East Coast Bias unmasked, finally

Ever have one of those pet peeves that stay with you for years and years and years and you never really get to unleash the stored up venom?

As you might guess, I have several, but few that have historically and consistently bugged me for years as much as the East Coast Bias of sportswriters when it comes to College Football Polls.

It’s a scandalous era of sport that made the entire sport more of a mockery than Eastern Bloc judges during Communist Era Olympic Competitions. It was shameless.

I got so fed up I stopped watching all College Football other than my beloved Oregon Ducks. I never watched a BCS game other than when the Ducks played Auburn. I simply couldn’t stand it any longer.

Until now. Until this day, when finally… finally FINALLY I get to unleash the hounds!

Just a few weeks ago the Associated Press poll ranking the best college football teams had four of the top six teams from one division of the SEC.

Remember that?

How smart do those pollsters look now that we are headed into the first real national championship game to be decided with an actual playoff, AND, what a shock, it’s the first time in nearly a dozen years the SEC doesn’t have a team in the game.

Dick Cheney can’t spin like the backers of bowls and the old BCS who insist that a playoff would compromise the integrity of the regular season. It’s as inane a statement as GWs “Mission Accomplished,” yet it stood for years and years until the sport was virtually ruined.

Until now. Until the day when the vaunted SEC, the far-and-away “best conference in the country” for more than a decade, finally had to prove its reputation on the field. This day of reckoning came just a few weeks from when the division was so stellar its fourth best team was ranked sixth in the nation.

Polls2

How did it do? It bombed worse than Idina Manzel’s high note on New Year’s Eve. (Actually its a bad comparison. Manzel put on a great show in freezing weather and at least had the guts not too lip sync like so many other “stars” do these days, I retract the comparison. Come to think of it, that’s the SEC… the lip sync football teams.)

The vaunted four of Alabama, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Auburn lost all four of its bowl games. Alabama, the number one team in the polls for a better part of seven years and number one seed in the playoff tournament lost to Ohio State who played with its third-string QB.  Ole Miss got absolutely embarrassed by TCU. Mississippi State couldn’t compete with a three-loss ACC team that didn’t even win its conference, and Auburn lost to a Wisconsin team that was steamrolled, shutout and lost by 50 in the conference championship game against Ohio State. The SEC’s best turned out to be barely average compared to good teams outside its own division.

For decades of college polling West Coast teams took a beating from the so-called “East Coast Bias” of sportswriters. Ask any East Coast sportswriter and they’ll tell you Big Foot is more real than claims of bias. But I spent four years working in newspapers back East and I can tell you, without a doubt, not only does the East Coast Bias exist, it has basically made a sham of college football polls for decades.

The East Coast Bias wasn’t this back-room, cigar-smoke-filled room, conspiracy. It was group think at its finest. You couldn’t convince an East Coast writer to see West Coast teams in the proper light. The sheer density of cities in the East compared to the West meant far more writers in the East, watching East Coast games, writing stories about East Coast teams and building in a bias that became so outlandish few blinked when it became such a travesty that four of the top six teams in the country came from TWO states: Alabama and Mississippi.

ESPN’s Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) said at that time that the “eye test” proved those vaunted programs were simply so much better than all the rest. He thought it almost criminal that they were going to destroy each other and ruin their chance of all of them getting into the playoffs. He said any reasonable sports fan can simply watch a game and see the NFL talent on all four of those teams and know they were so much better than the rest.

Well they did beat each other up and lost a few others to mediocre opponents along the way as well. Yet they all got prime bowl games against decent teams. Then they all went out and simply stunk. So much for the “eye test” that a so-called expert like Cowherd claims as fact. That is not fact; it’s East Coast Bias at its best.

(Side note: Cowherd is such an “expert” that once on his radio show in Portland he interviewed strippers and then had his female co-worker strip with them in studio. Listeners could only hear Cowherd’s awkward attempt to act nonplussed. What strippers on a radio has to do with sports was never explained but I  guess they passed his eye test).

It took two things to unmask what will eventually be rightly viewed as one of the most corrupt eras of any sports at any time. 1) It took an actual playoff where teams had to win a championship against teams outside its own division, and 2) it took the extreme bias to simply grow to such foolish proportions that it could not longer be explained away. Four of the top six team from one division, much less conference, when few of those teams played anyone who matter outside of their conference? It was homerism to such an extreme, Kool-Aid slurping to such preposterous levels that finally the sham could be unmasked.

Thank God the time has come.

Now what does this have to do with anything? Nothing really, other than the fact that I got worked up enough to write 1,000 words on the topic suggests my spiritual slump may be a tad deeper than I want to admit. Much ado about nothing, the Bard wrote, and well I guess so do I.

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