Friday, November 27, 2020

ESPN Has Been Very Unfair To Me About the Rece Davises

It takes a certain kind of courage to look at the state of college football, which is hanging on a thread as every team rotates turning their teams into mobile disease distribution units, and stand in front of the cameras to denounce Joey Galloway for a mild football insult, as Pat Fitzgerald did after the Wildcats' enormous win over Wisconsin last Saturday.  We're starting there because this is the funniest thing to happen with Northwestern football in this blighted season other than the fact that it has won multiple football games.  Earlier, before the game, Galloway had described Northwestern as a "bunch of Rece Davises."  Fitzgerald took exception to that after the game and called the team the "Fightin' Rece Davises" while cutting a promo on Joey Galloway as a bunch of Northwestern players whooped out the name "Rece Davis" in triumph.  Northwestern's official twitter account temporarily changed its name to the "Fightin' Rece Davises."  This is so deliriously dumb that I have not been able to stop thinking about it all week.

The funniest part of this feud is the invocation of the words "Rece Davis" as an unutterable football insult.  Rece Davis is, of course, the generic sportscaster host of ESPN's College Gameday pregame programming.  The way that Fitzgerald took it is that Galloway was insulting the team's athleticism but instead of just saying something normal like that, he invoked the dreaded Rece Davis and now has made that name into a staggering and apparently inexcusable football epithet.  After the game, Fitzgerald characterized Galloway's statements, which, I repeat, were him referring to the Northwestern team as "Rece Davises" as "incredibly disrespectful."  How would you feel if I referred to you or your loved ones as a "Rece Davis" is something Pat Fitzgerald did not ask but it merits consideration.  

Coach R---- and Coach M---- meet after one has called the other a R---e D---s



I have e-mailed ESPN's PR department asking for a comment from Rece Davis about his name becoming an egregious football insult and I will update if I hear back from him on this matter as well as if he prefers the plural of his name to be styled Rece Davises or Reces Davis.

This is not even the first time Fitzgerald has gotten all red-assed about an ESPN commentator.  You may recall that after the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl, Fitzgerald got on the microphone immediately after the game to denounce then-ESPN personality Danny Kanell because Kanell had used all of his 40 "confidence points" on Pittsburgh defeating a Northwestern team that had barely squeaked into bowl eligibility because they lost to FCS Illinois State at home 7-6. Kanell was doing one of those pointless time-filling ESPN shows about bowl games no one cares about because the ratings for these ill-attended, barely-watched games is somehow worth gazillions of dollars. I don't blame Fitzgerald or any coach who trawls for Insults and Adversity the way that large whales feed themselves by straining the water for barely-visible bits of kelp and protozoans, but it is also extremely amusing watching Fitz huff and puff and toot like a cartoon steamwhistle at these vacuous talking heads; it behooves everyone at Northwestern athletics and ESPN to immediately get Stephen A. Smith to say something vaguely unflattering about Northwestern football.

Fitzgerald could get all riled up at Joey Galloway because Northwestern defeated Wisconsin 17-7.  The Wildcats remain unbeaten, they have beaten the toughest team on their schedule, and seem almost certain to have clinched a berth in the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State.  The victory over Wisconsin is now moot; the Badgers will miss Saturday's Axe Game against Minnesota because of a Covid outbreak on Minnesota's team, and Wisconsin is now ineligible to play in the Big Ten Championship Game.  If Wisconsin had won, Northwestern would still be likely to head to Indianapolis, but at least this way Badger fans will not completely lose their minds and express themselves in what I assume is a new Big Ten tradition of driving down to Rosemont and screaming at a Meat Restaurant, and while I am glad Northwestern won, we have to admit that this scenario is funnier.

The Wildcats won an ugly, near-unwatchable game with smothering defense, turnovers, and just enough points, which has become their signature style.  They forced five turnovers, including two more interceptions for ball-hawking prodigy Brandon Joseph, they ran for 24 yards; the third quarter consisted of nine consecutive punts from both teams.

Northwestern's win fits with a general carnival atmosphere in the Big Ten this season.  In a world where college football should not be played and this season represents the most deranged capitulation to advertising money in a sport that is entirely an advertising money racket, the Big Ten has delivered its funniest and most satisfying season in years.  Historical doormats like Northwestern and Indiana have surged.  Traditional powers like Michigan and Penn State have gone completely to shit, and not in the annoying way where they win eight or nine games and all of the fans melt down about it, but they are legitimately awful teams who stink.  Michigan needed a Jim Harbaugh jaw-grinding triple-overtime victory over Rutgers to get their second win.  Penn State hasn't beaten anyone, literally.  Nebraska continued to exist as the Big Ten punching bag when they got annihilated by Illinois and then brutally tweeted-upon.  Only Ohio State remains grimly inevitable, the only thing stopping the American people from what we all deserve: a Big Ten Championship Game between Northwestern and Indiana.

The Wildcats have three remaining games against relatively bad teams Michigan State, Minnesota, and Illinois.  At this point, because of Wisconsin's disqualification from the Championship Game, they need only one victory to clinch the West.  Everyone is acting like this is a fait accompli, but anyone who has ever rooted for Northwestern knows that they are capable of getting upset at any time; two years ago when they won the Big Ten West in a year where no team was disqualified for contracting an extremely contagious airborne virus, Northwestern lost to an Akron team that had never beaten a Big Ten team in a streak dating back to the nineteenth century.  And when a team plays a style that involves scoring exactly as many points as they need to win, it seems like other teams have a tremendous opportunity to get an upset.  Northwestern fans are aware that you can never take any Big Ten team lightly from the experience of supporting a Big Ten team that has consistently won at least one game a year that gets other teams very mad.

I have been getting through this season by treating Northwestern's continued success as a punishment for the college football world.  As they continue to dangerously push forward with games, I have argued that the outcome they deserve is more Northwestern football, a team nobody wants to watch playing an aesthetically hideous form of bludgeoning football, continuing to roll through a season that shouldn't be happening.  But this is all a dodge.  I'm railing against college football on this blog while watching every Northwestern game, cheering the results, and continuing to write about it.  To accept college football at some level means accepting a place that values the opinions of the Playoff Committee who continues to meet in person for the vital purpose of making a list that is literally unnecessary until the final week of the season, even if I just want to watch Northwestern gradually beat Michigan State for three and a half hours Saturday.  It's Dabo Sweeneys all the way down.

But despite the ugliness inherent in college football this season, there is one thing I hope to avoid and that is a team being referred to as "Rece Davises" twice.

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