Daily Archives: November 21, 2012

For Auburn, it’s the cherry on top of the sundae.

When you’re en route to your first winless conference season in many a moon, what could make things any worse?

Well, any time you hear those four magic words, “Yahoo! Sports has learned”

According to multiple sources, NCAA investigators have spent weeks looking into potential improprieties involving Auburn recruits, players, coaches, representatives of the school’s athletic interests and third parties. Assistant coaches Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper have been scrutinized by the NCAA, sources said. Taylor is the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach, while Luper coaches running backs and is the recruiting coordinator.

Both Taylor and Luper were taken off the road recruiting several weeks ago amid the NCAA probe, sources said.

But, there is a silver lining, Tigers fans.

The NCAA probe is believed to be more widespread than just Robinson, but is not believed to revisit the 2010 allegations involving former star quarterback Cam Newton – allegations Chizik and the school vigorously combated at the time. Auburn went on to win the national title that year after Newton was cleared by the NCAA late in the season.

I bet Finebaum has a major league woodie right now.

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UPDATE:

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

Gone, but not forgotten.

Actually, I imagine a few of the assembled did.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

“It’s like taking your family dog and replacing it with a slightly better-trained breed.”

Man, if you’re looking for an eloquent rebuttal to Andy Staples’ flawed analysis of the Big Ten/Maryland/Rutgers arrangement, you need to read this piece by Jonathan Chait.

Start with this point that the whole fiscal theory behind the move is questionable at best:

The core of the financial logic of expanding the Big Ten, and other league expansions, as Derek Thompson has explained, is cable television. The Big Ten has its own network and can charge cable operators to carry it. The more people who live in the Big Ten’s footprint, the more households will be paying their cable operators an extra dollar a month or so to carry the Big Ten network. Hence the logic of adding Rutgers and Maryland. While the athletic traditions of both schools are, respectively, mediocre and terrible, they geographically encompass large, populous regions whose cable television subscribers will, for the most part involuntarily, be paying the Big Ten conference a chunk of their cable television bills.

In other words, as a profit-making mechanism, this is essentially a scam. It relies on an opaque pricing mechanism (bundled cable television) forcing people to pay for a product they don’t want. Right now, it’s a highly lucrative scam. But bundled cable television pricing is not going to last forever, and possibly not very long at all. There is already a revolution in video content under way that is going to render the cable television bundle model obsolete. When that revolution has finished, the Big Ten will realize it pulled apart its entire identity to grab a profit stream that has disappeared.

In other words, if cable subscribers enter an era when they’re allowed to choose one from Column A and one from Column B, are there really enough interested parties in the new markets willing to sign up for Big Ten Network service?  Chait argues that college football’s track record with conference realignment strongly suggests there isn’t.  He makes that point well.

But the ACC, too, has utterly failed to deliver on its expectations (its championship games have been played before mostly empty stadiums), which explains why Maryland so eagerly bolted, and the league has desperately cast about for new recruits. Like the Big 12, the ACC learned that taking a bunch of fan bases that reside in the same general region and declaring that they should start caring passionately about beating each other is not enough to make it happen. And if you can’t gin up fan interest in a manufactured rivalry between real football powers like Virginia Tech and Miami or Nebraska and Texas, what possible hope is there for Maryland, Rutgers, and … anybody? Is there any possible outcome here for the Big Ten other than brand dilution?

“Gin up” and “manufactured” are loaded terms, but they’re accurate.  And that’s where Delany’s gamble gets dicey.  Because not only does he have to deal with the issue of building new customer interest in markets where there previously wasn’t much – and, really, how much is Maryland’s playing in the Big Ten versus the ACC going to ignite the DC viewing market? – he has to worry about turning off the Big Ten’s existing fan base as a result of spreading the conference too thinly.  Ultimately, the real value of the college football product is that we care about it passionately.  Screw with that at your own peril.

The superconference experiments failed because you can’t manufacture tradition, and tradition is the only thing college football has to offer. Without tradition, college football is just an NFL minor league. Big Ten football mainly consists on a week-to-week basis of games like Michigan versus Minnesota and Illinois versus Wisconsin. Those games have meaning to the fans in ways outsiders can’t grasp. The series have gone on for a century. They often have funny old trophies. Every game is lodged into a long historical narrative of cherished (or cursed) memory. Replacing those games with some other equally good (or, as the case may be, not good) program is like snuffing out your family dog and replacing it with some slightly better-trained breed. It is not the same thing. And that deep well of sentiment, not the conferences’ ability to exploit a series of local cable cartels, is its ultimate source of value.

All these guys, the Delanys, the Slives – they’ve all been told for so many years that they’re marketing geniuses that they’ve swallowed the hype completely.  They’re not.  They’re simply people who’ve been sitting in the right place and have taken the obvious steps (so far, anyway) to monetize our passions.  Now we’re at a stage where the limits are being tested with unsettling notions like fourteen-school conference alignments, scheduling contortions and schools that seemingly change conference affiliations on a monthly basis (hey there, TCU!).  Even most conference names are a joke now.  If they’re not careful, at some point they risk their meal ticket saying the hell with it and walking away.

Smarter marketers than our current conference heads have made dumb moves.  Sadly, the lessons from those episodes don’t seem to have registered.

What’s amazing about the college conference expansion fad is that the conferences are not even doing the normal dumb thing that every business does, which is to try to copy success. They are trying to copy failure. Everybody is racing to turn their successful product into the next New Coke.

Among other things, this is why I continue to be amused by people who think that there’s a logical limit to playoff expansion.  To believe that the people making these decisions are guided by rational long-term thinking flies in the face of everything they’ve done for the last, what, 25 years?  Hell, pick your own time frame there.  The reality is that they’re bumblers who’ve been lucky.  As Brian Cook put it the other day, “Jim Delany is a camel farmer who is sitting on a billion gallons of oil.  He knows about camels. That is all.”

Invest with them at your own risk.  As they say in the investment biz, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness

Wednesday morning buffet

No turkey on this buffet line:

  • This is an actual clause in Urban Meyer’s contract:  “The Meyer family will consider Kroger their supermarket of choice.”  Awesome.
  • Scott Albrecht games out the national title game probabilities here.
  • When it comes to the SEC, KC Joyner is the man who uses stats to show he’s wrong about everything, so take this with a big ol’ grain of salt.
  • If you were wondering where Tennessee was going to come up with the jack to hire its next head coach (and I never was), worry no more.
  • “… not to downplay the Georgias of the world…”, but Scot Loeffler thinks Alabama has the best defense Auburn will face this season.  I guess that means the Tide will hold his offense to negative points this Saturday.
  • You know the OBC enjoyed the hell out of this interview.
  • Probably as much as I enjoyed this quote from Tavarres King about Georgia’s chances after the South Carolina game:  “I didn’t really think it was over. We had a lot of football left to play. There were six more regular-season games at the time. So I didn’t really think it was over then. Historically, South Carolina’s due to lose a few, so I wasn’t worried about it.”
  • Jim Delany blames the latest round of Big Ten expansion on the Pac-12′s decision to back out on their scheduling deal.  Yeah, that’s it.  That’s the ticket.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Big Ten Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Stats Geek!, The Evil Genius

Today’s Hate Week moment is brought to you by…

Don’t hold anything back, Coach.

Georgia strength and conditioning director Joe Tereshinski has conveyed to the team this week his feelings for Georgia Tech.

“He just hates Tech with his all might and blood and everything,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.

That made me smile.  Unlike Christian Robinson’s soft-pedaling:

“We have an opponent coming here that probably hates us more than any other opponent,” Robinson said. “It’s probably mutual.”

“Probably”?  If you have to say that, you’re not trying hard enough, son.  Go see Coach T.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football