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What George Costanza taught us about wading through realignment rumors

What George Costanza taught us about wading through realignment rumors

George Costanza is an American treasure. Whether you are a huge fan of the show Seinfeld or not, there is no denying that George is a magnificent part of the fabric that makes up America. One of the many reasons that George was so great? His many, many aliases. From Art Vandelay to Donald O’Brien, George was constantly pretending to be someone else or pretending to know someone that he made up in order to get what he wanted.

Those aliases are the subject of today’s newsletter. When conference realignment rumors heat up, the pretenders come out in droves with the latest inside information. Some of them are completely fraudulent people who do it for the clout. Others are real people saying fraudulent information in the name of survival. But all of it is fake and we’re here to tell you why.

Thanks to George for helping provide the tools that will allow us to spot people trying to pull your moves.

The Latex Salesman

Facing the end of his unemployment checks, George tells the unemployment office that he had an interview for a position as a latex salesman at a company he made up on the spot - Vandelay Industries.

The Big 12 is embarking on a quest that no conference wants to be a part of - the quest of figuring out how to survive massive turnover. With Texas and Oklahoma gone, the remaining eight schools are said to be worth about half of what they previously were in the eyes of the TV networks, commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Texas state senate this week. From a football standpoint, the remaining eight teams look an awful lot like the American Athletic Conference in that there are a couple of really good teams, but not really any brands that will pull in the money.

Unless, of course, you think like Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells. The former Utah State coach believes that Texas Tech has nothing to worry about going into the future. In an interview with EverythingLubbock.com, this is what Wells had to say.

“So much is obviously out of my control but the thing I take confidence in is President Schovanec and Kirby are sun up to sundown working on this,” Wells told EverythingLubbock.com Friday. “Tech will land in a great spot because of the power of the Double T. It’s a great brand, academically, research institution, all of our athletic programs. We’ll land in a good spot.”

Obviously, a guy isn’t going to sell out the school that is cashing his paychecks, but Texas Tech a great brand? Nothing to worry about? I’d sooner buy my latex at Vandelay Industries than buy into that notion.

Texas Tech is a fine school and they have their blips of being a really great program. But as a whole? Tech has many, many things to worry about as they trudge into the future - maybe even more than BYU does. Keep slinging that fake latex story, Wells. Maybe someone will believe you.

The Marine Biologist

When Jerry runs into George’s old crush from college, he learns that she was interested in dating him. Inexplicably, Jerry tells her that George is a marine biologist. Fresh off of watching a PBS documentary, George goes out with his dream girl while spitting out all of the knowledge he knows about whales - and then he has to save one.

This section starts with a howitzer of a stupid tweet from our favorite person who is definitely not who they say they are, MHver3 on Twitter.


New PAC-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby met to discuss possible scenarios that would benefit both of their respective conferences. The reported ideas that have possibly been discussed are some sort of scheduling alliance or potentially even a conference merger. Obviously, these discussions are VERY early and the information is virtually meaningless.

Unless, of course, you’re a blogger in West Virginia where you have a direct phone line to all things related to the Big 12 (except, of course, the stories that actually happen like Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference to join the SEC). In the mind of the moonshine, the PAC-12 and Big 12 discussed an idea of simply handing off two teams from the PAC-12 to the Big 12 and then having some meaningless championship game of their own?  

“Congrats, USC! You’re the PAC-12 AND Big 12 Champions! But you still lost three games along the way and three SEC teams will join Ohio State in the playoff. But, cool trophy!”
Ladies and gentlemen, stop following MHver3. Of all the fake insiders out there, he’s the worst - and I’m not sure it’s close.

Let’s entertain this idea for a moment and play things out. The PAC-12 just gives away two schools to the Big 12 and those schools simply accept it without a fight. The Big 12 would probably request the Arizona schools, but the PAC-12 would probably send Colorado and Utah. Okay, now each conference has 10 teams. Is either one of these conferences stronger?

The Big 12 added a Big 12 defect in Colorado and a regional Utah school to save the conference? The PAC-12, in the midst of uncertainty about their own stability, willingly gave up two schools for the chance to play a make believe championship game against… Oklahoma State?

Kliavkoff and Bowlsby did not discuss this. MHver3 is as much of a Big 12 insider as George is a marine biologist. And BYU fans need to pay him no mind from henceforth and forever.

Donald O’Brien

In the name of a good time, George convinces Jerry to pretend to be someone else after arriving home from a trip. George poses as Donald O’Brien and tells the driver that his friend, Dylan Murphy, is ready for their drive. They get into their limo and think that they are going to Madison Square Garden for a Knicks game. Instead, they learn that O’Brien and Murphy are Neo-Nazi leaders on their way to a rally.

Sometimes good people make innocent mistakes, especially in journalism. In the world of the internet, the need to be first and pick up all those retweets and favorites has taken precedence over the need to be right. The days of using multiple sources to verify information seem like a thing of the past. Now, someone gets a rumor and they run to the Twitter machine with it.

This is what happened to Marc Ryan, the assistant program director at ESPNUpstate (think of it like ESPN 960 - it’s loosely affiliated with ESPN in that they can run shows that are syndicated from the big ESPN, but it’s a local radio station).

Ryan heard from ‘a reliable source’ that Florida State and Clemson have both reached out to the SEC about potentially joining the conference.

Pro Football Focus picked up the story, it went viral, and the rumor was off to the races. The well-intended Ryan was suddenly feeling a lot like Donald O’Brien. Even his own rumor kind of showed that the information wasn’t even worth reporting.

“Two schools reached out, but, uh, they were told no so there is nothing to see here.”

There is an argument to be made here about reporting with a purpose. Let’s assume for a moment that this is true (both Clemson and FSU were very quick to adamantly deny the rumor) and figure out what we really learn. So, we learn that in the light of a major conference shakeup, two major college football brands put some feelers out to see if they could join the major football club and were told no. So nothing unexpected happened and nothing is going to change. What was the purpose of the report?

Just because something happened or something exists does not mean that it is news.

But, if we come back to planet earth, there is a bigger problem here. “A reliable source” was the only person cited here. Just one. Not multiple sources, just one source.

It could have been straight from the Athletic Director’s mouth as a news leak or it could have been an anonymous name on a fan board who has posted accurate information in the past. “A reliable source” means nothing.

It’s NBA free agency right now. Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting deals all the time. While many of his sources are obviously agents, he still does a good job of protecting his sources but still giving credence to where the report came from. “League sources” is so much more reputable than “a reliable source.”

I’m not a real journalist, though I do get information handed to me from time to time. So, let’s take a very real scenario that has happened in my pseudo-journalism career and break it down a bit.

A recruit who reported a BYU offer once reached out to me and told me that he just got off the phone with a position coach informing him that he had committed to the Cougars. The recruit himself told me this information minutes after he hung up the phone. That information should be as good as gold, right?

Well, that recruit never announced his commitment publicly (and fortunately for me, I never announced it either) and weeks went by. Several months later, that recruit was announced on National Signing Day at another school. I reached out to him to congratulate him and, for the first time since he told me he had committed to BYU, he responded.

“Hey man, sorry about all that BYU commitment stuff. I did commit, but I learned the next day that they were out of room and didn’t accept it. So, I moved on from BYU and forgot to circle back with you.”

Multiple sources, people. “A reliable source” does not a story make the same way that a limo ride to Madison Square Garden does not always mean courtside tickets to the Knicks game. Marc Ryan appears to have learned that the hard way.

Art Vandelay

This is George's bread and butter. Whether he's in the market for an apartment (or just looking for a bathroom) or talking about his favorite author (or making up an author on the spot in order to get a job), George regularly returns to Art Vandelay as his alias of choice. Nearly every time, it's for no reason other than a direct benefit to George.

Sometimes, people just say things for the clout. It's as simple as that. Let's take a two-tweet journey down the latest news of the week. It starts here, with Dillon Davis, a blogger for FanSided, citing a report by a local radio host.

A local radio host's sources are saying that it's imminent and an announcement in the next couple of weeks.

Let's turn to the radio host!

Oh. So this is nothing. It's a message board rumor and he's working to find out more.

Whether it was the blogger who blew a radio segment out of proportion or it was a radio host who said one thing on air and then walked it back quickly after it started to go viral, one thing is for sure - there doesn't appear to be anything of substance here.

And why capitalize HEARING? From who? Reputable sources? Or the message board that you talk about in the next sentence? And where on earth did imminent come from.

There is only one explanation for this one -  clout and gain. Art Vandelay would be proud of this work.

Camp Kalani starts tomorrow. Finally, we can put realignment in the rear view mirror for a few months and focus on actual football. Maybe by that time, the crazies will have gone back to their shanties.

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