Top takeaway from Super Bowl LIII

Both teams took away Tony Romo’s chances to pick the offensive plays. Jim Nantz’s “Hello Friends” was probably the only thing that could be called.

Can’t talk about what isn’t happening. And offense simply did not happen.

Since he can’t scheme defense, no magic of the booth.

At least Tony Romo finally got to the Super Bowl.

The impactful records were kicking records. Longest punt. Longest field goal. First missed field goal at the stadium. Or no scoring records like lowest at 1st quarter, half and 3rd quarter and no touchdowns through 3 quarters. So boring.

At least there is more football to come, soon. Alliance of American Football-AAF, you won’t have to do much to have a better Championship game. Las Vegas – 27 April 2019.

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Coaches Film Room ESPN CFB Playoff Semifinal

I have expressed my preference for the ESPN Megacast during the College Football Playoff. I give all props to CBS who invented the concept during the NCAA Basketball Final Four coverage. I find it hard to believe that fans, true fans, didn’t understand the concept of a “homer” broadcast. Homer being a former player, coach or current fan.

Personally, I like how ESPN has two homers in one broadcast during the championship. That is a different way to do things from having a room full of homers. But still, it was CBS’s concept to begin with. Wonder if CBS could do something different, unique and innovative with bowl games. Well they only have 3 opportunities.

I digress, ESPN has two Megacasts for the semifinals. One is the Command Center. They split the screen in four. Two cameras on the field. And the other two are split watching each sideline.

The other is the Coaches Film Room. Four coaches this year. In the past, Brian Griese provided some direction. A change from his normal color commentary role usually done by Griese on Saturdays. He did a good job making sure there was not a lot of lag.

This time around, ESPN has a few former employees playing that role. They will be listed first in the table.

The normal broadcast crew for #3 Notre Dame vs. #2 Clemson is play-by-play Sean McDonough and color commentary Todd Blackledge. Here are the coaches line up for the game:
Coach {School} Circumstance
Mack Brown [lead] North Carolina Recently hired by UNC. Spent the last 5 years at ESPN. Will be in ACC against Clemson and ND.
Dave Clawson Wake Forest ACC and played both teams this season. 7-6, beat Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl.
Mike Norvell Memphis Runner up in AAC. 8-6, lost the Birmingham Bowl last week to his fellow commentator.
Paul Johnson Georgia Tech ACC and played Clemson. 7-6, recently retired after a Quick Lane bowl loss to Minnesota.

The normal broadcast crew for #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Alabama is play-by-play Chris Fowler and color commentary Kirk Herbstreit. Here are the coaches line up for the game:
Coach {School} Circumstance
Herm Edwards [lead] ASU PAC 12. Spent 10 years at ESPN. Took the Arizona State job this year. 7-5 with loss in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Gary Patterson TCU Big 12. 7-6, beat the Cal Bears in the Cheez-It Bowl.
Bryan Harsin Boise State Mountain West. 10-3 but First Responder Bowl was cancelled in 1st quarter due to lighting.
Steve Addazio Boston College ACC. 7-5 but First Responder Bowl was cancelled in 1st quarter due to lighting.

One big upside, a lot less commercials. They talk through most of the TV timeouts. some commercials remain because the bills still need to get paid. Not nearly as many and with some more innovation, they could advertise a different way. Even when there is a commercial break, might only be 1 or 2 not 3 or more commercials.

ESPN needs to have something that delineates when the main screen is live and when it is replay. Plus, there are sometimes I wish the coaches wouldn’t click through so much. Que Sera, Sera.

For the National Championship, they will likely look for coaches who faced the teams. All the other bowl games will be done, so more will be available. I am sure availability was a factor in who is there today. Personally, I would like to see my alma mater’s coach Jeff Monken of Army-West Point breaking down the game. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Monken ] That is just me being a homer after my school went 11-2 with an Armed Forces Bowl win, third bowl win in a row.

Time to watch the games.

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ESPN needs better branding for their bowl season

Today is the 29th of December. It is not New Year’s Eve. It is not New Year’s Day. So how can a bowl game played today be a New Year’s Six game?

Multiple times during ESPN College Gameday, it was mentioned that the Peach Bowl is a New Year’s six bowl game. I am not sure which of the Gameday crew said it. But I heard it more than once. And it is being said during the game.

Why?

ESPN/ABC/Disney has a strangle hold on the bowl game season. ESPN/ABC/Disney televises 35 of 40 bowl games this year including the championship game which technically is not a bowl game. CBS/CBSSN has 3 bowls and FOX/FS1 have 2 bowls. Let us face the facts; ESPN/ABC/Disney owes the bowls. But they do not own reason or logic about the bowls.

The New Year’s Six bowl games used to be the biggest games of the season. The six bowl games are the Peach, Orange, Cotton, Rose, Fiesta, and Sugar. Until 1998, one of these six bowls games usually served as de-facto National Championship game. They were the ones to watch for.

But conference commitments also spoiled the chance to see the top ranked teams a chance to play one another. This created minor havoc with different news organizations awarded championships to different teams in the same season. This disorder was prior to the decade long “computer glitch” that was the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and current “pick any 4 as long as Alabama is one of them” College Football Playoff (CFP). This system has helped to pick a match up that crowns a champion. But some fans and reporters, a bunch in Central Florida where UCF has a 25-game winning streak, argue that the system still has flaws.

But why are ESPN/ABC/Disney determining what bowls are “New Year’s” bowls? Simple, they control the current bowl system. They are doing it because they can. Fans are not being considered in that valuation. The corporations that both run and sponsor the bowls are a crucial part of the valuation for who are “New Year’s” bowl games.

Does anyone gain by bad branding? I don’t think so. The real problem is, ESPN/ABC/Disney isn’t losing. Neither are the bowls or their sponsors losing in this. It took over a decade and a half for the BCS to be replaced by the CFP. And there are many who still don’t like the CFP. This is what happens when only one entity in ESPN/ABC/Disney are determining how the bowls played.

What is the significance of calling something it obviously is not? Keeping some semblance of the magnitude of the former system. A system fans did not like. No matter though, ESPN/ABC/Disney is really placating the corporations that both run and sponsor the bowl games. They have to know that the CFP is the main attraction for the bowl season. Plus, there is little to no competition from the major multi-sports channels of CBS, ABC, and FOX.

The Peach Bowl is a good game featuring a marquee worthy match-up. #10 Florida vs #7 Michigan. 2 solid/top ten programs that were both in contention for their division, both finished second in the east division of their conference. This matchup is a game to watch for football fans across the country.

But in an era where the CFP is the ultimate goal, the other bowls have decreasing importance. More players are sitting out bowls to decrease the possibility of injury and focus on getting ready for the NFL draft. Why keep an antiqued system? It was flawed. Worse they are not getting closer to an actual system that determines a true champion. Just a system that respects rankings of a committee. We the fans don’t even know how many games the committee watches though. Saying they are experts doesn’t make it so.

I digress that point and get back to the Peach Bowl. Doesn’t a matchup of the #7 vs. #10 garner enough attention? If not, why?

Michigan has claimed 11 national championships, with the last in 1997. Florida has claimed 3 national championships, with the last in 2008. These are powerhouse programs. Isn’t that enough to draw in viewers.

Moreover, the only other bowl game on currently is the Belk Bowl. It is on ABC, another Disney owned channel. It pits to unranked teams in Virginia vs. South Carolina. Isn’t the Peach Bowl the choice for non-alumni/fans of the Cavaliers and Gamecocks?

I don’t know what the official attendance is, but Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium looks pretty full. The stadium sounds loud in support of both teams. Probably more Gator fans representing in orange. But the Wolverine fans “travel well” so I bet plenty of Maize and Blue will be in the crowd.

The Peach Bowl has two power conference and storied programs. It is a lead in to the CFP semifinal games. It is a solid match up. And it along with the other two “bowl games” are not on New Year’s Eve or Day.

Why not move these games than? It is a hypothesis I call captive audience. Christmas day is one of the top captive audience days. The NBA has filled that day with games. In England; the most important programs are the Christmas episodes, sometimes of shows that aren’t even in production at the time. Back here in the States; the NFL has a hold on Thanksgiving captive audience.

NCAA football has established that in the fall and winter Saturdays are their captive audience day. Putting these games on Saturday make them easy to find. And it takes advantage of their captive audience. Plus, more people are off wok on Saturday as opposed to both New Year’s Eve and Day which are a Monday and Tuesday respectively.

The Semifinals would dominate any other bowl put up against it. Today, ABC is not going to try and compete with it. Opting instead to show X Games, whose audience is usually different from die hard football fans. The only competition ESPN/ABC/Disney will offer are the alternate broadcasts of the command center and coaches film room or college basketball. ESPN/ABC/Disney can’t risk making their other bowl game broadcasts less important. If they did, they would not be able to generate revenue for commercials. It could lead to a lack of sponsorship. And they don’t have any real competition from CBS, ABC, and FOX.

Lastly, this way ESPN/ABC/Disney can keep rotating the semifinals and championship game to maximize revenue for the corporations. They need to have strong corporations backing both the operation and sponsorship of the bowl system. Without it, well I am sure the colleges themselves would like to make money from an additional (potentially/hopefully) two games. But than you must figure out who hosts. I am sure plenty of schools would step up to be a Neutral site. But once again, I digress. No one is looking at these types of solutions because the one entity in charge does not even see the problem.

This is an odd choice for ESPN/ABC/Disney to make to “decree” there are six New Year’s bowl games. And it goes against good reason to even claim it. In the end, I am still watching though.

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Is this a new bowl game dilemma?

Bowl games are a business. Most businesses come with a lot of contracts. But are bowl games going to have to produce some new contracts to face the reality of the economics of hosting football games.

The number of NFL prospective/probable players are skipping their college’s bowl game. This trend is likely going to continue to rise before it falls. This is a business decision being made by young men, I am not appraising that decision. It is a growing trend I see.

This season, Nick Bosa left his team after an injury. He was injured in the 3rd game of the season vs. TCU. Ohio State was in the National Championship “conversation” the entire season. Without a 29-point loss at Purdue; the Buckeyes could have argued for a spot over 1 loss Oklahoma. I am not saying that would or should have happened. Since there the committee is still picking the championship instead of teams earning spots in; anyone, besides UCF, can be in the National Championship.

I doubt any player in the hunt of the National Championship will make a similar decision to skip the chance to raise a trophy. Kyler Murray has big money waiting with the Oakland Athletics. Still I expect him to play every offensive down of what might be his last two (fingers crossed) college football games. So those three games, the 2 semifinals and the final, are guaranteed moneymakers. Regardless, this individual business decision calls into question the ability of each respective bowl/business to deliver an audience that fulfill advertisers’ expectations.

While I am formulating this article; I am watching the Armed Forces Bowl between my alma mater USMA (aka Army-West Point) vs. Houston. Army had a 10-2 season including a win over Navy that I had the pleasure of watching live.
(Short side note; Army has not lost when I have attended the Army vs. Navy game. Maybe someone should get me and my wife tickets to ensure this streak continues. We seem to be a good luck charm.)

Currently Army is beating Houston soundly. Partly because the Houston offense is relying on a freshman quarterback on his fourth start. He is also Houston’s only quarterback. But also, Houston’s entire defensive line has skipped the game. The injured Ed Oliver is a likely top draft pick to the NFL and may have skipped anyway. His line-mates Jerard Carter, Payton Turner and Isaiah Chambers are out with injuries as well. Also missing the game is Mark D’Onofrio the season’s defensive coordinator who was fired before the bowl game.

Another participant in this business evaluation are the colleges themselves. Colleges gamble when they accept a bowl bid. Each college must pay to transport, feed and house their players, coaches, trainers, band, cheerleaders and anyone else the school brings. The college also have a block of tickets the school must sell. If the school can’t, the college has to pay for those tickets. So, if you wonder why your school turned down the “opportunity” to play in a bowl game; the cost might just be too high.

All these business stresses might change the bowl/business. There is interest by fans (and maybe others?) to continue expanding the field of available teams for the championship. Six or Eight teams; expanding the bowls needed from 3 to either 5 or 7. Also expanding the revenue for those chosen bowls. But what happens to the other bowl games?

The non-championship bowl games are going to have to be innovative. To protect their businesses, they are going to have to try new things.

What can bowl games do?

1. Insurance. Not for the bowl/business themselves, I assume as businesses they already have their own insurance. I mean insure the players.

Jake Butt decided to play in Michigan’s Orange Bowl game on New Year’s Day in 2017. He tore his ACL during the game. But (yes I could have used lots of other words like Still, Although or others) Jake must have listened and learned during business class because he got insured before the Orange Bowl. That was a good business move even if it does not salve the injury that kept him out of first year of the NFL after being drafted by the Denver Broncos. He had a solid start to the 2018 season when again, he tore an ACL, knocking him out for the season.

This cautionary tale and others like Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame and now the Dallas Cowboys; are all student-athletes need to make their own individual business decision to skip bowl games. They play a violent game. But the goal is to play that game at the highest level and college is not it. Getting a bowl game ring is rewarding but it is not the goal.

The bowl games can work with insurance companies to ensure the players are covered. It is in the bowl/business best interests to get good deals. This would ensure the best players are in the game. Hypothetically leading to a better and more competitive game. Increasing attendance, television viewership, revenue and advertising dollars.

2. Make schools submit bowl roster. Typically, teams (and their players) know if they are going to the National Championship game. I would guess, without evidence, that no team outside the top 10 in the middle of November has been picked for the championship. Most teams know which bowls they are eligible for by that time too.

Bowl invitations are going out in early December. Particularly for the pre-Christmas day bowls. They need to lock in where their revenue is coming from. They want a team that “travels well”. By that I mean a school whose current and former students will pay to get to the game. Time for time off to be taken and travel arrangements to be made.

Still, the bowls want to pick the best teams as well. They should do so with the best information. Much like the NFL must provide a roster of available players by a certain date; bowls could require the same of teams they are interested in. Teams that will not may be taken out of contention.

This could make bowl season truly competitive even before the teams hit the field.

3. Restrict seniors from participating in bowls. This makes it a more open game, hypothetically.
Might make it a sloppy game as well. Forcing coordinators to use players they are not as confident in. They also must scheme against a team they have not seen. That is unless bowl bound teams play more players in their pre-bowl games. But then that limits the playing time of seniors in those November and December games.

The seniors might want to play. For a lot of them, this would be the last time they play with their teammates; a sentimental game for many. Some might use this final (hopefully good) performance to either make it to the draft or just get signed to a roster.

But it might make for an interesting game too. Vegas and the book makers would be challenged. Can they properly draw a betting line against teams they have not really seen in action? The “action” would be fun. I guess, I don’t bet on sports or anything else, so I am just guessing. But I know that gambling has an affect on the bowls. Gambling has an affect on the regular season games. That is why they talk about it on ESPN’s College Gameday.

This might not be every non-championship bowl game’s rule. But it might be something for them to look at. Even if not for the whole game; maybe for the first half? These are ways to make things competitive. One team might be up and the complexion of the game changes with new personnel. I think this is a wrinkly that adds a lot of excitement.

4. Host the FCS along with Divisions II and III Championship games. The games are locked in to television contracts with ESPN. This is the first and most obvious way to change the revenue stakes. A bidding war with ESPN/ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, other sports channels and maybe even increasing with streaming rights could change the impact of these games.

These games feature good student-athletes who are fighting hard for a win. Not a guarantee of a good game. But it will be competitive. With creative marketing; they could be become more watched games as well.

Most of these schools travel well. This might be the highlight of their season, outside of the chance to beat an FBS school. As a result, this is a focus for the school and fan base. Increasing the interest for the game.

Also, if these games are hosted either; the stadium might be able to also host an FBS bowl as well. Doubling their revenue. Innovative way to make more money for these bowl/businesses that will help keep them relevant.

Army beat Houston 70 – 14 in the Armed Forces Bowl. Army is a methodical running team, have been since I matriculated there in the 1990s. Army leads the nation in time of possession at close to 2/3 of the game. They are not a high scoring offense though. Their only common opponent, Navy, did indicate a game with a score so high. Not sure if that is an accurate portrayal of either team on the field. It also tied the record for both points scored and win margin. Keeping in mind that Houston was ranked 6 at one point this season, though my earlier posts show my complete distain for polls. Either way, not sure if that is the best bowl/business move for the Armed Forces Bowl.

Changes might be coming.

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The ShoutDown Review : A Star Is Born

I have been a casual fan of both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. This movie has pushed me into fan realm of both. Great performances by both are the key and magic that makes this movie shine.

I believe the story resonates with anyone who is a fan of music. No matter what genre you are fan of, this movie is about the music. It is about the passion that goes into making it. I encourage any music fan to check this fan out.

The movie serves as a commentary on the creative process. It pushes all the boundaries needed to make the good into great. Also has some biting criticism of the modern music business. Questioning the soul of the business which should reside in the artist but sadly is still controlled by executives who have no talent or passion beyond making money.

Strong supporting performances make the movie rich. Sam Elliott is solid as always. Dave Chappelle’s short appearance is a fun addition. Andrew Dice Clay plays it just right, I expected over the top but he played the role great. Not surprisingly though since it is true to his real life[consult the evidence here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmcrARZ06pcud7uG7oCPX0Q/videos%5D.

It was missing an additional female supporting cast member. There are women in the movie, sure. But none that are integral to the story.

The music is superb. The performances have such soul and heart backing the voices. They sound rich just like you are at the concert.

The really cool part is, Bradley Cooper is doing the singing and he is good. It is not a con job. It is not dubbed. He is singing. He wrote not just the movie but the music as well. It is soulful to the core.
Lady Gaga obviously nails the music. I think even people who don’t like her music can acknowledge her chops. She also has to act and she nails the performance. She transforms from bud to a vibrant flower in the course of the movie. I was impressed by that aspect.

These two artists having to live in the normal habits of the other. It was something to see. I thought they both nailed it.

Worth the money to see in a theater. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Though the end will rip your heart out a bit, it is worth the ride.

Enjoy!!

Rating 5 out of 5.

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The ShoutDown Review : A Simple Favor

I am glad I went to see this film. I expected less of this movie. I thought it would entertaining. I was not expecting the twists that were in story. Though a bit cliched, they did make for a fun story. Kept me on my toes though that might just be a lack of my imagination.

I know this move is based on a book. I did not read the book. Jessica Sharzer got to adapt Darcey Bell’s story for the screen. I can’t be sure how faithful it is to the text. Though I can say it was a fun story to watch play out on screen.

Anna Kendrick was very strong. She is the main character and focus of the film. Pushing you along as the narrative plays out. She has a fine performance.

Blake Lively’s role seems like it was more fun to portray. She got to say what I always wished I would. Zero concern given for who is around her or what the consequences might be. By far my favorite character.

Last is Henry Golding. He is the pawn in this story. Manipulated both forcefully and unknowingly alike. I made him both suspect and sympathetic. But things are happening to him in this story. Strong performance but not much meat on the character’s bones.

The others in the film support these three on their journey. But they are window dressing. The real meat of the story revolves around them. It is a wonderful spider web to dance on.

Paul Feig tells a good story. He is better known for his comedies. [Bridemaids, The Heat, Spy] This is a thriller with teeth. The mood is appropriately cultivated to keep things tense. Music is a fantastic compliment to the story. There are plenty of funny moments that his direction brings out well. His work in the future will likely balance drama and comedy in another fine feature.

I expected less and I should not have. I stand corrected. This film is a good time. With so much coming out right now, if you missed it, you missed out. Make sure to catch it on digital service or redbox.

Rating 3 out of 5.

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The ShoutDown : Craziest and Out There and Completely Nuttiest Game of Thrones (GoT) Hypotheses for Season 8

Disclaimer: This post will discuss both the TV show Game of Thrones and the book series A Song of Ice and Fire. Be warned, I will be discussing topics that reveal what has happened on the show for the past 7 seasons and written series for the past 5 books. I will discuss characters that are in the books and not the show and vice versa. This discussion will include all storylines. It is riddled with information from both sources.
The following hypotheses are some of the crazy thoughts I have had about Game of Thrones. None of these thoughts are properly researched like would be needed for school or a news article. I have used some embedded notes as de-facto citations where and when appropriate. I have tried to be true to what is my thought and what is someone else’s. If I have been at fault; I do apologize. If someone writes or comments, I will make sure to update this post.
These thoughts are not supported by any spoilers, pictures, leaks or other data. I did not see or search to see if anyone else has purposed them elsewhere and if I am repeating any I apologize. I just thought about some things in regards to Game of Thrones the television show and came up with these hypotheses. Just the basic premises that I jotted down off the top of my head. All of them are linked to the 8th and final season of the television series.
I have never read anything in the books. Not one word. I am not a book hater by any means. I started with the show. I thought about reading the books but by the time I had time; the show was already changing things. I wanted the show to be somewhat “pure” if not canon. Because I always guessed the show will be completed before the books. Not really a stretch since the series started as a trilogy in the 1990s and is now onits fifth book of seven without any idea when even the sixth book will come out.
I will read the books after the show’s 8th season is complete. Any book information I have included is from wikis or articles about A Song of Ice and Fire. I also listen to a bunch of YouTubers who comment on both show and book series. To name a few: Secrets of the Citadel, GrayArea, Azor Ahype, GOT Academy, The Order of the Green Hand, In Deep Geek, Alt Shift X, Emergency Awesome and Preston Jacobs. There are more but those are the ones I enjoy the most.
That said, if you don’t want book information/”spoilers” please stop reading. (It is not a spoiler because the books have been out for years and some for decades. That is not a spoiler. Hence the quotation marks.) Also I will be talking about events through season 7 of the show. Basically anything that can be considered official by the book or show series information that is already out is fair game. You are warned.
On to my own personal form of mental greyscale. They are listed as they came into my skull not in importance. I think the most wildfire hypothesis is the last one. Bring on the hypotheses!

1. Five year jump in show from season 7 to 8. The characters were already aged up for the show, somewhat none uniformly. For a variety of reasons but I think that was a good move. I read somewhere that George R.R. Martin wanted to make a 5 year gap from book 3 (A Storm of Swords) and book 4 (A Feast for Crows) http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/FAQ/Entry/What_happened_to_the_five_year_gap_that_was_supposed_to_follow_ASoS/. It is possible to do the same in the show again.
a. Possibly could resolve some storylines quickly in the beginning of the season. Like marriages, kids or other things that have changed. Different way to show the horrors of the war in a beginning prologue or through “flashbacks”. Possibly the entire Long Night, just kidding. But it would be a shock to start out the season that way for sure. And the show is ready to shock you at all turns and corners.

2. The Dornish Plot was terrible (my opinion) and the TV show just exposed that as the truth to book readers. And Dorne has nothing to do with the endgame of the show. Not sure if that is the same in the books though. Most of what I know about the books treatment comes from Preston Jacobs YouTube series “The Dornish Master Plan” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TBfdd_xNVo&list=PLCsx_OFEYH6uvfZSfec35DXBEpvA9fpm0&index=1 . I acknowledge there may be something I am missing so this may be controversial to say.
a. In my opinion, there are two good Martell characters; Oberyn and Arianne. And the show runners omitted Arianne, which was a mistake even though I am not sure where she would have fit into the show now. They could have found her a place, I guess. Maybe she is in Essos with her mother and comes home as the new Princess of Dorne?
b. The Sand Snakes are better in the books (so I have been told) but are they necessary to the TV story? The rest of House Martell is used inproperly as is the whole kingdom of Dorne (more on that later). The Dornish Army is both fresh and completely untested. As such everyone should be suspect on its effectiveness. The show just made that very clear since their Prince, Heir and finest Captain were all felled with ease.
c. Doran’s “Master” plan is the same as marrying/sacrificing Elia and her children to Rhaegar Targaryen.
I. Marrying Arianne Martell to Viserys Targaryen (the unworthy beggar king), who would have been a terrible king (much like his father). Arianne is portrayed as a tough woman who seems like she could take care of herself. But to get her in line, Viserys wouldn’t sully his own hands. He would have a group of men abuse her. Since it would happen far from Dorne, it would not be easy to stop. So not that solid a plan. Especially after she bore him an heir.
II. Marrying Quentyn (or Trystane) Martell to Daenerys Targaryen. How? I think this plan comes in well after the first book was complete. As such is not part of the original canon story. Khal Drogo is her husband. Even if Viserys is gone when the Dothraki come to Westeros; why would Drogo let her marry again? He may leave her in Westeros to go back to Essos. But he would see her again. He would come back to impregnate her at the very least. After he is dead, no one is sure she is alive. Then she is married to Hizdahr zo Loraq. So how is this a solid plan?
III. None of these plans would have worked if Robert would have had a legitimate heir and strong backers like Stannis Baratheon who is a tested battle commander. Probably could rely on the honorable Randyll Tarly as well. Either of whom would be up to the task against the untested Dornish army.
d. Plus none of the plans strike at their Doran’s real enemy, The Lannisters. Twyin ordered the sack of King’s Landing. He ordered the Mountain to kill Elia and her children. So The Lannisters and Cleganes are his true enemy. How was Doran going to defeat them?
e. Last, Dorne was not in the original outline. http://watchersonthewall.com/george-r-r-martins-original-plan-game-thrones/ . Counterpoint is neither were the Greyjoys and the Iron Islands and Theon was in the first book. Still I am not sure if Dorne is in the first book based on it not really being mentioned in the first season of the show. Outside of Elia Martell and Ashara Dayne, I think those are the only mentions of Dorne at first. It is afterthought (my opinion) addition to the richness of the A Song of Ice and Fire world. Same as most of Essos. But George R.R. Martin’s original outline letter addressed the main characters and storylines and Dorne was not a part of it.

3. The real martyr/ missing piece of the Dornish plot is House Dayne. (This is the later Dorne mess referred to earlier in 2a)
a. We showwatchers got Arthur Dayne for an epic sword fight scene. His dual wielding was fantastic even if the sword Dawn was a let down. But that was it. Seriously !?! Arthur sounds like one of the truly epic characters of the story. He got very minimal screen time. I would be surprised if it was more than five minutes. I assume that he is more nuisanced and discussed in the books.
b. I was hoping Ashara would play a bigger part in the show and story at large. To no avail as the showrunners skipped that potential intrigue altogether. This is a love story that is very interesting telling the unrequited love by Barristan Selmy and Ned Stark who both cared for her. Not to mention, who did Ashara care for? I don’t think we know. We won’t get more because none of the GoT spin-offs will address The Tourney at Harrenhal (aka The Seduction of Lyanna Stark a-la the current young adult formula of two guys lusting after one woman. That would be present for both Ned, Barristan, and Ashara as well as Robert, Rhaegar and Lyanna).
c. Also Edric Dayne should be with Beric Dondarrion. But when Beric ran across Arya Stark, no Ned (his nickname) Dayne was introduced.
d. As a result, we showwatchers have seen very little of House Dayne and that stinks.

4. Lord WildHeart – Beric Dondarrion gives his “last kiss” to Tormund Giantsbane. A Wildling not a stone hearted half-a-wight. Because Tormund maybe that important to the endgame. Plus when The Wall fell, we didn’t see them die. But Tormund might need Beric’s “gift”.
a. More likely though; Beric gives his “last kiss” to Daenerys Targaryen after she dies as a result of Lightbringer being driven through her heart Nissa Nissa style. After it is forged and wielded by Gendry, The Last Baratheon warrior.

5. Book character “Fake” Aegon comes to Westeros with the Golden Company and is the Valonqar (which translates to little sibling since High Valyrian pronouns don’t delineate sex. I hear little brother all the time and speculation about which little brother but the word is in fact sibling/sex neutral. Like Darilaros which means heir not prince. Meaning that the translation from High Valyrian to English of Kivio Darilaros is The Heir that was Promised.) I say this because prophecies are rarely right on the nose. So many have misinterpreted prophecies (Melisandre much?). “Fake” Aegon will be the only Aegon, Jon won’t change his name. “Fake” Aegon will be the Captain/Commander of the Golden Company. He will converse directly with Cersei. All the while plotting against Cersei.
a. Daario Naharis will also come to Westeros with the Golden Company.
b. Maybe others too?

6. Bronn secretly freed Tyene and Ellaria Sand. They go south and reestablish power in Dorne. Bronn eventually comes south with money to be with his bad “female cat”. This is wildfire out there theory. Based mostly on my enjoyment of Bronn as a character in particular Jerome Flynn’s portrayal of Bronn.

7. Sam and Bran will not want to tell Jon about his parents.
a. Gilly will tell Daenerys by mistake. Probably when Daenerys says Rhaegar name. They will have an odd conversation.
b. Daenerys will confront Jon. Maybe when Jon is with Sam who will be very embarrassed despite Daenerys roasting Sam’s father and brother. Jon will say it doesn’t matter, they all need to focus on the battle at hand. Though secretly he will tell Sam it does matter to him.

8. Jon Snow knew the whole time that he did not need to persuade Cersei but rather Daenerys. He tells Daenerys this at some point. Possibly pillow talk. It makes them closer.

9. The correction to the “Wight Mission” / “Straight Outta Eastwatch” crew from Season 7 Episode 6 is a good one in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrLLqeGO4w&t=2s. But I do not believe Daenerys would have spared Jaime Lannister. She would have killed the man that killed her father, like she was going to let Drogon do in Season 7, Episode 4. Instead, have Randyll Tarly go to convince Cersei Lannister to surrender. Also he would go with them as a skeptic who believes the Starks are liars telling fairy tales about the White Walkers.

10. Littlefinger is going to come back to life. Just as a wight when they leave his body to rot instead of burning it. That would be total fan service.

11. Cersei Lannister will not die at the hands of the Valonqar. Prophecies are often incorrect. She will live out a short life at Casterly Rock.

12. Instead of Bran Stark just saying things that Jaime Lannister said when Bran isn’t there at 1:21.20 of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oToWccCD8hQ; Bran says things Cersei Lannister said about Jaime (maybe to Qyburn) when Jaime was away. Reinforcing Jaime’s action to leave and fight. Jaime’s bravery will be properly documented in the “new” white book.

13. Ghost and Nymeria will both be in Season 8. They will both be a part of the War for the Dawn. Not sure they will both live though. I would bet Nymeria lives if either. Her pack will survive!

14. The Night King has a mission. Going to Winterfell is not part of it. Neither is Castle Black although some Night’s Watchmen will fight, lose and turn wight. The Others mission is bigger than simply killing people. It is about honoring an old pact. At some point, a new pact will have to be forged.

15. Oldtown will be burned or destroyed. Historical Link to burning of the library in Alexandria, Egypt. Leaving little knowledge of the past. Making Samwell Tarly poetic sounding “Song of Ice and Fire” the basis for the new history.

16. In an avant garde turn; one episode of season 8 is completely in Valyrian.
a. Maybe subtitles, maybe not?
b. Have you been studying your Valyrian?

17. If I ran HBO, the season 8 premiere would be January 1, 2019. Starting at midnight Eastern Standard Time. I doubt they will be ready with the season by then.
a. HBO should start the episodes when it is wintertime. That way the Westeros winter corresponds to our winter. I know that screws over the Southern Hemisphere fans. Still it is what I would do. But I am media monster so be glad I am not in charge.
b. And I can’t imagine they will wait until 2020, that is just too long. But the way things are going plus no information has come out. I fear it might come to pass for 2020. That would be crushing though. I think the most realistic time frame is May-June 2019 for the 6 remaining episodes.

Those are the thoughts I have about the final season of Game of Thrones. Will any of it come true? No idea. But speculation is fun from time to time. Based on an unreliable and non-scientific study of events to this point. I despise spoilers, set leaks or pictures and otherwise trying to learn about the season prior to its release.
I do like to think about what is to come. Maybe propose some outlandish thoughts too.
Let me know what your favorite thoughts are too. Please refrain from spoilers, set leaks or pictures. Because…..
“Not everything written will be filmed. Not everything filmed will be in the show.” Who said it? Me.

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