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Moot Realignment

Tyler Raborn —  Friday, February 22, 2013 — 5 Comments

When the phrase “conference realignment” is uttered, most college sports fans can’t help but roll their eyes.

…or throw up.

Yet conference realignment is prevalent in today’s college sports’ landscape.

But why?

As Pete Thamel pointed out in his Sports Illustrated article, conference realignment, such as Maryland joining the Big Ten, has been fueled by revenues from cable deals:

Maryland will join the Big Ten conference in 2014 after a vote by its Board of Regents on Monday to end a 59-year relationship with the ACC. The impetus of the move, primarily, is to help save an athletic department struggling financially and to set up a huge potential payday for the Big Ten through increased cable revenue.

Even the mighty SEC has fallen victim to this greedy desire, as Chris Smith pointed out in his article:

The conference has two deals to renegotiate: a $825 million first-tier rights contract with CBS, and a $2.25 billion second-tier deal with ESPN. Both are 15-year contracts that were signed in 2008 and run through the 2023-24 season. The SEC gets the chance to renegotiate both deals thanks to the recent additions of Missouri and Texas A&M.

The SEC’s first-tier rights deal pays an average $55 million annually, and that payout should move up to a minimum $64 million to equally compensate the two new members.

But has it all been worth it?

Maybe. We don’t know yet. But we can speculate.

Apple fever has been sweeping the United States for the last few years. People who once vowed they’d never give up their Blackberry, including myself, are now on their 2nd iPhone. PC users have become Mac diehards. And some families have given up their cable boxes for the selective programming offered by Apple TV.

That same selective programming, through applications such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, are available on Xbox and Playstation as well.

So where is this all headed?

We don’t know.

There’s a lot of money moving around in Washington from companies to lobbyists that we don’t know about.

But we’re speculating.

If a company could offer totally selective programming, wouldn’t everyone opt to do it?

Instead of paying $63.99 for 300 channels, 293 of which you don’t watch, wouldn’t you rather pay $35 for the channels you do watch? Or more so, $15 simply for the specific shows and events you watch?

Obviously cable companies are doing everything they can to block a transition to selective programming. Yet it seems to be consumer-friendly. Maybe next year, maybe in 50 years, it could happen.

There is a disproportionality in what people watch and how much money those programs make off of their specific event. Yet it seems the programming that is getting the “short end of the stick” could eventually break out of their cable deals and into the free market of “pay-per-program” television.

Imagine turning on your Xbox and being able to select any show, movie, or live sporting event you please for a cost.

This model would also inspire more talented independent people to create shows and movies, if they were given a user-friendly platform. Simply look at what Xbox’s platform has done for small game developers. Or what YouTube has done for creative film students.

The economics behind a shift to this model contain an outrageous amount of variables, which could be credited with the slow and hesitant move to what seems to be an obvious choice for consumers. Yet this article’s purpose isn’t to analyze the percentage chance of this move happening or how quickly it could come. Rather, this article seeks to pose a question to conferences that are realigning:

What if the cable deals that motivated all of the geographically irrational conference realignment fall apart?

You’re all thinking “slim chance.”

I know.

But—what if?

The conferences could begin marching to a different drummer. Cable deals could no longer be the motivating factor, but rather, maximizing viewership of individual events.

When Auburn rolls into Tuscaloosa to play Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and 12 million viewers tune in, Alabama and Auburn could exclusively profit off of that event. Playing rivals could become even more attractive for schools.

Further, big non-conference games could become much more attractive to schools. If Michigan could profit more from a television event that featured them playing Oklahoma, more so than Appalachian State (ha), then they could be more likely to schedule big games.

This could also lead realigned conferences to… realign. Again.

Schools could lose more money from being part of conferences not geographically-friendly. The burden of travel cost on schools could no longer be outweighed by the “profit-sharing” cable deals of certain conferences.

Thus, schools could be inclined to join more geographically-friendly conferences. We could end up with more logically aligned conferences where teams are financially encouraged to play more successful non-conference opponents.

Yes, I know that several schools would be left high and dry without profit-sharing. So maybe some conferences still implore profit-sharing. I don’t know, nor care to study, the exact dollars and cents behind it. But I will say that I am a proponent of free market ideology—so, there’s that.

Either way, the destruction of cable deals could lead to much more fan-friendly conference re-realignment. It could also lead to schools playing more prominent non-conference games.

But…

These possibilites are all “could be” scenarios, rather than “will be.” Too many key pieces, including politicians, cable executives, contract laws, and a plethora of other obstacles, stand in the way of this conference utopia.

So in conclusion… we have no conclusion. Merely a glimmer of hope that one day, this will all make sense.

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By: Tyler Raborn

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The Top 25 Sports Quotes on BrainyQuote

Tyler Raborn —  Friday, February 22, 2013 — 3 Comments

Here are the top 25 sports quotes on BrainyQuote.com:

Number 25

I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.

~Mia Hamm

Number 24

Thus so wretched is man that he would weary even without any cause for weariness… and so frivolous is he that, though full of a thousand reasons for weariness, the least thing, such as playing billiards or hitting a ball, is sufficient enough to amuse him.

~Blaise Pascal

Number 23

My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.

~Hank Aaron

Number 22

It’s good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.

~Mark Twain

Number 21

I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.

~Rodney Dangerfield

Number 20

I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.

~Shaquille O’Neal

Number 19

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

~Mark Twain

Number 18

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.

~William Arthur Ward

Number 17

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

~Henry David Thoreau

Number 16

Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.

~Tiger Woods

Number 15

Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.

~Vince Lombardi

Number 14

As athletes, we’re used to reacting quickly. Here, it’s ‘come, stop, come, stop.’ There’s a lot of downtime. That’s the toughest part of the day.

~Michael Jordan

Number 13

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting.

~George Orwell

Number 12

Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.

~Dan Gable

Number 11

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.

~Michael Jordan

Number 10

Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.

~Yogi Berra

Number 9

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

~Rogers Hornsby

Number 8

I want to rip out his heart and feed it to Lennox Lewis. I want to kill people. I want to rip their stomachs out and eat their children.

~Mike Tyson

Number 7

It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.

~Muhammad Ali

Number 6

You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.

~Michael Phelps

Number 5

If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?

~Vince Lombardi

Number 4

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.

~Wayne Gretzky

Number 3

Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

~Satchel Paige

Number 2

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

~Hunter S. Thompson

Number 1

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

~Michael Jordan

As Chuck once said about the NBA All-Star game…

Hell, there ain’t but 15 black millionaires in the whole country & half of ’em are right here in this room.

~Charles Barkley

That quote really doesn’t have anything to do with the content of this article, aside from being about the NBA All-Star game. But Sir Charles said something that remotely applied to this piece—so I had to include it.

The NBA All-Star game brings together some of the most talented basketball players in the world every year. Yet has this talent always been recognized?

In the same manner I analyzed the NFL’s 2011 and 2012 All-Pro teams, I wanted to analyze the 2012 NBA All-Star teams. Here’s a table with all of the 2012 NBA All-Stars and how many stars they were given by Scout and Rivals coming out of high school (players that graduated high school before 2002 were not in the database, and thus not included):

Player

Scout

Rivals

Carmelo Anthony 5 5
LeBron James 5 5
Kevin Garnett
Rajon Rondo 5 5
Chris Bosh 5 5
Tyson Chandler
Luol Deng 5 5
Paul George 2 3
Jrue Holiday 5 5
Kyrie Irving 5 5
Brook Lopez 5 5
Joakim Noah 4 4
Kevin Durant 5 5
Blake Griffin 5 5
Dwight Howard 5 5
Kobe Bryant
Chris Paul 5 5
LaMarcus Aldridge 5 5
Tim Duncan
James Harden 5 5
David Lee
Tony Parker
Zach Randolph
Russell Westbrook 4 3

The answer is yes, this talent has almost always been recognized. Relative to the NFL All-Pro teams, players that made a NBA All-Star team were much more likely to have been 5-stars coming out of high school.

So—to end on a word of encouragement—to all of you 2-star basketball players coming out of high school this year: if your dream is to one day be an NBA All-Star, be diligent, work hard…

…and it still probably won’t ever happen.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

David Fangupo: The 350-Pound Running Back

Tyler Raborn —  Wednesday, February 13, 2013 — 6 Comments

Check out this video of David Fangupo, a 350-pound running back from Hawaii:

According to the Huffington Post, David has committed to the University of Hawaii, making him the first athletic 350-pounder not to commit to an SEC school in years…

Sports Illustrated will feature Michael Jordan on its cover for the 50th time in celebration of his 50th birthday on its February 18th issue:

SI 50th MJ

As the Chicago Tribune pointed out, Jordan declined to interview with SI:

Interestingly, SI notes that Jordan — now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats — again declined the magazine’s requests for an interview, as he has done ever since SI made light of his attempt to play baseball following his first retirement in 1993.

The article that “made light” of Jordan’s attempt to play baseball was published on March 14th, 1994. Steve Wulf’s account of Jordan’s spring training sarcastically described, as the article’s title pointed out, Jordan’s inability to become a serviceable baseball player…

The single most impressive thing Jordan has done on a baseball field occurred shortly before his first official spring training game, last Friday in Sarasota, Fla. He and some of the other White Sox were taking BP on an out-of-the-way diamond—Minnie Minoso Field, to be exact—when it came time to collect the baseballs and put them in a basket on the mound. Much to the delight of a small crowd, Jordan started shooting fallaway jumpers with the balls. For the sake of posterity and those basketball fans who miss him, it should be noted that Jordan was 5 for 7 from the field.

But to Wulf’s dismay, the magazine took his criticism a step further, with this cover:

Bag It, Michael

Wulf subsequently left Sports Illustrated, as this Deadspin article recounting the saga notes:

Wulf was so irked about SI‘s stubbornness that he up and left the magazine (he went on to become the founding editor of ESPN The Magazine).

So…

Dear Michael,

Happy Birthday! And look, we made you this magazine cover to say, “Happy 50th!”

Sincerely,

The guys you hate

U.S. Map of NFL Fandom

Tyler Raborn —  Tuesday, February 12, 2013 — 13 Comments

Check out this interesting map provided by Facebook’s Sean Taylor and shared by FlowingData:

NFL Fans on Facebook

As Sean Taylor explains:

The National Football League is one of the most popular sports in America with some incredibly devoted fans. At Facebook we have about 35 million account holders in the United States who have Liked a page for one of the 32 teams in the league, representing one of the most comprehensive samples of sports fanship ever collected. Put another way, more than 1 in 10 Americans have declared their support for an NFL team on Facebook.

So Facebook mapped out these likes by county, as Taylor explained here:

While winning seems to matter, NFL teams have local followings that are probably heavily influenced by family ties and/or where a person grew up,  so we were obviously curious to see where the fans for various teams live now. By considering the physical locations of NFL fans, we can construct a map of the top team for each county in the US. It tells an interesting story about the ways that football rivalries and allegiances alternately divide and unite the country, and sometimes even individual states.

But the most burning questions I have are:

What are all of those Steelers and Cowboys fans doing in the northwest? 

Why does Alaska love Green Bay?

and…

What’s more difficult: “Where’s Waldo?” or “Where are the Jets?”

Rob Ryan— The Right Choice

Tyler Raborn —  Tuesday, February 12, 2013 — Leave a comment

The polarizing Rob Ryan is an excellent choice for the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator position.

… you’re either slowly nodding your head agreeing with me, or throwing your laptop across the room in utter disgust. There’s no in-between.

During the 2012 season, the New Orleans Saints, under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnola ranked 32nd in defense, allowing a league record 7,042 yards. Following Sean Payton’s reinstatement, Steve Spagnola was relieved of his defensive coordinator responsibilities after only one year. Coach Payton cited a schematic change, from a 4-3 to a 3-4, as the determining factor in Spagnola’s firing.

Many Saints fans oppose the hiring of Rob Ryan due the brash personality he has displayed throughout his coaching career. Yet Ryan fits a mold that has proven to work with Payton in the past.

Gregg Williams’ fiery personality and aggressive play calling established a defensive identity in New Orleans, which helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV.

Similarly, Rob Ryan possess a well-documented fiery passion for the game as well as a blitz-heavy defensive mentality.

Further, Ryan is well versed in the 3-4 scheme. The Saints decision to move from a 4-3 to a 3-4 represents a personnel decision. The Saints’ front four got little pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year, ranking 25th in sacks in the league. An aggressive 3-4 should help the Saints confuse opposing offensive lines and get more pressure on the quarterback.

The ability to re-establish a fiery aggressive defense in New Orleans combined with a strong background in the 3-4 scheme Payton wants to implement makes Rob Ryan an excellent selection for the Saints defensive coordinator position.

Ryan will be highly scrutinized by a large contingency of the Who Dat Nation this year.

Fortunately for Ryan, the Saints defense has nowhere to go but up…

————

By: Tyler Raborn