Friday, January 29, 2010

Quickie: Exhibition Bowls: Do You Care?

(I didn't write a post about the Tebow Super Bowl ad here yesterday, but I did do a long post over at -- check it out. It says everything I would have written here.)

The most intriguing game of the weekend is not in Mobile (Senior Bowl) or Miami (Pro Bowl) but Ithaca, NY, where Harvard is playing Cornell in a battle of the two best hoops teams in the Ivy League.

But all eyes -- or at least some eyes -- are on the single-star power at the Senior Bowl (Tebow) and the non-star power at the Pro Bowl (where the big storyline is the players who AREN'T playing). The big question is: Will fans watch?

Will fans watch the Senior Bowl because of their intrigue over Tebow? His inclusion in the game sparked a run on ticket sales -- will curious fans tune in on TV? And will fans watch the Pro Bowl because -- well -- it's the first Sunday without non-exhibition pro football in 21 weeks? The players may not want to be there, but I'm predicting fans tune in (at least enough to keep the game as a pre-Super Bowl event in the SB host city).

The Bowls (Senior and Pro) lead today's SN column, but there is a lot more:

*Kurt Warner's retirement: Or will he pull a Favre?
*NBA All-Star Snubs: Josh Smith vs. David Lee
*Ken Griffy: 40 and sexy?
*Steven Jackson: Yikes
*CBB Games of the Weekend: More than Ivies.
*Super Bowl ads: Focus on the Family vs. GoDaddy
*Why Carrie Underwood and not Ke$ha.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quickie: Arenas, Tebow, Warner, More

I'd like to think that I don't write about Tim Tebow gratuitously -- I can picture almost all of you saying, "Ha!" -- and yet of all the days when I could clearly justify leading today's SN column with him, I bump him down to the second spot, behind Gilbert Arenas.

Maybe I'm just projecting your Tebow Fatigue (or fatigue that I continuously write about him), but there are two separate Tebow issues this week: One is the Senior Bowl, which I covered on Monday. (Rightfully so: He's THE story of the Senior Bowl and the biggest storyline of the NFL Draft. I'm hardly the only one talking about how he's doing in Mobile.)

But the second is his controversial Super Bowl ad. I had covered the inklings of the ad on TimTeblog a month ago -- I should have put some money down back then that it would become a huge issue in the slow week before the week before the Super Bowl, because it has.

Everyone is weighing in -- many did it last week (I revisited it at Teblog last week, too, an analysis I have adjusted my opinion on slightly), but it went a little more mainstream this week: Joy Behar talked about it on The View, and yesterday Sarah Palin made it the subject of her widely followed Facebook page, elevating it further.

It's fair to say that it has become the most talked-about ad of the Super Bowl -- which is saying something (and undoubtedly was something that Focus on the Family had to have planned for, giving them way more value for their money than the simple $2 million payment to CBS).

While I have talked about it at TimTeblog, I haven't really covered it here. I'll do that in a post later today. But there's no question that the story is "national" and "mainstream." One more data point about Tebow's prominence as an athlete, whether in college or the pros.

More you'll find in today's column:

*Arenas done for the season: Let the healing (or negotiations) begin? As a huge Arenas and huge Wizards fan, I actually hope they can work it out and he can stay on the team. But I suspect that they'll end up paying him a ton of money to play for someone else. Great...

*Kurt Warner retiring: I have said this before and say it again in the column -- Warner is the single-greatest individual player story in NFL history. He went from Arena League-playing, grocery-bagging nobody to a Hall of Fame quarterback, the ultimate rags-to-riches story.

*It's hard for me to get too excited about New Mexico beating BYU -- both are going to make the NCAA Tournament, so it's not like they were playing a knock-out game. I had thought UNM was overrated, so it was a very good win -- although The Pit is a huge advantage.

*One more reason to think the Baseball Hall of Fame is a joke: They are forcing Andre Dawson to be enshrined in an Expos hat, even though he personally wants to wear a Cubs hat. How could the Hall not let the player pick their own hat? This seems like an overreach.

Tons more in the column. Check back later for more.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tablet Mania

Like a lot of other people, I'm genuinely excited about the announcement about Apple's new "tablet" product today.

I do think it will be a game-changer, for consumers and even for old-line media companies, which hopefully will be as concerned with innovation as monetization.

I will leave you with this simple equation:

Apple tablet + Red Zone Channel = !!!!!!!!!!!

(I don't get Red Zone through my cable network, but if I was given the opportunity to subscribe to an a la carte mobile version of it for my phone and tablet, I would pay a lot, just as I would for March Madness. Let's start at my willingness to pay $100 for the season and go from there.)

Quickie: State of the Sports Union

On the day of the actual State of the Union, I try to put together a "State of the Sports Union" -- and, usually, it's a pretty good report. This year is no exception, leading today's SN column. (Sorry for the bad link yesterday.)

The NFL has never been stronger. The NBA is in a renaissance. MLB has its king back on top. College football has BCS issues, but fans care more than ever. College hoops -- thanks to last night's South Carolina upset of Kentucky -- is wide open for March.

Golf? Well, Tiger was humiliated in 2009, but that only sets up a "redemption" storyline in 2010 (not that golf media will EVER reference Tiger's off-course dalliances).

All in all, things are going REALLY well in sports right now. Should ticket prices be lower, to make going to games more affordable? Sure. But if you've got your HDTV -- and your new tablet -- you're better off at home anyway.

*South Carolina saves the college hoops season!
*A wee bit on Tebow at the Senior Bowl (just a bit, promise)
*A look at SN's CFB preseason Top 10 (Miami at 6?)
*Ben Sheets: This is the new Moneyball?
*What's next for Favre? Eh: Would rather talk about what's next for the Vikings.

Check out the whole thing. More later. Meanwhile, what's YOUR take on the state of the sports union?

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quickie: Tebow Freaks Out The Draftniks

There is a force out there in sports -- call it the "draftnik-industrial complex" -- that has tried to entrench itself as the experts in the NFL Draft: Analysis, grades, etc.

And Tim Tebow must drive them crazy.

He is the most prominent draft prospect in the recent history of the NFL Draft. Therefore, they HAVE to have an opinion about him.

For the most part, the draftniks (the combination of mostly anonymous scouts and independent draft experts) have not been kind: They are quick to praise Tebow's "intangibles," but essentially gut his skill-set, at least for the role of NFL quarterback.

Maybe that's fair, maybe it's not. Maybe they are being extra-harsh because they get more attention if they are bearish on his potential.

They make pronouncements, like giving him a grade as a "3rd-rounder," maybe 2nd-rounder. Todd McShay makes it sound like he is being forced to upgrade Tebow to an early-2nd-rounder. (He uses the made-up word "overdraft" -- expect to hear that a lot in the next few months.)

Here's the thing that must drive the draftniks crazy:

Because of his popularity, his regional tie to north Florida and Jacksonville's position in the Top 10 of the draft, Tebow will very likely be a Top 10 pick.

We can definitely argue about whether that is a reach for the Jaguars -- or to what extent marketing should ever come into play for a team making a 1st-round selection.

But what is obvious is that the draftniks look like fools if Tebow goes in the Top 10 -- heck, if he goes in the 1st round. Because it means that they are being ignored.

And here's the insidious part of the whole thing: If draftniks are ignored, they are irrelevant. They are exactly what their critics claim they are -- something that draftniks fight like crazy to beat back.

It's almost Zen-like: If the draftnik has a prospect graded as a 3rd-rounder and the player goes in the 1st, does the draftnik make a sound?

Here is where we get into a seemingly odd dynamic: At some point, the draftnik must reconcile their "mock" draft with... "reality."

No one cares about the grades -- they care about the mock. And if you say Jimmy Clausen is going No. 10 to the Jags and Tebow isn't taken until the mid-2nd round, and Tebow actually goes No. 10 to the Jags, you are -- more than anything -- wrong.

And while draftniks are historically wrong about their mocks to a staggering degree, this would be particularly, egregiously wrong.

Consequently, there is a moment of cognitive dissonance: The experts' honest-to-God opinion and the "reality" of the very mock drafts that have made the draftniks so popular to begin with.

The draftnik must decide if they would rather be right or reflect reality -- ultimately, reflecting reality IS being right, whether the draftnik agrees with it or not.

So the draftnik enters a vicious cycle: Right but wrong or wrong but right?

And, to make this all the more absurd, we're all of 24 hours into this process.

(I promise that unless I think Tebow is the lead story of the day -- and it did lead my SN column today in part because he was the lead story on -- I will keep most of my Tebow analysis to That said: It's not me -- Peter King, Chris Mortenson, all the ESPN draft folks, all the NFL Network draft folks... they all recognize Tebow as the story everyone wants to talk about. The irony, as I noted on Twitter yesterday, is that he's going to go No. 10 to the Jags and we'll all wonder what the fuss was about.)

More in today's column:

*Preview of LeBron-Wade combo in Miami next season!
*Syracuse has the goods to beat Kentucky in March.
*Ben Sheets is NOT "Moneyball."
*Sick of the Super Bowl storylines yet?

Complete column here
. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quickie: Feel The Schadenfavre!

Oh, I could have led with the Saints today, but as someone who has promoted "schadenfavre" for a very very long time, how could I not lead today's SN column with the way his season ended last night?

First of all: What a game. Couldn't have been more dramatic. When you read the column, you'll see that I actually had gained some level of zen acceptance that Favre was -- on one ankle -- going to lead the Vikings to the last-second win in the rocking Super Dome, thus simultaneously crushing the dreams of Saints fans (and their ancillary supporters) and launching what can only be described as the most painful two weeks of fawning coverage of all time.

But then... that INT. Like it was scripted. Like it HAD to end. So improbable and yet so probable at the same time, it was like some sort of mythological enigma.

(Then we got to that OT coinflip. If you were following me on Twitter last night, you saw my allergic reaction. Seriously: Can this be the moment that the NFL finally changes its system? Or will it take a "Coin-Flip Super Bowl Champ" to make it happen?)

Anyway: For all my talk about Jets-Saints being superior to Colts-Saints in the Super Bowl, I can live with Colts-Saints. These are the best teams in each conference -- we have known that since about the one-third mark of the season. It should be a wild display of scoring and rabid New Orleans fans and media love for Peyton Manning. Oh, and Katrina. Take a drink every time someone mentions Katrina. You'll be drunk enough throughout the two weeks to blur the experience.

As for the losers: I don't want to talk about Favre next season, except to say that he would be crazy to retire now -- the Vikings will be even better next season, and obviously, they can win the conference. And the Jets have only one problem: Anything but a Super Bowl trip will be a let-down. Consider the expectations completely blown out of whack. (But they might just get there in the next few years.)

The other big story today is the Tim Tebow Show down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. He is the most prominent participant in Senior Bowl history. I'm not sure if that means much, but it reflects his status as one of the -- if not THE -- most intriguing NFL Draft prospects of all time.

We're all going to talk and write a LOT about him over the next three months. The irony is that the Jaguars are going to take him with the No. 10 pick and that's going to be that. It doesn't matter what other teams' scouts think of him. It doesn't matter what Todd McShay or Mel Kiper thinks of him. It doesn't matter where he projects.

He's going to the Jags at 10, and the only thing he's going to do this week or at the Combine in a few weeks or in private workouts between now and Draft Day is clear the low expectations that have been set for him and make it that much easier for the Jaguars to take him (because no team in the Top 9 is going to use their pick on him, no matter how good he looks in workouts).

See the entire SN column here. More later, and if you're intrigued by Tebow at the Senior Bowl, keep an eye on

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quickie: Time For Saints to Be Super

Counting down until the Jets-Colts and Saints-Vikings games...

*In the vapid 2.5 seasons since Florida cut down its second straight national championship in basketball, last night's buzzer-beating game winner was the best moment for the program I've seen. (Memo to coaches: See how Donovan just let the guys run a play and didn't demand they take a time-out? I love that.)

*Northwestern beats Illinois: When a team has never been to the NCAA Tournament, games in the middle of January can qualify as "must-win" for March Madness. NU got it.

*Kansas State had exposed Texas as overrated early last week -- and UConn is a tough place to play -- but that was a tough loss for the Longhorns, precisely the kind you file away when you don't take UT to make it to the Final Four on your bracket in March. (Speaking of K-State, they turned around and got beat by Oklahoma State.) The only team that really seems to be as awesome as they look: Kentucky, No. 1 with a bullet.

*Anyone see that Georgia thumping of Tennessee coming?

*LeBron edges Durant in a match-up that totally met the expectations: 37 pts, 9 ast, 12 reb for LeBron; 34 points, 10 rebounds for Durant. And the Cavs escaped by a point.

*Urban Meyer's "leave of absence" was never going to be substantial. He was always going to stick with recruiting through national signing day. He was always going to be integral in spring practice. There is plenty of time between the two for him to chill out a bit. The (wrong-headed) assumption was that "leave of absence" meant that he would actually step away from the program, when in reality he was simply reducing his workload...slightly.

*East-West Shrine Game: Kafka! (You get the sense that Todd McShay thinks that Mike Kafka is a better NFL QB prospect than Tim Tebow. Then again: McShay thinks that everyone is a better NFL QB prospect than Tim Tebow.)

*Miguel Tejada back to the Orioles. It feels like only yesterday he was an uber-paid superstar with no taint of the PED scandal.

*Get ready for a week of Tebow insanity from Mobile, Alabama. (And that's not just me saying it -- you will be inundated from all corners about it. It is not just the biggest Senior Bowl storyline of the week, but he is the biggest Senior Bowl storyline of all time.)

-- D.S.