Courtesy of Brent Stephens
Terrance Donnels broke my geeky heart. "I hate to be boring, but no," Donnels said Friday morning.
Alas, there will be no competition this week between the nation's reigning lords of college-football-themed Photoshopping. Donnels, the New Orleans registered nurse better known to message-board crawlers everywhere as LSUFreek, will not celebrate Saturday's LSU-Florida matchup with a pixel-for-pixel showdown against Mr. 2 Cents, a Treasure Island, Fla., resident and rabid Gators fan known to his friends and family as Brent Stephens.
In the world of college-football farks -- the word is geekspeak for a photo or video manipulated by Photoshop -- the Freek is the master of the animated gif. Mr. 2 Cents owns the jpeg format. Unfortunately, the Tigers and Gators haven't provided enough topical material this week for a battle in 300 dots per inch. So we won't see a repeat of the great 2007 clash between LSU and Tennessee farkers. "That," Donnels said, "was an epic thread."
Just because his favorite team hasn't inspired a creation, that doesn't mean Donnels has stood idly by. This week, in response to Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel's claim that a Nebraska player had spit on him, Donnels paid tribute to one of the all-time great Seinfeld episodes by theorizing that there may have been a second spitter last week in Lincoln:
Donnels, one of the nation's premier Etch-a-Sketch artists (I'm not kidding), took up Adobe's Photoshop program a few years ago so he could permanently capture his Etch-a-Sketch creations, which cannot be photographed head-on because of the glare on the screen. On a short break during a 21-day shift at work following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he got an e-mail filled with farks of a famous New Orleans looter photo. The images made Donnels laugh at a time when laughter was in short supply, so when he got home, he combined his love of college football and his proficiency at Photoshop and began creating his own farks, usually looping animated gifs. His first, LSU coach Les Miles putting Nick Saban in a headlock, "wasn't very memorable," he said, but his subsequent animations have made him a star on the Tiger Droppings message board.
Stephens, a veteran farker, admired Donnels' work from afar. Stephens began posting pictures at GatorCountry.com in 2002, shortly after Florida hired Ron Zook. "That," he said, "gave me a lot of good material." Stephens truly hit the big time last year, when his "Official Florida Gators Offensive Decision Maker" -- a wheel-of-fortune that included only six plays, all involving quarterback Tim Tebow or receiver Percy Harvin -- was featured on the CBS telecast of the LSU-Florida game.
Part of the charm of Freek and 2 Cents is that while they love their teams, they criticize all teams equally. In the case of the decision maker, 2 Cents tapped into the frustration of most of Florida's fan base. Of course, he still got hate mail after the image appeared on CBS. "In this," he said, "it's good if you can take it as well as you can dish it out."
Unfortunately for us, these two titans of the fark appear to be taking the weekend off. But fear not. Stephens said Oklahoma, on the whole, has the best crew of farkers in terms of the "belly laugh factor," and the Red River Rivalry should provide them plenty of new material. Meanwhile, Stephens will work on an upcoming Bobby Bowden-themed fark. Donnels will chime in again just as soon as inspiration strikes. He's still waiting for his turn on TV, but in the meantime, he's enjoying life as college football's preeminent editorial cartoonist for the 21st century. "I have an editorial cartoon," he said, "that loops to infinity."