As the sporting world is surely already aware, the University of Arkansas has fired football coach Bobby Petrino. This comes on the tail of four years of Arkansas football revival.
The married father of four crashed his motorcycle and lied about it, beginning his downward spiral. What he tried to cover-up was the fact that an engaged former Arkansas volleyball player was riding with him; with whom he was carrying on a long-term relationship. Jessica Dorrell had been hired for a job at Arkansas, and had previously been given $20,000 in cash by Petrino. So take your pick for his dismissal: dishonesty, cover-ups, morality, adultery... it doesn't really matter. The point of this post is not to rehash how much of a slimeball Mr. Petrino has become over the years. The point of this post is to alert our readers to the hilarity that is NMA.TV, which produces hilarious Taiwanese animated parody videos. And luckily for us, they tend to produce a lot of funny content mocking disgraced American sports figures (among many other things). So don't waste any more time, and check out yet another epic entry below. The "elephant in the room" and getting "blown off the road" cracks me up every time I view this:
That 11-2 finish, culminating with a BCS Cotton Bowl victory and a top-five rating, must seem like oh-so-long ago for all parties involved.
At some universities, teams and coaches take pride in each other's accomplishments, whether that's through showing up to other teams' games, doing cross-promotional events or just saying nice things about coworkers and letting them have the spotlight when it's their turn. That doesn't seem to be the case at the University of Louisville, where football coach Charlie Strong is apparently upset that local media dared to cover the men's basketball team's remarkable run to the Final Four in more depth than his relatively insignificant spring practices. Strong's reported response? Ban local media outlets from covering his team (but remain willing to do high-profile and contractual national interviews, of course).
It's worth pointing out that the story so far is only from one side, as Strong apparently plans to publicly address the issue in a press conference Thursday. If what's been reported so far is accurate, though, it's tough to think of how he could justify this; some reports say it's just local TV stations banned, while others seem to indicate it's cross-platform. Regardless of the extent of the ban, this doesn't look good for Strong, though.
For one thing, a move like this looks incredibly petty on Strong's part. There's no need to gripe that his out-of-season practices aren't getting wall-to-wall coverage when the basketball team's having their best NCAA tournament in years, including making it to a Final Four matchup with in-state rival Kentucky. It also looks like Strong has no comprehension of how media outlets work; beyond the superior news value of the basketball stories, they're also interesting to many more people than a spring practice report. So, it wouldn't make sense on any level for media outlets to ignore basketball in favour of football spring practices. Beyond the appearances, though, this approach is unlikely to do anything positive for his team; he's just given a lot of local media types extra reason to criticize him when things start to go wrong (and less reason to ratchet up the hype for football season).
Beyond the ramifications of this for Strong and the program, though, this story has some disturbing reflections of how the sports media landscape as a whole is changing. With the rise of teams' in-house content (websites, Twitter and Facebook efforts and more), many organizations at both the NCAA and the professional levels are more focused on controlling their message than they've ever been, and they're fighting more and more wars like this whenever outside media coverage doesn't go their way. The larger dollars being paid for broadcast rights don't help matters, either, as that can lead to broadcasters getting more and more exclusionary access and being forced to tailor their content to what the organizations want. That shift in power to the organizations being covered can lead people like Strong to think they can dictate coverage terms to their local media, and that's problematic for fans; every media outlet has its own problems, to be sure, but having independent media outlets covering local sports tends to mean fans will learn a lot more than just what the team wants them to see, and that's a great thing overall. Here's hoping these reports are overblown and Strong announces Thursday that the whole thing's a mistake; given the current media landscape and the rising tensions between teams and the outlets that cover them, though, that may not be worth betting on.
After Jalen Rose confronted Skip Bayless yesterday on First Take that Skip Bayless's high school career wasn't anywhere near as profilic as Bayless claimed (after some fantastic investigative work by The Lost Ogle), the duo had a formal response to the situation yesterday. It really didn't go the way we all expected.
Bayless claimed he was offended by Rose's "attacks" on his high school career, because he didn't know the whole story. Bayless talked about being a natural shooter in high school, and the coach wanting him to become a point guard. Skip's logic for not perfoming as a point guard: "I didn't have the aptitude nor the desire to distribute the basketball." Bayless then claimed that he was forced to the bench when his coach brought in his son, which is a fact. Teammates of Bayless during his senior season called him a seventh man who just didn't fit the style at his school, and said Bayless was a good shooter.
So instead of essentially saying, "OK, I wasn't a starter for much of the season, but I did play a little" and admitting he exaggerated his claims in the context of his criticism of Russell Westbrook... Skip went on the offensive. He tried to give excuses that the "real story" was covered up by the 140 character limit on Twitter. (If that was the case, why tweet about it?)
Consider how all this started. Bayless tried to compare his plight to that of Russell Westbrook, a shoot first point guard who also happens to be an All-Star. That was the basis of his tweets about his high school greatness, which was totally unnecessary and ludicrous in the first place. The problem is Bayless tried to prop himself up as a great player ala Westbrook as someone that led his team to the state finals as a starting point guard and that was proven to just not be true.
Rose smartly brought up Bayless and his history of name calling and trashing various players and how athletes seemingly have an aversion to criticizing media members in the same way that Bayless tends to pick on and rip athletes. To see Bayless under much of the same pressure and criticism is nothing short of sweet karma.
In short, Bayless tried to pump himself up as a high school superstar, and that was torn to shreds in what, 12 hours? Then, Rose called him on his garbage, and Bayless threw out the victim card because he was caught in a lie and tried to blame bloggers for uncovering the truth. Does that make any sense at all?
Bayless can be given credit for one thing, though. By the end of First Take, the topic of "Skip Bayless lying about his high school career" had devolved and changed to the point where the show was talking about athletes and their relationship with the media. For some random reason, Screamin' A. Smith was brought in to distract viewers with LOUD NOISES, saying "I'm disgusted with both of y'all" and yelling about how much of a waste of time the whole trainwreck was. The entire segment is surreal to watch unfold as the three take turns calling each other out in a circus enviornment in typical First Take fashion...
This episode proves the flawed nature of First Take more than anything else. Instead of the sports of the day being the story, it's all about Skip Bayless, as the show has always been. Instead of insightful analysis and opinion, a nationally televised sports show spent twenty minutes today arguing about its polarizing commentator lying about his high school basketball career. Seriously. Imagine that happening on any other network in the country. It's insane. It's absurd. It's... First Take.
The Kansas City Royals made a change to their broadcast team this offseason by bringing in former Angels color analyst Rex Hudler to replace Royals Hall of Famer Frank White. The reaction to the new color analyst has been.... let's just say "not favorable" as the Kansas City Examiner website explains.
A quick Twitter search for Hudler's name reveals venom being slung towards him by the fans, and even revealed a new Twitter account dedicated to some of his quotes, @ShitHudlerSays. Take a look at some of the early reviews for the Wonder Dog:
I can understand the animosity that the Royals fans are feeling towards Hudler, with him replacing a legend in White. But the season is still five games old, the guy is in a new town in which he has no experience, and he's not a broadcasting novice having worked plenty of years with the Angels. (If Royals fans really want an experience in bad announcing, try listening to Brian Jordan on the Atlanta Braves pre and post game shows. That's some stuff that'll make your ears bleed.) Rex is a unique personality amongst announcers for sure, but Royals fans should at least give Hudler more of a chance in the booth before marching to his house with pitchforks.
The Dodgers had the NL Cy Young winner on the mound and the NL MVP runner-up in the middle of the lineup for Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Bucs in their home opener. Even with that star power on the field, arguably two of the most popular members of the Dodgers organization were absent from the opening day festivities.
The legendary Vin scully missed the home opener due to a "severe cold" that thankfully doesn't sound like it will keep him out of the booth for too long. Incredibly, the 2012 season will be Scully's 63rd season in the booth. The hall of famer has only missed one other opening day and that came all the way back in 1977 when Scully was putting in work as a broadcaster for the Masters Golf Tournament. There's few things as great as listening to Scully call a baseball game and we only hope he's back at 100% soon and back in the booth.
Scully wasn't the only Dodger hero to miss the home opener. Magic Johnson also was not in attendance because he has a play in NYC opening up this week. The play is about the rivalry and friendship he shared with Larry Bird. Given all the upheaval in the Dodgers franchise, the presence of Vin Scully and their new high-profile owner will be welcome stabilizing influences.
Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable has had a steady run as part of ESPN2's new afternoon lineup. Parts of the show are good, like some of Le Batard's interviews and the interaction with his father. Still, the style of the show has yet to really grow on a lot of viewers. However, Dan Le Batard has given some of his thoughtful analysis across a variety of platforms regarding the recent Ozzie Guillen comments regarding Fidel Castro. Of course, Guillen's insensitive comments have earned him a five game suspension.
As a Cuban-American from South Florida, Le Batard has a valuable and unique perspective to offer. However, a man with an even more valuable perspective on what the name Fidel Castro means to Cuban-Americans in South Florida is Dan Le Batard's father Gonzalo, affectionately known as Papi. In this video shared by DHLQ's Twitter page, Dan gets Papi to open up about fleeing Castro's Cuba, the challenge of life in the United States, and the Cuba he left behind.
A couple of stark takeaways hit you as you watch the video. First of all, it's a reminder to an entire generation of people that Fidel Castro isn't some cartoon character who smokes a cigar and wears a military uinform at all times. The man was/is a brutal dictator, and it's hard for anyone outside of the Cuban-American population to judge how hurtful Ozzie Guillen's words are to that community.
Second, why wasn't this discussion aired on DLHQ, instead of released as a YouTube extra? Hopefully the segment will air on teleision because it's this type of thoughtful discussion that could go a long, long way in presenting a different side of ESPN2's day-to-day commentary. Compare this heartfelt, meaningful discussion to this and you'll see the chasm in meaningful content that ESPN could begin to close fairly easily. Please ESPN2, more honest discussion about real issues, and less manufactured debate and schtick.
**Update: DHLQ's Twitter page has said it will air footage of Papi's discussion of Castro and Cuba on this afternoon's program, which seems to be very appropriate considering the above video.
Taking a page from the NFL's book, MLB is rolling out a channel entitled "Strike Zone" dedicated to whipping around to games in progress for live look-ins. The channel will immediately be available on DirecTV and Dish Network, as well as on certain affiliates of Time Warner and Bright House. Here's more from the MLB release:
When live game telecasts air on MLB Network, MLB Network Strike Zone will bring fans to every game across the league, with up-to-the-minute highlights, live look-ins and updates, all commercial-free.
“MLB Network Strike Zone will provide baseball fans with the award-winning coverage of all 30 clubs they’ve come to rely on from MLB Network,” said Tony Petitti, President and CEO of MLB Network. “We’re excited to continue to expand the reach and scope of MLB Network’s programming.”
The plan for the network seems questionable to me, and may undermine the MLB Tonight show on MLB Network, which is pretty much a four to six hour studio show that whips around to all games once a scoring play happens and provides analysis as well. The major difference with Strike Zone is that it is commercial-free, which provides an endless loop of baseball all night. Comparisons are already being made to the NFL's highly successful RedZone Channel, which rotates from game to game on Sundays to keep track of all the scoring action.
The channel will only be active on Tuesday and Friday to start off with, and expansions in the schedule are possible. Would the new channel be worth the investment with live look-ins on just two nights a week? It seems to be an ambitious project for MLB and one has to wonder if the network can really find a niche and a foothold with baseball fans.
What do you think, can the Strike Zone Channel thrive on a weekly basis and mirror the success of its NFL-inspired predecessor? Would you tune in on a regular basis, or would you stick with MLB Tonight and your own team's games?
It's been far too long since we've heard from our Italian soccer correspondent, Tiziano Crudeli. The AC Milan superfan/commentator/journalist has become an AA favorite for his bizzare, over-the-top commentating of AC Milan games as he almost helplessly watches on a studio monitor. When last we saw Tiziano, AC Milan was making a heroic comeback from down 3-0 against Lecce for one of our favorite videos of 2011. The rest of the world was also let in on the secret of BOA BOA BOA TENG TENG TENG!
This time, Tiziano's beloved AC Milan was up against Chievo, trying to move back into first place in Serie A. An early goal from Sulley Muntari was enough to see the Rossoneri move into the lead over rivals Juventus for the Scudetto with a 1-0 victory. However, it wasn't that easy if you were watching Tiziano watch the match. Observe the roller coaster of emotions once again, translators need not apply to enjoy the insanity.
Back in February we told you about the deal between NBC Sports Network and the Colonial Athletic Association to broadcast football and basketball games, including the conference tournament. While the deal certainly wasn't a gamebreaker for NBC Sports Network, getting the chance to be home to recent Final Four programs like George Mason and VCU is at least a starting point. However, in recent days, the realization has set in, and been confirmed, that the CAA will miss out on the most "prestigous" mid-major event of the college basketball season, ESPN's BracketBusters. Of course, if the CAA's banner programs like George Mason and VCU leave the CAA for the Atlantic 10, as has been rumored, NBCSN and the CAA will both be left out in the cold. But it's hard to to project what any conference will look like long term, especially as mid-majors fight for the few spots left on the lifeboats of realignment.
So, that speculation aside, where does the loss of their BracketBusters game leave the CAA? Well, it will be very, very difficult for the CAA to get any high profile out-of-conference games for NBC to market. A major program isn't likely to risk being embarrassed by one of the "Little Sisters of the Poor" during the season and their marquee mid-season mid-major game is now gone from the schedule. It's a risk the conference took knowing they would be locked out of BracketBusters by signing the NBC deal.
But what about the other end of this BracketBusters breakup? Will ESPN survive without the likes of George Mason, Drexel, ODU, and VCU in their mid-major pool?