SCALZO: No harm in checking the polls

In the first season of Mad Men, after Don Draper wins an award called the Newkie, he celebrates in a hotel room with his wife, Betty, who tells him his trophy will look good in his office.

DON: “What, take that thing on the train like some kid who won at the 4H? Besides no one wants to look like they care about awards.”

BETTY: “But you do.”

DON: “Isn’t that sad?”

The Youngstown State football team is ranked 15th in this week’s FCS Coaches poll and 16th in The Sports Network poll.

This would come as news to the Penguins, who swear they don’t look at polls, except they swear they don’t pay any attention to the media, either. Nobody wants to look like they read their own press clippings.

“I’m really, honestly, sheltered,” YSU coach Eric Wolford said. “It’s like when the government shut down a couple weeks ago, I didn’t even know. The only reason I found out was I watching ESPN and they were talking about the military schools not being able to travel for games.

“No offense to you guys but I don’t get the newspaper. I don’t watch TV. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom. I don’t listen to the radio. I don’t acknowledge it. I’m locked into that dark room all day.”

For the record, I’m calling balderdash on this. Wolford may not be reading The New York Times over his morning Cheerios, but I bet he knows where his team is ranked. And I bet his team does, too. I bet some of them even (gasp!) read the newspaper.

And you know what? Good. As they say, “Save a journalist. Buy a newspaper.” Or at least read it online.

But the bigger issue is we may be taking this sports thing too seriously. At the end of the day, college football consists of 200-pound kids running into each other at high speeds so they can attend English classes for free. It’s got all the logic of ... well, the government shutdown.

The we-don’t-pay-attention-to-all-that-stuff insanity reached epic proportions this week when Wolford was asked whether the team was teasing senior running back Torrian Pace for being a finalist for homecoming king.

“We don’t recognize individual stuff like that,” Wolford said. “We’re a team. We’re worried about each other and team things.”

Now. It is true that YSU quarterback Kurt Hess had the worst month of his career last October. And it’s also true that Hess found out he was a finalist for homecoming king last September. And since we know that when B follows A, A must have caused B, then the only conclusion we could draw is Hess’ candidacy distracted him from his job and allowed jealousy to seep into the team, ruining its chemistry.

That’s why YSU went 0-4 in October. Also, turnovers.

Hess didn’t win king last year but he was named The Sports Network’s national offensive player of the week. It was a well-deserved honor for a guy who, if he cured cancer, would give all the credit to the test tubes. It may explain why he’s not called King Kurt.

“I told Torrian if he felt like he wanted to campaign a little bit, it might help,” Hess said. “I didn’t have much of a campaign. [Running back Adaris] Bellamy was my campaign manager. I need to tell him not to hire Bellamy.

“I think he’s having fun with it. I voted for him. I think a couple other guys voted for him. Hopefully he wins.”

If he does, I hope his teammates will make fun of him in the postgame press conference, because it’ll be fun to write about.

Even if he’s not allowed to read it.

Joe Scalzo covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at and follow him on Twitter @JoeScalzo1.

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