Consistency

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.26.2016

If you watched the rematch of last seasons NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day then you might be asking yourself, ‘isn’t that a foul?’ Well according to the NBA the answer is ‘yes’. The NBA released their ‘Last Two-Minute Report’ of the game and according to that report the Cavs committed two key fouls that were not called and in the end, may have cost the Warriors a victory.

First there was Lebron James monster dunk where he hung on the rim. That should have been a technical foul but wasn’t called. Then with a few seconds remaining, the Warriors Kevin Durant fell down and that was cause by the Cavs Richard Jefferson’s foot. That wasn’t called either. Combined those would have put two of the best free throw shooters in the league at the line with the game in the balance.

Let’s not forget the unnecessary review of the shot clock violation that gave the Cavs a timeout (they were out) and chance to set their final play. A play that saw them score what would be the game winner.

While Warriors fans will cry foul and Cavs fans will tell them to ‘suck it up’, the fact is that we need consistency in the officiating. If the Warriors Draymond Green would have hung on the rim like James did then he would have been called immediately for a technical foul and hence ejected from the game (he gained his first technical earlier in the game). The lack of consistency gives the impression that the officials were favoring the Cavs or at least the ‘stars’ in the game.

Not being consistent in the calls is important, not just for the teams but for the fans. The Warriors vs Cavs game was the fifth most watched NBA regular season game ever on ABC. That means that there were plenty of casual fans watching. The NBA wants to convert those fans to ‘hardcore’ fans who watch more games, buy tickets and jerseys. That’s hard to do with inconsistent officiating that affects the outcome of the game.

Mark Cuban was right many years ago, the officiating in the NBA needs to be consistent. It can’t be called one way at the start of the game and another way at the end. It’s not good for the game and it’s not good for the fans. Let’s hope it gets better and we can see games decided on the court by the players vs by the officials.

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The Sunday – Christmas Miracles

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.25.2016

Happy Holidays

It’s A Christmas Miracle….the Browns Win!

And so do the 49ers!

Score a touchdown, get in the bucket.

Or run for a while.

Bortles!

Spreading Holiday Cheer

What the Golden State Warriors have to see when walking into their locker room.

The Good

When the opposing crowd gasps, you know it was a good save.

Whoa!

The Bad

And then let everyone know how he feels

The Ugly

But Duke’s Grayson Allen did something, again, that made you wonder how come he is not suspended.

Then his reaction…

And then of course he was suspended indefinitely.

Things didn’t go very well for the Wyoming punter.

Don’t Miss Event

Gregg Popovich is usually a man of few words but he is a man of action. Popovich attend the funeral of the late Craig Sager in Georgia hours before the Spurs were to take on the Houston Rockets back in Texas.

Marissa Payne of the Washington Post penned a terrific article on Pop and his relationship with Sager.

 

Steph Curry Moment of the Week

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.

 

 

The Sunday – Bad, Better, Best and Beyond

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.18.2016

Football….At It’s Not Finest

Ryan Tannehill and the worst throw ever.

Browns season in one mascot play.

Not sure how to describe the following motions by the Colts mascot.

And…..ouch.

You know who needs Obama Care? Bryce Petty.

 

Dunking 101

But I know this was not a dunk….

or this…

But this was. And it’s how you should do it.

 

Winter Has Come. So Has Playoff Football.

Winter is not officially here but man does it look and sure feel like it. Which means it’s perfect Penguin weather. So you know this is the only way to get to the FCS Championship game.

Oh it’s so nice.

Not The Way To Retire

Bernard Hopkins retired Saturday night and went out in the way you don’t want to as a boxer. Knocked out and falling through the ropes.

https://twitter.com/BloggerBoxing/status/810357520241987584

Steph Curry Moment of the Week

Low five to asst. coach after making a shot.

 

Thanks Craig

You knew him, loved him and his fashion. Craig Sager lost his battle with leukemia this past week.

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!

The Sunday – Locked In and Knocked Out

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.11.2016

His Name Is Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson did the amazing. He had 60 points in only 29 minutes on Monday against the Indiana Pacers.

 

Better Than The Game

After his amazing Thanksgiving vignettes on NBC, McAfee is dancing…

But announcer Kevin Harlan stole the show again…

 

Watch This

Sebastian Aho makes it look easy.

Oh so pretty

Knockouts

Final

Verne Lundquist did his final college football game on Saturday. He welcomed President Elect Trump into the booth and watched Army defeat Navy for the first time in 14 years.

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.

The Sunday – Goodbye and Dancing

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.4.2016

So Long Verne!

Verne Lundquist announced his final college football game on Saturday. While he will still be doing the NCAA Tournament and The Masters, he will no longer be doing the SEC on CBS. Thanks Verne! You’ll be missed.

 

He didn’t know….

It’s tough being a freshman in college. Well Bryant freshman Ikenna Ndugba just made it harder. He didn’t know that his team was down by a point and he dribbled out the clock. Not something you want to put on the resume.

 

Stay Classy Miami

Tickets are expensive enough. You shouldn’t have to go through this. And there is a kid in harms way!

 

That Just Happened

https://twitter.com/_MarcusD2_/status/805485273203228672

 

And everyone doing their best Steph Curry impersonation

 

 

Because