Sportsline's Mike Freeman: Moron or Cowardly Moron? You Decide...

Ain't no Fisking like a Rocky Top Fisking 'cause a Rocky Top Fisking don't stop!

On Monday, CBS Sportsline's Mike Freeman wrote an article titled "Cuffs click, cell doors slam shut and Fulmer skates by," which outright calls Fulmer the kingpin of the "rottenest, most dastardly [program] ever... an historic abomination."

I can't deny we've had some problems on Rocky Top, I've shared my disappointment over Gerald Jones' pot charge and Joel's voiced his with Britton Colquitt's DUI. Still, I'd characterize these incidents more as "young people doing stupid things" (really stupid things in the case of DUI) more than rotten or dastardly. And "historic abomination?" Bit strong, yes?

For my part, the egregious nature of Freeman's article will not stand. Not because it trots out opinion dressed as fact (which it does) or because it comes to the party way late (calling out Fulmer for basically the same stuff Adams did last week, and making charges that Fulmer has already defended himself against before Freeman ever sat down to drivel out this tripe). The point of the article was at least in part to be so incendiary that it can't be ignored. And it is. In fact, that's the only thing Freeman did right.

Ok, maybe that's not fair, Freeman does demonstrate ability to use a thesaurus, at different points characterizing the behavior of Tennessee players as "scrofulous ruthlessness" and "scabrous acts." I fully plan on using "scrofulous" at my earliest opportunity.

However, the biggest error made by Freeman is in trying to be relevant and funny... and failing miserably in both. Want bad pop culture references and weak, played-out jokes? Freeman's got 'em:

So let me get this straight. The NCAA is the catalyst behind the firing of Indiana's Kelvin Sampson for making too many phone calls but does little to stop the felony-riddled reign of Phil "Chancellor Palpatine" Fulmer...
For the record, the Palpatine line wouldn't have been so bad, but Freeman went to it twice, shredding it's already paper-thin relevance. We continue...
[Of Britton Colquitt's DUI hit-and run:] The punter allegedly bolted from the accident. Who says punters aren't real athletes? Probably ran so fast the police put out an APB for Deion Sanders.

I can't imagine what it takes for Fulmer to toss someone off the team. A meeting with the Taliban? Eating someone's liver with fava beans?

Over the weekend, Darren McFadden ran a 4.27 at the NFL Combine. Freeman's article published Monday. The most current fast-guy he could come up with was Deion Sanders? Has this Freeman watched sports in the last ten years? (or, like, the news? or a movie?)
Fulmer's track record in this area is extensive. He leaves a trail of player arrests, DUIs and serious crimes in his ample wake yet suffers no significant penalty for running the 21st-century version of The Mean Machine.
Guess not! Nice fat joke, too. I thought "journalists" were supposed to be above that sort of thing? But we haven't seen the masterstroke yet:
The motto of the Tennessee football program: If the players commit, Fulmer will acquit.
He went OJ on us! Seriously, Holmes... OJ? Weaksauce.

Look, if you want to make fun of the legal problems Tennessee has had, go ahead -- lord knows we've earned it. Just, if you're going to do it, make it funnier than the Fulmer Cup (good luck). At least what Orson concocted objectively points out what we already know: that lots of programs have lots of kids doing things they shouldn't do.

But to straight-faced state that what's happening in Knoxville is worse than what's happening at many other schools, or what's happened in the past, or that it's being ignored at best and orchestrated at worst by the head coach (a man I'd wager Freeman hasn't talked to for five minutes in his life) is utter folly. And to regurgitate and hyperbolate police blotter into The Worst Thing That Ever Happened is borderline lazy.

The last clue that this Freeman cat is disconnected from anything resembling current reality is one of his closing lines:

Where are the Tennessee professors and administrators? Why aren't they raising bloody hell over what's happening at their school?
Simple: because they know what's happening at their school is no different that what's happening at every other school. And I'm not talking about athletes getting in trouble. Fightin', smokin', and drankin' are all pretty common -- and relatively accepted -- on college campuses in the student body at large. Freeman wants the NCAA to step in and try to control the behavior of student-athletes, but what about the student-students? Should they skate on "scrofulous ruthlessness" and "scabrous acts" because they can't clock a decent 40 time?

What Freeman really wants here, I suppose, is a change in the culture of college campuses. A noble request to be sure, but one that is both unlikely and difficult to construct a reasonable argument for. So instead, he takes the easy and highly clickable route of taking potshots at Fulmer. Unoriginal, unfunny, lazy potshots.

Two words, Freeman: Epic fail.

Update [2008-2-26 20:22:15 by CornFromAJar]: Turns out SMQ wrote this first and wrote it better; read it here. Orson also had his say. Keep it coming, any hatchet thrown at Freeman shall not be thrown in vain.

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