Thursday, July 2, 2009

How SEC Football has Shaped the Law of Defamation

We're all aware that the SEC is the best conference in college football.. What you might not realize, is that SEC football has played a critical role in shaping the law of defamation. The SEC is no stranger to controversy, of course-- just ask Nick Saban or SEC controversy king Houston Nutt. With a fan base known for exhaling clouds of whiskey breath and smashing each other in the face with liquor bottles, it should come as no surprise that such controversies can be extremely heated. One such controversy, oddly enough, has been decided at the United States Supreme Court.

It all goes back to the unfortunately named Mr. Butts. Wally Butts was the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs from 1939 to 1960. In that time, he compiled a record of 140-86-9. With Butts at the helm, the Dawgs were the consensus National Champion in 1942 and had an arguable claim to another National Championship in 1946.

After his many years of coaching, Butts was hired to become Georgia's Athletics Director. While he was in this position, the Saturday Evening Post published an article accusing Butts of conspiring with legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant to fix the outcome of a game between the Dawgs and Tide. Allegedly, Butts had essentially revealed the playbook to Bryant, resulting in a 35-0 blowout loss for the Dawgs. The article began:

"Not since the Chicago White Sox threw the 1919 World Series has there been a sports story as shocking as this one. This is the story of one fixed game of college football. Before the University of Georgia played the University of Alabama last September 22, Wally Butts, athletic director of Georgia, gave Paul (Bear) Bryant, head coach of Alabama, Georgia's plays, defensive patterns, all the significant secrets Georgia's football team possessed. 'The corrupt here were not professional ballplayers gone wrong, as in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The corrupt were not disreputable gamblers, as in the scandals continually afflicting college basketball. The corrupt were two men- Butts and Bryant- employed to educate and to guide young men. 'How prevalent is the fixing of college football games? How often do teachers sell out their pupils? We don't know- yet. For now we can only be appalled.- THE EDITORS.'

This was all called to the newspaper's attention by someone who claimed to have overheard, due to "electronic error,"
the long-distance phone conversation between Butts and Bryant. People who claim to have overheard highly secret and damaging conversations due to "electronic error," of course, among the most reliable sources that one could possibly have.

Butts sued the publisher of the paper for libel. It's safe to assume the trial was very entertaining: both Butts and Bryant testified, emphatically denying fixing the outcome of the game. Interestingly, a number of current and former football players testified as experts, offering their opinion that a football game cannot be fixed without the knowledge or participation of the players. At trial, Butts won a massive judgment: $60,000 in general damages and $3 million in punitive damages.

Ultimately, the appeal reached the United States Supreme Court. In Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, the Court discussed what standard of First Amendment protection applied to defamation suits by public figures. In New York Times v. Sullivan, the Court held that in a defamation suit, a public official had to prove actual malice. Actual malice meant knowledge that the defamatory statement was false, or that the defendant acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Curtis Publishing applied the New York Times standard also applied to suits by public figures such as Butts. Butts succeeded in proving actual malice. The Saturday Evening Post collapsed two years later.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Comparison of Trojans and Gators

Saurian Sagacity has a great article comparing UF and USC over the past three years. These numbers certainly tell an interesting tale for USC worshippers:



Record: 35-6
Opponents Records: 280-155 (64.37%)
Opponents Records Rank: 1st in NCAA
2 Conference Titles
2 BCS Titles


Record: 34-5
Opponents Records: 195-208 (48.39%)
Opponents Records Rank: 79th in NCAA
3 Conference Titles
No BCS Titles

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Greater The Struggle, The More Glorious The Triumph

THESE are the times that try mens' souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

- Thomas Paine

National Champs.

Despite a tough opponent, despite the worst officiating we have ever seen in person, the Gators pull it out. Two interceptions, two goal line stands, one blocked kick . . . that's toughness.

Tim Tebow is Coming Back!

That. Is. Awesome.


Odds on favorite to win the National Championship next year? You bet.

Culled from the article in the Gainesville Sun, here's everything he actually said:

"Oh and by the way, one more thing, let's do it again. I'm coming back!"

"I just love being here. I love being a Gator. I feel loyal to this place, and I want to stick it out and finish what I started here.

"It was (a tough decision). I prayed about it a long time, talked to a lot of coaches and a lot of people involved with the NFL and Coach Meyer for a long time. It was a tough decision. But I am having so much fun here and I want to enjoy it one more year."

And from Percy Harvin:

"I don't know yet. I'm kind of leaning towards coming back. I haven't made the final decision yet. So I'll sit down with Coach tomorrow and he'll help me make that decision."

Aaaaaannnd from Tebow, re: Harvin and Spikes:

"We'll talk to them a little bit, but I don't want to pressure them. I want them to make the best decision for them and they will."

Friday, December 12, 2008



You're looking well.

We've missed you.

It's just, you know, we've been so busy at work and everything. Life, you know? We've just been slammed. Just one of those months, everything comes at you, right?

Yeah, no, things have calmed down a lot now. Yeah, we're free.

Buy you a drink?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

On the Day of Victory

"On the day of victory, no one is tired." - Arabic proverb.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And We Struck Him Down Until Not A Single Survivor Was Left

1 When we headed up the road to Bashan, King Og of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, for battle at Edrei. 2 The Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have handed him over to you, along with his people and his land. Do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.’ 3 So the Lord our God also handed over to us King Og of Bashan and all his people. We struck him down until not a single survivor was left. 4 At that time we captured all his towns; there was no citadel that we did not take from them—sixty towns, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5 All these were fortress towns with high walls, double gates, and bars, besides a great many villages. 6 And we utterly destroyed them, as we had done to King Sihon of Heshbon, in each city utterly destroying men, women, and children. 7 But all the livestock and the plunder of the towns we kept as spoil for ourselves.
Deuteronomy 3

That's some Biblical fury, right there.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Persistent Fool is . . . donate your status to the FLORIDA GATORS FOR BCS PREZDENT

We're a blue state here. Orange and Blue. Perhaps you've heard?

It was amazing to see the Gators absolutely dismantle the 'Dawgs. We actually found this great video metaphor for the game:

Knowshon = Drunk Chick. Guess who The Stall Door represents?

We have no idea either. But we do know: It's great to be a Florida Gator.

Monday, October 13, 2008

So THAT was Interesting.

Loved seeing the Gators absolutely destroy LSU. Blah blah LSU lines are going to push UF around blah blah. Admittedly, we were among those predicting that LSU would win. But at least we did properly predict that the Gators would smoke the Tigers secrondary. And they did.

We have to give no end of respect to the LSU fans, who stayed in the stands long, long, long after a Gator fan would have retreated in the face of that horrible pummelling. EDSBS recently pointed out a contrast between Tiger and Gator fans:

Your team is down four touchdowns at halftime. How do you react to the GameDay cameras?
A. [sullen stare that could freeze nitrogen while pressing cellphone to ear]
B. “FUUUUCK YEEEEEW WWOOOOOOOOOOOOO TAHGERS GON GITCHA!!!” [shows breasts, regardless of gender]

In fact, we were still disappointed in a few of our fellow Gator fans. Disappointed? Yes. We were violently shushed, by two different UF fans in the student section. In. The. Student. Section. No, we were not swearing. Merely howling loudly when the Gators were on defense. Like, you know, you're suppossed to. We'll definitely cop to being excessively loud in the stands. Like, you know, you're suppossed to.

If you cannot get jacked up about crushing LSU in a night game at the Swamp that was national championship implications than I pity you. You should probably stay home and put tissue boxes on your feet. Seeing a college football game just isn't for you.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

We Happy Few

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

LSU 21. Gators, roughly a bajillion.