The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 9, 2013

The real joke is on Herbstreit

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

— Now that the college football bowl season has come to a close with civilization still intact despite Northern Illinois’ appearance in the Orange Bowl, it’s a good time to take a quick look at some of the results, and in particular, how foolish some of the so-called experts now appear.

You may recall seeing and hearing ESPN college football elitist Kirk Herbstreit nearly losing his mind when Northern Illinois made it into the Orange Bowl, repeatedly calling their inclusion “a joke,” and ruining a very special moment for the Huskies and underdogs everywhere. He, of course, was joined by his fellow ESPN lemmings on the BCS Selection Show who echoed the former Ohio State (What bowl game were the Buckeyes in this year?) player’s outrage.

One wonders if he and his fellow college football bluebloods still feel the same, or maybe more appropriately if any of the other schools that lost by a greater margin than Northern Illinois’ 31-10 loss to Florida State (a game that was close into the third quarter, unlike the BCS Championship game) are now considered a “joke” by Herbie and company.

Because, surely if Northern Illinois was a joke, then UCLA, West Virginia, Purdue, Oklahoma, Navy and Notre Dame didn’t have any business being invited to play in the postseason since they all lost by more than three touchdowns. They must all be bigger jokes, right?

Sure, that Oklahoma 28-point Cotton Bowl loss was brutal. So brutal that most folks around here tuned it out in the third quarter, unable to bear watching it. But, that doesn’t mean the Sooners had no business playing in a bowl game, does it?

But Herbstreit of course has been silent on that game or most any loss by one of his beloved, perceived BCS superpowered bluebloods. Although, in fairness, he was quick to make an excuse for Florida’s 33-23 loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, stating that is essentially what happens when one team is not excited to play. Yep, that must be it. It couldn’t be that he was wrong. It couldn’t be  Louisville was the better team.

And as yet he has not ascribed “joke” status to Notre Dame following the Irish’s 28-point loss to Alabama in the BCS title game. Of course there was a certain sense of karmic justice that Herbstreit had to call that debacle for ESPN.

• Speaking of Alabama, this may be unpopular in these parts, but let’s give a tip of the hat to the team from Tuscaloosa.

Nick Saban has done a remarkable job with the Crimson Tide, a program that graduates 75 percent of its football players, has been the least penalized team over the past five seasons and has had no NCAA investigations. Oh, and has won national championships in three of the last four years. Maybe some folks should stop the SEC hate and embrace what ‘Bama is doing.

• But the true national champion may actually reside in Ypsilanti, Mich. Yep, Eastern Michigan at 2-10 can claim lineage to this year’s championship. How? Well, EMU beat Western Michigan, which beat UConn, which beat Syracuse, which beat Louisville, which beat Florida, which beat Texas A&M, which beat ... Alabama.

So, there you have it ... all hail your true national champions, the Eastern Michigan Eagles. (You have no idea how long I have been waiting to write that sentence.) Herbstreit must be hyperventilating.

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at