It seems to me that we don't spew vitriol like we used to. We just call people "douchebags" and click the dislike button. But college football is such a great breeding ground for polarizing, unpopular individuals. Last year, Cam Newton was by far the most despised man in the land. Not only was he taking the trophies that everyone covets, but he did it under mid-season investigation. And then he won an MNC. And now he's going to make millions. Even though he probably cheated.
But there's no Cam Newton in the 2011 CFB landscape (yet). Let's take a look at the categories that could earn you nationwide hostility.
Do you play for a Top 25 team in a major conference?
I guess this could be whittled down to Top 10, but then we might not be able to get mad at anyone on Notre Dame. So we leave it at Top 25.
Are you a Heisman contender?
Because if you're just floating out there without any hype, how are we going to generate mass amounts of hate?
Are you a skill position player?
Nick Fairley got himself a nice national reputation from the DT spot because he kept putting the heads of quarterbacks into the ground. So he broke the mold...and I guess if we get an annoying defensive end in 2011 who keeps sacking the quarterback and then does an idiotic dance while showing his tribal arm band tattoo, I'm sure we'll be able to whip up some hate. Also - watch out for some of those Florida players. Although their antics could be described more as "felonious" or "outright idiotic," a successful Gator team could propel their texting, Tweeting minds into the nation's spotlight.
Do you play at a tradition-rich school?
USC, Notre Dame, Texas, 'Bama, Michigan, Ohio State, etc. You're bound to get increased hype for less than worthy reasons when attending these schools, giving everyone the urge to boo your ass every time ESPN declares you the Heisman winner...during Week 4.
Are you an idiot? Do you do idiotic things? Are you over-hyped?
People got annoyed at Denard Robinson last year because he was getting his own Sportscenter specials after beating ND. But a) Denard is a big sweetheart and b) it was kind of fun to see a Single Wing offense in the modern era run by a 4.3 forty time signalcaller. So I'll bet it was hard to hate Denard. He refused to call out other teams or say derogatory things about opposing co-eds or even be a Michael Vick apologist.
So...who is on our Preseason Most Likely to be Hated On In 2011 Watchlist? Here we go!
An easy leader in the clubhouse, not just because of all his past behavior, but because his own fanbase will be pissy about him selling those gold Beat Michigan charms and getting suspended. Pryor's a QB on a Top 5 team and we are certainly going to see one million ESPN breaking news segments and uh oh, a couple Outside the Lines episodes on the whole damn process ("Should athletes be paid in college"..."Should Pryor's suspension be reduced"..."Do Ohio State fans love the Buckeyes more than their families"). More hype, more stories, more chances to piss people off. Plus he's beaten Oregon (West Coast) and Arkansas (Down South - Also he probably shouldn't have been playing in this game), so it's not like people are going to give him love nationally.
2. Andrew Luck
A sleeper, he's going to be hated on because he's sort of like a big armed Tim Tebow without the ardent, overbearing Christianity (unless of course he is incredibly religious and then, he's very similar to Tebow). He says all the right things, he turned down 40 million guaranteed dollars because he likes going to class, and he's the Heisman frontrunner. He is everything you're not, especially the whole part about liking class and/or doing anything productive. This might go more into the "You annoy me because your perfect" category, but haters gonna hate.
3. Dayne Crist
While the Big Ten schools are looking at their schedules with giant WTF's shining in their Nebraska-stained eyes, Notre Dame is giggling like a schoolgirl looking at their 2011 schedule. Two, count 'em, two ranked opponents (Top 20 MSU, Top 10 Stanford) and a slew of teams going through coaching changes and/or transition. Crist has the annoying name with religious overtones, the offense to throw some stats on the board...and a national market waiting for Notre Dame to be good enough to hate again.