Monday, August 6, 2012

Everyone Else is Doing It...



If you happen to be one of our 1700+ followers on twitter (200 more than Mac Engel, who gets paid for this shit.  Just sayin'), you probably noticed our typical nuanced and even handed reaction to the Skiff's story on Casey Pachall.  (In case you missed it, there were lots of F bombs and name calling).  For full disclosure, the SB twitter feed can be accessed by three or four of us, but one writer - not me - produces about 99% of the content.  However, I'll be open and honest about being the one who hurled most of the grenades Friday evening, namely the one that started it all.  I considered addressing the situation this weekend but, having had a few days to cool down, gauge the reactions of Pachall and Patterson, and get the hooch out of my system, waiting was probably the right move.

You can go back through the twitter archives if you like, but to sum it up, I, like most of you, was a LITTLE peeved at the Skiff for running the story.  At the time, the football first side of my brain was all I was using and I viewed it as a wholly unnecessary dredging up of a story that we all wish would just go away.  The fact that it came from the student run school newspaper made it a lot worse - had it been the S-T or a national news outlet, I would've been pissed, but it wouldn't have been surprising.

To be honest, I'm not even mad that the Skiff reported on the story, persay; If another outlet made the story, there's no harm.  What makes me scratch my head is that the Skiff not only "broke" a months old story, but had clearly been doing the digging ever since the arrests were made.  I mean, yes, I get it - the Skiff staff believes they are hard hitting journalists and that their contributions to the student body go beyond publishing 10 pages that everyone flips through in order to get to the crossword puzzle.  And I get that their Skiff portfolio is basically their resume going forward, so being a little over zealous is in order.  But, I dunno.  Torpedoing your own school on a story that has been beaten to death since it happened and that everyone agrees was handled in an above board way?  I guess it shouldn't surprise me since the Skiff was one of the original chest beaters on reporting as fact the "82 FOOTBALL PLAYERS FAIL DRUG TEST" speculation by Tanner Brock that proved to be false.    Besides, isn't actively using your position to dig up dirt on your employer kinda immoral?  Journalistic integrity, be damned, it just rubs me wrong.

Also rubbing me wrong is the fact that the writer - and this is hearsay, I do not know if it is true so correct me - quit the Skiff/graduated TWO WEEKS before the story aired.  To me, that smells just a little fishy and perhaps reeks of someone going out in a blaze of glory for the sake of it.  You mean, you're not even going to stick around to defend your reporting?  Hmmm... Furthering that theory is the fact that the article makes no mention of the school policy towards drug violators, which is that the first violation results in the student in question undergoing counseling.  Casey Pachall did so, yet receives no credit in the article.  The writer also makes no mention of the athletic department's stance on a failed drug test and the protocol for handling the situation.  I do not know what it is, either, but the fact that they took the time to file the paperwork necessary to obtain Casey's statements in the first place suggest they might also have time to look into whether or not the situation was handled properly according to those by-laws.  That neither of these things were reported REEKS of the worst kind of sensational journalism and someone with an agenda.

So now that the cat's out of the bag, the local media has gotten involved, with the downside being now they have to over-compensate since they missed the story initially. Naturally, the situation has empowered the Mac Engel's of the world, who accuse Patterson of being shady by not suspending Casey.  This raises a few points.  For one, Casey broke no rule that would warrant a suspension from Patterson.  He failed one drug test.  I do not believe there is any team in the country that suspends a player for FOUR GAMES (Mac's suggestion) for a first offense;  if they did, college football would no longer be a sport on any non-BYU campus.  But, according to Mac, GP should circumvent school policy because he's supposed to fear the media.  Ballsy.

On twitter, Mavs play-by-play man Chuck Cooperstein - so you KNOW he's qualified - compared the situation to that of Sammy Watkins at Clemson.  The problem with this comparison, though, and what I think folks seem to be forgetting is that Watkins was ARRESTED for possession of marijuana AND a controlled subtance.  Pachall's crime was telling a police officer had had used drugs in the past. Pachall was never taken into custody nor was he ever charged with anything; from what I understand, the kid hasn't ever been arrested.  Remember how TCU is one of TWO schools in regularly in the Top 25 to run background checks on their players?  The media doesn't.  A I think most just recall that he lived with Tanner Brock, so he's guilty by association.  I knew a LOT of people in college that consumed LOTS of drugs, and sold them as well.  Does this automatically make me a felon?  If I were good at sports and had tattoos I guess it would, at least if you listen to the media.  But that's an entirely different issue I don't care to speculate on.

But, by far the worst part of the situation, at least for me, was embodied by this line from Mac and echoed by others around the country, which was, "In light of what happened at State College, Pa., now is really not the time for a college head football coach to even remotely be perceived as either covering up or permitting any illegal behavior on his watch in order to protect the status quo."  So we're officially at the point where EVERY violation in college football, big or small, is going to be compared to Penn State.  Comparing this situation with that is kind of like saying in 1963, "In light of John F Kennedy being assassinated in Dallas, you probably shouldn't spray your yard for bugs, lest you be accused of being a hateful bigot."  Doesn't Mac have a young son?  I do, and the fact that there are men out there who would think to use their position to take advantage of him like that infuriates me to no end and I can't wait until Sandusky gets raped to death in the prison showers.  That writers like Mac would think to associate Joe Paterno deliberately covering up Sandusky's actions - which were RAPING CHILDREN IN THE PENN STATE LOCKER ROOM, RECALL - to a failed drug test is just ludicrous and belittles the heinous crimes that were committed in order to beef up your own story.  Again, sensational journalism at its worst.

But yes, the fact remains that Mac and others have equated a nearly two decade long, systematic cover up of child rape by a school employee to Gary Patterson not publishing the results of a drug test.  Not to mention the fact that he DID disclose the information, at least in a way, when he announced that five players had failed the February drug test and that 11 were in the "margin of error." Where was the uproar then?  It's true that some coaches do suspend a player for failing one drug test, even in the SEC where Georgia has such a policy.  But then there are those, like Ole Miss and Florida, who basically have to catch you blowing rails in the huddle before they slap your wrist.  Every school has a different policy.  Clearly, TCU's is not as strict as some.  You may not agree with it, but it is what it is, and what is the point of having a policy if you aren't going to follow it?  You can't punish a player for breaking a rule that doesn't exist, else who would play for you?  Patterson did exactly what was within his rights to do.  Case.  Closed.

The people that attack Patterson are truly the best.  If you read between the lines of some takes on the situation, Patterson should shutter his brand new $165 million palace and be the first coach to ever self impose the death penalty on his team.  They say that Patterson gave Pachall preferential treatment in order to make his job easier in year one of the Big 12.  No one recalls how he IMMEDIATELY kicked off Ty Horn, DJ Yendrey, Devin Johnson and Tanner Brock - ALL likely starters - off the team.  He gutted his LINEBACKING CORP, the position he holds most dear to his heart.  He didn't wait for sentencing.  He did the absolute correct thing by getting those guys out of the program and sending a message that if you break the law, you're off the team, no matter your importance.  But, again, no one seems to remember that.  Do people not realize that Patterson, in my opinion, probably has the absolute safest job in college football?  Do folks REALLY think he thought, "Oh shit, Casey Pachall is Pablo Escobar come back to life!  But if I kick him off the team and we go 6-6 this year, Del Conte is going to run me off!  BETTER CALL SAUL!!!" If you honestly believe that he would tarnish his relationship with the school for a few more wins in one season, then you haven't really been paying attention. I don't know Chancellor Boschini personally, but I do know that he cares a LOT about TCU's image.  Had Casey been a habitual drug abuser, he not only would've publicly lauded GP for removing him from the team, but he probably would've given him a raise for being honest.  Fairly or unfairly, February was  HUGE black eye for the school.  Anyone who was remotely involved is now gone.  I find it hard to believe that the administration would risk their own necks for one kid.  To use Mac's logic, the Penn State story was long broken by February when this happened, and Joe Paterno was dead because of it.  Why would they risk it?

So what did Pachall REALLY do?  He lived with a drug dealer and failed ONE drug test.  When his drug dealing roommate was arrested and he was naturally questioned by police, he admitted that he had smoked marijuana and had taken X and cocaine but, like Ron Washington, he only did it once.  Whether you buy that or not isn't relevant.  Since then, Casey has passed six drug tests.  Over the past 18 months, Casey has passed 24 other drug tests, including one by the NCAA.  There was the infamous underoo Superman incident last off-season, but you can safely presume one of those 25 drug tests occurred shortly thereafter, and it would appear Casey passed it.  And, aren't we missing a pretty important part of this?  That Casey was HONEST about it?  He could've played the denial game, but he didn't.  He's being punished for the same thing - honestly - the media is accusing Patterson of not being.  You can't have it both ways.

I think we can all agree we wish this story would just go away, but there are 2 reasons why it won't.  One is that it is about more than just a football player failing a drug test.  Just about any writer is going to view the story through the lens of how they personally feel about drugs in this country.  Clearly, a lot of writers believe that ALL drugs are a problem on college campuses and do not discern between marijuana and hard drugs.  As a result, any story of drug use is going to be amplified tenfold.  So a failed test for marijuana automatically becomes lumped in with a failed test for every other drug out there.  I probably have more lax views on light drugs than most, which is why I was pretty vocally opposed to the handling of the whole situation when it broke back in February.  But, for most, when they see "failed drug test" they jump to the worst of conclusions and ignore everything thereafter.  In their eyes, by keeping Pachall on the team Patterson is embracing drug abuse in the United States, empowering the cartels and killing tourism in Mexico.  At this point, Gary has earned my trust.  If he deems Pachall capable of being a leader on this team on and off the field, I'll roll with him.  If not, it'll suck, but it'll be deserved.  Get him the fuck out.

But, the BIGGEST reason why this story will never go away, and why outfits like the Skiff continue to dig into it, is because Casey Pachall does not look like a big-time college quarterback and, more locally, he doesn't look like Andy Dalton.  I don't think we realize that Andy Dalton is a pretty once in a generation quarterback at any level; had he done the things he did at an SEC school, he'd be just as lionized as Tebow.  I love Andy Dalton and will continue to cheer for him at any level until he hangs up his cleats, and then I'll cheer for him in his next career.  You simply cannot compare him to anyone that will come after him.  Pachall has been unfairly profiled ever since he set foot on campus, and moreso because he came immediately after.  Casey is different.  I understand.  He has a lot of tattoos.  He's unpolished.  His haircut is a mess.  He was going to get a lot of shit in opposing stadiums this year even before Friday.  And yes, he failed a drug test.  But, he admitted he was wrong, apologized for his actions and did all that was asked of him.  He could've easily sat out yesterday's media day, but he chose to address the situation and promise to be the player we expect him to be going forward.  He took responsibility and acted just as you'd want your Junior QB to act.

What more can you ask?

Breaking Bad Mondays: Fifty-One.


Just in case dedicating four years to the greatest show on television has thrown off your chronology, last night's episode marked exactly one year in the life of Walter White in the context of the show.  ONE YEAR!!  How is it possible that Walt has become the terrible man that he has in just one year's time?  And, oh, if there was any doubt left about Walter having good in him, just go ahead and rewatch that scene between him and Skyler, the culimination of which involves Skyler doubling her smoke intake and telling him her plan is to wait for his lung cancer to come back.  Watching Walt swat away her hasty planning up to that point shows just how much of an arrogant asshole he has become.  (He's right about WJ, though - Walt gave him a car; Skyler fucked with his breakfast order.  Breakfast is all WJ has to look forward to on the show.  He's probably not taking her side in the matter.) No matter what you think of Skyler, you have almost have to be on her side here.  And juxtaposed against Walt recounting how Skyler treated him not one year ago when he was first taking chemo treatments, her admission is absolutely chilling.  For the married folks among us, just remember, you and your wife may get in a fight, but hopefully she's not actively trying to give you cancer.  Just... unreal.

The rest of the episode wasn't quite the emotional ringer as what was going on within the White family, but it looks like Walt's arrogance about how everything is going to be "normal" now with his operation isn't entirely accurate.  For one, the erratic Lydia would appear to be a problem as she will undoubtedly continue to attempt to extricate herself from the ring.  Further, with Walt and Jesse overruling Mike in a matter of business, you have to think that whole thing is going to blow up eventually.

The only thing that concerns me about the episode is Hank's promotion because, if you caught it, his superior said that should he take the job, he will have to turn over all of his cases to other departments, including the Fring case.  Could this be the writer's way of taking Hank away from the situation so that they don't have to get to the inevitable showdown with Walt until next summer?  Needless to say, I can't imagine Hank will keep his nose out of things for long.

Your reaction and theories in the comments.

Better reviews:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/fiftyone,83193/

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-breaking-bad-fifty-one-pool-party


Morning Dump: 08/06

33 Days until kickoff!

Football:
TCU won't discipline Casey Pachall - AP
TCU QB Casey Pachall admits drug use, university says nothing to see here - The blog formally known as Dr. Saturday
Mack Brown states the obvious, indicates TCU-Texas game moves to Thanksgiving - DallasNews.com (surprised this isn't a Chip Brown scoop)

TCU in the Olympics:Robinson out of Men's 800m in London - NBCDFW.com