If you’re a fan of any major college football program and of a certain age, there’s a better than average chance you’ve spent some amount of time on a team message board in the last 20 years.
And probably a rival team’s message board as well. Or two. Maybe three.
You could argue that message boards — especially sports ones — are America right now. Passionate. Polarized. Unabashedly convinced of their own righteousness, regardless of evidence. For better or for worse.
Whether you’ve posted or just lurked, these sites have their function. You can catch up on discussion, gauge the temperature of public opinion, and every once in a while, gleam a little bit of knowledge. And you can catch up on the latest rumors. Lots and lots of rumors.
My first experience came in the early 2000s, as part of my first writing gig on for Tiger Rag. In those days, the Tiger Rag site hosted the theInsiders.com boards, which later became Scout.com, which was eventually acquired by 247 Sports. In the year I spent covering the 2004 recruiting cycle, it meant a hefty amount of time on the “premium” recruiting boards answering questions, and a lot of addressing rumors.
College football is a sport that really lends itself to towards a particularly insane brand of rumor mill. Programs limit access to information and reporting, coaches and agents play shadow games with contracts and athletic directors, and and then there’s the whole shadowy black market world of recruiting with its bag men and handlers and assorted layers of innuendos that can spread from whatever small town to the big university campus.
There’s been a lot of them over the years. Plausible. Unlikely. Hyperbolic. Garden-variety outlandish. Completely batshit insane.
And some of them turn out to be true! Or at least have some kernel of it among the morass.
So let’s remember the good, the bad and the ugly, and given the time of the year, let them duke it out for tinfoil hat supremacy:
Message Board Rumor Bracket.pdf
More details on the entries to follow, but we’ve broken this bracket into four regions:
- GRUMORS — coaching rumors gone wild. Remember the day you discovered what FlightAware is?
- Stranger than Fiction — every once in a while, what starts as message-board rumor and innuendo suddenly finds itself on the front page.
- Recruiting — all of your rival’s players are mercenaries who went to the highest bidder. Your players are virtuous scholar poets.
- Rumor Roulette — for the miscellany that pops up from time to time on the tabloid beat. Somebody played bad, got in trouble, did something stupid (as college students are wont to do) but there’s always a LARGER reason, right?
More to come...