Friday, July 14, 2006

New York Times Shocked by (Yawn) Auburn Scandal

Truly shocking revelations about Auburn's football program in yesterday's New York Times. As the Times breathlessly reported, several players allegedly received "high grades from the same professor for sociology and criminology courses that required no attendance and little work." Wow! An academic scandal at Auburn. What is the world coming to?

This story one of those unintentionally hilarious pieces that only a stuffy old institution like the Times could crank out. The Gray Lady may be the most respected name in American journalism, but when it comes to sports, the paper "throws like a girl." They've had some decent sports columnists over the years, but it's still fair to say that the two signature features of any New York Times story touching on the world of sports are earnestness and cluelessness. If you read it, you'll see that this story has plenty of both.

As for earnestness, quoting Gordon Gee with a straight face is a sure sign that you're taking yourself way too seriously. How anyone can take any remotely sports-related comments from that guy seriously after his infamous "a tie is one of our greatest wins ever" remark following the 1992 Ohio State v. Michigan game is beyond me.

As for cluelessness, anybody who really believes that an academic scandal at Auburn -- or any SEC school for that matter--is newsworthy enough to merit 3,000 words in the nation's newspaper of record must have just fallen off a turnip truck. I mean, c'mon--we're talking about Auburn! This is the school that prompted Steve Spurrier's famous comment that the real tragedy about a supposed fire that burned 20 books at Auburn's football dorm was that "15 of them hadn't been colored yet."

Still, what really makes this story a true classic is the paper's willful suspension of disbelief. After all, the story's implicit assumption is that any "directed study" course offering from any university's sociology department might represent something other than one of the biggest guts in the curriculum. Ha, Ha--that's a good one!

So congratulations to The New York Times. There's no way that The Onion will ever top this one.

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