Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Titletown, USA?

ESPN should shorten SportsCenter to half-hour shows, max, during the summer months. They apparently have nothing to fill 60 minutes, so they resort to contrived gimmicks.

Last year, it was the “Who’s Now” contest, in which the likes of Kirk Herbstreit, Kevin James, and Jessica Biel decided who was More Now – Dwayne Wade or Peyton Manning. Arguably the worst pseudo-sports programming since the XFL.

This year it’s the Titletown series. If you’re expecting me to get all huffy and “There’s only one REAL Titletown, dammit – GREEN BAY!” then you’ll be disappointed. Green Bay has long claimed the nickname, but objectively speaking, they have had one team winning titles over the years, if you don’t count the Blizzard of afl2. Which I don’t.

What’s stupid is that they’re picking these college towns and passing them off as title-winning equivalents to larger cities. Naturally, three college towns are home to my three least favorite college sports programs: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; and Chapel Hill, N.C.

If you’re counting conference titles, I guess I can see Michigan and Ohio State, and the two have won their share of national titles. Hearing Desmond Howard recount his time in the dorms when Rumeal Robinson hit the winning free throws in the 1989 national championship game was riveting TV.

But North Carolina? As far as I can tell, they’ve won three or four national basketball titles over the past 50 years, some women’s soccer titles, and finished second in the College World Series. Putting UNC on this list seems like the network’s gift to Stuart Scott for putting him at Linda Cohn’s table at the 2007 Christmas party. (Question for Millie: When you interviewed Stuart for that Daily Cardinal piece 12 years ago, could you have imagined the major league tool he’d develop into?)

For the record, I also think the nominations of Lawrence, Kan., and Knoxville, Tenn., are ridiculous. One-trick ponies.

Rationally, I know ESPN had to include college towns and high school towns in this feature, since who wants to debate whether Los Angeles or New York is Titletown? But even if you stripped out professional teams, LA is still five times the Titletown Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor, or Columbus are – UCLA and USC have been dominant in a number of different sports over the years. Hell, given Stanford’s all-around proficiency Palo Alto would be a better option than these three.

Too bad I can’t forcefully argue for Madison’s inclusion in this debate, apologies to Suzy Favor Hamilton and the 1995 UW men’s soccer team.

But what about West Bend? Six state baseball titles since 1972, at least that many girls volleyball state titles … I’m just saying!


Millie said...

I don't remember ever interviewing that d-bag. I know that I called the ESPN offices and talked to Chris Fowler about Dayne and Rashard Casey before Dayne's freshman year, but that was about it.

Still find it odd that I just randomly dialed a number and got Fowler on the horn. I'm not sure you could pull that off these days.

Scott Tappa said...

Maybe it was Olson who interviewed him.

Edward said...

Back in the mid-90's I sure thought Scott was a jagbag. Who would have thought he would be the one to last the longest.

Will said...

It was Todd.