[Comments temporarily turned off while we fix an issue]
What's the Future of Sports Media like?
BiSB: Very Professional Podcasts.
David: Visual podcasts.
Ace: A vast web of two-minute autoplay videos with 30-second ad lead-ins.
Brian: Why is autoplay even an option? Why have you forsaken us, computer scientists?
Seth: Ask the legions of ad network peddlers who got my email when I joined the IAB newsletter. Someone saw on a spreadsheet that videos get incrementally higher ad rates and took this to all the board rooms in America.
Brian: It can't be incremental, can it? It has to be vastly different for the level of effort everyone is putting into video nobody watches
Seth: Rates are so dependent on so many factors that any generalization is necessarily incremental.
Brian: Anyway, it seems to me like there are a few different models for sports content that are viable. I would like you guys to guess at the models.
Ace: Grantland. RIP.
Seth: /giphy pours one out
Brian: Boutique prestige content is indeed one.
PROS: good content written by people who don't feel like monkeys in the click factory.
CONS: apparently doesn't make money? I kind of dispute that Grantland didn't make money because it couldn't, especially given the immediate and huge success of Simmons's podcast.
Seth: Obviously we’re rooting for this one. It depends on the media environment. The market of people who want to think long and hard about anything is so small I spent most of my life not knowing we were even a demographic. In a consolidated market like cable TV, the easy numbers favor the lowest intellectual demographic, so that becomes the ONLY market served (Hi TV news!). The internet is an open environment, so boutiques can find their market.
But they have to grow from the bottom-up. Grantland could be making money, but ESPN was structurally incapable of understanding how or why it did. Nobody who thinks putting Skip Bayless or Steven A. Smith on TV is a good idea knows the first thing about marketing to people who fire off braincells for fun. The best thing for everybody would have been to spin it off.
Ace: The other issue with those prestige sites is writers tend to get snatched up. Grantland was a pretty unbelievable collection of talent that The Ringer has had a hard time replicating.
Brian: Yeah, a lot of them want to move on to doing other things because they can. This is not so much an issue with Graham Couch.
The ringer is also stuck on Medium, which is a terrible decision because it feels like a part of something instead of its own thing. That's fine if you're yet another Gannett site but bad if you're trying to be bougie.
Other boutique prestige shops include VICE Sports, The New York Times, Sports on Earth, and The Classical. The former two are parts of much larger organizations, the latter two basically died and live on as husks that don't pay many people.
So this is a dodgy and ephemeral way to live.
[Hit the JUMP for other ideas, like not paying for trash, more diagrams, or embracing “Embrace Debate.”]
Before we talk about Grantland at its best, let's talk about it at its worst. In January of 2014, Grantland published a story about a transgender golf-club purveyor. The story made a convincing case that this person was a fabulist and crackpot, and then at the end threw in an "oh by the way" that this person had killed themselves. It was clear the reason was at least indirectly this very article that you are reading right now. It was breathtakingly tasteless.
The internet noticed, eventually. The backlash to this story was proof that a lot of people will share a longread™ without actually reading it, so twitter was filled with a series of people saying "what a great story" while their mentions filled up with "did you actually READ this?!?!" over the course of the next few days.
Grantland—and by "Grantland" we are talking about Bill Simmons and whatever inner circle told Bill Simmons to hire all the people he hired—took stock. A few days later they responded in two parts. One was an essay by Christinia Kahrl, a transgender baseball writer for Regular ESPN, that detailed the various ways in which everyone had fucked up. The second was an essay from Simmons himself that detailed exactly what happened and how they had fucked up. While Simmons put his name on it because that was what the situation demanded, it's better—more accurate—to read the thing as a collective document from the inner circle that brought Grantland to life. To my eyes it is appropriately contrite, honest, and forthcoming about things.
There are a ton of media companies that will ignore criticism of their work no matter how clearly shoddy it is in retrospect. Not to invoke the dread specter of politics, but a recent three-part NYT series on immigrant-owned nail salons turns out to be about110%bullshit; the Times issued some blather about how they stand by the story and moved on. Grantland seemed to take their problems seriously:
Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland. That misstep never occurred to me until I discussed it with Christina Kahrl yesterday. But that speaks to our collective ignorance about the issues facing the transgender community in general, as well as our biggest mistake: not educating ourselves on that front before seriously considering whether to run the piece.
When confronted with a major issue the impulse at Grantland was to tell everybody exactly what happened and adapt so it doesn't happen again, something that is a distinct late-Gen-X shift in approaches to these things. That'll be the standard way to handle these events in 30 years. Not so much now.
My wife literally wailed about where Brian Phillips was going to go when I told her that the jig was up, and I still think that Grantland at its worst was kind of Grantland at its best.
[After THE JUMP: hiring strikes, it's not about the money, snobbery, and a third way]
So yesterday was the first time we really got to try out my brother's new double-TV basement setup. The plan was to watch all of the football for 14 straight hours, but once the Wisconsin game ended the kinderfolk had taken over TV2 and put on the movie that the current generation of kinderfolk cannot stop watching: Frozen. During one lengthy halftime, we acquiesced to a volume swap, and soon enough here's this room full of men in MSU and Alabama and Michigan gear intently watching a (double-) princess flick.
From what I've managed to piece together of the plot from 30+ partial viewings, there's a snowy kingdom with a rich shipping and ice manufacturing industrial base that comes to be ruled by a princess with magical ice powers. As a kid she shoots her sister with it. Later the sister gets engaged to a prince she doesn't bother to scout, and as a result ice princess accidentally locks her country in a polar vortex. Ice princess then runs off, sings "eff it all" and builds ice castles until her sister shows up, at which point she shoots her sister again. So now she has to come back and make things right, which leads to her shooting her sister a third time, and this slowly turns sis into an ice statue. Then ice princess hugs the statue and cries, and everything suddenly goes back to summer because all along she had the ability to de-ice everything by loving something other than herself.
Message received, Disney. Now that Michigan's leadership is actually focusing on the realm instead of the realm's perception of its leadership, it turns out our wealthy little Nordic fantasy land doesn't have to be a barren, frozen waste-tundra after all.
Bronxblue gave the whole coaching search his Best and Worst treatment. Like the rest of us, he found the whole thing refreshingly sensical, like Michigan was acknowledging factors that created bad decisions in the past, and was approaching the pursuit of Harbaugh and Plan B with a zeal for deliberation and responsibility that Dave Brandon put into presenting himself as deliberate and responsible.
He also got into the meta of reporting on this process. As a rule of thumb, the more a media person is saying "trust ME" instead of "trust THIS INFORMATION" the less you should believe him.
[After the jump, a long discussion of the running game next year, and a moment of zen you don't want to miss]
Yikes. Michigan is a mere three-point favorite against Purdue this weekend, which seems mighty narrow to me. I may be assuming that Denard Robinson does not turn the ball over five times, which Vegas is not. Boo 2012 Notre Dame game, boo.
Purdue's coming off a not-as-close-as-you-think game against Marshall in which they led 42-14 at halftime before yielding three touchdowns in the first 18 minutes of the second half and allowing the Herd to get within ten points. They traded touchdowns in the final 12 minutes, and that was the final margin. Marshall's lost to Ohio and beat Rice in two OTs; they've got the worst scoring D in the country at the moment, and they outgained Purdue by 91 yards. If Michigan only wins by three I'll be expecting bad things the rest of the season. Purdue QB Caleb TerBush was ineffective against ND (8 of 19, 79 yards, 1 TD/2 INT) and was pulled for a considerably better Robert Marve. Marve won't be available.
So what I'm saying is that at first blush I don't like the spread, which makes me feel both sad and alarmed because it's the best predictor available. I would like to avoid posting this at any point over the weekend:
“There ya go. You know, I think Beyer will be back. Brandon Moore will be close. He’s getting better.”
“Richard is better. Uh there’s one more, too.”
“Hop’s fine. Devin’s fine. They all practiced last night. Yeah Ricky Barnum was a little -- sore shoulder. He was fine last night. So with the guys who aren’t out for the year, the rest of them are okay.”
“He was better. He ran around last night and he feels much better.”
Beyer was walking around in an air cast after his injury and I was a little worried he might be laid up for a long time, which would have been bad. The options at WDE were a major target for ND and didn't do so well. Beyer at least gives them another option at the spot. Clark makes more plays you notice, but I'll bet a nickel Beyer is less likely to get caved in and give up the edge.
Also, feel free to infer that Brink is out for the year from the above.
Also also, this:
Are you worried that Denard is what he is, i.e. not improving in your system?
“No. Not at all. I mean, he’s our quarterback, and he’s a damned good quarterback. I didn’t say that, so don’t write that. No we’re very comfortable and we’re very confident in him. … I know you’re going to write that.”
“Daggone it. My mom’s going to read that and get mad.”
The excerpt from the column that follows is pretty tame (also: dumb). Spurrier is accused of a "poor decision" to play Connor Shaw with a dinged shoulder, which he re-injured in the game. The column is just another tossed-off nothing (Shaw was 20 of 21 against Missouri), but apparently this business goes back a ways. Be chill, OBC.
Meanwhile in local media situations. Meinke is writing articles based off of his viewing of Inside Michigan Football. Interesting ones, even. Here's Mattison on Morgan defending that goddamned counter draw:
Mattison said he was most impressed by Morgan's discipline, specifically citing one counter draw play on which the sophomore could have pursued the ball, but elected to stay home as he was taught.
The play came back to him, and he made the tackle.
"We gave him that play probably four times in practice, and every time we gave it to him, we said, 'Desmond, you've got to stay home. You can't help on that sprint anyhow,'" Mattison said. "Well that same thing has happened before and he would go running and try to make the play because he's a young guy eager to make plays.
"All of the sudden, in this game, he became more of a veteran."
"Raymon has really improved," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said this week on the Inside Michigan Football radio show. "He has been thrown in the fire. If someone would have said to me at the beginning of the year, 'Will he be starting against Notre Dame?' I don't know if I would have said yes.
"(But) I was really proud of him how he played. He knows he's got a lot of things he has to get better at, but one thing he didn't do was shy away from anything. He competed."
I'm not sure you can do that. In yet another NHL draft ranking, Chris Peters tackles prospects 26-50. D Michael Downing and F Tyler Motte show up, FWIW, but I'm most intrigued by this construction:
49. Tyler Motte - C - U.S. National Under-18 Team (USHL) - 5-9, 190
When at his best, he's an offensively dynamic talent. Good speed, solid strength despite a smallish frame, and good finish around the net make him an intriguing prospect. Motte has had a problem with consistency, which he has a whole season to prove isn't a problem anymore.
Lloyd Carr feels you, Mr. Peters. Also, yes please 5-9 kid good enough to be a second rounder. Needs moar tiny scoring machines at Yost.
Nice concourse. Wow:
That's quite a difference from last year. Also the zambonis have studded tires now. Yost Built is back to posting, BTW. The Blue/White game scheduled for next Sunday will be a start-studded even thanks to the NHL lockout.
I was sent the usual batch of ideas to thumb up or thumb down and thumbed this one up because I'd either missed or forgotten the fact that Martavious Odoms had put together a charity for a hurting city of Pahokee with a shirt based around the same concept. As the kids who are now about 35 say, my bad.
We've taken the thing down for now and are in the process of reaching out to Hope For Pahokee so we can put it back up and donate the proceeds to them. I'll let you know when we get cleared.
Ufer. A recut version of a Ufer thing I've posted before.
Honor Willis Ward. The Michigan State game marks the 78th anniversary of the Georgia Tech-Michigan game that saw Tech protest the existence of Willis Ward. Gerald Ford had to be talked out of quitting the team after Ward was benched; Michigan won 9-2, defeating racism forever*.
Anyway, the state legislature is making October 20th Willis Ward day and the filmmakers who have been publicizing his story are trying to get something together for the Michigan State game. It seems like this would be one of those things where you talk to someone in the athletic department and he says "of course," but must not be since the guys behind the idea are assembling an online petition to help bolster their case.
*[Probably. I haven't done a whole lot of research on this point.]
Oh my God run around in circles yesss. Sunday Morning QB returns. Matt Hinton's still writing for a couple of other outlets, so its glory may not reach the heights of long long ago but at least now there is a place for Hinton to put the things that are 1) very good and 2) not likely to end up on the Yahoo front page because they're not viral™. See: a comprehensive overview of the have-nots. Bookmark/RSS away.
Under the new priority seating system, students earn -and have earned– priority points while they are in school by purchasing men’s basketball and/or football season tickets each year. To reward the most loyal student fans, the 3900 students with the most priority points heading into the 2012-13 school year will be guaranteed the lower bowl seats for the highly anticipated North Carolina game on November 27, 2012.
IU students earn priority points while they are in school by purchasing men’s basketball and football tickets. Students receive 5 points each time they purchase season tickets with a maximum of 10 points per year if they purchase them for both men’s basketball and football season. Also new this year, students will have an additional opportunity to earn loyalty points by attending the games for which they have tickets, or making certain their tickets are used by other students. One point will be given for each game attended or each time an individual ticket is scanned at the gate. Only the original ticket holder can earn loyalty points for the use of their tickets. The more loyalty points a student earns, the better chance they have of obtaining the student tickets allocated for post-season tournaments (NCAA, Big Ten Tournament, etc.). Student point totals for purchased season tickets are automatically transferred to alumni point totals following the student’s graduation from IU.
They also base ticket availability at certain other premium games on their points. No check-ins, a tangible reward that really matters to the students in question (sweet seats and good tickets) and is not a t-shirt.
Yes please. The SEC is loosening their rules for in-stadium video replays, but why did they have this one in the first place?
In the past, the SEC had a one real-time replay policy for all plays in all sports.
These companies that suck up digital rights and try to monetize them are all pretty bad—try explaining fair use to one—but XOS is the worst by far. Anyway, the SEC is now going to allow replays from the TV network broadcasting the game (again, why prohibit this?) during reviews. I'm guessing that decision is to prevent biased home-field folks from ramping up outrage by selectively picking favorable angles. It makes sense.
The stated reason for the change is to keep fans coming to games by making the in-stadium experience not worse than sitting at home. Here's hoping Purdue and other schools that have trouble selling out ram this through in the Big Ten.
On the new kickoff rules: "I think as it plays out, there will be a little more we all learn. You try to use the NFL model from a year ago the best you can. The one thing you learn from the NFL, guys are taking it out of the end zone 8 yards deep. I think you’ll see more of that. Personally, if we can get the ball or give the opponent the ball at the 25, that is something I’ll be happy with."
Why would you run the ball out eight yards deep? Because the kick return guys can't get there in time? I'd be surprised if there was that much of a difference. Certainly not enough to justify a KO attempt where you have to make it 33 yards to break even. Touchbacks ho.
Michigan RB Fitz Toussaint, facing operating while intoxicated charge, pleads down to operating while visibly impaired
A quick googling turns up a bunch of sketchy law firms, but the Michigan site has the various penalties for these things and OWVI looks almost identical to OWI. Still assume that Toussaint is suspended for Alabama and Hoke is playing silly fun games with Nick Saban, who is totally fooled.
Help Colt. Former Michigan kicker Jeff DelVerne has a four-year old kid with a brain tumor. They're having a golf scramble/lunch/silent auction on September 15th in Ottawa Lake. Click the flyer at right for a bigger version with details; RSVPs are requested by September 1st.
Well what was the point of that then? As you may have spotted on the message board, Michigan has updated its roster for fall and changed a large number of the weights they just issued to the media in Chicago. For example, Willie Henry is now 314 pounds, up from 302, and seems all but certainly destined to be a nose tackle down the road. Other notable changes:
Terry Richardson is +8 to 162, which is better but still too small to see the field.
RJS is +7 to 213, which ditto.
Mario Ojemudia is vaguely plausible at 231 (+8).
Ben Braden is down 11 to 308.
Chris Wormley is +11 to 279, i.e. one pound more than Craig Roh.
Ricardo Miller is down to 226 from 234 last year.
Either Willie Henry's high school weights were massively outdated or he's put on a lot of weight he'll have to reshape over the next year or two. It's probably a combo. Meanwhile, the slight Chris Wormley redshirts just evaporated.
Who likes touchdowns? You do.
You: don't talk to anyone. As Heiko noted yesterday, the proverbial Fort is back and in full effect:
Michigan's athletic department has made a few changes regarding media access for the upcoming season:
Players' family members cannot be interviewed without permission from the athletic department.
Freshmen will be withheld from media day.
Practice will be closed to all media.
When asked why these changes were being made, an athletic department spokesman said "are you stepping to the man?" and delivered a Degeneration X crotch chop in the general direction of the media.
This is probably good for the site since it relies less on that whole "talking to people" thing—gross—than traditional media, but as a fan I'm disappointed. Ohio State is taking the opposite tack, letting media into dang near anything. Eleven Warriors is bringing back observations like this…
Day Two of Urban Meyer's first fall camp at Ohio State may have been the best offensive practice since his arrival. Quarterback Braxton Miller delivered the goods and wide receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer finally looked like the skill position players Meyer offenses always covet.
Another bright spot has been the emergence of Meyer's first recruiting class. The two-deep is littered with freshmen with everything pointing to several playing Sept. 1.
…and Michigan media is going to recycle press conference quotes until there's a game. Ohio State even signed up for the ESPNU show that's essentially college Hard Knocks, a prospect that caused several Michigan athletic department staffers to expire from massive cerebral hemorrhages when they heard the news and made the mistake of thinking about having cameras at practice. I'm openly dreading this upcoming Mott practice thing since it's just going to be 90 minutes of punting drills again.
This is of course fine as long as Michigan wins football games, but it's just another way in which it feels like the program feels its fans are not part of the team.
CAMERAS AT PRACTICE /dozens die Doug Karsch and his weird hair wisp bring you the officially-sanctioned version of what went on inside said Fort:
The main difference between the coaching staffs is that Coach Hokestresses physicality. We would do drills that had nothing to do with football, but just to see the toughness in the player. We'd do this one drill where there was just this towel on a mat. And at the beginning there're two people holding it, and one person had to eventually take it from the other person. It gets really rough down there; people get bloody noses and stuff. It teaches you into becoming a man and how to hold yours. . . . [If Coach Hoke came to Michigan in 2008], we probably would have won a National Championship in 2011."
Jake Ryan is his pick for a breakout player this year.
"He's a great athlete, I feel like he could play anywhere and he could probably take my spot if he tried," Michigan senior safety Jordan Kovacs said. "He's a natural athlete, and if they play him at receiver, I'm sure he'll be pretty good.
"Wherever he plays, he's going to make big plays."
This is going to be a fascinating subplot. Here's hoping he's ridiculously good. That probably goes without saying.
"We have some very nice pieces to work with this season, and if those two get together early, and it's a pair we really like, you could see them stick together for most of the year," Powers said. "It's not set in stone, but we like to have a veteran guy with a young guy and that's a pair you could really see emerging into something special."
If Merrill manages to maintain his form from his 6-10 games and avoids the slide that he suffered towards the end of the year, that will be a killer pairing. Now if Red would only ride it like it was an intergalactic space donkey. If that works out like you think it might, those guy should be 30 minutes a night players.
In other hockey news, new 2015 commit Brendan Warren makes me feel old by being born the year I graduated from high school. He's the usual: supposed NTDP lock who may or may not arrive the high end prospect he's expected to be.
He's a top seven guy. Trey Burke finishes seventh in a CBS Sports poll that asked college coaches "if you could add any one player to your team for next season, who would it be?"
Impressive company. I'm a little surprised to see Aaron Craft in third place, but I'm telling you guys who can affect the game without using possession are super valuable. That's another reason to get excited about Zak Irvin, who sounds like a lockdown perimeter defender.
BONUS: updated rankings have started to come out. Scout relents and moves Irvin into their top 100 at 62; Walton is 43 and Donnal 80. IIRC both of the latter guys are essentially static. MaxPreps has close to identical rankings of Walton (42) and Donnal (73) but Irvin is near five-star status for them at 26. Both ESPN and Rivals have repeatedly praised Walton and Irvin this summer, so bumps are expected when those services debut new rankings.
The "W" stands for "I put no effort into this, not even figuring out what W stands for." Apparently both teams in the Wisconsin-Nebraska game this fall are going to look like they're wearing crappy UTL knockoffs. Nebraska's uniforms were pretty meh but Wisconsin's are self-parodying:
I don't think that's electrical tape but it could be. Best UW take: "They're the uniform equivalent of scheduling Wofford."