“We don’t need them anymore.”

Ah, tradition.  Does anything more really need to be said about the last round of SEC conference expansion than, “Life goes on, though, and new rivalries are established”?

Well, maybe this:  “Neither has built a rivalry on the level of the one it lost…”

These people suck.

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20 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

“Todd Grantham loves being the underdog.”

Gah.

He made national news as Georgia’s defense coordinator in 2010 by flashing the “choke” sign to Florida punter/makeshift kicker Chas Henry before Henry nailed a 37-yard field goal to win in overtime.

Grantham laughs off that incident — and quickly points out that he won his next three against the Gators…

“He” won ’em, eh?

Aaron Murray should have sued Grantham for non-support during the 2013 season.

17 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Triumph of the booboisie

Lord knows, Stewart Mandel has made for a convenient foil on more than one occasion here at the blog, but the idea that ninety-second clips of Skip Bayless pontificating on any subject have more perceived value to Fox Sports than Bruce Feldman’s college football insight is nauseating.

This is what I was getting at in yesterday’s post about ESPN’s business model.  Those of you who insist on getting wrapped up in the bullshit about Mickey embracing liberal politics are missing the real point.  Irritating blather has value to these people.  It’s not about left or right; it’s about providing a platform for pundits to say something outrageous enough to make the average viewer want to pay attention.

Live sports may be what drives the train for most of us, but apparently there’s marginal value in insulting the intelligence of some part of the viewership.  While that may be profoundly depressing to those of us who are rational beings, you can’t argue with the reality that these are the bets these media giants are making.  After all, we live in a world where they keep spinning off “Housewives of XXX” like there’s no tomorrow, because there’s a reliably profitable viewership out there.  Why should we think the sports world — professional wrestling, anyone? — is immune to that?

I’m not trying to argue that to some extent the media hasn’t brought this on itself.  I mocked this development at the time, but since then it’s taken on a certain canary in the coal mine aspect that now seems as inevitable as it is sad.

Make no mistake, though.  The public is complicit, too.  Fox and ESPN are giving us what they are convinced we want, or at least enough of us want, such that it makes it worth their while to debase their product.  I’d like to believe they’ve lost their way, but the saddest point of all is that I can’t help but concede the merit of their cynicism.

Enjoy what’s left of actual sports journalism.  It’s hard to see a robust future for it.

46 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, Media Punditry/Foibles

Roll ‘dem bones.

When you hear Mark Emmert decry a stated position by the organization he heads as “what often seems to be a hypocritical stance”, you’ve got to believe there’s some money at the end of it.

And you would be correct about that.

The possibility of sanctioned NCAA events being held in Las Vegas took a potentially huge leap Tuesday when the Supreme Court agreed to hear a controversial New Jersey gaming case.

The NCAA is among the plaintiffs fighting a New Jersey law passed in 2012 that would allow sports gambling in the state. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, as well as the Department of Justice, have sued arguing continued implementation of the 25-year-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

PASPA was passed in 1992 to halt the spread of sports betting in the country. Such action is banned nationwide except for Nevada, which was “grandfathered” an exemption. Delaware, Oregon and Montana have the option of limited sports betting.

The Supreme Court could hear arguments as early as this fall, according to reports.

The NCAA has placed only one championship event in Nevada (1991 women’s basketball West Regional) citing sports gambling concerns.

“This is more than huge,” former UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood said of the Supreme Court’s consideration. “This opens up all kinds of possibilities.”

Livengood is now a consultant for Las Vegas Events, a management company interested in bringing events to the city.

The NCAA was thought to be moving toward allowing events in Nevada but was stymied by the New Jersey battle. In other words, the optics would be bad if the association was suing New Jersey while cozying up to allowing games in Nevada/Las Vegas.

Who the hell can afford optics these days?  Certainly not the NCAA, if it wants to keep shelling out the big bucks.  There’s at least one thing that happens in Vegas that doesn’t stay there.  Emmert isn’t about to miss out on that if he can help it.

1 Comment

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, The NCAA

“So ’23, ’24, that’s what everybody thinks about.”

Death, taxes and conference realignment.

Realignment appears to be in sleep mode. For now. But the potential for realignment — and the strategy for when it surfaces again — never completely leaves the radar of college sports’ power brokers. That’s why they’re thinking about 2023.

Why 2023?

I presume that’s a rhetorical question.  Why does anything that’s crappy for fans happen in college football?  No, you don’t get any guesses.

… It starts with expiring TV contracts. The ACC and SEC both have long-term media grant-of-rights agreements, running through 2035-36 and 2033-34, respectively. But the other three Power 5 conferences have agreements ending roughly around the same time (the SEC’s Tier 1 deal with CBS runs through 2023-24). The Big Ten last summer opted for a shorter agreement with Fox and ESPN, which runs through 2022-23. The Pac-12 deal expires after the 2023-24 sports year, and the Big 12’s ends the following year.

“Conferences have expanded primarily to take really good football schools to enhance their football footprint and strength, and also to help their [television] networks,” Aresco said. “The question down the road will be whether any conferences want to add schools that they feel will strengthen them in football, whether it’s because of an upcoming rights fee deal, or they feel it would strengthen their conference network….

Traditional rights deals aren’t the only reason 2023 matters. By then the traditional rights deal itself might be obsolete. Conferences recognize that fans are consuming content, including live events, in different ways. This shift will continue to impact current distributors like ESPN, Fox and CBS, and could bring different companies into the distribution market, like Amazon, Google, Facebook or Twitter.

Leagues like the Pac-12 are counting on it, especially because its own network has yet to produce significant revenue for members.

“I don’t think anyone knows exactly what the landscape will look like, or what health ESPN or Fox will have in 2023 when we’re negotiating, or how significant a player Twitter or Facebook will be,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said last month at the league’s spring meetings. “My sense is that there will be more competition. There will be more and different types of players.”

Oh, goody.  Another chance for the Jed Clampetts of the P5 conferences to be acclaimed geniuses.

Assuming there’s still a P5 in a decade, that is.

… Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger shocked boosters with a surprise announcement at a happy hour Kansas City gathering.

Zenger boldly presented a $300 million stadium renovation project that will include an indoor practice facility. That rocked the fundraising arm in athletic departments from coast to coast.

In a vacuum, this would be surprising news. Per USA Today, $300 million is more than three times Kansas’ current athletic revenue. Per that same database, $300 million for this one project is also $108 million more than Texas A&M’s total athletic revenue, the largest in the country.

This is Kansas, a basketball school, winner of exactly one FBS game in coach David Beaty’s two seasons. The program as a whole hasn’t won more than three games since 2008.

There’s something else going on here.

“It brings us into the level of playing field that you must be at to be a Power Five university,” Beaty said.

Read that quote carefully: This is as much an all-in financial commitment as it is as a buy-in for KU to have a seat at the table in the next round of conference realignment.

At least you’d better believe that’s how Zenger is selling it to boosters.

A $300 million bet on surviving a conference blowup?  When they say follow the money, this is what they’re talking about.

Oh, yeah, it’s coming.

23 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, College Football, It's Just Bidness

For the good of the program

Sure, on one level, this comes off as nothing more than routine kibitzing by a former head coach…

“In this league you still have to run the football and make short yardage and make goal-line plays,” Fulmer told SEC Country. “You look at last year, and a couple of those plays and maybe there’s another win or two.”

… but, coming from a guy who just took on a paid gig as a special advisor to the school president on athletics, maybe it should be taken as a little more pointed than mere routine.  Especially when you consider that Booch sits on a warm seat and Fulmer has proven himself to be a man who’s not exactly shy about stepping up in the face of a coaching crisis.

I’d tell Booch to watch his back, but right now I’m too preoccupied with finding that bag of popcorn I put down somewhere.

5 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

Bringing a pellet gun to a gun fight

So much for vigilante justice in Nashville, Tennessee.

A Vanderbilt University football player’s plan to recover his stolen iPhone sparked a shooting outside a Nashville Target on Monday night and led to two of his teammates being shot, according to police.

The shooting, which took place at the store at on White Bridge Road, stemmed from an arranged meeting between two groups — a trio of football players and the thieves who Metro police say stole the phone and fired the shots.

Both groups brought weapons, police said, although one side — the players — had only a pellet gun.

As of Tuesday, the shooting suspects remained at large and both injured players were expected to recover, police spokesman Don Aaron said.

When pellet guns are outlawed, only football players will have pellet guns.  Or something like that.

10 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, General Idiocy, SEC Football