This is kind of part two of this train of thought. It was Mike Bianchi's column, arguing that Georgia is the most overrated program in college football history, that set me off. But that's not even close to the Orlando Sentinel's biggest blow against its own credibility.
The Orlando Sentinel is just trolling for hits. You know it. I know it. Stop clicking on their sports stories.
When Mike Bianchi writes "Without this fluke Lindsay Scott play, Georgia would be South Carolina," of course that's not true. The very exercise of asking "what if" about the past speaks to an outfit's intentions.
And where does Bianchi's argument that "Georgia fans have way too high an opinion of their program" take us? Is complacency a newly praised American virtue? Is know your place his actual advice?
"Oh, we're the 12th winningest program in college football history. Let's definitely not try to be No. 1."
That's loser logic, and I doubt Bianchi even buys it himself. Saying things you know people will hate has been a newspaper columnist trick for ages. The Internet just offers new proof that it works.
But it's the sign of a man that you should not trust. Take Andrew Breitbart, the unrepentant rumor monger who told purposeful lies of omission in the now well-known case of Shirley Sherrod.
"I realized I liked being hated more than I liked being liked," Breitbart has said.
What a dangerous attitude, particularly in writers not particularly concerned with the truth.
I see the same idea at work in the Orlando Sentinel sports department. Surely they don't believe their own college football poll. The one that ranks Army, Northwestern, Connecticut, Middle Tennessee and Idaho all at least 20 spots higher than Georgia?
Add that poll to Bianchi's click-hunting columns. Then look to the Sentinel's main sports page. As of this moment it features at least six promos for photo galleries of cheerleaders or dance teams. It's got two promos for lingerie football tryout photos, and those tryouts were held May 1.
The Sentinel's online sports strategy is apparent: Pander to the baser instincts and generate controversy, whether the facts support it or not. Angry readers and girls in their underwear mean hits.
This is a formula for short term success, no doubt about it. But, long term, it wipes out your credibility.
I think that day has come for the Orlando Sentinel. When it comes to college football, the paper no longer has any credibility for me. But, if I need a place to find famous mug shots or guess which celebrity these abs belong to, I'll know where to turn.
Note: Before publishing this I emailed Bianchi and the Sentinel's sports editor for comment. I haven't heard back. I'm emailing them a link to this post, and will publish a response if I receive one.