Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

Hot garbage in, hot garbage out

Georgia beats Clemson and ESPN’s FPI rewards/punishes them both by dropping the Tigers to second and bumping the Dawgs up to fifth.  Oh, wait, that’s where they were before the game.

19 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

Off to a roaring start

Well, heavens to Betsy, I’m old enough to remember just *** checks notes *** three days ago that Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel were warning all of us that scheduling hell was about to be unleashed on the poor ol’ SEC.

The new scheduling should create additional marquee games and perhaps increased television money, while potentially squeezing the SEC in non-conference scheduling.

Four ACC teams have annual games with in-state SEC rivals — Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Florida State-Florida and Louisville-Kentucky. Those games would continue, but there would be a decided lack of available non-conference dates for other SEC teams seeking major opponents.

You mean like this, fellas?

The cherry on top of that particular sundae is putting the game on ESPN.  That’ll show ’em the Alliance means business!

And even when they’re not, it appears.  Curious, indeed.

19 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

When Dabo gets it right

He certainly has his share of whiffs, but this ain’t one of them.

… I just think college football has always been different. It’s always been different. And going this route, which is where it’s going to go, so it doesn’t really matter what I think. If it’s fan-driven, money-driven, whatever… I’ve just always thought college football was unique. And the unintended consequences when we went from the BCS to the four-team playoff, nobody was opting out when it was the BCS.

“Those bowl games were important, finishing your season, all those type of things. I think, the more you do this, you become just like the NFL, or even the NBA. Football is not a tournament sport, first of all. This thing isn’t built that way. I think there’s going to be more and more unintended consequences. I wouldn’t be surprised to see kids opting out of the playoffs if you go to 12 [teams in playoffs], to be honest with you.

“My big thing is, now all of the sudden, again, you’re undefeated, you’re in the playoff, and you got this rivalry game at the end… Well, yeah, you want to win the rivalry game, but do you really want to play Trevor Lawrence in that game? And you got the playoff next week, and you know you’re in it? Just like what you see if the NFL. It’s all about the playoffs.

“Just like in basketball… No one watches regular-season basketball. They watch the playoffs. But, if that’s the model we’re going to, I think there’s going to be some changes. Ultimately, I think there’s going to be some type of mega-conference—40, 50 teams, or something like that… 12, 14-team playoff.

“Whatever the rules are, we’ll embrace them and go to work on them. I’m just not a huge fan of it. And some people will get mad and say, “Well, you’ve been in the playoffs.” And, I always say, “If we can get in with four [teams], we can get in with 12.” So, it’s not going to decrease our odds. It makes it more of the same [as basketball, NFL, etc.] than different and unique. And, college football has always been different and unique. That’s just my opinion. I’m in the very small minority when it comes to that.”

I don’t think the minority is as small as he thinks it is.  The real problem is that making college football’s postseason more like other sports isn’t a bug for ESPN.  It’s a feature.

30 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil

“Georgia is the inspiration for the underachiever tiers.”

Mickey is addicted to narratives ($$).

How does a program with Georgia’s natural advantages go four decades without winning it all?

There are certain programs in college football that just can’t seem to break through, at least not recently, despite some inherent traits (location, history, resources) that set them up for success. These are the teams that constantly prompt questions like, “Why can’t they win their league?” or “What happened to them?”

Not every underachiever should be expected to win a national title, or even to contend regularly for league titles or major bowl games. But there are groups of teams that should be achieving more than they are.

He’s got tiers!  Cleverly, he labels the top one — a tier of one, by the way — “The Dawghouse”.  Hahahahaha!  Get it?

This is even funnier:  “Other than Georgia, teams that have made the College Football Playoff do not appear.”  It’s like the bad Mrs. Lincoln joke.

Who needs Florida message boards ritualizing the “1980!” chant when you’ve got ESPN?

112 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

Dear Attorney General

Senator from Kansas asks the Justice Department to investigate ESPN for potential antitrust violations related to Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

… Because they have the television rights to the SEC they will benefit from the additions of Texas and Oklahoma immensely. Conveniently, the ESPN-SEC deal begins in 2024 and their contract expires with the Big XII only a year later when the teams are slated to join the SEC.

While the terms of the contract are unknown to me, it’s important to note the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that the exclusive right to televise all league games is a violation of anti-trust laws. While the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 was passed to overturn this decision for professional football, college football broadcast packages are not subject to the antitrust exemption in that law.

While the terms of the contract are unknown to me…” is a short way of saying “I have no idea what’s going on, but my constituents want me to yell about it anyway”.  Politicians, man.

3 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Political Wankery

TFW the 800 lb. gorilla flexes

Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal

 — Bob Dylan, “Like A Rolling Stone”

Boy, did somebody change his tune yesterday.

Why do I have the feeling that “We” is doing some heavy lifting there?

It’s more likely that after having time to reflect, Bowlsby realized that whenever OU and UT leave, Mickey has the right to renegotiate the broadcast rights fee and it’s probably not the best negotiating tactic to call the more powerful “partner” out publicly.

Particularly when you get your legs cut out from underneath you like this:

Hartzell was asked whether the school had included ESPN in its conversations about moving to the SEC and said: “Absolutely, categorically, no.”

Hartzell said Texas initiated contact with the SEC, reaching out to the conference in the spring. He said the idea of joining other conferences such as the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 was considered internally, but Texas never contacted those leagues.

And we probably shouldn’t forget that Oklahoma publicly aired grievances of its own about the conference’s current broadcast partner.

All of which makes this a particularly hollow complaint.

The coming mea culpa from Bowlsby is going to be cringe worthy.  But at least he’s got a contract through 2025!

9 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil

In a shocking development, Jed Clampett discovers water is wet.

Jesus, these people

The chances of the College Football Playoff growing to 12 teams in 2023, the first year officials have stated it could expand, appear to be diminishing.

The combination of uncertainty in the environment and a building skepticism over the power being collected by ESPN and the SEC after recent realignment moves have prompted a more cautious approach to expansion. The exploration of growing from a four-team model to 12-team model was announced in early June and is being deliberated on, with a decision expected in the fall.

“I think the pause button should be hit,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told Yahoo Sports. “We need to evaluate the landscape and what it’s going to look like. We still need to evaluate the 12-team playoff. We don’t need to rush into that when there’s legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.”

… Other leaders around the country have expressed a skepticism toward the financial value of allowing ESPN to continue to be the sole owner of the most powerful rights in college football. The College Football Playoff is, essentially, a television contract with ESPN that runs through the 2025 season. ESPN owns all of it now, which includes three playoff games and other New Year’s six bowls.

After sucking at Disney’s teat all these years, that’s just now dawned on them, eh?

These people are so clueless they make ordinary clueless people look like geniuses.

31 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil

Herbstreit haz a sad.

Shot.

Chaser.

Does somebody want to remind Herbie of the outfit he works for?

68 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

Dropping the big one

What cracks me up the most about what’s gone down since word came out about Oklahoma and Texas gutting the Big 12 is how people who know better are trying to present facts of the past week as somehow particularly revelatory about the way college football is run, when, in fact, they’re nothing more than the same old, same old.  I mean, gee, are we supposed to pretend that ESPN’s behind the scenes machinations are a new thing?

It’s not just pundits, either, who are guilty of wearing blinders.

And the messiness that came out of the Bowlsby Bomb neatly summed up the fraught landscape in college athletics. One athletic director summed it up this way Wednesday: “This has created a lot more mistrust, a lot more dissension and a lot more hard feelings. If anything, that to me is why [the expansion to a 12-team playoff] slows down.”

Added another: “Most everyone in college athletics outside the SEC is mad as hell. This is a black mark on the enterprise … federal intervention may be the last resort to save us from ourselves.”

Chimed in another longtime college official: “An industry destined to blow itself up.”

Oh, boo fucking hoo.  You know what the real issue is?  In an industry full of Jed Clampetts, Greg Sankey wound up exercising a little more foresight than his peers.  And they can’t handle the aftermath.

With the SEC preparing to add Texas and Oklahoma, attention shifts to the three options at hand for each of the remaining Power Five conferences:

  • Expand in an attempt to keep pace with the SEC from a competitive and financial perspective, with each move triggering a series of corresponding moves across the entire Football Bowl Subdivision;
  • Stand pat and batten down the hatches in an effort to prevent other conferences from raiding or poaching teams from its current lineup of members;
  • Or, in the case of one league in particular, decide whether to remain a conference altogether.

Myerberg puts his finger on the source of their dilemma, at least in the immediate term.

… the genuine lack of productive expansion targets outside of current members of Power Five conferences and a small handful of teams playing in the Group of Five. Even in that case, options left behind by the Big 12, for example, simply don’t move the needle for the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12.

Every other member of the P5 needs to expand, but where do they go for that?  No other football program out there brings the cachet of a Texas or Oklahoma, at least if no P5 actor wants to go on an outright raid of another conference’s schools.  Sankey, to his credit, shrewdly read the room, took full advantage of it to land his big fish and left everyone else scrambling to escape the wreckage.  (Yes, with a little help from Mickey.)

It’s not any better in the intermediate term, either.

Another is the possibility that the SEC isn’t done yet, and if so whether there is anything another conference can do to hold down the fort should one of its schools be extended an invitation — especially with the SEC on a path to rake in $1.3 billion in revenue during the 2024-25 fiscal year with the addition of the Longhorns and the Sooners.

The answer is no for the ACC and Pac-12 because the money isn’t there.  The Big Ten is probably in a better place in that regard.  There’s no reason to even bring up the Big 12 in the discussion.  That is what Sankey hath wrought.

I’m not saying he’s a genius, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and Greg Sankey has that one eye.

25 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

“We’re just not going to sit still and let somebody… disrupt our business.”

Well now, this is something.

Adding insult to injury, the other conference supposedly is… the AAC.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby alleges conference media rights partner ESPN conspired to damage the league by luring Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC as detailed in a cease and desist letter sent to the network on Wednesday. Bowlsby also tells CBS Sports that ESPN has actively engaged the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to pursue “3-5” Big 12 members join the league, suggesting it would be rewarded with “future television proceeds”.

The letter alleges ESPN “has taken certain actions that are intended to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN.” The network currently shares Big 12 rights with Fox.

Bowlsby told CBS Sports that ESPN’s actions are equal to “tortious interference”.

Ooh, check out the big brain on Bob!  He be mad, peeps.

In response, ESPN yawned.

While Bowlsby was on a roll, he cast a little shade in the direction of his departing members.

… He identified clear enemies in ESPN and the departing schools. Bowlsby only sent that letter with presidential support, which means this will end up bonding the eight schools remaining in the Big 12. And part of that is due to the distrust of Texas and Oklahoma.

“We still don’t have the information we need from them and they’re largely unresponsive,” Bowlsby told Yahoo Sports about OU and Texas. “How many years do they plan to play. When are they planning on transitioning? We can’t get any answers out of them.”

He knows damned well the conference, having already received notice from the two about their departure plans (properly within the bounds of Big 12 rules), isn’t entitled to those answers.  And there’s where we enter the realm of negotiating ploys.  As you might expect, there are wheels within wheels with this.

“I have every expectation that Oklahoma and Texas will do whatever they can to not meet their [contractual] obligations. That’s what they’ve done so far. … One of the ways the two schools and ESPN will seek to absolve themselves of the obligation is to destabilize the league and cause an implosion of the other eight members.

“I am absolutely certain ESPN employees have discussed and provided incentives for at least one conference to raid 3-5 members from the Big 12. In doing so, they are prepared to reward them with future television proceeds. If the conference goes away as an entity, Oklahoma and Texas could be relieved from their exit obligations. Those obligations at this time would include the payment of $70M to $80M — two years full revenue — per school and leaving their media rights with the Big 12.

Is ESPN operating behind the scenes to grease the skids for Oklahoma and Texas?  You’d have to be an idiot to expect otherwise.  Is Mickey doing so in a way to create legal liability for itself?  Well, I’d bet their lawyers are smarter than Bob’s, so whatever they’ve been doing, it’s been carefully crafted.

The money factor cuts both ways here.  Yes, if the conference dissolves, that ends the obligation to pay exit fees.  But Bob’s got a problem, too.

The difference between what the Big 12 is being paid now – more than $35 million in TV – and what it’ll be paid without OU and Texas is an estimated $20 million. Dropping a stinkbomb on the doorstep in Bristol, Connecticut, is a negotiation ploy to assure you will no longer be negotiating. But Bowlsby is too smart to have done this without some type of TV partner fallback.

That strikes me as wishful thinking.  If the broadcast rights drop in value significantly for ESPN, they’re not going to be more valuable for another TV partner.

What is more likely is that Bowlsby is trying to force ESPN to leave the existing contract structure in place after Oklahoma and Texas leave.  If you think about it, there’s probably an exit strategy that saves all sides a little — the schools are allowed a departure earlier than 2025 and ESPN doesn’t penalize the Big 12 when that happens.  It’s not a perfect solution for the conference, but their fate was sealed the moment the schools announced they were hitting the road.  At least it gives Bowlsby time to see what he can salvage before a mid-major conference picks over the bones.

Keep your friends close and your TV partners even closer, in other words.

***************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Drop dead, Bob.

14 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil