Forty college football news-making names, games, teams, and minutiae (even-year wizardry sold separately at Evanston):
MORE DASH: Desperate Times
THE BEST TWITTER ACCOUNT IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The math is clear: teams play one game a week, which means there are six other days a week that team doesn’t play. And that makes the ratio of time spent talking about a team to time spent watching said team extremely high. Especially in college, where there are five fewer regular-season games than in the NFL.
Thus, the message board function of fan websites migrated to the fabric of the sport. Anonymous fans howling in anger, communing with joy, belittling rivals, making ridiculous predictions, and spreading entire fabrications.
Now, we have the perfect conduit to bring us the best and worst of boards, which are often the same thing. we have the Message Board Geniuses (11) Twitter account. If you are not following @BoardGeniusescorrect it immediately.
The account owner reviews them daily to find the craziest entries and presents them in practical terms for our entertainment. The Dash spoke to the man behind MBG, who wishes to remain anonymous as he has a respectable job and a family to insulate himself from the nonsense he recounts. He’s been a longtime board reader and a couple of years ago he turned his fun into content on a social media platform.
“I saw these shots as just ridiculous,” says MBG Guy. “So I thought other people would like to see them.”
MBG Guy is, of course, a college football fan, but he’s not rooting for one of the usual suspects. His loyalties are with Utah State (12), which prompted a tweet Saturday about the firing of Aggies coach Blake Anderson as his team fell behind terminally miserable Connecticut 14-0. (Utah State righted the ship and won 31-20, interrupting the insurrection in Logan.)
“Utah State fans are just as crazy as anywhere else,” says MBG Guy. “It’s just a matter of how many of them. They all have exactly the same fan composition; you can find the same guy in every place. That’s something I discovered.”
The differentiator: Shows with great alumni and fan bases can impressively scale their absurdity.
MBG Guy’s list of the most reliable unhinged fans of 2022 starts with Oklahoma (13). “During the winter, I would have said Oklahoma, and it’s not even a close race.” But as waves of NIL and class-action controversies rocked the sport in the spring, Texas A&M, Clemsons (14), Miami, Tennessee and Texas flexed their monstrous muscles. (Dash readers will note a high correlation between those people and Q1’s Most Desperate Programs list.)
Going into the season, MBG Guy evaluated Nebraska as “having potential [for the absurd]depending on how things go.” Then the Cornhuskers did what they did in Ireland on Saturday, and their message boards were a treasure trove of jagged thrills. MBG Guy dedicated nine tweets on Saturday and Sunday to the chronicle of the collapse. (Among Scott Frost’s Genius list of successors: Urban Meyer, Matt Rhule, Dave Aranda, Lane Kiffin, Bill O’Brien, Luke Fickell, Mike Gundy, Matt Campbell. All of them would naturally crawl to Lincoln for the job. .)
On the heels of the NIL feud, the realignment resurfaced in the middle of summer and, well, MBG Guy had some material to work with. “That’s the gold mine,” he says. Among the most delusional in the realm of realignment: Kansas (15) fans debating which conference they’d rather reject in favor of the other: the SEC or the Big Ten? Among the most angry: fans of the Power 5 schools now on the outside of the nascent Power 2.
“The funniest thing for me is the midsize Power 5 teams now realizing that the system may not be fair,” says MBG Guy. “Before they thought it was fair, but now they are seeing that some [schools] they are worth more than others, and some may be left behind, and the deck is stacked against them. They are finding out what those outside the Power 5 have known for years.”
MBG Guy accepts shipments and receives a lot of them. On top of that, he will generally spend a couple of hours a day searching for gems. He will timeout posts in the morning so they appear throughout the day.
The Dash wondered if some of the wilder posts might be performative in nature, possibly even planted by rivals to make a fan base look especially stupid. He says he tries to examine the posters to see their status within a fan community and assess their legitimacy. Ultimately, though, that’s an inherent risk. “If it’s funny, I’ll post it anyway. It’s still fun.
The testosterone flowing from the unnamed keyboard warriors is always entertaining, but sometimes it gets more real. MBG Guy found a Florida fan last year who gave his stadium location at Gators home games (section, row and seat number) and challenged anyone willing to fight him.
But one school earned the distinction of having both finalists for what MBG Guy declared to be the “top two posts of the offseason.” One was a fan who volunteered to “hold a fart for seven hours today.” The other was a fan who had a whole theory about “the worst thing about Hitler coming to power.”
The latter of the two won. The theory: Arkansas was about to hire Bear Bryant when World War II broke out. “Think how much better the world would be if [Bryant] he had returned to his home state instead of ending up in Alabama.”
You guessed it, the fan base responsible for both posts is Auburn.
Message Board Geniuses has grown so much as a concept that MBG’s website now has some written content in the form of a blog, is working on a podcast, and even sells merchandise. you can get a #FireAll (16) T-shirt for $27.50, just don’t stop your message board subscription to finance the purchase.
Ultimately, MBG Guy isn’t trying to portray all the message board posters as crazy.
“There are a lot of people posting good information and news about their team or conference,” he says. “Most people are rational. I take out some of the weirdos.”
FOUR FOR THE PLAYOFF
Each week, The Dash will assess the image of the college football playoffs as if today were Selection Sunday. The guesswork is high in the preseason, but we have to start somewhere. The PPC at the moment:
Peach Bowl: No. 1 alabama (17) against number 4 Michigan (18)
The Crimson Tide has many essential players returning from a team that led the national championship game in the fourth quarter before succumbing. They added to that core with some precisely chosen transfer portal options at running back, receiver, offensive line and cornerback. Oh, plus the usual high school recruiting swag. Nick Saban didn’t even have to replace a coordinator this offseason, so continuity as a coach is solid. He’s rolling, honey. This week: Utah State.
The Wolverines took a novel approach to having two very good quarterbacks: They’ll go with starting starter Cade McNamara in the season opener against Colorado State and then trade backup JJ McCarthy for Game 2 against Hawai’i. Both are good enough to win against either Mountain West or UConn competition in Week 3. Harbaugh will eventually have to pick who gets the reps in close games, but whoever it is will have a very good offense around them. This week: State of Colorado.
Party Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State (19) against No. 3 Georgia (20)
The Buckeyes play the first national marquee game. No worries about Ryan Day’s charged offense, but plenty of curiosity about how Ohio State has improved defensively after going soft on that side of the ball in 2021. That’s why coordinator Jim Knowles was paid big bucks to leave Oklahoma State. . This week: Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs play the second flashiest opening game. His historic grand defense from 2021 is in a bit of a transition, but he still has several studs in that champion team unit. Stetson Bennett returns at quarterback and has a lot of productive company around him. The best recruiting program in the country in recent years gets a chance to showcase its assembly line of talent this season. This week: Oregon at Atlanta.
Also considered: Much of the rest of the country. But at the top of that long list: Clemson, Utah, Notre Dame, Baylor, Oklahoma, USC, North Carolina State.
MORE DASH: Desperate Times