Even a broken clock is right sometimes: Michigan State to #2 in the AP Poll

I have to agree, because the man said what I’ve been saying for a week now: Michigan State looks like the best team in the country at this moment. Both teams in the Oregon-MSU game looked better than anything the SEC had to offer through the first two weeks of the season.

Week three saw the Spartans struggle against Air Force’s triple-option offense, but, one has reason to expect, that data point will have little meaning going forward. Meanwhile, Georgia dominated South Carolina in what easily was the Dawgs’ best game of the year, and Ole Miss made it two straight over Alabama.

The Black Bears’Rebels’ win certainly was exciting, and it’s led some to argue that they deserve the top AP spot. Their sixty-four points per game and undefeated record that includes a win in Tuscaloosa merit a top-tier ranking, but home wins over UT-Martin and Fresno State aren’t terribly revealing.

Terribly revealing? Missouri’s ugly win over UCONN is a strong indication that the two-time SEC East champions are unlikely to defend their consecutive division titles in Atlanta this December. Ohio State had a similarly weak victory over Northern Illinois, but those Huskies are better than the ones from New England, and the Buckeyes’ recent track record suggests they’ll be fine going forward.

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Related
The selfishness of Colin Cowherd’s critique of Dan Patrick
Online sports media critics: When Colin Cowherd starts to make sense, it’s time to reevaluate your approach

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The selfishness of Colin Cowherd’s critique of Dan Patrick

dan patrick show

For reasons known, if at all, only to him, ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd wrapped up his Super Bowl coverage by taking a shot across the bow of former ESPN personality Dan Patrick:

Dan Patrick doesn’t work as hard as Jim Rome. Not even close. . . . Patrick needs thirty-five producers to fill a segment. Rome doesn’t. Bayless doesn’t. I don’t.

Cowherd is hardly a moral standard-bearer in this space, and his comments, like most of the things he says that garner attention outside his own sphere, are designed only to bolster himself, typically at the expense of others. Taking Patrick to task apparently for the sin of granting his (four) producers a more audible and visible role on his program is both nonsensical and selfish.

DP Show producers Seton O’Connor and Paul Pabst’s responses to Cowherd show the factual absurdity of Cowherd’s remarks:

The people actually hurt by Cowherd’s statements, however, are Cowherd’s own support staff, who probably are wishing they worked for Patrick, or someone like him, rather than Cowherd.

Radio shows are similar to sports team coaching staffs, with the on-air host as the head coach, and the typically off-air producers as coordinators and assistant coaches. Just as few in the coaching business envision themselves as lifelong defensive line coaches, for example, few in the radio business want to spend the entirety of their professional careers screening listener telephone calls. A sports team’s success provides exposure to the coaching staff, allowing the coordinators and assistants to move into head-coaching positions elsewhere. Further, good head coaches are wise to create an environment in which their assistants receive outside attention and have opportunities to move into more senior positions. It isn’t that head coaches want to lose their talented assistants. Given the inevitability of those departures, though, head coaches know they can recruit better assistants, who are destined for greater things, by offering them the opportunity to gain exposure while working under them. The notion is not unlike the one Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari employs with his player recruits.

By allowing his support staff to be heard and seen on his show, Patrick affords them individual opportunities that would be more difficult for them to come by without that exposure. Patrick’s producers might eventually leave to pursue their own interests or stay longer because they’re happier with the more prominent role Patrick provides them. Regardless, Patrick has styled his show to serve as a platform for more people who work on the show than just the on-air host.

Cowherd has taken the opposite approach, and his attack on Patrick bears out Cowherd’s selfishness. He demands all of the attention and credit for his own successes, and the people most hurt by his critical comments likely are those who work on his show, not Patrick’s.

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Related
Online sports media critics: When Colin Cowherd starts to make sense, it’s time to reevaluate your approach
A note on rants

Jordan Schafer is Highly Questionable

College Football Playoff Championship Preview

Oregon meets Ohio State tonight in the inaugural College Football Playoff finale, and I’m most excited about the ESPN Megacast, which, in addition to the above, includes an ESPN Radio play-by-play broadcast as well. ESPN gets knocked around plenty for doing things like bowing to the will of “partners” like the NFL at the expense of its own journalistic integrity or hosting a platform for grey-matter destroyers like Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Colin Cowherd, but there are times when they leverage their resources to make significant improvements to the fan experience. ESPN introduced the Megacast concept for the final BCS championship game one year ago, and it was such a success that it’s back again this year, bigger and better than ever. In the interim period, other networks have experimented with the concept, loosely defined, in other sports, and I believe this is the way we will enjoy all major sporting events in the near future.

(If at this point you are wondering what ESPN Goal Line is, it appears to be a Briagdoon-like offering that will materialize on your TV sometime today, maybe. Anyway, you can find me tuning into ESPN Classic’s “sounds of the game.”)

Game Comments

As Sports Illustrated graphically illustrated in this week’s issue, Ohio State and Oregon actually were quite close to each other this year in statistical terms. Initially, there are two reasons to question that apparent parity, however: 1) Oregon plays in the stronger Pacific Twelve conference, while OSU spent much of the season feasting on relatively weaker conference opponents, and 2) Ohio State earned much of its production with quarterbacks not named and thought to be superior to Cardale Jones, the man who will be under center for the Buckeyes tonight. It is right to regard Oregon as the better team in this matchup.

There are a number of factors that cut against Oregon’s edge, however:   Continue reading

Jordan Schafer is Highly Questionable

Jordan Schafer returned to the Atlanta Braves as an outfielder this past season, and he has himself a very nice condo at the Downtown W. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a slideshow out today showing off Schafer’s residence. All’s well until you see how he’s decided to use his dual-mounted flat-screen televisions. This stopped me in my mouse-clicking tracks:

The man can watch anything in the world, and this is his selection? It doesn’t even make sense: these are the ESPN and ESPN2 simulcasts of two radio shows. Having both on TV at the same time seems at least impractical; at worst, that mirror thing offers more insight on the world than both of those TVs combined.

I love radio, and I love TV broadcasts of radio shows. Having done radio in the past, I love seeing the studio setups and silent communications that make a radio broadcast work. Maybe Schafer and I are alike in this way. If that’s true, though, he really ought to be watching the Dan Patrick Show, which has better content than either Mike & Mike or The Herd and offers a much richer viewing experience. Patrick’s show is a radio show, but it’s designed with a television audience in mind as well; with ESPN, the TV aspect feels like an afterthought.

A note on rants

The substantial development of online social networks as a solidifying infrastructure for the movement of information online has reinforced on the web the tenets of the attention economy and turned the internet, as concerns the sharing of content, into the interactive, digital version of a supermarket checkout aisle magazine display or afternoons on cable news networks. Whether you’re hawking cat videos or the latest from Miley Cyrus, the internet is in a serious tabloid phase, and the clickbait semantics of TMZ, Gawker, and Buzzfeed pervades. In the unending drive to control attention, the currency of our present time, everything must be labeled “awesome,” “EPIC,” “incredible,” “the best X you’ll see today,” “spectacular,” “fabulous,” and so forth, even if it’s barely out of the ordinary. It’s increasingly difficult to describe anything in measured terms, and we’re losing perspective on the degree to which anything truly is extraordinary.

The latest example of this phenomenon comes in the treatment of comments in a postgame press conference by Southern Illinois University head men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson, who expressed open frustration with his young team after a loss. It wasn’t the handful of mumbled sports cliches we’ve come to expect in such settings, but neither was it, upon my eventual listen, an extreme outburst deserving of the extreme attention it received. “Epic Rant!”, numerous outlets exclaimed. “Amazing tirade.” “Must-see video.” “Epic postgame rant for the ages,” they said.

Please. I’ve heard Denny Green. I’ve heard Jim Mora. I’ve heard Mike Gundy. I’ve heard Mary Carillo. Barry Hinson doesn’t hold a candle to those artists.

If you wanted a true rant this week, you just needed to wait until Wednesday afternoon. Colin Cowherd came on the Paul Finebaum Show and said that he thought that Gus Malzahn has Auburn situated to give Nick Saban and Alabama stiff competition in the coming years, and Cowherd predicted that the Tigers would beat Alabama again next year on their way to back-to-back national titles. Some of Finebaum’s Alabama listeners did not appreciate Cowherd’s opinions, and they called in to say so. As I heard the call of one such fan, Phyllis, unfold while listening to the Cowherd segment this morning, I had the slow-dawning realization that I was experiencing true radio magic. Listen for yourself:

(The full segment is available here.)