Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stuart Scott's next in line for his work on that David Blaine show

The ACC getting a TV contract which will pay their schools four million a year less than what SEC teams get doesn't seem like a huge accomplishment, but it actually is better than anticipated. Apparently Fox came in aggressively trying to convince the ACC to give them a weekly national game the way the SEC does CBS. Since there doesn't seem to be a special reason Fox would want to secure rights to the only automatic bid conference that has yet to see two members make the BCS in the same season, you have to assume they're just looking to get into regular season college football coverage somehow. That could be very big news for the Big 12 as they try and grow their revenue and keep teams from bolting for other conferences. It's hard to understand why Fox is suddenly making a move for college football now after completely failing to capitalize on their rights to the BCS for the four years they had it, but they seem to be doing so.

Part of the reason I was less than thrilled with Tampa Bay's acquisition of Kellen Winslow last season was the state of his knees. When you deal two picks, including a second rounder, for a guy you'd like to feel he's physically sound. Winslow has now undergone another knee operation, his fifth in the past six years. The surgery's being called minor, but there is no such thing as a minor fifth knee surgery. The Buccaneers overpaid to get Winslow in the first place, then gave him a gigantic contract unnecessarily. It's essential that he stay healthy if they're going to have any chance of getting value for their investment going forward.

I've been opposed to the NCAA's policies with regard to student athletes for years because they're both unfair and incredibly poorly thought out. Jeremy Bloom, the former Colorado wide receiver who was offered ski gear endorsements for his success as an Olympic caliber performer in that sport, was told he could not accept any of them or he would be ineligible. On the other hand, had he been offered a million dollar contract to play baseball he could have signed that with no problem and still played football. While Bloom was at Colorado, there was a controversy over players taping their feet and ankles in such a way that the sacred Nike swoosh was covered up. They were threatened with suspension for not fulfilling their role as human billboard, yet if those same players took a dime for saying they liked a certain brand of pizza they'd be ineligible. In the name of "amateurism" players were denied the chance to appear in movies despite being an acting major or review restaurants for the school paper despite being a journalism major, yet their images could appear in Pontiac ads with no problem (and no cash for them, of course). I encourage you to read this piece by Oregon tight end David Paulson, which raises hard and legitimate questions about why the NCAA does what it does on this subject and chronicles some of the problems he's seen it cause first hand. It's okay for Lane Kiffin to chase the money and walk out after one season on a player he signed for Tennessee, yet the kid's a bad guy if he wants to use his own name to begin building a business in college? Nice system you've got there, NCAA.

There was a level of disbelief among some people yesterday when the news came out that ESPN's Chris Berman was getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. James Cameron, Russell Crowe, John Cusack, Chris Berman... one of these things is not like the others. The only question I have is who's paying for the star, because that's how this deal works. It's not like someone in Hollywood just noticed Russell Crowe's had a bunch of big movies and thought it might be fun to give him a star. It's paid for, whether by a studio looking for publicity for a new film (Robin Hood, in Crowe's case), possibly a fan club or in some cases the "honoree" himself. That's why you can actually find former network sideline reporter Jim Gray on the Walk of Fame - he bought the spot. It's certainly not like they were debating who was the bigger star between him and Adam Sandler (Grownups, coming soon to a theater near you!). Now that we've established how this works, I'm just wondering who ponied up for Berman's star. Was it ESPN as part of his new contract? One of his multiple endorsement deals? Berman himself? The Eagles don't have a star, nor do Don Henley or Glenn Frey individually - is it possible someone thinks Berman wrote "Hotel California" since he quotes it incessantly?

We may be about to lose one of the best football programs on television. "NFL Matchup" is a half hour show that's aired on ESPN since 1984, and currently features analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski using NFL Films clips to make points about what teams are doing well or poorly. It's always been well done, but it bounces all over ESPN's schedule. Maybe that lack of a consistent time and place people expect to find the show is why it currently lacks a sponsor. According to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, without a new sponsor being found by ESPN it will be curtains for a quality show. Hopefully that won't happen, because there aren't enough "smart" options for football fans as it is.

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