Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jim Delany: "This conference goes to eleven"

The arrogance of the Big Ten's Commissioner Jim Delany never ceases to amaze. This is the same guy who issued an open letter on the conference's website right after Florida gutted Ohio State like a fish claiming "they're only faster because they can admit dummies". Larry Grant playing in that game for Ohio State after being admitted right away once SEC standards wouldn't let him into UF directly contradicted that, but Jim isn't big on letting facts interfere with his rhetoric. Now the SEC has received widespread acclaim for its TV package, which means Delany has to insist as usual that the Big Ten's is better. He sneers at the idea the SEC will benefit from all their new exposure, and asserts the Big Ten network is in more of the nation's top markets. There are two problems with that rationale:

1. The SEC is currently thumping the Big Ten. Does anyone want to argue that the new vastly wider reach of their broadcasts will somehow hinder them from doing that? If the new deal gives the SEC even two percent more ability to reach kids and sell merchandise, it's still an improvement on a situation where they're already ruling the roost.

2. The SEC's new ESPN produced over the air package (aka the "JP game") will come on established local channels. The Big Ten Network, which is a good product, often requires people to pay extra and go looking for it far up the channel list. As an example, here in Columbia I can get the network only as part of a digital sports package on channel 148. The SEC game is on channel 3. Which do you think a recruitable athlete in a place like Los Angeles, Houston or Dallas is more likely to see?

The SEC gets their money regardless of whether the networks can sell ads during the broadcasts or not. The Big Ten has to battle for ad dollars on their network in a very difficult time for all media ventures to do so. Delany would really do himself a favor if he stopped trying to claim victories after losses.

The SEC's currently looking at its bowl partnerships and waiting to see what's going to happen with the game in Orlando. Between Atlanta, Dallas and Jacksonville there are several bowls who might be willing to spring for some pretty big dollars to move up in the pecking order. I'd love to see there be more flexibility in the possibilities, which currently have teams like Kentucky stuck around the Music City/Liberty bowl tier every single year. Mixing it up a little bit would be nice. The Orlando bowl may be the single most inconvenient and poorly organized major event I have ever covered, by the way. I would love to see the SEC switch their bid there down to the Champs Bowl and give the better teams to cities like Tampa, Atlanta or Jacksonville who do things right.

The Rick Pitino extortion story had all sorts of unseemly stuff attached to it as soon as it hit the press. Yesterday evening, the Louisville paper finally got the confirmation needed to verify the rumors. Pitino apparently acknowledged a sexual encounter with the woman in question and provided funds for her to have an abortion. Her allegations against Pitino have been deemed untrue by prosecutors, and the story makes clear why - things she alleges happened simply could not have on the dates she claims. Whether this mess had anything to do with Pitino's son deciding to leave Louisville and join Billy Donovan's staff or not, there will be people who draw that conclusion. It appears this soap opera will only get uglier.

I didn't mind the Bucs making the decision to let Derrick Brooks go as part of a youth movement, although as usual they didn't do a very good job of the way they handled his departure. Now there's a chance they may see Brooks again twice this year as a member of the New Orleans Saints. A lot of people thought Brooks would wind up in New England when he was released, but so far he hasn't received much interest from anyone. The guy can still help someone, and he's the gold standard for the kind of leader you want in a locker room. I'd hate to see Brooks go against Tampa Bay, but if he does I hope he has a monster day.

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