A lot has been said throughout the state of Texas about Craig James, although the mood of said sayings has taken a pretty dramatic shift over time. James, who was once revered as the white part of the Pony Express with Eric Dickerson and a former standout at Stratford High in Houston, is now almost entirely known for his dickheadery in the Mike Leach scandal, although people should’ve caught on much earlier based on his performance as an ESPN announcer. No matter what you think of Leach, he would still have a job today if Craig James had not set in motion the events that snowballed into his firing. Now, in James’ meager defense, Texas Tech officials are GD morons and place their personal pride over athletic and monetary success and, despite Mike Leach being the only thing keeping Texas Tech relevant, he was pretty much a dead man walking after his contentious off-season contract discussions. And, in the school’s defense, they had a right to be bitter – Leach was, by all accounts, a disloyal dickhead who would’ve been on the first flight out of Lubbock had he had any semblance of interviewing talent. However, that’s neither here nor there, and since this is a direct vehicle for SMU hate, I’ll get to the point:
Thesis: Craig James is the biggest douchebag in America, and this baggedness is directly derived from his time at SMU.
First off, I don’t think I need to further go into the whole Texas Tech debacle – we are all 100% aware of how that went down, and if you can view that situation as anything other than an entitled father wanting his son to have the same sense of entitlement without earning it, then you probably shouldn’t read this post. For the rest of you, get ready to hate.
You simply have to glance at James’ Wikipedia page to see what I’m talking about. His listed name? Jesse Craig “Pony” James. So, I understand how he was supposed to be “Pony” and Dickerson was “Express’ and HARF HARF PLAY ON WORDS!!!! But even beyond that, with a given name like Jesse James combined with his choice of college, how could this guy not grow up to be exactly who he is now? And even better – James and Dickerson, easily the school’s most famous football alums other than Doak Walker, are the main reason that SMU’s Football's has been irrelevant for the past 25 years! What a nut punch! At least our most famous football player came though in the post SWC era and was only lightly recruited out of high school, so you can be pretty certain he wasn’t being paid to be there. The SMU Death Penalty has been well documented and reveled in by the TCU fan community, but it’s still a lot of fun to poke fun at from time to time.
After his SMU years, James went on the play in the now disbanded USFL, but after an absolutely abysmal year, James suffered a major injury and was cut. He then signed with… The New England Patriots, easily the most reviled and obnoxious team in the NFL, and it’s not even close… not even NFC East fans can hold a candle to that bandwagon. Oh, and as fate would have it, it’s well known that Beantowners love nothing more than non-black positional players so, and not to get all Malcolm Gladwell on you, can you imagine a better place for him to land? If he goes to Oakland, he rides the bench and is selling used cars back home in Jacksonville right now. Rememeber, New England fans are the reason that the media thinks Wes Welkaaaaah is the second coming of Jerry Rice, which isn’t to say that Welker is a bad player, but an All-Pro? Seriously? In fact, getting back into Outlier mode, let’s say Welker and Randy Moss wind up in Philly with Donovan McNabb? Does McNabb shun Moss in favor of Welker as Tom Brady does? The racially skewed Boston fan-base strikes again! And, if you’ll recall, Welker attended… wait for it… Texas Tech!!! Like James’ son!!! Conspiracy theories…
But, since the Patriots didn't put together a significant fan base until Y2K, I guarantee you no current Patriot fans could tell you about James' time there, which actually resulted in a Super Bowl appearance… where James was held to 1 yard on 5 carries. That’s one more yard than I’ve had in a Super Bowl. Oh yeah, at this point he was also being known as “The Great White Hope.” A bit premature, no?
From there, James went on to begin his media career, and here is where the hate should really start festering because this is where James earned the right to become an AP voter. Has anyone ever checked his final AP ballots and compared them to how the final polls actually panned out? ABYSMAL! In fact, he's commonly viewed as one of the worst voters in the entire process. And when it comes to TCU, it’s just hysterical. For the sake of brevity, let’s take a look at his past two final AP ballots as those are arguably the defining seasons of the Patterson Era.
In 2008, TCU finished 7th in the AP poll, and, just to toss it in, Texas Tech finished 12th. How do you think James had us in the rankings? TCU 10/Texas Tetch 9. Seriously!?!? Only two voters had us lower and only seven voters had Tetch higher. Out of 59. Let’s compare the resumes, shall we?
TCU finished the season with two losses – one an early season blowout at OU, and the last second loss to undefeated, 6th ranked Utah. We then capped the season by beating a 9th ranked and undefeated Boise State team that hadn't lost a game in almost two years in the Poinsettia Bowl. By contrast, Texas Tech finished the season with two losses, one a flat out raping at the hands of OU that was MUCH uglier than our performance, and then a nice filleting at the hands of Houston Nutt’s Ole Miss team in the Cotton Bowl to close out the year. Given, they had the Texas win, but, they also had wins over Eastern Washington and Massachusetts. And while the OU losses cancel out, Utah went undefeated and should’ve been in the NC game; Ole Miss lost four games, including to Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. Oh, but we didn’t have his son on our team. I guess it’s ok then.
But 2009 is where things really get ticklish. For the year, TCU finished 6th in the AP Poll and Boise finished 4th. I personally was fine with our finish, but thought Boise could’ve been higher, although I’m not sure they beat full strength UT or Florida even on a neutral field. So, for the most part, the voters got it right… except one. Guess who not only ranked Boise 7th, but the Frogs 14th? You guessed it, The Great White Hope himself, Craig James. So, we’re all completely aware that the media has a bias towards BCS teams and especially a guy who works for ESPN because he has an interest to protect. But, Boise and the BCS aside, FOURTEEN??? Really!?! Among the teams he had in front of us, with their actual ranking reflected in parenthesis, were Wisconsin at 13 (16), Nebraska at 10 (14), and Penn State at 5 (9). Not to mention three loss Virginia Tech, Pitt and Oregon. Hell, he put us six spots behind Cincinnati – a team who got blown out of the stadium by Florida in their bowl game, who played in a Big East Conference that was well thought to be weaker than the Mount West and who we likely would've jumped into the National Championship over had Colt released his throw one second later. I understand there are discrepancies in voting, and I respect the fact that I’m a homer for the Frogs and the voters aren’t, but to rank a team eight spots lower than the average of the other voters is just a joke and there’s no excuse for that. For the record, all 59 voters had us ranked higher. You can be absolutely assured that his lingering Frog hate and SMU-ness played a major role in this.
So hopefully I have painted a pretty good portrait of a loathsome human being right there. You can make the argument that events later in his life helped shape him – playing football in front of one of the worst fanbases in one of the more racially insensitive cities in the world, being given the pretentious nickname “The Great White Hope” based on one superlative season even though his overall career stats would be modest even for a bench player (5 seasons, 2500 yards, 11 TDs), and then finally making his way into the booth and being coddled by the conglomerate that is ESPN to the point that he felt he was important enough to get a highly successful college football coach fired because his son wasn’t good enough to earn playing time. However, I think you all know where I’m taking this - and if it isn’t obvious by now, then you haven’t read the previous entries – but I think it’s plain to see that Craig James’ true downfall began when he took that envelope full of cash and pledged himself to the SMU Mustangs.
Now, I’m not saying that TCU was necessarily running a clean program back then because, let’s be honest, paying your players was pretty much a rite of passage for membership in the Southwest Conference – but I am going to point out that no other team in the history of college football did it to the extent that they were banned from playing football for entire seasons. If all is right and just in the world, USC will suffer the same fate, because I have a feeling what they’ve done in the Carroll era would make SMU look like BYU ethically, but the fact remains that SMU was proven to have done it.
Craig James played a significant role in SMU getting the axe and any player who would go to a school based on the financial gain shouldn’t be allowed to be around the game ever again. While you would think that a person’s natural inclination after being caught for such a thing would be to become a more humble person, James let it all go to his head and pave the road for him to become one of the more notable ego maniacs of our time.
But, if you’re familiar with anyone from SMU, does this surprise you? Let’s imagine a hypothetical world where James comes to SMU because he genuinely wants to be there – can’t you still imagine him progressing into a Little League mom? Can’t you see him walking around with salmon colored shorts and a tie on? Can't you see him running down someone in his luxury car and then saying that it's OK because he's Craig James, the SMU Football player? Can’t you see him drawing a dick on a person from TCU’s car? I think that’s a resounding yes.
Fortunately, in the midst of all this hate, there’s a light – and that light is an opportunity for even more hate because James has recently made it clear that if Kay Bailey Hutchison vacates her seat in the Senate, he is going to run for it. Can you IMAGINE?!?! Nice work alienating the entire voting base in West Texas, not to mention a good portion of the Metroplex, and if he’s hoping to carry the SMU vote, too bad because 90% of those kids are from out of state. Heck, if he’s looking to carry the college football fan vote other than Tetch hating aggys, good luck because TCU fans hate him, UT fans are liberals, Baylor fans will be in church during polling hours and Tech fans, even if they disliked Leach, have certain literacy issues that preclude most of them for being eligible to vote anyway. While I honestly have no preference between Kay Bailey or Perry in the race for Governor, now I’m kind of for KB simply because I want to see this ass pony get pile driven.James, at least for now, appears the be the gift that will continue to keep on giving. If there is a God, by the end of this Leach debacle, Craig James will be calling Monday night WAC games with his partner in the booth, Pam Ward. And if there’s one thing worse than being thpit on for 3 hours by Lou Holtzth, it’s being lulled to sleep by the silky smooth monotones of the female Barry White.
And that’s today’s lesson in SMU Hate.