Choices and Patience

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.29.2016

After the 2012 college football season, some fairly big jobs opened up. Two of the coaches looking to move up to a Power 5 school were Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones and San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre. Jones was doing the proverbial tour. He interviewed at Purdue and Colorado before taking the Tennessee job. MacIntyre was lower on the tier and Colorado ‘settled’ for him. Fast forward four years and MacIntyre’s Buffaloes are playing for a Pac-12 title and Tennessee is again 8-4 and not playing for a conference title. So which one was right?

Butch JonesUnder Butch Jones, Tennessee has shown continual improvement in his first three years going from 5-7 to 7-6 to 9-4. With sky high expectations this year, the Vols were never able to put together a complete game. While they did beat Florida, Georgia, and Virginia Tech they also lost to two teams they should have beaten handily in South Carolina and Vanderbilt not to mention being blown out by Alabama. The 8-4 regular season record still qualifies Tennessee for a quality bowl game but the season is seen as failure in the eyes of many.

Mike MacIntyreOut west Mike MacIntyre has not shown continual improvement in Colorado’s record. Going 4-8, 2-10 and 4-9 in his first three seasons in Boulder, only the hardcore football fan could see light at the end of the tunnel. The improvement was incremental but it wasn’t reflected in the record. This season MacIntyre put it all together and turned the 2016 season into a PAC-12 South divisional title.

The Buffaloes got off to a fast start by dominating their in state rivals Colorado State in the season opener. The Buffs built off of that and were able to rattle off some impressive wins even with a backup quarterback under center for three games. Tennessee meanwhile needed overtime and a whole lot of luck to beat a quality Appalachian State team. Both openers were a precursor of things to come.

Both coaches were hired at the same time. While Jones teams showed more promise early on, MacIntyre’s didn’t. Credit to Colorado for giving MacIntyre time to build the program back from the oil spill it was under previous regimes. While he started off on a ‘lukewarm seat’ this season, MacIntyre quickly erased any doubts about his job status as his team rattled off impressive win after impressive win. Jones will need some of that patience from Tennessee as he searches for answers going into year five.

Jones went from being the second coming in Knoxville to ‘is this guy any better than a 8 or 9 win coach?’ His job status will be questioned over the next several months not only because Tennessee didn’t live up to expectations this year with a senior quarterback and highly thought of defense but also because he will have a new boss come summer as current athletic director Dave Hart steps down.

Was Jones the right choice for Tennessee? At the time yes. They needed someone to put out the dumpster fire that Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley left behind. MacIntyre was the right choice at Colorado too. He has built a program with NFL quality talent and a belief that they can compete with and beat the best teams in the country.

While both are right for their jobs, it’s clear that both coaches are at the same crossroad. Both need to go to the next level but momentum seems to only be on Colorado’s side.

Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Amazon Enters The Game

 By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.23.2016

When enters a market, it usually wins. As it’s founder, chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos once said, ‘your margins are my opportunity’. Well now it’s become clear that they are going to enter the OTT live streaming sports realm one way or another. It’s been reported off and on for a couple of months now and it appears that Amazon is very, very serious about getting into this space and it could be a benefit to the cord cutting community if they do.

AmazonAccording to an article in the Wall Street Journal, made a play to be the sole provider of NBA League Pass. The NBA eventually passed on the idea and so did the NFL when it gave it’s live streaming rights for Thursday Night Football to Twitter. Now appears to be going after less ‘mainstream’ North American sports. Things like the Cricket Premier League and rugby.

This is good news for sport cord cutters. has a history of eating costs for the long term benefit of having you buy more stuff because you are a Prime member. That means that odds are if is able to bag an MLS or NBA or NHL package, it would probably be included your Amazon Prime subscription.

Think about that for a minute. If you live in Chicago and you are an LA Lakers fan, you could see the out of market games via your Amazon and not pay anymore because you have a Prime account.

This, I believe, is far off. I think a closer more appropriate strategy for all parties involved is for to go after the college conferences. For example,  ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12 and Mountain West. These conferences pretty much own their rights, especially the Pac 12, to cut deals beneficial to them and not college football as a whole. Most have signed new deals with the major broadcasters in the past few years but that doesn’t mean that there are not ways for them to join forces with barring the price is right.

Another possibility is that Amazon becomes a MLBAM (BAM) competitor. While I don’t believe this is the case it’s certainly a possibility. Amazon has the backend that everyone uses, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and probably the best, cleanest user experience on the web in Question really becomes, do they want to go this route because if they do, BAM and NeuLion should be worried.

The fact is that if sets it’s sights on a vertical, it usually enters it and it finds a way to win or be a major player in the space. They appear to want to enter the OTT live streaming market and in a big way. They have the capacity and capital to make it work. It now seems like only a question of time.


Experience Over Potential

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.18.2016

Yes, you have to win right now if you are a college football coach. Greatness is fleeting and so are boosters checkbooks. No one likes to give money to a loser after all and college football has turned into a perennial ‘keeping up with the jones’ world. So if winning is, as the great Vince Lombardi once said ‘the only thing’, then why don’t more college football programs go after coaches with a track record of winning?

Butch DavisButch Davis was hired on as the head coach at Florida International (FIU). He has spent the past few seasons on TV since he got run out of UNC for pretty much not having any kind of academic standards. Despite that he is a winner on the field. He has a career record of 79-43 in 10 years of being a head coach and brought Miami back from the brink as well as being the last head coach to take the Cleveland Browns to the post season (that was the 2001-2002 season). It’s a smart hire by FIU who have been a doormat ever since they ran Mario Cristobal out of town.

Speaking of Cristobal, why hasn’t anyone hired this guy yet?

Cristobal is young (46), turned FIU into a conference champion while taking them to back-to-back bowl games and is considered to be one of the best recruiters in the country. Oh, his current job is coaching the ever dominant Alabama offensive line. He did nothing wrong at FIU except start losing games. Since they fired him they have gone straight into the toilet.

Two other names that don’t seem to be getting a lot attention despite having successful collegiate head coaching experience are Al Golden and Greg Schiano.

Al GoldenGolden is coaching with the Minnesota Vikings and helping make Kyle Rudolph one of the better tight ends in the game. He made the best of a unwinnable situation at Miami, turned around Temple and stayed classy doing it.

Schiano on the other hand resurrected Rutgers into a legitimate program. Schiano has a winning record as the Rutgers head coach which should say something about his coaching abilities. He took Rutgers to their first bowl game since 1978 and was named Coach of the Year in 2006. While he has a good gig right now (AHC/DC for Ohio State) you’d have to imagine that he would want the chance to run his own show again.

The list can go on and on but it should give schools like Purdue, LSU and others some pause. Pause to not chase after the next sexy hire but instead to hire someone with a track record of winning. Hire someone looking to prove that they still do have what it takes and learned from their mistakes in the past. Hire experience, not potential.

The Pacing Problem

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.12.2016

The pace of college football games is becoming a bigger issue. The nearly 5 hour Tennessee at Texas A&M game earlier this year was probably the straw that broke the camels back. But there are ways to fix this and yes they are easy to achieve.

There have been two major articles written on this subject this fall. First by Ben Cohen in the Wall Street Journal and then by Dennis Dodd at this past week. Both point out that games have steadily been increasing in time since 2008 and a few of the reasons are up-tempo offenses, increased scoring and of course TV timeouts among them.

Cohen’s article did an analysis on the Florida State vs Ole Miss game at the beginning of the year. While the game lasted a little over 4 hours there were only 16 plus minutes of actual football action (it was a heck of a game though).

Dodd’s article points to the main culprit of extended games, fast-paced offenses. Kind of ironic that fast-paced or up-tempo offenses cause games to be longer. Short passes, snapping the ball 15-25 seconds after the previous play all leads to more plays, more stoppages and longer games.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema have been vocal about the this style of play in the past claiming that it will lead to injuries. That may not be far off but there is no data to support their beliefs.

A few years ago, I remember listening to UCLA head coach Jim Mora on the Jim Rome show. He pointed out the low hanging fruit on how to solve this problem, quit stopping the clock after a first down. The NFL doesn’t do this and Mora postulated that if you don’t stop the clock after a first down then you will decrease the amount of plays a team can run (probably by a dozen) and speed up the game in the process.

Tougher sells would be to shorten the play clock by 10 seconds, limit reviews to 90 seconds, and limit the number of commercial breaks in a game.

There are fixes for this problem and some of them are pretty easy. This is an issue that the NCAA should look at. Games are getting longer and in a world where students won’t go to games due to poor mobile phone reception, it is an issue that should be addressed sooner rather than later.

Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Zero Rating

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.5.2016

A week or so ago Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch did his first ever Periscope live broadcast. While he couldn’t talk about specifics (partially because A) why would you and B) Dish was entering a quite period for it’s next earning release) he did point out that Sling TV sees new users every month but a major event like the Olympics triggers bigger pops in the user base.He also mentioned that he didn’t think that going to a ‘zero rating’ was a good idea.

With the recent announcement of AT&T purchasing Time Warner and another AT&T subsidiary DirecTV launching their OTT option this month with a ‘zero rating’ it makes you wonder which path we’ll go down.

‘Zero rating’ is when the backbone provider (AT&T, Century Link, Verizon, etc) allow certain types of content without having it content against you’re bandwidth limit. Now T-Mobile already does a version of this but in their case the content provider (Netflix, MLB, MLS, etc) have to except a lower quality stream in order to keep other content moving through the pipe. In AT&T’s case, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, they say this will increase competition because anyone can pay DirecTV to have a ‘zero rating.’

So what does this mean to you and your ability to watch the Nebraska at Ohio State game on ESPN via an OTT application? Well it means that you have more options to watch the game depending on your device and application. It also means that there is a chance, however remote, that you could not have the ability to see the game.

Being a sports cord cutter for about a year now, I have come close but have not reached my data limit with my ISP. It would be nice if commercials didn’t count against the data cap but that is a technological innovation that isn’t very sexy to build. Not sure how many customers hit the 300GB limit most ISP’s are putting on their user but I would presume that it’s not a lot.

If AT&T wants to go down the road of having outfits like Netflix, MLB and others pay them so consumers won’t have their data caps maxed out then I think they are in for a rude awakening. There is nothing stopping AT&T or their subsidiary DirecTV from raising the price on the content provider and the customer in the name of meeting quarterly earnings. I would venture a guess that this is there plan.

Why is someone like Lynch against this, because it’s not a sustainable path. ‘Zero rating’ is essentially an end run around net neutrality. It would make, by default, the ISP’s the revenue winners in this future of video viewing. It puts the ball clearly in the backbone company’s court and invites a ‘pay to play’ model down the line.

Now back to that Nebraska at Ohio State game. If the backbone companies are able to initiate this ‘zero rating’ then if you are a Verizon customer, there is a chance that Disney (ESPN’s parent company) didn’t want to pay Verizon’s fee and therefore you cannot watch the game. I think that chance is slim but well within this model is a lower quality stream. In other words you are in the back of the bus viewing wise and there would not be much you could do about it.

‘Zero rating’ is not a really fair model for the user or the content providers or distributors. The backbone companies like AT&T are going to make their money because they are a necessity to modern living and they have the ability to put on caps which could also lead to revenue grow however inconsistent that may be. This is not the business model of the future. New models need to arise and they will as more consumers cut the cord, but the ‘Zero rating’ is not it.