Behind Enemy Lines – Big, Bad Media

FireWillHeath returns for another season of giving us a look at Auburn through Crimson-colored glasses. I know this Mr. FireWillHeath and he does have teeth, and doesn’t paint himself like that guy over there, so it may not be a true look into the dark side, but at least it’s somewhat edumacated and odjective. And no, that is not an Auburn fan making fun of an Alabama fan. That’s an Alabama fan hopefully embarrassing all other Alabama fans. Please let FireWillHeath know what you think of his thoughts in the comments section.
1RollTideSeason 2, Week 1 – Big, Bad Media
by FireWillHeath

I know better than to get involved with this for a second season. Last season, you may recall, I found myself speaking for a majority of Auburn fans, of all things, by wondering a) why Chris Todd continued to play (even though he evoked comparisons to Corbett Ogletree, and not in a good way) and b) whether Tommy Tuberville was slowly quitting on the season (and Auburn) … and then it turned out he kinda was. Then, of course, I compared 2008 Alabama to 2004 Auburn and the whole thing went to hell.

Anyway, to start Season 2 of this, I don’t want to start by downing Gene Chizik (even though he may be Mike Dubose, redux). I don’t want to start by wondering how in the hell Gus Malzahn is going to be an offensive genius when his trigger-man is Chris Todd (dude, the same guy? Seriously?). Instead, to start this week, let’s talk about the media.

That’s one thing fans of all stripes have in common, right? Nobody likes the media. They’re either biased against Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia, or Miami. They constantly overrate Notre Dame, USC, Ohio St., Tim Tebow, and the NFL. They’re constantly ticking off our coaches by asking “that question,” and occasionally will even write columns that are negative toward our favorite program (or put our rivals on their front page). We’re all pretty much convinced the press is against us.

Alabama fans have been conditioned to hate the media since the halcyon days of Paul Bryant, when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Saturday Evening Post printed separate, unfavorable stories about the program in Tuscaloosa (one said he was teaching “brutal football,” the other that he had conspired to fix a game). Bryant sued over the stories, won, and Tide fans have harbored a distrust for the Atlanta papers ever since. Hell, the guy who was the sports editor at the time the stories ran (Furman Bisher) is now roughly 273 years old, and I doubt he could get a drink at the Houndstooth even now. Media bias is also a natural Southern instinct, ever since the Yankee papers went out of their way to crucify us as a bunch of inbred, racist hicks (only half-true … and I’ll let you decide which half). If they’re not biased against us in sports, they’re certainly biased against us politically.

Here’s the thing about media bias, though: it’s a fantasy. It’s not real. We invent it. Why on Earth would we invent media bias? It’s actually quite simple: it’s more fun to be on the side of the underdog. Anytime your team earns a big win, what’s the one thing everybody says? “Nobody believed in us! The only people who believed in us are the people in this locker room!” Well, of course we say that. Who wants to root for the team everybody believed in? It’s why all of us hate the Yankees (except me).

But back to the original point. Media bias is a made-up thing. The columnists who are ripping our favorite team are the same guys who will be praising them next week. As for the beat writers … take it from someone who’s been around those guys — they hate every team equally. Their only real passion is for thirds at the press-box buffet. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the media, yes, and worked in sports media for more than five years before moving over to news. I have a natural bias toward the press. It’s just how I roll.)

Furthermore, it’s simply outlandish for the press to be biased against everyone. If Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee fans all think the press is biased toward the other guys … I mean, how is that even possible? Does anyone ever stop to think how ridiculous that is?

In fact, since this is a Week 1 post, and everybody else is making predictions, I’ll make one: if Auburn jumps out to a 4-0 start in 2009 (and they just might), you won’t be worried at all about the press. Media bias will be the last thing on everybody’s mind.