Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get ready to ride the wave of outrage

The discussion in the aftermath of Chris Rainey being charged with aggravated stalking focused on two things: the number of arrests in the Gator program under Urban Meyer and demands that the dangerous thug Rainey be banished from UF. The inconvenient details to that narrative - Rainey had apparently never been physically aggressive toward any woman, even on the night in question - were ignored in the race to see who could bleat more about their outrage. It was over the top and unfortunate. Rainey's charges have been reduced to a misdemeanor, which seems to have been the appropriate charge based on what a friend of mine who's a prosecutor in Florida tells me. He made a bad decision, and he's missing his third game of the season this week. We don't know what process Rainey has to do to be reinstated to the team, but you'll likely see him in a Florida uniform again. Despite the reaction from hysterical people who tried to paint him as the next O.J., I don't think that'll be a terrible thing.

The NFL is going to an 18 game regular season, one way or the other. Colts GM Bill Polian became the latest to make it clear that's the case, calling it a "fait accompli" yesterday. The extra games may make the league more TV money, but I wonder how many fans who are already not buying tickets at the rate they once did in many cities will respond. I'm not sure ripping them off a little less (charging full price for just one practice game instead of two) will prompt much of a resurgence in crowd size. For players the key will be to get as much as they can to do this - multiple bye weeks, a bigger practice squad, no more missing the full year if put on IR, better long term health care - because it's clear the owners could do it without their consent under the current deal if they really wanted to but they're willing to negotiate for PR reasons. 18 games will mean earlier fantasy league drafts then ever and the Super Bowl potentially interfering with Valentine's Day, but the owners are convinced it also will mean boatloads of cash.

One of the things that fascinates me about football is how certain coaches constantly get jobs despite there being considerable evidence they are not good at what they are being asked to do. Jimmy Raye was bad as the offensive coordinator for Tampa Bay in the mid-80s and has continued to perform poorly at multiple stops around the NFL since then, yet he was still employed as an offensive coordinator until San Francisco cut him loose yesterday. Raye must be a great interview, because there's been a quarter century of evidence he's bad at calling plays for NFL teams and somehow he keeps getting chances to do it. I suspect this will be the end for Raye, but then I thought Bill Curry having the nation's top passing recruit QB Tim Couch try to run the option while making his first college start against the defending national champs in the Swamp would be the end of him too. Who knows, Gerry DiNardo may still get another head coaching gig again someday.

News that Southwest Airlines is purchasing AirTran has me extremely curious to see where this will go. Living in South Carolina now, I can't emphasize enough how much I miss the easy access I had to Southwest in Florida. They don't fly to any city in the state - neither does AirTran. As a result of this merger it appears SWA will now get into Charlotte which would be a good thing for me, but I have real questions about how this is going to work. Southwest's success has been built around their particular culture, and I'm not sure it's easy to mesh another good sized airline into that. Things like using just one style of plane to simplify maintenance and not charging a hundred bucks to use the funds from a ticket you wind up having to cancel are at the core of Southwest's success. Hopefully they're smart enough to remember that and not change it.

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