Friday, October 20, 2006

USC Bye Week: Beware the Nice Weis

Let’s get back to this east coast bias thing. Last week the collective Domer Mind – a close cousin of the east coast bias – reared its ugly head (with a crewcut, no less) on WFAN-Radio’s “Mike and the Mad Dog” in New York.

During his bye week “Irish” head coach Charlie Weis was in town to plug his new book and pump up the “subway alumni” – you know, those east coast idiots who pretend that South Bend is somewhere in the tri-state area because there is no real Division I football anywhere near Manhattan.

If you don’t know these radio guys, “Mike” is Mike Francesa (right), a New York native who knows everything there is to know about sports, business and the entertainment industry in its entirety. Just ask him, he’ll tell you himself. The “Mad Dog” is Chris Russo (left), another true New Yorker who plays the not-so-smart-guy role to Francesa’s primadonna, ensuring that fans who call in don’t feel too stupid when Francesa tells them they’re stupid.

When I moved east and started listening to the FAN, Mike and the Mad Dog sounded strange to me. At first I thought it was some sort of cultural thing that I didn’t understand. But after a while, I realized that Francesa actually does think he’s smarter than Russo and anyone else who calls into the show. ESPNradio realized this too, and used this daily disrespect of callers against the FAN in ESPN's advertising. But, I digress …

Needless to say, Mike and the Mad Dog are quintessential east coast biased idiots, so it was no surprise to hear Charlie Crewcut on their show* to plug his new book, “No Excuses.” I really had no interest in hearing this segment, but as we’ve said, we must know thy enemy. So, I forced myself to listen to three of them.

Sure enough Francesa took what seemed like several minutes to show anyone who was listening how smart he is before actually asking Weis a question. As usual, Russo played along.

Weis started out kissing up to New York listeners by professing his love of the Yankees. Then covering his bases, he said he also roots for the Mets because he’s a Willie Randolph fan. Fair enough, I suppose. The guy grew up in Jersey after all.

Not to be outdone, Francesa and Russo actively fed the Domer hype machine, smooching Weis’s ample rear end to get the coach going … to get him talking, that is.

Weis spoke on cue about his career in the NFL, before discussing last year’s USC-ND game. He said he too would have asked any one of his players to execute the “Bush Push.” He praised Matt Leinart for calling the audible on fourth and nine. And he gave Pete Carroll a sideways compliment, calling the QB sneak a “brassy play.”

Said Weis: “I’ll forever be remembered as the losing coach in an epic game. … It was a heck of a game. … Unfortunately, they made one more play than we did.” All stuff we’ve heard before.

Weis goes on to talk about last season’s Fiesta Bowl and ND’s loss to Michigan this year, before making some careful comments about last Saturday’s games. He also made one last plug for his book.

Really, it was all fairly innocuous, which brings us to the most disturbing aspect of the segment: Listening to Weis, people who aren’t part of the east coast biased collective Domer Mind - that is, sane people like us - might end up actually liking him. Of this we must beware.

Certainly, Weis presents himself as a humble nice guy, and he plays this PR game very well. More than anything he is plain smart, and he deserves our respect.

But, most importantly, Weis is the leader of the “Irish” Bizarro World, which means we have no choice but to maintain a healthly, respectful hate for him and the football team he coaches.

As for Mike and the Mad Dog, the east coast bias sleeps soundly, knowing these two New Yorkers are on the case.

* There is no link directly to this stream. Look for the "Oct 13 ..." link in the list of segments on the WFAN page. Depending on when you ready this, you may have to scroll down and/or click to a connecting page. Real Player is required.

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