The Bag Man: Fake News, DUI’s, and Jim Harbaugh

Welcome to The Bag Man, my new weekly mailbag Q & A where every week I’ll answer whatever is on your mind – a little college football, a little bit of anything else. We’ll start it off this week on Friday, but during the season I’ll be moving it to Thursday mornings. You can send me your questions on Twitter @JoshParcell, or e-mail cfbcountry@gmail.com

Before we start, I just want to thank the thousands of you who’ve already come to the site since it launched Tuesday. You’ve already blown my goals for site traffic out of the water. If you missed my first article on Wednesday, here’s my take on Clemson being the next dynasty in college football.

Next week I’ll start dropping the first episodes of the College Football Country podcast. I have several huge guests lined up, so subscribe now.

Now to The Bag.    

You’re probably wondering what the hell Cory is talking about. Cory think he’s hilarious because on late Wednesday afternoon I was a victim of the FAKE NEWS media when I fell for a story I found on Facebook called “What Will Ferrell is saying about Blacksburg, Virginia residents”.

Look, I have no excuse for this. I never fall for clickbait…BUT THIS WAS BELIEVABLE. And you know what? I’m proud that I fell for it. I’m from Blacksburg, and I swear to God there isn’t a town with friendlier people in America. It is 100% possible that some bumbling redneck would find Will Ferrell on the side of the road and take him into town for a burger at Lefty’s. I could throw a burger at someone’s face in Blacksburg, Virginia and they’d still pick up the tab. Everybody loves everybody.

So if having faith in MY community, MY hometown, that helped groom me into the well-adjusted gentleman that I am, leads to public shame and ridicule, I’ll die on that hill. Blacksburg is God’s Country, and if Will Ferrell ever did somehow find his way onto the side of 460 West, you bet your ass there’d be a line of good ol’ country boys there to take care of him. Go Bruins.

Jeff e-mails: love the new site! Who are the most overrated teams in the new preseason poll this year?   

Count me among the people who hate preseason polls. They skew our judgment and perception of teams early in the season, making it hard, if not impossible, to fairly evaluate them as the season moves forward.

I’ll give you an example: In 2014, Florida State followed up a national championship season with the least impressive 13-0 season you’ll ever see. They racked up close call after close call against average opponents at best, yet they remained in the top 2 or 3 of every poll all season long.

Because the Seminoles were the overwhelming preseason number one team, they weren’t falling out of the playoff picture despite playing like a team that should be on the fringe of the top 10 at best. Meanwhile, TCU came from completely outside of the Top 25 to finish 11-1 and co-Big 12 champions. Even despite a loss to Baylor on the Horned Frogs’ resume, they had clearly outplayed Florida State on a weekly basis. However, because of the Seminoles’ lofty preseason expectations (and the stupefying logic that a loss somehow automatically drops you beneath someone who’s undefeated), they stayed ahead of TCU, only to be humiliated by Oregon in the Rose Bowl, 59-21. Meanwhile the Horned Frogs curb-stomped a good Ole Miss team in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl 42-3. To this day you will never convince me that TCU wasn’t a MUCH better team than Florida State in 2014, yet the Horned Frogs (or Baylor) will ever have the chance to prove if they were the best team in college football that season.

I’ll appease Jeff anyway with a few teams that I don’t expect to be quite as good as their preseason ranking may indicate.

Ninth seems ambitious for Michigan. They have a brutal schedule, playing each of the Big 10’s three best teams (Penn State/Wisconsin/Ohio State – not to mention Florida in the season opener – and only five returning starters. Some people think Michigan is in for a down year, but I’m not going that far. Jim Harbaugh has done more with much less, in some of his years at Stanford and even in his first year at Michigan. The Wolverines will be a top-3 team in 2018, but I’m not betting against Harbaugh to make some noise with an unproven but talented roster this fall. Ninth just seems a little high for now.

I don’t love Stanford at 14th either. The Cardinal played two games last season against ranked teams and scored 11 points COMBINED. So, the team that averaged 5.5 point against quality competition last season who just so happens to be replacing the most dominant running back in school history in Christian McCaffrey. Could the Cardinal win the Pac-12? Absolutely – this is why preseason polls are the WORST. If Stanford beats USC in week two I’ll gladly reconsider, but sitting here in August, I don’t see David Shaw’s club as a top-15 caliber team.

Ross asks:

This is a great question. You absolutely want your defense flying around AND having fun in fall camp. You want them taking things day-by-day, one practice at a time. It’s good to hear some pads popping, though. The most important thing is staying focused on the process and blocking out the noise. Make sure no one’s looking ahead and everyone is buying in.

Seth e-mails: Only Nick Saban can get away with CHEATING and no one cares. Why isn’t DaShawn Hand suspended? Only at Alabama can DUI’s get you NOTHING!  

Seth is referring to Nick Saban’s recent decision not to suspend defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand after his July 31 arrest for DUI. During his first preseason press conference Thursday, Saban announced that Hand would have to complete community service, go on a police ride-along in addition to “internal team punishment.”

Saban faced the same scrutiny last year over Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones’ arrests for drugs and weapons charges, which were eventually dropped. That led to a heated exchange between Saban and Paul Finebaum at SEC Media Days

Here’s my question: why does the public, and the media, always think a football coach should play judge and jury in off-the-field cases like this one instead of, you know, an actual judge and jury? Call me crazy but I’m a pretty big proponent of allowing the justice system to handle justice and the football coaches to handle football. It’s why I’ve written before that I think accused domestic violence abusers deserve second chances on the football field after they’ve served their legal punishment. Our legal system is in place to fairly penalize anyone found guilty of a crime. Saban is allowing that to take place, while still taking measures to discipline Hand, even if they aren’t seen in public (not to mention the fact that it was later reported Hand was not driving the car at the time of his arrest).

When I was a kid, I used to lose my Nintendo whenever my parents grounded me. Usually it was for a bad grade on a report card. When my grades would get better, I’d get the Nintendo back. You know what happened next? The grades would go down again! It wasn’t until I was halfway through high school, and I started to realize that if I didn’t buckle down in school then I wouldn’t go to college, that I finally consistently picked my grades up for good. It wasn’t about the punishments; it was about learning how harmful the consequences of my actions could be that truly solved my problems.

Punishing someone by taking away something they love to do (like playing football) seems like a normal thing to do, but in my mind, Alabama should be in the business of guiding players like Hand, and providing tools for them to learn from their mistakes, rather than keeping them on the sideline just to satisfy the media. That’s just me.

That’s it for the first edition of The Bag Man. You can tweet your questions at me anytime @JoshParcell, or e-mail me at cfbcountry@gmail.com.

Oh, and go subscribe to the podcast. First episode is coming early next week with a HUGE guest.

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1 Comment

  1. I have to disagree somewhat with your assessment of the DUI/lack of suspension at Bama. I agree that second chances are merited when some one pays penance or restitution for their transgressions of law. Punishment and rehabilitation, IMHO, should be considered for said second chance because someone who accepts the punishment but not the responsibility of the action that precipitated the punishment does not deserve that second chance. Hand might need to serve a suspension if it is warranted based on the circumstances, And yes, transgressions of the law are a public concern, especially in cases like DUI. If Hand only accepts the punishment but not the responsibility, he is likely to repeat this offense, which may not only foster consequences for himself, but for others as well, and in that case, we would have failed not only Hand, but an innocent victim whose only issue would be crossing paths with a drunk driving Hand.
    Your points about the actual facts of the case should surely be considered; if Hand were not driving, he can’t possibly be held responsible for a DUI and any repercussions. I don’t care for a rush to judgement in any situation as each situation should require careful objective evaluation to come to conclusions that would be appropriate for repercussions or none at all if none are warranted. But nah, we shouldn’t just leave those directly involved to handle the situation; their objectivity might be skewed by a measure of subjectivity, and there are many examples of offenders getting the “wink, wink” pass. We as a society have a right to have a say in matters that are of the public good, and, wouldn’t your agree that DUI is a matter of the public good and that such cases should be treated equally and fairly?

    Like

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