Daily Archives: May 5, 2010

The fever dream is over.

Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich shoos away all the black helicopters hovering over the Flats in the wake of the postponement of Tech-Alabama series.

Yes, Jacket fans, it was his call.

… Radakovich said he contacted Alabama athletics director Mal Moore in December to discuss postponing the series because at the time he was considering some attractive alternatives that would help Tech’s recruiting efforts, as well as balance their schedule. He declined to say what those alternatives were.

And this has got to be disheartening for yellow-tinged conspiracy theorists everywhere:

Radakovich debunked the numerous theories that have been pushed during the past few days. The postponement has nothing to do with any kind of super-conference possibilities and  it has nothing to do with coach Paul Johnson’s displeasure with the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game played at the Georgia Dome at the beginning of the season, which he said has given those schools a recruiting advantage in Atlanta…

And what about what everyone else thinks?  Well, you can probably guess.

… Lastly, no, Tech isn’t afraid to play the Tide.

“We have the greatest respect for the University of Alabama and their football program,” Radakovich said. “Playing them would be a lot of fun.”

Sure would.  At least from my selfish standpoint.

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Filed under Georgia Tech Football

More hot seat talk

Matt Hinton posted a thoughtful exploration of the “Mark Richt is on the hot seat” line of thinking that’s out there (wherever there is, anyway).  Here’s his conclusion:

… Richt is widely perceived as the most decent guy in the business, like Fulmer, a far cry from the burgeoning mercenary model that’s paid such dividends for Florida and Alabama. If the defensive overhaul under new DC Todd Grantham doesn’t take, or if new quarterback Aaron Murray struggles as a redshirt freshman, this could be the year we find out if nice guys can still afford back-to-back five-loss seasons at places with a bottom line like Georgia’s. Either way, I think this will be a more interesting conversation at this time next year.

Skipping past the “decent guy, like Fulmer” comparison, I think what really gets me about this meme is the idea that Georgia could be preparing to can a coach who’s never led his team to a losing season – a team that’s played in the most competitive conference in the nation over the past decade.  Fulmer had two losing seasons in his last three; Auburn’s 5-7 implosion in 2008 is what led to Tuberville’s dismissal.  Richt doesn’t have anything remotely close to either on his resumé.

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UPDATE: FWIW, Mark Schlabach’s not buying the meme.

Jeremy (Athens, GA)

What coach in the SEC do you think is in the most trouble if they have a rough yr? Miles, Richt, or someone else?

Mark Schlabach

(4:41 PM)

I don’t think Richt is going to be fired anytime soon. Miles is catching heat, but are you going to fire a guy who won a national championship for only winning eight or nine games? Doubtful.

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UPDATE #2: On the other hand

(h/t Marc Weiszer)

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UPDATE #3: Bill Shanks is upset that the state legislature doesn’t recognize that Richt’s seating has warmed.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Kiffin watch: Mr. Accountability edition

Shorter Junior:  Those pesky recruiting rules make it unfair to hold me accountable for players at a program which I abandoned.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

Don’t remind me.

Marc Weiszer directs us to this Palm Beach Post story about Reshad Jones in which the former Georgia safety has this to say:

“We had an older guy on the team who was kind of struggling at the corner, but they wanted to keep him on the field, so they moved him to free safety and me to strong safety,” Jones said.

Of such decisions are 8-5 seasons made.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The pie that no longer expands, a teaching moment for John Feinstein

How ’bout these March Madness apples:

… As it was calculating its future, CBS was hoping — but could not be sure — that the N.C.A.A. would exercise its option to eliminate the final three years of the deal and open bidding for a new long-term contract that would start in 2011.

Why would CBS want that?

… Central to CBS’s interest in paying ESPN to take over the tournament was what it owed the N.C.A.A. for the last three years of the $6 billion deal that started in 2003. CBS was obligated to pay $657 million in 2011, $710 million in 2012 and $765 million in 2013. Losses could have been at least $200 million a year.

Those are some mighty big losses… wait a minute – CBS’s interest in paying ESPN to take over the tournament?  WTF?

Yep, that’s the story the New York Times has to tell today.

CBS talked with ESPN about paying it to take the 2010 to 2013 tournaments off its hands, according to four executives with direct knowledge of the talks who were not authorized or willing to speak publicly.

The idea, initiated at the top levels of both news-media companies, was seriously considered but eventually discarded by Leslie Moonves, CBS’s chief executive; Robert A. Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ESPN’s parent; and George W. Bodenheimer, the president of ESPN.

If it had occurred, the transaction would have been a fascinating episode in sports TV negotiations: a broadcaster, CBS, paying a rich cable competitor, ESPN, to end its association with an event that has been part of the foundation of CBS Sports since the 1980s.

“We live in unusual times,” said Neal Pilson, an industry consultant and former CBS Sports president.

You can say that again, brother.

Basically, the NCAA was bailed out by the corporate egos of CBS and Turner Sports.

… Instead of making a deal with ESPN, CBS decided it would be more profitable to share the tournament with Turner Sports and agreed last month to pay $10.8 billion from 2011 to 2024 under that arrangement.

CBS preferred that deal because it enabled the network to maintain its connection to the tournament while carrying fewer games and mitigating the huge losses it was forecasting over the final few years of its previous contract.

Turner’s games will be on TBS, TNT and truTV, and starting in 2016, CBS and TBS will alternate the Final Four and the national championship game, a major coup for a cable network.

So now we get to the crux of why the NCAA didn’t expand the tourney to 96 teams.  It wasn’t because of fan pressure, media disdain, concern about academics or scheduling, or any of the other high falutin’ reasons we saw bandied about.  The decision was made because none of the networks wanted to pay for a 96-team playoff.

If you’re a rational, sentient being who’s charged with the responsibility of having a position of authority with a major college conference, here’s the part of the story that has to be the most sobering:

… Subsequently, the bidding for the tournament turned into a one-on-one competition between CBS/Turner and ESPN.

To the surprise of many, ESPN lost, prompting speculation that the cable empire’s major contribution to the profitability of its parent, the Walt Disney Company, made its bidding more conservative. That stance may continue in coming bidding against NBC for the rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics.

If there’s a limit to what the market pays for a marquee postseason event – and the WWL seems to be making that pretty clear these days – and you’re convinced that it’s your product that generates most of the value (i.e., your programs are the ones that command much more of the viewership than the mid-majors do), what do you take from the latest round of negotiations?

Certainly not this.

… What’s more, the NCAA is a private organization. Membership is voluntary. It can make any rules it wants (and does) and any member has the right to drop out if it doesn’t like the rules. Aha, you say—the BCS schools will drop out and form their own organization. Not as easy as it sounds. For one thing, the basketball contract for the next 14 years is with the NCAA. And, even if they formed their own superpower tournament the magic of the tournament would be completely lost. Butler makes the NCAA Tournament a must-see event. So does Cornell. The superpowers are semi-pro teams with zero romance attached to them other than by their own fans. The BCS would be cutting off its nose to spite its face if it went rogue. The easiest and best way would be to go kicking and screaming into an incredibly lucrative—for all—football tournament.

Hell, no.  If you’re Jim Delany, you’re thinking the exact opposite.  Butler and Cornell are stealing money from you.

Once you come to the realization that the pie isn’t going to grow past a certain point, the logic driven by selfish interest becomes inevitable.  Let’s just say that my skepticism about the possibility of significant conference realignment and the effect it would have on D-1 sports has shrunk this morning.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA