Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

Mickey giveth and Mickey taketh away.

From a lookback at Missouri’s move to the SEC:

Seven and a half years ago, a single television network broke the Big 12 for good. Years of infighting and disdain for the league’s self-appointed leader, the University of Texas, had laid the foundation. As the Longhorns reaped the benefits of one-sided media contracts, their conference counterparts fell further behind. Texas was one of the first three schools nationwide to amass more than $100 million in athletics revenue in a single fiscal year in 2006; no other Big 12 program, save for Oklahoma State, which in 2006 received a $165 million gift from booster T. Boone Pickens, hit that mark until 2010.

When news surfaced of Texas’ potentially eschewing a league-wide television network in favor of an exclusive 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN that featured a channel devoted solely to the Longhorns, its league partners had enough. Colorado, an original member of the Big Eight, left for the Pac-12 in June 2010. Nebraska escaped to the Big Ten soon after; and with the threat of the league’s implosion looming, Texas A&M, which had nearly bolted for the Pac-12 a year earlier, announced its move to the SEC in late August 2011.

Left to decide its own fate was Missouri. Two years earlier, Missouri governor Jay Nixon had floated the idea of a move to the Big Ten. But an offer never came, and Missouri stayed in the Big 12, the league it helped found 15 years earlier.

Days after Texas A&M’s announcement and an unsuccessful last-ditch attempt to convince the Aggies to stay, then-Missouri athletic director Mike Alden, Chancellor Brady Deaton, Interim System President Steve Owens and Interim General Counsel Phil Hoskins met on a roof atop the press box during Missouri’s season-opening game at Memorial Stadium to assess the school’s future. They determined a future in the Big 12, or at least what was left of it, wasn’t viable. Two months later, Missouri became the 14th member of the Southeastern Conference.

How fortunate for the Tigers the very same broadcast entity that drove them from one conference was willing to finance Mike Slive’s expansion power play that in turn provided them with a convenient landing spot.  “When one door closes, another one opens” may be a cliché, but when you’ve got the same doorman working both, that’s real power.



Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

TFW you’re chasing your own tail

Otherwise known as no mid-major program can serve two masters

Memphis is coming off its best five-year stretch in program history, which includes an AAC championship in 2014.

Success, however, hasn’t kept the program immune from attendance problems that have plagued college football. While NCAA attendance figures haven’t been released from 2018,  attendance in 2017 had its largest drop in 34 years.

It’s something Bowen knows firsthand as a member of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee. While he felt this season was a solid year attendance wise, he knows that Memphis and other schools are competing with fans who seek cheaper options to watch games and have more games to watch on television.

He added there have been discussions about bringing back pregame activities to add to the Tiger Walk and continuing to push fans to purchase season tickets. Bowen did not say what those activities would be.

 “It’s critical for us to keep aggressively marketing, aggressively pushing forward, re-evaluating what worked and what didn’t work,” said Bowen, “We’re going to do some dynamic ticket pricing this season which we haven’t done in the past which we’ll announce soon.”

Declining attendance is another reason the AAC has pushed for a better media rights deal when the current one expires in 2020. Memphis president David Rudd is a part of the negotiations with AAC commissioner Mike Aresco, and the conference is in an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN, according to an interview Bowen did with Sports56 WHBQ on Monday

With seven of the 12 AAC schools reporting a decrease in attendance from the 2018 season, there’s hope that revenue from a new deal will easily exceed the $2 million each school is currently receiving.

“If you’re going to have a situation where you sell all your media rights, you need to be compensated in a way that it helps offset loss of ticket revenue, so that’s why our media deal is really important for the AAC because my colleagues are seeing the same thing,” Bowen said.

All the aggressive marketing in the world isn’t going to offset shitty start times that depress live crowd numbers imposed on you by your broadcast partner, dude.  And you’ll have no choice but to become even more dependent on Mickey’s money as your attendance numbers continue to decline.  That’s what constitutes tradition in today’s college football world.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Alphabet soup for the WWL’s soul

Be still, my heart.  ESPN just released its first preseason Football Power Index, aka FPI.

Georgia is third, which is no real surprise.  Neither are the two teams ahead of Georgia.

While Clemson’s 44-16 drubbing of the Tide might have college football fans recalibrating their expectations for Nick Saban’s team, make no mistake — it’s still Clemson and Alabama and then everyone else. The difference in rating between No. 2-ranked Alabama (plus-27.6) and No. 3-ranked Georgia (plus-22.0) is the same as the Bulldogs’ advantage over 10th-ranked Oregon (plus-16.4). Clemson ranks first in offense and second in defense; Alabama is vice versa.

What is a little surprising is the rapid jump displayed by a few SEC teams.  LSU is fourth, Tennessee is 15th and Missouri is 20th.  The SEC’s lowest ranked team is Arkansas, with a still respectable 58th.  All of which leads to this:

The SEC has three of the top five teams in the country, five of the top 10 and half of the top 20!

The 10th-best SEC team (Missouri) is better than the second-best ACC team (Florida State) and the second-best Big 12 team (Texas).

The best division in football is the SEC West. The second-best division is the SEC East.

For the SEC — or any conference — this sort of depth is unprecedented. No conference in the past 15 years of FPI has had more than eight teams in the top 20 of the preseason rankings.

I only mention this because this is what all the yammering heads on ESPN and the SEC Network (PAWWWLLL!) will be talking about for the next few months leading into the season.

Add in a dash of selection committee tea leaf reading from Heather Dinich.

3. Georgia

Toughest game on schedule: Nov. 16 at Auburn

The committee will like: The crossover opponents.
The road trip to Auburn is followed by a Nov. 23 home game against Texas A&M. Back-to-back November victories against SEC West opponents could significantly boost Georgia’s résumé heading into the final week of the regular season — if the Dawgs win. Last season’s 36-16 loss to LSU was a dagger in the final picture. Georgia came close last season, but we still haven’t seen a two-loss team finish in the top four.

The committee won’t like: A September slip-up.
If Georgia is worthy of a playoff spot, it should start the season 3-0 with wins against Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State. Repeat: Murray State and Arkansas State, which is why beating Notre Dame on Sept. 21 has the potential to separate Georgia from other contenders. If Georgia loses to the Irish, though, its best nonconference win would be against rival Georgia Tech, and that would put enormous pressure on Georgia to win out.

One big question: How much will a win over Notre Dame be worth?
It depends, of course, on how the Irish fare. According to ESPN’s FPI, it’s the most difficult game on the Irish schedule, as they are No. 7 and projected to be No. 9 in offensive efficiency and No. 11 in defensive efficiency. Notre Dame helped Michigan almost all last season — and the Wolverines didn’t even win the game. Remember Miami’s claim to fame in 2017? The Hurricanes hammered Notre Dame 41-8, and it carried them in the eyes of the committee — until the Canes ended the season with two face-plants of their own. Win or lose, playing Notre Dame seems to help — as long as the Irish help themselves.

Most of that strikes me as iffy, but I do think that Auburn-TAMU set of games will weigh on the committee members’ minds based on timing, if nothing else.  Assuming ‘Bama comes out of the West again, though, I think we all expect the SECCG likely shapes up as another elimination game.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Blurring the lines

Not trying to be snarky here.  I’m legitimately curious about something.

You may have heard that Kirk Herbstreit’s twin sons are walking on at Clemson.  Kirk’s a proud papa — not that there’s anything wrong with that — but he took to Twitter with this announcement.


So… is that a little over the top in terms of Clemson?  Does it color your impression/expectation of Herbie’s professionalism?  If you were his boss, would you want him calling Clemson games in the future?  (Sadly, I have the feeling his boss sees that as a feature, not a bug.)  How about when he argues for which teams should be in the CFP?

Again, just curious what you think.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

ESPN: Signing day matters. Except when it doesn’t, Georgia.

I have some bad news for you.  Mickey has turned its crack staff on to analyzing the relationship between recruiting and winning nattys.

In an era in which star rankings define every prospect group, a top-notch recruiting class has come to separate elite teams from the rest of the pack before any games are even played. Using recruiting trends of the past 10 years, we have put together a formula to predict who will win next year’s College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.

Bottom line, Georgia doesn’t make the cut.

Wut, you say?  How can that be?

Believe it or not, here’s where the Dawgs fell short.

4. Are you locking down the home state?

The five playoff champions have all landed at least one-third of in-state ESPN 300 recruits in the four years leading up to winning the title.

Georgia (39-of-136) falls short of that mark, though to be fair, the state of Georgia produced nearly twice as many ESPN 300 prospects (136) as Ohio, South Carolina and Michigan combined (74).

If you think that’s stupid, it’s only because it is.  Georgia signed more in-state recruits than any of the five other schools that made it to the next stage.  Maybe Kirby should have dumped some out of state five-star kids to get that in-state percentage up.

It may be dumb, but I suspect it’ll make for some great click bait at Dawgnation any time now.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Recruiting

Live, with in the arena expertise!

Think I’m just gonna let this one hang out there with no comment.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Recruiting

Marketing genius

Once thing that I continually marveled at during the period when major league baseball struggled to come to grips with player free agency is how the owners would consistently trash their own product in trying to best the players’ union.  As business strategies go, it was questionable at best and headshakingly stupid at worst.

I heard a faint echo of that when I saw Chris Fowler’s comment about the college football playoffs.

ESPN college football announcer Chris Fowler told reporters on a conference call there is a “massive need for fresh blood” in the field, although he acknowledged the reality that consistent success by Clemson and Alabama leads to fewer spots being available for teams in other regions of the country.

“Any Playoff bracket is better served when there are contenders distributed around the country, just so fans can become more invested in it,” Fowler said. “You just like to have teams from all over, playing into November in true Playoff contention. It makes the regular season more compelling for more fans. But hey, there’s not much room.”

This year’s semis had Notre Dame and Oklahoma, but never mind that, I guess.

What I really love there is the “true Playoff contention” measure, as if there’s something phony about excluding the Pac-12 from the CFP.  When you strip Fowler’s observation down to the essentials, it’s all about the company line that the playoffs should be constructed for a national audience that doesn’t care about the regular season as much as fans following a regional product do, because everybody is sure the latter will stick through whatever Mickey and his broadcast partners foist on us.

So what if there’s a little trashing of the product they’re bringing us now along the way.  It’s all for a greater cause, right?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil