At this point, Stewart Mandel is simply embarrassing himself.
Mandel, so unwilling to admit that he might have made a mistake in calling Georgia a “regional” versus “national” power in a previous article, further sullies his credibility in his newest piece.
Now, I don’t have any personal position on whether Georgia is a “national power” or not. Moreover, I don’t even know what the hell the definition of a “national power” is. Neither apparently does Mandel, who admits –
What exactly constitutes a "national power?" To be honest, I don't have a specific answer.
Not one to be deterred by his own lack of definitional skills, Mandel decides upon some sort of ill defined poll where 100 “average” college fans that happen to live in a very “un-average” place (Montana) would recognize certain images associated with a program, such as their coach, helmet or even “song girls”.
Yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense. I should stop here, and let the idiotic piece speak for itself.
But I can’t.
Mandel goes on – supposedly at a reader’s request – to rank the 66 BCS conference teams using 4 separate tiers. At this point, his analysis really runs afoul of logic. The top tier – the “Kings” per Mandel, consists of –
Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee*, Texas and USC.
Incredibly, not only does Georgia make the second tier, so does LSU.
Mandel, desperately still clinging to his earlier position that Georgia is not a top college team, uses Penn State as a counter example of what is a “national power”.
Penn State, whose only cited distinguishing criteria by Mandel is the presence of Joe Paterno on their sidelines (oh sorry – make that the coaches box now).
In his reasoning, Mandel is critical of Georgia for having “only” two national titles, the last coming in 1980. Penn State has – you guessed it – but 2 mythical national titles in its own right, the last coming in –
(Of the other “kings” mentioned, FSU and Florida likewise claim but two MNC’s, but I suppose theirs/ours are more recent).
Maybe it is those huge crowds Happy Valley draws over Sanford Stadium that make the difference in Mandel's analysis. After all, the average attendance rankings for the top 10 universities are –
2. Penn St
4. Ohio State
Maybe it is conference titles. As Mandel does point out, Georgia has 2 SEC titles in the past 6 years.
Penn State has one shared Big 10 title since 1994.
No, then it must be recruiting. Per Scout.com, the rankings of Penn State and Georgia in recruiting for the past 4 years are –
12. Penn State
28. Penn State
6. Penn State
19. Penn State
(Sidenote - If frequently recruiting top 10 classes doesn't make you "national", what does?)
Can't be recruiting that makes PSU superior then, it must be recent winning percentages. In this century (past 7 years), Georgia is 9th in overall winning percentage at 69-21 (77%).
Penn State is tied for 52nd, at 46-38 (55%).
(Incidentally Minnesota, who Mandel ridicules as being viewed by “no one as a national power”, has a better winning percentage than Penn State over the past 7 years at 48-38 (56%)).
Could it be Penn State’s recent bowl dominance as compared to Georgia? Well, since 2000, Penn State is 4-3, while Georgia is 5-2.
In sum, the comparison looks thus –
Pretty close stuff, with the edge to Georgia. Yet, Mandel thinks PSU a “national power” while UGA is not.
Personally, I don’t really care if Mandel, or anyone else, considers Georgia, Penn State or even my Gators as “national powers”.
What I do care about is the sports media bias so evident in pieces of ill researched trash like Mandel puts out here. College football might be the only sport where opinion actually DOES influence the outcome of a season, as we nearly saw this past year in the lobbying efforts for Michigan to replay Ohio State, or even as we see every year in deciding who gets to play for the mythical national title.
Mandel, who was raised in Cincinnati and graduated from Northwestern, has a pretty obvious anti-SEC bias. Perhaps it was his 5 year stint in Atlanta that caused this bias, especially towards Georgia.
Whatever the cause, his contorted reasoning to elevate Penn State (or Notre Dame for that matter) while demeaning Georgia looks not only ill conceived, it looks like petty jealousy.
As for LSU in the second tier – don’t get me started.