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Dealing With Tabloid Trash From Traditional Media's Concern Trolls

So lot of Bruins are furious (justifiably so) over the latest column from TJ Simers in today's LA Times. Simers today wrote a piece going straight after CRN with his usual snark (without providing any kind of reality based context). I won’t link it (because doing so will serve his purpose of driving up page views of a stale newspaper) but will excerpts few paras from it:

Neuheisel is supposed to be Mr. Personality, oozing charisma all over the place, but when given the Page 2 Test, he became rattled. Gary Matthews comes to mind, and he might have an excuse -- no one knowing yet if an inability to appear interesting is one of those HGH side effects.

Neuheisel had the advantage on Matthews and Dullard, too, in taking the Page 2 Test, because we go back to when he was playing quarterback for the Chargers during the 1987 strike.

Maybe he was uptight because he thought I was going to nickname him "Scab."

No question the Scab wasn't the same guy I remembered, and I hadn't even mentioned Karl Dorrell's efforts in leading Miami past the Patriots and obviously outsmarting Bill Belichick.

I wanted to ask if he had called Dorrell seeking advice -- Dorrell starting his coaching career at UCLA 1-2 after not being left much by Bob Toledo, everyone making fun of him but then coaxing his team into winning five in a row.

Anyone like the Scab's chances of coaxing the Bruins into winning the next five games in a row?

Well, when a "columnist" starts a piece with a personal attack on his subject matter he kind of loses his credibility right off the bat (I know Simers doesn’t have a lot of it). More importantly, it’s not that difficult to take apart the weak arguments he offers up to attack CRN.

To argue that Dorrell was the master mind behind Miami’s win over a Tom Brady less Patriots is just as laughable to make the argument that Lavin was a competent coach because he took a crew of McDonald Americans to Sweet-16s. We all know how super awesome the contributions of an NFL wide receiver coach to its team. I will just go back to this post from January of 2007, when our SBN colleague - TheSportsGuru - over at Mile High Report (who obviously covers the Broncos on a day-to-day basis and does a wonderful job at it) shared the following observation re. the former WR coach, who lucked into the head coaching position in Westwood (emphasis added):

At the time I thought Dorrell was a nice position coach, but no one I would have thought of as a Head Coach candidate at a major D-1 school.  Even looking at his background, there just wasn't a lot of sustained success nor experience at big time college programs.  In that way it is similar to Brewster, who had never been more than a position coach.  The key difference, however, between the two is Brewster's experience as recruiting coordinator at Texas and North Carolina, where he recruited players like Chris Simms and Vince Young.

Dorrell really didn't have a strength, that I saw, as someone in a leadership position.  It wasn't like the Broncos were rolling out Pro Bowlers under Dorrell, and as a matter of fact, every receiver the team acquired or drafted during his time there is no longer with the team.  Sure, Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey are solid, but both were good players before and after Dorrell.   It's a well known fact in Bronco Nation that Shanny has a tendancy to hire "yes" men as assistants, made obvious by the fact that there isn't a "coaching tree" to speak of.  Karl Dorrell is among that group, and not someone I saw then, or now, as a coach with a bright head coaching future.  Some guys are just better suited to be part of a team, not in charge of it, and Dorrell wasn't even a great assistant.

If the Bruins ever want to be taken seriously in college football, on and off campus, they need to get an established, proven successful head coach.  I know Dorrell is an alum, but with no real football strength to speak of the Bruins will continue to win despite Dorrell, which is ok if 8-4 and 9-3 is acceptable every season.

I hope that makes sense....


Anyone wants to argue that the situation is any different in Miami?

And then Simers brings up Dorrell’s alleged "hot start" in his first season at UCLA. Simmers either willfully or ignorantly fails to bring up the facts concerning Dorrell 03 v. Neuheisel 08. If you are a regular reader of BN, it shouldn’t be very difficult to look up the facts in support of the arguments that Dorrell inherited lot more talent from an 8-5 Toledo coached team compared to what he left CRN and that schedule for Dorrell’s first season was ridiculously weak compared to what CRN is facing this season. You can find them here and here as well as looking up posts under the tag – "dose of reality" – which is clearly missing in Simers’s tabloid trash in the LA Times.

So what should folks do? IMHO there is no use for linking up his article or lighting up the email inboxes for TJ Simers or Randy Harvey (who I am assuming is still in the EIC for LAT’s sports section). Giving Simers attention through clicking on his article (the link from post mentioning his article has been redacted from BN) only boosts his value to the LAT.

We have no problem with folks linking to legit articles/reports from the LAT or other outlets in the traditional media. I don't agree with those who advocate we ignore the traditional media all together. I think that is extreme, too reactionary and totally misses the point. I find nothing wrong with keeping track of actual news that comes out via traditional news media. I think if you want to be a well informed UCLA fan, you should keep track of news coming out via beat reporters and if you are discussing them you should link to their work. I don't subscribe to the theory that blogs like BN is a replacement to the work done by beat reporters. If anything I think when properly done (see Ted Miller's well run and informative blog on WWL), blogs and traditional media can complement each other in a very productive manner.

However, we all have to become collectively more savvy and sophisticated in terms of how we filter content coming from the traditional media. I think we have to exercise discretion and be selective when deciding to link content from a specific source or where and how to react to it (and I don't think we can just ignore certain attacks on our program and coaches and hope it all just goes away).

So when someone like Simers attacks UCLA and its coaches and fans, we should pick our venues and methods on how to react and respond (without serving their purpose).  Same goes for below average columnists like Marcia Smith in the OC Register. Marcia was at it again this week (again no use linking tabloid trash):

Though he does not throw, run, kick or tackle in the game, Neuheisel is the one who's fumbling right now.

When he accepted the job at his alma mater, Neuheisel brashly, if not blindly, raised the Bruin football program's expectations for winning, dominating in the Pac-10, contending for national championships and getting in the facemask of crosstown rival USC.

At the time, Neuheisel's words were a refreshing blast of enthusiastic, albeit hot, air from a program that had long gone stale. The Bruins' overtime upset victory in the Sept. 1 season opener against a then-No. 18 Tennessee gave Neuheisel's early optimism some substance.

Down 17-10 at halftime to the Wildcats on Saturday, the game was still undecided. Though a few hundred fans, including legendary Bruin basketball coach John Wooden, departed shortly before the third quarter, a sizeable, supportive city of Bruin faithful remained to root for a team that hasn't scored an offensive touchdown since Game 1.

The Bruins lost again, convincingly again, but not as badly as in their second game, a 59-0 shutout at No. 18 BYU. And suddenly the Neuheisel's golden-haired surprise victory of Game 1 seemed more distant, and the two defeats, more pulsing with the kind of disappointment that messes with minds and toy with hearts.

"Golden-haired surprise victory"? Really there is nothing we can write that can respond to that. I will just refer to Jason over at What’s Bruin, Dawg, who pegged Marcia’s work pretty accurately based on what we have seen from her:

[T]here is nothing that could have prepared me for the singular awfulness of Marcia Smith, the OC Register's 'beat' writer for the UCLA Bruins. I use the term 'beat writer' loosely; I prefer to think of her as the crazy aunt that someone at the Register decided to let out of the asylum. Her work is both abysmal, pandering and ridiculous, all at the same time.

I mean it shouldn’t take a lot of brain power for anyone to get the notion that what CRN laid out in his first press conference as the new UCLA head coach, he was laying out a vision for the long term future. Obviously that either went right over Marcia’s head or she was being a craven, cynical tabloid columnist, who was just writing a hit piece to attract just like TJ Simmers.

Again, as many have already astutely observed in this thread, Simmer’s (as well as Marcia’s) shtick is to write something (often absurd and baseless) just so they can rile up people. It’s not difficult to discern they are concern trolling by launching baseless attacks against CRN to get a rise out of Bruin fan base, and drive up the hits on LAT. So why give him the link? So next time he writes something that is off base and just absurd, just take a little time and tear it apart methodically here on BN or whatever UCLA online community you spend your time in (without giving him a link or urging people to email him). They get their satisfaction out of getting angry emails or filling up their usually deserted comment threads. So why give them the attention?

It’s not that difficult to shred their arguments as we have noted above. Take them apart here and eventually they will also turn into a national joke just like Bill Plaschke, but no need to serve their purposes by giving them attention on their websites and email inboxes. Take them to task here (or wherever you interact with other Bruin fans online) and then expose them to other Bruin fans as irrelevant concern trolls offering ignorant comments on matters related to Bruin Nation.