Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Quick Blurb

ABC Sports: Get it together!
I use a variety of sources to compile my college football TV schedule each week, including the websites for TV Guide, ABC Sports, and ESPN Gameplan. Most Saturdays I watch portions of about 25 games from noon until midnight. In terms of television coverage, it's never been a better time to be a college football junkie. I remember growing up in Texas and getting the Raycom Southwest Conference game of the week and not much else.

If things are so good, then why am I frustrated? ABC sports only TODAY put out the coverage map for folks across the country to see which game is going to be televised in their area. Why does it matter? Because the sport is no longer regional. You can follow whatever team you like from wherever you are. If you're blacked out of your game, you have to decide whether or not to attend in person, catch it on pay-per-view at a higher cost, or view the game at a sports bar or other venue.

Prevailing wisdom is that the networks decide whom to show based on ratings, national appeal, and on-field performance, often only 6-12 days in advance. Fair enough, seeing as how every year teams over- and underachieve, and a matchup that looked awesome two months ago might be a dog today. That helps explain why Texas-Oklahoma, a top rivalry game with national title implications, was shown regionally this year and not nationally (because OU sucks).

Still, the fortunes of those teams whose games have been selected for broadcast don't usually change drastically in the 6-12 days beforehand. ABC owes it to its viewers to make that info available at the earliest possible point in time. AND, if ABC elects to switch away from a blowout local game to a different one, it must NOT black out the local game from Gameplan. If I want to watch Texas kick OU's ass until the final gun, and have paid for the privilege, I deserve nothing less.

Minnesota epilogue
I became a closet Michigan fan after going up there this year for the Notre Dame game and being treated like royalty. I had an absolute blast. My buddies Jason and Dan in Tennessee are Michigan transplants and blue to the core. It rubs off after awhile. I think you learn to love college football like they do after you take it up the rear every year from the Lions.

Anyway, I was as shocked as anyone that Minnesota beat the Wolverines this past Saturday in Ann Arbor, ending a 19-year winless streak. The two teams play for a trophy called the Little Brown Jug, which dates back to the early 1900s and was actually a water jug used by the Michigan coach. It got left behind on that road trip, and Minnesota refused to return it outright. They played for it and the tradition caught on.

Anyway, Gophers coach Glen Mason brought the jug along with him this past weekend on a date with his wife in Minneapolis, and apparently they spent the evening honoring requests by restaurant staff and customers to have their pictures taken with it, Stanley Cup style. Pretty neat, I thought. Minnesota is a great school in a great area that has waited quite a while to taste a little football glory. It's theirs for the next year, having beaten Big Blue on the road.

THAT is just one example of why college football is the best sport around. Games mean something to everyone. Cheers for the Little Brown Jug, Bunyan's Axe, Golden Hat, Keg of Nails, and every other trophy that rivals long to capture, on the field and off.

Vandy football
I have made it well known on this blog and on Vandymania that I admire and respect the heck out of Chancellor Gordon Gee. The guy is by far the biggest cheerleader that Vandy athletics has had in the ivory tower in generations. I mean that. He considers athletics to be an integral part of the college experience, unlike previous administrators who looked down their noses on the whole thing. And, unlike outlaw programs such as Tennessee, he also believes that athletics are no more important than other parts of the University. It takes a big brass pair to come out and speak such heresy at a school in the football-crazy south.

How do I feel about our athletic department restructuring in September 2003? I'm sold, though it couldn't come at a worse time. Gee announced it three weeks into football season, after Vandy lost a nailbiter to Ole Miss 27-24 (where sophomore Jay Cutler outplayed Eli Manning) and throttled Chattanooga 51-6. The next game up was Auburn at home, who was coming off of two straight losses to USC and Georgia Tech. Man, were they pissed. Our guys spent all week answering questions about the restructuring while Auburn seethed over their ruined season. They left footprints on our asses.

As for the substance, the restructuring is a good thing. It is a model that is appropriate for our particular place in the college athletic landscape (small private university in the semipro league that is the SEC). It eliminated the wall between athletes and traditional students, while also opening up the university's coffers and fundraising operations to athletics. Very positive.

In addition, the restructuring cut through the day-to-day BS that coaches under a traditional AD might deal with. Instead of looking over their shoulders, our coaches spend more time coaching and recruiting. Look at the results: our women's basketball program is elite every year. This upcoming men's basketball season is one of the most anticipated ever. Baseball coach Tim Corbin hauled in possibly the #1 recruiting class in the country. Even Bobby Johnson is putting it together on the gridiron. Something else: all of our coaches are in demand, especially Corbin. We are lucky to have them. They feel lucky to be here with the administration's support and long-term contracts securing their future.

Certain things still need improvement, such as the University's marketing and ticketing operations, as well as the condition of the football stadium and gameday presentation. I know we'll get there in time. In the meantime, it's never been a better time to be a Commodore fan, and you can credit Gee and his radical ideas for a lot of that.

Obligatory Middle cheap shot
I posted earlier that Middle Tennessee is seeking to boost homecoming attendance by giving freebies to area youth. I have since learned that this is part of some sort of Education Day promotion.

This observer is mighty glad to see a university celebrating education like this. I have an even better idea, though, that involves the actual graduation of its football players. Still unsure if that one will ever see the light of day.


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7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

17-15, what a great day in Vandy football.

11:13 PM  
Blogger DoreBlogger said...

I'm not proud of losing 17-15 to Middle Tennessee, though as a Vandy fan I have many other sources of pride.

Besides three wins over Vandy, what does Middle have to be proud of?

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...Besides three wins over Vandy, what does Middle have to be proud of?"

Lots, but lets focus on just one. The Middle Tennessee campus is one of the safest for students and guests, unlike the vandy campus, which in the 2004 TBI report on Campus Crime showed vandy with considerable leads for the most assaults, sex offenses, and thefts. Also, MT students experience far fewer liquor law violations than ut-k and vandy. There's a reason that the stereotype of a student at vandy is preceded by the adjective "drunken."

The recent shooting on the vandy campus, in a vandy dorm, no less, demonstrates just how unsafe vandy's urban campus is. And when it comes to crime, MT student athletes can't hold a candle to vandy's players who frequently make the news for being arrested for some action on or off campus. Say hello to Theo Horrocks, Zach Logan and Demarcus Bradley.

8:59 AM  
Blogger DoreBlogger said...

If the best you can do to defend the quality of your university is compare crime statistics with other schools, you're in worse shape than I thought.

You have not refuted or debated one thing I've ever written about Middle's pathetic athletic program and fourth-tier academic standing.

I'm no longer agreeing to fight battles of wit and intellect with you. You are unarmed.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not drop the pretense of this "blog" being about anything other than bashing MTSU?Bitterness and sour grapes have poisoned you to the point of having an unhealthy obsession/jealousy with all things MTSU.You're more interested in Middle's attendance than Vandy-Georgia? What is pathetic is that you're embarassing the Vandy fans who have moved on with their lives after the Middle game.To see something much more pathetic than Middle's athletic programs(which have won the Sun Belt's All-Sports Trophy two or three years in a row),look in the mirror Doreblogger. Good luck getting through the next 340 some odd days without some sort of anxiety medication.

8:16 PM  
Blogger DoreBlogger said...

Read the blog. I talk about a LOT more than MTSU.

Frustration with the outcome of a single game should not be confused with jealousy.

You know, Middle fans consider us their "rival", and will talk endless smack about beating us three times out of fifteen. Fire back and they cry and bitch and moan.

See you next year.

3:13 PM  
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