J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: Jesus, Ryan.
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: Remember our little chat?
<squints> Is that you, Jamie? (Full disclosure: that's my boss. Mr. Irrelevant himself.)
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: Of course it is. You remember?
Well, yeah. But I didn't use any expletives... ? You know me... a little bipolar. Hey, how are you--
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: Yeah, man, but that's just gross. I mean -- I mean, that's nasty. It's your blog, so you have free reign to be cool, be edgy, but... you got me with 'buttock garrote.' Or maybe the dutch oven. Actually, think it was the Chipotle reference. That's all.
I guess I've always wanted to see how far I could really take this thing, being an AOL Sports product. The inner adventurer...
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: Well, why don't you "adventure" your ass right back into something a little easier for the women and children to read.
I will, but I am pretty certain that no women or children have been affected. That's because they don't read sports blogs.
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: You might be surprised. I have the stats. You don't.
How could you... wait a second.
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: You don't want to know. Put it this way. You know all those AOL CDs you threw away in the last six months?
(righteously and indignantly) AOL is a quality product and I would never throw away good promotional materi--
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: Shut the **** up! Dude... just write about sports. Okay? Sports! College sports!
(gulp) Okay, Jamie. I mean... sir.
J_Mottram|AOL CORPORATE: Start over?
The Florida-Michigan controversy refuses to die. Kirk Herbstreit and Gary Danielson are now hitting the airwaves to discuss the various tactics they used in an attempt to shape college football history; Danielson maintains that he has always been against rematches, just like Bo; Herbstreit says ABC has never asked him to go roll with the network when voting or encouraging others to vote.
And despite the forced smiles and polite compliments paid to each other, it's probably safe to say that the Herbstreits and the Danielsons won't be getting together for that 2007 Family Summer Vacation in Disney World.
Transcripts follow after the jump.
Danielson on WXYT AM Radio in Detroit, MI, December 4th:
On his campaigning for Florida: "I figure I have two more months to go to catch up with ABC and ESPN. They've been [campaigning for] the Big Ten since September."
On the controversy over Michigan losing out to Florida: "That Michigan - Ohio State game in 1969. It wouldn't have been fair for Michigan to have to play them again, would it?
"Understand that winning it on the field is all that matters. There were only two teams all year that did not have to please voters - Michigan and Ohio State. They were ranked one and two for the last six weeks of the year – I don't know why, really. They were anointed one and two, they were undefeated and they deserved their rankings. I don't know how anyone knows they are the two best teams.
"I watch a lot of tape. I assume you guys watch a lot of tape. I'll bet you do. But I don't know who the best two teams are, and I'm sure no one else does. So I don't know how the Michigan argument goes that we are the only team capable of coming within three points of Ohio State. I don't know how you can justify that argument. I know you can't. You're telling the rest of college football we're the only team capable of coming within three points of Ohio State.
"My argument was that anyone was more deserving than Michigan. I would have voted Oklahoma over Michigan. Oklahoma got robbed. They basically lost one game, okay? I would have voted Louisville, anyone other than Michigan, because there was only one team in college football that had the opportunity to play their way into that game against Ohio State without having to please one voter. Not one voter. Michigan had a shot. They're obviously a very good football team.
"I think it's small minded to think that the two best teams just happen to play in the Big Ten this year. It reminded me of the Big Ten Conference in the 70s, where Michigan and Ohio State played every year with the two best records go out to the Rose Bowl then found the rest of the country isn't quite as easy as the rest of the Big Ten.
"Michigan and Ohio State didn't mind having the Sports Reporters [stumping for them]. ESPN and ABC had that clock running for over a month [for the OSU – Michigan game] while the rest of the country fumed about that. But the first time somebody says something about somebody else, oh, my, the whining starts. My drum was banging for college football. Now we finally got to a game here because of circumstances where everybody had to stand up and say, 'you mean there's another team besides Michigan Ohio State, Notre Dame and USC out there?' I think it's laughable, totally laughable that people think they know who the best two teams are. I know football pretty good, and I think I know how to watch film pretty well. If I don't know who the best two teams are, I don't see how anybody else can do it."
On other factors that went into his thinking: "I look at it that the rest of the country really didn't give anybody else a chance except Michigan and Ohio State for a while. Then once they looked at USC, ESPN and ABC jumped on a new bandwagon. Bob Davie was on the front page of USA TODAY saying, "I watched college football all year, and I know the two best teams are Michigan and Ohio State. Then that horse gets a little tired and they go to USC and watch and go, 'you know? Now that I look at it, I think USC is the second best team in the country.' Then when USC loses they go, 'what do we do now?' And I think the rest of the country is out there saying, 'who anointed Michigan, Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame to run all of college football?'
"My stance has been consistent on this. I've been through this three times. I did the Colorado – Nebraska game, and you applauded me when I said the second place team should not play for the national championship. I did the Oklahoma – Kansas State, and you applauded me. Now all of a sudden when I make the same stance, do Michigan fans whine."
On Florida's case: "The SEC had five teams in the top 20. Florida played the other four. Now what kind of system do you have when the best conference in the country doesn't have according to the polls for their team to play for the national championship? Or put it this way – an equal opportunity to play in the national championship game. This whole thing about No. 3 and No. 4 – I don't think anybody cared who No. 3 and No. 4 were until USC lost. Once that happened, I think people stood up and said, 'all right, what should I do?'
"As a broadcaster of this game, I banged on the table at halftime and said, 'we are not going to talk about Florida's national championship case until at least the fourth quarter.' But I did prepare in case this happen, and I put plusses and minues on both sides, said how am I going to make my argument? That's my job. My argument was to kind of compare the best thing to the worst thing for each team. I left a blank ballot up there for a whole series. I said, 'you make your own ballot out there.' I'm getting paid very well to give my opinion. My opinion was laid out the way I saw it. Now, if I convinced people, maybe I'm a good communicator."
On whether his opinion is influenced by his employer [CBS]: "So is everybody else's, but that's not true. When I was working at ABC and ESPN I got called to the carpet because I was doing the national championship game and said I didn't believe a second place team should do it ... they had their chance. This is the same argument. I'm the ONLY one who has remained consistent. My old partner, Brent Musberger, anointed Michigan the second best team, then in the middle of the ND - USC game said, you know, I've always said a second place team shouldn't play for the championship, then doubled back and said, "I was off.' I don't know where other people stand, but I have been.
"If Michigan had beaten Ohio State, I would be making the same argument that it's not fair that one team only has to keep it close, the other team has to knock you out. Bo was against this thing, that's why Kirk Herbstreit was against a rematch before the Michigan – Ohio State game. Kirk's a wonderful broadcaster, but my opinion is he was so wounded by the Steve Breaston comments that he jumped on the Michigan bandwagon and rode it."
On carrying on too long on behalf of the Gators: "It wasn't Florida, even. I don't even know how good of a team they are. They're a gamer. They remind me a little of that Ohio State team that won the national championship that everybody thought would lose every game, and somehow they found a way to win at the end. Nobody thought they could beat Miami, and they seemed to find ways to win.
"My argument was, and continues to be, that you can't anoint teams. No one knows who the best team is. The Sports Reporters don't know, Mitch Albom doesn't know, Kirk Herbstreit doesn't know, Bob Davie doesn't know, and I don't know, and Michigan fans don't know. You have to go then to a resume. Now you are telling people that because Michigan beat Notre Dame, who I think is an emperor with no clothes, and they played Ohio State close, they deserve the national championship.
Now I look at the schedules and say, now wait a minute ... there are other teams out there that have a resume. Why aren't they being considered? I think college football deserves to have something more than they get. I have railed, and as I said, they should pass rules that don't allow a second place team to go. That's not fair. So what do you do? But it is interesting that a whole year goes by, and can you name me any player besides a quarterback who plays for an SEC team?
"It's out of mind's eye. If you look at what dominates college football, it's ESPN/ABC. That publicity machine has rolled and rolled and rolled and has tilted the playing field in my opinion. So now one time somebody has an opinion that's different people say, 'wow.' You want to know what it's like in the Big 12, Pac-Ten and SEC? That's what it's like, every week from September to Nov. 25.
On the last time he talked to Lloyd Carr: "During the Michigan - Ohio State game a year ago. I respect Lloyd Carr. People can play out this stuff the way they want to. He's an excellent coach. I was one of his defenders. I'm a Jim Herrmann defender. I didn't think their defense was all that different this year, they just had better players than a year ago. They had a dominant defensive line and Lloyd always does a good job with his football team.
"Coaches can play out their campaign the way they want to. I think Jim Tressel was absolutely right on in the strategy he did. For him to have to try to determine the national ... I think to excuse yourself was absolutely right on. I think Urban Meyer played it the way he wanted to because nobody was talking about the SEC and he said okay, look at my team. We are a pretty good football team, too. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and I think for Coach Carr to attack somebody over what somebody else says is wrong. I respect Coach Carr, but I don't think he should jockey both horses."
On whether Meyer dragged Michigan into the conversation: "He could say anything he wanted to say.
"Here's my opinion after watching the Michigan - Ohio State game. If the same game was played with Louisville and West Virginia uniforms, everybody would have said there's no defense on the field. That 's number one. No. 2 is there were two outstanding teams with one great player. Same as last year's game. Ohio State has the best player on the field and when the best player is the quarterback, they have a great chance of winning. It's going to be very difficult to beat OSU because they have the best player in college football."
On Danielson's lobbying for Florida during the SEC title game, which many feel helped get the Gators a bid to the national title game: "I've got to be honest ... I have so much respect for Gary and Vern [Lundquist]. When I saw watching that game that they put that graphic up, the only thing I could think of was that the coordinating producer would force them to do something like that to kind of destroy any credibility they'd all built over the years, just obviously by standing up and talking about an SEC school. I thought it was more behind the scenes than it would be with Vern and Gary."
On Danielson's allegations that ESPN/ABC lobby for the Big Ten: "As far as what ESPN and ABC does, the one thing I could just tell you - and Gary should know this - I've never in my life at ESPN had anybody say, 'hey, can you do me a favor? I'm not really worried about your credibility, I want you to just go out and say this because it helps the network.' I can't even imagine somebody actually doing that, and how I'd respond if they did. I've never been approached by anybody saying, 'hey Kirk, we need you to defend Michigan, because they're with ABC.'
"Don't forget, Florida ... ESPN has a lot of SEC games. To even think about that ... whatever I see, I talk about. So I thought Gary would do the same thing. I'm just assuming to give Gary the benefit of the doubt based on his work over the years that that was something he had to buy into. I'm surprised to hear him say the ESPN/ABC guys do that to Michigan. I've never been in a meeting when anybody's ever said we need to so this because we represent that school, so let's take one for the team.
"I'm going to stick my head in the sand. I go on shows in the south, and they tell me a lot of the same things – 'what do you have against the SEC?' That's the one thing about this sport ... Gary is focused on one conference. With GameDay, we focus on every conference, every school and every team. You're kind of used to people over the years saying these kinds of things. There's always going to be somebody with their feelings hurt or upset. This year it's Florida fans and Michigan fans, and of course Florida got the last laugh because they're in. But I don't look at it as the nation wanted to send ESPN and ABC a message, and that's why they picked Florida. What happened is the nation didn't want a rematch. It had nothing to do with ESPN, ABC, Kirk Herbstreit, Gary Danielson, any idiots on the outside. It had everything to do with the matchup they wanted. They did not want to see Round 2, plain and simple.
"If USC beat UCLA by 30 points, which they should have done ... where would Michigan have been ranked in the BCS standings? Third. That tells you that if it was just based on the teams, Michigan is clearly the team that is the better team. The masses understand that. But once SC was knocked out, it gave the voters a chance to say we've already seen Michigan, we don't want to see it again. By golly, look at Florida, they went through the toughest conference, they're 12-1, they deserve it. That's what it was. It wasn't based on doing the right thing. It was based on Michigan had their chance – we don't want to see a rematch, so they're going to put Florida in there."
On his opinion that Michigan was more deserving: "To me, you look at teams on paper, and it's clearly an advantage for Florida. There's no doubt. If you're going to look at how many bowl teams they beat, how many top [ranked teams].
"Here's the problem I had; I get paid to actually watch college football, from noon to 2 a.m. I watch every game there is, and I do that for 15 straight weeks. I'm in a position where I can make an opinion on more than, well right here on paper, it says Florida beat six top 25 teams ... I don't care. I don't care. I've watched Florida every week. Congratulations, 12-1 ... that's amazing. But am I going to penalize Michigan because the Big Ten is awful this year? Absolutely not. I don't care that they beat ND and ND is terrible. I don't care that they beat Wisconsin and we don't know how good Wisconsin is. I saw them play against every team this year.
"People can say look how they played against Ball State and look how they played against Northwestern. They were bored. The difference between that and Florida ... Florida was actually trying when they played and didn't execute against Georgia and Vanderbilt, and didn't execute against Kentucky and other teams they played. Their offense has been struggling all year, so the way I finally decided to evaluate it was to say, 'if you put this teams on a neutral field, who would win?' To me, Michigan would win that game.
"The last thing is, if Michigan had played Ohio State Saturday the way they played them two weeks ago, you tell me what the masses would have thought. It was out of sight, out of mind. Michigan was a forgotten team. The performance they put on that night was forgotten, and people saw Florida saw two weeks, and at the end of the day, that's what affected them. If Michigan would have played the No. 1 team in the country when Florida was playing Arkansas, I promise you Michigan would have gotten that next chance."
On Danielson's comment about "whining": "Who's whining? Maybe there are some things going on I'm unaware of about the whining. I don't know any whining ABC or ESPN is doing."
On Danielson's comment that Herbstreit only jumped on Michigan's bandwagon because he was stung by earlier comments made about Steve Breaston: "I can't believe Gary would say that. Here's what's hard for me ... of all the analysts when I was a player and to this day that I looked up to, and somebody I tried to pattern myself after, it's Gary Danielson. I'm just going to assume he's taking a lot of heat up there for his comments on CBS. For him to kind of throw me under the bus ... I haven't done anything. I just speak my mind. Things get completely misconstrued ..."
On Danielson's comment that Herbstreit didn't want to see a rematch prior too the Michigan – Ohio State game: "He's right. I went into that game thinking I don't want to see a rematch. Whoever wins the game, done. But when I watched that game, I wanted to see another quarter, another four quarters. That was the only way in my mind, no matter who won that game. You can imagine if Ohio State lost 42-39 and I were to say there needs to be a rematch.
"Guys, I'm allowed to change my opinion, reevaluate based on things I see. I thought West Virginia before they lost to South Florida, they deserved serious consideration. You reevaluate based on watching games. The backlash from Michigan is no different than any other year I get backlash from Michigan. If Michigan people are upset with me, they are upset with me. If they are happy with me, they are happy with me. If Florida people ... how do you think the conversation went when I just bumped into Urban Meyer a half hour ago? He was actually great. He hugged me. I had a blue and yellow tie on and he said, 'Oh, I see you've got your Florida Gator tie on,' and he kind of laughed. The guy was a GA when I was at Ohio State, so I know him really well. I said don't take it personal – I'm just telling you what I think. He said, 'I know that's you. That's your job. That's what you do.'
"I'm not going to stoop to that level and say I don't respect Gary, because no matter what he might say or feel about me, he and Todd Blackledge are the two guys I've always admired and looked up to, will continued to do so, maybe one day I'll get a chance to tell Gary what I felt. I may change my mind based on what I see in bowl games. My hope is, as a fan of Ohio State and Michigan other teams – I'm a fan of Florida, too - I'd love to see Michigan play well in the Rose Bowl and Ohio State play well in the championship game, see what happens.
On whether the Big Ten might adjust the schedule to have teams play later in the year: "That's a great question for Jim Delany in the offseason, when we all get together in Chicago. The Big East has made that adjustment. Rutgers and West Virginia was moved to the back of the schedule because of that very reason. You're talking about a game that was an instant classic. It's funny how in a week or two we forget. I think it would make a lot of sense to adjust. I'm sure the traditionalists would not like to see Michigan – Ohio State played in the first week of December, but if they go to 12 teams ... I know Jim Delaney was against that unless it's Notre Dame, and Notre Dame is not going to join. That will be a great one to ponder with Jim when we see him."
Now here's what jumps out to us:
- Herbstreit was far more demeaning to Danielson than he should have been. To insinuate that Danielson was coerced into comparing stats on the air during the SEC Championship Game... well, he's directly calling Danielson's credibility into question, which is ridiculous, because he has been campaigning for Michigan ever since they lost to Ohio State. As Danielson put it, "I figure I have two more months to go to catch up with ABC and ESPN. They've been [campaigning for] the Big Ten since September."
- Here's another gem from Herbie: "My hope is, as a fan of Ohio State and Michigan other teams – I'm a fan of Florida, too - I'd love to see Michigan play well in the Rose Bowl and Ohio State play well in the championship game, see what happens." Could you be a little more direct, Kirk? If he made it any clearer that he was biased towards the Big 10, he'd have to skywrite it over the stadium in Glendale. Kirk really, really hopes that Ohio State beats Florida, because if the reverse is true... well, he'd look like a jackass, wouldn't he?
- In my opinion, this incident is going to be a setback for Herbstreet's reputation as a theoretically objective analyst. Danielson has been on target with each and every one of his remarks and has comported himself with class and humility throughout.
- This statement hurts Herbstreit's credibility, too: "Florida beat six top 25 teams ... I don't care. I don't care. I've watched Florida every week. Congratulations, 12-1 ... that's amazing. But am I going to penalize Michigan because the Big Ten is awful this year? Absolutely not. I don't care that they beat ND and ND is terrible. I don't care that they beat Wisconsin and we don't know how good Wisconsin is." You don't care? Like Gary Danielson says -- LOOK AT THE RESUME!
... (Psssst - better, Jamie?)