Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This post, like the Orange Bowl, brought to you by nobody

The SEC is a terrific college football conference because of its depth - just about any game between bowl caliber teams is going to be really good. Someone should let CBS know, because they seem to believe it's a two team conference. The network begins its coverage with the third week of the season, and either Florida or Alabama are scheduled to be on the national broadcast every single week except for one. (With Appalachian State and Georgia State on their schedules that week, even CBS couldn't find a hook to sell those games nationally.) There's no question the teams who have played in the SEC title game the past two seasons and won three of the last four national titles deserve big time exposure, but it's hard to believe there's not a few other SEC showdowns more worthy of national attention than some of these games.

Something happened yesterday which could be extremely significant or could be pretty minor. FedEx is no longer going to be the title sponsor of the Orange Bowl. This is one of the most dedicated corporate sponsors of sports, and it's up to ESPN to find someone to replace them willing to spend more than 20 million per year until 2014. If they can line up a reliable corporation to do that then this only impacts the FedEx big time clients who won't get a trip to Miami as a yearly reward. Should they fail, it could be a sign that the sponsorship dollars that prop up the bowl system are beginning to dry up. That's not going to get us a playoff this year, but it's what will have to happen for there to be a real change. Until there's no way school presidents can ignore the extra revenue to be gained by creating a playoff, there's not going to be one.

I wish i was more into the NBA Playoffs than I am. Even with Boston beating Cleveland last night, it's still hard to get excited when we're talking about a string of seven game series with mostly predictable outcomes in the first two rounds. I wish they'd go back to just five games in the opening round, but that's not going to happen. With the whole thing largely dragging, my favorite playoff moment to this point didn't occur on the court. It was the publishing of these ridiculous Kobe Bryant pictures in the Los Angeles Times magazine. Sure I'm stuck with Rasheed Wallace on the Celtics, but at least he's not the core of the team. Laker fans have to root for this selfish, strange guy to make them happy by winning titles even though he personally is creepy. Better them than me.

It amazes me how many media types don't understand the NFL's draft process at all. A perfect example is this Baton Rouge Advocate a story lamenting Ciron Black's decision to return to LSU for his senior year because "it's clear Black cost himself millions". You see, Black went undrafted after his senior year, while the year before he had been projected as a first or second round pick. Therefore he would have made millions if he had only put his name in for the 2009 draft. That's brilliant reasoning as long as you ignore the fact that even projections made on draft day of where players will go are frequently off by multiple rounds (talk to Colt McCoy about that this year). When you're actually draft eligible, scouts break down every aspect of your game in a way they didn't previously. In the case of Black, the scouts concluded he lacked enough athleticism to be drafted when he ran a 5.5 40 yard dash at the combine and did poorly on every other test as well, including just 22 reps on the bench. Unless there's some reason to believe Black would have been more athletic a year earlier - and there's not - this is the way his story would have always played out. He's a guy who wasn't able to deal with athletic rushers consistently in college, and the NFL certainly doesn't think he can as a tackle on their level. As a project who can possibly convert to guard, he may get a shot in a camp. The idea he was ever a first rounder because of projections only makes sense if you think Jevan Snead really was ever legitimately the top QB in this year's draft.

Six weeks ago I was in Nashville covering the SEC Basketball Tournament. It's a great city to host events like that and a place I've always enjoyed visiting. As friends have moved there, I've heard nothing but great things about it as somewhere to live as well. It has been stunning to follow the devastation caused by the floods there the past two days. Streets I was walking or driving on in March are now under eight to ten feet of water, and these are places far from the Cumberland River. The Opryland Hotel is expected to be out of operation for months as a result of the flooding damae its sustained. All of the major sports venues have sustained significant damage as well. With the ongoing oil disaster in the gulf, the weekend car bomb attempt (and now the suspect's arrest) in NYC and the Virginia lacrosse murder, this is off the national media's radar for some reason. It shouldn't be. If you can spare anything, please visit redcross.org because lots of people are going to need help.

No comments: