Saturday, August 31, 2013

Confidence Plays, 2013. Week 1

I hit 81% last year because I kept it simple, and kept it to things I knew. Let's hope for the best this year.

I'll be in Atlanta today, so I hope to catch some good video of Alabama fans looking foolish. I've brought a charger for my phone.

The picks:

LSU -3'

I hear some folks are getting this all the way up at 6, but on the ground, we've still got it at 4. As always, I recommend getting that extra half point.

Mississippi St/Oklahoma state UNDER 64

There's as much buzz for Tyler Russell as there can be, I guess. But State (#Hail) is better suited to keep it close. I bet they slow it down, and still struggle offensively. I favor SEC defenses in general to be able to cover the space required going against teams like Oklahoma State. And 64 is a LOT of points. Total started at 60, so we've already picked up 4 whole points.

Good luck.

Check out the madness on Twitter. I'll be here all... forever. @harry_long

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fox Sports 1's First Full Week In the Book

Variety had a ratings report on Fox Sports 1's first full week...

It didn't go so well.

Lots of thoughts on Fox Sports 1 (& 2!), but I'm keeping this primarily to a few things I noticed in the article.

1) WJOX in Birmingham had more unique daily listeners than Fox Sports 1 had average daily viewers. (For statistics nerds, I understand that those are two different statistics being compared. The point is to point out how few people nationwide were watching.)

2) ESPN is in only 85% of households? Where the hell are the people without ESPN? Are they okay? Should we call and check in on them?

Like the article states, Fox Sports 1 will likely find it's groove once more live events come in to the rotation. It will also help when their midday programming is settled. While they have loads of commentators on their nightly programs, they are lacking in the general 'sportscenter'-types. So far as I have seen, there is no midday "Fox Sports Live" for news - just one minute break-ins ("3 Things You Need To Know"). Instead, we're left watching stuff that we probably could of seen anyway on Fox Sports South.

Program development in their middays will help with that daily average, as well as working the bugs out. ("Crowd Goes Wild"? I've got a Dead Sea Scroll full of suggestions for that show...)

Success in all this won't be determined for another 18 months. If at the beginning of 2015 you see a bunch of staff reductions, then you'll know Fox is bailing. But it ain't over, there's plenty of time before that. It can be tough when your target has a thirty year head start.

I'm on Twitter. Check it (or me) out. @harry_long

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pumpkin Leaves Man Without Recourse

Editor's Note: This article started out at 100 words, then it got crazy. Stay with it, and you'll see why.

Check out this article. Or, I'll just give you a quick synopsis...

This is our man JD. He lives for this.
(AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion/Greg Skinner)
There's a dude in Alaska that grows super-huge pumpkins like nobody's business. JD Megchelsen already holds the record for biggest Alaskan pumpkin at something over 1,200 lbs, and this year JD thought he had an even bigger one. But because it has a hole in it, some Alaskan-pumpkin-rule says you can't count it. (Bureaucracies, right?)

Anyway, the reason I'm adding this piece to this space is because of a quote that I just couldn't get enough of. Here's JD's sister-in-law on the situation.
"It's just killing him," said Pam Elkins, Megchelsen's sister-in-law. "He eats, sleeps, and dreams pumpkins. All he does is pumpkins."
Eats, sleeps, and dreams pumpkins, huh?

I would suggest a new hobby, and I was about to, until I got to this line...
The hole likely opened the first week of August when the fruit hit its peak growth spurt of 41 pounds in 24 hours. That happened two days in a row, he said.
Holy crap! 41 pounds in a day! Then it did it again?

Audrey II would want no part of this pumpkin.
That's Little Shop of Horrors-esque.

I'm no gardener (I haven't lived at a place with a yard since 2006, I think), so perhaps I shouldn't be amazed at the growth rate of a pumpkin. But I still find that crazy. It says he was giving it up to 300 gallons of water a day.

But what isn't covered in the article (Shame on you, Peninsula Clarion!!), is what he's going to do with the pumpkin now. What do you do with 1,500 lbs of vegetable? I mean, you can't eat that thing, right? This is a show pumpkin, not an eating pumpkin.

And I bet that 300 gallons of water wasn't cheap, either. Is JD financially ruined because of this? How terrible would that Christmas party conversation be?

Hey Pam, good to see you, too! Oh - is that JD? I read about that pumpkin thing. Just awful. Did he come out alright after all that? He didn't? Oh, that's too bad. What's that? He was evicted? That's terrible. His parents' basement, you say? All because of that hole in the pumpkin? Well, just goes to show you... Where did you get that shrimp cocktail, anyway?

What do you win if you have the biggest pumpkin, anyway? Well, according to a fairly extensive Google search (like 3 or 4 pages worth)... well, nothing that I can find.

And then there is the conspiracy theory that I'm making up here and now. Could someone have gotten a hold of Megchelson's prize pumpkin and put that hole there to crush his dreams of a new record? Surely not, right? Who on Earth would do such a thing?

Well...

That Google search I did put me on something pretty interesting. Back in 2011, Dale Marshall of Anchorage toted a reportedly 1,723 lb pumpkin to the Alaska State Fair. It was to be the largest pumpkin in Alaska state history, even coming close to the all-time record of 1,810 lbs by some other loser from New Jersey.

Problem was... the judges discovered a hole!! And since the Alaska-pumpkin-rules have been around since the dawn of time, Marshall's pumpkin ("Lucy Lu" - seriously) was given the DQ.

The twist? Since Marshall's pumpkin was disqualified, the pumpkin to win the 2011 Alaska State Fair pumpkin-off was none other than... JD Megchelson's 1,287 lb pumpkin, which in turn became Alaska's largest official pumpkin of all time.

Conspiracy!

Not only did Megchelson claim victory in 2011 and fame(?) with the all-time heaviest pumpkin, he also regained his heaviest pumpkin in state history title that was taken from him the previous year by... Dale Marshall!!

See how complicated this is getting? There's some bad blood going on here.

The quick history: In 2004, Megchelson gets his first title with a 700 lb pumpkin. Then he tops his own record in '06 with a pumpkin over 1,000 lbs. He holds this record for four years before it is topped by Marshall in '10. And in '11 Megchelson reclaims his title with his 1,287 lb pumpkin after Marshall's 1,723 lb effort is disqualified because of a hole.

This has got to be one of the greatest rivalries of all time!

The Celtics tried to murder Kurt Rambis.
What's to say these guys couldn't drill a hole in a pumpkin?
Seriously, up in the hallways with Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. Lenin and Trotsky. Lakers and Celtics. Kerrigan and Harding. The Mighty Ducks and The Hawks.

And they will stop at nothing - NOTHING - to get their way.

(Ridiculous, right?)

But we've seen crazier - after all, an Alabama fan poisoned Auburn's oaks. So it's not out of the realm.

And these guys do eat, sleep, and dream pumpkins.

For more completely useless commentary, follow me on Twitter. You won't always regret it. @harry_long

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Class. He's Got No Class!

Nothing more than a rant here...

I feel like I've written this before, but perhaps it's just been me banging my head against my steering wheel. The misuse that I encounter of the words "class" and "respect" in sports radio drives me crazy.

I heard some knucklehead calling in to Matt & Scot tonight, talking about how Johnny Manziel has shown "no class" this offseason. I've been hearing this no class argument/accusation for 15 years. Feels like longer.

Auburn fans have no class. Alabama fans have no class. Steve Spurrier has no class.

"They're just classless, Paul. Don't you think that's classless?" (Classic line from all-time great "Shane From Center Point", RIP.)

Let me explain something to all of you people. There is no such thing as class anymore. Did you watch MTV the other night? Class went the way of Bryan Adams - he's out there somewhere, you just don't see him much.

It is important to note that the "classless" accusation rarely - if ever - comes from the actual host. It's the callers that take this route.

Two things are going on here: 1) People are foolish & 2) People are devious.

Foolish
While their descriptions never seem to be too detailed, the best I can tell from most of these folks is that their definition of someone who is "classless" is just someone they don't like. The knucklehead tonight didn't like Johnny Manziel - flat out, that's it.

It all goes back to "our guy"/"their guy". If it's our guy, we like him - he's "animated" or "spirited". Think Marshall Henderson. Ole Miss fans loved that dude. (So did I.) Florida fans - not so much. The all-time example is Dennis Rodman. Once he arrived in Chicago, Bulls fans forgave him for everything in Detroit - he was now their boy. Rodman had a rotating group of fan bases that hated him, consisting of all the teams that he was not on at the time.

Devious
You are getting trolled, folks. While it wasn't the case this evening, more times than not, when a caller says your guy is classless - he's looking to get a rise out of you.

And boy, that bait trap is full.

It's a simple play upon your emotions - like saying your Mama is ugly. You don't like that, and you quickly tumble down to Patient Zero's level in a name-calling tirade.

I would ask you all to encourage others to not fall into this trap, but I've given up on that. The emotive denominator will stay as long as their are radio shows that will allow the accusations. And for better or more likely worse, that is the format and people are welcome (and entitled) to have their opinions.

I just wish those wouldn't stoop below the Intellectual Quotient of a 2nd grader.

I'm on Twitter, and I'm opinionated. @harry_long

Monday, August 26, 2013

Things Are Starting To Get REAL 'Round Here...

From ScoresAndOdds.com this morning...

It works it works!!!!!

Glad to see our boys at Scores and Odds are preparing for the season. We'll be checking in with them quite a bit. 

Twitter: @harry_long

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Will Smith & Fam Watch America Slide Down the Toilet Bowl.

My buddy Doug T. has screen capped Sunday evening, as well as the state of our society.

Here we have the first family of entertainment, The Smiths, watching a carwreck Miley Cyrus.


Jaden Smith kills me here.

I'm on Twitter. My blow-by-blow of the Timberlake/N'SYNC reunion was incredible. Too bad you missed it. Don't let it happen again. @harry_long

Big Boy Pants


Making the rounds on Twitter is this well framed shot of NJ Governor (and possible future GOP Presidential candidate) Chris Christie. Pic via @karenehowell. 

The jokes are coming in waves. I just think he needs to let a little air out of the tire. 

\Because this is why we have the Internet. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Would Call This Unfortunate

Can't say it's been a great two years for our friend in Guntersville. I did at least redact his place of employment. For his own privacy, and because he misspelled it.


I showed it to a female friend, and she was unsure as to which Sandusky she was more afraid of.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Here's an Idea... Don't Sign Anything

I know... another Johnny Football post.

I'm getting a little worn on it, too, but on the radio, you've got to play the hits.

The information and allegations continue to roll in on Johnny Manziel's drug trafficking autograph signing ring, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

By the way, a good litmus test on the validity of a story is whether or not SportsCenter will cover it. This story has at least enough legs that on Monday, they would intersperse this story between A-Rod segments. So, it's got Bristol believing something's up.


No Twitter...
And No Signature?
During this maelstrom, an idea nerf-balled into my brain. We've seen football coaches ban their players from social media, because of the distractions it can cause and, more likely, the trouble it can get players into. We see poor judgment all the time in social media - with college athletes, professional athletes, celebrities, and even ordinary 'ol people.

So some football coaches say no-no to social media.

Well, what if they did the same with autographs? Couldn't they institute a no-autograph policy?

Think about it. To a football coach, is it worth the risk? What's the real benefit to a football team to have their players sign autographs for fans?

If a football coach came out and explained to the fans that - while he is sorry it has to be this way - because of situations like the one at Texas A&M, the coaching staff has decided to protect their players and is no longer allowing any private autographing or at fan events:

"We ask you the fans, to help us with the implementation of this policy, as it is in the best interests for all involved, and we can help keep our players on the field and out of any investigational spotlight that could jeopardize their eligibility. Gig 'Em."

Of course, there will still be some players that will sign materials anyway, but at least with a policy you can discourage the practice, educate the players on the pitfalls (even use the Johnny Football example), and better police it. There will always be snakes, but maybe you could limit the practice - hell, even set up a sting operation to catch any online eBay autograph brokers.

Really, the only downside I see in all this is that the little kid who actually wants the autograph for themselves is left hanging. But what's a little kid's feelings worth in the billion-dollar college football world? Not much, I say.

How did we get here? Well, two reasons:

1) The Internet and eBay. The ability for an individual to setup their own online store and easily accept payment for items that they have laying around the house. Like Amazon changed the retail world (...and really, the world in general), eBay provided an outlet for people to take advantage of people's craze for memorabilia. Real, fake, whatever - the digital personal selling platform allowed people to connect and conduct business well beyond any personal interaction.

2) People are crazy. Why is an 8"x10" signed by Johnny Manziel worth $36? $100? Why?

I'll admit, I'm a very utilitistic person. If I can use something, and I know I'm going to use it - I don't mind paying for it. What am I going to use a signed football for? To display? Why? This is obviously a more me  thing than I guess the regular sports fan.

But the regular sports fan is the problem - and their desire for these signed materials. The people who are willing to shell out this money for these autographed items drive the industry. Otherwise, these scammers with a stack of AJ McCarron 5"x7"s wouldn't bother.

They are taking advantage of your fandom.

And it's putting your favorite players at risk.

Ridiculous, I say.


Because the players aren't dumb - they can get on eBay just like you, and they are seeing that someone else is getting the $36, $100 for the item that they made valuable by adding their signature. Of course they want a cut. (And, that's probably fair - but it's just not the rule.)

So, will a coach or athletic department step up and say no more?

If Johnny Manziel is taken off the field, I bet some of them are going to think about it.

Questions, comments? Leave them below or hit me up on Twitter. @harry_long

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NCAA Turns Tail, I Laugh At the Ridiculousness

Bilas: For the People
Earlier today, I had a brief post on Jay Bilas' efforts of exposing a major amount of hypocrisy on the NCAA's part with their online store. The point of that post was that the NCAA made the rules and made them in their favor.

But... the point of this post is that the NCAA is hilarious.

After a solid stomping from Bilas (and to be honest - I was kind of getting tired of it), curiously, the search bar at ShopNCAASports.com was removed from the website.

That's right - they panicked and turned the thing off. Oh my god, that's funny. Another Twitter victory.

The NCAA's official stance has been that none of the apparel sold on their website and no officially licensed apparel is tied to any individual's likeness. They just happen to be selling Alabama #10s and South Carolina #7s right now.

For those not as familiar with how search engines and online stores work, when an item is listed in the online store's inventory, there is something called 'metadata' that is written into the coding of the items to help customers find the objects they are looking for. With more sophisticated (and well staffed) websites, the metadata can become very extensive, with dozens (hundreds, in some cases) of descriptive terms to assist with the search for that item.

What does all that mean? Well, it means that Jay Bilas exposed the NCAA's direct hypocrisy in profiting off the names of student-athletes. Because a search of "Manziel" or "Johnny Manziel" led directly to a #2 Texas A&M jersey, that indicates that someone (employed in some manner by the NCAA) put the terms "Manziel" and "Johnny Manziel" into the metadata of that store item.

Just like Bilas showed today with items resulting for searches of Tajh Boyd, Jadeveon Clowney, on and on. All of their names were in the code.

I'd appreciate a major media person to request comment from the NCAA on the removal of the search bar to see what they'd say. And to ask specifically is these players' names were in the metadata of store items. They could deny it, but they'd be lying - because it would be IMPOSSIBLE for those searches to return those items without their placement in the metadata. Trust me - impossible. The search would return no results if they weren't in the metadata.

The Manziel item was the worst, as it had "Football" as the nameplate on the back of the jersey, as in "Johnny Football". I looked - I couldn't find ANY OTHER jersey with "Football" as the nameplate.

Right idea. Jerseys on adults is not a good thing.
So, this is roundly entertaining to me. And it has been to others.

I'm with Michael Hall's tweet - the rule is that if you have a drivers license, you can't wear a jersey.

From my little soapbox here - PLEASE, will a major media member ask the NCAA about this? Force the NCAA to play a hand.

It's a blackjack game, and we've already figured out the NCAA's hand.

Busted.

Check me out on Twitter, pretty-please. @harry_long

The Rules Are Not the Same For Everyone... Particularly the NCAA

I know this doesn't matter, and it's not necessarily news - but anyone on Johnny Football's side has a right to feel that the kid is getting a raw deal.

Student-athlete stalwart Jay Bilas was good enough to tweet out a link to this item...

So this isn't supposed to be a Johnny "Football" jersey?

Look, I hear all the folks who, "He should get paid! Why does everyone else profit off of Johnny Football, but he can't?" Well, argue that until you're blue in the face, 'cause rules is rules. Right or wrong, the rule is that Johnny Football can't make money off the name 'Johnny Football'... yet.

Only the NCAA can do that.

So, the opinion that the kid should make some money doesn't matter. If you break the speed limit, but tell the cop that you "should be able to go 85", it doesn't matter.

The cop can go 85. You can't.

Fair or not.

I'm on Twitter. @harry_long

Monday, August 5, 2013

Uncle Nate Doesn't Realize A Good Thing When He Has It

Uncle Nate. Man in Charge.
Uncle Nate knows how to screw up a good thing.

The Uncle Nate discussion was had on the Roundtable about a week ago. A college kid who has dropped out of school to be Johnny Football's personal assistant. Arranges for security guards, manages interview requests... really just to be a Turtle/E combo. Getting paid to hang out, answer a few phone calls? Sounds like a job I'd of gladly taken when I was 20.

ESPN's report yesterday states that it was Fitch (Uncle Nate to you and me) that halted the 'free' signings and said there was to be some compensation for all these autographs that were being shelled out.

That is - Uncle Nate saw more money than he was getting, and he got greedy.

So the $5k/month (guessing) wasn't good enough for Uncle Nate. Within the Manziel camp, I think that is what's going on currently. Mom and Pop Manziel want to get their hands on Nate to see what the hell is going on... and to get stories straight, should they need them.

And I think it's going to cost (kind of) Uncle Nate. Should things advance in this investigation, look for Nate to fall on the sword. He (or the Manziel parents) will say that Uncle Nate was arranging for payments without Johnny's knowledge, and the family is upset and concerned about how someone they had put so much faith in to help their son could do something like this. Crocodile tears... and SCENE.

You can book that.

Should this be the route taken, it could probably be argued that if it Uncle Nate was the one profiting from the autograph sessions - was he really doing anything wrong? He's just brokering a deal for an autograph broker. And what would the precedence be? Has there ever been another college football athlete with a full-time personal assistant? (At least a legitimate one?)

It has been said that the kid sitting next to Johnny Football can make money off him, just not Johnny.

But it's the silence (to this point) from everyone in the Manziel camp that leads me to believe that this one could be serious. In every other Johnny Football story this offseason - whether it be Johnny, his Twitter account, or his parents - someone has said something. These folks don't shy away from microphones.

Makes me think that they are getting their stories straight. (Which is smart, by the way.)

Last thing that lends credence to this situation - the reaction from Las Vegas. Team win totals for both Alabama and Texas A&M were removed from the betting boards, the spread had moved over three points, and some books had taken the game down all together.

When T-Town Menswear went down - it was an Internet sensation for about three weeks. But no games came off the boards. Like with just about anything, when you want a true indication of what is going on, talk to the people with no emotion in the game - just money.

Don't know how this is going to shake out, but it's enough to throw a scare into Vegas. And that should be enough to scare College Station.

Follow me on Twitter! @harry_long