I Don't Understand the Off Season News Cycle

Look, I understand everyone's needs for filler material during the off season. Coverage of college football has become a beast that demands food every day now, regardless of whether games are actually going on.

As a blogger, I'm lucky. I can fall back on doing stat analysis and critiquing other people's writing when I don't have a good idea for a feature post. The wire services and big outlets don't really have that luxury, and it drives them to madness sometimes.

Take last Friday for instance. It suddenly became big news that Tennessee had lost 11 scholarship players since Lane Kiffin took over as head coach. Yes, it is news when players leave programs, but no, it's not a surprise when a new head coach causes attrition.

What I want to know is why 11 was the magic number. Why did that number warrant special mention? Was nine or ten players gone not worth its own story? Why did they go with 11 and not wait for 12 or unlucky 13? What prompted that report from the AP, and why did every major news outlet choose to run it?

It's the same thing with Urban Meyer's "you're either a Gator or you're not a Gator" speech. For some reason, it led yesterday's College Football Live and was a top headline on the home page of ESPN.com (the home page, where actual new news from the whole world of sports is supposed to go). It also was rehashed on several Florida news outlets and websites.

Again I ask: why?

Those comments were initially made at the Central Florida Gator Club meeting on April 25. That was nearly three weeks ago. It was covered at the time, was mocked by rival fans, and had generally run its course. Or so I thought.

Apparently the only thing new now is that someone at the WWL found out about Shane Matthews, the former Gator quarterback who (fairly) criticized the offense early last season on his local radio show. Matthews' take is basically this: he's already talked to Meyer to clear the air, understands where Meyer is coming from, and is "shocked [this] has been blown out of proportion."

That makes two of us.

I agree with mlmintampa at Alligator Army that Meyer should cool it with this kind of talk, but as Pat Dooley pointed out after the event last month (again: last month) it's not new for him to say that at all. In other words, it's not news anymore.

As I said, I understand that it's a slow news cycle for college football right now, and covering player arrests isn't really anyone's idea of fun (except for Orson, of course). Still, there's enough going on that no one has to blather on about magic attrition numbers or three week old quotes.

There's now 120 teams in I-A football (since WKU is not a transitional member anymore). There surely must be something new going on.

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