The Pac-12 discovers that broadcast partnership thingy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What a surprise.
Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil
You gotta love it – here’s a list of the fourteen SEC programs, ranked in order of having “the most to accomplish this spring”. Georgia’s smack dab in the middle, with this description:
Georgia: Jeremy Pruitt should breathe some new life into a struggling Georgia defense. Having Hutson Mason to replace Aaron Murray helps as well. But off-the-field problems continue to plague Mark Richt’s program. With stars such as Todd Gurley, the players are there. The pieces just need to come together. [Emphasis added.]
Guess how many other programs he cites as having off-the-field problems. You don’t really need to guess, do you?
As you might expect, there’s a little extra union-y seasoning in the chafing dishes this morning.
- Not funny, Hutson: “A noodle arm like me, it’s takes quite a bit of effort for a kid from Florida that can run to get it out there,” Mason said. “I try to crow hop and throw it as far as I can so I don’t underthrow him because I’m going to hear it from (offensive coordinator Mike) Bobo if I underthrow him. “
- Nick Saban’s buying another recruiter.
- Vanderbilt is keeping an eye on unionization.
- Spurrier, on his players coming to him with a list of union demands: “Well, the NFL has a players association. They did that to their coaches and their owners. The owners and coaches said, ‘Yeah, OK, we’ll do that.’ They want to play, they don’t want anything unrealistic.”
- The Sporting News gives its list of the ten greatest Georgia players of all time.
- Going to Congress about unionization? Two can play at that game.
- The Tennessee legislature considered a bill that would have required all of Tennessee’s Division I institutions to pay 1% of revenue from tickets, merchandise, and broadcast licensing to a Student Athletic Trust Fund run by the state. Shockingly, UT opposed the bill.
- Chase Stuart suggests it may be time for us to take QBR more seriously. (It would be easier for me if ESPN didn’t pimp it relentlessly.)
- You’ve got questions? CAPA’s got answers.
- Predictably, Kevin Scarbinsky thinks an Alabama-Auburn playoff rematch would blot out the sun.
Allen Kenney is a wee bit irritated with Disney’s… er, um… support for its new broadcast partner.
Whatever the case, it struck me as weird to see an ESPN-owned venture unabashedly cheerleading for an entity that its news division claims to cover objectively. (It’s not just one random tweet either – a look down the account’s timeline reads like a pep rally.) Imagine the NFL Countdown Twitter feed openly pulling for one team in the Super Bowl.
The idea that ESPN is in bed with the people and organizations that it covers isn’t exactly earth-shattering. The Worldwide Leader should have changed its tagline to “conflicts of interest” years ago. But if the Embrace Debaters in Bristol really don’t have any objection to acting as propaganda machines for everyone on Team Disney, get ready for the level of toxicity in college football media to kick into overdrive.
That sound you hear is Edward R. Murrow spinning in his grave.
Lighten up, Francis. The SEC Network has its very own 21st century version of Edward R. Murrow. His name is Paul Finebaum. How much more objective could it get than that?
And if you think that Twitter feed is obnoxious, let me just say that you ain’t seen nothing yet.
I tell you what, if Maryland had put as much effort into managing the financial affairs of its athletic department as it is fighting the ACC’s attempt to collect a $52 million exit payment following its announced departure to the Big Ten, the Terps may never have felt the pressure to leave in the first place. It’s served a number of its former peers (North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Duke, North Carolina State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Virginia) with subpoenas. It’s also hit the conference with a demand about… scheduling.
Maryland has also requested documents connected to the formation of the Maryland men’s basketball team’s 2013-14 ACC schedule. For the first time since the league was founded, the Terps did not host Duke or North Carolina in College Park. At the league media day in Charlotte, ACC Commissioner John Swofford was asked how a scheduling quirk like that comes about and whether it was connected to Maryland’s pending departure.
“Through the regular scheduling process,” Swofford said then. “That’s not particularly unusual. The great thing we have in this league right now, when you look at the quality of programs, you can’t have a bad home schedule. You’re going to have quality teams and quality brands coming in wherever you are. Obviously one of the things you lose when you get bigger is some people don’t play each other as much. That’s just part of the growth.”
Mike Slive nods in agreement.
Give ‘em credit for being persistent buggers.
According to a motion to stay discovery filed by the ACC on March 4, Maryland served the ACC 94 document requests covering a time span of 12 years in late December. Shortly thereafter, the court filing says, Maryland began serving subpoenas to the ACC schools and eight third-party media entities and subpoenas are currently pending with at least 19 separate entities seeking more than 35 categories of documents from each.
In the example subpoenas filed to Duke and North Carolina State, 47 categories of documents are requested, ranging from documents related to the ACC’s constitution to media talking points after Maryland announced its departure to the evaluation of possible new members.
Third-party media entities? Not Disney! Well, yes, now that you mention it.
In addition, Maryland has served subpoenas to ESPN, consistent with its allegation that the television network coaxed the ACC into trying to lure Big Ten schools away.
I assume the irony isn’t escaping anyone there.
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.
Nice of you to shoot from the hip, Herbie.
Clearly some of the UGA players take advantage of Coach Richts forgiving heart. No fear of the consequences leads to ongoing shananagins.—
Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) March 18, 2014
After taking crap about his tweets from several quarters, Herbstreet
backtracks clarifies his observations.
Dear moronic fringe UGA fans–I'm a huge fan of Coach Richts, well aware of him kicking guys off tm, simply stating this trend is gettin old—
Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) March 18, 2014
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.
UPDATE: Kirk, he’s on the mother.
Mark Richt statement on arrest of four Georgia football players: "I’m aware of the situation and it will be handled in an appropriate way.”—
Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) March 18, 2014
UPDATE #2: When you’ve lost Jeff Schultz…
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.
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.
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.