Wouldn't you know it . . . just as I was getting ready to compliment Orson on his fine piece on Bear Bryant (which doubtless was NyQuil-induced, but, still, it was good), along came Joel to point me in the direction of this response to an earlier instance of humor produced by Orson's pen:
With The 2007 College Football Blogger Awards just around the corner, I am veering dangerously close to "John Barth of the Blogosphere" territory here, but this jab at webloggers from a member of the traditional media---yes, Unknown Stuntman, the term "mainstream media" henceforth shall be stricken---was worthy of mention.
It should be noted that I am a fan both of Trev Alberts, who once was ESPN's lone pro-Georgia voice, and of Orson Swindle, whose presidential candidacy I support, so I hope I come at this without an axe to grind. At least since The M Zone crossed paths with Colin Cowherd, the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere has been engaged in an ongoing discussion of the proper relationship between new and old forms of media. Some members of the television and print media get it; others don't.
Since this worthwhile back-and-forth has begun, however, the lines have become blurred. Orson Swindle remains a leader of the revolution and he (unlike his alma mater in its conference) stands astride the blogosphere like a colossus . . . but Spencer Hall now writes for The Sporting News and he co-authored the ESPN Guide to Psycho Fan Behavior. Trev Alberts, in the interim, has left the employ of the Worldwide Leader in Sports and now offers his college football commentary via YouTube. All of a sudden, distinguishing the insurgency from the establishment has become as complex as differentiating between a domestic car and an import.
This, I believe, is a good thing. Dan Steinberg has called for an end to knee-jerk disdain for ESPN. David Ching has proven to be both a friend and an invaluable resource to fellow Bulldog bloggers who are not journalists by trade. For crying out loud, I'm getting interviewed by NBC Sports!
When we break down the artificial barriers and begin retiring the outdated labels, we start to reap the benefits of being able to judge reporters and commentators, whatever their medium or profession, according to the quality of their content. It is inconsequential who signs Trev Alberts's and Spencer Hall's paychecks; what matters is what they bring to the table and transmit to the viewing, listening, and reading public . . . which, come to think of it, may have been what Orson was trying to tell me a few months back. (Maybe. I don't know, though; he lost me at "Susan Sontag.")
I'm a Cleanth Brooks man, myself.
Judging by the comment thread going on at Every Day Should Be Saturday, there is a division of opinion whether Trev's rejoinder was the ineffectual tirade of a wounded analyst on the downward slope of his career arc or a good-natured attempt to poke fun at himself. I tend to take the latter view; whatever slights may have been offered against Alberts's intelligence, I find it hard to believe that he is so lacking in self-awareness that he intended some of his comments ("time now to expose these people"; "I don't even have a rec room"; "this is a multimillion-dollar television facility"; "we have seasoned professionals") seriously.
I say good for Trev for getting the joke, in the way that some of the guests on "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" don't, and for giving as good as he got (or, at least, as good as he could). Good for Trev for using the stereotypes good-naturedly ("hide behind their little P.C.") rather than arrogantly and angrily, and for reiterating Kirk Bohls's valid criticism in a humorous way.
I wrote last July that Scott Van Pelt's interview with Will Leitch would "be remembered either as the opening round of negotiations that will lead to peaceful relations between established and novel forms of media or it will mark the initial face-to-face confrontation in an escalating war of words." Taken at face value, Trev's "What the Blog?" rant may look like the latter, but, when you watch the video a second time, what comes across is the sort of good-natured (if a bit ham-handed) humor that comes from camaraderie. This was a healthy sign and Alberts deserves credit for taking the next step.