Saturday, February 06, 2010

Saturday (Very) Quickie

Wow, for the second straight Saturday, Georgetown is just throttling a Top 10 opponent in D.C. Last week it was Duke; this week it's Villanova -- a much better team than Duke.

So yeah: Chauncey Billups (39 pts vs. LAL) deserved that All-Star fill-in spot for Chris Paul.

The Mariners are giving Erik Bedard another try -- he's a bit like Ben Sheets: He's probably not going to stay healthy, but if he is healthy, he could be productive.

The Tebow Super Bowl ad will run in the high-profile 1st quarter. Prediction: It will be the ad that everyone is talking about on Monday -- as it was the ad everyone was talking about last week.

The Saturday before the Super Bowl is particularly slow, like everyone is just laying low before diving headfirst into tomorrow.

-- D.S.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Quickie: Can You NOT Root for Saints?

Some (or many) of you may argue with my contention that if the Saints win the Super Bowl, it would be the most meaningful championship in NFL history, possibly sports history.

(That feels like a classic piece of Quickie "instant history.")

But I'd be curious if any of you disagree that this Super Bowl has a greater disparity between rooting interests than any championship game before it.

Aside from Colts fans, it's very hard to find someone not rooting for the Saints.

Partly, that's because the Saints have few "natural enemies" among other fanbases. And that's because they were so prototypically bad for so long. And that's why the Saints winning matters.

Yes, there's a sense of post-Katrina sympathy. But I think most football fans feel good for the Saints and their fans because of the legacy of horrible football, finally being upended.

And so while more people than not think the Colts will win the game -- in today's SN column, I pick the Saints to beat the Colts, 34-28 -- almost everyone WANTS the Saints to win.


There are plenty of other storylines -- I covered them in Monday's column: Manning's destiny, Manning vs. Brees, the Colts' formerly anonymous WRs, Dwight Freeney, Reggie Bush, the Saints' opportunistic D, the Bill Parcells tree vs. the Tony Dungy tree, the Tim Tebow abortion ad, all the other ads.

I think my personal favorite storyline is that this is really the first "Twitter Super Bowl."

Two years ago, I was on Twitter and one of the first things I did was tweet during the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl. It was a ton of fun, although I'm not sure if anyone was actually following. Last year it was a little more active, but Twitter didn't hit its tipping point -- particularly in sports media -- until after last year's Super Bowl.

This year it will be overwhelming -- everything will be dissected within nanoseconds, every ad critiqued within 30 seconds, every possible joke made so quickly that seeing it the next morning will feel stale. It will be interesting to watch -- and follow.

More you'll find in today's column:

*But Mike Dunleavy is still the GM!
*Don't ride GA Tech in the Tournament.
*CBB's Weekend Best: Nova at G'town
*Orlando Hudson: Stealth Hot Stove steal?
*Tomlinson: Anyone want him?
*NFL Lockout a near-certainty?
*What will Tiger do first thing after rehab?
*Danica Patrick takes NASCAR.

Check out the whole thing here. (If it's not there, just check back around 9-ish.) More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

What To Do With Championship Loser Gear

As most of you know, I come up with a lot of really cockamamie ideas -- most of the time, they have at least some tangential relationship to business, because that's the way I convince myself that I'm putting my MBA to good use.

Earlier today, I saw this tweet from CNBC's Darren Rovell that referenced some news that the NCAA and the apparel-maker from the national title game are going to send $300,000 worth of "University of Texas 2009 College Football National Championship" gear to Haiti.

No, they're not sending $300,00 -- they're sending the T-shirts. Now, I'm sure the T-shirts can help. When championship games are over, the losing team's pre-printed "Champions!" gear is either destroyed or shipped across the world to developing countries.

Here's the thing: I can't possibly be alone in considering that gear the Holy Grail of sports memorabilia. Partly, because it's this amazing "What coulda/shoulda/woulda been" for your team, but mostly because you can NEVER find it. Not on eBay. Nowhere. It has to be the most locked-down product in the world -- it makes Apple pre-launch secrecy look porous.

So my initial reaction was that some enterprising relief worker should grab 100 of the shirts, take them back to Texas, sell them for $100 each to desperate, crazy Texas fans and bring back $10,000 to help the relief effort.

Then, in writing this idea out to Rovell in an email, I realized that this is a pain in the ass for the relief worker. What should really happen is that the NCAA (or NFL or MLB or NBA) should make the gear available for limited time sale at some price commensurate with its scarcity and "Holy Grail" value -- say, $100 per shirt, with only a limited batch available. Then the NCAA can give that cash directly to the relief efforts.

I called it the "You Lost, They Win" campaign, which I think is kind of catchy.

Anyway, to the point of the the post it turned into for Darren: When the Super Bowl is over, the NFL should sell the "Champions!" gear of the losing team and send all the proceeds to Haiti. It's better than shipping them the shirts -- and it sure is better than simply destroying them.

In my ideal world, the NFL -- and all the other leagues -- makes an entire line of these (down to the retro logo of that particular year's championship event), because most fans have lost a championship game or series at one time or another, and the chance to own a piece of the alternate history would be a huge appeal for many fans.

And it would create a lot of money for relief efforts in Haiti. Isn't that the point? Donating the shirts is nice -- sending cash is better.

Thoughts on that? Yes, I know the leagues would never agree to it -- although the notion that it's for Haiti relief rather than to line the pockets of a T-shirt entrepreneur should help. And if thousands of fans are wearing team gear, isn't that good for the leagues' marketing efforts? Who cares if it says "Seattle Seahawks: Super Bowl XL Champions" -- everyone wins, literally.

-- D.S.

Quickie: Big Day for South Florida

South Florida has the Super Bowl. It was the heart of Florida's No. 1-ranked recruiting class. And it's the home of the USF Bulls, who went on the road and upset Georgetown last night.

Pretty good time for the region, and that leads today's SN column. There's a lot more in there, including the Seantrel Henderson situation, Jason Verlander's new contract, Chauncey Billups and the new Chris Paul and the obligatory reference to Tim Tebow's Super Bowl ad.

Check it out -- and let's get the Super Bowl predictions going in the Comments. I'll have mine tomorrow. I want to pick the Saints, but I feel like the Saints winning is too important to ruin with the Quickie jinx...

-- D.S.

PS: Thanks to all who came out for the panel last night. A lot of fun and I thought a very interesting conversation.

Tonight, I get a homecoming with Varsity Letters -- about to finish its 4th year of existence since I launched it in March 2006 -- for what might be the most high-profile event yet: A sold-out reading from Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman. Kudos to Gelf Magazine for such big "gets" and for turning the series into something so consistently amazing. Should be fun.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Quickie: National Signing Day as Holiday

Indulge me for a minute (ed.: a minute?), as I attempt to tie today's National Signing Day in college football to something more of us can relate to.

When I was a freshman in college, I participated in the fraternity rush process. At Northwestern, rush week was the first week of the winter term, in January, so that meant you could look around in the fall -- it also meant that, unofficially, fraternities could put on the full-court press starting the first week of school in September.

Now, the houses weren't supposed to do this, but they did it anyway, for obvious reasons: A strong (usually big) class would ensure the fraternity's vitality for at least a few more years, would impact subsequent years' "recruiting" efforts, enhance its stature in the school's social system, etc. And, not unlike college football, some fraternities were really good at the unofficial rush process.

I'm not ashamed to say -- although maybe I should be, a little -- that I really enjoyed this unofficial recruiting season. I'm not saying I showed up for free steaks at houses that I had no interest in joining, but for the ones I did want to join, I really liked the attention they paid.

And who wouldn't? You're a new freshman. These older students are hanging out with you. You'd like to think they were being sincere, but if they were kissing your ass a bit, what's the harm? (Nevermind that the payback from "rushee" to "pledge" is typically taken out harshly, with usurious interest.)

The process made you feel really good about yourself -- frankly, I look back at my attitude that first fall semester and am in retrospective awe/embarrassment of my own opinion of myself. If 36-year-old me met 18-year-old me, I'd either throttle myself... or try to bottle it to bring it back with me.

So I spent the majority of my time in the fall hanging out with folks -- both freshmen and upperclassmen -- of one particular house. Terrific guys. In college football recruiting terms, I think they counted me as a "solid." That said: I did not commit to anything. I got an official offer to join the house within minutes of the opening of regulation "rush week." I think they were surprised -- even shocked -- when I didn't immediately accept. All of the other guys I hung out with the previous fall had all accepted on the spot. It was awkward. I felt awkward. But I wasn't sure.

With the bid in hand -- and feeling weird about what was increasingly becoming a hard sell -- I started spending time at another house where I knew and liked some of the guys. In fact, I spent the majority of my rush week there. The long-time favorite was getting nervous. The underdog got more confident that they could flip my would-be commitment. I was torn -- extremely torn. (Again: Looking back, it seems silly, but at the time it felt like one of these "your life, long-term, will be impacted by this decision." Maybe it was one of those rare instances.)

I was not unlike some of these college football recruits who waited until today -- National Signing Day -- to declare their allegiance. And I wasn't milking it -- I was really confused. After creating these relationships, I didn't want to let one of the groups down.

I was down to the last day of rush week, and I had offers from both houses. I yanked myself out of the process and hung out with a bunch of seniors I was rowing with (the crew team was its own quasi-fraternity, but that's another story). They weren't particularly pro-fraternity, but they appreciated my interest in it and tried to give me some perspective, which turned out to be helpful in making my decision.

I ended up turning down the fraternity I had spent most of the fall with. At the time, it was a tough conversation -- but once I made the decision, I knew it was the right one. And it's not unlike picking a school or two competing jobs: Everyone understands that's how the business goes. (And, later in my college life, I was on the other end of the process, when great freshmen I was hoping would join my house went another way. If nothing else, I could relate.)

I'm not saying that rushing and joining a college fraternity is exactly like committing to a school to play football -- but I think anyone who has gone through a rush-style process, whether it's for a fraternity/sorority or a job or any kind of club, have at least some accessibility to what these kids are going through today.

Obviously, it's a bigger deal -- picking a fraternity isn't nearly as big as picking a college, particularly when the college you pick might materially influence your ability to develop yourself for a professional career. This is among the biggest choices these players have ever made -- and might ever make.

You'd like to think that they could end up at plenty of places and still succeed -- I doubt my college experience would have suffered had I joined the other house. It would have been different, no doubt, but would it really have been worse?

But, more than that, you hope that after these months and months of consideration, they make their decision and can put it behind them.

Here's the lesson I took away from the rush process: You make the best choice you can, based on whatever factors are important to you, then you move on to the next challenge. The worst thing you can do is say, "I wish I chose differently" or "What if..."

It's not a bad attitude for fans to have if/when certain recruits spurn their program for someone else.

Check out today's SN column here, featuring more on NSD, Super Bowl Media Day, John Wall, Michigan State, South Carolina football, Joe Mauer, McDonald's Super Bowl ads, The Blind Side and more.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

NYC Social Media Week Sports Event

If you live in NYC, think about dropping by for the Social Media Week panel I'm hosting tomorrow about the new realities of sports media. It features Will Leitch, Jason Fry, Stephanie Wei and Amy K. Nelson. Should be a lot of fun. It's from 5-6 at Destination (211 Avenue A at 13th St.) Doors open at 4:30. Strategically, the place only holds 75, so even when only a handful of people show up, it'll look not embarrassingly full. (Actually, I've just been alerted that the event web site lists it as "sold out." Have no idea if someone is checking some kind of ticket at the door or if you get there, you can just walk in and take a seat, regardless of RSVP.)

Quickie: Super Bowl Media Day - or Daze?

You all know I'm all for unconventional media -- and I'm no great fan of traditional sports media coverage -- but Super Bowl Media Day is a joke.

First, the mainstream media people ask questions that define "trite." Then they grumble when the entertainment interlopers show up and distract from the trite questioning.

But it's not like the interlopers are particularly funny. Ooh, it's a hot foreign TV reporter! Ooh, that hilarious late-night correspondent is doing something "edgy!" Please.

In the end, blame the NFL -- they embraced the tradition of Media Day dumbness.

All this so we can talk about the same half-dozen storylines -- with the exact same quotes used -- between now and Sunday.

BTW, you can watch the media horde for yourself at -- and I'm sure Twitter will have a banner afternoon of updates and meme-watching.

That's the lead of today's SN column. There's a ton more in there, including:

*Why expanding the NCAA Tourney to 96 is great.
*Why Joe Mauer is the LeBron James of MLB.
*Why golf really needs Tiger back on the course.
*Why Groundhog Day is a classic movie.
*And a lot more.

Check it out here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday Quickie: Super Cliched Storylines

Due to some weird error, I didn't link today's SN column this morning as I thought I did. Here you go, featuring the 8-10 Super Bowl storylines you'll be sick of by Sunday. Or, say, tomorrow.

Sorry about that. A lot more in there, including why I think Kansas deserves to be named the team to beat.

Back at the usual time tomorrow -- probably leading with Media Day or Joe Mauer, if you want some sort of sneak-peek.

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday (Very) Quickie

Just a couple quick things -- I'm headed out to a Bloomberg/MLB product demo that I'll either tweet about or write about... as soon as I figure out what they're actually doing.

*I know college hoops maniacs start obsessing in November, but in a larger sense, college hoops felt like it hit its crazy season (48 hours ahead of February) yesterday. The G'town throttling of Duke -- in front of the First Fan, no less -- was fascinating. But the main event was Kansas edging K-State in Manhattan, which had to be among the best college hoops environments I have ever seen. Kudos to the K-State fans, who were insanely awesome. And what a win for KU -- that's one of those I file away for March. As was Gonzaga's loss to San Francisco. (More on that file-away-for-March stuff later this week.)

*Yes, I watched most of the Senior Bowl. Yes, it was the worst game performance by Tim Tebow since he entered college. It probably couldn't have gone worse, right down to the solid play, in contrast, by "Tebow Lite," Dan LeFevour. No, I think it doesn't change anything about Tebow's NFL Draft stock or his NFL future.

*I didn't watch the game, but how the eff did Andre Miller score 52 points? 50+ remains a really cool barrier in NBA games, and Miller is an unlikely addition to the list.

*Herschel. Walker. (Enough said.)

*Roger Federer reminds us why he's the greatest tennis player of all time, with another major title.

Enjoy the rest of your day. Anyone watching the Pro Bowl? I'm not.

-- D.S.