Chris "Mad Dog" Russo has been making himself at home at the Seaport, picking up shifts in addition to his traditional Wednesday appearance on First Take as Stephen A. Smith rehabs an injury. Would that we could all be in to fire off sports opinions for $10,000 a crack but this man deserves it more than pretty much anyone else. One of his go-to moves is to embrace the past and rile up the social-media community, which often shows that it has a collective mind wiped clean of anything that occurred before, say, 2007 with one of those Men In Black pens. Occasionally one can see the seams in the bit as he peppers in a few outrageously outdated and niche entries into the list de jour.
Yesterday, though, was not one of those times. Asked to proved a list of top-five most-storied programs in college football history, Russo turned in homework with mostly correct answers. Oklahoma at No. 5, USC at No. 4, Alabama at No. 3, Michigan at No. 2, and Notre Dame at No. 1.
Reliably, the blowback cascaded forth. Which is a data point proving my working theory that people will just assume Russo is wrong even when he isn't because how could an old man know anything? How could the only person on television with a working appreciation for an era before quarterbacks named Mackenzie or Tanner or Bryson know anything?
It's as simple as this. Freaking out about Russo putting Notre Dame and Michigan atop this thing is only telling on yourself. Freaking out that the SEC only has one school on it is telling on yourself. No conference, by the way, is featured twice and if you'll sit down I can inform you that the locus of the college football world was not always located where it is now.
Is this all dumb and trivial? Of course it is. Filler content on literally the slowest day on the sporting calendar is supposed to be. The point is, Russo is a necessary counter-balance to the crippling addiction of recency bias that plagues the sports punditry world. He may be loud wrong from time to time but at least he has some perspective. And I think it says more about the person who dismisses that perspective for the shiniest thing.
Russo's new gig has worked out splendidly for all involved. Including the viewer, who deserves to have their field of vision widened occasionally with a look into the past. Into the pre-Y2K world. To a time when the names Knute Rockne and Fielding Yost meant something. Because they still should.