Yep, today's Outside The Lines started off weird with MC Bob Ley showing off his flow by reading Jay-Z lyrics. The lyrics are from a Jay Z diss track called "Blow the Whistle" which you can hear here (audio NSFW) being introduced by Stu Scott. Hearing one of the anchors of ESPN's history read a Jay-Z diss track has to be about the hardest I've laughed at the WWL in years.
It's been an unbelievable last 10 months for the Cal Golden Bears' baseball program. In September, the university announced that they were getting rid of the program in a cost-cutting move. Obviously, that infuriated everybody involved with the program. Heck, the players even made a rap video begging for the team's reinstatement.
Well, in April, the university announced that the baseball program had indeed been reinstated, after donors provided the $10 million that the university needed to do so. And in the 2011 baseball season, the Cal baseball team is rewarding those that donated money to keep the program going.
On Saturday, the Golden Bears host the Dallas Baptist Patriots in the Super Regionals, with the winner of the best-of-three series headed to Omaha for a spot in the College World Series. And they would not have this great situation in place if not for an incredible comeback in the Regional Final on Monday night in Houston against Baylor.
Down 8-5 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Golden Bears scored twice to make it an 8-7 game. Then, with two outs and the bases loaded, Sophomore Devon Rodriguez was at the plate with a 2-2 count. What happened next had radio play-by-play announcer, Danny Fry of KALX Berkeley 90.7 FM, going crazy.
This is my favorite play-by-play call so far in 2011:
"I apologize folks! I'm sure you didn't hear any of that!" "My voice is gone; I called two games yesterday!" Absolutely classic.
And you can totally feel the emotional ride that the Cal baseball team has been through over the last year in Fry's call. What an amazing story it will be if they can make it to the College World series. And if they can win it all, well, I would love to hear Fry's call of that.
"Kick it around, beat it around, go celebrate with yo people."
"Jozy loves scoring like a fat kid loves eating cake."
"AAAAHHHH... AAAAAAAAAHHHH CLINT DEMPSEEEEY!! WOWWOWWEEWAA!!!"
If I'm not mistaken, that last goal is somehow a tribute to Borat. Veeerrryyy niiice... pause, not. I do enjoy the excitement of soccer announcers around the world, but this fella screaming like a madman just for the sake of screaming like a madman isn't one of those examples. AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!! Sorry, just had to get that out.
I'm counting on our intrepid AA readers to do some investigative reporting and find out what in the world it is we just watched and whether or not it's actually real, or a fake. (I really do hope it's real.) Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm at a conference and I have to run into the auditorium screaming WOW WOW WEE WAAAAA...
Thanks to @EricHGuthrie for tweeting us the clip!
***Update: Thanks to @fbihop on Twitter and timmyintransit below in the comments for saying it's the commentary from the CONCACAF website. Evidently, there have been some issues with CONCACAF's commentary before. Perhaps there is no money to pay real announcers because all of it has been used already in bribes and corruption.
I can't even imagine what election night was like before television. We all remember the famous picture of the newspaper headline that Dewey defeated Truman. Later ESPN and CNN would later change sports as we know it as those channels enabled you to see highlights of all the games rather than just your local teams on the late night news.
The past 48 hours I have to say that I was riveted by all the coverage of the Olympic bidding process that unfolded in Switzerland and largely that was because of social media and folks like John Ourand, Patrick Sandusky, Tripp Mickle, and Richard Deitsch who did fabulous jobs covering the action on Twitter and the web.
When the smoke cleared, Comcast/NBC/Versus came out on top bidding around $4.4 billion for the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 Olympics. NBC minority owner, GE, also sweetened the pot with $200 million sponsorship of the Olympics as well. As I highlighted yesterday, absolutely nobody knew how things would unfold. Bodog even had NBC as the underdog to retain the rights and many believed Fox had the inside track. In fact, it wasn't even clear just how many Olympics would be auctioned off in this process as only recently did rumblings surface that the 2018 and 2020 Olympics might be bundled in with the 2014 and 2016 Olympics.
As a huge fan of the Olympics (more of a winter guy myself) as well as a guy keenly interested in sports media and in particular sports media rights, this was the mecca of all auctions. The fact that the IOC has this cattle call and defined process makes it that more interesting. You rarely get the most powerful dozen folks at a major media company in the same room together. The Olympic bidding process not only accomplishes that but also gets the biggest media moguls from multiple companies in one place, nervous as hell, and ready to pitch as best they can. The fact that NBC's Dick Ebersol resigned 3 weeks ago increased the intrigue as to what would unfold.
At stake is not just the Olympics, but the future trajectory for their various properties. If Fox would have won (phew!), it's very possible FX would emerge as a more sports focused channel and one that demands higher carriage fees. A successful ESPN bid would have been a watershed moment for the company but one that may have imposed financial and programming constraints that actually could have had detrimental effects down the road.
Per SI here is the breakdown of the bids:
ESPN bid $1.4 billion for a two-Games package while Fox put in bids for two Olympics and four Olympics, including a $3.4 billion bid for four Games and $1.5 billion for the 2014 and 2016 Games, according to the AP and Sports Business Daily. In a conference call held after the bidding process, Carrion said the Games will cost Comcast/NBC $775 million in 2014; $1.226 billion in '16; $963 million in '18 and $1.418 billion in '20.
The two things that stick out is that despite talking up "showing financial constraint", Comcast/NBC came in strong with the money. Too strong actually as they bested Fox by $800 million. Perhaps the talk of financial constraint and Ebersol leaving was a bit of smokescreen so other bidders would soften up their bids sensing weakness from the incumbent. The other thing that is a bit of a surprise is that the 2018 and 2020 Olympics that NBC have acquired the rights for don't even have host cities yet. Tripp Mickle pointed out that this was the first time billion dollar bidding took place for a TBD Olympics. That's very odd considering knowing the timezone is a key component into knowing how monetizeable live programming will be.
In the end I had NBC and ESPN on close to equal footing as my preference to win the bidding. NBC has said they'll go with a lot more live programming and have even committed to broadcasting all of the US Olympic trials as well. With Versus in the fold, NBC has a lot more flexibility to cover the games and I think we'll see that in the upcoming 2012 Olympics.
I have to admit that I had problems sleeping the last two days in anticipation of the bidding which took place during sleeping hours on the west coast. As a business guy the influx of info and transparency about the process really kept me locked into everything. I was planning on showing some tweets and twitpics from the main guys covering this but after screenshoting and tracking down all of this good stuff, I realized it's just way too much stuff to upload and attribute.
Here are some highlights that were particularly interesting or fun that I've compiled. Honestly these guys killed it so this is only a small sampling...
It is my goal as a writer to avoid writing the words "Colin Cowherd" or "The Herd" in a legitimate blog article. However, Colin Cowherd apparently produced some worthwhile radio today... thanks to the wife of current Browns and former University of Texas QB Colt McCoy. Seriously. She called into the show and might have dropped quite the story on Austin, Texas. The Big Lead has the transcript of the most interesting aspects, but here's one excerpt...
You cannot expect 19-20 year old kids to say no to free stuff when they’re in college … It’s hard, I think, for a lot of these guys to even know to say, ‘I can take this, I can’t take this, nobody’s going to know, will someone find out?' Things that could be handed to you that seem so minor – a dinner, a hunt, a fishing trip – most kids don’t even realize are illegal.
I know Colt was approached quite a bit [by agents] but I saw so many of his teammates who didn’t have some of that self control to say no to somebody … it’s hard, because you have adults who you respect and who you think will know what’s right and wrong … when you have adults promising things and offering things …
Now, will this cause a full-blown investigation of the University of Texas along the lines of say... what we've seen in Columbus? Of course not! At least, not now. Perhaps this story will be forgotten by Mack Brown's next loss to Iowa State. Yet, in light of the scandal that's broken out at Ohio State, some questions need to be raised about what she had to say...
In a bit of a surprise, the Olympics are staying with NBC through 2020, covering the next four Olympics. The Peacock was able to beat out bids from competitors FOX and ESPN, both of whom at some point looked sure to beat out NBC after they lost Dick Ebersol. Ebersol was perhaps the one network executive most connected to the Olympics on US television, and his resignation last month looked like the death knell for NBC's Olympic coverage.
Even yesterday, FOX seemed like it had become the new favorite. Say what you will about any of the three networks, but the Olympics would just feel out of place on a network other than NBC. Hopefully the network will heed some of the criticisms they've faced in recent years to make their telecasts even better.
As you may have already heard, Shaq has retired from basketball. Yes, we can debate Shaq's legacy on the basketball court for the next several years as an all-time great, but the more immediate question is what lies ahead of Shaq in his post-basketball career. And, while The Big AARP has worn many hats already in life (actor, genie, sheriff, statue, etc.), a move into the sports media seems like a natural progression for one of the most entertaining athletes of our generation.
Not surprisingly, ESPN has already shown interest in bringing Shaq into their legion of on-air personalities. And, with the loss of Kevin McHale to the Houston Rockets as head coach, TNT may very well be a player as well to add Shaq to Inside the NBA. Charles Barkley basically confirmed as much on the Dan Patrick Show.
“Of course it is. Shaquille O’Neal is a great person, he’s very smart, and I’m joking but I’m serious, somebody is gonna be fired whether it’s at TNT or ESPN. He’s gonna get a TV job if he wants it. Somebody is getting their final walking papers as we speak because he’s going to have his choice of where he wants to go.”
“Yes. He’s got an open invitation. He’s in a unique situation. He can do whatever he wants to do. Remember he’s done all this other TV stuff, he doesn’t have to do basketball commentating. He’s got a lot of things covered and he’s in a totally different situation too.”
Shaq may not be personally responsible for someone's pink slip, but Barkley certainly has a point. Both of the NBA's TV partners would be foolish to not push someone else aside to give Shaq a broad presence for NBA coverage and beyond. So which network would be the better fit? The combination of Shaq along with Sir Charles, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson would take one of the best sports shows on TV (Inside the NBA) and only make it better. But would the outsized personalities of Shaq and Barkley on the same set be redundant? What about opportunities outside of NBA coverage, which would be very limited with Turner?
For several reasons, ESPN is a far better fit for Shaq's second career in the sports media. First, Shaq would be an immediate upgrade over ESPN's current main studio analysts: Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon, and Magic Johnson, the classic example of a legendary athlete becoming a mediocre on-air personality. For every one insightful comment from Magic, there are dozens of others that elicit a shrug of the shoulders, especially when he waxes poetic about the Lakers. Trading Magic for the Shaqtus would take ESPN's NBA studio coverage to another level, or in other words, actually make it entertaining. As we've pointed out previously, the introduction of Shaq would definitely give ESPN's studio crew a much needed shot of charisma, a department in which they are sorely lacking.
But even more appealing has to be the wide range of opportunities Shaq would have at ESPN outside of being confined to a studio show. What about a reality show that follows Shaq around on his series of escapades? ABC's already had some success with the Shaq VS show...even if he may have "borrowed" the idea from Steve Nash. How about an even more out-of-the box idea for Shaq: his own national talk show on ESPN Radio? Let's face it, ESPN's Radio hosts are pretty weak. Mike and Mike serve their purpose in the mornings, but Colin Cowherd is unbearable, Doug Gottleib is not far behind, and I've never thought to myself, "Boy, I just have to hear Scott Van Pelt's opinion".
Why not give Shaq the afternoon show on ESPN Radio, which has suffered mightily since Dan Patrick's departure. Put Shaq with a competent sidekick who can feed Shaq the important topics for debate, discussion and enjoy! And it's not like Shaq would just be there for laughs. In fact, a couple of years ago AA had a great story about Shaq taking part in a broadcasting boot camp, including a radio interview with then draft prospect Stephen Curry that was actually a great listen. Unfortunately, looks like you'll have to take my word for it since the video has disappeared.
Studio analyst, reality star, radio host, it doesn't really matter what Shaq has his heart set on because he will be given any opportunity he wishes to begin his media career. No matter what Shaq decides, ESPN might be the best option. The family of networks would give him the versatility to spread his wings to pursue whatever new media he wants, which could be a combination of a myriad of roles. Regardless, we're all likely to tune in for the fun.
A week ago, we relayed that current NBA Finals ESPN analyst Mark Jackson was the leading candidate to be the next head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Welp, momma, there goes that man -- he will be the head coach of the Warriors next season, according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, et al.:
Jackson's deal will be for three years guaranteed, coming in at a little over $2 million per. I'd be shocked if Jackson doesn't finish out the Finals with Breen and Van Gundy, although I guess it's possible he could bail, if ESPN/ABC allows him to (Doug Collins finished out his duties with TNT after he accepted the Sixers gig in the middle of last year's playoffs).
The next relevant question is inquiring about who will replace Jackson on the Breen team. I won't go as far as Matt and call Breen/Van Gundy/Jackson the best in sports, but they somehow work well together, thanks mostly to Breen. Jackson never really had Worldwide Leader worthy delivery (though he sounds pretty damn good leading into Magic Johnson on the post-game show) and his "catchy" calls on replays going into the break often induced groans, save my fave momma, there goes that man. The interesting dynamic of this threesome is that Van Gundy coached Jackson. In some ways, it was apparent during broadcasts -- coach rambling on with his (sometimes incoherent) 'wisdom' and the player adamantly defying it with his own opinion. It covered the bases, but too many times it would result in really distracting (playful) bickering. I guess some viewers like(d) that, but not this one.
Either way, nothing but all the best to Jackson with his new job; I'd like to think he has a pretty good opportunity to succeed in Golden State.
In a luxury hotel in Switzerland, the future of the Olympic television rights are being hotly contested and it's quite an intriguing story. For the media pundits who are covering this relentlessly, you probably should get your fix of breaking news elsewhere. This is more of a summary of what's unfolding and what to keep an eye on as it looks like we'll know the fate of the next two and possibly four Olympics in the coming days.
In town are representatives from Fox/FX, ESPN/ABC, and NBC/Comcast. CBS and Turner considered making a joint bid similar to their March Madness tag team action, but opted to stay on the sidelines. Television rights for the Olympics have not been up for bid for over 8 years, when NBC renewed their partnership with the IOC.
Back then, Dick Ebersol, the recently departed head of NBC Sports pushed all in with a bid of $2.2 billion. He wanted to keep the Olympics badly and thought that was the magic number to get the job done. Unfortunately, it ended up being a horrible deal for NBC.
The bid was $900 million over Fox's bid of $1.3 billion and ESPN didn't even offer up a guarantee, but instead a revenue share -- viewed somewhat as a half assed offer, but probably respectable for a cable network still building their media empire. The move ended up costing NBC hundreds of millions of dollars.
"He overbid dramatically, with the backing of NBC’s parent at the time, General Electric, and the recession hurt advertising. The 2010 Vancouver Winter Games lost $223 million, astonishing for a 17-day event. Next year’s London Summer Games, which cost a record Olympic rights fee of $1.18 billion, are expected to lose at least as much, and Comcast, NBC Universal’s new owner, will have to absorb it.
Ebersol will not get a chance to redeem himself or lead NBC back to Lausanne on June 6 to the negotiation for the 2014 and ’16 Olympics. He resigned on Thursday, losing a power play with Stephen B. Burke, his boss since earlier this year when Comcast took control of NBC Universal."
Many believed Ebersol would come back strong and win the rights again, but this time at a deal that would be beneficial for NBC/Comcast and see him step away after the 2012 Olympics, passing the torch to someone else while ensuring the strong legacy and relationship between NBC and the Olympics.
Comcast, the new majority owner of NBC and known as a much more profit driven company, was vocal that they wouldn't overbid this time. It seemed to some that NBC might lose their staple property. Then Ebersol abruptly resigned and his number one lieutenant followed suit.
Ebersol built a strong relationship with the IOC and was consistent in showcasing the Olympics in a positive manner. Many of the Olympic-focused personnel at NBC were reported to be crying the day of Ebersol's announcement, a potential clue into their insight as to what would unfold with the Olympic bidding.
Ever since Ebersol's departure, it's been quite the topic among media analysts and sports fans as it's hard to really peg anyone as a favorite for the Olympic rights. You can even bet on who will win the bidding on bodog where Comcast/NBC has recently been moved to the underdog position.