The NFL has revealed their choices for the Week 17 flex games and to the surprise of nobody, the de facto NFC East title game between the Cowboys and Redskins has been chosen for the final game of the regular season Sunday Night. Since the new flex scheduling, Sunday Night Football has always received the matchup with the most clear playoff implications on the line. That included a 2010 matchup between the Rams and Seahawks when both teams were under .500, but the winner took the NFC West. This year, that division title game just also happens to go to the most oversaturated division in the NFL - the NFC East, where seemingly every team gets about 10 nationally televised games every year. (That's your cue, east coast bias aficionados.)
"We've had some good discussions internally about trying to be careful. In some ways, the more difficult internal conflict is between long-term story telling and ratings. We all know that if you focus on the Tebow story, for the next 10 minutes you're going to do better. But the question is trying to take a long-term perspective and saying, 'Guys, let's not get over excited about one story and hyping it.'"
BTN analyst Chris Martin has apparently been certified as a sports agent since 2006, and no one at the network was any the wiser until a report from Yahoo surfaced on Friday.
Martin, a member of Northwestern's 1995 Big Ten champion team, has been working at BTN since the network's launch in 2007. He has not only worked as a color analyst for live games, but also appears in studio on Big Ten Football and Beyond, Big Ten Football Report, and various other studio shows. Martin's dual role as an agent and analyst doesn't violate any NCAA rules (shockingly), but BTN does view Martin's role as a conflict of interest, and will be taking appropriate internal action.
During Saturday's Kansas State-Florida college basketball matchup, Wildcats guard Angel Rodriguez picked up a foul that ESPN analyst Fran Franchilla thought wasn't a great call. After discussion of the play, play by play man Mitch Holthus made a reference to Rodriguez's "Puerto Rican temper" in relation to his play on the court. It just so happens that Rodriguez is the player who was the target of "where's your green card?" chants from members of the Southern Miss band this past March.
It's misguided to blame Rodriguez's temper on his nationality as opposed to anything else in his life. "Latin fire" is one of those consistent stereotypes that tends to show up in all sports. If Rodriguez's name was something like Frank Smith, I'm sure there would have been no mention of his temper in relation to his nationality. To his credit, Holthus backpedaled after the game on Twitter.
Aside from NBC, the home network for an undefeated Notre Dame team, the networks all saw declines in ratings this year. They ranged from ESPN losing roughly 4 percent of its audience from a year ago to NBC Sports Network hemorrhaging more than 70 percent of its viewers after ending its relationship with the Pac-12.
Although the headline is jarring, my initial reaction was that it should come as no surprise that ratings would come down. The usual suspects such as ESPN and ABC are now competing with CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network and FOX College Sports regional channels. (Note that those stations are not rated.) Furthermore, viewers can access content via online channels -- their PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets with streaming capabilities. I don't know how the Nielsen Ratings account for that, let alone how popular they are with users yet, but it probably has at least some effect.
This amusing video from earlier this week shows Bobcats reporter Stephanie Ready trying to file a report about shopping on the Charlotte Bobcats website. Watch as she becomes slightly annoyed when the cameraperson is supposed to zoom in on that lovely Bobcats sweatshirt and leaves her awkwardly looking to and fro.
Ready isn't just known the Charlotte Bobcats sideline reporter, she was the first woman to coach a professional sports team, the NBDL's Greenville Groove. Maybe it's a good thing she's moved into the media, because coaching the Bobcats would be a clear step down.
With Christmas Eve taking place on a Monday this year, it's thrown the entire NFL schedule for a loop. Well, actually it's just thrown Monday Night Football for a loop as its final game of the season will air Saturday night instead of Monday (there is no MNF game in Week 17). The switch isn't easy for anyone to remember - even the ESPN graphics department still thinks Falcons/Lions is on Monday. The interesting thing about all of this though is that the pregame show still appears as "Monday Night Countdown" on my program guide despite the game being aired on Saturday. Makes total sense, right?
The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors on the top 10 sports stories of 2012 was released this week, and as in the 2011 edition, Penn State tops the results. Here's the full list:
At Thursday night's Heat-Mavericks game in Dallas, a familiar face was sitting courtside in Dallas: Texas A&M quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Kerr wondered how Manziel, a college student, could afford to get such prime tickets at a game between two marquee teams in the NBA. Of course, Kerr then spouted off the typical talking point of "just because he's playing in the SEC now..." and tried to brush it off as just a random comment with no backing behind it.
Is this a big deal? No, not really. But because of the NCAA's typical overreaching attitude towards any type of benefit that could be considered out of line for a college student, I guarantee you this is going to get blown out of proportion, probably moreso than it already has been. I don't think Kerr was out of line in wondering how Manziel got his courtside seat, considering I doubt he knew the backstory of Manziel's family.
What really is a problem is how the mindset of the NCAA has turned into "any college student with anything nice MUST be getting paid off by a booster!" Except for when that nice stuff comes from the bowls, then it's all well and good. Not all college kids come from poverty and live off of Easy Mac and tap water. In situations like this one, it's important to consider all of the facts instead of immediately breaking out the jump to conclusions mat and the pitchforks. It's also important to consider the real problem here - the NCAA's hypocrisy.
One of my favorite pieces I've done over the past year is an interview with former NFL Films producer, Jim Jorden, on what it was like working with Steve Sabol. Given Sabol's significance to the NFL and the fact that NFL Films excels at storytelling and in particular biopics, I've been keenly interested in how and when NFL Films would opt to showcase the tremendous life of their own creative genius.
We reached out to NFL Films for guidance on this and were excited to hear that they have a Football Life episode in the works and it's likely we'll see it next fall on NFL Network.