Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

You can’t stop settling it on the field. You can only hope to contain it.

John Pennington:

When the conference commissioners decided to do away with polls and computers in favor of a selection committee, we warned that come March everyone would be reminded of all the things they dislike about selection committees.  Here we are.  And with people complaining about the sheer randomness of the seeding process as well as the hard-to-figure out invitation process for the final four or five bubble teams, it should all be quite worrisome for college football fans.  If there’s this much debate over 68 teams, how hot will temperatures rise when we’re talking about a bracket that will include only four teams?

The good news is that the football panel will have a former Secretary of State, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, and a career basketball man to help pick the teams and set the matchups.  Yes.  That was sarcasm.

If anything, the 13-member football panel should expect to receive even more hate mail than the hoops group.  As we noted above, more teams will be getting turn-downs in football.  And American sports fans are also more passionate about college football.  (Check the TV ratings and recent TV contracts if you need proof.)  There will be some serious howling when a team ranked in the top four of all the (now meaningless) polls gets jumped by a fifth- or sixth-ranked team that won its league.  Top 25ish SMU not getting one of 36 at-large bids?  Try an SEC runner-up getting bounced by a lesser-ranked Big Ten champ.

Every March we’re treated to Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale and Seth Davis and Andy Katz telling us what the hoops committee got wrong.  Set your DVRs.  This December we’ll get another batch of analysts telling us everything the football committee botched in carrying out its duties.  So prepare yourself right now to be disappointed.  We see no way the College Football Playoff selection committee escapes controversy.  The basketball committee never does.

That last point – how often do we bitch about ESPN’s narrative?  Is there any reason to think the selection committee will be immune from that?  Of course not.  A couple of loudly trumpeted “controversies” about a deserving number five and we’ll find ourselves in the same kind of mess that playoff proponents insisted the BCS created.

We’ve got playoff fever.  And the only prescription is more playoff.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil

Mark Richt has lost control of Kirk Herbstreit.

Nice of you to shoot from the hip, Herbie.

After taking crap about his tweets from several quarters, Herbstreet backtracks clarifies his observations.

Little testy there, eh?

Here’s the thing:  insults aside, I can’t find fault with Herbstreit’s last point on its face.  Hell, I share the sentiment.  But – and it’s a big but – when’s the last time you saw him go off like that on another program or another head coach who suffered through multiple bouts of knuckleheadedness?  And again, all of this coming before any of us know exactly what’s behind this set of charges.  (Let us not forget how Williamson’s crew once arrested a Georgia player for failing to give his middle name.)  It’s a rush to judgment that may turn out to be embarrassingly premature.  But even if things turn out to be serious, Richt’s got a track record of dealing appropriately with that sort of conduct.  It’s not really necessary to spout off so carelessly like that so early.

There’s a reason why a lot of college coaches ban their players from Twitter.

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UPDATE:  Kirk, he’s on the mother.

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UPDATE #2:  When you’ve lost Jeff Schultz

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UPDATE #3:  I’m inclined to give Herbstreit the benefit of the doubt here and say he stepped up and did the right thing.

Case closed.  At least until the next hasty tweet.

32 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

It’s just business, Brent.

Man, this is cold:  ESPN informed Brent Musburger that he would not call next season’s national championship game in the press box before the BCS title game in January.  Because, I guess, some decisions just can’t wait.  (At least the suits didn’t give him the good news Christmas Eve.)

I hope they had the decency not to mention teaming him with Jesse Palmer until later.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

I never thought it was possible…

but for the first time in my life I feel sorry for Brent Musburger.

Not as sorry as I do for the SEC Network’s listening audience, though.

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UPDATE:  Obviously I’m going to push the obvious…

Obviously.

46 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

“You’re hiding all the good numbers from me.”

There are so many ways ESPN’s influence over the sport of college football depresses me.  Here’s another one, straight from MIT’s eighth Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

The panel, like the other larger productions at Sloan, is being held in a spacious ballroom at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Its organizing idea so far has been a particular cogent observation by Oliver, which is that “best” and “most deserving” are two completely different things when it comes to ranking teams for inclusion in a playoff. Addressing both separately, instead of trying to cram them into one metric, is a perfectly sensible thing to do, and for this, ESPN has brought all its considerably weaponry to bear. Oliver and other senior analytics staff have spent the last two years immersed in college football, which has lagged behind other sports in statistical sophistication…

… But we haven’t really talked much about CHAMP and FPI during the football playoff panel. It’s been more focused on how the individual SOS and dominance numbers are good tools for committee members to look at, if they want. It’s enough to make you wonder why ESPN would even bother with the catch-alls. Then, suddenly, Rece Davis, Mark May, and Lou Holtz are bellowing down at the audience in Ballroom A at the Hynes from two giant screens, projected on either side of the room, howling about who the best team in the country is. “Alabama,” says a grinning Holtz. “They’re the best team in the country, they don’t have the best record—that’s the problem.”

… It’s an open secret that the ESPN analytics team generates far more data than it makes public, and certainly more than make it onto TV. “We’re still a TV company first,” many analysts will tell you in private moments, when you ask about stuff that only lives on “dot com.” This means that anything that isn’t generated for a specific story will get dumped into what’s called an NST (notes, stats, trends) pack, and sent out as notes to anchors. If you really like an item, you might phrase it in 140 characters or less, to make it tweetable, though those often go unclaimed as well. You learn whom to pitch to (Kirk Herbstreit is great; Jay Bilas is a sponge) and whom to avoid (maybe stay away from Corso). ..

… That isn’t evil; it’s just good sense. ESPN is not a statistics-generating non-profit put on Earth to further our understanding of sports. But it is the tension at the heart of the entire conference: TV personalities using numbers and concepts with their edges sanded down, a platform (panel, conference, network) that often insists analytics are dichotomous with all other forms of knowledge about sports…

It’s not enough to have various talking heads spinning a narrative your way. ESPN arms them with serious looking metrics that ESPN in its infinite wisdom has concocted to make them sound more authoritative to the listening public. And to, who knows, maybe even a selection committee or two.  That’s some seriously pernicious power there.

17 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Stats Geek!

The Longhorn Network is in business, baby!

DISH and Disney get in bed together.

Seriously, the big news is that the SEC Network has its first major distribution deal.

Now I just wonder how much that’s gonna cost me.

1 Comment

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Friday morning buffet

There’s always something to grab.

  • Talk about preparation:  Mike Ekeler watched every snap last season of the Bulldogs’ special teams before his interview with Richt.  Talk about being a glutton for punishment, too.
  • Based on recruiting rankings, which teams and coaches were the biggest over and under achievers?
  • ESPN is set to announce that the 2014 college football season will begin at its earliest point in 11 years.
  • Here are some details from the third day of hearings on whether the National Labor Relations Board should certify the Northwestern players’ unionization request.
  • And here is a listing of the spring practice start dates and spring game dates for all 14 SEC schools.
  • Charlie Pierce uses Mark Richt to mock Georgia pols’ attempt to let guns on campus.
  • Arkansas’ plan to modify its school color leads to a post about color scales that probably has more information than you could possibly care about.  But since it also mentions Georgia, what the hell.
  • MaconDawg wonders if Georgia’s 2015 recruiting indicates that future offensive changes are a possibility.

20 Comments

Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Political Wankery, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

We welcome our “network partners” overlords.

Remember when everyone and his brother were hailing Pac-12 Commish Larry Scott for his genius in negotiating his conference’s new broadcast deals?  All that money, served up on a platter.

Yeah, well, the bill’s come due.

The Pac-12 is in discussions with its network partners to change programming practices and avoid another season with an overwhelming number of night games, according to sources inside and outside the conference.

I wouldn’t necessarily characterize the back-and-forth as negotiations, because the league has a contract with ESPN and Fox that isn’t going away for a decade.

But Pac-12 officials were not happy with the ’13 broadcast schedule and are working with their partners to find an acceptable resolution for all parties involved. One source called the league’s approach “fair but firm.”

The conference spent three months listening to complaints from fans and school officials. Commissioner Larry Scott and his lieutenant are keenly aware of the frustration.

Whether they can do anything about it remains to be seen.

A $3 billion dollar deal and the networks want say so over broadcast times.  Some kinda nerve there.

But here’s what they can do: They can reduce or eliminate the exclusive window for the over-the-air broadcasts on ABC and Big FOX.

Maybe they eliminate it altogether.

Maybe they scrap it for half of the 10 broadcasts.

Either way, it would create more flexibility for the Pac12Nets.

I don’t know the specifics of the options being discussed.

But I know this: If nothing changes, the uproar from fans and campuses will be significant.

Maybe Larry can hit ‘em into silence with the conference’s bank account.  After all, we know who’s gonna win here.

4 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, Pac-12 Football

8 + 1

How much are some conferences struggling against going to a nine-game conference schedule.  Enough for at least some folks in the ACC and SEC to consider something along these lines.

In addition to considering a nine-game conference schedule, ACC officials have also broached the idea of a model in which the conference would play eight league games and one SEC team every year, according to several sources from both conferences.

I really doubt that comes together.  I’m not the only one.

The SEC source said he did not see a scenario where all 14 SEC schools would agree to it, but there may be a scenario in which the SEC could match some teams against the ACC, particularly if those SEC teams were having trouble finding a suitable BCS nonconference opponent.

It is unlikely that the SEC would make all its teams play the ACC on the final week of the season, when the Auburn-Alabama already game steals the show.

Two SEC sources said the conference was also considering more regular matchups with the Big 12.

I don’t know why they keep fighting a nine-game arrangement.  It’s the easiest scenario for the conferences to control.  But it’s pretty clear everybody wants to placate their new conference overlords ESPN with more quality product.

27 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Feed the beast.

Interesting tale from the board of trustees meeting for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association last Thursday, where Tech’s AD shared the following:

At the conference’s meetings this week, the conference and ESPN are expected to have an update on where things stand in regards to a possible ACC channel. Should it go forward, Bobinski said, ESPN will likely want more “inventory” to put on the channel, meaning an additional conference game.

“Likely”, hunh.  But the ACC already has so much on its scheduling plate.

There has been considerable pushback against a ninth game due to Notre Dame’s agreement to play five ACC opponents annually. (The league approved a nine-game schedule in May 2012 before changing back to eight after Notre Dame was added later in the year.) Particularly for Tech, Clemson and Florida State (and possibly Louisville), which all play SEC opponents, that would mean playing nine conference games, an SEC rival and Notre Dame in the same 12-game season roughly once every three seasons.

You know there’s a “but” coming, right?

But, TV money may trump. The GTAA projects it will receive $22.2 million from the ACC in the 2015 fiscal year. (That’s $5.5 million more than was previously projected. The increase is due in part to the league signing its grant of rights, which was worth about $1.1 million per school from ESPN.) That is largely ESPN cash. That number would increase in the future if plans for an ACC network are realized.

“I don’t know that there will be ultimately a lot of decision making to go into that,” Bobinski said, referring to the nine-game possibility. “I think it’ll be something that we’ll need to do to find a way to do as a league, and that’s a way to do it.”

Give the man credit for being honest, at least.  It’s more than Mike Slive’s willing to admit.

4 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil