3 Star = Pro Bowl

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.22.2016

The 2017 Pro Bowl roster was announced this week and while the game is becoming increasingly meaningless, a few outlets point out how there are more former 3-Star college recruits and lower than anyone else on the roster. Proving again that the recruiting star system is also increasingly irrelevant.

Recruiting stars are no guarantee of NFL success or collegiate success for that matter. There are many more three, two, one and no star recruits than there ever are five and four star recruits but most people presume that five or four star players are significantly better than three and below.

While the star rankings do not give the best indicator to future success, it does show that three and lower are just as good if not better than the four and five players if put in the right situation and coached up.

If you look at the no star recruits coming out of high school and now in the 2017 Pro Bowl, two of those players, Antonio Brown and Tom Brady, are arguably the best at their position. Brady is a lock for the Hall of Fame and Brown is probably the most feared receiver in the NFL over the last two seasons. Brown was a sixth round pick out of Central Michigan. He didn’t ‘fit’ the ‘typical’ NFL wide receiver. All he does now is make plays and score touchdowns and has become an indispensable part of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.

As college football teams go into the final recruiting push early next year, it’s important for those three star and lower kids to recognize that the coaches and so-called ‘experts’ may not know talent when they see it. Proving them wrong is better than any star from.

 

 

Advertisements

Bowl Mania Guide

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.16.2016

With the Holiday’s comes college football bowl season. Yes, there are too many bowl games (42 in all) and too many undeserving teams (19 teams are .500 or worse ). Yet we will still watch a vast majority of them if no other reason than to escape arguments about this year’s Presidential election. So here are the best bets when it comes to which games to watch.

*All times are Pacific

December 17th

Donnel PumphreyLas Vegas Bowl | Houston vs San Diego State | 12:30pM ABC: Yes Houston lost their head coach to Texas but the OC and DC are still there and the OC, Major Applewhite, is the new head coach and they still have Greg Ward at QB. The Aztecs count with senior running back Donnel Pumphrey who with a solid rushing game could become the nation’s #2 all-time leading rusher.

Camellia Bowl | Appalachian State vs Toledo | 2:30pm ESPN:  Seriously, this is a good game. App State is better than their 9-3 record would indicate and so is Toledo. App State won their first ever bowl game a year ago on a last second field goal after being down 24-7 at halftime.

December 20th

Boca Raton Bowl | Memphis vs Western Kentucky | 4pm ESPN:  Offense, offense and more offense. Western Kentucky averages 517 yards per game while Memphis averages 461. Did we mention offense?

December 21st

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl | BYU vs Wyoming | 6pm ESPN: This is a rivalry game renewed. These two haven’t played each other since 2010 when BYU left the Mountain West Conference and BYU leads the all-time series 44-30-3. Be ready for old school football here.

December 27th

National Funding Holiday Bowl | Minnesota vs Washington State | 4pm ESPN:  Two teams that kind of tripped up towards the end of the season but two solid teams none the less. Wazzu’s Luke Falk is something to see. He was 4th in the country with 4204 passing yards this season. Of course this is only a game if  Minnesota players actually play. 

December 28th

Russell Athletic Bowl | West Virginia vs Miami | 2:30pm ESPN: These two can light up the scoreboard if things go right. West Virginia probably deserves a better bowl game and Miami has junior QB Brad Kaaya and is playing closer to home than the Mountaineers are.

December 29th

Valero Alamo Bowl | Oklahoma State vs Colorado | 6pm ESPN: This might be the best game of bowl season not to mention the fact that this bowl game always seems to be high scoring shootout every year.

 

December 30th

dobbsFranklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl | Nebraska vs Tennessee | 12:30pm ESPN: These two couldn’t stop a nose bleed in their last game of the season. They do have multifaceted QB’s who can hurt you with their arm or their legs. Josh Dobbs for Tennessee and Tommy Armstrong JR for Nebraska. One player to watch is Tennessee’s Derek Barnett. He’ll be a top 5 NFL draft pick if he decides to forgo his senior season.

Capital One Orange Bowl | Michigan vs Florida State | 5pm ESPN: Two teams with loads of talent on both sides of the football. This game will be all about the offensive and defensive lines.

December 31st

College Football Playoff Semifinal | Washington vs Alabama | Noon ESPN:  Look, this playoff is Alabama’s to lose but UW head coach Chris Pederson is known for having a trick or two up his sleeve.

College Football Playoff Semifinal | Ohio State vs Clemson | 4pm ESPN:  All about the QB’s in this one. Ohio State has been here before and it’s hard to bet against Urban Meyer. Then again Clemson was here a year ago and dominated.

January 2nd

Rose Bowl | USC vs Penn State | 2pm ESPN: Two head coaches who were on the hot seat over the last 12 months have their teams in one of the biggest bowl games of all. Not bad. Let’s just hope it’s better than last years blowout of Iowa delivered at the hands of Christian McCaffery and Stanford.

The Battle Ground State

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.14.2016

Charlie Strong, Lane Kiffin and Butch Davis. These are a few of the folks who will be new head coaches in college football next season in the state of Florida. Add in the three big schools in the state, Florida, Florida State and Miami, and you have a fierce recruiting battle in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a little different than most places when it comes to recruiting. According to a CBSSports.com article, one in 99 players in Florida sign to an FBS scholarship out of high school. That’s an extraordinarily high rate and one that shows that there is enough talent to go around between all of these FBS schools and then some. Year after year the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Nebraska and just about everyone else comes down south and snatches up players.

Lane Kiffin FAUNow the head coaches in state may, how are already great recruiters, just need to convince a 17 year old to stay closer to home. Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, Mark Richt at Miami and Jim McElwain at Florida are all top notch recruiters and coaches. Their skills will be put to the test as Strong, Kiffin and Davis recruit from the same talent pool.

These new guys have NFL experience, run Power 5 programs, developed players for the next level and have the rings to show for it. The question now becomes, who can recruit a one or two star player and coach him up. Gut feeling on that is Charlie Strong now at South Florida.

Charlie StrongWhile Kiffin, Davis, Fisher, Richt and McElwain all have selling points about their programs, Strong is the only African American FBS head coach in this state. Along with his strong moral character and strong ties to the state (he coached at Florida on three different occasions), I see him winning out in the long haul. It may take him a year or two but he’s the only one of the three new coaches who has some talent leftover from the previous regime to work with.

Every college football season is a good college football season but this stretch run recruiting season maybe the start of something crazy. Something so crazy that it will probably end up as series on Netflix. Fisher, McElwain, Richt, Kiffin, Davis and Strong competing for the state’s best talent, let the games begin!

Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Hypotheticals

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.8.2016

Recently people began jumping onto the ‘Disney should spin of ESPN’ bandwagon. While I don’t like to deal in hypotheticals, this idea does raise the question about the split we are seeing in content viewing and how that could be a huge benefit to the cord cutting sports fan.

If you examine the media landscape, you have a central divide opening up. On one side you have those who are sports fans and on the other those who aren’t. Yes you have casual fans on both sides but it is becoming apparent that the casual fan is leaning more and more to one side or the other. With the media landscape becoming more and more fragmented and people are being forced to choose with their wallet more so than ever before.

When you look at the rise of OTT services from Netflix to Sling TV, it’s clear that people are choosing more inexpensive choices. If they spend the money on Netflix and a very small cable package, that might be enough for them as opposed to spending on Netflix plus the massive cable bundle just so they can watch the one or two games on the Big Ten Network.

The reasons can be whittled down to two things: 1)people have less money to spend and 2) people just got feed up.

What this means for media is that the days of a central repository for sports, like an ESPN or an FS1, may be less important as the leagues realize that the days of billion dollar sports rights are over. What this also means is that the technology will drive the distribution.

RedZone
RedZone on Sling TV

What if the NFL didn’t take ESPN’s $1.9 billion a year for Monday Night Football? What if they took $500 million and just gave ESPN a playoff game, in game highlights? The NFL could develop their own delivery model with say Amazon and see individual packages directly to the consumer. Keeping all of the ad revenue for themselves, cut down on commercial time and probably deliver a better product. Overall revenue will go down but margins should improve for the league and fans would be happier because there would be more interactivity and less commercials which means more action on the field.

twitterliveThe NFL could help make up the difference by selling rights for a lower cost to Facebook and Twitter. Add in selling through apps like Dish’s Sling TV, Apple, Roku, Sony Playstation, XBOX, etc and the league would make up the difference in the giant contracts and probably improve their margins.

Leagues and conferences are going to have to be like the rest of us, hustlers. Yes you can hope for the big payday but odds are that you will have to work two jobs or more to get where you want to be. The fact is that there is a real possibility that the old economic model will be turned on it’s head and leagues, conference and big level broadcasters are going to have to figure out how the new one works for them. In the end this should be good news for the sports fan and in particularly the cord cutting sports fans as they have more options, lower cost and at the end of the day, a better product to watch.

Football On A Cold Wyoming Night

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.6.2016

Computer rankings, that I am sure San Diego State, the Mountain West brass and ESPN television crew cursed repeatedly in the bitter cold night, decided that the 2016 Mountain West Conference Championship game between San Diego State and Wyoming was to be held in Laramie, Wyoming…in December. While not ideal conditions, it was ‘football’ weather and it could have been much worse. The freezing weather and 20 mph wind gusts didn’t deter fans who were treated to a back and forth battle that saw San Diego State win their second conference championship in a row.

Laramie is a solid two hour drive from downtown Denver and could seem like light years away to the urban dwellers of Colorado’s biggest city. Laramie does have it’s charm and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.

Before the game, you can watch the Cowboys walk right by on their way to War Memorial Stadium. It’s also important to hang out in the indoor practice facility where for $10 you can get food and all the beer you can drink until they run out (try finding that at a Power 5 school). Even if you don’t drink, it’s still warm and their is plenty of stuff for the kids to do.

Closer to game time you are either still in the indoor practice facility or you went back to your car for warm up one final time. At some point though you have to commit to mother nature, trust the four layers you have on and head to your seats.

Mountain West Championship 2016
Mountain West Championship 2016

Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium isn’t big for the SEC or PAC-12 but it’s big enough for the rockies. It holds almost 30,000 which is just about the population of Laramie. It’s no frills but there isn’t a bad seat in the house and the ticket price is a heck of a lot more reasonable than tickets elsewhere.

San Diego State must not have liked this place since the lost to Wyoming 34-33 a few weeks earlier. The Championship game was like returning to the scene of the crime only this time it was significantly colder.

San Diego State would get revenge on this night though but it wasn’t easy. It was an extra effort here, a missed block there and in the end, the team from sunny southern California  had a 27-24 victory. While the game didn’t decide a who would be in the College Football Playoff or who would win the Heisman Trophy, it did provide one of the most trilling conference championship games of the day.

Yes Wyoming fans went home disappointed but there was solace to be found in a fast working car heater and the fact that their team went from 2-10 a year ago to 8-5 and within three points of winning the conference.

Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl has done it the right way. While no one knows what next year will bring, it’s safe to say that Wyoming fans would welcome another cold December night if it went that their team was playing for another conference championship.

Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: DirecTV Now

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.1.2016

AT&T purchased DirecTV. Now DirecTV has rolled out the OTT candidate, DirecTV Now. For the sports cord cutter, this ain’t it. In fact it couldn’t be farther from ‘it’. It’s overpriced, less options and nothing more than a current cable package without the cable box rental.

DirecTV NowOn November 30th, DirecTV (aka AT&T) officially rolled out DirecTV Now. It wasn’t until that day that you could really get a good look at what was offered and for what price. In fact I couldn’t find the price tiers and channels on their web site. I had to go to CNET!

Unlike Sling TV, DirecTV Now offers various sports channels with various packages. While Sling TV has a single sports package, DirecTV Now’s is all over the map. For example, Big Ten Network and ESPN, two different tiers. Want FS2 as well as FS1? Same tier? Negative Ghost Rider. Pac-12 Network? NFL Network? Not available. NFL RedZone? Your kidding right?

How is it that DirecTV, home of NFL Sunday Ticket can’t offer that service in their OTT service? How is it that this wasn’t the first thing they secured rights too?

This is really disappointing from a sports cord cutters perspective. Like I said, this is a current cable package sold without a cable box. In other words, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

If you are a sports fan and a cord cutter the DirecTV service is not the way to go. The pricing (after the first year) is no better than Sling TV or Playstaton Vue and you don’t get as much bang for your buck.  Not to mention the fact that their website blows. Sports cord cutters are still left with one solid option, Sling TV.