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The messenger, shot: So much for my hot takes on Bronco, right?

chris graham uva basketballAll is fair in love and war, and opining about people’s favorite football teams. I wrote and talked a good bit this week about UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall’s odd pronouncements on the state of the program, and understandably, got dinged in the crossfire on the message boards.

Which I normally don’t care about, but, what the hell, let’s have some fun with it.

1.My personal favorite: He’s the second worst “journalist” covering UVA sports

Totally unfair! I mean, #2? No way Sam Blum is worse than me.

And all due respect to Doug Doughty, at #3, but if you have me ahead of Doughty on your list of worst journalists covering UVA sports, it has to be a body of work award.

Seriously. Doughty asked Ty Jerome a few minutes after the UMBC game if he was aware that a 1 seed had never lost to a 16 seed before.

If they gave a Grammy for that kind of thing, that’s song of the year, right there.

But, body of work. Doug is a lot older than me, but I probably write a lot more than him, so maybe by now I’ve accumulated enough points to pass him on the lifetime achievement award scorecard.

Sam Blum? I’ve got an IM free-throw champ T-shirt older than that kid. He’s been at this, what, a year? Amateur.

If you’re ranking your least favorite UVA journalists based on how much you don’t like it when writers say bad things about your favorite team, objectively, I’ve gotta be #1, by a long shot.

I’m also #1 on another list: the journalists least likely to get an email from UVA athletics staff asking me to fix a huge PR mess with a story.

If I ever get that email, it’s because everybody else has left the building, and it’s doubtful that any of you would care anyway, at that low point.

2.He’s a blogger, not a journalist

You want to go this route? Last guy who tried this one, won a Pulitzer not long after, and last I checked, he was working for Yellow Book.

(OK, just ran his name through Google: after a lengthy stint at Yellow Book, he’s back working in newspapers again. Hooray for journalism.)

Point here being, what is the difference between a blogger and journalist? Am I a blogger because my work appears exclusively online? Related: am I only a journalist if my work appears in print?

Hate to break this to you, folks, but the people who get their news on dead trees are themselves dying off literally every day.

For what it’s worth, not much, but anyway, I used to work for print papers, won boxes full of journalism awards, for investigative reporting, for politics coverage, for business and financial writing.

My last journalism job paid me $23,500 a year, as I was winning all those, yes, worthless awards. I bought a house seven years ago, paid for by my, you know, blogging, which, fuckin’ thank God, isn’t journalism.

And, this is probably most important, I don’t have to worry about getting the axe from my job when a new private equity firm buys out the private equity firm that bought the company that owns the paper last year decides that it needs to dump salary to make it more attractive to sell to a new private equity firm next year.

3.“Unashamed Hokie”

See, because only Virginia Tech fans think negative thoughts about UVA sports.

(Full disclosure: I’m married to a Hokie. From a small family, with three Hokie cousins. Thanksgiving dinner has been fun the past, oh, 18 years or so. Either answering questions about if I think the football coach is going to get fired, or who the new coach is going to be after one has just been fired, and, oh, could you please pass the mashed potatoes?)

4.”Very odd dude”

This came from a guy who actually was defending a lot of what I’d had to say about Bronco and his state of the program nonsense.

I was reading “I agree with what he said, but please don’t start saying bad things about me on here” into that.

I actually totally get that; not offended at all.

And let me just say, I concede to being a “very odd dude.”

Married 18 years, happily at that, for example. Got to be odd, to even want to admit that publicly.

And then, I run marathons. Only odd people run marathons. They’re 26.2 miles! Riding in a car for 26.2 miles isn’t easy. But, running that far, without some wild animal or a guy with a gun chasing you? Odd!

Also odd: I like ‘90s rap music, and modern country, but not ‘90s country, nor modern rap.

Consistency, man. That’s all we ask for, is consistency.

I’m a damn weirdo, to tell the truth.

5.Yeah, but remember when …

Yes, I’m the guy who raised issue with Tony Bennett’s regime early on, because as I wrote then, and still defend now, I was concerned about the number of recruits he was losing to transferring out.

I could take that article down and scrub it from Google. I mean, I’m a web developer on the side. That kind of thing is not hard at all. So, why would I leave that story up?

(See above: I’m a very odd dude.)

Funny how those folks don’t raise issue with how I got the 2017-2018 team so wrong. Remember back when the “experts” were picking UVA sixth in the ACC and not including the ‘Hoos in their preseason Top 25s? And I was writing about how I’d looked over the roster, the returning players, the newcomers expected to step up and earn minutes, and said I thought we had a Final Four team?

I was way wrong on that one. We lost in the first round. And I never get called out on that one. Talk about “very odd.”

I repeat: All is fair

If my take is Bronco shouldn’t be above reproach because he makes $3 million a year to coach, then it should follow that I don’t get to be above reproach because I get paid whatever amount my accountant tells the IRS I make from AFP to write about stuff, including Bronco.

I’m not sure much of what is written on message boards is done in the spirit of good fun, but what the hell.

It’s football, right? And not even Alabama football. I mean, it hurts to think this, but nobody outside our little bubble gives a rat’s ass about what Bronco Mendenhall says about his players, what he looks for in terms of recruiting running backs, whether the BOV ponies up the bucks for a performance center, if UVA drops the sport and paves over Scott Stadium to add new parking for the hospital.

I hope we win eight games this year, and Bronco beats Georgia to open the 2020 season, on the way to a Coastal Division title, an upset of Clemson in Charlotte, and a surprise appearance in the CFP.

It’s more likely that football has gone the way of boxing before UVA plays another truly meaningful game, but even so.

Column by Chris Graham

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