Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

SPORTS >> Self-proclaimed media taking ‘scouting’ too far

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

If this is the future of football, then you can count me out.

Newly named USC head coach Lane Kiffin recently offered a full-ride scholarship from one of the nation’s most prestigious schools and storied college football programs to David Sills, who happens to be 13 years old.

I’m not kidding.

It could simply be another headline-grabbing ploy by the attention-hungry Kiffin, who himself seems to struggle with becoming any kind of proven commodity. This is not the first time Mr. Kiffin has ventured onto the middle school playground to find his next (insert top-notch player Kiffin has coached here.)

By the way, is it too soon to christen him “The Kif”? I ran a search for his current nicknames, and the closest thing I could find was “Lane Kiffin the Weasel.” Again, I can’t make this stuff up; it’s just out there.

But my fear is that the current fad of beating the whole scouting process into the ground with endless ranting, speculating and boasting of insider knowledge will become bigger than the game itself.

It already has in some circles.

My partner Todd Traub has already documented the ridiculousness involved with national signing day — the gurus (nerds) with nothing better to do than wait in the driveway of 16-year-old potential gridiron greats and try to plant bugs in their houses, the endless Internet speculation over who is going where and who wants what player, leading to my personal favorite: fans who start their own Web sites and declare themselves “a member of the sports media.”

You can find these uneducated and unrealistic goofballs quite easily, just Google your local high-school team or player, and up will pop a barrage of sites (usually pay sites) with names like SuperScouts.com or StateVarsity.com or BigRivalry.com.

What a flipping joke.

Granted, I take it a bit personal because I went through the proper ranks and channels for a chance at reporting sports for a living, but these guys have more loose screws than a Toyota driver’s side floorboard.

There’s even one guy in the area who gets on various message boards and brags about his knowledge and insider information of college football.

To most of us “mere mortals,” his info is better known as ESPN’s College Football. I suspect that is where he gets much of his “top secret” stuff. At least it has been all the times I have caught him in lies.

He touts himself as “the sports media” as he bragged in one post, only to reveal in another post that he considered basketball to be a non-sport.

You know, basketball, only the second most popular and most-played athletic activity in the entire world.

First of all, there is a big difference between a professional sportswriter and a football geek who has figured out how to operate a Web site. Now that we’ve established that, there’s also the matter of having an actual talent for writing.

This bozo’s Web site has so many sentence fragments, misspellings and terms taken out of context and used in his little blurbs, I first thought I was reading transcripts of speeches by George W. Bush.

His latest post was a boast on his coverage of signing day at Arkansas State, complete with photos depicting him wearing — What else? — an Arkansas State Red Wolves T-shirt.

I guess the whole objective and unbiased reporting thing is reserved for us poor little reporters who work for actual news agencies.

Sports are seasonal for a reason — so we won’t grow tired of them. I love football, but I also love basketball and auto racing. I don’t want to pore over details of how Johnny shaved half a tenth off his 40 time when district and regional basketball tournaments are about to begin, nor do I want to get an injury status update on a football player in the middle of April when the late models are in town.

Who cares? The guy has several months to get healthy, and we all have our own lives to live.

Basketball gets very interesting this time of year, and with racing — and baseball for you stick-and-ball types — right around the corner, let the football guys do what they have done since the game’s inception: enjoy some peace and quiet in the off-season.