Tag Archive: ESPN Game Day


Soft Oregon?

Oregon Ducks fans are more rabid because there is nothing else to do in the state except watch ‘Portlandia.’” – author and New York City native, Buzz Bissinger.

Oregon is putrid against nationally ranked opponents. All the Ducks really do is feast on the poor, and suck it up against the rich.” – Harry Gerard “H.G.” Bissinger, III.

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Leave it to the author of Friday Night Lights to mess up a magazine with heroin-chic Kate Moss on the cover.

Bissinger wants to bring back more concussions, blood and broken bones to college and professional football.

Yep, Buzz gave it to the Oregon Ducks from the comfort of his Manhattan digs in his From Butkus to Buttercup essay. BTW Bissinger III, OR-EE-GONE is located due west of the Hudson River…give or take two-or-three time zones to the west.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so rough on Buzz. After all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, Friday Night Lights, about Reagan-era football in West Texas.

And his reflection of the perception about Oregon football being soft is shared by others, particularly the talking heads on Bristol, Connecticut’s ES(SEC)PN.

Bissinger (not to be confused with Kissinger) offered that Baylor and Oregon have become “dirty words” in college football. Why?

Because they win?

Because they are both a blast to watch?

Substitute Oregon for Central Florida against Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, and I guarantee you ES(SEC)PN ratings that will be higher than the astronomical figures on the scoreboard.

College football is immensely popular because of the breakneck speed in which it is now played. Huddles are so yesterday. Speed. Tempo, Excitement. New unis. New ways of thinking.

Bissinger and the purists want to go back to Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and three-yards and a cloud of dust. There is just something magical about watching a team break the huddle. The quarterback putting his hands on the center’s derriere. And then (gasp) handing off the ball to the burly fullback for a dive play…Yawn.

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If you want that kind of game, just watch Stanford vs. Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. There will be big burly linemen, packed like sardines on the line of scrimmage in which everyone in the stadium and on television knows what play will be run. The game will be as predictable as a root canal.

“Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly either revolutionized the game with the hurry-up, no-huddle offense every play or hastened the game’s absurdity, since the team looks like an amphetamine-induced ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon in which the beleaguered cat and its nemesis mouse wear green Speedos.” – Bissinger III in From Butkus to Buttercup.

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That would be the same Chip Kelly, who has already doubled the number of wins for the Philadelphia Eagles with two games to go. These are the same Philadelphia Eagles that went 4-12 in 2012 and are now leading the NFC East at 8-6 with a big Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears on the docket.

Getting back to the notion that Oregon blows away the weak and crumbles before the smash-mouth crowd may be de rigueur with the Eastern Time Zone folks, who can’t stay up late for Oregon’s games. There are a few facts that belie this perception…Yes, yes, there is the adage about perception trumping reality. Sorry “putrid” does not apply unless you are talking about SEC non-conference “competition.”

● Oregon plays in the Pac-12 Conference, which mandates each team to play nine conference games. The SEC only requires its teams to play eight conference foes…which leaves a spot open for another cupcake game.  Let’s see…on November 23, Alabama walloped Chattanooga and South Carolina beat up on Coastal Carolina. West Carolina was not available that day as they had already played Auburn.

● Speaking of the SEC, Oregon ran all over Tennessee and its smash-mouth offensive and defensive lines, 59-14 at Autzen Stadium. This is the very same Tennessee team that later upset Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks, 23-21.

● Oregon lost to Stanford this year and in 2012 in relatively close games. Keep in mind, Oregon blasted Stanford in Palo Alto, 53-30 in 2011, and 52-31 in Eugene in 2010, with Andrew Luck serving as Stanford’s quarterback.

● Finesse Oregon never wins the big games, particularly big physical teams. Really? Does the 2012 Rose Bowl 45-38 win against burly Wisconsin with Russell Wilson at QB and Montee Ball carrying the rock ring a bell? Oh…Wisconsin ran out of time, instead of Oregon winning. Is that what you are saying? Scoreboard baby, scoreboard.

● Guess beating USC twice consecutively in the LA Coliseum doesn’t count, 53-32 in 2010 and 62-51 in 2012. SC has never been considered to be a soft opponent and winning in LA is difficult. Ask Stanford. Ask Ohio State.

● Yes, Oregon lost the 2011 “Natty” on a last second field goal to Cam Newton’s Auburn, the 2010 Rose Bowl to Ohio State and the 2011 opener to LSU in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas. They easily could have scheduled Idaho on that date, but they didn’t. Wait…didn’t Florida State play Idaho this year…in Tallahassee? It was an 80-14 squeaker on November 23. I’m quivering just remembering where I was when I heard the score for the first time.

● For the quantitative types, Oregon is 56-9 in the last five years recording 10-wins or more in each of these seasons. This is the first year that a BCS Bowl game is not the reward for a great year. Not bad, not bad at all.

Even though ES(SEC)PN makes Game Day visits to Eugene (and I will give them credit for that), most of the Trilateral Commission for Global Domination by the Eastern Time Zone (TCGDETZ) can’t handle the team from Eugene, Oregon and they can barely tolerate the team from Waco, Texas (Baylor).

At least when the latter plays the folks in the midtown Manhattan bars don’t have to stay up so late.

http://www.buzzbissinger.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzz_Bissinger

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_Night_Lights:_A_Town,_a_Team,_and_a_Dream

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20755383,00.html

http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/team/coaches/chip-kelly/1e82ad7a-dd3c-4f69-be3c-8e0ee114e7f3

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/or-ee-gone/

 

Every fall game day, I have a sacred routine.

My pilgrimage starts by walking over the Willamette River knowing that one day my ashes will be thrown off the footbridge into the north flowing current. Soon thereafter I will be partying with friends in the Moshofsky Center (Oregon’s indoor practice facility). Then about 45 minutes before kickoff, it will be time to head into the game. And finally, the three hours-plus of intensity and passion that comes from a no-holds barred game in the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium.

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I have it all figured out, or do I?

My best friend’s son, who loves college football as much as me, will almost never go to a stadium, any stadium. Presumably, he begins his autumn Saturdays with ESPN’s “College Game Day,” followed by a series of jousts at noon Eastern, and then the first set of west coast contests at 3:30 pm Eastern, and then the featured Saturday night epics at 8 pm Eastern and finally the late West Coast bouts at 10:15 pm Eastern. To wrap it up, he checks out ESPN “Sports Center” to cap off the day.

Does he appreciate what he is missing? Or is it me who doesn’t know what I am missing?

This coming August 15, the Pac-12 Conference will join the other major conferences (e.g., Big 10) in debuting its own network, ensuring that every football, men’s and women’s basketball game of each conference school is televised in high definition with superior video and audio. As welcome as the universal access to all of your alma mater’s games may be, it brings up an obvious question:

Why go to the game?

When I first purchased my Oregon season seats, 15 rows behind the opponent’s bench near the 30-yard line back in 1990; maybe…just maybe…one Oregon game would be televised each year. ABC had a virtual hammer lock on college football and only televised the glamour teams, but that quickly changed with cable.

Even with that change, perhaps four or five Oregon games would be televised each year in standard definition and those were usually the games against teams from the large media markets (e.g., USC, UCLA, Washington, Stanford, Cal). Now all of the games are televised in high definition, including this year’s body-bag game with Tennessee Tech.

The ones-and-zeroes mastery of digital television teamed with telecommunication satellite technology and HDTV with LED, LCD and plasma screens resulted in a viewer experience that absolutely blows away standard definition. We can now actually see the puck during Stanley Cup playoffs. Many times the problem with progress is the unintended consequences.

Even the staid Economist this week noted that better television broadcasts combined with escalating ticket prices have resulted in the NFL seeing a drop off in its attendance.

This perfect storm has to cause even the most devoted fan (I qualify) to question spending $1,000 to participate in the Duck Athletic Fund (substitute your own school’s athletic supporter fund), and then spending $81 or more per seat for the best games (e.g., $345 each for the BCS National Championship game) for the privilege of standing up for the entire game in either 94-degree heat or 32-degree freezing temps. And let’s not forget the slow crawl home with 60,000-plus of your most intimate friends.

Sure, the live game includes marching bands with fight songs and ornamental cheer leaders or as the late (ABC college football announcer) Chris Schenkel said, “What better way to spend an autumn afternoon.” Well, there is an option even for the most devoted fan.

The alternative is the living room with superior sound and picture. The game is free. There is no line for the bathroom. It is easy to dash during a time out for your personal refrigerator. The networks provide replays of key plays for not only the game you are watching, but for all of the other big games. Heck, you can even watch two games at once with picture in picture technology.

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Maybe this conundrum has prompted many professional franchises and college athletic departments to go slow (e.g., Oregon) in expanding the capacity of their respective stadia or in certain cases actually reduced the capacity (e.g., Stanford). Too many seats (supply) can depress demand (fans), while too few seats (supply) may stimulate demand (fans). Call this the Beanie Baby effect.

Perfect examples in beisboll are the Chicago Cubs (e.g., Wrigley Field), the Boston Red Sox (e.g., Fenway Park) and the San Francisco Giants (e.g., AT&T Park). In contrast, the Oakland Athletics have too many seats in the Oakland Coliseum, prompting the franchise to cover whole sections with embarrassing tarps. How’s that for “Money Ball?”

Oregon has sold out every game at 54,000 seat Autzen Stadium (60,000 with standing room) since 1999. And as long as the Ducks keep winning (e.g., three straight conference championships and three straight BCS bowl games), Oregon fans will pack Autzen even when Tennessee Tech comes a calling. But what happens (and it’s inevitable) when some sub par seasons creep into the mix? It wasn’t that long ago when the Ducks were weak sisters and they were not seen as ultra cool. I don’t want to see a fall off, but I have to be reasonable.

Will hardy fans be tempted to follow their team (and college football in general) by means of the superior quality and convenience of HDTV? The Pac-12 network will reportedly bring up to $30 million in additional revenue to each of the dozen schools in the conference. That is good news to the green eyeshade crowd. One must wonder long term whether this influx of cash will be counterbalanced by dwindling attendance in the face of high ticket prices and awesome high definition sound and picture.

Doesn’t that sound like an unintended consequence?

http://www.economist.com/node/21555606

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Schenkel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-12_Network

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports/2012/05/20/pac-12-network-what-it-worth-heres-one-projection/

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/budwithers/2018252077_withers21.html

http://world.ty.com/catalog/catPage.cfm?status=Current&lineid=3

The following is an open letter to Mark Lazarus and Dick Ebersol of NBC Sports asking them to seize a Ducky opportunity to immediately increase the ratings for the network’s desultory college football coverage.

Thank you for allowing me to present to you a plan to revive NBC’s underperforming college football coverage in the face of superior programming offered by ABC/ESPN, CBS and Fox Sports Network.

I do not take this responsibility lightly as my recommendations may result in my swift-and-certain excommunication from the Catholic Church by Pope Pius XVI. Lou Holtz and Beano Cook may never speak to me again; guess that is the chance that I have to take. The center piece of my plan is for NBC to fully exploit the 2015 expiration of its exclusive agreement to broadcast Notre Dame’s home games to the dwindling numbers that are still interested.

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You have to admit that you are underwhelmed by Notre Dame now and during the course of the last two decades. This year, the Golden Domers lost to South Florida (Quick: Where is South Florida located? Hint: It is not in south Florida). Last week, they played Wake Forest (wake me please). This week it is the fighting turtles of Maryland and then comes…gasp…2-7 Boston College.

Who scheduled these cupcakes? The answer is the same independent athletic department that slated Connecticut, Syracuse, Navy and Tulsa (all Notre Dame losses) in the past few years.

Let me be frank with my metaphors: Notre Dame is football’s version of Lawrence Welk. In place of Notre Dame, NBC needs to televise the home games of a team that is closer to the Foo Fighters, the Oregon Ducks.

Hang with me here. It is time for West-of-the-Hudson-River thinking. The Ducks are #6 in both polls; Notre Dame once again is unranked. Since 1994, the Ducks are 155-64; Notre Dame is 128-87. Oregon is 6-9 in bowls including playing in the BCS National Championship game, two Rose Bowls, and one Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame is 2-9 riding a two-game win streak in the Sun and Hawaii Bowls (excuse me my blood is flowing northward).

Chip Kelly is 30-5 in his nearly three years as coach, including 17 straight wins in the Pac-12, and 21 straight at Autzen Stadium. Once again, your competitor’s “ESPN Game Day” is hyping Oregon’s game this Saturday against Stanford, making the third time this calendar year alone that Oregon has been the focus of a Game Day broadcast. When was the last time Notre Dame has been the subject of Game Day? I don’t remember either.

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Certainly you have to be concerned about losing the broadcast rights to Notre Dame’s every-other-year home game against USC (the Greatest Intersectional Rivalry in College Football). Really? Notre Dame is 1-9 against USC in the last 10 and 4-12 since 1994. If Notre Dame/USC was a fight, it would have been stopped in the second round.

In contrast, Oregon is 8-5 against USC during this stretch including winning the last two and three out-of-the last four. Which stadium and team does USC fear more? Notre Dame Stadium and the “Fighting” Irish or Autzen Stadium and the Oregon Ducks? It isn’t even close. The Trojans can still hear the ringing in their collective ears the last time they visited the friendly confines of Autzen.

According to Jeff Sagarin’s ratings in USA Today, Oregon would be favored by nearly 18 points over Notre Dame at Autzen and eight points in South Bend, Indiana. This is not a new development. Oregon has been outcoaching, outrecruiting, outplaying and outmarketing Notre Dame for years.

Most of all Oregon doesn’t need cute little shamrocks on its helmets; it boldly changes its Nike uniforms anytime it wants. Oregon plays in a conference, the Pacific 12 conference. Alas, Notre Dame does not have a conference. Oregon has rivalries against the hated Washington Huskies (eight straight…hee, hee) and an annual Civil War against Oregon Agricultural College (e.g. The Jetsons vs. the Flintstones or culture vs. agriculture). This year will be the 115th meeting between the liberal arts university and the agrarian land-grant school.

The Oregon coolness factor, recent Heisman Trophy candidates (Joey Harrington, Dennis Dixon and LaMichael James), possible additional ad revenue from Uncle Phil, and a whole host of intriguing intangibles all point to NBC making a bold move, dumping Notre Dame when the network’s contract expires with the university that is yesterday’s news. You may want to contact Oregon AD Rob Mullens before ABC/ESPN, Fox, CBS or any other rival preempts your network…again.

Next year, Versus will become the NBC Sports Network. Cable is the perfect venue for Notre Dame’s future home games against Bethune Cookman, Vassar and the University of Phoenix. If you wish to discuss further, I will be the guy in the upper deck of Stanford Stadium Saturday night. I won’t know the score of the Notre Dame/Maryland game…neither will anyone else.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/fbt11.htm?loc=interstitialskip

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