Monthly Archives: March 2009

Slow news day

It’s just a feeling I have, but it’s articles like this that cause people to become bloggers.  Not in the sense that they become inspired to write great things, though.  More like in the sense that a fifteen year old with a computer in his mom’s basement is motivated to believe that he could deliver better insight and analysis.

After all, Troy Aikman thinks Matthew Stafford’s going to be great.  And he’s reached that conclusion after watch Staff play a lot, right?  Not exactly.

“I like him,” said Aikman. “I think he’s extremely motivated, a great young talent with a good head on his shoulders. He’s gonna be a real asset to somebody. … I didn’t get a chance to watch him a lot…

Oh.  Well, then he must have watched Stafford work out in person to have a strong idea about his skill set.

… and I haven’t worked him out, obviously.

Forget that, too, then.

So what’s Aikman hanging his hat on that makes him interview-worthy about Stafford’s pro prospects.  Well, Matt started in the SEC.

… But he also comes in to the league with 34 collegiate starts under his belt. Conversely, Matt Ryan — who came with the reputation of being a polished prospect, and proved to be one — started 32 games as a Boston College Eagle.

“That’s more football than I played when I came out and I was in college for five years,” Aikman said. “That’s more football than a lot of guys have played before they came out. Just based on experience, I think he’s played in plenty of football games, and played in enough big games, playing in the SEC.

“So I don’t know that coming back for his senior year would’ve helped him. … I think he’d played enough football so he was probably ready.”

Hey, that settles it for me.  Just think of all the quarterbacks that have started in the SEC in the past few years that are succeeding in the NFL today.  Right.

I’m not really wagging a finger at Aikman here.  He’s just promoting someone he knows and likes.  But for TSN to be passing this along as if it’s particularly newsworthy is embarrassing.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

“I’ve been in tennis my whole life…”

The Pac-10’s choice to play Jim Delany’s sidekick as its new conference commissioner is… Larry Scott, a former collegiate tennis player at Harvard and for the past six years the chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

Interesting choice (and evidently not the first choice), to say the least.

The reasoning behind the pick seems scattered.  On the one hand, the search committee liked his background.

… Scott’s background as a tennis player and leader of a women’s pro sports organization probably eased fears among women’s and non-revenue sports advocates that the next commissioner would be all about football.

“Our search committee was most impressed with Larry’s broad range of leadership experiences in both men’s and women’s sports, as well as his extensive success in representing the commercial interest of men’s and women’s tennis,” Bob Bowlsby, athletic director of Stanford and head of the search committee, said in a statement.

But, let’s face it – women’s and non-revenue sports aren’t driving the train.  We all know what is.

… He became the CEO of the WTA in 2003, after having been ATP chief operating officer and president of ATP Properties. Under his watch, the WTA pushed for — and got — equal prize money for women at Wimbledon and the French Open.

“Despite all the financial success and commercial success, by far the achievement I’m most proud of is equal prize money,” Scott said.

“He brings a lot of great skills and experience to the job,” said Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, who led the Pac-10’s search and screening committee.

“He has great experience in branding. He has great experience in sponsorship development and in television negotiations,” Bowlsby said in a telephone interview. “He has the right energy to build upon a great foundation with the Pac-10.”

How well raising money in women’s pro tennis translates over to getting better media contracts and exposure in collegiate athletics – for that, read football and men’s basketball – is anybody’s guess.  Including Scott’s.

… An extension or change of the postseason format could sidetrack the Pac-10 and Big Ten’s long relationship with the Rose Bowl, which Scott acknowledges, “is a very sensitive issue and of great benefit to the conference.”

While emphasizing that he ultimately works for the presidents and chancellors of the 10 schools in the league, and it’s at that level that such decisions are ultimately made, Scott says he will bring a new outlook to any future discussions.

“I think the reason the presidents wanted me (for the job) was because I come with a fresh perspective and an open mind, and I think they have an open mind,” he said. “I have a lot to learn and to understand about the issues, but one perspective also is to look at what fans may want and at what will drive the most revenue.

“I am familiar with those issues from being with the WTA. Sometimes we made compromises. But I don’t pretend to be an expert yet, and whatever point of view I have, you have to work closely with other conference commissioners…”

And with that, Jim Delany leaned back in his chair and smiled.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

Kiffin watch: there must be a reason.

Junior is still trying to defend himself on the “gas pumping” he-said, he-said debacle.

… Jeffery and Calhoun County (S.C.) High School coach Walter Wilson told ESPN.com that during his recruiting pitch, Kiffin told Jeffery he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players in the state of South Carolina if he signed with the Gamecocks.

“Who knows where it came from,” Kiffin said Tuesday on “ESPN First Take.” “But there’s no reason for us to negatively recruit.”

There has to be a reason to act like a cocky SOB?  That hasn’t stopped the Laner before.

********************************************************************

UPDATE: You can watch the video here, if you want.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

Honoring the Greatest Politician of our Era

Perhaps you’ll recall this comment from a few days ago.

Corrine Brown’s speech goes up next to [the Tebow plaque at the Swamp] next week to complete the two most famous speeches in Gator history.

Looking good, baby. [h/t - where else? - EDSBS]

Thats one smart-looking plaque.

That's one smart-looking plaque.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., General Idiocy

The forgotten quarterback

This really is puzzling to me.  Today, Tony Barnhart looks at five SEC quarterback battles to watch and here’s what he says about Georgia’s:

Georgia: Joe Cox, Aaron Murray: I like Joe Cox. Here is a guy who came to Georgia with impressive credentials out of Independence High School in Charlotte. He redshirts behind D.J. Shockley, a guy who waited four years behind David Greene. Shockley leads Georgia to an SEC championship in 2005 and then it looks like Cox will get his turn. Enter Matthew Stafford in 2006 and Cox has a big decision to make. He stays at Georgia and waits his turn. There is no question that Cox can play the position. He will be a steady hand at the wheel behind what will be a good offensive line and a stable of very good running backs. But here is the question: Can Cox become an every down quarterback over the long haul of an SEC season? Is Murray, the highly-recruited freshman from Tampa, a talent on the level of Stafford, David Greene, Eric Zeier, and Buck Belue? All four of those guys not only played but excelled in their first seasons (Greene was a redshirt freshman in 2001). Does the other freshman, Zach Mettenberger, get in this mix? In my opinion the position belongs to Cox until Murray’s talent demands he be put on the field. I just don’t think that happens early. The Bulldogs can’t go to Stillwater, Okla., on Sept. 5 with an 18-year-old quarterback.

Notice there’s a name missing there?

Barnhart’s far from alone in overlooking Logan Gray in analyzing the Georgia QB situation.  I understand the kid’s not the compelling story (i.e., he who waited, or the hot new things) of the bunch, but still.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Tuesday morning buffet

Tasty, if not nourishing…

  • The GPOOE™’s new position coach says he’s a rock star.  Sounds like a bee-you-tee-ful friendship.
  • I went on spring break, and all I got was this lousy playbook.
  • David Hale’s got a nice post up about “The Georgia Way” – how the Dawgs begin preparing their incoming recruits for the program.
  • Speaking of prepping, it looks like Georgia’s not the only program claiming that its players are taking things to a new level of intensity this spring.
  • Over at Team Speed Kills, Year2 makes a convincing case that Steve Spurrier is just another head coach now.
  • Maybe it was a disappointing year for Georgia football, but at least I’m not asking this musical question.
  • Today’s most creative argument for why college football needs a playoff award goes to Ken Goe of The Oregonian:  SEC fans care about their football teams more than Pac-10 fans do, which means that Pac-10 schools get placed in lousier bowls.  And that inequity can only be fixed by – you guessed it – a playoff involving at least 20 schools.
  • And Chris Brown weighs in on what, if anything, Matt Stafford’s high score on the Wonderlic means (answer – probably not much).  Honestly, though, just check it out for the killer lede.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, The Blogosphere, The Evil Genius, The Glass is Half Fulmer, Tim Tebow: Rock Star

“A collection of uncommon men working toward a common goal”

I dare you to read Jeff Owens’ latest post without being moved.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Monday morning buffet

Pick and choose, friends.

  • Jason Whitlock has a thoughtful piece on why academic analysis of college athletics should be more nuanced.  The problem is that the NCAA doesn’t do nuance well.
  • Rich Rodriguez reminds me why I’m not particularly swept up with Twitter fever.
  • Belt-tightening at Clemmins. Good thing the Tigers saved money by not chasing a big name football coach.
  • Bryce Brown can’t hold a candle to Herschel Walker, in more ways than one.
  • Atlanta, September 18. Trust me on this.  (h/t Dave Barry’s Blog)
  • You were always on my mind:  check out the very end of David Hale’s interview with Kiante Tripp.  I guess the injury bug has gotten to these guys.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

It’$ $o ea$y.

One fairly common argument made in the BCS/playoffs debate is that the Masters of the (college football) Universe are spectacularly bad business people because they’ve purposefully elected to leave tons of money on the table by refusing to embrace a playoff for D-1 football.  Typically, Exhibit A in this discussion is the contract the NCAA negotiated with CBS for the basketball tourney – an impressive $6 billion for 11 years, which works out to $545 million per year.

Contrast that figure, the argument goes, with the TV deal for the BCS.  Even under the new, touted arrangement with ESPN, college football stands to be paid $125 million per year.  Do the math:  $545 is much, much more than $125; therefore, college football is cheating itself out of lots of money by failing to move to a full-blown playoff model.

In reality, the math isn’t as convincing as it’s made out to be, writes the Birmingham News’ Ray Melick.

… The NCAA has to answer for its $545 million to 327 Division I schools that are part of 32 basketball-playing conferences. The split is a convoluted formula of sixths and thirds and halves, not to mention administrative costs – the NCAA Tournament accounts for 96 percent of the NCAA’s annual revenue.

The BCS, with its 63 members in six conferences, is much cleaner and financially more rewarding.

Take the Southeastern Conference. According to NCAA records, for a five-year period from 2002 to 2007, the SEC received an average $11.5 million per year from NCAA Tournament money.

During that same five-year period, the SEC picked up an average $17.8 million per year from its BCS share – and that does not include the non-BCS bowl revenue the SEC also took in.

That was typical for each of the six BCS conferences, all of which brought in at least $5 million more on average from BCS football than the NCAA postseason tournament.

Melick doesn’t touch on it, but those numbers don’t include the moneys the conferences receive for their regular season TV contracts in each sport.  Factor those in, and the gap is even larger.

Melick looks prescient with this comment:

Despite the belief that there is a ton more money to be had out there for a full-scale Division I college football playoff, there is also the belief that it will be difficult to keep the NCAA from getting involved. Several years ago, the NCAA’s own economists warned the organization that it is in a potentially dangerous economic position and needs to find alternative revenue in the event that future NCAA Tournament broadcast rights become less lucrative than the current one.

Why so, you ask?  Well, because the NCAA is weighing the possibility of that situation right now.

The N.C.A.A. has a major decision to make within the next 12 months: stick with its 11-year, $6 billion contract with CBS to carry the men’s basketball tournament through 2013, or exercise an option to get out after next season.

Options like the N.C.A.A.’s exist to permit leagues or other sports organizations to capitalize on better financial markets than existed when a deal was signed.

But the economy is so weak that only the most optimistic forecaster can spot more than vague stirrings of a recovery by March 2010. If the N.C.A.A. opts out, then it will exchange the certainty of CBS’s fees in 2011, 2012 and 2013 — above the annual average $545 million — for the hope of a March Madness free-agent payoff. Tough choice.

CBS’s $6 billion bid looks overly rich nine-plus years later, but the network was protecting its turf…

The NCAA, like a hooker on the street corner, is looking for a way to entice some new blood – in this case, ESPN – into the hotel room for some paying action.  As part and parcel of its approach, nothing is off the table.  Including expansion of the tournament field.

Another way to lure ESPN after 2010 — and provide CBS some financial relief from the last three years of onerous rights payments — is to expand the tournament to 72 or 96 teams. The N.C.A.A. could then sell ESPN some games (though not all the new, least valuable, early rounders) and still satisfy CBS with the Final Four and other games.

By my math, that would result in roughly 20-25% of the D-1 basketball programs being made eligible for the postseason tournament.  (In case you’re wondering, that translates into something along the lines of a 24-school to 32-school D-1 football playoff.)  And that percentage amount isn’t really out of line compared with many other postseasons.  As I’ve said before, tournament expansion is an historical fact in American organized sports.

Feel free to reassure me in the comments that a D-1 football playoff could never expand beyond four, or eight, or whatever number of schools you think makes the ideal format.  But before you brush this off, remember that this is America.  Pretty much anything is available if you’re willing to pay enough money for it.  And then, once you get it, it’s usually never enough.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

Even Fox doesn’t want to listen to Thom Brennaman call BCS games anymore.

Talk about throwing in the towel -

Speaking of the BCS: Will FOX Sports televise the final year of its contract? Remember that back in 2007 FOX jumped into the BCS sweepstakes and took it away from ABC by paying $80 million a year. When the contract came up for bid last year, ESPN outbid FOX by putting up $125 million a year for 2010-13. FOX has one more season, 2009, on its current deal to televise the BCS games. But there are some rumblings that FOX could sell those 2009 rights to ESPN if the Worldwide Leader made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.  Because the BCS championship game is being hosted by the Rose Bowl this season, it will be on ABC, of which ESPN is a part.  Stay tuned on this one.

Not that I’m complaining here.  Indeed, Fox should be congratulated for seeing the error of its ways.  Hell, throw it a little TARP money if that’ll help make this happen.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness