UFR will go up tomorrow. FYI.
It's raining wallpaper. As per usual. This one is from jonvalk:
This week in bowl parasitism. Bowl games are parasites on college football designed to bleed as much money from the system as they can get away with. Thanks to the interest levels provided by the teams—not the stadiums or locations—some of them do actually pump money into the system (although far less money than an NCAA controlled playoff would). The latest example of this:
The Fiesta Bowl has a deal with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau that pays the bowl hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year in return for requiring participating teams to stay in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley resorts.
The bowl says the agreement is strictly legal and good business for all parties involved.
But it may increase the cost for schools playing in the Fiesta Bowl and BCS Championship Game, because they are required to stay a certain number of nights at high-end hotels.
The bowl, according to records obtained by The Arizona Republic, received $491,340 from the Scottsdale CVB this past college-bowl season when the Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn football programs stayed in Scottsdale-area resorts for the Fiesta Bowl and Bowl Championship Series title game, respectively.
Legal or not, that's a half-million dollars of overhead from the payment alone and however much more from the monopoly lock in the payment provides. We can ballpark how much this is from UConn's trip to the Fiesta last year:
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights.
Without the lock-in teams could put the band in six rooms at the Super Eight and save themselves a bucket of money. The Sugar does this as well. Their defense is "this is legal," which is true but beside the point.
If bowls are going to exist they should be worthwhile businesses without heaping unnecessary expenses on the participating teams. This is a relatively piddly expense relative to ticket guarantees that erase payouts and leave cash-strapped programs with a net deficit, but it just shows how much of a racket bowls are. Not that you needed to be told that when the Michigan-OSU game featured Rose Bowl reps when the combined chance of either team making it to Pasadena was zero percent.
Crose enough*! Andy Staples has an article about the Big 12's sudden, unsurprising opinion flip in re: an expanded playoff field. It promises change:
Monday, Big 12 athletic directors voted in a straw poll to get behind the idea of a plus-one format that would allow four teams to compete for the national title. Such a format would have allowed USC to play for the national title in 2003, Auburn to play for it in 2004, Texas to play for it in 2008 and Oklahoma State -- which finished behind No. 2 Alabama by the slimmest of margins in the BCS standings -- to play for the title this season. If the league's presidents choose to agree with their athletic directors, the Big 12's support would be a huge step forward. The Big 12 was one of several leagues that blocked SEC commissioner Mike Slive's 2008 proposal for a four-team, seeded tournament. The ACC was the only conference that supported the plan.
With Larry Scott now creating the future in earnest in the Pac-12, the major remaining obstacle to a playoff is one of these two men.
Left: Lando Mollari. Right: Jim Delany
Jim Delany still hates the Narn with all his heart.
“Our view is we’d like to stay where we are,” Delany told the Tribune. “We do believe in the slippery slope theory.”
You should have thought of that before you joined the BCS, dude. As soon as the dumbest playoff in history was instituted, outrage started piling up. As soon as the sanctity of the Rose Bowl was undermined, erosion got busy. The levees are about to break.
If conference leaders are smart, they'll design a plan that allows for the two semifinal games to be played on the home fields of the No. 1- and No. 2-seeded teams. If they wanted to appease the must-win-your-league crowd, they could require that a team must win its conference to host a semifinal. Home-site semifinals would eliminate concerns about fan bases traveling twice -- a non-starter -- and would help reinforce the importance of the regular season. Teams would go into the final week fighting for a home game in a sport where home-field advantage means a lot. Just imagine an LSU-Stanford semifinal at Tiger Stadium or an Alabama-Oklahoma State semifinal in Stillwater (using the must-win-conference rule). Also, to remove the negative consequences of a semifinal loss, the two losing teams would be placed into premium bowls, where they could take a well-deserved victory lap for a great season. This would appease bowl executives, who for some unknown reason strike fear into the hearts of the people who run the sport.
One day people will wake up and realize that doofs in yellow jackets getting paid is not in the best interests of the sport. Think Of The Children.
As Witherspoon jumps out to hedge, Trey Burke puts on the brakes and changes direction with a between the legs dribble. All within a split of a second. This makes the play right here. The change of direction gives him another screen but also has his defender back up and lose attachment.
All Trey has to do now is get to the outside of Barton’s left leg and he will get in the lane.
It's Picture Pages for basketball. All we've got now is a superior use of the crop tool.
So exactly right. There was a point a few years ago when I railed almost weekly against the relentless stenography that mainstream coverage had degenerated into. It was the bubble screen of 2007. I dropped six months after that hobby-horse expired, but when an ESPN vet like Tim Keown lays into the modern press conference I cannot resist a very long blockquote:
The death of the interview has spawned a generation raised on generalities and clichés. Caution is a lesson [Titans QB Matt] Hasselbeck has learned many times, most recently after the Titans beat the Colts on Oct. 30, when he was asked -- or told, he can't remember the phrasing -- to compare current teammate Chris Johnson with former Seahawks teammate Shaun Alexander. In Hasselbeck's view, it was a question with "a negative vibe" -- his pet peeve.
What followed was an instructive look into the void left in the interview's wake. Hasselbeck, attempting to answer the question honestly, said he did see similarities: two great running backs who followed MVP-caliber seasons with "normal" years. He was attempting to make the point that both players were victims of unfair expectations, because nobody can be expected to perform at an MVP level every season. "It's hard to be elite every year," he said.
Predictably, he was seen as "ripping" Johnson and "throwing him under the bus." … The question was legitimate. Johnson, a former offensive player of the year and recent signee of a huge contract, had been booed at home in much the same way former MVP Alexander was when his production dropped off after he signed a huge contract. The answer, as far as it went, was legitimate as well. What was missing was context, and before Hasselbeck could massage his message, he was hit with a new question and the group conversation -- such as it was -- moved on.
"If I were Chris Johnson, I would have wondered, 'Why is my quarterback saying this about me?'" Hasselbeck says. "Everyone knows how the Shaun Alexander story ended in Seattle, so it looked like I was ripping Chris Johnson." The subsequent coverage centered on Hasselbeck's "unflattering" comparison between the two running backs. "I was asked a negative question, and instead of being a jerk I gave an honest answer," he says.
His solution? Be boring. "It's a headline-driven world, and what I said provided a headline," he says. "That's why I'm guarded, cautious. I don't want to accidentally give bulletin-board material. If someone asks me about a player, I say, 'He's a great player.' If they ask me about a coach, I say, 'He's a great coach.' "
The problem is finding which section to blockquote since all of it is deadly accurate. It starts "BEHOLD THE DECOMPOSED REMAINS of the sports interview" and is probably 3000 words long. It's worth the read.
The local spin comes in two parts. Part one: boy is it nice to have a coach with his banalities down pat. Rich Rodriguez may have gotten unfairly pilloried for his "get a life" statement, which was ripped out of context like Hasselbeck's statement was, but he was a magnet for that kind of stuff. Hoke hasn't had a misstep yet; he's settled into a comfort zone where the media is his lapdog, and that won't change. If things start going poorly the media will be defending Hoke and scorning fans until it's over.
Part two: Michigan's suddenly better about this than most schools with their coordinator pressers and the relatively straight answers given in there, especially from Mattison.
Etc.: Gobbler Country profiles Michigan, which is us. More on this later, but Chris Brown's long-ago profile of the Hokie D is remarkably useful since it's about how they've adapted to the spread. UMHoops talks Oakland with a Summit League blogger.
Explicit Georgia. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity mentioned that his school wouldn't oversign a couple weeks ago but didn't go nearly as far as Florida's Bernie Machen, who called grayshirting and whatnot "reprehensible." You can't get away with that in the media, however, and after further questioning he laid it down:
First-year UGA athletics director Greg McGarity is strongly opposed to the practice of oversigning football prospects and in favor of legislation to help curtail such activity among SEC institutions.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” McGarity told Dawgs247 this week … According to McGarity, “I think it will be a topic for discussion (at SEC meetings) in Destin this year.”
“I think you will see controls in place,” McGarity said. “Now what that model will look like will be determined later — sooner than later. … I think you’ll see it being dealt with at the conference level much like the Big Ten (Conference) deals with it currently.”
Wow: someone in the SEC suggesting the Big Ten model in anything is worthwhile. Mike Slive is squinting at whichever wall faces the general direction of Athens right now, trying to burn a hole through it with his mind.
Get The Picture suggests that McGarity's optimism that something will get done is probably foolish since eight SEC schools have a vested interest in the ability to "sign half the world in February." He's right, but adding a second SEC athletic director to the chorus of people saying Something Must Be Done is getting close to critical mass. If the SEC isn't willing to do something about it, maybe the NCAA will.
In conclusion, the SEC is a terrible basketball conference.
Excellent decision. Score one for Brady Hoke:
"I'm not a big fan (of Twitter) at all," he said.
Asked if he would join other "cool" coaches who maintain Twitter accounts to keep fans abreast of what's happening in their program, Hoke said he won't join in.
"I'm not cool," he said. "I've never tried to be cool."
No coach* who has tried to be cool on twitter has succeeded in making their exclamation-filled (or, in the case of Charlie Weis, sober, book-length-Bon-Jovi-concert-memoir-filled) twitter account anything better than mildly embarrassing. If you don't speak the language it's better not to try.
*[Head coach. Assistants are fine. Bacari Alexander's cult of #HALOL is going swimmingly.]
Mount Godin settles down. It's a long time until Tim's next recruiting update so a small update on MI DT Matt Godin, who said something to the effect that he was "done with Michigan" in an article on Rivals. Godin immediately sought to clarify/explain/disclaim the quote with Tom. His brother signed up* here to explain, as well:
Matthew is a very competitive person, and he is frustrated because the new staff has not shown any interest in him despite the fact that he is regularly hearing from many other top programs.
Knowing Matthew's personality, I specifically told him not to say anything negative about any school because I knew some of the reporters would try to elicit such comments. I am very frustrated and disappointed that he did not heed my advice, but he has tried to rectify the situation as best he can by clarifying things with Tom. My parents, my sisters and I have all spoken with Matthew today, and we are disappointed in his lack of maturity and composure.
Each day, Matthew is asked my fellow students at school why Michigan has not offered him, and he constantly has correspondents from recruiting websites asking him about the issue. I can see why he is frustrated, but I do not condone his behavior.
Matthew's dream is to play college football, and he has been a UM fan since he was a child. Both my father and my sister graduated from UM, and I am currently finishing medical school at the University of Michigan. We would love to see Michigan offer him. However, if the coaching staff does not find him to be a good fit, then it's not meant to be. He is extremely blessed to have his current offers, and I know that he will excel wherever he goes. Go blue!
Godin already has Northwestern and Michigan State offers, so there's a good chance that if he's patient the coaches will offer him.
*[His email address checks out in the UM directory, FWIW.]
Bill Simmons image rehab: complete? Hey, remember three years ago when everyone hated Bill Simmons? I spent some time echoing the zeitgeist so I could say he's still way better than Drew Sharp in 2008. It's not like I didn't understand why people were turning on him—even my defense was maybe two-thirds-hearted. The backlash was met with mild push-back along the lines of what I wrote and it seemed that everyone had settled on the idea that Simmons was old and tired and had lost his fastball.
Then he organized and produced 30 for 30, a series that probably claims 30 of the top 50 sports documentaries of all time. He did this on ESPN, a channel that thinks Stephen A. Smith is a good idea to re(!)-hire. Now even people who blame him for all the Affleck movies about Boston* have to admit that The Two Escobars was awesome and The Ocho seems like way less of a bad idea than it did five years ago.
Presenting sort of the Ocho:
ESPN Gives Web Star Bill Simmons His Own Site
by Peter Kafka
Here’s Bill Simmons’ reward for sticking with ESPN: His own piece of turf, where the star columnist/multimedia experimenter can cultivate a new sports/pop culture site.
Simmons already has his own page on ESPN.com, but this is something much more ambitious, with a dedicated staff and a roster of contributing writers. If you were in Web publishing, you might call it a “vertical”. The rest of you might call it a digital magazine.
He's hiring 8-12 people and the thing sounds like something totally different than a newspaper—the sort of thing Fanhouse probably should have been. Klosterman is on board. It's described as a "sports/literary" website, which kind of sounds like The Run Of Play with more Karate Kid and fewer Baudrillard references. Quickish—the new thing Dan Shanoff is doing—has more details and analysis. He's enthusiastic about it. So am I.
Detroit City. (This is irrelevant but one of the Michigan Ultras posted in the comments so there's your tangent.) The Lions In Winter has a great post with lots of original reporting about the guys who bought the Silverdome and are trying to bring an MLS team to Detroit. Their plans are outlandish. I really hope they come off.
There is discussion of a name in the comments; my two cents: it must be Detroit City, and the crest should be a rock, and people should abbreviate them "DRC," and nothing else is acceptable. Here's this thing you can sign on the internet:
Comments that uselessly say soccer sucks will be met by hellacious point drainage.