Will we see Tua?

Tua Tagovailoa plays for the Miami Dolphins. He was the #5 overall pick. He is the future of the Dolphins.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. The 16 year veteran quarterback has started off rough. The Dolphins are 0-2. Not much “FitzMagic” in those first 2 games.

Tonight, 24 September 2020, the Dolphins traveled to Duval County to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. And so far, it is going well. The ‘Phins lead 21 – 7.

If they get more of a lead, may we see Tua in the 4th quarter?

At Alabama, Tua got “garbage time” experience. And when his number was called in the National Championship, Tua was ready. Are the ‘Phins going to let him get a taste early too?

Second half starts in about a half hour. Let’s see.

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MegaCasts work

I have written about my preference for MegaCast in football particularly during the college football championship. ESPN “borrowed” the concept from CBS who used it for the NCAA Basketball tournament’s final 3 games. If you look through this blog, I laid it out before. It is a different way for the fan to experience the game that can bring a new dimension to sports.

ESPN produced the best ratings for Monday Night Football in a while on 21 September’s game between the Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints: https://espnpressroom.com/us/press-releases/2020/09/monday-night-football-megacast-drives-franchises-viewership-to-15-6-million-a-31-year-over-year-increase/.

I am Raiders fan so I was able to watch my team. Plus the team broke in the new stadium with a win. Very exciting.

With every entertainment company trying to create content for their broadcasts and streaming services; I would think these MegaCasts would increase. Tons of people are podcasting and have equipment they can use. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other networking services allow for the broadcasting teams to work remotely. It is an exciting time for innovating in how sports are presented.

The fan experience has to expand. Money in sports is increasing. The only to sustain that growth is if sports are not just accessible but fun. Giving “the people” what they want is necessary. Newer and fresher and plenty of options.

Fire up ESPN 8 “The Ocho”. Real sports are headed your way!

Who knew all this would come in a time where life was so isolated?

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Major League Baseball: Is anyone counting innings?

Some Major League Baseball (MLB) teams have missed games because of COVID-19 infections. A few teams have gotten too many infections to field a team. Also a few of the venues had to be disinfected before games could resume.

These types of outbreaks are why the only Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, had to move to their triple A site in Buffalo. Canada didn’t want to increase their own COVID-19 rates. Even with the reduced number of teams restricted to the Eastern teams from each league, the Canadian or provincial government shut down that possibility.

Complicating things was the work stoppage games on 27 and 28 August. This was not just some players missing those games, the teams decided not to play. But all everyone on those days. All complicated by players who have opted out of the season to protect their health. This shortened season has been difficult to follow.

At some point, the league knew there was going to be a problem. But they remained set on completing the 60 scheduled games. But to do so some concession was going to have to be made. They came up with doubleheaders that would only be 7 innings long to make-up any missed games.

Normally I do more research before typing. But this is just a hypothesis. And also, everything up to this point has been from memory. The rest will just be filled with conjecture

I understand that an official game can be ruled after 5 innings. But that is usually just a game stopped for bad weather or other circumstances. So why didn’t the MLB just use that as the standard? Reinforcing the established standard based on being a game over half complete.

The MLB increased the length to 7 innings to get more games in. I guess because it is half way between 5 and 9? But that doesn’t address fairness.

Two teams have missed a bunch of games: the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. As of 2 September 2020; both those teams are still eligible for either a direct spot in the expanded playoffs or a wild card spot. But is that fair?

If someone in their division has played all 9 inning games, shouldn’t that be a consideration? If the teams with less innings win games “quicker” by only have 7 innings, why does that count the same? I think there is an easier solution.

They should take the time to count the innings played. Work out a schedule to make sure it is even. This has to happen throughout the leagues at least. Some could argue it only matters within a division. The reason I disagree is the wild cards. I am not sure exactly how it is working but it will be a league-wide.

If I was an owner who was playing more full games, I would demand parity. If a team misses the playoffs by one spot or because of one game; how can this move forward? In a 162 game season; the league does everything possible to play complete 9 inning games. Plus, over a full season, missing a few innings hear and there is less impactful. With only 60 games; the margin of error is smaller.

Normally, MLB is the main summer sport. There isn’t really competition from Major League Soccer (MLS) since most Americans are really soccer fans (even though I personally follow it). And there is no international support for MLS. Most soccer/football fans are watching international competitions during the summer (this year the big one should have been EURO 20).

In addition this year NBA and NHL have been going on during the dog-days. The NBA had some barely consequential (except for the Memphis Grizzlies who got screwed royally) games and got into playoffs quickly. In contrast; the NHL went into a pseudo-playoff method of seeding. But 1/3 of the teams got eliminated immediately and were out of the bubble after one series. So there was intrigue from the jump. While this quick synopsis does no justice to what is happening in those leagues; it shows why both are more exciting than baseball. And neither has had COVID-19 problems in the bubble. Prompting baseball to look at the possibility of their own bubble/bubbles come playoff time.

I included this to detail that MLB has had to compete for “eyes” more than usual. Plus, they don’t have any spectators in their stadiums. None. Making it harder to generate an audience. Players that are used to more excitement have been regulated to fake crowd noise.

The set up should have generated more Not sure if this will be any teams concern or not. Honestly, I don’t follow baseball as closely as I did as a kid. With NFL and some college football coming back soon; not sure that is going to change this year. But some drama around the playoffs might change that. Particularly if it started with questioning the legitimacy of teams. Generate some reason for my viewership otherwise I will take it elsewhere.

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Monday Night Football Crew

I have never watched Monday Night Football (MNF) because of the broadcast team. Never tuned out because of the MNF broadcast team either. I honestly could care less who is in the booth but it is interesting to watch ESPN go through this process of figuring out who the new broadcast team will be. Who they pick will be equally interesting.

Growing up in the 1980s, MNF was unique. It was the only broadcast that was not on Sunday afternoon. There was the early slate of Sunday games starting at noon eastern and the late games starting around 3:30 eastern. Leaving the only outlier as MNF.

Now, the National Football League (NFL) was watered this uniqueness down in a fight for relevance that is diluting the product. If you can’t tell, too much and many broadcasts for my tastes. They added the very popular Sunday night game, Sunday Night Football (SNF), which I would maintain. I think that has done well based mostly on the extension of the single day fervor. Also the match ups have been pretty marquee; ironically shifting what used to be on MNF to SNF.

Also the NFL added the Thursday night game. I am wholly opposed to that addition. It used to wreak havoc on my fantasy team. Usually it isn’t a good match up. It does offer all the team more options to be in prime time, a problem for repeatedly bad franchises like the Cleveland Browns or Jacksonville Jaguars. Also, it takes focus from NCAA matchups on Thursday, which have routinely had top 25 and sometimes top 10 teams playing. Either way, season ticket holders are almost obligated to take a Friday off for an opportunity to, what? I can’t think of any Thursday night match of distinction. Unlike the modern day slugfest of the Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Rams on Monday 19 November 2018 . This was a scrum of the eventual NFC Champs vs the AFC Runner Ups in a 105 point scoring-fest that had some truly excellent defense plays along the way. I can’t remember any such highlights from Thursday games.

In my perfect world, Sunday would be the only day for professional football. Noon (slate), 3:30 (slate) and 8 (single primetime) [using eastern start times]. I think it is best for fantasy, the best way to both keep the football audience fully engaged along with continuing to expand the audience. Also now the internet and wifi and other advantages gives fans lots of options to take in information about the games.

This one day for pros focuses everyone in a principle I call “captive audience”. Same reason the NFL shoved a third game onto Thanksgiving, there is a “captive audience” of the family that is off work and enjoys turkey/tofurkey and cranberry, out of can. The NBA does this with Xmas, I think they try to cram in like 5 games now. I might need to do a post about my“captive audience” hypothesis. But either way, Sunday only football would be my wish. Plus, I think it gives the majority of fans time to see at least a half of football to increase those ad venue dollars, since most football fans have some portion of Sunday off regularly.

Back to what I am here for: MNF. Howard Cosell was the broadcaster that gave the game its signature. His trademark voice was the anchor through a changing group of color commentators. Running the play by play for the opening stint of popularity.

After Cosell, ABC then ESPN took some chances. O.J. Simpson, yep he got a few years. A bunch of former players tried to catch the magic. One limb that was of skeptical effectiveness was Dennis Miller. His commentary was informative. But instead of watching the game, some viewers had their noses in a dictionary trying to make sense of Miller’s erudite vocabulary.

Now, ESPN wants to find magic since it is part of Disney. I think they are going to have to make some magic first and not a lot of eye of newt to be found. For now, they are going to lean on the fading uniqueness of the last game of the week.

I do think the best team in the NFL, not just ESPN, could get would be to move CBS’ primary team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo to ESPN. This is not the NFL’s call though at least not until it is time to bid on broadcasting rights again. ESPN made a serious play for Tony Romo but CBS countered with a hefty salary bump. And even with ESPN’s vast coverage; Nantz’s voice is integral to other CBS staples like March Madness and the Masters. All in all, they are my favorite but too big a “get”.

ESPN was trying to make more substantive moves too. Trying to get either Al Michaels and Peyton Manning as a team to anchor MNF. Michaels is a seasoned, and only, professional that anchors the hugely popular SNF. I guess you can see the wildcard is Peyton. But he has demonstrated he is knowledgeable on the field and off. Peyton has shown he is funny having hosted shows like Saturday Night Live and the ESPYs. I personally think he would do a good job in the booth.

However Peyton seems focused on other things. Even though, during an episode of Peyton’s Places; Manning and Al Michaels donned the golden MNF jackets and did a mock broadcast just to tantalize us all. That is not in the cards this year though maybe there is hope for the future?

Plus anything that would get Cris Collinsworth out of the booth would be a great move. I am not at all a fan of Collinsworth. I don’t think he is a bad guy, just a bad broadcaster. I really wish we could see a better team for SNF too. But that would be another issue, huh? OK, let us get back on course.

There was talk of trying to lure Mike Tirico back to ESPN as well. He would be an interesting play-by-play professional to build around. But once again, his current situation is pretty good with NBC. Tirico gets a lot of lee-way to work on a variety of sports that he might have to limit if MNF is his focus at least for almost half of the year.

One name that wasn’t mentioned but might work is Eli Manning. Peyton’s little brother doesn’t have as much charisma up front. But he is plenty entertaining in commercials and his own Saturday Night Live appearance. And he has gone through an entire career in the dreaded “New York media” (which I am pretty sure has no effect anymore). Why not give him a shot with a short term deal? Or maybe even third mike?

Other names were floated. One I would really enjoy, even if as a third mic is Pat McAfee. During the quarantine, I have tuned into his show more on YouTube. The first hour is his radio show and he is expanding it with A.J. Hawk on for a second hour. I think his takes would add a lot. He has a ton of charisma. I don’t think ESPN will take that chance though.

Now with the coronavirus, ESPN is more worried about money and rightfully so. As such they are not looking outside the company for their MNF broadcast team. That is going to be interesting. But there are plenty of options even with “the mothership”.

One of the first names on people’s lips was Kirk Herbstreit. Kirk has been fantastic “doing the double” of College Gameday and the Saturday night primetime game. But his expertise ends at college just like his playing career did. He has no professional experience on the field. No snaps in the NFL. No snaps in the USFL. No snaps in the CFL. That is fine for play-by-play but a color commentator needs to be a former player or coach at that level. I like Kirk but he is missing that on his resume.

One name that doesn’t come up but is in company already is, Greg McElroy. He is already a color commentator for college football on the SEC Network. He also has a show called Thinking Out Loud with Marcus Spears on SEC Network. He was a national champ at Alabama. He also played a few years in the NFL. Since, he has been building a career as a broadcaster.

McElroy’s career took a step towards the pro ranks during the XFL COVID-shortened season. With the need for in game analysts, he lent his voice to the ABC Sports team with himself and Steve Levy who would be a great addition to the MNF team.

I liked the XFL coverage a lot more than NFL coverage. Getting direct access was interesting. It is hard to get good sound bites when the players are panting after a great play. But when they are a bit more composed, you get a lot of insight. And sometimes even sour grapes. (P.S. That is Levy and McElroy on the call).

Also, I thought Greg McElroy was informative in the booth. He was anticipating calls muc like Tony Romo. Explaining play names and the response. I thought, “If young players are listening, they are getting an education.”

If they want to try something special, they would include Greg’s Thinking Out Loud co-host Marcus Spears. Even if he isn’t in the booth the whole time, having his occasional insight would be interesting. Zoom Call-in? McElroy and Spears’ coverage of the 2019 National SemiFinal and Final was the best MegaCast outside of the Coaches Cast. The guys got to have some fun calling both the Semi-Final at the Orange Bowl between Alabama beating Oklahoma and then the National Championship of Clemson beating Alabama. It was very personable even if sometimes they got off topic debating things like their favorite type of potato. Though I enjoyed it thoroughly, many will attack them for it.

Honestly though, ESPN shouldn’t worry about that. If they are complaining, it means they are watching and listening. They could even go revolutionary and change crews every few games. That is effectively what happens on Thursday Nights. Since Fox and CBS alternate crews, except for the opening game, it is someone’s top crew depending on the broadcaster. And during the baseball playoffs, Troy Aikman might end up working with someone other than Joe Buck for play-by-play.

For the first MNF this season, there is a doubleheader. This has been the tradition since 2006 when the games moved from ABC to ESPN. The crew for the first game will be the crew for the 2020 season, the commentator team will feature Steve Levy on play-by-play with Brian Griese and Louis Riddick as analysts. The second game will be crewed by the ESPN primetime college crew Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. Since no college games are scheduled until later in September, they are free to move up to the big boys.

Might there be a MNF MegaCast? With Hockey and Basketball extending their seasons; both will be finishing as football is starting. Baseball is a mess right now but may make it to a Florida & Arizona “bubble” playoff. Could more casts be on order for ESPN’s marquee game?

And don’t be surprised to see things change if the Big 12, ACC and SEC also postpone their seasons. Without Big Ten or PAC 12; there are going to be less games. Who knows about bowls. But if they all go, there might be NFL Saturday games? That would, once again, mess with the season ticket holders. But, as is, fans are going to get screwed anyway. The only game that will have some fans, so far, is the Texans vs the Chiefs at Arrowhead. But the crowd will be capped at a ceiling of 22% of capacity for around 16,000 fans. Paltry sum for the Super Bowl champs. And since I live in KCMO, I know that the fervor for the team will be much larger. And if they don’t limit tailgating; that will be a party outside of Arrowhead.

Still my vote would be Steve Levy play-by-play and Greg McElroy as color commentator for the MNF crew.

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Who Will?

As this modern version of Hawaii 5-0 comes to a close, there is another reboot series that is centered in Hawaii. Magnum P.I. is a successor to the original, much like 5-0. The two series have even had at least four (2 for each series) full episode crossovers. As well as characters appearing in individual episodes. But I wonder, will any of the 5-0 characters continue to appear or join the cast of Magnum?

Kamekona and his shrimp truck will undoubtedly make appearances. He adds a lot in the way of intelligence. Plus he is very authentic Hawaiian culture that the show will need going forward.

The most obvious regular would be Katrina Law’s Sergeant Quinn Liu. This is because Magnum’s buddy Rick (played by Zachary Knighton) has romantic interest in her. She could be doing cases that mix into Magnum’s work. Be on dates with Rick. Be part of the group at the bar. It would be good to have another strong female character on the show.

Another strong link would be Ian Anthony Dale’s Adam Noshimuri. His links to the Yakuzi and other underworld groups would be useful from time to time. Makes him a valuable character to continue as well.

If you bring in either Beulah Koale’s Junior or Meaghan Rath’s Tani; you have to bring in both. Such a long and ongoing storyline as their relationship would need to continue. So they would have to come in together.

I think McGarrett and Dano are almost definitely out of the Hawaiian cop/P.I. show business. Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan will likely have other opportunities to harvest after their 10 year run. I assume they will not be regulars but don’t rule out a special guest star for a big event. Maybe a 2 to 3 episode arc?

Chi McBride, I am on the fence about. He could make appearances. But I would think he would get a permanent gig elsewhere.

Those are the main characters. I am sure some crossover will occur like Dennis Chun’s Sgt. Duke Lukela. But most of the other characters from the show will not likely be on Magnum. It will be fun to see who pops in.

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The XFL almost got this part right

Vince McMahon is good at promoting wrestling. He has built an empire while defeating and/or swallowing up his competitors. In a failed attempt to do the same, McMahon tried to take over football too in 2001. Now, in 2020, McMahon is trying a new system to expand the game, not take it over. But he has underlying issues that could get in the way of this attempt.

Spring football is a solid alternative for Americans to spend their sports dollars. One thing the XFL is doing is reducing the ticket prices. This is on purpose; to draw in crowds sick of the higher prices of the big four plus MLS. Still with all the planning, the execution has to be done in a prudent manner. We have seen it done poorly already.

The USFL was doing fantastic for 3 seasons before an overzealous and greedy team owner tried to take on the NFL and lost, big. There have been many leagues that are more semi than professional, some still on-going. Between its closing in 1986 and this year, only one other league beat the XFL into the spring market place big. The AAF had a uniform deal with Starter and a TV deal with CBS and NFL Network. Unfortunately the AAF fell victim to money troubles and another overzealous and greedy league owner in the form Thomas Dundon.

Still the XFL took a long time to work on their locations, teams, and strategy. Most of the teams are in NFL markets, smaller stadiums and one former NFL city in St. Louis. The XFL changed some rules in 2001 and are trying new things this time around as well. Last time the game started with a sprint for the ball, kind of like water polo. This time, kickoffs have a new line up with the kicking team only 5 yards from the receiving team. Both with the intent of decreasing injuries. A crucial aspect of the game since teams are decreased from the NFL’s 53 down to only 40, though some teams are bumping that up to 45. And into the halfway point, with injuries mounting, teams are adding a few more people as well.

Who those personnel are and what they represent makes a difference to McMahon as well. I would be remise not to mention, McMahon is the mastermind behind “heels”, aka bad guys, in the wrestling world like the Iron Sheik and Kamala ‘The Ugandan Giant’. Playing on American patriotism and resentment of foreigners (like most Americans are). Not to mention the rash of untimely deaths of superstars like Owen Hart in the ring or Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit out of the ring. All things that WWF&WWE acknowledges but doesn’t really assume any responsibility for. Plenty of people can question McMahon about his personnel (and sometimes personal) decisions running WWF&WWE. I will leave that analysis to others while acknowledging McMahon’s past.

With the restart of the XFL, McMahon made a few personnel choices clear. He would not stand for social and political protests. Considering the damage it did to the NFL and the already negative track record of the XFL, this seems like a very good idea. He also did not want players with a criminal record. But I guess that one was a little more flexible.

The “allergy” to criminal behavior amongst players is a valid concern. Sports are rife with athletes who are running afoul of the law. There are many examples of criminal behavior in the big four. But the bad behavior can happen to other athletes as well. Even with female athletes as shown in this article and this one as well. The problem is too prevalent throughout sports.

Back to the XFL, despite saying one thing, another is evident in the execution. One of the league’s premier teams is the Dallas Renegades. One reason is Bob Stoops is the coach. His college resume of wins and a National Championship gives him immediate credibility.

Another reason was that Landry Jones is the Renegades quarterback. Landry has the most NFL experience in the group of quarterbacks in the league. Five seasons with the Steelers, 5 five starts and 18 appearances. This league needs stars. With the access on the field in all aspects, Landry Jones was definitely going to be a player the mics & cameras would focus on.

But during training camp, Landry got hurt. So Stoops turned to his backup Philip Nelson. I had never heard of him so, I had to look him up. And curiouser and curiouser what I found at the bottom of this wiki.

Now this was not an unsolicited fight. Isaac Kolstad started the fight. You can see how it went down in this video. But still, Nelson went back and stomped on Kolstad. That is a pretty profound social statement in my book.

Nelson lost the Renegades first game. Making their march to a championship more difficult. Nelson was on the bench with Landry Jones healthy for weeks 2 & 3. But with an aggravated knee injury, Nelson closed out the 4th game (another loss though not Nelson’s fault) and played all of the 5th (their third loss). But if McMahon had the fortitude to stick by his original statement, Nelson would have never made the field at all.

The Renegades have not even benefited from Nelson’s play. Other teams have been more competitive with their 2nd or sometimes third string. Luis Perez, AAF veteran, took over in New York. Tyler Cornelius has been more productive than Aaron Murray. Same with Seattle’s B.J. Daniels, more productive if not more successful. But in D.C. Tyree Jackson’s tall frame got the Defenders over the hump. Might be time for the Renegades to go to third string or look at the “overflow” team of reserves.

I applaud the effort to clean up sports in this way. Athletes have to be held to account more. But if the policy is ignored when no one’s the wiser; what was the point of having a policy at all? I want to see this problem of abusive athletes dissipate. Any strides that can be made in a positive direction, need to be made.

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Hula Bowl Stand Outs

The Hula Bowl was on at a very inconvenient time. I didn’t have much time to evaluate everything that was happening. I didn’t really do so in the interim either. Still the following players deserve acknowledgement for their efforts.

Name Position School/Hula Bowl Team
Cameron Mayberry Running Back Colorado School of Mines/Kai
Juwan Washington Running Back San Diego State/Kai
Bailey Hale Kicker Louisiana Tech/Kai
Michael Dean Wide Receiver Idaho State/Aina (Shortest Player)
Broc Rutter Quarter Back North Central College(D3)/Aina
Reggie Walker Defensive End Kansas State/Kai

The Hula Bowl just got revived this year. The game was played inconveniently on a Sunday evening, when Saturday probably would have been a bit better. It had been away for quite a while. Hopefully it becomes a prominent source of postseason achievement. As a stepping stone to a professional career. Some smaller school standouts got to show their stuff this year. They played a solid game for former NFL coaches.

The other two post season games, I did not even know had occurred until they were over. They can be found on various video sites. Just look for the East-West Shrine Bowl, another old school bowl game that used to be played on Christmas day when I was a child. And the last is the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

Teams are evaluating their needs. Not everyone they need will be from big schools in Power 5 conferences. Not even everyone they get will be drafted. Some will be free agent signings that will work hard in training camp. But all these guys have worked hard for the opportunity. I hope to see these guys suited up for some teams out there.

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Senior Bowl Stand Outs

On 25 January 2020 in Mobile, Alabama the Senior Bowl was played. I am certain plenty of the players on both rosters will be drafted in April. There will also be a few undrafted free agents that make a practice squad as well. Many guys on the field are going to be a part of professional football.

Seems like most of the top players opted to to play in this game. Most that are missing, like Heisman winner Joe Burrow, we will have to wait until the combine to see. The combine will be in Indianapolis again from 23 February to 2 March. This year, they are trying to up the cache by putting the drills in prime time. Not sure the appeal for the majority of football fans. Junkies like me will likely tune in periodically though.

In a quick aside, the Hula Bowl is back after a long absence. But for some reason, they are playing it tomorrow, a Sunday, starting at 5:30 Hawaiian which is 10:30 Eastern/ 9:30 Central. I understand playing an evening game but why not today, a Saturday, where you will have an audience. Most people probably don’t even know the game is being played at all since it has been on hiatus for over a decade. Plus it is being broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. I think CBSSN would get more viewers than the scheduled Pro Bull Riding. Bad marketing on that one.

Back to the Senior Bowl, it was an opportunity to see some players from small schools. Watch them play with and against other top players. Here is my list of guys who made a positive impression:

Kyle Dugger:__ Safety/Punt Return-__ Lenoir-Rhyne University/South
Bradlee Anae:__ Defensive End-__ Utah/North
Evan Weaver:__ Linebacker-__ Cal/North
Kindle Vildor:__ Corner Back-__ Georgia Southern/South
Tyler Bass:__ Kicker-__ Georgia Southern/North
Braden Mann:__ Punter-__ Texas A&M/North
Antonio Gandy-Golden:__ Wide Receiver-__ Liberty/North
Adam Trautman:__ Tight End-__ Dayton/North
Josh Kelley:__ Running Back-__ UCLA/North
JaMycal Hasty:_ Running Back-__ Baylor/South
Justin Hebert:__ Quarterback-__ Oregon/South

I am not going to back this up with stats. I just did an “eye test” as to who played well. Also, these were just the stand outs. The game was pretty good. Saw a good plays from both teams on both sides of the ball. But the North had too much firepower. Any surprise my list is dominated by North players?

Final Score: North 34 South 17

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College Football National Championship Game

The Coaches Film Room is off to a good start. I only got home a few minutes before the start of the game. Still, as I hoped, they had started their analysis before the game. Almost like a fireside chat to introduce themselves and the game. Talking about keys for both teams, strengths of their squads, possible pitfalls, possible scenarios. So much more interesting to hear them, the experts of the college game, dig into . I am very glad to have it back.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Boston College’s Jeff Hafley, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and TCU’s Gary Patterson. No ESPN employees, just the coaches. To begin, Mike Gyundy was facilitating the conversation.

Interesting storyline is that Gary Patterson and Mike Gundy will be lining up against each other next year. The nature of the current Big 12 conference; they play every team in the conference. Making that match up both inevitable and annual. That “match up” here during the game will be interesting.

Makes me wonder what these coaches’ players do? In fact, all the other 126 or so teams? Do they watch together in their facilities? Do they watch the coaches film room? Would be interesting to find out. I am guessing most watch at home or small watch parties. But would be interesting to have graduate assistants run a film study for the employees. It is probably against NCAA rules for the players to come into the facility. But what a waste. I wonder if opening it to more than just players could alleviate that? I don’t want anyone running afoul of the NCAA.

The set up for the screens was a main view in about 70% of the screen to the middle, right justified. It is wide view though. Switching to the main broadcast for a second; they have better and tighter view with a good shot of the field.

Back to the coaches, the left justified ⅓ has three screens. The top being another view of the field, usually from the defensive point of view. The middle is Mike Gundy and Jeff Hafley on one side of the table. The bottom is the other 2 coaches on the other side of the table; Gary Patterson and Derek Mason. Interesting use of space.

Clemson was going hurry up. So the coaches could commentate. But no telestrator on the screen to direct the viewer to the pointed out action. Also not able to replay or “rewind the tape” in such a short turnaround time. They did coming back from the commercials with some video analysis. But the first sequence by Clemson was so fast, the coaches had no opportunity to review plays. A foul finally allows them to go back during the game.

Tied up 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. Defense has been the highlight. Both teams have shown their stingy nature on defense. One of the great insights was the inefficiency of both teams on 3rd down early. 1 for 9 on 3rd downs with 12:10 remaining in the 2nd quarter. They talked about the talent at quarterback and wide receiver. But they left out how good and effective the defenses started out.

Also LSU has seemingly abandoned the run. Until Mike Gundy asked about what if Burrow makes a QB run. And on 3rd and goal, lone backfield, right after mentioning it, Burrow scampers for a touchdown.

A moment of commonality, Gary and Mike talking about the hit on Amari Rogers. They both knew Oklahoma State has an Sluggo (Mike corrected Gary to Inside Sluggo) that the ‘Pokes run. That is a moment you can’t get from a play-by-play and color commentator who don’t face each other. I am starting to see the genius in having 2 Big 12 coaches.

Injury at 5:54; talk about how to stop possible fake injuries. If a player is injured; they can’t return to the game until a change of position. They acknowledged not knowing of the player was faking or not. But also, this addresses player safety. Until the NFL, college rosters are deep. Not sure the rules committee is watching though they should be.

Their breakdown of a catch by Clemson at 5:01 also provides good insight. They asked for certain views. Then some good crosstalk. Especially Mike and Gary talking about what they want to see from the other next season. Jeff and Derek added plenty. Good balance of coaches. Not having an ESPN employee hasn’t slowed the commentary. They are even adept with the replays too. Need more pen/telestrator work. Maybe John Madden needs to give them a class?

As the third quarter went on, the banter was fantastic. Cross talk between the coaches was light and funny. Them ribbing and joking with one another is fun to watch. Also getting more familiar with each other too. Makes for an enjoyable experience. Talking about possible offensive sets.

Another tough targeting call. This time against James Skalski of Clemson. During the semi-final; Clemson benefited from Ohio State’s Denzel Ward being eliminated for targeting. This one may hurt Clemson as Skalski has been active for the defense. Both were technically true. But also in both, the offensive player was on the way down. I don’t think either defender in these 2 instances were trying to bang helmets. They wouldn’t know where the falling offensive player would be by the time they get there. Just hard to watch a player who is giving his all be taken out of the game.

Throughout the game, the coaches made a few predictive calls. Defensive pressures and offensive pass plays. They made a bunch of correct play choices. Questioning schemes. And warning against being 1 dimensional even when down, though I am skeptical they would/do follow that advice when they are coaching.

The coaches were also very fair as the game went on. Fair on the calls and fouls. Fair to Clemson as LSU was just better. Which became evident as the third quarter turned into the fourth. Clemson could not figure out an offense to counter LSU’s defense. And LSU was spectacular on offense. Clemson defense looked a bit overwhelmed. Clemson played a good game but just not enough. LSU won convincingly down the stretch.

LSU 42 beats Clemson 25. Congratulations to LSU=National Champs!

Coach Patterson said it best at the end: “We’re all 0-0, Good Luck next season.”

I will be watching.

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Football National Collegiate Semi-Final games broadcasting

I talked about the broadcast coverage prior to the national semi-final games. I was vocal and adamant about not liking the line up that ESPN is offering. But it seems that my bad attitude led to less enjoyable experience. Left with less attractive options; I settled on the Command Center coverage on ESPN2.

The Command Center had two views on the field covering the top ⅔ of the screen. Usually one is the skycam behind the offense the other a side view. The bottom ⅓ was itself split in thirds. Each coach had their own respective views and in the middle a stat rundown.

The commentary came from the same personnel doing the main broadcast on ESPN. What was a little confusing was if I was watching the wrong view has they started to describe a play. Was an unexpected wrinkle. I tried a bunch of views before settling on the Command Center. Spent most of the 2nd halves of both games on that channel.

I would rather just have a split screen of the field views. If I was in control, I would get rid of the coach cameras. The stat rundown could be in the middle bottom of the screen in some manner. I think that would make a more interesting view.

I tried to watch the Film Room on ESPNU. But both crews were slow with their analysis. Both Tom Luginbill and Louis Riddick for the Peach Bowl as well as Emmanuel Acho and Bobby Carpenter for the Fiesta Bowl. As the plays happen, they were mostly silent which was both odd and off-putting. It was hard to keep up because they weren’t really analyzing anything in real time. That was not a good way to watch the game.

The SEC Network had an LSU radio crew. They were good but obviously biased. I would rather listen to an ESPN crew. Same went with ACC Network’s Clemson radio crew. I am not knocking either one just not partial to them either.

But lucky for me, the coaches film room is back for the national championship. The coaches participating has been announced. They are Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Boston College’s Jeff Hafley, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and TCU’s Gary Patterson.

I am surprised to see that the Big 12 got 2 coaches. But I am also expecting a lot from Mike Gundy. One of the most colorful personalities in college sports as a while. This is based on a few factors. One, his mullet is one of the most unique haircuts in sports. And he has had one of the best defenses of a player I have seen from a coach in this video. I doubt we will see anything like that from Gundy on Monday but I am looking forward to his analysis being a part of the broadcast.

I don’t have much experience with the other 3 coaches. I hope there is plenty of intelligent cross talk. And they need to keep up with the pace of the game and not let it get too far ahead by overanalyzing in one place. There is usually plenty of time in between plays and coming back from commercials too. I hope they take notes. Go back to plays. It could be so much fun.

I also hope they have some banter before the game starts. Have the coaches talk about what they hope to see. Some players to look for as well. Could be very valuable to see into how and what they think prior to the game.

I am hoping for a good game. Both teams won convincingly in their semi-finals. This has become a match-up of undefeated teams. I think they both have a lot of balance on both offense and defense. They have had 16 days to get ready and healthy. I am looking forward to a hard fought game. Better than the BCS mess. Good luck to both teams.

I predict the Tigers will win.

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