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The People's Voice, V. 1

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

We are finally going to get the mailbag going on a weekly basis, which means please continue to inundate me with feedback. Because of the sheer number of incoming messages I can't and won't respond to everyone individually. Sorry.

What we will do is post the best of feedback of the week. To get published it helps to be concise, somewhat entertaining and to have a point. It helps if the subject is about something I have written. Also, include a real name and hometown.

We are not looking for "Ask Dan" here – this is a "Tell Dan" place. If you want the definition of the infield fly, our company happens to operate a little search engine that might help. If you like a column, hate a column, want to add something to a discussion, then write in. It's supposed to be fun.

So without further ado, on to The People's Voice – grouped by recent columns. My thoughts will be in italics.

TCU-SOUTHERN MISS-BCS

In a country that SHOULD always root for the underdog (as a nation, we began as roughly a 100-point underdog in the late 1700s), where individualism is prized and kings and dictators despised, it amazes me that we embrace, if not tolerate, a college football system which is practically a monarchy in itself.

The elites that came up with the BCS had one thought in mind. Money. Not football. Not competition. Not pure unadulterated athletic spirit. M-O-N-E-Y. We couldn't possibly allow some school that no one in Ohio or Michigan has ever heard of to have the chance to ruin one of their ever-important seasons. It is simply about keeping power centralized and making damn sure no one else gets a piece of that pie. God forbid a Florida school, a Big 12 or Big Ten team not win the national championship.

Why, we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves. It's fear. It's oppression. Un-American? Why don't we just invite King George of England, or Saddam Hussein over to run college football. They've both been out of a job for a while.

–Shawn Eckert
Fond du Lac, Wisc.

How can you really think a team that plays a bad schedule like TCU actually deserves to be mentioned with the likes of LSU, Michigan, USC and Oklahoma?

You need to take off the blinders and see it for what it is. It is not the system that is the problem. This all was set up a long time ago when the bowls ruled the show and we did not get the two best teams playing. The BCS has only improved the existing system of bowl games.

–Brian Fuchs
Lincoln, Neb.

The BCS is, indeed, better than the old system but that doesn't make it a good system.

You write well and your points are well taken, but bear in mind: Just because TCU has a good season (which it doesn't do consistently) doesn't mean it should be allowed to play for all the marbles, BCS or not. The Horned Frogs don't earn it with their caliber of play.

I wonder what TCU's record would look like if it were in the SEC? What would Vanderbilt's record look like if it were in a different conference?

Your wish for a playoff system is well taken; my favorite basketball movie is Hoosiers (my favorite football movie is Rudy; baseball, The Natural). I feel you ... it will settle most all the questions. But I'm not feeling the huge conspiracy thing.

–Joseph E. Monticino
Miami

First of all, not everyone thinks the BCS is a disaster. Yeah, maybe a four-team playoff for the championship would be better but, in its stead, at least we're guaranteed to have the two best teams in the country play for the championship.

The shame of the situation is not that TCU might not get into a BCS bowl at 12-0. The shame is that if a team like LSU wound up playing TCU in a bowl game it would be a waste of a season. Where's the challenge in slaughtering lowly TCU? The BCS may not be perfect, but college football is better off now than it was before.

–Russell McLen
Baton Rouge, La.

I agree with your points. TCU isn't a great team. But a 16-team playoff, which would give LSU and its great defense a shot at a national title, would be such an improvement; anything that helps eliminate the BCS is a good thing.

Has everyone forgotten the popularity contest that was used to determine the national champion before the BCS? The BCS is nowhere near perfect, but it is a step forward from where we were. We do need a playoff (there is no doubt about that). But would TCU be a title contender if there were a playoff? Not likely.

–Danny
Jackson, Miss.

But they'd at least have a chance.

Love your column about the BCS failure. I absolutely agree about the "smaller" schools not getting a chance to play for a championship due to the BCS. I also wonder just how much this strength-of-schedule thing really matters. I may be way off base and just biased, but I really don't believe Oklahoma has the toughest schedule in the country, making them No. 1 in the standings.

All we hear here is how great the "Mighty Sooners" are, and how LSU really doesn't have a snowball's chance to get higher than No. 3. I imagine it is VERY frustrating for the TCUs of the world.

–Rob Dyson
Shreveport, La.

Face it – not one intelligent college football fan believes that TCU can beat anybody in the top 20 or maybe the top 25 teams in any of the polls used by the BCS formula. That's why one of the criteria is strength of schedule. To use TCU as the poster boy for what ails the BCS is a stretch. A long one. We need a playoff, but using TCU for your argument carries no merit.

–Dave Salter
York, Pa.

Wetzel's dream national championship game: TCU 0, OU 248. By the way, halfway through the first quarter, OU brought in the female cheerleaders, and TCU's untested D was able to hold them to just 14 TDs.

–John Dillon

I do follow NCAA Division I-A football, especially Tennessee and the SEC. However, my favorite team is the top-ranked school in Division I-AA, McNeese State.

In Division I-AA there is a 16-team playoff system in place. When it's all said and done, the team that wins it all has earned it. Everyone in Division I-AA has a shot at it ... Every game matters. As I mentioned previously, McNeese is currently ranked No. 1 (and the top seed in the playoff), but that means nothing to me until we win, and earn, the national championship in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving. I know I will, because I'll be watching the NFL, where a playoff system is good enough for them, too.

–James Hamilton

Anyone who has followed the football playoffs in other divisions knows how exciting it is. Now just imagine if we had it at the I-A level. It would be unreal.

Aren't toads horned? I thought frogs were either bull or tree. Just curious.

We Southern Miss fans figured TCU would fly into Mobile and bus up to The Burg. That way they could get used to being in Mobile (site of the GMAC Bowl) during the Bowl season. Ha!

I do, however, understand your correct reasoning regarding how it would help Southern Miss. But actually, it would help recruiting a bunch to win the Conference USA championship, and that is an important key to stepping up to the next level. We've already earned the respect of Mississippi State and Old Piss. You wanna get under their skin? Ask them why they don't play us.

The Liberty Bowl might not pay the most, but you've obviously never spent New Year's Eve on Beale Street. It's pretty outstanding with Silky O'Sullivan's, The Blues City Cafe (THE best ribs in Memphis – way better than The Rendezvous) and, of course, B.B. King's. It is rather cold, though.

–Scott Dossett
Hattiesburg, Miss.

THE MANNINGS

I am an attorney and a member of the Mississippi Legislature. I graduated from Mississippi State University and went to law school at Ole Miss. I only mention that to say I did not grow up a Rebel fan, but I must admit I am [one] now.

I am not much younger than Archie Manning. I have a son at Ole Miss's Medical Center in Jackson, a son on campus at Ole Miss that is somewhat of a friend of Eli Manning and a daughter that is a freshman at Ole Miss.

Your article was, perhaps, the best thing I have read on the Internet in the three years I have had my PC. It brought a lump to my throat and moisture to my eyes. I say this to let you know my appreciation, and I am definitely not sentimental. Thanks for the article and such a positive piece of journalism. It is a welcome commodity.

–Rep. Jeff Smith
Columbus, Miss.

We appreciate the political courage of the letter because this may cost you some votes among Bulldog alumni.

Just a complement on your great piece on Ole Miss and Eli Manning. Being from Columbus I rarely read anything that doesn't have the words Bucks or OSU in it, but this was some exemplary writing. Good work.

–John Henderson
Columbus, Ohio

I just finished reading your story about Eli Manning, and it has to be one of the best short pieces I have ever read on here.

I am from New York and have no idea of what college football is like in the South, let alone college football at my own university, Fairleigh Dickinson, where we don't even have a football team. The way you wrote this piece made me feel as if I was actually down at Ole Miss and a part of history in the making. Let's go Eli and let's go Rebels on Saturday!

–Kris Swenson
Teaneck, N.J.

Great article. I watched the "first" [Manning] game, and I'll be watching this one, too ... ain't life grand?

–Siggy Martin
Lutcher, La.

Thank you for writing something accurate about Mississippi! I am a Mississippi State graduate and fan, but I am rooting for Ole Miss on Saturday. We get so tired of being written up as ignorant, cousin-marrying, lowbrow, tobacco-spitting, racist morons. We have people here that fit those descriptions (hopefully not the cousin marrying part), but what place doesn't?

We have made a lot of progress in the last 35 years. We are not where we would like to be, but we are not where we used to be, thankfully!

I live in the small town of Indianola, the hometown of B.B. King, and would be glad to give you a 50-cent tour of our area, the Delta, if you come on vacation.

–Burke Fisher
Indianola, Miss.

I also grew up in Drew, Miss., and although I was seven years ahead of Archie in school, I played a lot of sandlot baseball and touch football with him. I've always said that my claim to fame was that I sang at Archie's wedding and that there probably wouldn't have been all those sons had I not done so.

There used to be a sign at the outskirts of Drew that said "Home of Archie Manning!" The sign is no longer there, and the town just barely is still there, but there are lots of Drew High graduates scattered throughout the country who are extremely proud of Archie and his family. Everyone has the utmost respect for Archie as a person of the highest caliber. I appreciate your article.

–Steve LaMastus
Springdale, Ark.

I am a journalist living in Bali, forced to get my NCAA football news via the Internet. I am a former trainer at LSU and am naturally a Tigers fan. But that aside, I just wanted to let you know that I thought your story "Can Manning lead Rebel yell?" was the best piece I've read all year ... nice one.

–Bob Cal
Bali, Indonesia

MICHIGAN'S JOHN NAVARRE

Great article! But, that's not all. I am retired and work at the University of Michigan Golf Course, as has John Navarre, and have had the pleasure of working with him for two years.

First of all, I have two great sons and wish I had a third, John Navarre! John is one of the most caring STUDENTS that I have worked with at the course, helpful to his fellow workers and, especially to the customers that come to the course.

For all the criticism he has received, he never complained to me or anyone at the course as far as I know! He has handled unfair criticism in a manner that FEW individuals could have in his shoes.

John has finally silenced his detractors (who should have been silenced a long time ago). Hopefully they now know what a great quarterback, and individual, he is!

–Warren D. McLean
Ann Arbor, Mich.

What a great column about Michigan's win and John Navarre's class performance on and off the field. I admit that I was an early doubter of this guy, but as a California resident, I had no idea of the extent to which he was maligned. His success this year has certainly made me happily eat my words. Navarre's vindication is one of many dimensions to the sweetness of this valiant victory.

–Joel Brown
Palo Alto, Calif.

Thanks so much from the hordes of Michigan fans who for years have not indulged in the convenient criticism of John Navarre. Your piece was a fitting conclusion to a remarkable career for a quarterback who has rewritten the Michigan record books.

Coach Carr is correct in stating that Navarre has withstood the slings and arrows of the misinformed. Navarre has shown nothing but maturity and civility in the way that he has responded to the unwarranted heap of abuse. His parents are proud, his teammates are proud and knowledgeable fans are proud.

–Stuart White
Ann Arbor, Mich.