Do Not Pay Attention To The Bleacher Report Comment Count

Brian December 17th, 2008 at 2:30 PM

I was just going to let this go, but then Dr. Saturday had to go and bring it up:

According to a very plausible though not at all confirmed first draft of Tommy Tuberville's exit from the Plains on Bleacher Report, Rane (rather than the much-loathed busybody Bobby Lowder, who notoriously orchestrated the JetGate scandal of 2003) is also the booster who set the dominoes in motion after the Iron Bowl.

I've seen this post pop up on a message board or two, but on the good Doctor's site? Say it ain't so.

First of all, that kooky conspiracy theory is obviously wrong to anyone who's read the contract. The key passage:

The night Alabama drilled Auburn 36-0, a prominent Auburn booster (not the usual bank-owning one but one who sells pressure-treated wood and wears a yellow hat) made a phone call. This may have been a $5.1 million phone call.

Since he knows most of the SEC coaches on a first-name basis and shoots ads with many of them, he has their personal private phone numbers. So he calls Houston Nutt over in Mississippi and asks what it might take to have Houston change his address again to Auburn.

Supposedly this triggers a "non-interference clause" in Tuberville's contract, puts Auburn on the hook for a lot of money, and precipitates the Jimmy Sexton-engineered firing/hiring double play. Except this theory relies on a rogue booster making an unauthorized phone call to Houston Nutt and the clause in Tuberville's contract reads like so:

Unless notice has been given by Coach to Auburn of his termination of this Agreement, neither the President nor the Athletic Director of Auburn or any person or entity acting at or under their express authority shall discuss or negotiate directly or indirectly Auburn's prospective employment of any other person as Head Football Coach of Auburn without notice to Coach.

IE: unless someone actually in the Auburn athletic department signed off on this call, this clause has not been violated. Rane is a trustee, but he is not the President, AD, or someone working at or under their authority, and certainly not their express authority. The theory is full of crap from the word go.

Which should be no surprise because it's post on the Bleacher Report, where absolutely anyone can post absolutely anything. This feels like a curmudgeonly complaint more suited to an elderly guy wearing a hat that says "press," I know, but I've seen this from time to time on message boards and other blogs: idiot writes something idiotic on the Bleacher Report, someone takes it more seriously than they should under the assumption that whoever posted it is some sort of professional or, you know, writer. (The mere fact that people can't immediately tell the difference between the dreck on the Bleacher Report and your average MSM columnist is perhaps the most damning criticism you can offer of MSM columnists.)

The Bleacher Report is an amorphous shifting population of people, all of whom seem incapable of dressing themselves. This differs from blogs, because Dr. Saturday is Dr. Saturday and EDSBS is EDSBS and MGoBlog is MGoBlog. Blogs build credibility over time. The Bleacher Report gets it from some nice software, I guess.

That doesn't mean anything on it is worth paying attention to. This hot rumor's source is this guy

Larry lives with his wife, son and Pug  [sic] (Baccardi [sic] the Wonder Dog)... [sic] He's a moderator at [sic] and a member of the rowdy bunch [sic] at [email protected] [sic], [sic](where the motto is "Wear [sic] a Cup [sic]"). He served several terms as a director in the Red Elephant Club and loves to meet with the Crimson Tide coaches and administrators. His Bama years were from 1976 to 1981 during the back to back National Championship [sic] years!

…who is not only a diehard Alabama fan but one who thinks [email protected] is, like, a coherent thing you can say. And has named his dog "Baccardi [sic] the Wonder Dog." And hasn't even read Tuberville's contract. And got this theory from emails and message boards. Under no circumstances should this man be taken seriously.

With the freedom that comes on a platform where anyone can post anything comes the chore of wading through the crap, of discerning good content from bad. Here's a primary heuristic: ignore the Bleacher Report.



December 17th, 2008 at 8:10 PM ^

I don't have much to say about the post in question as I'm not super knowledge-able about SEC football, but as one of the guys who started Bleacher Report and longtime reader and admirer of sports blogs, I feel I have something to add about your take on B/R.

Whenever I hear a blogger deride B/R because 'anyone can post anything so it lacks all credibility', it's as if I'm hearing an echo of a mainstream journalist (ie, Bissinger on Costas) deriding blogs because 'anyone can start a blog so they lack all credibility'.

It's the same argument, and it's a b.s. argument in both cases. There are Bleacher Report writers who are uninteresting, bad writers, and lack any credibility. There are also hordes and hordes of bloggers who are uninteresting, bad writers, and lack any credibility.

On the other hand, just as there are great bloggers/blogs like the ones you have mentioned who have demonstrated a record of great writing and high credibility, there are plenty of Bleacher Report writers with the same qualities.

The "chore of wading through the crap" on Bleacher Report, as you put it, is no different from the chore of wading through the far more infinite crap on the Internet as a whole until discovering great blogs like MGoBlog, EDSBS, Dr. Saturday, etc.

Fortunately, at least on Bleacher Report it's all at one place and our "nice software" serves to help filter all the content on Bleacher Report and surface the best and most interesting posts and writers to the top.

So if you think of Bleacher Report as a microcosm of the blogosphere, except it's all in one place, it's all about sports, and it has it's own filtering mechanisms to surface good stuff, then is the problem really that it's a bad platform that lacks on credibility, or is it just that you haven't spent enough time on the site to get to know it and it's standout contributors as well as you know the blogosphere?

Curious to hear your answer, and I hope it's not a variation on broad and misguided proclamation that journalists have been making about blogs and their lack of credibility for years.

Incidentally, Bissinger will probably be posting something Bleacher Report early next year.


December 18th, 2008 at 9:30 AM ^

I was the author of this story. I heard the rumors and then called an Auburn employee inside the administration who I have been lifelong friends with. He confirmed that Tubbs was to be fired and that the phone call from Raines got him favorable terms and he said in his opinion the rest of the story may be true as well.

Since you don't know me, my contacts or anything, you're blasting of me at B/R is exactly what you accused me of. I guess in your world a fan of one school can't write about another without it being unfair.

This was a great story. That it was written by a bama fan is not the point. I have had DOZENS of Auburn fans write me to thank me for exposing it and two that said they checked for themselves and apparently it was all too true.

So before YOU cast stones, you should have all YOUR facts in order...


December 18th, 2008 at 9:40 AM ^

There are tons of shit blogs. Tons. More than you can count. But because a blog is a continuous record of the people writing it, it's easy to look through a few posts and determine if it's trustworthy or not, if so inclined. As Brian says, the EDSBS and Dr. Saturday and MGoBlog's of the world build up credibility through their posting and time.

The Bleacher Report probably does have some good posters. But the fact is, anyone can post there. This doesn't mean we shouldn't read it. It means you have to take everything written there with a grain of salt - is it anymore trustworthy than using Wikipedia as a legitimate source?

The problem is the Bleacher Report has very few standout contributors. Overall, it's a mountain of suck with people like Lisa Horne and the guy we're talking about here.

I could go post an article on my blog that says Lloyd Carr was the Machiavellian mastermind behind the Rodriguez hire, but that he only wanted it to happen because he knew would fail, and that would allow Debord to get the job in three years. I could accuse him of tampering with the Michigan program behind the scenes and deliberately undermining it. It would be completely made up and full of libel. Since my blog is an established non-source of news, in that we have never ever ever reported news or scoops, nobody would take it seriously.

I could post the same thing on the Bleacher Report, write a fake bio claiming I enjoy meeting with various Michigan coaches and administrators, and people might buy it because it looks like I'm a columnist on a reputable site because of the fancy software.

That's my problem with it. That and the teeming masses of absolutely abysmal writers that populate the site.


April 1st, 2010 at 3:37 PM ^

Not defending anyone today, and this is certainly true of many columnists, but you've repeated the following quote several times now, and before it becomes too much of a mantra, I should warn you that "MSM columnist" in

The mere fact that people can't immediately tell the difference between the dreck on the Bleacher Report and your average MSM columnist is perhaps the most damning criticism you can offer of MSM columnists.

could be substituted for "blogger" and be just as applicable.

You can't just decry the bottom of the barrel for print as the fault of the medium any more than you can count the creme de la creme of blogging (in which I include yourself, Voox, Kurt Mensching, et al.) as the norm for all sports blogs.

And let's be fair, anyone could start a sports blog. A couple buddies of mine got drunk at a Superbowl party, had a drunk conversation about David Wright watching the game with Howard Johnson, and within the week there was a blog about how David Wright should grow a mustache. Technically, I could have a blogspot up in 5 minutes this afternoon and say anything I want to.

I also can post a diary on your blog, and until a moderator finds it, all of your readers could be misled into whatever rabbit hole I chose. And they would believe it, because I've spent, what, two years on this site? Because I wrote "The Decimated Defense" series? All you've got holding me down is that I have made "Misopogon" my Internet-wide handle and wouldn't want to damage my own credibility. But I have the same power that any guy with 20 MGoPoints has.

At least some of the a-holes who grace the sports pages of the local papers had to go through a tough process to earn their writing positions. The reason it seems to us that so many slipped through the cracks is because we're way way way more discerning than the general populace. The bulk of MGoBlog readers are. That's why they're here in the first place, because we're the uber-nutsoid fans who will put uber-nutsoid time into being aware of our team.

Crappy columnists didn't appear because it suddenly became easy to be a sports columnist, but because these media found there was more money in crappy annoyance journalism than in analysis, that glib answers that agreed with preconceived notions were a bigger market than a long explanation. If there's a fundamental flaw in the medium itself, then, it's that they must appeal to the widest possible audience, whereas a blog can target a much smaller group.

This is very true:

With the freedom that comes on a platform where anyone can post anything comes the chore of wading through the crap, of discerning good content from bad. Here's a primary heuristic: ignore the Bleacher Report.

But what's the next heuristic?

The way a blog earns credibility, as you pointed out, is by consistently providing good information, over an extended period of time. In that regard, I think print actually has a head start, since at least a ton of money has been put on the line every time something is published. Under that paradigm, you must admit that MSM probably knows what it's doing as to maximizing its market, and providing the goods that their market desires. Therefore, I would say that if people don't know the difference between the Bleacher Report and MSM, that says less about MSM than it does about people.