Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sports things

Apparently ESPN is not willing to increase its bid for the tournament. (I also read that CBS lost money on the tournament this year, which is good, because their coverage was abysmal.) Perhaps this means the NCAA has recovered from its temporary bout of insanity and will not expand the men's tournament to 96 teams ... then again, if they really do get 98% of their money from this tournament, it's hard to see them passing that up. Of course, they could easily raise a ton of money from, say, a I-A football tournament, but that's logical and so it won't happen yet.

NBC is still a terrible network for sports. It's painful to sit through an NHL playoff game and watch the same repetitive ads for the same repetitive shows I wasn't going to watch anyway. (Of course, the NBC promos fill sports that I suppose would otherwise go to things like the GEICO commercials. Could the NHL have found a worse partner than GEICO with its not-funny-five-years-ago cavemen? Besides Cash4Gold, that is.)

The Big Ten is really thinking about expansion, and I mean Really Considering It. Naturally, people fall into two categories on this: those who believe it should be Notre Dame or no one, and those who are making realistic assumptions. Yes, Notre Dame is an excellent geographic fit, yes, they already play a number of schools in a number of sports ... but have you seen this list? Notice who's not on it? If you think that doesn't matter, think again. The Big Ten is looking for schools who can, well, read. Schools with weak or nonexistent academic reputations need not apply. (Sorry, Cincinnati and Louisville.) Athletics are also important (sorry, Iowa State), but if the schools aren't good overall fits, they aren't getting an invitation.

Also, you may have noticed that the Big Ten has asked before. Several times. Each time, Notre Dame has said something like "oh hell no", except in a properly Catholic sort of way. (That's something else to remember: ND has more in common with Marquette and Boston College than with Purdue and Michigan.) Of course, that made sense back when people watched NBC and Notre Dame football wasn't a punchline. (Thanks, Charlie, for your decided schematic advantage. No one can replace what you brought to Notre Dame football.) With the advent of the Giant Big Ten Moneymaker (aka Big Ten Network), pretty much any school is in play. (Don't believe this? Keep in mind that Northwestern gets more money from BTN than Texas gets from the Big 12's deal, and UT gets more from that deal than any other school does. Some Texas football games are only on pay-per-view. All Indiana football games are televised. Don't think people in Texas don't know this.)

In the old days, yeah, it would have been ND, maybe Syracuse, maybe Missouri. Now, if positioned properly, the Big Ten could ask just about anyone, and they may expand by three (or even five?) rather than one.

I still think if they're looking at fourteen, it has to be Texas, Texas A&M, and one more. If you look at the list of non-Big Ten schools in the AAU, there simply aren't three "available" schools that would make a good package. Cal, Stanford, Colorado? Great idea, but not happening. If anything, Colorado would head to the Pac-X after the Big Ten expands. Pitt isn't a bad match, but there really aren't any other Big East schools that justify expansion to 14. Vanderbilt is a solid academic school that offers very little athletically, and there are doubts whether or not a school would even leave the SEC. Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia sounds nice, but Virginia is probably the only school that would care about leaving the ACC even the slightest, and I doubt you'd get them without Virginia Tech, who's not an AAU member and thus is off the list.

I guess we might find out soon ...

Finally, A.J. Pierzynski is a cheater, which surprises absolutely no one. Unfortunately, he's not nearly the exception. Despite what some would have you believe, professional sports are not filled with fair play and sportsmanship. A lot of people will do anything they can get away with and more things they can't, which you can tell any time you watch a game. Blame Pierzynski for being a cheating cheater, but keep in mind that the home plate umpire let him do it.

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