All that remains now is the Blogger Championship Series, which Joel explains thusly:
The following weblogs are my nominees in each of the foregoing categories. As always, you may submit nominations of your own, regardless of whether you are a weblogger, a regular commenter, or simply a sports fan.
It's your civic duty, really.
Atlantic Coast Conference
Fortunately, the quality of A.C.C. webloggers far exceeds the quality of A.C.C. football teams and the best bloggers whose loyalties are with the worst of the B.C.S. leagues are a couple of guys to whom I have given a bit of a hard time lately . . . namely, Carolina March and Ramblin' Racket, who approach their task with a gusto and a creativity that neither of their teams typically deserves.
When a blogger is willing to give his best to a team that rarely returns the favor, that blogger has earned my respect and, despite the clean old-fashioned hate dividing me from Ramblin' Racket and the dispute over which is the oldest state-chartered university in the country which alienates me from Carolina March, I enjoy each of their work immensely.
Six in a row and 1785, but I like these fellows, anyway.
Just as the Big East turned out to be a better and more competitive conference than anyone expected it would be a year ago, the league has produced a large number of capable bloggers that made this one of the toughest categories in which to select a single nominee.
Card Chronicle, The House Rock Built, Mountainlair, Orange 44, and the Rakes of Mallow all made strong bids for a nomination in this category, but, at the end of the day, there has not been a more detailed, more thorough, more intensive, more impassioned, or more gloriously, unapologetically partisan team-specific site than The Blue-Gray Sky, save when Brian Cook blogged alone.
The Blue-Gray Sky . . . it's good!
Since Brian's name came up, I suppose I should spare you any pretense of suspense and state the obvious by declaring The Lawgiver's inimitable MGoBlog the only conceivable nominee in this category.
There is no shortage of quality weblogging going on among Maize and Blue boosters, from Maize n Brew to Ronald Bellamy's Underachieving All-Stars, nor is there a dearth of good work being done by fans of other Big Ten teams, from Black Shoe Diaries to The 614, but the architect of the BlogPoll, the champion of number-crunching, and the wordsmith who segues from withering sarcasm to heartfelt sincerity without having to pause for punctuation does it all, earning Brian sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, without exception or qualification.
If you don't vote for Brian, Lloyd Carr will really give you what-for . . . and, trust me, nobody wants that.
I doubt whether anyone failed to nominate Burnt Orange Nation for this category, so there likely is little I can add to augment the praise that has been and will be heaped upon Peter Bean and his coevals at B.O.N.
Accordingly, I simply will say this: Peter is a leader in the blogosphere, not just through the example of his weblog (although his influence there is profound), but in the manner that he conducts himself behind the scenes. He is both genuine and gentlemanly, offering aid, advice, and encouragement to all who take up this endeavor and seek his counsel.
In that respect, he is apt to be remembered as the Bear Bryant of the blogosphere, whose impact set off ripples that long will radiate as those who learned from him continue to carry that knowledge outward and upward. Coach Bryant's coaching staffs produced a myriad of future head coaches and those who have profited from Peter's example likewise have gone on to attain some success as webloggers that is due in large measure to his guidance. I know that to be true because you are reading one such weblog right now.
I am not nominating a Man of the Year here, though, so I should get back to the business at hand. Burnt Orange Nation, which epitomizes what it means for a weblog to be fan-friendly, is the handiwork of co-authors who bring their personalities to bear on a variety of questions, from the whimsical to the profound, while relying heavily on the quantitative without ever forgetting the importance of the qualitative to any analysis involving a game of emotion. B.O.N. generally, and Peter particularly, succeeds at being inventive without sacrificing tradition and the site is unstinting in its devotion to its team without ever being guilty of viewing its athletics program through Rose Bowl-tinted glasses. Burnt Orange Nation is the model many of us strive to follow.
Honorable mention in this category goes to Corn Nation, who chronicles Nebraska's resurgence with the no-nonsense forthrightness that defines his region and the respectful classiness that defines his fan base. A recent sample of his work, in which he refutes the silly idea that there is any such thing as a "meaningless" bowl game, is a classic example of why Corn Nation is a weblog to watch heading into 2007 and beyond.
This time last year, Sunday Morning Quarterback (more about whom anon) was one of the best-kept secrets of the blogosphere. Like Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff, he was the underappreciated natural toiling far from center stage whom all the leading lights in his field recognized as among the best of the bunch. While Corn Nation isn't in SMQ's league---honestly, who is?---I get the sense that, a year from now, he'll be the hidden jewel everyone else finally discovered, much as SMQ once was.
No pressure, dude.
I hope I don't sound biased when I state that the West Coast is blessed with a number of outstanding weblogs, including but not limited to Addicted to Quack, Building the Dam, and Conquest Chronicles. The most important and influential of the Pac-10 weblogs, though, is Bruins Nation . . . and not by a narrow margin.
While Nestor and I take very different approaches to the blogging enterprise, we still are kindred spirits and it cannot be gainsaid that he set the standard for theme-driven, community-building, event-shaping weblogging. I sometimes wish Nestor would adopt a more measured tone, but he writes with words as hard as cannonballs and there is no hint of hypocrisy in his work. Nestor is not for the faint of heart, but he's honest, he's unexpurgated, and he's real.
Nestor : Karl Dorrell :: Lane Hudson : Mark Foley . . . except without the salacious angle, of course.
Really, Georgia webloggers (like Michigan webloggers) should have their own category, since a quick glance at the right-hand sidebar reveals just how many writers comprise "The Dawgosphere." No, we don't have a monopoly on quality, but we represent Bulldog Nation in quantity and, just by virtue of the law of averages, at least some of us have to be pretty good, right?
Without doubt, the Georgia Sports Blog is the best of the Bulldog weblogs. Paul Westerdawg and Dawgnoxious do it all, keeping their readers up to date on all the news that's fit to print (including recruiting, coaching changes, recruiting, bowl scenarios, recruiting, off-the-field incidents, recruiting, and, in case I forgot to mention it earlier, recruiting) while providing a nice blend of editorial opinion and hilarious humor. The Georgia Sports Blog still serves as the template for the rest of The Dawgosphere and it remains without peer in its burgeoning domain, unquestionably occupying the role of lead dog as the most comprehensive and multifaceted of the Red and Black sites.
Although Paul Westerdawg remains well out in front of the rest of the pack, And the Valley Shook, Rocky Top Talk, and Roll Bama Roll nevertheless remain deserving of nods, as well, for their coverage of L.S.U., Tennessee, and Alabama, respectively.
Cheer up, Mike. At least the 'Bama blog is doing well. (Photograph from K.V.U.E.)
With Notre Dame taken out of the mix, the pickings for this category are somewhat slim---are there even Temple bloggers out there?---but there is a legitimately deserving contender for this nomination, nevertheless.
I am referring, of course, to the Navy weblog Pitch Right. Although much of the work of the proprietor of this site, Adam Nettina, often is confined by the rigid length-limiting constraints of The Fanhouse, he still is able to address issues in detail on occasion, giving rise to such fine analyses as his recent ruminations on the rise of the Midshipmen and the fall of Fisher DeBerry.
There aren't a lot of independent weblogs from which to choose, but, even if there were, I am confident that Pitch Right would make the grade.
They run the option to perfection and they serve their country. Does anyone doubt that the weblog devoted to them deserves an award?
Pride of place in this category must go to my SportsBlogs Nation colleague, Block U, who gives as good as he gets, expects excellence, accepts reality, maintains a sense of humor, and addresses national issues. That's not bad for a guy who writes about a school most of us knew next to nothing about three years ago.
Also deserving of a nomination in this category is the aptly titled Fresno State Football Blog, which brings Pat Hill's tough-minded approach to the blogosphere. The site has a decent amount of bells and whistles, but what makes it worthy of inclusion on this list is the content, which strikes a nice balance between human interest, informative insight, and rabid fandom. Check out the Fresno State Football Blog's attempt to answer the question, "Who's more hated?" and you'll see what I mean.
Shut up and blog somebody!
Five obvious contenders sprang immediately to mind in this category. Although the team affiliations of each are pretty obvious, they cover college football comprehensively, so they deserve to be treated as nationwide, rather than team-specific, blogs.
Choosing among these five proved to be a daunting challenge. At one point, I considered sending e-mails to CFR, Orson Swindle, MDG, Warren St. John, and SMQ and posing the following question: "Suppose, hypothetically, that you have just received word of my passing and been asked to prepare an obituary for me, to be posted on your site. How would that obituary read?" Using their responses as a common basis for comparison, I would then make a choice.
Ultimately, though, it came down to other considerations. While CFR and Warren both editorialize from time to time (I by no means consider that a bad thing), the primary service each of them offers is as a clearing house for information, much like that provided by the invaluable Dawg Bone. Likewise, Orson may be one of the five funniest fellows in the state, but jocularity is the central thrust of his blog.
That left MDG and SMQ as your primary purveyors of hard data and insightful opinion, and, well, without in any way slighting MDG, there simply is no one in the blogosphere who dives more deeply into the minutiae of the sport as a whole, or who writes more prolifically upon a myriad of subjects central to the state of college football, than Sunday Morning Quarterback.
Were it within my power to fire Myles Brand and replace him with the person of my choosing, that person would be Sunday Morning Quarterback . . . provided, of course, that he swore in writing not to implement a Division I-A college football playoff. (We'll be getting into that subject later, though, won't we?)
If I had my way, this yutz would be gone and we'd have Monday Through Friday Throughout the Business Day Quarterback.
As there is room at the bottom of the ballot for declaring a "mythical national champion" in the Blogger Championship Series, I shall have to repair to my study and mull over which of these deserving candidates is most worthy of being honored as the finest in the blogosphere. You'll want to stay tuned for my nomination.
To be continued. . . .