Monday, July 20, 2009

Even Stewart Cink looked like he felt a little disappointed

I'm not sure people can fully appreciate just what we saw out of Tom Watson this weekend. Think about it - nine years after what is officially considered to be used up on the PGA Tour, he almost won one of the sport's majors. Nothing else in sports could have really compared to this, which is what made it such a shame when he missed that putt on 18. At that point you pretty much knew it wasn't going to happen - a 59 year old with an artifical hip wasn't likely to do too well on his 73rd through 76th holes in four days. ABC should give Watson some sort of bonus, because without him or the other TW they would have had the worst British Open ratings in eons.

What happened to Erin Andrews sickens me. In case you're unaware, some pervert used a cel phone to shoot a video of Erin nude in her hotel room through a peephole. He then posted his handiwork to the web. She's pursuing legal action, as she should be. Hopefully they're able to track this guy down. Sports bloggers who've fanned the flames of EA obsession on the web as a way to score page views are suddenly backpedaling all over the place. As someone who knows and likes Erin and also has a wife working in TV sports, this really hits home. One of the things I admire about Erin Andrews is that she got a chance because of her looks, but she busted her butt to make herself worthy of the opportunity she was presented with. She's handled her rise to fame incredibly well, and I hope what this freak did doesn't damage her longterm ability to still enjoy it.

Ron Zook has been at Illinois for four years. He had the amazing run to the Rose Bowl in 2007, but other than that it's been three losing seasons. Despite that, the school is giving the former UF head man a one year contract extension. Zook was a great hire for Illinois when they brought him in. He took over a program that had been so embarassingly bad at recruiting under Ron Turner that they were competing with 1-AA schools for kids and occasionally losing. Big Ten programs aren't supposed to do that. Now the Illini are seeing the down side of the Zook experience, which is that the guy is simply not a good head coach. I'll be stunned if he ever wins double digit games in a season there or anywhere else as a head man. Zook's always going to struggle with having his guys ready week to week, especially before games against mediocre teams. My guess is that he's done in Champaign by the end of 2011, and the guy who follows him will go back to Pasadena at some point in the next couple of years.

The World Series of Poker has come to a halt until November, when they'll play the final table. While most of the attention this year is going to stem from the presence of popular pro Phil Ivey among the last nine guys remaining, there's another storyline that could be fascinating. The editor of Card Player magazine is also in the final group, and is claiming he'll throw away the champion's bracelet should he win. It'd be pretty amusing to see Harrah's give 8.5 million dollars to a guy who's been blasting them for the way they run their signature event. Wonder if ESPN will mention that angle on the broadcast?

I've had a few emails asking my thoughts on the current Gainesville sports radio situation. As the Gainesville Sun noted yesterday, AM 850 is moving toward an all or nearly all sports format, giving Gainesville three such stations. The rates the college is paying their chosen "consultants" are absurd, by the way. Who could possibly be better to oversee programming commercial radio stations than a former cable advertising executive? As for the actual programming, it blows my mind that there are now three afternoon drive sports talk shows. I'm friendly with the hosts of all three, and they will all have certain audience segments they appeal to. The challenge for each will be distinguishing themselves in some way - more creative segment ideas, better guests, more use of interactive technology like Twitter, or something else. With 14 hours of daily local sports talk available, relying on caller driven content other than a few select "hot" days will be a huge mistake in my view. Should be quite a battle - wish I was able to be a part of it.


Anonymous said...

Tom Watson is probably the greatest links golfer in the history of the game. So, while surprising, it wasn't totally shocking to see him make a run either. I felt bad when his ball skipped off the back of the 18th green leaving with a tricky up-and-down for the Championship. You just knew his luck had run out at that point. At least there's a smidgen of solace knowing that Cink got his first major.

And, Heath, did I read this right? The World Series of Poker is just packing up until November? Who on earth does that? I mean, that would be like the NFL saying after its championship games in January that the Super Bowl will be in June. I don't exactly follow poker but this strikes me a really weird.

Heath Cline said...

Anon -

The idea is that people will be more interested in the finals of the WSOP main event if they watch the episodes leading up to it on ESPN. Before this, the champion was settled by the time the shows began airing. Not sure how much it helped them last year, but Ivey's presence will make it a big thing to poker fans this time.