Wednesday, August 25, 2010

08/25 Quickie: Ohio State-Michigan, More

Today's Names to Know: Ohio State vs. Michigan, 18-game NFL season, Bobby Bowden, Johnny Damon, Stephen Strasburg, Rajon Rondo, Chad Ochocinco, Yahoo's "Prep Rally," Brian Kelly, Jenn Brown, DirecTV's Sunday Ticket To-Go and More.

What would happen if the Big Ten moved the Michigan-Ohio State game from each team's season finale to the middle of the season?

Well... nothing, really.

Fans would adapt. Certainly non-Michigan and non-Ohio State fans would adapt. Let's face it: Michigan-Ohio State has lost serious luster, nationally, since the 2006 de facto national semifinal game. It might be the biggest rivalry game, but it isn't the best rivalry game -- and, more importantly, it certainly isn't the only big game.

That's not to say that this has to do with Michigan being bad recently. This has to do with the rest of the sport growing exponentially.

There are plenty of amazing games that happen before the end of the season. This season's Game of the Year is the first week of October: Florida at Alabama. And you could make a serious case that its 2nd-best Game of the Year comes in its very first week, Boise State vs. Virginia Tech. (Michigan-Ohio State? Probably doesn't crack the list of Top 25 or 30 best games of the year. And the only reason it would make the list is because of nostalgia.)

College football has gotten so much bigger -- even bigger, I should say -- in recent years that it simply doesn't impact the national landscape to change the date on the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Michigan-OSU isn't smaller; the pie is bigger, way bigger.

Sidebar point: If anything, the Michigan-Ohio State season-ender has become emblematic of the Big Ten's tone-deafness to the rhythm of the college football season, where the season's biggest weekend of games happens a week -- even two -- after that rivalry game. Back when the entire nation ended that week? OK. Now? It's archaic.

Again, it speaks to the point that the main griping about changing the date stems from some kind of out-dated ideal about this game. No one but Michigan and Ohio State fans will care if the game's date is moved, and even they will quickly get used to it.

After all: What would it say about the strength and vitality of the country's supposed "best" college football rivalry (supposedly) if it can't handle being played a couple weeks earlier?

(I don't care if this is really about money -- we have all agreed to suspend our disbelief about virtually everything in sports, because it could all be said to be "really about the money" if you really dug into it. And what kind of fun is that?

Then again, you could also say the same about changes to sports: On 95 percent of them, fans would adapt, so why bother complaining? It's a fair corollary. Hell, most of us agree that the BCS is a terrible system and yet college football has never been more popular. I suspect that specific cognitive disconnect drives much of the rage and frustration from the leading anti-BCS pundits.)

I love tradition in sports -- many traditions, specifically. But I also recognize that this is a regional issue -- maybe the rest of us should defer to Michigan and Ohio State fans about whether it's a bad or it's a neutral thing that the game date is moved.

Then again, if Michigan-Ohio State fancies itself one of our greatest national college football rivalries, then the rest of us can have a say.

And that say is: It's just not that big of a deal to move the game.


NFL owners meet today in Atlanta, and an 18-game regular season will be a big topic. The players are a wee bit concerned -- greater chance of injury, more games for same pay -- but this is one of those topics where fans will undoubtedly be on the side of owners. More games? Why not?

Bobby Bowden's new book: Why is Bowden only now claiming he was forced out? Was he lying to everyone back when he "retired?" And let's get one thing straight: It was time for him to go; he had become ineffective, at least as it relates to maintaining FSU as an elite program. Did you see what happened virtually the moment Jimbo Fisher took over? Recruiting spiked. If he didn't want to go, FSU did the right thing -- if not an easy thing -- pushing him out the door.

In pounding the Reds for a second straight game, the Giants sure seem worthy of that NL Wild Card spot...

FACEPALM...Then again, so do the Phillies, after their dramatic 16th-inning win over the Astros. It's going to be a fun end to the Wild Card race.FACEPALM. You may now stop commenting and emailing. I am leaving this up -- rather than deleting -- to offer self-humiliation.

Damon to Detroit: Any sort of temporary swoon from Red Sox Nation about the prospects of re-embracing Johnny Damon is gone, now that Damon has rejected the Sox for the Tigers.

Strasburg to the DL: Knew this was coming. Still: Yikes.

USA Hoops cuts Rajon Rondo: Sorry, he "withdrew." Sure. He may be the most important cog for the reigning Eastern Conference champs, but his style of play didn't fit internationally.

No way the Chargers trade Vincent Jackson to the Vikings -- can the Vikings even afford to pay Jackson, if they could work out a deal? (No.)

Colorado's Big 12 season was already going to be lame-duck this year. Apparently, now the Buffs are going to have to stay through 2012, which will make 2011 even more awkward.

Chad Ochocinco fined $25K for tweeting during a game he was playing in: I think he would say it was worth it. Not sure other players will want to pony up that much money, but it is totally the kind of thing 85 would do.

I think that in a few years, not only will players be expressing themselves during games, but the league will be facilitating it -- not unlike the way that a decade ago, the league wouldn't recognize fantasy football but now has its own fantasy game platform.

(Obligatory disclosure: The sponsored fantasy league I am participating in this season is using the platform, specifically.)

I love that Brian Kelly is forcing NBC Sports to tweak its broadcast pace (including ads) in order to keep up with Notre Dame's new style of football on the field. (See that? We're talking about Notre Dame. And not in a mocking way! This is the power of Kelly.)

Jenn Brown won't be part of Icehouse's college sports marketing plans this season, leading to a lot of easy moralizing by critics. I see both sides. Brown will have plenty of endorsement opportunities, and there are plenty of innovative programs that marketers can create.

Really excited for Yahoo Sports' new blog dedicated to high school sports, Prep Rally: It's a great, unfilled niche -- full of terrific stories that are going largely uncovered but will benefit from Yahoo's huge platform.

In case you missed it yesterday: DirecTV is selling access to NFL Sunday Ticket and the Red Zone channel through your laptop/iPhone/iPad for $350. If you don't have a dish but love the NFL, what do you think of that price? Would you be willing to pay $20 a week for all-access NFL that comes with the caveat it isn't on your TV?

-- D.S.


Unknown said...

Yo man, you can connect a cord from your laptop to your tv and voila, NFL Ticket on your bigscreen...

SF said...

Will we able to buy the Sunday Ticket by-the-week? I'd be down to pay $20 bucks for specific weeks but I'd prefer not to pay the entire chunk up front.

Kenny said...

My issues: only one screen at a time, not all games, no free trial, and not a la carte. The expanded version deserved a whole post: