The Silver Lining

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

For many sports fans, Christmas is synonymous with the NBA. The day is almost a celebration of sorts for what the NBA has to offer. It’s biggest stars normally play and one of its most well known franchises, the LA Lakers, have been a fixture on the day since forever. While we are busy watching the games, the day also provides us a chance to examine it’s new boss, Adam Silver.

Adam Silver

Adam Silver took over as commissioner in February. During his short tenure he has been faced with some serious issues including the Donald Sterling matter and an op-ed he wrote in the New York Times where he endorsed the legalization of sports gambling in the United States.

Donald Sterling provided a quick proving ground for Mr Silver who acted swiftly and decisively. He banned Mr Sterling for life, fined him and forced the sale of his franchise. It was crisis that Mr Silver couldn’t have handled any better. While not perfect, his moves were decisive and they moved the NBA past this incident as quickly as possible.

Last month Mr Silver wrote an op-ed endorsing the legalization of sports gambling in America. A move that is bold and likely to draw significant push back from various interests. Mr Silver’s motives should be pretty clear, other parts of the world make sports betting very convenient (see the UK) and legalizing it in this country would bring millions to state coffers and probably increase engagement in all sports.

It’s also not like this isn’t already happening with Fantasy Sports. DraftKings.com and others are really just legalized sports betting but since you are not directly betting on games they sidestep just about most legal issues.

Adam Silver has made his presence felt in his short time as commissioner of the NBA. He has been bold, decisive, and unapologetic. He is a breath of fresh air in the era of the ‘my or the highway’ sports leaders like Roger Goodell and Dana White. We can only hope that he proves to be the example of what a commissioner should be moving forward.

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Bowl Preview

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

All times are PST

Saturday December 20th

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs Colorado State – 12:30pm ABC: Solid matchup between a tough Utah team and fantastic Colorado State team. Big issue for CSU, Head Coach just took the Florida job.

Tuesday December 23rd

Boca Raton Bowl: Marshall vs Northern Illinois – 3pm ESPN: These two teams are a combined 23-3. It’s also a chance to check out the best QB you may not have heard about, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato.

Saturday December 27th

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Arizona State vs Duke – 11am CBS: It’s the only bowl game CBS does for whatever reason. Both teams are a very talented 9-3 and this game should be close throughout.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs USC – 5pm ESPN: Nebraska is without a head coach which means guys are playing to impress the incoming staff. USC is in a better place than they were a year ago.

Monday December 29th

Autozone Liberty Bowl: Texas A&M vs West Virginia – 11am ESPN: This could be the most exciting Bowl game Or it could totally suck. Either way it’s a Monday afternoon college football game.

Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma vs Clemson – 2:30pm ESPN: Don’t know what to expect here but it has all the makings of a shootout.

Tuesday December 30th

Belk Bowl: Georgia vs Louisville – 3:30pm ESPN: This is one of the best bowl games outside of the Playoff.

Wednesday December 31st

Chik-Fil-A Bowl: Ole Miss vs TCU – 9:30am ESPN: Either TCU takes Ole Miss behind the woodshed or they get faded cause they are left out of the Playoff.

Vizio Fiesta Bowl: Boise St vs Arizona – 1pm ESPN: This game depends on what Arizona team decides to show up.

Thursday January 1st

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs Michigan State – 9:30am ESPN: Oh lord is this one going to be good.

Rose Bowl: Oregon vs Florida State – 2pm (ish) ABC: We can only hope that this Playoff lives up to the hype. This should be the better of the two Playoff games.

Valero Alamo Bowl: UCLA vs Kansas State – 3:45pm ESPN: This game has a tradition of being one that you don’t want to miss. This should be no exception.

Monday January 12th

National Title Game – 5:30pm (ish) ESPN: Let’s see if this is as good as we hope. Also, ESPN is apparently doing it’s ‘Film Room’ again during the game. It was awesome last year.

The Unique Job Of Coaching

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard 

Being a head coach in any professional sport (or major collegiate one) is a tough task. Well paying but still tough task. It’s tough for a laundry list of reasons but one that people do not give a lot of thought to is the speculation that you will lose your tough job sooner rather than later.

Coaches

In the NFL, Jim Harbaugh and Rex Ryan seem to be the odds on favorite to lose their jobs at the end of the year. Fair or unfair the media, fans and general discourse have already made the decision for their employer.

Is this right? No. Is it unfair? Yes. Would you want your employer to do the same thing to you? Probably not.

However coaching is not like your job. It is not (or at least probably not) like your current position where every decision you make is scrutinized in real time. Where hundreds of millions of dollars rest on your decision, broadcast in HD and meticulously reviewed by pundits the morning after.

Can you imagine your job and your families future being influenced by pundits, 24 news, social media and the Internet? No wonder these folks are being paid so much.

It’s not an easy job but one that is coveted across the board for whatever reason.

The Beginning Of The End?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) killed their football program. They are the first university to do so since 1995 when the University of Pacific in Stockton, California killed theirs. Scary thing is that this may be just the beginning but that may also be a good thing.

UAB football

Money and college football have become attached at the hip. While some want to pay players others point to how much it costs to run a program and to dress a team on Saturday.  Now we are seeing with the UAB case that costs truly do play a factor and that not all of the football programs are going to make it.

Sure the big programs like Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame and others will be fine but the smaller programs like Wyoming, UNLV, and Western Kentucky could face the same fate as UAB. In other words, as the rich get richer the poor get poorer.

Can Wyoming, UNLV and Western Kentucky really compete financially with Texas, Alabama and Notre Dame? Of course not but most aren’t trying to. They will always be second class citizens and everyone knows it. The problem with that is fans and alumni still want to win and winning costs money.

American sports fans don’t like losing. It doesn’t matter if their teams will never win a national title they still want to win. When teams don’t win money stops flowing. If smaller programs can’t stay above water then they will fold just like UAB. That means less kids playing football and for some that may be their only way to get a college education.

It’s not just the players. The coaches and support staff are out of work too. While these are not high paying positions there still jobs. These are by-products but it’s still a major change.

UAB killing their football program isn’t the most important thing in the world or even in the sports landscape for that matter. It is however a sign of things to come though.The smaller football programs are just not economically feasible. There may be some good news in all of this though. A side effect may be something that most college football teams want anyway, big teams playing other big programs.

Further reading from the Huffington Post.