC still has a few more years and a few more championships before they can make a real case that they're a dynasty.

Brian Flores
Metairie, LA

Brian, thanks for a well-informed letter, although I would point out that the 1994 national championship came at the expense of 12-0 Penn State, and the 1997 national championship was shared (with Michigan) as well. Personally, I think USC will be back in the BCS national championship game, if not next season, then soon after.

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</TD></TR><TR><TD width=195>[font=verdana, arial, geneva]QB Sam Keller (370 yards, 3 TDs in Sun Bowl win) will lead ASU next year.[/font]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>I agree with you that the Trojans are a dynasty waiting to happen, and I agree that the Pac-10 will be tougher. But come on. You're saying Oregon State and Arizona State -- two teams whose biggest strengths this season were their senior quarterbacks -- will provide the toughest tests for USC in 2005. I think it's funny how the media can show so much sympathy for a program like Cal when it is one of the hard-luck stories of the year, then all of a sudden after one loss to a tough team in the postseason it's like they're right back where they started -- on the backburner of the national scene. How could Pat Forde not even include the Bears in his early Top 25 for next year? That is absolutely ridiculous. This is the same team that has lost a lot of talent in each of Jeff Tedford's two offseasons and yet has managed to improve. Sure they're losing a lot, but anybody who knows anything about the depth and young talent of this team (as most college football writers should) knows that it is not the end of the world just because Rodgers, Arrington, and McArthur won't be back. Here's hoping you and everybody else doesn't feel that surprised when Cal is still one of the best teams in the country next year.

Eli Miller
Fourth-year student at UC-Berkeley

First of all, Eli, as regards your condescension toward Arizona State, the quarterback who came in for injured senior Andrew Walter won the Sun Bowl, and Sam Keller is coming back, along with just about everyone else. I don't know why Pat didn't rank Cal -- it may be the inner Stanford in him, of which I am so proud -- but no one is so knee-jerk as to downgrade the Bears on the basis of one loss. It may have had more to do with nine senior starters on defense who won't be back next fall.

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You have found a way to write an article that misrepresents a broken coach to prove a point that can only be argued: that USC is No. 1. No, you can't prove it ... (Y)ou and the rest of the Associated Press forget to mention the facts. Furthermore, I find it appalling that you would say that [coach Tommy] Tuberville admitted that USC is the best team in the country, when he only admitted what everyone else failed to see, that Oklahoma is nowhere near the second-best football team in the country.

Once again Auburn gets no credit, even for next year. Ranked 21st for the preseason 2005, Auburn would fail to win a national championship again if they were to go undefeated. You have ruined college football and it will never be the same. And it is because of you that we saw one of the worst championship games in the history of sports last night. I hope that you don't forget that, until you report the facts and decide to watch the teams play that you write about, you will continue to do nothing but hurt the sport and the athletes.

Jonathan Moore
Auburn Student

Broken coach? No, Paul Pasqualoni is a broken coach. He didn't get fired until nearly everyone else had filled their vacancies, which means his assistants will be scrambling for jobs.

I don't think I ruined college football, although your belief that it is within my powers to do so has made me feel so strong that I'm going to work out twice today. The voters, of which I am not one, may have ruined your season of college football, but there's no reason that you should let them. Buy your T-shirt, and have a great time at the parade this Saturday.

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As the NCAA football season winds down I would like to thank you for your fair and unbiased reporting this year and comment on something that gave me a little chuckle. Jim Donnan interviewed legendary coach Barry Switzer and future legend Bob Stoops not long ago and the article was posted on ESPN.com. It was an interesting read but I had to laugh at Switzer and Stoops comments supporting the BCS. Of course they like the BCS! Last year the BCS gave them a shot at the National Championship after they lost their conference and this year it has kept them from being the odd man out. No wonder teams like USC and Auburn are the ones that support a playoff system. They know what it feels like to be denied the opportunity they have earned.

Thanks again, Ivan!

John Cobia

I hadn't thought about that, John, but you get the feeling that OU will defend the BCS until its death, which won't be anytime soon.

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Can ESPN be any more biased against the SEC? Since when did USC win the national championship last year???

LSU won it last year, in case you don't remember.

We STILL remember how ESPN screwed Peyton Manning over for the Heisman because he wasn't playing in the Rose Bowl.

Is it to much to ask for you to be fair and retract that comment??

John Partlow

I thought we were supposed to be biased against Ohio State and the west coast, and now you tell me we're supposed to be biased against the SEC? Man, I can't keep it straight.

I wasn't working for ESPN in 1997, but the voters screwed Peyton Manning over, not the network. That sounds to me a lot like people who complain about the influence of the liberal media. The liberal media's influence is so powerful that Republicans have won five of the last seven Presidential elections and control both houses of Congress.

I maintain that then, as now, the voters aren't paying any attention to what Trev, Mark, Lee, Kirk, Chris, Jill, Ivan or Peter Gammons says.

Writers, in general, don't think TV people know what day today is, much less who should win the Heisman.

Writers think TV's idea of research is to open the morning paper and read it.

I will tell you that the people at College GameDay work very hard, and do more research than you can imagine, but I didn't know the depth of it until I came to work here.

Still, the politics between writers and TV people are such that I believe the influence of the commentators is as overblown as the paranoia of everyone who thinks ESPN has it in for their team/conference/region/waist size.

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A point of clarification regarding your final graph in [the Dec. 21] story regarding AP's pullout from the BCS.

You wrote: "An AP voter in Alabama, Paul Gattis of the Huntsville Times, was chastised for voting Auburn No. 3 by the editor of his paper -- in print."

While editor Melinda Gorham certainly warrants criticism for hanging Paul out to dry (along with pandering to the paper's Auburn readership), she chastised him for the sarcastic tone of his column, not for ranking Auburn No. 3.

Though it hardly makes her front-page apology any more palatable, I thought it warranted mentioning.

Allan Taylor
Assistant Sports Editor/SEC writer
Chattanooga Times Free Press

Thanks for the clarification, Allan. I hate blowing a slam dunk like that.

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You were right, oh great one. The Sooner sham was real. I promise not to doubt your wisdom next year. I really think you should tape Geno's 'Sweet Home Alabama' rendition that he's promised and put it on ESPN Motion. Have a good offseason, I'm already looking forward to next August and as painful as it is to say so ... Go Sooners!

Jeff L. Berry
Hays, KS

Jeff, you have a future in programming.

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When is Miami going to get smart and fire Larry Coker? I'm not one of those UM fans that expect them to win the national title or even compete for it every year. But let's face it: the Hurricanes have gone from 12-0 to 12-1 to 11-2 to [9-3]. That's not exactly positive progress. Mr. Coker seems like a really nice guy, but nice doesn't exactly equate to winning.

The worst thing is having watched the Hurricanes a number of times this year, they don't appear to have enough talent on the field to compete with any teams in the Top 25. Quite frankly, I can't see them winning more than six games next year.

So, how far is the university willing to let the program sink before they make the necessary change? Winning isn't everything, but at least being competitive should count for something, and I don't mean competing to finish in the middle of the ACC. Plus, my guess is the university could really use the BCS money. So two more years or one more year of mediocrity at best? I'm really curious.

Here's hoping someone takes a page out UF's playbook and starts up firelarrycoker.com. He certainly deserves it more than Ty Willingham or Ron Zook.


Steve Boykin

Coker is 44-6 in four seasons. That's a winning percentage of .875. So clearly, Coker should be fired. The same goes for Bob Stoops, because his record isn't even as good as Coker's. Stoops is 66-12 (.846), so Oklahoma should be calling a press conference any day now to send his sorry butt back to Youngstown. Pete Carroll? 42-9 (.824), two-and-a-half games worse than Coker over the same period of time. Gone.

We'll line 'em up for you, Steve. You just shoot 'em down.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at [email protected]. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel E-mails.
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Michael Jenkins...does it again!!!
I love it. the longer people like ivan maisel continue to defend larry coker, the longer the hurricanes will continue to slide into mediocrity. Miami is a sleeping giant, Butch Davis is a pretty bad coach and he was able to turn them around. Just imagine what a halfway decent coach could do at a place like Miami. It's scary.

I have watched Miami a good number of times these last 3 years. The only time where they don't look outcoached is against florida state, who is led by the equally hapless bobby bowden. I hope that the writer of the e-mail saves this article, so that in 2 years when miami has completely fallen on its face he can send it back to maisel.
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Stable Genius
Why would people spend their time e-mailing Maisel? Does it really matter that no Ohio State players were picked for another meaningless ESPN team?
We all know that Nugent was the best kicker in Ohio State, and propably college football history. We all know that Ginn had a great 1/2 season and will be a Heisman candidate next year. I don't understand why people let ESPN bother them so much. I know they're biased, I know they "have an agenda", but we've seen it all year. Screw 'em.
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Goal Goal USA!
Staff member
Former FF The Deuce Champ
MaxBuck said:
How's that again? I can think of many depreciatory adjectives to use with "Miami Hurricanes" - but "mediocre" is not one of them. Much as I hate them, Larry Coker's coaching record with the 'Canes is astounding.
aided by butch davis' teams of 2001 and 2002.
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Don't be penurious, donate to the BP Spring Dr.
Nice letter by Chip confirming that we're not all idiots. I wonder if Ivan remembered that it wasn't until late in the game that Ok. St. even had a chance to return a kickoff.
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I kinda can't argue with Maisel wiith most points he's caring to make. The Nuge one is the one I take particular umbrage to I guess. Like you said before Mili, if he missed, did that make him the worst kicker? Whatever. A kicker's still just a kicker though, and it's tough to gauge which kicker was worthy of being on the list. No doubt in most people's minds he was the best kicker of the year, but the thought of picking a kicker on one game seems, I don't know... retarted (I hope retards don't take offense to being associated with Maisel in any way).

But, to his credit, sure Ginn had a great game, but where exactly on the team were we putting him? It's not like he stood out at any position. Was utility/ath on the list? If so... I couldn't think of a better choice personally. If not, I kind of tend to agree with him.

I'm most of all of the 'who cares?' school of thought here. It's the all-bowl team. I suppose this is just signaling the onset of the 'offseason'. Can't wait until the downtime from LOI day to the Spring Game.
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Watching. Always watching.
Staff member
Although I normally would simply move on, once seeing that something is connected to ESPiN, I read this crap.

First, are we supposed to equate the treatment these wonderful professional journalists have handed out to Ohio State with the treatment they gave LSU? Is this supposed to 'prove' that there is no campaign against tOSU? Is it possible that if he really is that slow, they may not send him the really complicated memos, that is memos that include words with more than four letters? :tic:

Second, do we really think that Nuge and Ginn were left off for any other reason than to get tOSU fans upset and talking about these slimeballs? And here we are with them right back on our board. Do we really care what these buggers think? Who cares what their opinion is in the endless meaningless lists they put together? Geez, take a step back and look at some of the meaningless lists and then realize that all the lists are simply intended to get fans to respond like lemmings.

Third, how about the ego in that column? Not bad for a "slow-talking hick from Alabama"? We're supposed to cry because he has such great wisdom and our guys "just don't make the grade." :sob:

I got the biggest kick as he put himself on a pedestal and let us know that, in his wisdom, this or that player was the last player he dropped from his list. :rofl:

It's a personal choice but I can't tell you how much better life is without ESPiN. Now, I'm not someone who would challenge the wisdom of such sterling journalists, or stand in the way of their next Pulitzer Prize, but I choose not to be a lemming!
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