The People's Voice, Bengals revival edition

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

The BCS mail-o-meter is well over 2,300 and still spinning. So we will re-address the issue here, although we are putting an end to emails concerning who should play in the Sugar Bowl. I think we can all agree to disagree. Below is reaction to the reaction. We also have a few other issues to deal with.

As always, keep incoming letters brief and to the point. Include your name and town. And thank you so much for all of them. I even appreciate the hate mail.

Now on to the People's Voice ...

CINCINNATI BENGALS ("Sea change in Cincinnati")

As a lifelong Cincinnati Bengals fan and soldier I have to say that Sunday 14 December 2003 was a great day. Not only did the US Army capture Saddam Hussein but the Bengals guaranteed a non-losing season for the first time in 13 years.

It is great to read the articles that everyone is writing about the team. I agree with the majority of people in that Marvin Lewis is the person largely responsible for the resurgence in the franchise. I also believe it is quite admirable that Mike Brown and family have pretty much stayed in the background.

It's a great day to be a soldier in the United States Army and a Cincinnati Bengals fan.

Mark Pumphrey, SFC
Fort Sam Houston, Texas

I can't agree more, especially the Saddam part. And just wait until they find bin Laden's hole. It will be better than the Super Bowl.

Please tell Coach Lewis to just start Rudi and leave Dillon on the bench. He is messing up my chance to repeat as Fantasy Football champion.

Curt Sale Denver, Colo.

It might help them beat the Rams too.

I've been a Bengals fan all of my life and there has been nothing more depressing then watching a high school football team get slaughtered by NFL powerhouses.

It seriously hurt me every time I turned it on. To hear the players and folks talking about the change going on right now in Cincy brings tears to my eyes. It's a miracle. And miracles, though always hoped for, are seldom performed.

Cincy is my team ... always have been ... always will be. For once, on Monday mornings, I'm the one talking trash at work instead of being someone's scapegoat for their teams' shortcomings as they would turn to me and say, "At least we aren't as bad as the Bengals."

Hey fellas – we may have lost to the Ravens but at least we aren't as bad as the Giants.

Reggie Osborne

NASCAR DADS ("A bizarre courtship")

"Simple" NASCAR dad? Interesting way to insult your audience. I have been watching NASCAR since 1966. What I find interesting is the physics, work, force in motion, thermography, physical demand on drivers, speed, et cetera. Take a little time and poll NASCAR fans for their interests beyond the sport. I think you will be surprised.

Dale Fuentes

Or I could just reprint the part of the article where I tell the politicians that all NASCAR fans aren't confederate flag waving rednecks.

Are the candidates trying to court the folks who watch racing on TV (and may or may not be able to afford a six pack of Junior-endorsed Bud) or those who can afford to go to the races? If they go to the campground at a racetrack and see row after row of half-million-dollar RV's, will they think those are typical race fans?

Maybe the candidates should put up hospitality tents and hold fundraisers at the races. There's certainly enough disposable income to go around, from what I've seen.

Are the candidates actually trying to court the NASCAR folks themselves (read France Family, et. al.) who have traditionally been in the Republican camp?

Can you see Dr. Dean and Jeff Gordon standing side by side for a photo op? Dean would make Jeff Gordon look tall.

My husband and I are Democrats, both have Ph.D.s, and NASCAR races are the only sporting events we've attended in the last five years. We try as hard as we can to not park near anyone with a Confederate Flag flying on their RV. Somehow, I don't think we're the demographic the candidates are pursuing.

As a resident of Vermont, I'm considering offering to volunteer my services to Dr. Dean to be his Special Advisor for NASCAR Affairs.

As drivers have sponsor responsibilities to fulfill, I assume that if a driver endorses a candidate that the driver got the approval of his sponsor. Do you think that the candidates will start to wear the sponsors of the drivers who support them?

Donna Barré, Ph.D.

I've been going to NASCAR races since 1962 and I have never heard anyone say, "Show us your" ... well, you know. So Mr. Wetzel, when you [say] that this is the most popular concern for this crowd you are writing (expletive)!

Richard Young

Have you been to the infield?

Don't you think your NASCAR article is a bit elitist? Politicians like big voting blocks period. They're just late to the party after Madison Avenue turned on the light. Votes are votes are votes. They're all equal whether you're a NASCAR fan, a Malcolm X loyalist, or a Stanford venture capitalist.

Now sportswriters ... hmmm ... maybe there should be some discounting there.

David McMullin

Great article on NASCAR and thanks for realizing something the politicians won't: We aren't all hicks. While it is nice for our sport to be recognized, I wonder if the political pandering will only reinforce elitist stereotypes. Should be interesting.

Terry Sampson
Parma, Ohio

Pols are courting NASCAR dads? Fine with me. It's about time that men get treated like a special interest group.

Michael Marsh

KENTUCKY BASKETBALL ("Big Blue shows no fear")

Great article on what makes this Kentucky team, and the program overall, special. Winning in front of so many hostile fans was a thrill, but not unexpected. Tubby Smith knows how to instill toughness in his players and this team is the ultimate example of that. We may not be the most talented team, but right now we are No. 1.

Perry Taylor
Lexington, Ky.

My friend and I attended the game in Detroit, cheered our heads off for the Cats, hit the casino (won $40), drove all the way home, turned on the computer and found your article. Thanks for capturing our feelings and capping a perfect day of college hoops.

Kurt Belding
Newport, Ky.

Why the heck does the State of Michigan do such dumb things in order to set attendance records? Earlier in the year, the Michigan Wolverines set a new attendance record by breaking nearly every fire safety regulation, and now Michigan State sets up a basketball court in the middle of a football field?

Doesn't it seem to go too far when half of the recap article talks about how attendees in one way or another had trouble simply seeing the game?

Steven McNabb
Collegeville, Pa.

In the state of Michigan, U of M owns the world football attendance record and MSU owns the hockey and basketball records. In 1987, more than 93,000 people attended Wrestlemania at the Pontiac Silverdome to set the all-time indoor sports attendance record. For a while the Pistons owned the NBA record. Guess they just like going to sporting events, whether they can see it or not.

REACT TO THE REACT – BCS ("The People's Voice, BCS edition")

Those who designed the BCS never claimed it to be a foolproof formula, rather an improvement. Every game in college football matters, a tournament would render most other games meaningless, except for the tournament games. That is one of the things that is special about college football Saturday. You know if you loose, you are rendered powerless.

Dan Turner
Jackson, Miss.

It's interesting that everyone cried and cried for a fair solution for [crowning] a national champion because of the unfairness of the human polls six years ago. Now a decent system is in place, [and] everyone is crying that it doesn't exactly mirror the human polls.

Tim Izzo
Long Island, N.Y.

I root for Temple. I don't have to worry about the BCS.

Charles Minerd

The two BCS finalists are not from coastal states and three of the four Heisman finalists are not from coastal states. East Coaster NC State quarterback Philip Rivers finishes his career in second place in total offense in NCAA HISTORY and has his best games AT Florida State and AT Ohio State and doesn't even get invited to the Heisman ceremony.

Why do your Midwestern readers keep complaining about coastal bias in the sports world when all signs show just the opposite is true?

From the center of the country and feeling [less] than treated fairly,

Mo Dickens
Kansas City, Mo.

It seems that most of you East and West Coast sportswriters start whining this time each year.

Gary Wright
Oklahoma City, Okla.

As someone who's never written to a columnist before (because I don't think it really matters), I have to tell you the column you did laying out the email reaction to your BCS article was priceless. Not only was it totally hilarious, but it was also a great statement about partisanship and what it means to be a great fan.

I've always enjoyed your column. The fact that you can write something and get such interesting and telling responses says something about your skill as a journalist.

Ian Larkin
Berkeley, Calif.

Absolute classic. Here I am in the middle of my first-year law exams, six shades of stressed out, still smarting from my beloved Cougs' loss of the Apple Cup, and now fearful for my life if I dare approach a bar on Sugar Bowl weekend.

Your article made me laugh harder than I have all semester (East Coast, West Coast, NE liberal, Texan, communist ... I swear to God I'm still laughing). My profound thanks for much needed relief. I'll send you a basket or something if I ace my contracts final as I am sure your article will be the single greatest contributory factor.

Alex Williamson
New Orleans, La.

Let me guess ... the only football you have ever played is at the junior high level. Hey, that makes you an expert! I think you would be better served writing advice columns for the gardening section.

Jennifer Gibson
Norman, Okla.

What college team did you play for ... Jennifer?

A college football playoff would be more lucrative than the Super Bowl. If the commissioners of the BCS would just figure out a way to screw all the other conferences out of all the extra money, at least the fans wouldn't get screwed. Can't we at least get that?

Please keep urging people to write their members of Congress and the commissioners. The BCS is a sham!

Bill Slater
West Bloomfield, Mich.

No, the people in Stillwater hate you too. Don't kid yourself. You knocked all of the Big 12. Pathetic.

Stacey Collier
Redding, Calif.
(Stillwater native)

You are still a jerk.

Deborah James
Tulsa, Okla.

I disagree with your answer to Mark E. Graham of Davis, Calif. If the fans want to change the BCS, I think I can offer a way to make their voice felt: Advertising! I would find out what products are being hawked during the Sugar Bowl.

Then I would contact each company, and explain to them that because they supported the fraudulent Sugar Bowl, you will not buy their product. If enough fans boycotted the products and sales fell, the BCS would no longer be profitable and fold. Vote with your wallet, it works.

John Ferguson
Houston, Texas

It is interesting to consider that if Ohio St. had beaten Wisconsin, there is a good chance that [the Buckeyes] would be playing Oklahoma for the national championship, with both teams having been hammered in their last games.

Bob Bauman
North Canton, Ohio

What if LSU and OU look terrible and LSU wins by a point and Michigan kicks the stuffing out of USC?

Bill Fitch
Columbus, Ohio

The Yahoo! Sports supercomputer might break down from all the emails.

What bothers me most is that the BCS was implemented with everyone knowing all too well that there has always been the possibility for seasons like this one. If the BCS cronies were peddling consumer goods, they would have a huge class action "product misrepresentation" suit on their hands.

Scott Lombard
Tempe, Ariz.

I read a couple of the letters people [submitted] about the BCS and your column. The unfortunate thing about sports today is that if you don't win the national championship, your season was pointless.

Disappointment hurts, and that's one of the things that sports are good for: humility. I think the current situation in college football needs to be corrected, not because of any East or West Coast bias but for the kids themselves.

Jonathan Sager
Callicoon Center, N.Y.

I love college football, but I find myself comparing it to boxing and the overall controversy surrounding that sport. The only difference is you can relate a name to boxing – Don King. It all comes down to one thing and unfortunately, it's money.

Dale Stoops
Johnson City, Tenn.

You guys need to lighten up. This isn't Iraq, it is college football. As an LSU fan, I told my friends that were complaining last week about our fate, every team knew the rules, like them or not before the season started. I like the system better than the pure voting. Leave it alone. What else would you be doing right now, working?

Ross Montelbano
Shreveport, La.

Fine points. I would add that unlike some, I believe that if OU wins the Sugar Bowl it should be declared national champion. What the AP poll thinks doesn't matter. The BCS system was set up before the season and everyone (USC included) agreed to it. So if OU wins the system, then it is the champion. Fair and square.

If USC loses and Oklahoma wins will you publicly say that you are an idiot?

Tom Bills

I'm sure you guys will take care of that for me.

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