Welcome To Canada Mr Manziel

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 5.22.2018

Johnny Football is back. This time Manziel will be donning a Hamilton Tiger-Cats jersey and doing his magic in the CFL. It’s a smart move and one that could potentially make Manziel the most exciting, undersized quarterback in the CFL since Doug Flutie.

First, let’s be real about the expectations here. The Canadian game is significantly different than the US game. While it’s a style that fits Manziel’s skill set, it is also one he’ll have to adjust to. From the motion rules to the routes the receivers run to the way the coverage develops. It’s going to be a whole new thing for the boy from Texas to take into account. With a limited amount of preseason games and his late signing, it’s going to take probably half a season before Manziel starts ‘getting it’ but he could also pick it up a lot quicker.

The excitement that fans should feel is two fold. First Manziel has a coach who has won at every level of football and is a direct disciple of Mouse Davis who is the Godfather of the Run ‘N’ Shoot offense. June Jones offense employs concepts that every team in football now uses and it’s the foundation for the offense Manziel ran at Texas A&M.

Second, look at the comparisons between Manziel and Doug Flutie. Flutie is in the CFL Hall of Fame, won the Most Outstanding Player 6 times in 8 years while up north and also won the Grey Cup 3 times. Flutie’s arm, scrambling, and ability to extend the play proved to be a lethal combination in the wide open CFL. Manziel has a lot of the same characteristics as you can see from the two quarterbacks highlights.

Some will just say that the CFL is Manziel’s chance to get back to the NFL. Maybe but if Manziel zeros in on being a CFL quarterback, he has the potential to be one of the all time greats. This can go a lot of ways for Manziel but the bottom line is that he is in a great spot in Hamilton with a coach with a proven track record. Things could get very interesting in the CFL come August and September.

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22 It

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 6.25.2017


The Canadian Football League (CFL) kicked off its 2017 season with a game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Alouettes this past Thursday. Unless you are a football fanatic like myself or a Canadian with a vested interest in the two teams on the field, you probably didn’t ever know the game was going on. My hope is that someone at the NFL office or at one of the NFL TV partners was watching so that they could be reminded about an angle that they are missing during their broadcasts. The wide angle or as they call it in America, the ’22’ angle.

Roughriders at Al’s CFL 2017 Opener.

For the uninitiated, the CFL has 3 downs, 12 men aside and unlimited motion. Which means that at least three of the receivers get a head start on their routes before the ball is ever snapped. This requires the TV cameramen to get a wider shot of the field because you don’t know where these guys are going. It’s not a genuine ’22’ angle but you have a better view of what the receivers are doing and how the defense is lined up to defend them.

Why would the NFL or college football widen out the camera shot and show more of the field? Well it could be a source of revenue. Most of us, believe it or not, don’t care about the close up of Tom Brady or the coach on the sideline. We care about how the formation and who is on the field.

The down side is that you may reveal a bunch of empty seats at the stadium caused in no small part by a teams performance and high ticket prices. The upside is that nerdy football fans like myself would pay a fee to get just this angle.

ESPN Megacast during the 2014 National Championship game

The reason why a portion of us would pay for this is that we want to see for ourselves how the defense is lining up, who is coming in and out of the game and have a visual representation of where our team is on the field which let’s guess what our team should or should not do. We don’t want an analyst telling us after the fact or being burden by replays when a team goes without a huddle and we miss the beginning of the next play.

Eventually, having graphics overlay that one could turn on and off would be nice as well. I don’t mean your stats of total yards, etc but a marker on a player so that while viewing the ’22’ angle, a mark or flag can pop up over a player as they come on and off the field which is turned on and off automatically by when they cross the sidelines into the field of play.

While there is a lot of talk about how to improve the in-game experience for fans (none of this talk includes lowering ticket prices or beer mind you), very little is talked about improving the home viewing experience. These are two things could improve the viewing experience immediately. While the graphics overlay may take some doing, it’s hard to believe that having a camera zoom out would be much of a technological feat. Extra costs, I think I pointed out earlier that there are plenty of us who would give you money for this.

Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Competition In OTT

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 9.28.2016


Competition In OTT

When I first decided to cut the cord I really only had one option if I wanted to see any kind of sports and that was Sling TV. Over the last few months a new competitor has emerged and that is Sony’s PlayStation Vue. From the outside looking in, there are some benefits but also some drawbacks.

PlayStation VuePlayStation Vue is an application that runs on just about every OTT device except for Apple TV and of course XBOX. When I first heard of Vue, I presumed that I had to have a PS4 or something to use it but I was wrong. While not being on Apple TV hurts it’s distribution, it seems like only a matter of time before it will be available and that will expand the app’s reach.

As far as channels that are available, you pretty much get the same stuff but there are some differences. With the Sling TV Sports Extra package, you get all of the PAC-12 channels and Campus Insiders. These are not available on Vue but to that point, Vue has the Big Ten Network, Fox College Sports, and One World Sports which are not available on Sling TV. So here it really depends on what is more important to you. Are you a PAC-12 person or a Big Ten person.

The price of NFL RedZone is the game changer here. On Sling TV it is included in the Sports Extra package which is $10 a month. On Vue, it is $39.99 for the season which breaks down to about $10 a month for the NFL season. There some other stipulations with NFL RedZone on Vue too as you can see below. You have to have a certain level of package in order to get it and if you downgrade, you won’t be refunded.

Restrictions

The price for the two services is a little different too. While both applications can vary on price, if you max out the sports options, you are looking at $50 a month on Sling TV and that includes NFL RedZone. If you want a similar package on Vue, you are looking at $75 a month but that is only for the four months of the NFL regular season. So for a year, Sling would cost you around $600 a year and Vue would cost you around $580.

As a Sling TV user I can confirm that ESPN3 is available but I cannot confirm that with Vue as of right now. This could be a deal breaker if you are like me and want to watch CFL games during the summer.

It really comes down to your own personal variables. If your OTT device an XBOX or Apple TV then you are going to Sling TV but if you have an Amazon Fire or Roku you can go with Vue. The choice is yours. So far, I have chosen Sling TV.

 

QB Quandary In Quebec

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Believe it or not but football is almost upon us. Canadian Football that is. Training camp opens in a couple of days and a lot of eyes are on the Montreal Alouettes. The main reason is because they traded for the rights for Vernon Adams to add to the other seven that are currently on the roster. That’s a quarterback competition if there ever was one.

Let’s make no mistake, Vernon Adams is tailor made for the CFL. It’s a wide open game but it takes some getting use to. Unlimited motion, three downs, 12 men a side and the field is significantly bigger. Some QB’s that should transition well fail miserably. So it is not a given that Adams will walk in and be anointed the starter. He better hope to just make team.

The Al’s have had QB issues ever since future Hall of Famer Anthony Calvillo retired. Calvillo is now the offensive coordinator and Head Coach/General Manager Jim Popp appears to be grooming him to be the Al’s headman down the line.

Al's QB

Calvillo will have to devote time to seven other QB’s besides Adams. From former Tennessee signal caller Jonathan Crompton, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and under-appreciated CFL vet Kevin Glenn among others. While CFL teams are known for having to use least two QB’s during a season, eight QB’s on a roster is lot no matter what league you are in.

Kevin Glenn MontrealIt would appear that Glenn would be the opening day starter. He is seventh all time in passing which puts him in front of Hall of Famer’s Doug Flutie, Matt Dunigan and Tracy Ham. Glenn also has 255 career TD’s which puts him 10th on the all time list.

Adams has the tools to be a very successful CFL quarterback but he has his work cut out for him. He would have been better served staying in Vancouver and signing with the BC Lions or even getting shipped off to the Toronto Argonauts because both teams have seen their veteran QB’s fail to stay healthy. Either way let’s see what Adams can do in his third offensive system in as many years.

What To Watch Fri. 11/20 – Sun. 11/22

All times are Pacific.

Friday November 20th

Montreal Canadiens at NY Islanders – 4:30pm NHL GameCenter: The Habs have cooled off and the Islanders are a tough team.

Cincinnati at South Florida – 5pm CBSN: Hey, we love watching the Bearcats. They have a tendency to score a lot of points or go down in flames.

Air Force at Boise State- 6:30pm ESPN2: A battle that will determine the winner of the Mountain division of the MWC.

Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: This could arguably be a Finals preview.

 

Saturday November 21st

Michigan at Penn State – 9am : Our first taste of Harbaugh vs Franklin.

Memphis at Temple – 9am ESPNU: While both teams have suffered losses in recent weeks, they are still two fun football teams to watch.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona -9am beIN Sports: Only a match up between the two biggest clubs in the world. No big deal.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – 9:30am NBC: Liverpool sits 11 points behind City but has a new manager and new hope.

Lafayette at Lehigh – 9:30am ESPN3: The 151st meeting between the two schools which is the longest in collegiate football. There is a reason they call it ‘The Rivalry’.

Montana at Montana State – 11am ROOT Sports: 115th matchup between the two schools. Montana looks to keep their FCS Playoff hopes alive with a victory here.

YaleHarvard at Yale  – 11:30am NBCSN: IVY League title is on the line since Harvard lost last week to Penn. Harvard gets a share if they win and Yale would love nothing more than to spoil that. There is a reason this one is called ‘The Game.’

Michigan State at Ohio State – 1:30pm ABC: No big deal just National Title implications.

UCLA at Utah – 1:30pm FOX: PAC-12 South implications and two pretty good football teams.

Arizona at Arizona State – FS1 : The 2015 edition of the Territorial Cup. Bowl eligibility is on the line for the Sun Devils.

Baylor at Oklahoma State – 4:30pm FOX : OSU looks to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive but they will have to find a way to outscore Baylor.

TCU at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: Oklahoma has battled their way back after that loss to Texas to be one of the more dangerous teams in the land. This is a tall order but TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin may not be 100% & they lost their best wide receiver.

Cal at Stanford  – 7:30pm ESPN:The Big Game is a big one once again. Both teams have played well this year and Stanford is also looking to wrap up the Pac 12 North. And with all of the wacky finishes this year in college football, it will be nice to end a long day of football with a game that gave birth to crazy finishes.

Cotto vs Canelo – 8pm-ish PPV: Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez in boxing’s second super fight of the year. In all honesty, this one should be a better one too.

 

Sunday November 22nd

Tottenham vs West Ham United – 8am NBCSN: Both are sitting just outside the top four and are only separated by goal differential.

Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears – 10am CBS: Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will ride the bench for the Broncos as they take on their former head coach John Fox.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa RedBlacks – 10am ESPNEWS: Winner goes to the Grey Cup. Combination of rain and snow is expected.

NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 400 – Noon NBC: Last race of the year and maybe, just maybe Jeff Gordon can go out on top with a win and the cup.

Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers – 12:30pm NBA League Pass: Raptors are on a West Coast swing and visit Lob City.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings  – 1:30pm FOX: Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC while the Packers are slipping. Can the Pack turn it around?

Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos – 1:30pm ESPN3: Not only does the winner go to the Grey Cup but it’s also the Battle of Alberta.

Columbus Crew vs NY Red Bulls – 2pm ESPN: Leg one to decide the Eastern Conference rep in MLS Cup.

Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: Western Conference Final and it starts in the best venue in all of MLS. There Ain’t No Pity In the Rose City.

Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals – 5:30pm NBC: Cards held on last week in Seattle while the Bengals put up their first loss of the season against the Texans on Monday Night. Rebound in the desert is a tough task for Andy Dalton and crew.

 

 

 

What To Watch Thurs. June 25th -Sun. June 28th

All times are Pacific.

Thursday June 25th

NBA Draft – 4pm ESPN: Well there isn’t a LeBron or Jordan in there but it’s entertaining none the less.

Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes – 4:30pm ESPN2: It’s Football!!!! We can only hope that the Redblacks will be better than the 2-16 they put up last year.

NY Yankees at Houston Astros – 5pm MLB Network: Yankees are game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East and the Astros are the surprise team of 2015 baseball season.

REMOTE

Friday June 26th

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Calgary Stampeders – 6pm ESPN2: A rematch of last years Grey Cup. Not a bad game for opening weekend.

NHL Draft – 4pm NBCSN: While it doesn’t get the fanfare the NBA Draft will get, it is still a first look at the future of the sport.

 

Saturday June 27th

Toronto FC vs DC United – 2pm MLS Live: Two of the better teams in the East and a chance to see some big time stars like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

College Soccer National Championship – 2pm ESPNU: Virginia vs UCLA as UVA goes their second National Title in four days in two different sports.

NE Revolution vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 4:30pm MLS Live: Second place team in the East vs the second place team in the West.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 5pm ESPN3: Probably the best venue in all of the CFL plus Rider quarterback Darian Durantis back. If he can stay healthy the Riders are a force to be reckoned with in the East.

 

Sunday June 28th

NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – 1:30pm ESPN: Three points separate these two teams. Hell, the distance between stadiums is more than that.

Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders – 4pm FS1: No Clint Dempsey but it’s still the best rivalry in MLS.

Chicago Cubs at St Louis Cardinals – 5pm ESPN: Two of baseball’s oldest rivals. Not to mention that they are first and second in the NL Central.

 

 

The Sam Saga

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Michael Sam’s professional football career is on life support. He left the Montreal Alouettes training camp late last week citing ‘personal reasons.’ While we don’t know the true reason why Sam left Quebec, we do know that his chances of making a roster in professional football (CFL or otherwise) are dissipating quickly.

Michael Sam at practice

Sam has every right to want to go home and not be put under the media microscope. The banality of being asked the same questions over & over again. He also has the right to pursue a career in his industry of choice, however in this case his industry of choice has a very small window. Sam is a smart guy and  probably understands this better than most which makes his decision to leave the Al’s all the more shocking.

Sam’s window of making an impact on a roster in the CFL or NFL is very small. While most people in the NFL cited Sam’s lack of size and speed, it is also the same league that once didn’t have an African-American quarterback for no reason other than the individual was black. Sam can prove his football critics wrong but he has to be on a field in order to do so.

Like we said before, Sam has the potential to be one of the best pass rushers the CFL has every seen. Being successful there could lead to an opportunity in the NFL a la Cameron Wake. But it may not be the right path for Sam. Maybe the game, culture and not being in the NFL are too much for him. Maybe he was tired of being the center of attention when he hasn’t proved his worth on a professional field yet. Maybe being the poster boy for the LGBT community weighed on him too much and he couldn’t put everything he had into his trade. We don’t know. The facts are that he is on the Al’s suspended list and not playing football.

We hope Sam’s ‘personal reasons’ are not serious and that he returns to the Al’s. We think he is a heck of a player and could really do well in the pass happy CFL. If he decides to not go back to the Al’s that’s fine too but this guy was meant to pin his ears back and get after a quarterback in a passing situation.

 

Go North Young Man

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Michael Sam is going to get his shot at professional football alright but it will be north of the border. Sam signed a two year deal with the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Montreal Alouettes. It’s not only the right move but a smart one.

Michael Sam

Sam is a pass rusher plain and simple. He may not be the prototypical NFL pass rusher but he is a pass rusher none the less. Well that’s what you do in the CFL. With only three downs, a wider field and unlimited motion, the game is tailored for someone with Sam’s skill set.  He can pretty much pin his ears back and get after the quarterback all day long. People seem to forget that Sam was a consensus first team All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and pretty much a bad ass on a very good Missouri team in 2013.

On paper Sam doesn’t fit the NFL mold for an outside rusher. So be it. A lot of players weren’t good enough ‘on paper’ and went on to have tremendous careers in the NFL while cutting their teeth in the CFL (Warren Moon for example). Now Sam has an opportunity to prove to the NFL that paper doesn’t matter, it’s what you do on the field that matters. Sam can follow in the footsteps of current NFL standout Cameron Wake who has gone on to be one of the better pass rushers in the league. If Sam can put up some decent numbers and show improvement when it comes to setting the edge then he will get another shot in the NFL.

Sam is in the right place. He has a chance to not just be a solid pass rusher for the Al’s but he has a chance to be one of the more dominant pass rushers the CFL has seen in a long time. Throw in a great city like Montreal and Sam may just decide that Canada suits him just fine.

The Online Sports Network That Wasn’t

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It appears that we are at a tipping point with the live streaming of sporting events. While the rumblings have been there for many years it finally seems like we are about to crossover into a world where you will finally have a choice between your typical cable or satellite subscription and an online only version. The surprise shouldn’t be that we’ve gotten to this point but it should surprise people that Yahoo could have led this change.

Yahoo Big

Yahoo is a big company with an enterprise value around $35 billion. It employs over 10,000 people but is has also had enough drama in the C Suite to fill a CNBC special. One direction it didn’t pounce on when it had the chance was the realm of live streaming.

Tracking Yahoo’s live streaming opportunities goes all the way back to 1999 when they purchased Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion and in the process making Mark Cuban a billionaire. Since then Yahoo has been live streaming various types of content from SEC football games on Jefferson Pilot to UFC events (free and paid). Now it is streaming a concert a day with its Yahoo Live platform.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 20.10.00

So why isn’t Yahoo synonymous with live streaming sports? They clearly have the cash, infrastructure, and smarts to pull it off yet here they sit on the sidelines as Dish Network launches Sling.com. Going through three CEO’s in 2012 alone probably didn’t help matters but one has to wonder why a company with a giant user base and brand name didn’t gain the digital rights of various sporting league?

Expense was probably one of the reasons. Look the NFL and Premier League rights are not cheap by any means of the imagination. Even with a presumed 70-30 split you’d have to figure that access to Yahoo’s users and prominent placement on the homepage would have led some leagues or college conferences for that matter to think long and hard about a deal with Yahoo.

Just think where Yahoo would be today if they had thought outside of the box when it came to the live streaming of sports. Imagine soccer matches rom around the globe, collegiate athletics or even something as niche as the Canadian Football League all being streamed via Yahoo. How did Yahoo not lock up the digital rights to the PAC-12 when they launched there network a few seasons ago?  They are in the same zipcode!

Yes hindsight is 20/20 but the opportunities where there. From it’s original purchase of Broadcast.com in 1999 to now with it’s daily live streaming of concerts from across the country. Yahoo has had opportunity after opportunity. Now as the sports landscape shifts to a true anywhere, anytime on any device environment, Yahoo sits on the sidelines wondering why it’s on the bench.

What To Watch Thurs. 11/20 – Sun. 11/23

All times are PST

Thursday November 20th

Kansas St at West Virginia – 4pm FS1: K-ST and WVU may not get into the College Football Playoff but this should still be one heck of a game.

LA Clippers at Miami Heat – 5pm TNT: Still a fun game even without LeBron.

Friday November 21st

Chicago Bulls at Portland TrailBlazers – 7:30pm ESPN: Battle of two of the top teams in NBA.

Saturday November 22nd

Minnesota at Nebraska – 9am ESPN: Key game in the Big Ten West. Both teams coming off of embarrassing losses last weekend.

Arsenal vs Manchester United – 9:30am NBC: The game may not decide the Premier League but it’s still a lot of bad blood between the two.

Yale at Harvard – 9:30am NBCSN: It’s one of the longest running rivalries in College Football. This year the winner walks away with the Ivy League title. It’s also signifies the beginning of the end of the College Football season.

Ole Miss at Arkansas – 12:30pm CBS: Arkansas finally broke through and got their first SEC win in what seems like forever. Now they welcome Ole Miss to town in a must win for both but for different reasons.

Arizona at Utah – 12:30 ESPN: Think the SEC West is tough? Try the Pac 12 South.

Stanford at Cal – 1pm FS1: THE BIG GAME! Winner goes bowling. Cal QB Goff has 4 INT’s all year.

Louisville at Notre Dame – 12:30pm NBC: Notre Dame is reeling and Louisville is no joke.

Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins – 4pm NHLN: An original 6 match up for your Saturday night.

Missouri at Tennessee – 4:30pm ESPN: Mizzou is looking to wrap up their second straight SEC East title. Tennessee needs to win one of the next two to go bowling.

USC at UCLA – 5pm ABC: Battle of LA.

Frankie Edgar vs Cub Swanson – 9pm(ish) FS1: This is a heck of a fight in the Featherweight Division.

Sunday November 23rd

Detroit Lions at New England Patriots – 10am FOX: Can anyone stop the Pats?

Montreal Alouettes at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 10am ESPN: Eastern Conference Final.

NY Red Bulls vs NE Revolution – 10:30pm NBC: Can the Red Bulls get Thierry Henry to an MLS Cup before he retires?

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks – 1pm FOX: This could decide the NFC West.

Edmonton Eskimos at Calgary Stampeders – 1:30pm ESPN3: Western Conference Final, a chance to get to the Grey Cup and the battle of Alberta all wrapped into one.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders – 2pm ESPN: Game 1 of two in the Western Conference Final.