College Basketball Nation: Ricky Gervais

It's one thing to make a blown-out head of a player you cheer for, or your team's head coach, or even your favorite cultural figure from the past 20 years. (Mine would probably be Kanye West. Or maybe President Bartlett from "West Wing." Tough call.) It's another entirely to have the, ahem, onions to take a photo of your own face, blow it up to sign-size proportions, and wave it around during basketball games. Come on, man. How narcissistic are you?

That was the first thought I had when ESPN Page 2 scribe Dave Wilson alerted me to the story of the Alabama fan who did exactly that. And then I clicked over to Dave's story. Guess what: If I was said Alabama fan -- his name is Jack Blankenship, and yes, that name sounds like a character from "Downton Abbey" -- and I could make a face that insane, I would do the exact same thing. When you see the photos, you'll know what I mean.

Blankenship's contorted face -- aka "The Face" -- received plaudits, sort of, from ESPN broadcaster Pam Ward on just the second night Blankenship brought it to an Alabama home game. On Tuesday night, in Alabama's 61-52 home loss to Florida, Gators forward Patric Young's dunk was captured by the Birmingham News's Hal Yeager. In the background behind the hoop (Yeager had to do this intentionally), there's Blankenship, holding The Face and making his face at the same time. The News' Matt Scalici asked whether the frame was the "best SEC photo of the year." Show me a better one, and I'll disagree. Until then, Blankenship gets the nod.

And so the college basketball big head craze has reached its postmodern stage. First, there were basketball figures. Straightforward, obvious, no frills attached. Then, there were the cultural types, in which fans distracted opponents with TV characters and stills from "Scarface." Now, thanks to one of the uglier and most sincerely distracting visages these eyes have ever seen, Blankenship has taken this movement to a new, more reflective level. How long will it be before every fan makes their worst, most shocking face, snaps a photo, takes it to Kinko's, and fills the area behind the basket with horrifying sights? And what does that say about our generation, and the generations to come?

Whatever happens, I know one thing: Somewhere, Ricky Gervais is smiling. Or making ugly faces. Which would probably be more fitting, actually.

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