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I Come to Praise the Blogosphere, Not to Bury It

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While I am not among the intercollegiate athletics webloggers---and they are legion---who deride the mainstream news media at every opportunity, I find a great deal of merit in the critiques of mass media sports reporting offered at such sites as Every Day Should Be Saturday, MGoBlog, and, of course, The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers.  

In many respects, the college sports blogosphere provides the answer to the question, "Who will watch the watchdogs?"  If E.S.P.N. wants to crown a national champion in perpetuity before the season even ends, L.D. is there to call B.S.  If the impartiality of a news outlet is in doubt, The M Zone is there to bring it to light.  

At least webloggers can express their thoughts about college football without getting spit all over everything.  

This isn't to say that E.S.P.N. is inherently evil, though some might disagree.  This is simply to say that those with influence bear watching.  

That is why Paul Westerdawg and Dawgnoxious of the Georgia Sports Blog keep track of the antics of the Board of Regents' Don Leebern.  The blogosphere bears essentially the same relationship to the mainstream sports media that "The Daily Show" does to the news reporting outlets that cover politics.  

It's like the T.V. version of a blog called "Every Day Should Be the First Tuesday After the First Monday in November."  

It is in that spirit that I call your attention to Dennis Dodd's recent interview with N.C.A.A. president Myles Brand.  

In his third paragraph (and his fourth sentence), Dodd acknowledges that Brand, like any man in his position, "is a lightning rod."  Given the N.C.A.A. president's centrality to all matters pertaining to intercollegiate athletics, one might have expected an experienced sports reporter like Dodd to make the most of his time with Brand.  

Instead, Dodd opened with this question:  

Your administration has been able to accomplish more, quicker, than any director I've seen since Walter Byers.  Why do you think that is?

To this penetrating interrogatory, Brand responded:  
That's a compliment and I appreciate it.

All right, it's just the first question.  Maybe he's just warming Brand up before he starts playing hardball with the old man.  

This was Dennis Dodd's second question to Myles Brand:  

Where are you on Thursday when the tournament starts?

Where are you on Thursday when the tournament starts?  That's Dennis Dodd's idea of a follow-up question?  "Hey, Myles, are you going to a game on Thursday?"  

Evidently, this curveball of a question threw the N.C.A.A. president, who responded:  

Usually here, but I have to look at my calendar.

Dodd, apparently feeling guilty for tossing Brand under the bus so ruthlessly, decided to help him out a little.  This was the C.B.S. reporter's third question:  
Are you like us, in front of your TV trying to watch as much as possible?

Did a guy who gets paid to cover college sports just ask the N.C.A.A. president, in effect, "Do you enjoy March madness?"  

However, Dodd should have given Brand more time, because the N.C.A.A. president was back on the previous question.  He said:  

No wait, Thursday I'm headed out to Utah to watch a regional.  I try to take in a couple of games before we get down to the Final Four.

You have to hand it to Dennis Dodd.  That's just good, old-fashioned investigative journalism right there.  "N.C.A.A. President Makes Point of Watching 'A Couple of Games' in Early Rounds of Tourney."  Film at eleven.  

In addition to breaking several blockbuster stories, Dennis Dodd conscientiously kept Hal Holbrook's true identity a secret.  

Dodd, though, is not one to rest on his laurels.  Having gotten to the heart of the matter regarding the men's basketball tournament, he shifted gears and went after Brand with the following merciless attack, which must have cut the N.C.A.A. chieftain to the quick:  

I thought your State of the Association was provocative and in some ways, brilliant.  I don't think there would be a lot of people that would utter those words:  You can make money and still have an educational mission at the same time.

How the White House press corps missed out on a cutthroat questioner like Dennis Dodd is beyond me.  

Dennis the Menace went on in this fashion for another couple of pages, continuing to ask questions that Larry King or Barbara Walters would have found embarrassing, such as, "Did you have an epiphany about new revenue streams?" and, "This is about the best sports property there is, isn't it?"  You can read the rest of Dodd's nancy-boy interview if you like, but you get the gist.  

Now compare that to E.D.S.B.S.'s recent interview with Paul Finebaum, which contained the following exchange:  

Paul Finebaum:  Man, you're asking really intellectual questions for a sportswriter.  
Orson Swindle:  Blogger, not sportswriter.

Perhaps that explains why, instead of following Dodd's lead and serving as Myles Brand's lapdog, E.D.S.B.S. pulled no punches when offering its unvarnished assessment of Brand's tenure as president.  

Anyone who genuflects before the altar of the Fourth Estate and derides the blogosphere as nothing more than a haven for the rants and vents of pasty malcontents with social skills approximately equivalent to those of someone who attends comic book conventions in costume and speaks fluent Klingonese needs to read Dennis Dodd's interview with Myles Brand and consider the answer to this question:  "Would the ends of journalism have been better served if the Myles Brand interview had been conducted by L.D. or Orson Swindle instead?"  

And now, in order to demonstrate that we in the blogosphere don't take ourselves too seriously (and to make the "Daily Show" analogy complete), I give you . . . your moment of Fenn:  

Go 'Dawgs!