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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bulldogs Blog: Now 110% More Scandalous!

I wanted to make sure we're all clear on the hubbub surrounding the Zach Mettenberger support page on Facebook.

First off, I'll take a hit on this one to some extent. My initial thought was that it was interesting to see teammates making a public gesture of support for Mettenberger, and I posted a link to it accordingly. I did not view it initially as any sort of divide in the locker room, but rather as an honest show of support for a friend and former teammate.

What I should have done, however, was contact those players listed as the administrators of the page in order to get more background that what the Facebook page provided. I didn't do that, and as a result, a number of readers read between the lines and assumed the page was meant as a critique of Mark Richt's decision. (In my defense, contacting players during the offseason is a difficult task, and not necessarily encouraged by the school.)

I have since talked with one of the players associated with the page, and he reports that the page was created by a UGA student not affiliated with the football team, and that the players listed were not informed they would be considered "administrators." The player assured me there is no ill will directed at the coaches and no divide within the locker room.

And, as a point of emphasis, I should also remind readers that nowhere on the Facebook page did anyone suggest otherwise. It simply said that Mettenberger "would be missed." Honestly, if I were a UGA fan, I'd be more concerned if most of the locker room wasn't going to miss their teammate.

Still, I offer my apologies for not confirming the details first, but I assure you, I had no idea this would become something so controversial.

Of course, the fallout was more than I expected, and brought out some of the finest of critiques. Several of the comments I had to delete because they bordered on libel, which I don't want affiliated with the blog in any form.

But others just wanted to offer criticism, fair or otherwise...

Dr. Merkwurdigliebe writes: David, why would you post this tabloid story with a serious cautionary note and then ask us what we're going to do? This is tease "journalism" at its finest. You're much better than this crud.

C writes: I feel like I'm reading comments to a blog entry posted by a "journalist" from the AJC.

"Will you be joining?", posted with almost the entire content of the Facebook page, and the "supporters" of the page? Not to mention a direct link to the page in the first paragraph of the post here. B/t/w/ the number of members of the page has multiplied since the post of a link to the page on this site.

Given that what really happened is now a matter of blogoshpere speculation, and given the lack of a police report, or a "he said/ he said" between the ex Q.B. and the head coach, I can only imagine how this entire dialogue will make a bad matter worse, most likely for the privacy of Zach and his family.

Nice work. I'll have to start reading the AJC again (yikes!).

Anonymous writes: This is trash bro, take this blog post down, are you that bored and cant find anything else to write about? Ive always regarded you as a good writer and journalist but you just stirred the pot and probably are getting some guys who were supporting their friend in some S%&#!!! Come on man do whats best for UGA, dont get this into something its NOT. Just do us all a favor, take it down and write a blog about "Prayers for Montez" or something.

Anonymous writes: As far as I'm concerned, that is a few more scholarships we can open up that LeMay can use in his recruiting efforts of fellow blue-chippers. Until actual players that see the field consistently get named, this whole "divide the team" is a moot point.

Anonymous writes: This is the saddest blog post I have ever seen from you. You have the nerve to insinuate that people who disapprove of the group aren't fans; and you admonish people for stirring the pot with mention of the allegations against Mettenberger when you yourself have done nothing constructive in this post. Not only did Mettenberger participate in some very unsavory actions while in Remerton, but he also LIED to coach Richt about the whole thing.

David: I considered going through these and responding, but what's the point? If the last two years haven't been enough to keep you from jumping to conclusions about my motivations for posting one story that you didn't like, I'll happily let you to cruise over to any number of other excellent resources for Georgia sports information.

But I think most of the disagreements here stem from one major problem: People assumed they knew the motivations of the people who started this Facebook page, and they blamed them for things that weren't written anywhere on the page. Similarly, readers seem upset with me for my motivations in posting the link without having the slightest idea what my motivations were, and they're critiquing words I never wrote.

I did not mention a word about a divide in the team. I did not speculate as to anything Mettenberger may have done, nor did I defend any of his potential actions. And I did not criticize the players who were involved -- either as creators, administrators or fans of the page -- for anything they did.

I simply posted a story about players supporting a former teammate and asked what the readers thought.

(I'm also amused that my journalistic integrity is called into question by people who have no problem stating rumors as facts. Perhaps if I'd done more of that, my post would have been "constructive.")

Of course, there's also the other side of the comment venom, too.

Anonymous writes: The group was made to support Mettenberger, not to try and divide the team. All of ya'll who think the group is trying to say something bad about CMR or the TEAM are stupid, don't know a thing about anything going on with the team and need to not be nosy about a group created by his friends that has nothing to do with you or anyone else except to support his future career.

David: I don't know who this anonymous poster is -- perhaps a player, perhaps a friend of Mettenberger or perhaps just another fan who isn't so quick to jump to conclusions. But the explanation given in this comment is exactly how I interpreted the Facebook page, which is why I wrote about it in the first place. Whether or not it was the proper forum for players to voice their support for their former teammate is a topic up for debate (which is why I asked what you thought in the post) but I never questioned their rationale for supporting him.

I'm not trying to tell anyone how to feel about Mettenberger or his dismissal. If you want to be angry at him for screwing up, you're well within your rights. And if you think that players supporting him on a Facebook page was in poor taste, you're free to do so. I can't say I disagree.

But when you make comments speculating about criminal acts of a former player or vocalize a desire to see players kicked off a team for supporting their friend, is it any wonder that the divide between the team and the fans continues to grow? Is it surprising to hear the comments about fans not having "been in the arena" when some of them are so quick to judge players and coaches for things like this? And most of all, when fans post damaging speculation about Mettenberger on message boards, is it surprising that his friends want to stick up for him?


AthensHomerDawg said...

"Can't we all just get along?" Gee I hate it David. I follow alot of blogs and post occasionally. You are well thought of in what appears to be a tight unselfish community of bloggers. It's off season and people are hungry for sports....careful what you feed them.
Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Someone sounds like a defensive weasel!

Will Q said...

If anyone would know a defensive weasel, it would be Anonymous.

jferg said...

Wow...I can't believe the firestorm this caused! I just read your update, remembered that I am not on facebook (or Twitter) for this very reason, and moved on.

For those who got caught up in the hysteria...remember 2 things:

1. These are college kids and generally speaking, they support each other in ways like this. They like and get behind causes. Period.

2. These kids, no matter their loyalty to Mett, would never publicly go against CMR. Every player knows that would be playing time suicide...especially for guys who are on the fringe as scout team hero's already.

AuditDawg said...

Well said David. I used to honestly believe a lot of the UGA posters in the "blog-o-sphere" were above the drivel that seems to permeate elsewhere. I thought that guys like myself, the Senator, or T. Kyle King resided in the majority of UGA representatives on the web. Maybe it has to do with the disappointments of the last two years or maybe it's the general dumbing down of web-etiquette, but the discourse seems more vitriolic everyday and it's hard to wade through the crap to get to the opinions of people that should be respected and have reasonable thoughts (whether I agree or disagree with them).

I don't know how you put up with the crap you tend to get, but kudos to you. The only conclusion that I've drawn from the last couple of years is that our fanbase is either more insane than I used to believe or the minority that is insane are much more vocal than the rest of us. Either way, keep up the good work.

Paul said...


David, thanks for your blog and the extra effort you put into it along with what you actually get paid to do.

On behalf of your readership that can read, I thank you.

MikeInValdosta said...

First Pearl Harbor, now this!

Much ado about nothing.

This annual football prohibition we call the off-season is too much for many to handle.

AppleDawg said...

Dear God, it isn't that big of a deal