If ESPN is the Worldwide Leader in sports, then Gene Wojciechowski must be the worldwide leader in sensationalism. His postgame article-turned-manifesto against all things Boise State was inappropriate, misguided, and entirely uncalled for. I showed it to Mr. Fiskers. He agreed.
After the jump, enjoy Mr. Fiskers' takedown of Mr. Wojciechowski.
Fisking is a point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors or disputes the analysis in a statement, article, or essay. Mr. Fiskers is OBNUG's fisking cat. He has hyperthyroidism.
Mr. Fiskers does not take kindly to ignorance and elitism, which is why Gene Wojciechowski's ESPN article really ate at him. What was wrong with Boise State's win over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl? Only everything, according to Wojciechowski. ESPN's national columnist titled his article "Underwhelming performance does not do TCU, Boise State any favors," which is ironic because his following 1500 words did no favors to the supporting evidence of free speech.
Mr. Fiskers, let's begin.
GLENDALE, Ariz.-- I am now going to list the top five reasons why Tostitos Fiesta Bowl winner Boise State deserves to split the national title with the winner of the Texas-Alabama Citi BCS National Championship Game:
Oh no. Mr. Fiskers! Have we gone blind? I don't see any text after the numbers. Noooo! I should have never fed you a banana. Why, God? Why?
Oh wait. Never mind. Wojciechowski is just trying to make a point.
How do I say this nicely? Boise's 17-10 victory against TCU was as exciting as watching someone watch paint dry.
If we're talking about Watching Bob Ross watch paint dry, then Mr. Fiskers will totally buy that argument.
How basic does your football knowledge need to be in order to find the 2010 Fiesta Bowl a snoozefest? Does Mr. Wojciechowski prefer his football games to be offensive shootouts and TD-filled circus acts? Was he hoping for Ian and Chrissy to renew their vows at midfield during a 2nd and 4?
Even Mr. Fiskers can appreciate a solid, hard-fought defensive struggle. And he's a cat.
To compare the 2010 Fiesta Bowl to watching someone watch paint dry is patently ridiculous. The game was a one-score contest for the entire second half. Momentum swung back and forth on numerous occasions. There was a big TD for both teams prior to one of bowl season's most memorable finishes. If you classify the Fiesta Bowl as a snoozer, Mr. Wojciechowski, then what sport quenches your insatiable desire for action? One-off bull riding exhibitions? A literal manhunt? Competitive cup stacking?
Allow Mr. Fiskers to hit you with some facts about the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, if you can stay awake long enough to read a bullet list.
- 625 yards of total offense
- Four takeaways, including one that was returned for a TD
- Five receivers who caught passes of 20 yards or longer
- Two sacks
- A one-score game for all but 7 minutes, 13 seconds
- A game that came down to the final drive
These are not elements of a boring game. Boring games consist of blowouts or Big Ten football teams or bowls named after lawncare equipment. This was not one of them.
If the game felt boring, maybe it was because it was a bowl game and those things are interminable with their commercial breaks. Perhaps it was the incessant crowd/band/cheerleader shots that made every drive seem like a series of one-play drives. But you cannot in any way, shape, or form discount the quality of football in the Fiesta Bowl by labeling it "boring."
The game didn't lay an egg; it laid an omelet.
Major metaphor fail.
Mr. Fiskers is not an egg fan, but he's pretty sure that an omelet is no worse than an egg and may, in fact, be better because you don't actually have to cook it and it may include cheese. Now, if it were an egg versus Denny's Moons Over My Hammy, then you might be onto something.
Here I was hoping, even wishing that undefeated TCU, ranked No. 3 in the coaches' and Associated Press polls, would purple faze undefeated Boise Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Gene Wojciechowski, ladies and gentlemen. The antichrist of objective journalism ... also, part-time verb creator. Whatever "purple fazing" is, I hope it never happens to me. That does not sound fun.
Not because I have anything against No. 6 Boise, but because TCU had the best chance of flipping the national title debate on its helmet crown.
Gene Wojciechowski! He's just like us! He hates the BCS! He roots for anarchy! He wears Snuggies!
However, it should be noted that Wojciechowski is only a fan of BCS busters provided they are not boring, which excludes any team that does not score 44 points in a game Wojchiechowski watches.
If TCU won big, and Texas won little -- and sloppily against No. 1 Bama -- then maybe, just maybe, enough AP voters would go all Horned Froggy on their ballots. Two national titles to two teams in the state of Texas. Perfect.
Perfect if you live in Texas. And aren't a fan of the University of Texas.
Except that TCU left its game at poolside. The Horned Frogs forgot that before they could make a statement, they first had to make some plays. They wasted an opportunity of a lifetime. At the very least, they suffered from BCS bowl stage fright.
Gene Wojciechowski, this paragraph put Mr. Fiskers to sleep. Please use more ampersands, adverbs, and egg metaphors. Thank you.
"I'll be honest with you -- and let me say one thing to you -- I'm very appreciative of the people who are sitting in this room," said TCU coach Gary Patterson to the media after the game. "Because at some point in time you decided to change your mind and give us a chance as a program. Give Boise a chance as a program. And … what we tried to do tonight was to try to prove you right."
I wanted to believe. I really did. But it's hard to become a believer when you're nodding off. TCU and Boise didn't prove us right or wrong. Instead, they sort of flopped around like a fish on land.
Stop the Gene Wojciechowski Illogical Bus. Mr. Fiskers wants to get off.
At this point, Mr. Fiskers and I are curious what Wojciechowski's paramaters for proving right entail. Boise State beat the No. 3 team in the country. They did so by doing something to the Horned Frogs that no other team has been able to do this season: stopping TCU's rushing game. The Broncos made clutch plays, showed physicality and toughness, and displayed coaching chops that rival any other team in the land. What was Wojciechowski expecting?
There is nothing more that the Broncos could have done, and there was nothing more that they needed to do. The win said it all. TCU did not prove the media right for believing in them. But it is absolutely false to say the same for the Broncos.
"We didn't come out as intense as we normally do," said TCU defensive tackle Cory Grant.
"I thought we were a little bit nervous," said Patterson. "Not nervous, but tight."
Tight … nervous … lacking intensity. Whatever it was, it showed. TCU and Boise had the whole football nation to themselves Monday evening and they whiffed.
Mr. Fiskers is not a "journalist," per se, but he is pretty sure that is bad form to quote players and coaches from one team then project their statements onto another team. TCU's Cory Grant and Gary Patterson were not talking about the Broncos. If this is confusing, Mr. Fiskers made a chart.
Boise State was neither tight, nervous, nor lacking intensity. Quite the opposite, actually, which is probably why Wojciechowski was unable to get any quotes from Boise State players that fit with his general theme of "these guys suck." Oh well. When in doubt and on a deadline, cram it all together and hope no one notices.
OK, maybe not whiff, but they kept fouling off pitches down the middle.
Like an omelet! No, wait.
At times, the game had a high school spring jamboree quality to it. The first 18 plays of the game featured a pick 6, four penalties, six incompletions, three punts, one rush for no gain, two rushes for positive yards and two pass completions.
Okay, three things.
- The first 18 plays of the game lasted about seven minutes, so classifying an entire game based on its opening one-eighth is bad math to say the least.
- Has Wojciechowski ever watched a full football game before? Teams often start slow until they find footing, figure out what the other team is doing, and get comfortable.
- Last I checked, pick-sixes are pretty exciting. Unless you're 70 years old and narcoleptic. Like Gene Wojciechowski.
"Early on we didn't know exactly what they were doing," said TCU quarterback Andy Dalton.
What he meant to say is that TCU didn't know what it was doing. Boise used a funky defense (constantly switching out of a 4-3 to a 3-4, moving a corner to safety) and TCU froze in the headlights.
Mr. Fiskers, let me get this straight. Andy Dalton is quoted as saying the BSU defense confused TCU, then Gene Wojciechowski claims that Andy Dalton misspoke and TCU was the team to blame, then Gene Wojciechowski noted that Boise State used a new and effective defense, then Gene Wojciechowski blamed TCU for choking.
I need some Bayer.
Two of the most prolific offenses in the country combined for four turnovers, a missed field goal, 14 penalties and just 27 points. TCU had exactly 36 rushing yards, threw three interceptions and was 1-of-12 on third-down conversions. Touchdown passes were dropped. Wide-open receivers were missed. Snaps flew through the hands of quarterbacks.
It takes a particularly elementary level of college football knowledge to not recognize that, in addition to two prolific offenses, both TCU and Boise State had prolific defenses. Did Wojciechowski ever stop to think that the low offensive numbers were a result of great defenses? Apparently not.
All you really need to know about the game is that Boise punter/place-kicker Kyle Brotzman might have been the best player on the field.
Mr. Fiskers, no! Put down that Robin Hood bow and arrow. He didn't mean it!
Weeks earlier, as the TCU-Boise Fiesta Bowl matchup was formalized, Horned Frogs linebacker Daryl Washington grumbled about facing the Broncos for a second consecutive postseason. What Washington really wanted, he said, was to play someone like Florida -- you know, one of the biggies.
But first you've got to beat the near-biggies.
No, Mr. Fiskers. Put down that whale harpoon. He'll take it back!
"We heard that," said Broncos linebacker Derrell Acrey. "We took that as a chip on a shoulder. Not insulted, but we were challenged."
"We wanted to be here," said Boise safety Jeron Johnson. "We didn't care if they wanted to be here or not."
Yes, Mr. Fiskers, this was my favorite part of Wojciechowski's story, too.
Boise State finished 14-0, a record matched only by Ohio State in 2002. Impressive. Bama or Texas will have the same record after the BCS Championship Game.
But Bama or Texas will also claim sole possession of both national titles. It probably would have ended like that anyway,
Mr. Fiskers has a good question: So why write this story?
but TCU and Boise sucked all the mystery out of the final voting. TCU played as if it was still thinking about the Crimson Tide, not the orange-and-blue Broncos. And Boise did enough to win, but little else.
What else is there?!
Things Boise State did not do, besides winning:
Co-wrote Sarah Palin's autobiography.
Let Tim Tebow run a play.
Starred in the movie Avatar.
Walked away from an explosion.
"I don't think it's a setback at all," said Patterson. "We played the No. 6 team in the nation. We got beat 17-10. The difference in yards was 300-and-something to 300-and-something. Somebody was going to have to lose tonight. … For me, I don't think we backed down the mountain at all."
He's right. And dead wrong.
The reality is that the TCUs and Boise States still have to do more than the Bamas and Texases of the football world. They aren't novelty acts, but they also don't have the pedigree of the Tide and Longhorns. They don't get the benefit of the doubt.
People from whom they do not get the benefit of the doubt? ESPN national columnists.
Boise and TCU had a chance Monday night to dig their feet deeper into the BCS concrete mix. Instead, they delivered a forgettable game ...
Oh no, Mr. Fiskers! Do we have early onset dementia? I vaguely remember Boise State pulling off the greatest special teams play of the season if not college football history. Not dementia! Why, God? Why?
Quick, Mr. Fiskers. Consult WebMD. What does one do for dementia?
Throw one over. Better make it a Monday.
and by doing so, gave the anti-WAC and anti-Mountain West faction another reason to freeze them out of the BCS.
Too bad. It would have been nice to see the BCS sweat.
Sweat ... so that's what does it for Gene Wojciechowski! I think he's going to very entertained by the Joe Kellogg era at Boise State.
Wojciechowski made several mistakes in his article, not the least of which was discounting the effort of Boise State due to TCU not living up to expectations. But one of the worst sins of his column was that it made good on what everyone feared: that the national media would use the non-BCS Fiesta Bowl to smear the game's winner. Wojciechowski did exactly that. You have to wonder if he had a Plan B article if the game was high-scoring. "Too exciting - my arrhythmia! Those defenses are so disappointing!"
The fact that Wojciechowski's article is rare amid all the writing about the game makes me happy. But it is still unfortunate that one of the most respected writers at the biggest sports media outlet could be this wrong about the game.
Now if you'll excuse me, Mr. Fiskers has a hankering for omelet.
Got a story for Mr. Fiskers? Email him at email@example.com.