Tag Archives: espn

The Issue With National Signing Day

Here's to hoping Jadeveon Clowney matched the hype.

I used to wonder who in the world these young recruits were that being hailed as the next saviors of their program. I wondered how do guys like Carmelo Anthony, Jason Williams, Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush get all of this pub and hype when a fraction of the population in their state has seen them.

I wondered how guys like Ron Powlus and Felipe Lopez were considered huge busts after their collegiate careers when I never understood the hype to begin with.

Let’s just that now that National Signing Day has become the most pointless new day in sports I kind of wish I still felt the way I used to.

Signing Day has moved past the NFL Draft Combine as the most pointless and overhyped sporting event in sports. You run out a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds who are being touted as the next big thing BEFORE PLAYING A COLLEGE GAME! These guys are made deities before they step out on the field on Saturdays and are expected to become superstars immediately. Anyone else see something wrong with that?

Take today for example: the nations #1 recruit Jadeveon Clowney held a press conference two weeks after Signing Day to make his decision on which school he was attending. He sat in front of the media with three hats his mother and brother and in LeBron James fashion decided that he was taking his talents to Columbia, South Carolina and be a Gamecock. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or shake my head.

All this does is bring extra attention to a young man who we don’t even know will make it past the college game and into the NFL. This is the scenario for a guy like Terrelle Pryor who was an incredibly hyped player who was set to be the next big thing at Ohio State and now probably won’t be an NFL quarterback because he isn’t that good.

Mitch Mustain was supposed to be the next big thing... unfortunately it never worked.

It’s not only the case for Pryor but the top 150 as well. The Rivals and ESPN 150 is nothing more than a sad dose of reality when you analyze all of those can’t miss talents and see where they are. When you look at these lists you see guys like Cam Newton who matched his expectations and Nick Fairley who exceeded. Yet the cases of who didn’t make are much more striking.

A few years ago Mitch Mustain was to be the next big thing at Arkansas as the local boy who was going to carry the Hogs to new heights. Four years later his eligibility is done after transferring to USC and failing to rise up the depth chart and last week was arrested for possession of marijuana. Not that glamorous is it?

Blame ESPN for all of this and Sports Illustrated for that matter. This whole new movement started with the fascination behind LeBron James as a high school senior. Before the SI cover high school seniors were like diamonds in the rough. They were treasures that were concealed waiting for that chance to shine in the right way and that’s in the actual game. After the SI cover James’ high school games were being featured as a prime-time event on ESPN with Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas. Then came ESPNU games featuring high school talents like Gerald Henderson, Wayne Ellington, Greg Oden and others. Then came National Signing Day and then came questions like today when Tom Luginbill was asked about his potential draft status in the NFL in three years… LET THE GUY PLAY VANDERBILT FIRST THEN LET’S TALK ABOUT THE NFL!!!

If the NCAA says it’s about protecting players and the student athlete itself, then why are they allowing players and programs to do this self promotion with teenagers and push their product? It’s allowing agents and other forces to come in and get in these kids ears early and puts these programs at risk for sanctions by the NCAA. It’s a show that leaves these kids open to larger amounts of scrutiny and failure.

When Kwame Brown fell flat on his face in the NBA as a draft bust it was ok because he was a professional and he knows that his face will be in the limelight as a high draft pick. Subjecting high school athletes going to college to that same potential treatment is unfair because of their amateur status.

Unfortunately were past that point. This is the new era of high school athletics. Were now looking for the next LeBron James, Bryce Harper or Jadeveon Clowney and when we find them, no matter the age, were going to see them on magazines and on ESPN. I kind of wish I didn’t know until these guys put the jerseys on with their colleges on the front again. It was better that way.


Fun Things Going On In The NHL Thanks To Gary Bettman And Company

The Winter Classic has spawned many new ideas to give the NHL a P.R. boost.

I hate Gary Bettman, I really really really hate him.

He almost ruined my favorite sport next to football with a strike that damn near killed the game of hockey. He’s taken away teams from great hockey cities in Canada and placed them in the hockey hotbeds of Phoenix, Miami, Nashville and Atlanta. For a long time he refused to promote his best players on the ice leaving the average fan with no sense of whom the heck were the best players in the game.

(Seriously he damaged the sport for the longest time. There was a point in the late 90’s where Martin Brodeur, Keith Tkachuk, Teemu Selanne, Mike Modano and Paul Kariya were studs and you wouldn’t have known it because Bettman refused to put any backing behind promoting the players. No one knew about Joe Thornton, Vinny LeCavalier or Jarome Iginla and he didn’t care. I don’t care if your league is indoor lacrosse, you have to have your players featured and Bettman never did it. As you can tell I still haven’t gotten over that.)

There have been so many things that I can run Bettman into the ground for from the strike, the handling of the Coyotes, to everyone one of these gargantuan and ridiculous long-term deals that it makes my head spin.

This is why it’s so hard for me to give the man props for the pop culture revolution that is going on in the NHL and is making the game a better sell for people outside of the die-hard fan.

Since the NHL came from that crippling strike Bettman and his cronies at the NHL offices in New York and Toronto have gone out of their way to make the game more accessible and to bring the game back into mainstream America. At first the ideas were less than impressive (you remember that NBC experiment where they highlighted the best players on each team and let you know when they were on the ice right? FAIL!), however in the last three years the NHL has become imaginative in promoting the game and it has seen great returns from these experiments.

Of course it starts with the Winter Classic. An idea that was spawned thanks to an outdoor game between two Canadian teams (Montreal and

The new All-Star format makes game more intriguing for fans and players like Dustin Byfuglien

Edmonton), which was meant to return the game to its roots of being outdoor on a pond having fun with your buddies.

It’s done that and much more.

The original Classic featuring Pittsburgh and Buffalo was so successful that now the Classic is the main event of New Year’s Day. Thanks to the BCS and its long drawn out games, the NHL has swooped in and made the day all its own, similar to the NBA and Christmas. I mean let’s be real, what was more entertaining this year the Caps-Pens or any of the SEC-Big Ten beat-downs? Exactly.

The success of the game made the NBA try an outdoor pre-season game a while ago but with horrible results. Success breeds envy, never thought Bettman had that in him.

Fast-forward to this year and look at that the new format for the NHL All-Star game. Instead of the tired East vs. West all-stars the league decided to make a pool of the best players (as it should be) and have two captains pick their teams. Its playground hockey in a sense and brings more fun into the game. How cool would it be to see Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Patrick Kane on the same line or Anze Kopitar with Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Sedin? The creativity of the best players in both conferences combined is cool to just think about.

The initial reaction from journalists was yeah it is cool, but it would’ve been cooler if the NBA thought of it first. It is a great point, I mean Kobe, LeBron and Blake Griffin on the same team, wow. However the fact that the NHL had the guts to try and experiment with such a cool concept is shocking. They were able to figure out that All-Star games were becoming a bore and pumped new life into it with a simple concept that makes it more interesting and maybe more fun.

(Side note: all all-star games are boring. The NHL had a great idea ten years ago with the North America vs. The World concept which should have been copied by everyone but wasn’t. I mean there are only so many times that I can watch Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash play together before I decide that I’d rather pick up a shift at work than watch the game. Just saying.)

Now the NHL is taking another marketing risk with its Guardian Project, which is the brainchild of Marvel Comic legend Stan Lee. It’s a concept that takes all 30 NHL teams and gives each of them a superhero based on the team name and the personality of the team and its city. It’s been met with some criticism by fans and critics alike but I can’t wait to see what The Ranger looks like.

The Flyers Guardian looks cool, I bet the Rangers Guardian would own him though.

It’s inventive and exciting and draws more attention to the league. While I think it might be a little much for the NHL and it might not make much sense… I can’t wait to see what the Ranger looks like.

Has all of this helped the NHL out? Absolutely. The die-hard fans have returned and the casual fan has gained interest in the league. That combined with the fact that the Original Six have returned to form (yes, Toronto is coming back.) and that ridiculous gold medal game from the Olympics last year has given the NHL a huge lift in ratings and we actually know who the best players in the game are.

People know who Patrick Kane, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty, Ovechkin, Crosby and others are now. Led by Crosby and Ovechkin in America and the Sedin twins in Canada, the league’s best are on display on and off the ice and it’s helping the sport came back into national relevance.

However there is one place where the NHL has to get more exposure, GET THE GAME BACK ON ESPN!!!

While Versus has become a very good hockey network it still doesn’t have the national audience that ESPN has and that the league benefitted from in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I don’t mind it if the games stayed on Versus Mondays and Tuesdays, but in order for the league to get back to where it was in the mid-90’s during the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry days the game needs a larger audience and ESPN is perfect for that.

Until then what Bettman and the league has done to promote the game isn’t a bad starting or pushing point. The All-Star game is in late January, the playoffs are around the corner and excitement is building as the Western conference race is tighter than a can of sardines and the best in the East are on collision courses. It’s a fun time to be and NHL fan, now let’s see if Bettman and company can continue the good work and keep it going.

I’m not ready to forgive him for all of the bad things he did to the league but getting a glimpse of The Ranger will be a nice start.


An Afterthought On The Mark May Interview After The NCAA’s Decision On Ohio State’s Suspensions

Here is a quick afterthought on the comments made by ESPN’s Mark May about the Ohio State suspensions.

Mark May gets it wrong... again.

 

May appeared on ESPN on Christmas Eve to blast the NCAA for their handling of the situation and called the Big Ten and the Pac-10 the NCAA’s “sacred cows” because in his eyes they are always protected by the NCAA while the SEC is constantly harassed.

 

There are two ways that I can address this; 1. I can be very professional and offer a different take than May, or 2. I can be a complete jerk and curse May out. How about a combination of the two.

 

For May to say that the NCAA protects the Big Ten and the Pac-10 is the dumbest thing I’ve heard from his mouth (and there is a lot to choose from). Apparently he wasn’t paying attention to the USC sanctions which are hurting the football and basketball programs and have left them as crippled for more than what their two-year probation would indicate.

 

Yeah Ohio State got away clean virtually, but how about Auburn and Cam Newton? How can he be ruled ineligible for one day then eligible the next because there wasn’t any conclusive evidence to tie him to the pay for play scandal? What about the constant issues in recruiting violations and legal issues at Tennessee, and the constant spotting on police repots at Georgia under Mark Richt and Florida with Urban Mayer?

 

Why didn’t the NCAA make it mandatory for Jeremiah Masoli to sit out a year because A. he transferred from Oregon, and B. why didn’t they address his two arrests in six months that got him kicked out to begin with?

 

In reality the SEC gets away with many more violations than the Big Ten or Pac-10 do on a good day. May is just another example of the favoritism to one side that he is supposedly raging against. To blatantly ignore the reality of the NCAA’s ignorance in favor of pushing his own agenda is both infantile and ignorant of Mark May.

 

Viewers of ESPN know that May is a blowhard and says things with the intent of stirring the pot or coming off as a big shot, which he is not. May has garnered a reputation of being narrow-minded as well as a hater, which he shows off very well in his diatribe last Friday.

 

My advice for May is to get off of your high horse and look at the facts for what they are instead of choosing to ignore the truth to tell your version of it. Ignorance is bliss and Mark May seems to love basking in his.