Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sports Talk Wars - A New Hope? Not Yet.

97.3 The Zone did a 'soft' debut at 2 PM on Tuesday, featuring a roundtable of the station's lineup introducing themselves and telling us all what we are going to hear.

And - surprise! - I have thoughts on the matter.

1) I hate when radio shows and stations do this. The whole introduction thing. "On this show, we'll talk about this, this, and this, and I'm the funny guy and he's the not-as-funny guy..." Instead of telling the listener what they will be and won't be listening to, how about just getting to it? I'm a firm believer in that the listener actually decides what they will and won't listen to.

These 'introduction' shows are a little too self-serving for me as well. I've had to do one before while in Memphis with Dan Wolken, who now writes for The Daily. I kept our 'introduction' to less than 90 seconds. Then, I turned the conversation to Memphis Tiger basketball, which is what we thought people actually wanted to listen to.

But this introduction went for an hour. In attendance were Eli Gold, Stan White, Matt Coulter, Tim Brando did an extended segment via phone, and Rick Burgess and Bill 'Bubba' Bussey. (As radio personalities, I'm an extremely big fan of Rick and Bubba - what these two have been able to do over the past fifteen years is beyond amazing. Their program may or may not be your cup of tea, but they are both extremely successful radio personalities, and they and their team 'get it'. I've got no issues with Rick & Bubba.)

Rick & Bubba. Great guys.
Great show. But not a sports show.
2) And since I have no issue with Rick & Bubba, I'll say the following - I guess it's better to have a Rick & Bubba replay on as opposed to a syndicated show from Yahoo! Sports. At least Rick and Bubba are semi-local, if not a sports-themed show. Local, especially in Alabama, trumps national.

What this show obviously does is plays the role as a placeholder for Finebaum to move over to Cox. But what if Finebaum's legal troubles do in fact keep him from being able to make a move? Can you maintain your afternoon drive on a sports station not being a sports show?

...And one that's on a NINE HOUR tape-delay?

That's important, guys. Sports radio is an extremely time-sensitive medium. Probably the most immediate medium there is (perhaps tied with Twitter). Breaking news, instant reaction, and you don't need to wait on video or to script a teleprompter like TV. You hear it, you say it, right then.

News breaks all the time. It doesn't wait.

So play this scenario out: with the afternoon drive show on tape-delay from nine hours before, how does 97.3 The Zone handle Tom Brady's death in an airplane accident that occurred at 3:15 PM? Michael Jordan is arrested on murder charges? It breaks that Tiger Woods is on the run after kidnapping his kids?

I don't know if the R&B replay would continue, because I wouldn't be listening to it. I (and you) would be listening to whoever's talking about the BREAKING NEWS.

Again, I'm pro-Rick and Bubba, I just don't know if this is sustainable.

The only picture I could find of both Eli and Stan.
And a guy in a sombrero.
3) It was obvious today that no one in that studio was on the same page as to what their shows would be like. Eli wasted no time in telling everyone (and I'm writing this from memory, but this is close) that he wished to do a "national show that happens to originate locally."

WHAT? If I was the program director at The Zone, I would have stabbed myself in the ear with a dull pencil. Repeatedly.

Again, LOCAL > NATIONAL. That applies to topics too.

To rub it in further, Eli went on to list topics of the program including the PGA, the NFL, Major League Baseball, and may have even listed the Tour de France - I'm not sure because I was blacking out while listening.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Finebaum's Lawsuit and Where Will Birmingham Sports Talk Go From Here?

Finebaum plotting his next move?
Well, it looks like the cat's out of the bag. Paul Finebaum's lawsuit against his employer Citadel Broadcasting has finally made the rounds with restricted court documents released at the end of last week. The BBJ did a really good job of laying it out here.

And - in what I believe to be no coincidence at all - Cox Media Group of Birmingham is throwing their hat into the ring by launching their own sports talk station this week.

Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News wrote a piece on Saturday about the situation as well. One highlight:
WJOX business manager Mary Brown claimed in an affidavit that Finebaum was overpaid by Citadel between 2007 and 2010 due to calculation errors.
Calculation errors? Keep in mind that Citadel Broadcasting has declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the past year, and the company has been acquired by Cumulus Broadcasting, who are scheduled to take over the Birmingham properties later this year. With calculation errors like this to go unnoticed/without action for three years, I'd say the bankruptcy declaration is believable.

I had been hearing little bits and pieces about the lawsuit over the past month or so, but one item I had not heard until I saw it in the BBJ article was how Citadel threatened to pull Finebaum's show from it's affiliates and SiriusXM:
Finebaum’s complaint alleges Thomas told Finebaum before he signed the amendment that it was non-negotiable and that his show would be removed from all Citadel affiliates and Sirius-XM Satellite Radio if it was not signed.
That is CRAZY. And it's also a strong-arm tactic that I believe could potentially have huge repercussions on WJOX.

Everybody knows that Finebaum carries the day in Alabama's sports talk. And with his becoming more frequent appearances on ESPN television and his national exposure on SiriusXM, the 'Finebaum brand' continues to grow - and his numbers (ratings) are wild. Paul's show recently carried over a 20 share in men 25-54. That's like 1965 stuff - with so many options today, you don't get 20 shares anymore. And last Fall, WJOX was the third highest rated station in the market (12+).

It would just seem to me that you wouldn't try to make enemies with the biggest player in town.

For those that don't know (And really, why should you?), for a sports station to garner ratings like these isn't normal. To pull 5-8% of the entire listening audience is amazing. Extremely successful sports talk stations pull in 2.0-3.0 ratings. And those are the SUPER successful ones. JOX is a monster, ratings-wise.

So, how's it all going to shake out, and what do I think about the chances of the new station?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Does This Come in 3-D?

I didn't know about this until today, but apparently there's a movie that has been or is being made in my front yard.

Deadliest Throw

DEADLIEST THROW - Inside the Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss from UM Media Documentary Projects on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jordan Jefferson As A Punter? Terrible, But Funny.

Found this on The Sports Grid, and while it took me a second, I got it. I must be losing my touch.



Yep, a caller (LSU fan? Who knows? Doesn't matter.) called up Les Miles' radio program and asked him if he was thinking about moving Jordan Jefferson to punter. Does this happen anywhere else in the country?

Got a question for Les?
Send it in.
If anyone in a position of power still thinks that a live call-in show with Les Miles is a good idea, they'd have to explain it to me.

But what a great weekly bit it would be for Deadspin or Outkick the Coverage: "What Will We Ask Les This Week?" Readers send in their suggestions, and one of the folks from those sites calls up Coach and lays it on him. The public wants to know, after all.

In fact, let's do it. I'm loosely affiliated with the guys at OKTC - so I can pass along any suggestions. Hit me up on the Facebook page or at Twitter: @harry_long with what you would want to ask Les Miles each week.

Hopefully we can make a total mockery of it all. It's not like it hasn't happened before...



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Monday, August 22, 2011

Tennessee Football Cannot Escape Embarrassment

In recent years, I think it'd be safe to say that things haven't been going too well for Tennessee football. Phil Fulmer got pushed out, Lane Kiffin pulls an okey-doke on everyone, UT players don't mix well with gas stations, and Derek Dooley got confused by Les Miles (but honestly - who wasn't?).

Time to set a new standard, right? Tennessee football is going to get organized and once again become a force in the SEC. Enough with the frustration, the mediocrity, and enough with being the butt of jokes!

But then we see this...

Oh, brother.

Yep, the last thing UT football players will see before running through the T - 'Opportunity is Nowhere.'

Obviously, the idea was to have it say, 'Opportunity is Now Here.' But that's not what it says.

I showed this to my father - NOT a Tennessee fan of any measurement - and all he could do was shake his head. Even he is feeling sorry for UT. And that's quite a statement.

I can't really say anything nice about this, so I guess I'll just pass along my condolences, Vol fans. Let's all hope things will get better.

And maybe next time, print out the design before you apply it to the door. Just a tip.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is it the Future Yet?

Red Dawg.
The University of Georgia's Nike Pro Combat uniforms hit the twitter-sphere this morning, with much of the reaction geared around how RED the dawgs were going to be. And I can definitely see where they are coming from.

We've been seeing these uniforms for a few years now, an opportunity for the Universities and Nike to capitalize on big, national showcase games and sell a boatload of jerseys in a quick grab for cash. And, of course, the fans respond and throw their dollars at the chance to add to their collection of team junk.

Kudos to you, Nike.

But I do get curious about the positioning of these uniforms marketing-wise. In materials it comes across strongly (to me at least) that these unis are presented as 'the future look of athletics'.

I think they look more like something out of Any Given Sunday.

But maybe that is the future. Problem is that - aren't we already in the future? It is 2011 after all, and if Back to the Future is any guide, we should be getting our DeLorean's hover conversion any day now. So, if we are now finally in the future, when will a school jump and sport the new 'future' unis full-time?

I think the change will be prompted by the big boys: The NFL. Have you forgotten that Nike will be supplying the NFL with on-field apparel starting in 2012? I sure had.

In an interview with Darren Rovell of CNBC in October 2010, Nike Brand President Charlie Denson:
We plan on changing the NFL jersey dramatically just like we've done with the college programs, using new thinking and the greatest technology available. The NFL program hasn't had the same type of advancement in recent years.
I believe that if Nike takes the NFL in the direction of the Pro Combat two things will happen:

1) NFL jersey sales will skyrocket. Absolutely go crazy. The world's #1 sports league - and one of the greatest marketing engines ever - will bombard their audience with the new looks. If you think you've seen enough NFLShop.com ads - you just wait until 2012.

2) College teams will follow suit. Not only can 'Nike schools' now claim that they outfit their players with the same thing the pros wear, but aesthetically - the audience will get used to it.

The reactions of fan bases to these Pro Combat jersey designs is decidely mixed (if you can be 'decidedly' mixed). While they appreciate the novelty of the uniforms (and they buy them), they appreciate or understand that it's a one-shot or once-a-season thing.

I believe that college fans today think that Pro Combat is a nice place to visit - they just don't want to live there.

BUT - when Nike introduces this to the NFL, and we see it on TV every Sunday, we will get accustomed to it. The NFL will look new, shiny, and exciting. College football will look like they're wearing leather helmets and tear-away jerseys. NFL - fast. College - slow. That's how it will come off on TV.

And colleges will seize on the opportunity. Because then it'll be an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. NFL-bound prospects will want to look like the pros, and they'll go to the schools that will dress them like a pro. And the non-Nike schools won't like that, so they'll turn to Russell, Reebok, and Under Armour and demand they develop a 'new' uniform so that they don't lose the 'sexiness' battle for the top talent.

The future look of college football isn't too far away.
And if you believe that my point that players will lean one way or another when selecting a school based on what uniform the team wears is stupid - then you aren't paying much attention to the things that matter to college athletes. They want to be treated like royalty (turn on ESPN during a national signing day) and they want NFL scouts to think they are an NFL talent. What better way to do that than look like an NFL player?

And that's when college football will enter the future. And in 2012, you'll be able to see it coming.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Show Sheridan the Money!

As noted earlier in this space, Danny Sheridan of USA Today appeared on Paul Finebaum's radio program today with his attorney Vince Kilborn. While I'm not necessarily pro-Bama or pro-Auburn, I (and probably you) was disappointed in that, aside from maybe one item, the story really wasn't advanced.

That one 'new' item is that Sheridan said that the NCAA (some of his sources) knew a name as the "bag man" for payment to the Newton family, and that there was/is a witness who provided this name. Whether or not this witness 1) is credible or 2) will come forward to testify is unknown. And Sheridan even said that he was unsure as to the accuracy of this witness' statement.

Now, in the usual Finebaum fashion, this was not the focus as the show turned to phone calls. Callers and the Twitter-world spent 115 minutes slamming Sheridan as a buffoon hack and that he had lost all credibility.
Danny Sheridan has spent more than 25 years building his reputation. Only took 20 minutes to destroy it.
- @darrenrovell, Darren Rovell of CNBC

Danny Sheridan should apologize to Cam Newton. This is absurd and it's not fair to the player.
- @DanWetzel, Yahoo! Sports
Both Rovell and Wetzel's tweets were referenced during Finebaum's program. To which Sheridan's attorney challenged those reporters and others who criticized to step and do what Sheridan has done: find the name of the bag man and the name of the source, or prove that Sheridan is wrong.

But what really got me today was the constant challenges by Sheridan to "put your money where your mouth is", challenging all comers to put thousands of dollars down for him to take a polygraph test.

This is where it gets a little bit off the tracks for me. How did Danny Sheridan and Paul Finebaum manage to turn the Cam Newton story into an episode of Maury Povich?

It wasn't like he had only mentioned the polygraph in passing - it was several times throughout the show. Over a dozen, I believe. And all challenges came with that price tag - you had to put some money down to get him to do it.

Now, I don't think Sheridan would expect anyone to actually do that, and neither do that.

But I see that as an opportunity. What if someone in the state (or out, doesn't matter) ponied up several thousand dollars and challenged Danny Sheridan to the polygraph? And - as suggested by my friend McDuff, the one who ponies up the money should also have control of the questions. Wouldn't that be wildly entertaining?

Where's the Yella Wood guy? He should be all over this.

Milton McGregor - does he have any money left?

I'm calling on the people in the state to band together or go alone on it. Put together a few thousand dollars, and call him to the carpet. If someone was looking to discredit Danny Sheridan, what would do it more than calling him out and putting him on a Maury Povich/Jerry Springer style challenge of a polygraph test? I can't think of anything. For all of his work, he'd forever known as the guy who had to take a polygraph on the Finebaum show.

And that wouldn't be good for Danny.

But why not? It'd be a good opportunity for Auburn fans to be vindicated. It'd also possibly be a good opportunity for Alabama fans to get closer to getting their name. Everybody wins.

So I say we call him on it. How much more ridiculous get it honestly get?

Show Danny the money.

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What Cartman Thinks About Danny Sheridan's Appearance on Finebaum.

After weeks of hype, Danny Sheridan appeared on Finebaum's show today, supposedly to reveal the name of the 'bag man' who delivered money to the Newton family.

As you know, we were all disappointed in Sheridan's refusal to name the individual, for fear of being sued. Whether you are an Auburn or Alabama fan, it was still pretty disappointing.

Eric Cartman sums up our feelings on what happened today:





And that sums it up.

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Ladies, Listen Up: The Proper Way to Tell a Guy You're Not Interested

This is primarily a sports blog, but I do venture out time to time on different, non-sports topics. And really that was my original intention with this space. Anytime something or some event brings an illicit reaction from me, or I have a detailed (not always fluid, I know) thought arise - I want to put it down and share.

And most of the time, I've surrounded myself in the sports world. So that's why sports often dominate the opinion-making synapses of my brain.

About a week ago, though, I participated in a different kind of conversation with a group of women, ages ranging from 28 to 32(ish). And from what happened, I felt it was just too important to not share.

It started out with one of the girls describing a situation where someone (a guy) she had been working with for some time had asked her out on a date.

And, so you know the details: She 1) already had a boyfriend, and 2) really didn't see this guy in that way, and only saw their relationship as being on the friend level.

She told the guy those things - that she had a boyfriend and only saw him as a friend.

This is where I leaped into the conversation. I couldn't help it. I took this opportunity to explain to the five young women at the table what a mistake she had made, and (when asked) went on to tell them all what the proper thing for them to do in this situation was.

And surprisingly - it actually gave me pause while I was talking to them - they all hung on every word I said. Nodding - as if they were actually learning something new! They even thanked me after I was done!

(Incredible. It really seemed that I was actually helping these girls.)

But it wasn't my intent to help the girls - my intent was to help the guys. I will explain.

And anyone who knows me personally knows that when it comes to relationships - I am a personal disaster. On the surface, you would think that I should be the last person giving relationship advice. But I do pride myself in that I have spent a great amount of my adult life studying people. What they are truly interested in, how they react to different situations... anything that deals with predicting behavior patterns, I can't get enough. I read all kinds of books about it - hunter-gatherer stuff and up. Perhaps it's a little dorky, but it's what interests me - so don't hassle.

When comes to people's behaviors, I've got an opinion, no matter the topic. Now, I may not always be correct, but I can always make a convincing argument.

So there's my validation for the instructions below. If you're not convinced of my credentials, read on - you will be when you're done.

I also speak in generalities. That is, I'm telling you what applies in MOST situations. And in most, I mean in over 90%. If at any point while reading this, you think, "Uh-huh! I once knew a girl who did this and it worked out fine!" or "This doesn't work in my situation," then congratulations - you are the exception. (And you're probably just being difficult.) But I promise you, by and large, what I say in these matters is what applies to over 90% of us.

Now, my advice on the PROPER way for a girl to tell a guy - who she is NOT interested in in a 'more than friends' way - that she isn't interested. From the reaction I got last week, to share it here seemed like the right thing to do.

Going forward, I will be speaking to the woman in this situation. But guys, pay attention.

First, it's important to note the conditions on this advice (I have to include these because I started getting questions as I was explaining last week - and the girls kept trying to change the situation):

1) This will not apply if you have already gone out on dates with the guy. That's a break-up. Totally different.

2) There is no previous romantic relationship. If it's a singular 'hook-up', that's fine, those things can happen, and everyone should be able to move on. But if it is something that has happened on multiple occasions (a 'series' of romances) - then you're in a different place that doesn't apply here. In this case, you've really created a mess for yourself.

3) You've known this person for a minimum amount of time. For this advice to apply there must be some kind of familiarity with each other. Whether you've known each other your entire life, or if you've been to the same parties for the past few months - and have had multiple conversations. In short, you do know the guy.

4) And this is the most important - you have made the conscious decision that you are not into this guy, and you cannot foresee under any circumstance that you would date this guy. I'm talking you are concrete on this.

Now, here we go:

My friend was asked out by a guy who she was not interested in. (That she had a boyfriend was a factor, it does not necessarily have to be. She wasn't going to be into this guy whether she was single or not.) She told him, "You know, I just don't think that would be a good idea. I think we're better off being friends."

Ladies, DO NOT DO THIS.

Let's start with the first half of the sentence. The key is that she didn't think it'd be a "good idea". Well, that's debatable. And what I mean by that is, you're making an unsubstantiated statement - just an opinion. It's too easy to counter that with, "Sure it is."

Which of you is correct? I know you think you are, but he thinks he's right, too. And why should one of you be more correct than the other?

The problem is with your message. In a situation like this, you can't use 'soft' language. "I just don't think" or words like "probably not", "maybe not", etc. aren't definitive enough. You're leaving yourself open to some wiggle room - and that's what we call, 'leading on'.

You may not even realize it. I know that girls do a fair amount of leading on purposely. All apart of their 'game'. But, in this situation, you're leaving a window cracked on the possibility of you two dating. And if you remember condition #4 from above - you're breaking rules.

Bottom line here is that if you're serious about not wanting to date this person - don't fool around. Use strong language, "I don't...". There doesn't need to be any wiggle room or opportunity for debate.

The correct first half of this sentence?

"I don't feel that way about you."

Pretty damn clear.

Now, the second half of her response, "I think we're better off being friends."

She might have said "just friends". I'm not sure if this is what I heard or what I thought I heard. Regardless... DO NOT give the guy the 'just friends'/'let's be friends' crap. Because that's what it is - CRAP. The 'just friends' phrase is absolutely infuriating to a guy.

And this is a MAJOR disconnect with the female psyche. You think, "Why should he be mad? I told him I would be his friend. There's no reason for him to be mad."

Hell yes there's a reason to be mad.

You need to remember that you just rejected this guy. That's number one. He's embarrassed, and he got his heart stomped on. He ain't got to be happy about that.

Second, you've put him in a 'friend box'. I know you've heard of the phrase 'friend zone', but this is different - this is a box. And you can't get out of boxes.

You see, what you've done here is that you've taken away his options. By telling him that you just want to be friends, you have designated him to this status. He doesn't have a say in the matter - and THAT is what makes this all go south.

You can't lock him in that box. You've classified him as a 'friend' - a classification that he didn't necessarily want or agree to. Remember now that it has been revealed that the two of you have different desires of where you want your relationship to be. He wants to date, and you don't. There's a big difference there.

The only way that it can work going forward as 'friends' is if HE wants to. Not you. You have to give him the choice. In the end, if he wants to make the friendship work, he choose to go that way.

And you have to be cognizant of this - that the relationship (such that it is) has found a tipping point. It will either move forward with the two of you being friends, or it will end swiftly.

You have every right to tell this guy you don't want to date him. Every right. He also has the right to tell you to go to hell and never want to see you again. (Remember, he got his feelings hurt.)

But do NOT take this knowledge and tell him that you will go out with him because of the fear that you'll lose a friend if you tell him you won't date him. If you do this - you are leading him on, and the friendship now has almost ZERO percent of surviving. Don't dig the hole deeper for yourself, and it's also not fair to the guy.

So, what do you say in the second half of this sentence?

NOTHING. There is no second half to this sentence.

"I don't feel that way about you." Period. The ball is now in his court.

Don't apologize, because in this situation there's nothing to apologize for. You know what you want to do, and that's fine. Apologizing in this situation gives the guy (who is looking for any angle for success here) the hope/idea that you regret your decision. "I'm sorry, but..." Don't be sorry. No need to be. Not here. (In a different set of circumstances - remember our conditions above - you can apologize.)

You make it clear that is not how you want the relationship to go - with no wiggle room - and you give the guy the option to continue to go forward with you as a friend or not at all.

That's it. That may be a little bit painful, but it's best just to pull this band-aid off in one quick tug.

Yes, you are probably hurting someone's feelings. But it's better to do it then than to lead a guy on into a situation where he could get into you while you're wishing you had never gone out with him in the first place. That's where it can get ugly, and people's feelings can really get hurt. Like I said above, if you take him here, the chances of being friends going forward go WAY down.

So, wrapping this up - remember those conditions. Relationships are extremely complicated because people are complicated, and there are different sets of situations.

In this set of circumstances, this is the best thing to do. Quick and (slightly) painful, but you avoid a whole lot of headache and heartache down the road.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to tell me how right on I am or how full of crap I am on Twitter (@harry_long), or you can do so on the Facebook page of A Total Waste of Blog.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good God, This Is Terrible.



Did they really stop with a "REMIX!!"? Why?

I've got a friend whose sister is currently going through rush right now at Alabama. That poor Allison had to sit and watch this and pretend to be excited about it makes me sad.

Surely at some point, one of them had to say, "Wait a second, this is really stupid." Or, as it turned out, maybe not.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

What I Saw Last Night

In the midst of all the SEC expansion madness, I retreated to the solace and comfort of the Pink Pony Pub in Gulf Shores, AL. Little did I know that almost-Bieber would be in attendance.

I thought I had all three minutes of the event, but my phone is terrible. Which adds to the lack of video quality. Alas.

But the boy didn't need the prompter, and had all the dance moves down. Enjoy.



I'm not sure if this is a good thing for the future of our country or not, but it was a good thing to start off a Friday night.

And of course, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so: @harry_long. I'd also appreciate it if you 'liked' the Facebook page of A Total Waste of Blog. You can do that at the top right of this page, or you can do it here. And you see all those buttons under the title of this post? That's how you share this thing. Get to it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dan Beebe Makes His Favoritism Clear.

Dan Beebe. He loves Texas
more than Texas A&M.
Just ask him.
Dan Beebe is showing every past, current, and future conference commissioner exactly how NOT to run an athletic conference.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has told Texas A&M that Texas holds the key to the long-term future of the Big 12, and that the Big 12 would survive without the Aggies, according to an A&M official.
If this is true, Dan Beebe is definitively a bad leader, and every school president in what's left of the Big XII should be on the phone right now looking to work a deal to get away from Texas and the Big XII.

It’s fine to face facts, and while it is common knowledge that Texas is the cog of the Big XII engine, I am of the opinion that you do NOT publicly

This is NOT something you would see Mike Slive do. And while some bring more than others, Slive talks of every institution as an equal, valuing what each of his member institutions do bring to the table.

For Dan Beebe to speak this way of Texas A&M – can you blame them for wanting to leave?

I imagine that an element of being a great conference commissioner would be excellent people skills and the ability to manage relationships between others. If Dan Beebe is telling A&M that they aren't as important as their in-state rival school - then he is FAILING.

The source on this information is on the A&M side - so even if this is not what Beebe said, it is what A&M thinks he said. And that's all that matters.

It’s not a good thing to have your conference commissioner be a head cheerleader for one of your schools – at the expense and detriment of all the other schools.

How could the relationship possibly continue after this?

Looks like the Aggies really are heading this way.

UPDATE: My boy Ian Fitzsimmons of GAC in Dallas reports that via text
, Dan Beebe says that the reports of him telling A&M officials that the Big XII will live on without Texas A&M are "totally inaccurate".


Two things on that:


1) Like I said above, it may not necessarily be what you do or don't say, it's the message that comes across. And the A&M people believe this is how he feels. I'll have a hard time believing that this is not Beebe's stance until I get an A&M official to say, "Commissioner Dan Beebe is a fair and honest man, who treats all of the member institutions of the Big XII with great respect and works for ALL of their best interests."

That ain't happening.

2) Beebe's right, if you take the report in it's entirety:

Asked about multiple reports that he told Texas A&M officials that Texas was the key to the future of the Big 12 and that the Big 12 would survive without the Aggies, Beebe said in a text message to ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ian Fitzsimmons those reports are "totally inaccurate."
He's right because, if Texas A&M leaves, the Big XII won't survive. Or at least it shouldn't with Dan Beebe as commissioner.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Will Aggies Bolt the Bully of the Big XII?

Aggies thumbin' a ride
to the SEC?
Yep, I heard yesterday's rumors of Texas A&M's impending (and any second, day, week, or month now) announcement that they will be joining the SEC, and it got me thinking about what a mess can become of bad management.

I have recently started my own business, and once you get past the excitement and enthusiasm of how you're going 'to do great things', you actually have to think - how am I going to manage this thing? What would be the smart thing to do? Fortunately for me, my father is probably the smartest person I know. Not in like a 'he's my dad' kind of way - he's actually the smartest person I know. The guy thinks of everything: every angle, possible outcome, you name it.

So I spent some time with him talking about the business structure. And a portion of what he said came back to me as I thought about what was happening with the Big XII.

He said, "Once you get going, never let one client become more than 20% of your business. Because if you do, you become beholden to that one client." And it makes sense, because if you lose that one client, your business will be able to maintain and recover.

Don't let this man near
your secretary.
You've seen it before. Mad Men, Season Four: Campbell's had to let Clearasil go because of a client conflict, and the boys are trying to figure out a way to foul up a competing agency (the fake Honda commercial episode). As they review the accounts, it is revealed that Lucky Strike is something like 71% of their billing.

Without Lucky Strike, Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price is either kaput or in a really bad spot. And all it would take is Roger Sterling sleeping with a Lucky Strike executive's wife to do it. (I'm only through the first few episodes of Season 4. But, when I did a quick Google to check my stuff here, it seems that this could be some foreshadowing...)

As for a relationship Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price needs Lucky Strike more than Lucky Strike need them. Not good for SCDP.

But this is what's happened with the Big XII. The conference members and conference office has allowed (yes, allowed) the University of Texas to run roughshod over everyone. And it's not necessarily just on the field - Oklahoma has continued to be a top team since Stoops has been there (finished Top 11 in 9 of 12 seasons). The Big XII North... not, not so consistently good. It has been a bit of a two-team league for the recent years.

But here's how the networks see the Oklahoma/Texas relationship...
The State of Oklahoma, 3.7 million people
The State of Texas, 25.1 million people

And that's oodles of TV money that the Big XII conference wants. And they need Texas to get it.

Problem is, Texas has seen the Census figures, too.

And it all led to a disproportionate revenue sharing system in the Big XII. Favoring Texas, of course.

But you know all this stuff. Tom Osbourne knew it, too.

Tom Osbourne.
Madder than hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.
Tom Osbourne, who put together twenty-five years of greatness in the Big 8 and Big XII for Nebraska was smart to get out. Never one to be comfortable playing second fiddle, as Nebraska's Athletic Director since October 2007, was not comfortable with the direction of the Big XII and its catering to the wishes of Texas. And he got out.

To further score how much the Big XII/Texas love probably crawled under Osbourne's skin, here is a brief list of Osbourne's accomplishments at Nebraska:

Never won less than 9 games.
Finished in AP Top 15 in 24 of 25 seasons!
Did not lose a conference game in last 5 years as head coach.

Like any great leader, Tom Osbourne knows that you don't give bullies an inch. Because once they seize power, they hold it over you, and they'll be wanting more and more. It's either their way or no way.

Tom Osbourne can spot a bully. And he decided he didn't want to deal with the bully and enablers (Big XII conference) anymore. Now with the Big Ten Network revenue sharing and what's left in their rear-view mirror, Nebraska made out pretty.

Now the Big XII is a mess, as Texas continues with the push of their (and ESPN's) Longhorn Network which will further put other Big XII schools at a disadvantage. Talking heads from all over are commenting on the likelihood of Texas going independent and the soon-to-happen disappearance of the Big XII.

All because the Big XII's leadership and other member institutions allowed it to happen long ago. Upon the formation of the Big XII and the revenue distribution formula developed (which roughly split half the money evenly, and gave the other half to the teams that appeared on TV more often, i.e., Texas and Oklahoma), schools like Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and others openly acknowledged that they are and will forever be a lesser player to Texas.

Now, the schools with any relevance at all will (or at least, should) clammer to get out of town. Because who wants to hang around and let another school - their competitor - dictate to them how things are going to be?

Right now, Texas is more than 20% of what the Big XII is today.

And that's not smart business.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fight! Fight! Fight!


From The Big Lead: Fight About Sports at Applebee’s Ends with Oklahoma Fan Allegedly Stabbing a Texas Fan:
TV station KENS in San Antonio reported the suspect was an OU fan and that he pulled a knife during the fight and was stabbed with his own blade. The police report lists the weapon as an orange folding pocketknife.
It doesn't seem that my public service attempts on this website are having much effect.

I'm telling you, we can laugh (and I did - my initial response/Tweet), but sooner or later somebody's going to get killed.

What'd you say about Cole Hamels?!
And I know that bad things happen all the time, and people have always gotten in fights over anything and everything: from religion all the way down to saying something to a guy's girlfriend. Some of it's justified, some of it's stupid - you can decide where you draw the line.

This is the year 2011, right? We've put people on the damn Moon, after all (at least we used to). We have the ability to instantly communicate with people clear around the world. And we're developed a sophisticated society with worldwide commerce and infrastructure.

Get 'em, Davey!
Yet, when it comes to sports, it's 130 A.D. Rome - all hell breaks loose.

I think that when we hear the word 'hooligan' - we generally all have the same vision. Drunk, shaved-head, missing a few teeth, and just ready to whoop ass at a moment's notice. Oh yeah - and British. Definitely British, because that kind of behavior only belongs in a country that isn't as progressively modern as the great United States.

And surely that kind of behavior would never be tolerated in the US South, where men are gentlemen and women are modest and courteous. Where tradition is paramount, and what other people think about you as a person truly matters.

Of course, that's bologna. Sports culture dominates this area of the country, with children having their team picked for them while in the womb. It's how you grow up. You're either an 'Auburn Person' or an 'Alabama Person'. That's a real description.

If an Alabama Person hears someone described to be an 'Auburn Person', they think, "Well, he must not be very smart, is hard-headed, and difficult to get along with." Or is it the other way around? Or is it the same, either way?

And let me be clear on my position - I really do love how it defines us as people. I really wish that I personally was more passionate about a team. I've just found myself more attracted to the gossip and glamour of it all. Anything that's controversial, that's what I pull for.

But to let it define ourselves to the point that we are capable of seriously, seriously injuring or even killing another person (or thing - trees, anyone?), that's just a little much for me. That is not where we need to end up.

If you're stabbing someone in an Applebee's in San Antonio, aren't you a hooligan?

And of course, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so: @harry_long
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Terrible Dilemma. What WILL We Do?!

I was watching CNN all Monday evening, and the pundits were all over the place either praising or hating on the House's passing of the debt ceiling bill. (The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday - I have yet to turn on CNN.)

Depending on where you stand on the political dial, this has been your 'government in action' or 'government of inaction'.

Everyone's playing hot potato with the
Debt Ceiling Bill
Political aside: If you've been watching this, have you ever seen so many people disclaiming their actions? I've heard 50 different versions of, "Now, I don't like this deal, but in order to save our country, I begrudgingly voted for the bill."

NOBODY wants to claim this thing. Either side of the aisle. They're all scared of that political TV ad in the next election showing them voting for this bill. Is that supposed to inspire us all with confidence?

But on to much more pressing matters...

We are a month out from football season, and for the first time in a long, long time... I could actually stand for it to hold off a bit.

Not because I've lost my love for college football, nor have I been diagnosed with a disease that will strike me dead on the starting kick. But I do have a problem that could have a potentially large negative effect on my college football enjoyment this fall.

And it's all Uncle Sam's fault.

No, not the debt ceiling issue. The government has pushed out my online gambling bookmakers! What am I going to do?

Bodog has retreated to European and Asian markets. (And Calvin Ayre is pumped about Asia.)
Full Tilt Poker got taken to the woodshed.
BetUS now has a new domain name that I'm not sure where it's located.

And yes, I will miss the Bodog Girls, too.
And I'm not saying that online gambling has always been a little fishy: Are the odds solid? What if they mishandle a bet? Can I trust them with my credit card info? Will I ever get paid? But it was a risk that I, and millions of others, were willing to take.

And it was great. The convenience of being able to hop on your computer or your smartphone, log on, and make that bet. It removed the waiting line - no longer having to call a secret phone number, trying to get through - and occasionally not being able to get through, and missing your surefire winner. Always devastating.

Online gambling was SUCH a smarter play than any other option. Two main reasons:

1) Your bets (and losses) were only between you and the computer. No one else had to know. You had a documented history of what you had played and how you did, whenever you wanted to take a look.

2) This is the important one - you could only gamble money that you HAD. You put in your $100 (or whatever amount), and that's what you played with. You couldn't chase lost money with money that you didn't have. If you lost it all or wanted to gamble more, then you would have to deposit again. What a fantastic control.

When you don't have this control, this is how legs get broken. By betting money you didn't have in the first place. That's what made the online model so easy. You never REALLY got behind.


But let us turn to the future. What to do now? Do I really have to go and 'find a guy'? I'm not looking forward to that. I'll have lost my instant accessibility, and I'd actually have to go and meet someone and hand them cash (or maybe they'd hand me cash - which would be the first time in a long time).

This is going to be awful.

Or I could just not gamble. But then, where would be the fun in any Mountain West game this year? I've learned so much about the Idaho Vandals the past five football seasons. They play in barn, and one of their goalposts comes out of the wall. I wouldn't have known that without Bodog. I would have never had developed my disdain for Colin Kapernick without online gambling. We found out June Jones and Jerry Glanville were alive in Hawaii because of that late night bounceback game.

It makes it so much more interesting. And fun. And you can even win a little money.

Surely I'm not the only person that thinks about this, am I?

Now, I'm not saying I'm a $100/game guy, because I'm not. I bet quantity, not heavy. Just something to give me a rooting interest. And I don't think that's unhealthy. It may not be wise, but I consider it an entertainment expense. I don't go to strip clubs, and I don't do drugs - so I don't feel too bad risking $70 on a Saturday for a few months out of the year.

Look, it's Mrs. Quattlebaum, the Algebra II teacher.
And the government won't legalize and regulate it. Has anyone done a market study on what the government would have to gain if they taxed online sports gambling? All this garbage we've been worried about the past month on Capitol Hill? Wouldn't exist. Instead of bailouts and defaults, public school teachers would be driving Lotuses to school.

I assume the government says they are concerned over keeping college/pro sporting events on the up and up. 'Mularkey' is what I say. A point-shaving scandal can happen just as easily with or without regulated online gaming. Some sample reading material:

From USA Today, 2007
CCNY, 1951
University of San Diego, 2011
University of Toledo, 2006

You see? Some of those happened before anybody had even thought of the Internet.

So, please, Uncle Sam, don't be concerned about keeping it clean - 'cause it ain't clean. Get organized - you can do this. Seize the opportunity. Make some money. Build schools. Build that high-speed rail we've been hearing about for twenty years. Go to Mars. (Impose higher tariffs on foreign goods - make buying American a smart decision!) Create Jobs.

And let me get back to fully enjoying my Fall Saturdays.

Surely someone in Congress would want to claim this idea.

And of course, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so: @harry_long
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Monday, August 1, 2011

T-Town Menswear - The Drama!

Cecil Hurt. Or 'Mr. Excitement',
as I like to call him.
Saturday, Cecil Hurt weighed in on the whole T-Town Menswear episode (TideSports.com - HURT: Al Betar nothing like Ohio State's trouble), and if you've been paying any attention to Paul Finebaum the past week, he said about what you would expect.

That this whole matter with the suits and memorabilia probably doesn't amount to much.

Quick aside on Cecil: is there a more drab sounding person? Does he get invited to any dinner parties?

Of course, this all sprang from my buddy Clay Travis' new website OutkickTheCoverage.com, and how they uncovered (and documented, and re-documented, and re-re-documented...) what seems to be a pretty odd relationship between an suit store owner and college football players.

And, as expected, the reaction from the fan bases has been extreme. Message boards have been buzzing, launching grenades at each others' camp. Facebook fan page sites go straight at the messengers, blasting and praising in the comment sections.

Clay's even picked up a few death threats. And while I don't necessarily know this, I doubt they are his first.

Much longer aside on Clay: Of course, Clay responds to those death threats with his smart-ass demeanor, posting the individuals' phone numbers and email addresses. But that's Clay, for better or worse. To be fair, I don't recall EVER having a death threat thrown my way, so maybe I'd react similarly - I don't know. I think Clay's an alright guy - just doesn't always recognize when it's best to just bow to absurdity than confront it head-on. A quick, abbreviated example:

ClayTravis.
Never met a redneck he
didn't want to argue with.
I was with Clay back in late June at a Birmingham bar. It was a weeknight, laid back. We ran into a gentleman who was 1) drunk and 2) a redneck - stellar combination. Clay was describing something, and the drunk redneck interjected claiming that Clay was using the wrong terminology. I don't even remember the words that were being compared - just that I quickly realized that 'Neck wasn't interested in reasoning. Clay decided to debate drunk redneck on the matter, and there was a bit of a back-and-forth that didn't result in much compromise. Now, I'm not sure if the phrase "Ass-Whoopin'" was ever actually uttered, but this exchange was definitely heading in that direction. I, of course, pleaded with Clay to just say to 'Neck, "You're right, I should of used that word instead." He never did that, and fortunately another friend distracted 'Neck enough that 'Neck forgot about their conversation.

Again, I think Clay's a good guy, and for the most part, I've enjoyed the few opportunities I've had to work with him. Just sometimes it's best to not battle against folks who aren't interested in reason or rationale thought. But, he likes the debate.

Now, back to the story at hand...

I've had quite a few friends ask me for my thoughts on this situation, and they have graciously offered me their own. And - no surprise - the viewpoints fall right across party lines. Auburn (and non-Bama) fans think Trent Richardson should never play another down, and Alabama fans think that Clay Travis and Brooks Melchior (SPORTSbyBROOKS) are creating this story only in an effort to get web hits for their respective websites. (Clay's website, OutkicktheCoverage.com, debuted during SEC Media Days, 12 days ago.)

I am of the opinion that this whole thing is great gossip, but if you're thinking this could lead to scholarship reductions, forfeited games, or ineligibility of a set of players - I think you'll be disappointed.

1) There's just too many unknowns and jumped-to conclusions/insinuations. Like in the case of Julio Jones' suits, we are asked by OKTC whether or not Julio can afford all those suits. Well, I don't know if Julio can or can't. Did he buy them or rent them? And, as many Bama fans have pointed out, it may not be that many suits - just different shirt/jacket/pants combos.

For me, when the question line is extended further and further, and you have to continue to 'leap' to answers - with no question concretely answered - you aren't getting closer to the truth. You're getting closer to the answer you want to hear.

2) It seems that these days that as long as you cooperate with the NCAA, things will turn out okay. The NCAA just doesn't like to get embarrassed.

Jim Tressel and crew at Ohio State? Misled and didn't inform anyone of what they knew. And that turned out bad.

Bruce Pearl? Said he couldn't recognize his own house. Bruce, of course, isn't coaching right now.

USC? Ka-Boom. (Affording Lane Kiffin the opportunity to coach - and make money - pressure-less for the next five years. Not fair.)

Alabama - as far as the evidence displayed to this point shows - followed procedure when they became aware of what was going on. Sent a cease and desist letter to the business and disassociated themselves from the individual.

Yes, I've seen the questions about it being hand-delivered and whether or not there was an addressee on the letter. That just seems - to me - to be a function of extending the question line further without getting any answers. It keeps the story in the news, but hasn't yet garnered new information. You can make the insinuations that it was fabricated, or you could just as easily say that, "Why was it hand-delivered? Because University Mall is five minutes away and on our intern Joe's way home. We asked Joe to drop it off." That answer is a 'leap' too, but it's just as reasonable as the 'leap' of the other sites.


3) I just don't think it will amount to much. No matter how many articles are written on the subject, this is not a Reggie Bush/Southern Methodist/Chris Webber situation. It's a few autographs, with no proven direct link to extra benefits.

Tom and his boy Trent.
Tom going with the straight scissor clippin'.
Is it funky for college football players to be hanging around this guy, showing up at his store, taking pictures behind his desk? Yeah, it's funky. But the guy's also obviously a HUGE Alabama fan - and HUGE Alabama fans act stupid around Alabama football players. They want to show/brag to their friends how they are 'big time' and are hanging out with the stars on their favorite football team, that the players know his name. It's a big ego stroke to folks like Tom Al Betar, who get there by stroking the ego of these college kids. Not saying that makes sense, but it's real, and it happens.

All in all, I just don't think it amounts to much. Slap on the wrist, secondary violation, whatever. This all blows over once they kick the ball off Labor Day weekend.

And that's really it. This is actually all just a function of everyone just needing the season to hurry up and start. The fans, the radio stations, and the websites. We're past Media Days, which have been proclaimed as the official/unofficial 'start' of college football season. The problem is, there are 5 or 6 weeks in between Media Days and the actual season. Appetites have been wetted, but there is nothing to eat just yet. So everyone clamors to a story.

It seems this story is the one to clamor to. It is a perfect storm of a story, after all. Alabama is a national title contender, and the potential that this 'scandal' could undo that opportunity scares the hell out of Alabama fans, and brings the non-Bama fans unrelenting glee.

But it's just a story, and one that will come to an unspectacular end soon enough.

While doing some browsing around as I wrote this, I came across some fake Twitter handles you may want to consider giving a nod to. My gift to you.
@TheFinebaum
@SPORTSbyDOUCHE
@ThayerEffnEvan

And of course, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so: @harry_long
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