Invoking the Da Blog Twenty-Fifth Amendment

As this post goes live, I will be going unconscious.

About an hour later, I will come to, and my mouth will feel like utter crap and will continue to feel that way for most of the rest of the week after I get my wisdom teeth removed.

As a result, expect posting to be rather light for the rest of the week. I have already pre-written and scheduled the annual Blog-day post for this Thursday, and have attempted to back-load several other posts, but don’t be surprised if that and the NFL Schedule post are the only posts you get until maybe right before Christmas, if that.

Reconsidering the 100 Greatest Movies Project

It’s been a while since I talked about my 100 Greatest Movies Project, my attempt to create the definitive list of the greatest movies of all time by combining all the lists that have come before. In fact, I haven’t talked about it very much in over three years, back when I was still on Blogger. I haven’t done anything with it because I’ve wanted to get someone else on board to help write essays in praise of the movies on the list. If you’re interested, e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com.

If you’ve been following the project (and you probably haven’t), and you’ve seen the list of all the lists used for the project since we moved to the new site, you’ll notice that when we made the move, I added a bunch of lists to the list without announcing it. Everything from Filmcritic.com on down, except imdB, was added to the list back when we moved to Morganwick.com two and a half years ago. Everything from Ranker.com on down I added Monday night. (And I finally found the list Australia’s Channel 9 created in 2006, only to find it wasn’t suitable for my purposes.)

One of the principles I used when structuring the project was to split all the lists into “critics’ lists” and “people’s lists”. That is, I drew a distinction between those lists that were composed by a panel of experts, and those lists that were composed by polling the people. My intention was to supplement the Overall List with separate Critics’ and People’s Lists, making the numerous and obvious differences between the two different classes of lists more readily apparent.

But while scouring the Internet for these new lists, I saw the critics/people distinction start to break down. The list taken by the UK’s Channel Four c. 2001, the most famous list there, apparently had the actual movies on the list determined by a panel of experts, but left it to the people to rank them. Empire magazine’s 2008 Top 500 list was composed by both a readers’ poll and a poll of experts, with no indication of how the two were weighted (the experts themselves were divided into “Hollywood’s finest” and film critics), and at least one other list was composed similarly.

And then there’s the effort put forth by the people at They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? This one, quite simply, gives me a headache.

On the one hand, it’s a pretty straightforward critics’ list, amalgamating lists taken from various experts at various points in time. On the other hand, some of the lists they have come from polls taken by the Village Voice, Time Out, and Sight and Sound, polls whose results I already have, which means they would effectively be double-counted. On the other hand, many of the lists included are not otherwise counted, often because they are unranked or are individual critics’ lists not used to create a larger list, except this one.

On the other hand… ultimately, this list is really trying to do the same thing my list is: compose a list of the greatest movies of all time by combining all the ones that came before. In other words, it could very well render my list unnecessary.

On the other hand, even by the standards of a critics’ list this list is artsy. Eight of the top 25 are from Europe (not counting British movies with enough of an American flavor to make the AFI lists); I’d be surprised if my final top 100 contained that many from anywhere outside the United States. At least one and maybe two of the top ten are likely not to even make the overall top 100, or the critics’ top 50. Ladri di Biciclette is #14 but might not even make my top 100 critics list. While the focus is on what the critics think, it’s clear that this list completely abandons any notion of kowtowing to what the hoi polloi think, and is ultimately more of a film connoisseur‘s list. In that sense, maybe my project still has a niche to fill. I wouldn’t go so far as to claim it’s a consensus list for the 99% – I’m certainly not ditching the critics’ lists – but it’s worth noting that the balance of lists, when the new lists are considered, leans decidedly towards the people’s side (though I might throw out a number of people’s lists to get the balance back in line).

What do you think? Should I include TSPDT, leave it out, create my own offshoot of the list for my own purposes, or abandon the whole Greatest Movies Project? And what should I make of Films101’s effort?

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 15

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For Weeks 10-15, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site (note that this was written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it contradicts the above – and the page it comes from, for that matter):

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 the first year of flexible scheduling, but are now protected after Week 5; however, they are back to Week 4 this year, probably for the same reason as that first year: NBC hosting a Christmas night game and the other games being moved to Saturday.
  • Three teams can appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. At this writing, no team is completely tapped out at any measure; five teams have five primetime appearances each, but all of them have at least one game that can be flexed out. A list of all teams’ primetime appearances is in my first two posts for Weeks 4 and 5.
  • Last year’s selection of primetime games was weighted rather heavily towards Fox games. This year, the selection currently leans CBS 22, FOX 20 (though if I miscounted one game it may be even). My guess is that the balance will continue to lean towards the AFC. Weeks 10, 12, 13, and 15 are all CBS games, while Weeks 11 and 14 are FOX.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 17 (January 1):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (6-8)
WEST
48-6
510-4
2 teams at 7-7
SOUTH
310-4
68-6
CLINCHED
NORTH
210-4
8-6
10-4 7-7
EAST
111-3
7-7
CLINCHED 7-7
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (7-7)
EAST
48-6
59-5
7-7
SOUTH
311-3
69-5
9-5
WEST
211-3
CLINCHED
NORTH
113-1
CLINCHED
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Cowboys-Giants, Broncos-Chiefs. Chargers-Raiders is out because a Broncos win Week 17 would lock up the division no matter what else happens these next two weeks.
  • Cowboys-Giants will be picked if: The Giants win OR the Cowboys lose AND the situation below doesn’t happen. A Giants win Week 16 knocks the Eagles out of the playoffs. If the Giants lose, a Cowboys win locks up the division for them, while a Cowboys loss leaves open the possibility that the Giants would already be eliminated before primetime.
  • Broncos-Chiefs will be picked if: The Giants lose AND the Broncos lose AND the Chiefs beat the Raiders AND the Chargers lose. It’s a lot to have happen, and the Broncos are playing the floundering Bills, but if the Chiefs beat the Broncos they would win even a three-way tiebreaker, thanks in large part to what would be a sweep of the Raiders. Because NBC hasn’t had the Tebow fill they wanted, they might choose this game even if the Giants win, but you know Fox is salivating more at the prospect of Cowboys-Giants than CBS is salivating at the prospect of Broncos-Chiefs. If neither of these scenarios happen? NBC is screwed. That’s why I think they might go with Cowboys-Giants even if the Cowboys haven’t done so much as clinch the division. NBC will be rooting hard for the Giants on Saturday, and if they lose we’ll learn a lot about the NFL’s priorities and contingencies.

Getting some sports graphics out of the way before NBA season starts

The last time we talked about sports graphics, I noticed that by going widescreen, ESPN was able to attach statistics to the side of their baseball box rather than have it pop in and out, in a move reminiscent of something TNT had been trying with their NBA coverage. I wondered if that meant all of ESPN’s sports would move to the box, seeing signs of the potential of this everywhere.

Sure enough, when college football season started it came with a new graphics package… that was essentially a smaller, streamlined version of the previous banner using the same design as baseball for statistics display.

(By the way? Not a fan of the way ESPN is transitioning into replays that it introduced during bowl season.)

However, ESPN may be making some more modest, but still interesting, changes. The display of statistics during college basketball games uses a different color scheme and font than the other two sports, perhaps trying to be more in line with the graphics that don’t have to fit the general package. Also, ESPN has added an indicator for whether a team is in the bonus or double bonus below the score, next to the timeout indicators, almost daring CBS, Turner, and all their competitors to keep up.

Meanwhile, Monday Night Football decided to go in a completely different direction for its graphics package. Structurally, it’s the same, but if it weren’t for the ESPN logo you’d never guess it was an ESPN production. The display of stats even abandons the whole two-line scores-and-stats-in-the-same-space gimmick ESPN’s been pushing, aside from getting rid of the banner.

Turner continued the trend of graphic standardization when the baseball postseason hit, with a few extra, in my view unnecessary, flourishes.

CBS has finally started rolling out the style of their NFL banner and go-to-break score display of the last two seasons to other sports and their other graphics. It seems a little jarring for college sports, where the type seems a little small, and feels a little dark for statistics graphics and on-field down-and-distance indicators (and cramped in the former case). Also worth noting that the go-to-break score display for college football is very different from the NFL one, and bears more than a passing resemblance to the one used in the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, the college basketball graphic is basically a tweaked version of the previous one, with not much done to make it look any more like the March Madness graphic. And the go-to-break graphic has its own differences from the college football graphic. Is sport differentiation all the rage now? Is Turner going against the grain?

The most obvious change to Fox’s NFL graphic is to make the timeout indicators even more naturally integrated by extending them into bars. Later in the season Fox also changed how it indicated which team has the ball, making it more visible, but I prefer the old way. I think there’s also something else different about this box. Is it me, or is it darker? Also, Fox has moved its scoreboard from the Fox Sports logo to a ticker at the bottom of the screen, allowing them to include more info, such as statistics and score alerts.

It looks for all the world like Fox will go the logo-only route only for the NFL, although abbreviations look different for college football than they do for MLB, looking lighter.

Can’t say I’m a fan of how Fox adapted their college basketball banner to the new graphics package.

Versus’ new graphics package is basically NBC’s package with the NBC logo replaced with the Versus logo. Yes, for both college football and hockey. I’m really surprised at the latter; I would expect the rebrand to come complete with a new graphics package, especially considering the logo is changing as well. But it’s occuring at an odd time, when NBC has its Wild Card Saturday slate of games. It’s just kind of odd that Versus would change its graphics package for the four months it has left before it becomes NBC Sports Network, complete with the Versus logo substitution.

I’m surprised that CBC went as all-out as it did on its new graphics package.

“Root Sports” finally got around to getting its own graphics package. Honestly, parts of it make it look a little second-rate. But I do have to admit, their timeout indicators are better than most.

And finally, we end at a look at the new graphics for the ACC Network, formerly Raycom, which moves to a box and a weird logo shape and effect for touchdowns. The timeout indicators aren’t ideal, but they aren’t too intrusive.

There. That should tide us over for a few more months, shouldn’t it?

Breaking down what the NFL’s new TV deals mean

The NFL may have just made the biggest change to its television and week-by-week scheduling structure since it lifted the blackout on sold-out home games… without changing any networks.

Last week, the NFL renewed its deals with CBS, Fox, and NBC for another nine years through 2022. One part of the deal will involve “expanded flex scheduling”, which apparently means NBC will be able to flex out of games as early as Week 5, but only if the game is a disaster waiting to happen like the Colts’ games this year. But it will also mean that games could flip between CBS and Fox. Before this point, there was an AFC network and an NFC network, and which games aired on which networks was set in stone. Now, while the rules for which games air on which networks will remain the same, some games may air on the other network on occasion. The situation we saw a few weeks ago, where Broncos-Vikings, normally a CBS game, flipped to Fox, will become more common. The exact rules haven’t been decided on, but one reason to flip games may be to shore up the second half of the doubleheader, though Broncos-Vikings became the premier game of the first half of the doubleheader.

That means that starting in 2014, my SNF Flex Schedule Watch could be very different… and I may have to give up the ghost entirely if the rules end up being too complicated.

The NFL also made a change to how it divvies up playoff games. NBC has traded in one of its Wild Card games for a divisional game. Most of the smart money has ESPN picking up the Wild Card game NBC gave up, putting a playoff game on cable for the first time. The third divisional game could conceivably rotate between CBS and Fox, go to ESPN as well, or go to NBC as well. My money is that it’ll go to NBC, balancing the number of playoff games on the broadcast networks before the Super Bowl at three apiece. Rotating between CBS and Fox would be hard logistically, and the NFL doesn’t seem to be the sort of entity that lets ESPN have playoff games that deep.

The NFL Network will also expand its Thursday Night schedule. This doesn’t necessarily mean selling the back half of the Thursday Night package is off the table, if it means going to 10-12 as a “stepping stone” to a full-season split schedule and as a way to put more pressure on those holdouts that don’t carry NFLN, but I could see it happening (hopefully it doesn’t mean the NFL will keep the additional NFLN games and try for an 18-game schedule again). However, the Thanksgiving Night game is moving to NBC, which doesn’t really surprise me, but does seem to be a good sign for NBC Sports Network’s prospects of winning the Thursday Night package (although if NBCSN does win it’s likely to be only seven games as a result of this). By my calculations, that means the Thursday night schedule would begin somewhere around Week 4-6.

Finally, NBC Sports Network will throw its hat into the ring of the Sunday morning pregame shows. That’s another good sign for NBC Sports’ prospects of winning the Thursday night package; however, if the NFL went with Turner then every single contender in the sports TV wars would have a Sunday morning pregame show.

Sport-Specific Networks
5 5.5 4.5 2.5 0 1.5

It’s the final countdown! Do-do-do-do!

No matter when a fixed date is, you can count down to it.

There’s something I find fascinating about this. You can count down to this moment, or that moment, or the moment a few moments from now. Once one moment passes and the countdown runs out on it, there’s another moment you can count down to. You can count down to a moment a few seconds from now, or a few years from now. Given the chance, I’d count down to anything and everything, and just stare at my computer watching it count down.

Back when I was on Blogger, I had a section of the site called “Da Countdown”, which occasionally counted down to fixed events like the Super Bowl, but more often tended to count down to events on Da Blog itself. One thing I didn’t like about it was the inability to count down to more than one event, but trying to get the countdowns I found to work with Blogger was like pulling teeth. (Which coincidentially, is happening to me later this week…) In particular, the script I really wanted didn’t work at all.

I’ve been meaning to revive Da Countdown ever since I moved to the new site, and now, that’s exactly what I’ve done, exploiting my fascination with something else: the regularity of certain recurring dates, and just how far in advance some dates can be fixed. It’s a sports-heavy (and American-heavy) list with a few awards shows and other things, including every single week of next NFL season. Let me know if I’m missing something big enough to make the list (and whose next date is known).

The script I’m using isn’t perfect – I’d like to be able to drop leading zeroes on the minutes, and eventually the minutes themselves, only when the hours are 0, and I have to repeat the same long list of meta tags at the top of the page for every single countdown, without any line breaks because WordPress will interpret them as actual line breaks – but it does what I need it to. And yes, I know there are over a hundred items on there and the page may take forever to load.

I’m also reviving Da Countdown on the sidebar as well; it will default to the next event on the page, but I’ll also use it for certain less important events, especially those revolving around the site itself.

2011 College Football Rankings – Week 14

For the past few weeks I’ve been resigned to the fact that an LSU-Alabama rematch was probably the least bad option for the national title game. It would pit two teams from the same conference that met in an unwatchable snoozefest in the regular season and include a non-conference champion, but none of the other one-loss teams were that attractive.

However… is there any sort of serious case to be made against Oklahoma State?

The main case against Oklahoma State seems to be that they lost to an Iowa State team that’s barely bowl-eligible. That’s it. I’m pretty sure teams have made the national title game with worse single losses. Forget about conference champions; Oklahoma State might have a better resume than Alabama even discounting the championship question. I suspect the real reason people dismiss Oklahoma State for the national title game is because they’re not one of the biggest name teams. As I said some weeks ago, people don’t quite believe that the “little brother” in the Bedlam rivalry is really a national title contender. Suppose we took Oklahoma State’s resume and applied it to Oklahoma, or even took Oklahoma’s resume and removed losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State, meaning their one loss would be even worse: to non-bowl-eligible Texas Tech. Would anyone seriously think Oklahoma wouldn’t make the national title game over Alabama?

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the BCS isn’t even about handing out the plum picks to the top five or six conferences, but about protecting the standing of the most prestigious schools. Alabama making the national title game over Oklahoma State proves that the BCS discriminates even against teams with moderately big names, let alone the small non-BCS schools, to protect a small cadre of name teams. It tells you everything you need to know about both why there has been so much realignment chaos the past two years, and why all of it is ultimately beside the point. At that point, perhaps it’s time to just admit it, and put the most prestigous schools together in the top level of a promotion-relegation system.

As it turns out, in a year that threatened to emulate every single BCS controversy from years past, the most similar case to this year would probably be 2006. People that year were gearing up for a national championship game between an undefeated team and a team from the same conference the undefeated team beat in the regular season. Then in the last week, a champion of a different conference was moved ahead of the non-champion despite the non-champion not playing. The difference between Ohio State-Michigan and LSU-Alabama? In 2006, Florida was a name team. Oklahoma State is not. Is it really that simple?

Rankings include the Army-Navy game, but not any of the bowls that have been played so far.

How the C Ratings are tabulated: First, A Ratings are tabulated by multiplying the total score ratio, which is expressed by (points-opponents’ points)/points, by the winning percentage. Score ratio minimizes the effect of running up the score. Next, B Points for each game are tabulated by (margin of victory)/(opponent’s A rating)+/-1 for wins, and -(margin of loss)/(1-opponent’s A Rating)+/-1 for losses. The “+/-” is + for road games and – for home ones. The total number of B Points is multiplied by the A Rating to get the B Rating. Finally, the C Rating is tabulated by taking one-tenth the difference between the team’s B Rating and the average of his opponents’ B Ratings and taking the result off the B Rating. The three ratings go A, B, C across. Click here to see the complete ratings.

1 LSU SEC #1 ’06 Boise St.
13-0 LW: #1 A Rat: .835 B Rating: 76.655 C Rating: 67.552 AP: 1 BCS: 1
LSU won the first game on Bama’s home turf. Now they’ll have near-home field advantage for the rematch.
2 Oklahoma State B12 #1 AP Title
11-1 LW: #3 A Rat: .662 B Rating: 56.201 C Rating: 47.768 AP: 3 BCS: 3
Little Brother beat Big Brother so convincingly it created a national title groundswell – that wasn’t enough. Now Luck and the Cardinal await in the Fiesta.
3 Alabama SEC #2 BCS Title
11-1 LW: #2 A Rat: .780 B Rating: 54.428 C Rating: 47.050 AP: 2 BCS: 2
It’ll be a tall order for the Tide to get their revenge.
4 Wisconsin B10 #1 Big 10 Chmp.
11-2 LW: #5 A Rat: .661 B Rating: 44.210 C Rating: 35.929 AP: 9 BCS: 10
Sparty kept it close, but the Badgers pulled it out and the polls moved them into the top 10. But Wisconsin could do even more against Oregon in their second straight Rose Bowl.
5 Boise State MWC #1 Maaco Bowl
11-1 LW: #4 A Rat: .711 B Rating: 43.928 C Rating: 35.298 AP: 8 BCS: 7
A #7 BCS ranking nets the Broncos a date with an Arizona State squad that fumbled away a potential trip to the Pac-12 Title Game down the stretch.
6 Oregon P12 #1 Pac-12 Chp.
11-2 LW: #8 A Rat: .612 B Rating: 36.178 C Rating: 29.920 AP: 6 BCS: 5
Oregon impressed everyone with their demolition of UCLA, but the Badgers will be a tall order in the Rose Bowl.
7 Oklahoma B12 #2 Insight Bowl
9-3 LW: #6 A Rat: .516 B Rating: 29.405 C Rating: 23.918 AP: 19 BCS: 14
Demolished, but by a national title contender; people continue to overreact to their two tight losses. How bad might Iowa end up looking?
8 Houston USA #1 TicketCity
12-1 LW: #7 A Rat: .689 B Rating: 32.712 C Rating: 23.802 AP: 20 BCS: 19
Losing to a ranked team should not be that horrible… but Penn State may be the next-best opponent they’ve played all season. How did the TicketCity bowl get two teams THAT good?
9 Stanford P12 #2 Fiesta Bowl
11-1 LW: #9 A Rat: .686 B Rating: 27.329 C Rating: 20.817 AP: 4 BCS: 4
Stanford will be trying to prove they’re even better than the polls have them – and that Luck should have still won the Heisman – against Oklahoma State.
10 Michigan B10 #2 Sugar Bowl
10-2 LW: #10 A Rat: .590 B Rating: 24.777 C Rating: 20.474 AP: 13 BCS: 13
A little surprised there’s enough support for the Wolverines to put them in a BCS bowl, but you have to imagine it’s more for the name value than what the ratings say.
11 Southern Miss USA #2 C-USA Chmp.
11-2 LW: #18 A Rat: .586 B Rating: 21.956 C Rating: 14.893 AP: 22 BCS: 21
What does the huge upset net the Eagles? A move up the polls of 2-3 spots and a trip to Hawaii to face Nevada, while Houston gets set to face Penn State. No respect, I tells ya.
12 TCU MWC #2 MWC Champ.
10-2 LW: #14 A Rat: .604 B Rating: 16.459 C Rating: 9.972 AP: 16 BCS: 18
The Poinsettia Bowl will be a showdown of champions between TCU and the champions of the WAC, Louisiana Tech.
13 South Carolina SEC #3 Capital One
10-2 LW: #16 A Rat: .560 B Rating: 12.248 C Rating: 9.160 AP: 10 BCS: 9
The Gamecocks move up considerably without even playing and with only two of the teams they passed playing and losing, thanks to Clemson’s big win. Now Nebraska awaits.
14 Arkansas SEC #4 Cotton Bowl
10-2 LW: #15 A Rat: .545 B Rating: 13.190 C Rating: 8.910 AP: 7 BCS: 6
Kansas State is way overrated. How will it look if the Razorbacks blow them out of the water?
15 USC P12 #3 ’09 Boise St.
10-2 LW: #13 A Rat: .559 B Rating: 13.086 C Rating: 8.799 AP: 5 SBNBlog: 9
Matt Barkley, come back. With USC off probation and Luck and James NFL-bound, the Pac-12 is yours for the taking.
16 Georgia SEC #5 Outback Bowl
10-3 LW: #12 A Rat: .506 B Rating: 9.744 C Rating: 6.765 AP: 18 BCS: 16
With regard to the polls, was Georgia hurt by playing in the conference title game? No matter: the SEC’s tie-in structure means it all works out.
17 Notre Dame   Chmps Sprts
8-4 LW: #17 A Rat: .402 B Rating: 9.125 C Rating: 6.264
An ACC-heavy schedule for the Golden Domers will continue against Florida State.
18 Virginia Tech ACC #1 Sugar Bowl
11-2 LW: #11 A Rat: .549 B Rating: 9.543 C Rating: 6.215 AP: 17 BCS: 11
You want to know what enabled the outrage of V-Tech going to a BCS bowl? The BCS keeping them knocking on the door of the top 10.
19 Toledo MAC #1 Military Bowl
8-4 LW: #19 A Rat: .412 B Rating: 8.182 C Rating: 4.590
What does Toledo have to show for their season? A showdown against an Air Force team that’s barely bowl-eligible (and continung what’s becoming a tradition of the Military Bowl picking service academies).
20 Florida State ACC #2 Chmps Sprts
8-4 LW: #20 A Rat: .470 B Rating: 7.930 C Rating: 4.152 AP: 25 Coaches: 25
Poll respect aside, Notre Dame will be a tall order for the Seminoles.
21 Nebraska B10 #3 Capital One
9-3 LW: #21 A Rat: .475 B Rating: 4.320 C Rating: 2.513 AP: 21 BCS: 20
Probably their best bowl fit, but the Huskers will have a tall order trying to stop the Gamecocks.
22 Clemson* ACC #2 Prncton/Yale
10-3 LW: #31 A Rat: .457 B Rating: 4.998 C Rating: 1.924 AP: 14 BCS: 15
Stumbles down the stretch don’t matter now, becaue the Tigers are ACC Champions and headed to the BCS.
23 Texas A&M B12 #3 Meineke C. C.
6-6 LW: #22 A Rat: .310 B Rating: 4.757 C Rating: 1.307
I wonder if A&M will show Northwestern how good they’ve really been?
24 Michigan State B10 #4 Outback Bowl
10-3 LW: #23 A Rat: .507 B Rating: 2.188 C Rating: -1.066 AP: 12 BCS: 17
The Spartans kept it close enough against a good Wisconsin team that they move in lockstep with the surrounding teams that didn’t play. But good luck against the Bulldogs.
25 Penn State
(9-3, .456, -.489, -1.811)
B10 #5 TicketCity


2010 TCU Title: #35 Baylor (9-3), .435, -3.743, -5.744

Off Top 25: #26 Louisiana Tech (was #25)

Watch List: #26 Louisiana Tech (Poinsettia Bowl), #27 Northern Illinois (GoDaddy.com Bowl)

Other Positive B Ratings: #30 Utah State* (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl), #32 Ohio (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl), #34 Arkansas State (GoDaddy.com Bowl) (*=Newly Positive)

Bottom 10: #111 Colorado, #112 UAB, #113 Middle Tenn. St., #114 UNLV, #115 Kansas, #116 Memphis, #117 Tulane, #118 Florida Atlantic, #119 New Mexico, #120 Akron

Best bowl: BCS Championship Game, LSU v. Alabama, 1/9 5:30pm PT, ESPN
Best non-Championship Game bowl: Rose Bowl, Wisconsin v. Oregon, 1/2 2pm PT, ESPN
Best non-BCS bowl: TicketCity Bowl, Houston v. Penn State, 1/2 9am PT, ESPNU

Catching up on the sports television wars

I stopped doing my Sports TV Wars posts in an attempt to reserve all my blogging time for football posts, so let’s not wait any longer to catch up on the developments from the last two months.

The World Cup bidding ended in a double upset, making the Wars far more interesting: Fox stealing the World Cup from ESPN (and indirectly NBC) and Telemundo stealing the Spanish language rights from Univision. I had thought Fox’s lack of MLS coverage, the main motivating factor behind their bid, would ultimately kill it because of FIFA’s desire for the winner to go all out to promote the sport in the US. I also thought NBC still had more motivation to grow Versus and establish their soccer brand. Instead, Fox sent a strong message that they are not to be ignored. I would expect most non-broadcast World Cup games to air on FX; the main value for Fox Soccer Channel will be all the lesser tournaments they now hold the rights to, filling the spring and summer programming time MLS left behind. Time will tell if this presages an effort to steal the MLS contract out from under both ESPN and NBC in a few years.

I was also surprised Telemundo even went ahead with a bid without corporate sibling NBC picking up English language rights, but apparently it may have been the other way around. (Which shouldn’t be surprising, considering Telemundo paid $100 million more than Fox.)

Also:

  • The Tennis Channel extended their rights agreement with the WTA Tour through 2016. ESPN3 reached an agreement with the WTA in the same deal. I’m not sure whether to count that half-and-half between Tennis Channel and ESPN or all Tennis Channel, but I’m going to do the latter for now.
  • Nearly a year after announcing it was dropping the “College” from its name, CBS Sports Network has finally picked up a non-college contract! Sure, it’s with super-tiny Major League Lacrosse, but still!
  • We then had a slow period through the rest of November and into December until just the other day, when ESPN extended its agreement with the NCAA for its non-men’s basketball championships, swiping some lesser women’s championships from CBS Sports Network and making me pine even more wistfully for what might have been had ESPN trumped CBS and Turner for March Madness.

Yes, I know I’m ignoring a far greater prize that was just awarded. But despite being essentially a formality, it’s a deal that’s far too big not to deserve its own post, for reasons that have nothing to do with who won them. More on that later.

Sport-Specific Networks
5 4.5 3.5 1.5 0 1.5

NFL Schedule: Week 15

Much better slate of games this week, and this goes up just in time for the not-so-good Thursday night game.

What is the Median Expected Score?

Away MXS Home Time (ET) TV DTV Announcers NTR SIRIUS Notes
Away Home
#25(4-9) 14¼-27¾ #9(8-5) Thu 8:20 PM Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan WW1 92 93 "You’re down by 20 in the fantasy semis!" "MJD was the only starter on either one of our teams that played Thursday night."
#13(7-6) 27-20 #28(4-9) Sat 8:20 PM Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan WW1 92 93 It’s almost incredible how bad the Bucs have gotten, and the Cowboys need a bounce-back.
#15(7-6) 23¼-16¾ #31(2-11) Sun 1:00 PM 704 Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf 91 138 Most of America will see this game. Not the most inspiring first game of a doubleheader in the world.
#24(4-9) 19½-26 #6(10-3) Sun 1:00 PM 710 Ron Pitts, Charles Davis 136 113 TJ Yates should continue to manage the game admirably against the porous Panther defense.
#19(6-7) 16¼-19¾ #16(7-6) Sun 1:00 PM 708 Chris Myers, Tim Ryan CMP 139 93 Might the Seahawks prove they’re legitimate playoff contenders with a win over the Bears?
#27(4-9) 19¾-26¼ #12(7-6) Sun 1:00 PM 707 Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver USA 134 94 If the Skins can pull off the upset, it’ll be very unlikely the Giants-Cowboys rematch won’t be for the division.
#14(7-6) 23¾-17¼ #32(0-13) Sun 1:00 PM 706 Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts 112 128 The Titans got an early Christmas present for their hopes to keep up in the wild card.
#22(4-9) 20½-20½ #23(5-8) Sun 1:00 PM 705 Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots 85 104 Can the Dolphins’ hard charge finally pull them out of the cellar over the freefalling Bills?
#3(10-3) 28¾-22¼ #30(2-11) Sun 1:00 PM 709 Dick Stockton, John Lynch WW1 92 106 AP might be coming back! Too bad it’ll be against one of the best teams in the league.
#1(13-0) 30-16 #26(5-8) Sun 1:00 PM 711 Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa 86 137 Will it matter who the Chiefs put out at quarterback against the Packers?
#11(8-5) 24½-23½ #17(7-6) Sun 4:05 PM 712 Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin CMP 135 92 Two teams desperately seeking to make it in the playoffs.
#29(4-9) 15¼-21¾ #20(6-7) Sun 4:15 PM 713 Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker 91 93 The Hawks have gotten more attention for their attempt to make the playoffs, but the Cards have done the same and should continue.
#5(10-3) 19½-26½ #8(8-5) Sun 4:15 PM 714 Jim Nantz, Phil Simms WW1 86 94 Tom Brady and Tim Tebow square off in the game at the heart of last week’s network tug-of-war.
#10(8-5) 20½-23½ #21(5-8) Sun 4:15 PM 715 Marv Albert, Rich Gannon USA 85 132 The Jets have become a clear #2 in the division and solid playoff contender, so why are they dogs to the not-so-Dream Team?
#2(10-3) 23½-21 #18(6-7) Sun 8:20 PM Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya WW1 92 93 Actually a tighter spread than the game NBC actually wanted, but the Bolts face a major obstacle to playoff contention.
#4(10-3) 18¼-21¼ #7(10-3) Mon 8:30 PM Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber WW1 92 93 The Monday Night slump ends in a big way with a showdown between two teams fighting for first-round byes.

Simulated Experts’ Fantasy League: Playoff Preview

Despite a rather pathetic number of total points scored, Ron Burgundy All-Stars managed to take advantage of a surprisingly weak week from Worldwide Leaders to lock up its playoff spot, finishing a four-game season-ending winning streak, while College Busters rode the second-best performance of the final week to steal the last playoff spot from The SportsLine. They join ESPN and the league’s dominant team, Swimsuit Issues, in the playoffs. SI has been riding the back of a superior draft strategy to a record two games better than ESPN or KFFL. Meanwhile, Commissioner’s Favorite managed to edge Inside Information to sneak into the NIT, helped by a weak week from Politically Incorrect; they’ll play The SportsLine in the first round, while Team Infograph takes on Inside Information. Indy Tea Party v. Wisdom of Crowds and Politically Incorrect v. Takedown Glaze rounds out the ninth-place playoffs.

Worldwide Leaders’ strong suit is at wide receiver, where they have no fewer than three of the top six wideouts in the league, plus the second-best tight end in Jimmy Graham. But their roster might not cut it in real football, with a questionable quarterback situation (Vince Young and Alex Smith) to throw to those receivers, and while they’ve taken advantage of Chris Johnson’s resurgence in recent weeks the addition of Chris Ivory on the waiver wire this week brings them up to only three healthy running backs. The Cowboys’ defense is also a potential weak spot, putting up -6 points in their game against the Giants. ESPN immediately has a rematch with a team that just beat them, Ron Burgundy All-Stars. While their quarterback situation is solid in Cam Newton and they boast a balanced running corps and a top-notch receiver in Victor Cruz, Andre Johnson’s injury has really hurt and the team has been scrambling for a second wideout.

Swimsuit Issues lucked into having the best player in the entire league at three positions: running back (LeSean McCoy), tight end (Rob Gronkowski), and defense (Ravens). Drew Brees isn’t too shabby a pick at quarterback, either. But despite DeMarco Murray’s injury bringing them down to two running backs on roster, McCoy and Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis, they added another wideout, Demaryius Thomas, to replace Murray. That gives them the maximum of seven, of which only Antonio Brown is averaging more than seven points a game. Kicker might also be considered a weak spot, although Mike Nugent put up 15 points last week. College Busters’ strong suit is in the run game, with two of the top ten running backs, as well as a good quarterback in Matt Stafford. The problem is that Jabar Gaffney is their only wide receiver in the top 40 at the position, and while they have good choices at tight end, kicker, and to some extent defense, it’s not quite on the level of the other playoff teams.

I’m bringing back the weekly recaps for this week, focusing solely on the playoff games and neither of the consolation brackets, though I may touch on what happens there.