Ed. Note: I wrote this the Monday evening following "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate", but didn't publish it in the interests of not taking our focus away from the upcoming ACC Championship Game. With that now past, I present this to you for the sake of discussion. Hope you enjoy.
Confession time: Even as a resident of Houston, TX for 10 months, I still listen to 680 The Fan's afternoon show "Chuck and Chernoff" most days while at work. Many Georgia Tech fans have mixed opinions on the show, thinking they're "uga homers" or "Tech haters". Still, I enjoy it. I think they're funny. I like the discussions around the Braves, the Falcons, and college football in general. I think they've got a lot of good things to say and are often right about a lot, in my mind.
I had a real problem with the Monday show following Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate, though, and I'll tell you why. (This is going to take a minute, so stick with me.)
I said the following in the "Sunday Morning QB" article following the huge win over georgia:
There's something that needs to be said here. Last year, it was the Monday afternoon following the georgia game when local sports radio host Matt Chernoff said that he could already tell you what Georgia Tech's record would be this year. He said that we would go 7-5. We would lose to, I dunno, Pittsburgh or North Carolina. And then, as always, we would lose to Virginia Tech. We would lose to Miami. We would lose to Clemson. And then we would go to Athens and lose to georgia.
That enraged me.
I'm heavily considering calling in to the Chuck & Chernoff show on 680 AM and 93.7 FM, between 3pm-7pm on Monday, to remind Matt of that moment and make him eat his crow. He wasn't just wrong about the Virginia Tech game. He wasn't just wrong about the Miami game. He wasn't just wrong about the Clemson game. No, he completed the set and was wrong about georgia. He was wrong about all 4.
I was prepared to call in and make exactly that point, and offer Matt an opportunity to admit he was wrong. But I didn't. See, during the show, they were taking calls from Tech fans that were upset that the media wasn't giving them enough credit for pulling off a win in the situation they were in. A lot of it also revolved around the ACC's standing among college conferences after sweeping all 4 matchups against SEC teams on that Saturday, where Matt and Chuck were dismissing the idea that the results were anything of an accomplishment.
Chuck and Matt's responses to those upset fans were basically along the lines of, "Why can't you just be happy that your team won? Who cares what we think?"
I didn't call in, because what I was going to say fell exactly in line with that point -- it was all about what Matt thought, as he actively told us that what he thought didn't matter. He was right, what he thinks doesn't matter.
Except that it does.
See, I thought about it some more, and really it does matter what Matt Chernoff thinks. It matters what Chuck Oliver thinks. It matters what Buck Belue and John Kincade think. It matters what Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz think, just how it matters what Zach Klein thinks.
Imagine that you're a high school football player being recruited by a bunch of local Power 5 schools. On that Saturday, you watched Georgia Tech beat georgia in their own building. You watched them limit the georgia offense and make huge plays to win the game. That's awesome, right? A big win for that program!
You turn on the TV or radio or open a newspaper in the following days, and you hear all about how that win doesn't matter. You hear about how georgia is still a better program, the SEC is still a better conference than the ACC, and that Saturday's results don't really tell the story on any of that.
You think that might have an impact on your perception of those teams and schools, and therefore your choice in college? You think where recruits choose to go to school has an impact on how those schools' teams perform?
Or, heck, even off the field. You're Joe American from Boise, Idaho that just moved to Atlanta a few weeks ago. You spent the week hearing about this big game that was coming up this weekend, and know that Georgia Tech pulled off an awesome win. Wow, go Jackets! You're going to the store later to buy a Georgia Tech hat!
Then you start hearing about how the win was a fluke and they just got lucky. You hear about how good georgia is -- how good their players are and how good their SEC East competition is. You're told that Georgia Tech can't fill its own stadium, and therefore is a pathetic program not worth your time to support.
In this case, you're a sidewalk fan trying to form an allegiance, and constantly being told which team is the better one, regardless of how things turn out on the field between those two teams. You think that might affect how you spend your money on gear and tickets?
Now, at this point, you might be saying that nobody's being forced what to think, and you would be right. Everyone is free to form their own opinions on the matter, and I wouldn't have that any other way. The problem is, just because people are allowed to and able to form their own opinions doesn't mean that they do. No, people are more likely to conform to the opinions of those around them than to actively form their own. It's far easier to go along with the hivemind than to break away. It's the media that influences that hivemind.
All of this to say, yes, what Matt and Chuck think does matter. What all mass media members think matters. If they say something enough, it's going to become true. Public perception of these programs very much has to do with how the local media treat them, and the performance of these teams and programs very much correlate with their public perceptions. (All this, not to mention that we're talking about college football -- a sport that, by definition, determines which teams have a chance at a championship based purely on what people think of them.)
We can debate which team or conference is better to kingdom come. That's not the point of this article. No, this article is pointing out that it's wrong to suggest that the media doesn't matter in college football. Any media member that says their opinion doesn't matter (in a game where opinion and public perception is everything) is either in denial of just how this game works or trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
No, public perception is very important in this game, and we shouldn't let the media try to convince us otherwise.