Mar. 24—Next frontier
Well, here you go and the ripples of this could lead college sports almost anywhere.
Notre Dame is launching its own streaming service about its sports. It's called Fighting Irish TV, and feel free to insert your favorite NBC zinger at any time.
Seriously, though, think of what this means in an ever-changing TV landscape that is filled with unknowns and 'what's next' question marks.
First, from the TV side, live sports is one of the few things that is DVR-proof and offers real, tangible value to networks in a time when cord-cutting is more and more common.
Second, yes, Notre Dame has long gamed the system by being eligible for the biggest paydays of college football without a conference and a school-specific deal with the Peacock. Yes, that TV deal is still in place — for now — which means Fighting Irish TV will likely be about a lot of lesser sports for the immediate future.
But that will only allow the production quality and habits to take shape. (Side note: Imagine too, this being part of a curriculum at ND — media or whatnot — and then you have a steady supply of cheap or free labor manning the product. Wow, college sports broadcasting becoming like college sports, where the school exploits the students for 'experience' and stuff. Hey, get a few extra text books if you need. No charge.)
And when it does look out. Because this will be emulated, and could even become a situation where the tail wags the dog.
Think about it this way: For years — decades even — a lot of us have clamored that Notre Dame needs to join a conference. It hasn't and it has cashed in on that fact.
Well, even as the SEC Network and the college sports deals prove lucrative, those conferences split the money. Heck, the SEC gets a full share of the media money for running the conference and to feed Greg Sankey's U2 concert addiction.
But if Alabama football or UK hoops looks up and sees Fighting Irish TV churning in the cash, that will eventually lead each of those operations — and the standalone money-makers like Tide football fanatics and Big Blue Nation — wonder, "Hey why not us?"
Because as so many wrestle with the value of the name, image and likeness of the college athletes, Notre Dame streaming its sports brings an entirely new and potentially way more damaging conversation to the podium.
What happens when Alabama asks, "Why is Missouri getting the same amount as we are?" And if Alabama doesn't like that answer, well, Fighting Irish TV on channel 3 and Roll Tide Tune-In on Channel 5.
Basketball bounces high
Speaking of college sports and television, well, you want the good news or the bad, NCAA hoops fans?
OK, we'll start with the good. The preliminary TV numbers from the early rounds of the tournament were down only 3%. In this day and age of declining sports TV ratings, that's a Gonzaga-over-random-West-Coast-team-you've-never-heard-of sized win.
Three percent? Heck that's on par with the slight dips the NFL experienced through the regular season. Will they continue through the draw? Hard to know, but considering the sports-on-TV climate and the other factors like the lack of several Blue Bloods working against the tournament, those numbers are exceedingly positive.
Now for the bad, and it hinges ironically enough on 3%. In 2016, when the NCAA had the chance to take March Madness to market and renegotiate, NCAA president and world-class reigning king of clowns Mark Emmert refused.
He took the roll over extension that increases 3% each year.
Emmert, who has a list of failures that is both long and distinguished, took an annual 3% increase in a TV sports marketplace that has watched as the NFL and the NHL double their TV deals.
According to YahooSports!, Emmert's decision is being compared to the CBS-SEC football TV deal in terms of money left on the table. For context, the CBS-SEC deal pays the 'Means More' conference $55 million a year for the best game almost every week from the best football conference almost every year. The SEC title game alone is worth at least that.
So at a time when the college basketball tournament lovers have reason to celebrate 3%, in the end, that measly number will define the all-time awfulness that has been Mark Emmert's time running the NCAA into the ground.
High schooling by Mamba
Did you see the White Mamba trending on Twitter Tuesday?
First, that Brian Scalabrine, the former NBA journeyman who in his 11-year basketball career played for more teams than Crash Davis, goes by the nickname 'White Mamba' and we're all good with it makes me smile.
Well, Sacalrbine took some heckling from a high school hoops player recently at a gym and the two then played 1-on-1, each betting his shoes on the outcome.
So Scalarbine, who is 43 now and averaged about 13 minutes and 3.1 points per game in his 520 NBA appearances, worked this dude, who was a good-sized high school player. It was 11-bagel.
It's a reminder that a) every professional basketball player is much bigger than you expect them to be, and b) the very worst NBA player is 10 times better than the best player you've ever played with. (Provided you haven't played with or against other NBA players.)
Side story: My freshman year in high school, our freshman team and a couple of JV players worked — flat out worked — the high school varsity. The one non-student on the floor was my dentist, Dr. Jim Pitts, who was one of the leading scorers in UGA hoops history during his career there in the early 1960s.
He was a second-round pick of the 76ers back in the day but joined the military and became a dentist because his then-girlfriend, now-wife told him that he needed to find a career to provide for his family and not spend all that time in short pants running around bouncing a ball. Seriously.
So Dr. Pitts — who had two sons on the floor, one on each team — was probably in his mid-40s at the time and dude simply did not miss an open look.
That was the thought I had watching the White Mamba video.
This and that
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the roster overhaul for Josh Heupel in Year 1 in K-town. Wow, that's some dire straits. And big picture, outside of Vandy, does UT have the worst roster in the SEC heading into 2021?
— George Segal died Tuesday. He was 87. He also viewed himself as Hollywood's Chevy Chase before Chevy Chase in terms of plug-and-place light-hearted comedies. The comparison has merit.
— Going to just leave this one right here for a minute. Evanston, a Chicago suburb, is moving forward with reparations to compensate Black residents for governmental racism and the lingering effects of slavery. So there's that.
— Alabama held its pro day — or its first installment of it — on Tuesday. Dear Lord the river of talent that Nick Saban is harvesting and developing is staggering. Saw this stat: Since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, 33 Alabama players have been drafted in the first round. THE Ohio State is second with 21. Across the SEC, the next two in the list — LSU and Florida — have combined for 33.
— TFP lifestyle ace Barry Courter is now on the Saxsquatch beat, as the horn-blowing bigfoot teamed with John Oates for a rendition of the hit Maneater. Sometimes you can write jokes better than real life. Saxsquatch blowing Maneater? What's next a yeti drinking from a Yeti? From the story, here's Saxsquatch version of how they met and their latest: "I met John through his wife, Aimee, who I met on Instagram. She connected us and we did a few songs together and one was 'Maneater.' We were vibing the whole time fusing jazz and blues with some dance music. We did a dance version of 'Maneater' so I could tap my big foot." Maul and Oates anyone?
— Maybe we all knew it when it was happening, but the heights former UTC women's hoops coach Wes Moore has reached at N.C. State are still beyond even the loftiest of expectations. Here's Weeds — hey, college hoops is college hoops, unless of course the NCAA and weight rooms are involved — on Moore's NCAA dreams with the Wolfpack.
— It felt like a MadLib made for the Twitter-verse. There was a beloved cereal from our childhood. (Side note: Want to know where America started to come off the rails? When we started making all of these fiber, granola, whatever-it-is cereals. Man, we grew up in a time when Mickey D's would give you a hard plastic plate with so many lead paints on it, you could wash that thing with a fire hose for a quarter century and it's still as colorful today as when you got. And cereal? If you weren't risking a diabetic episode on your second bowl, then friends, you were doing it wrong. Crunch Berries. Fruity Pebbles. Those mini-chocolate chip cookies. Gold, Jerry. And while we're talking about the kaleidoscope of kids colors, if your milk was still white when you were sucking back that luxurious leftover liquid after the cereal was gone, then your mom bought the wrong box friend. Put that in your spoon and slurp it Mikey.) Anywell, so some Hollywood writer alleges he found shrimp tails in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Yes, a grown man eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a story unto itself. But then we learn that this dude is married to some actress who was her generation's Kelly Kopowski and she played Topanga on Boy Meets World. And social media simply could not get enough of them.
Which way Wednesday starts this way.
Which Hall and Oates song was their best?
Which sugary kids cereal is/was your favorite?
Which schools — and there may be more than one answer here — have a strong enough national following to ask their conferences for a bigger share of the TV deal?
Which is the most accomplished athlete you have ever played against?
Hey, share. Mine's easy. On a 16-and-under-year-old travel baseball team, I'm pitching in Lexington, Ky., and some sweet-swinging lefty from Cincinnati hit one that still hasn't landed over the right field wall. That pitcher was yours truly. The hitter was Ken Griffey Jr.
As for today, let's review.
OK, one more side story: Apparently on this day in 1944, Royal Air Force rear gunner Nick Alkemade survived a jump from his bomber of 18,000 feet over Germany without a parachute. Dude had his fall broken by a bunch of tress and a soft snow bank. He suffered a sprained leg. Buckets can you imagine the fear of falling like that only to suffer a sprained leg? Wowser.
It's national cheesesteak day. Big friend.
It's also national chocolate covered raisin day. I'll say it. Raisins are wicked overrated. No thanks.
Let's stay there. Rushmore of worst fruits. Go and remember the mailbag.