Friday, January 22, 2010

From Purple Rain to this?

Very important win for Florida basketball last night in Arkansas. They're now put in the ridiculous position of flying back this morning, practicing this afternoon and playing South Carolina tomorrow. These Thursday-Saturday combos are not good, and they've got three this year. Fortunately for Billy Donovan and company, the Gamecocks are struggling badly right now. Devan Downey is terrific, a truly special talent at point guard. Unfortunately for him, the loss of two starters for the season due to injury and discipline issues has wrecked this team. SC gets off to unbelievably slow starts - if UF comes out and shoots well early, they should be able to take control and coast to the finish line.

The latest name to surface for the Tennessee defensive coordinator job is Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach Joe Barry. The concept, of course, would be that he knows Monte Kiffin's defense and could reduce the amount of change in approach and terminology from what the Vols did last year. Barry has no BCS school experience and hasn't worked with college kids at all since 1999. His two year stint as Detroit Lions DC was an unmitigated debacle, even with fellow former Kiffin assistant Rod Marinelli as head coach to help. Making the drummer into the lead singer worked for Genesis, but for most bands it would be a disaster. That's what Tennessee is thinking about trying here, and if this is the best idea the Vols have for the spot they're officially in trouble.

Seeing what has been allowed to happen to the Tampa Bay Lightning since the 2004 Stanley Cup winning season ticks me off. First the NHL lost an entire season to labor issues, and then implemented salary rules that forced the splintering of a young championship team that could have been a contender for years. The team was sold to an incompetent partnership that proceeded to fire the Cup winning coach so they could hire Barry Melrose and then fire him just a few weeks into the season. Now the Sports Business Journal reports the owners are apparently in default on their loan and may lose the team altogether. Right now the team is a perfectly mediocre 20-20-10, but it's made progress. Another new owner with another brilliant Melrose-esque "plan" would be disastrous for the franchise. The NHL's incompetent commissioner Gary Bettman, who's managed to have multiple eventually indicted con artists become full fledged owners in his league, should be held accountable for how these flakes keep getting control of teams. It doesn't seem like that will ever happen, though.

The news that "liberal talk" network Air America is officially going under will be taken by some as having political significance - conservatives good, liberals bad. Those people don't get it. Regardless of what format it is, radio is about entertaining people. There are tons of nationally syndicated conservative talk radio hosts who say virtually the exact same things as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, yet are nowhere near as successful. That's because those hosts have shown an ability to engage their audience and draw big ratings and revenue for stations. Air America relied on "celebrity" hosts like Chuck D and Janeane Garofalo who weren't radio people and had a poorly conceived business plan. It showed - their shows were unlistenable. Bob Lassiter was the first radio host that turned me on to the power of the medium. He was unquestionably liberal in his views, yet he drew huge ratings because he knew how to entertain. It's ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS got to be about finding ways to entertain the audience enough to keep them listening rather than finding something else to do. Liberal hosts who do that will be fine. People who confuse talk radio with a civic issues lecture, as Air America did, will fail.

I'm looking forward to this weekend's NFL Championsip Games. There are a lot of people buying into the Jets, but I'm not. Mark Sanchez has completed 24 passes in two playoff wins. The only way New York can win is to have the kind of game that allows him to play that way - lots of running, both teams around 14-20 points max. I don't believe the Jets D, good as it is, can keep Peyton Manning from putting up enough points to take their offense out of that comfort zone and make Sanchez throw. The other game should be terrific. I'll be rooting for New Orleans, and I think they'll get the job done at home. Hopefully the Vikings don't listen during the pregame to the new "fight song" that Prince recorded for them and released last night. The guy's unbelievably talented, but I'm not sure he gets football. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

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