What To Watch Fri. 8/29 – Mon. 9/1

All times are PST.

Friday August 29th

Colorado St vs Colorado – 6pm FS1: This could be one of the best versions of this game in years. Both coaching staff’s have turned around losing programs. Look for a hard fought game.

Oakland A’s at LA Angels – 7pm MLB.TV: Great series and probably the best pitching match of the series with the A’s Jon Lester squaring off against the Angels Jered Weaver.

UNLV at Arizona – 7:30pm ESPN: Both teams are starting brand new QB’s. UNLV is coming off of their best season in years. Watch out Cats.

Saturday August 30th

Ohio State at Navy – 9am CBSSN: This may be closer than the experts think. Ohio State was not good on defense last year and Navy is Navy. It’s a disciplined triple option attack.

Chelsea at Everton – 9:30am NBC: Everton just fell apart in the last 20 minutes against Arsenal last week. They have to do better if they want to beat one of the favorites to win the league in Chelsea.

Colorado Rapids at Seattle Sounders – 1pm MLS LIVE: If Colorado wants any shot at the playoffs they have to come away with at least a point in this match.

Clemson at Georgia – 2:30pm ESPN: Oh this might be the best game of the weekend. It was a fun game last year and should be again. New QB’s on both sides too.

Wisconsin vs LSU – 6pm ESPN: Both teams have some questions to be answered at the QB position. Either way, it’s two teams that could and should challenge for titles in their respective conferences.

Sunday August 31st

Liverpool at Tottenham – 5:30am NBCSN: Liverpool just got hammered by Manchester City on Monday. They do get reinforcements though in the form of Forward Mario Balotelli.

New York Red Bulls at DC United – Noon NBCSN: Battle of top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee Brewers at SF Giants – 1pm MLB.TV: Getaway game between two  playoff teams.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 1pm ESPN3: Neck and neck in the Western Conference standings. Something has to give and the Roughriders get one of their better slotbacks back in the form of Weston Dressler.

Utah State at Tennessee – 4pm SEC Network: See one of the best QB’s in college football in Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton. Tennessee is going to need to harness every ounce of talent they have to win this one.

SMU at Baylor – 4:30pm FS1: If you like defensive struggles then don’t watch this game. Points a plenty are expected.

NASCAR – 4:30pm ESPN: It’s getting down to the nitty gritty before The Chase. They are in Atlanta which means they pretty much won’t touch the brake pedal.

Cleveland Indians at KC Royals – 5pm ESPN2: KC has been an absolute buzzsaw the last month or so. Cleveland is still sneaking around the playoff hunt.

Monday September 1st 

Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians – 1pm ESPN: A little divisional Labor Day baseball for you.

Edmonton Eskimos at Calgary Stampeders – 1:30pm ESPN3: The battle of Alberta continues.

Miami at Louisville – 5pm ESPN: It’s Louisville’s introduction to ACC football.

Washington Nationals at LA Dodgers – 5pm MLB.TV: Another playoff preview for your viewing pleasure.

College Football Is Losing Its Fans

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

With the 2014 College Football season knocking at the door one sad fact is creeping around the chicken coop, students are not going to the games. Yes, even at Alabama.

Sweep Right

ESPN’s Darren Rovell wrote an excellent piece earlier this year about the decline of the student body at football games. We are not talking about the non power conferences either. He points to places like Michigan, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and Oklahoma that have seen a drop off in student attendance.

The concern isn’t just that students are not showing up but that the students are the next generation season ticket holder. It means future declining revenue and sparsely populated stadiums which is a double whammy of bad news for some schools.

The University of Iowa was going to give away free tuition to randomly selected students who purchased season tickets. Some legal hurdles put an end to that idea but it shows the lengths that schools are willing to go to to put butts in the seats.

It makes sense that college football programs have checked out to places like Kansas City to visit Blue Hell (a.k.a. Sporting KC) and other MLS clubs. MLS clubs like Sporting KC, Portland and Seattle sell-out just about every match and a great fan experience to boot. Granted everyone but Seattle is filling a facility around 20,000 people which is far less than places like Alabama, Michigan, and Oklahoma but they are still doing something right to continually bring it sell-out crowds.

College Football has a lot of hurdles facing it from lawsuits to concussions. Support from the students they represent didn’t seem like it would be an issue but somehow those are always the ones that sneak up on you.

The Best of College Football 2013

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

With the bowl season rapidly approaching it’s time to look back at some of the better moments from the college football season. Let’s face it, there are really too many to count but here are four we’ll always come back to.

The Finish

It may be the greatest finish in the history of college football, the 100 yard (plus) missed field goal returned for a touchdown.

The Catch

Two week  before Auburn’s amazing finish against Alabama they had another one against their other long time rival Georgia.

The Other Catch

2013 Cardiac Kids, also known as UCF do it dirty to Temple and keep their BCS Bowl season intact.

UCF One Handed Grab

Team Jack

While Auburn may have had some of the best finishes of the college football season the best moment may have taken place back in April when Jack Hoffman ran for a touchdown in the Nebraska spring game. Jack had a brain tumor removed and is fighting another one. Find out more here.

Now Bowl Season (why ESPN calls it Bowl Week when it lasts for multiple weeks we’ll never know) is upon us. Happy Holidays.

The Saturday You Always Wanted

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Seven ranked teams lost on Saturday. Four lost to unranked teams. Five other teams were in the quintessential ‘dog fights’ but were able to pull out the victories. It’s the perfect example as to why you watch football all day.

Saturday was one of those days you hope will happen when you turned on the television that morning. Upsets, nail-biters, coast to coast action for 13 hours. Coincidentally it was also one of this days that had non normal kick off times.

A typical Saturday of college football really has four sets of start times: 9am, 12:30pm, 4:30pm, and sometimes one game at 7:30pm. This particular Saturday had some odd start times like 1pm, 2pm, 5:30pm and multiple games at 7:30pm. This provided a great overlap when games came down to the wire. So when Penn State was driving for the tying touchdown against Michigan you weren’t even missing the start the of the Texas A&M at Ole Miss game.

None of this is planned of course, it’s just a nice coincidence.

Even the networks didn’t know which games were going to be the best ones of the day. ESPN College Gameday and most of the big name college football reporters descended upon Husky Stadium in Seattle for the Oregon at Washington game. One member of Gameday didn’t even stay for the game. Kirk Herbstreit jumped on a plane after the show ended at 9am and high tailed it to Oxford, Miss (probably via Memphis,TN) for Texas A&M at Ole Miss game which kicked off at 5:30pm. Fortunately for him, this game turned into one of the best games of the day.

Texas A&M vs Ole Miss

From Missouri beating Georgia in Athens to Penn State outlasting Michigan in the fourth overtime in Happy Valley to Johnny Football leading his team in prayer as a former FC Dallas goalkeeper knocked in the winning field goal to seal the win for Texas A&M.

This is what Saturdays’ were made for. Non-stop, exciting games that go down to the wire from coast to coast. It’s why we are college football fans.

Why We Go To The Game

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

There was a recent WSJ article about how the attendance of students at college football games is down. If you really look at it you can see why but if you attended the Georgia at Tennessee game this past Saturday you can’t understand why someone wouldn’t go.

Georgia ended up beating Tennessee 34-31 in overtime in what was possibly the best game of the college football weekend. While it was fairly one-sided in the first half the second half and overtime was nothing short of phenomenal.

Neyland stadium was nearly at its full 102,455 person capacity on Saturday and a the student section was in full voice. Did it make a difference? It certainly seemed like Georgia’s offense was having problems at times communicating at times especially down towards the student section. You have to imagine that the 17-25 year old demo had some effect.

While the sea of humanity, heat, lines for the bathroom, and lack of cell service are enough to get on anyone’s nerves this day and age the rollercoaster of emotions and energy from the crowd are irreplaceable. If the game was a one-sided blow out for either side these things would seem like more of a hassle. But it wasn’t. It was great game and leaves you wanting to go to another game.

The ups, downs, joy and sorrow.These are why we go. Why we spend for the hard-earned money and hours in traffic. We do this with the hope that our team will prevail and if they don’t at least it will be one hell of a ride.

 

 

Will The Games Go On?

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

It’s turning into a busy week on several sports fronts. The latest is how the government budget impasse and subsequent shutdown has left the very realistic possibility of college football games being cancelled or at a minimum rescheduled.

Air Force is scheduled to play Navy in Annapolis, MD this Saturday on National TV. This may very well not happen due to the current government shutdown. Army’s game at Boston College is also on the ropes for the same reason. Although it may seem like a financial issue it apparently isn’t because if it was the Air Force Academy football team would be on a flight courtesy of United and BC would pick up Army’s travel tab.

All intercollegiate athletics have been shut down by the Department of Defense. The question of what funds are available and what funds are not is also brought into question. While Navy funds their athletics through ticket sales and TV rights Air Force and Army do not. This appears to be the sticking point….and that of public perception.

But public perception shouldn’t mean much here. Congress is still collecting a paycheck and the Academy’s played games during the last government shutdown in 1995.

And let’s face facts. While all college football fans, especially those who bought tickets to the sold out Air Force at Navy game, would love to see these games being played, if it was Army vs Alabama or Navy vs Texas or some other big school, the government would have passed a budget a month ago. The fans of a school the size of Bama or Notre Dame or Texas would not have let government, especially the federal government, stand in the way of a football game in the fall.

A decision on these games will be made by noon Thursday despite what Twitter says. Let’s hope that these teams get to play these games and that Congress can finally get its act together. A betting man would probably lay heavy on the games being played and Congress doing what Congress does best….nothing.

What to Watch For This Weekend

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Thursday Sept. 26

5:30pm-NFL Network: Rams @ 49ers (Both teams really need a win and there is a lot of adversity for the 49ers right now not to mention an offense that has only scored 10 points in the last 2 games.)

Friday Sept. 27

5:25pm-NBCSN: Philadelphia @ Sporting KC (Sporting is in the Playoffs and Philly is on the outside looking in. Philly needs this bad.)

Saturday Sept. 28

4:45am-NBCSN: Chelsea @ Tottenham (It’s a good early season matchup. Chelsea is not looking all that great and Spurs look to stay unbeaten.)

9:00am-ABC: South Carolina @ UCF (A surprisingly tough out of conference road game for the Gamecocks. UCF is no joke. Most of the experts are pointing to this as a possible upset.)

9:00am-ESPN2: Northern Illinois @ Purdue (Could Purdue be NIU’s second Big Ten victim this year?)

12:30pm-CBS: LSU @ Georgia (Watch this game. It will not suck.)

5:00pm-ESPN3: Calgary @ Hamilton (Calgary had Hamilton’s number two weeks ago but now have to travel east and rebound from a heartbreaking loss last week to Toronto.)

3:30pm-ESPN: Ole Miss @ Alabama (Another upset alert game. Bama is not the same team they were a year ago and Ole Miss is much improved.)

4:00pm- FOX: Arizona @ Washington (There could be a 100 points total in this game.)

5:00pm-ABC: Wisconsin @ Ohio St (An actual game for Ohio St.)

5:30pm- Regional: Montreal @ Chicago (Chicago can make a run at the playoffs again but they have to get past Montreal who sits 6 points ahead of them.)

7:30pm-ESPN2: USC @ Arizona St (Lane Kiffin takes the underperforming Trojans into the desert to face a pretty solid Sun Devil team that is coming off a loss.)

Sunday Sept. 29

10:00am-FOX: Seahawks @ Texans: Probably the best team in the league goes on the road to face a possible Super Bowl contender.)

12:50pm-NBC: LA Galaxy @ Portland: Big NBC heads to the Rose City and future playoff teams square off in front of the Timbers Army. If you want to know what a soccer crowd looks and sounds like, watch this match.

5:20pm-NBC Patriots @ Falcons: Can Tom Brady take this young group of receivers and get past the Falcons in the dome? Only one way to find out.

How The Mighty Have Fallen

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Texas, Nebraska and Tennessee have over 2,500 wins in their history. They have some 27 National Championships between them and they lost Saturday by a combined score of 144-58. The most telling stat of all is that the three teams gave up a combined 128 unanswered points.

THE FALL

These three universities have at one point or another been the program in college football at some point over the last 20 years. All three have big donors, the best facilities and a massive fan base. All that didn’t help them on Saturday as they were all embarrassed.

While all three loses were hard they were not all equal. Texas my have been the worse. With high hopes coming into the season they are now 1-2, fired their Defensive Coordinator a week ago and have given up 1,128 total yards in the last two weeks.

They’re in trouble and their Head Coach Mack Brown is firmly on the hot seat.

Nebraska was hoping for better results as well. They have a four year starting QB in Taylor Martinez but their legendary “Blackshirt” defense has been torched this season giving up almost 30 points a game on average. Yesterday was a complete meltdown in the 2nd half as they gave up 38 unanswered points to UCLA.

There may be some hope in Lincoln because they can score a lot of points with Martinez but their vaunted defense hasn’t struck fear into opponents since Ndaukong Suh was their.

Tennessee has been a beaten down program over the last 5 years. They haven’t beaten a Top 25 team since Halloween 2009 and Saturday saw the worse lost in Tennessee history. A program that knew it was in the rebuilding process were harshly reminded of it on Saturday afternoon.

Tennessee will be happy to be bowl eligable this season.

The great thing about College Football is, as Lou Holtz says, ‘You have a different team every week.’ These teams will march on the question is, will it be to victory?

How ESPN (and others) Screw College Football Fans on DirecTV

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

One could argue that ESPN was all about the College Football fan. No matter the game, ESPN seemed to carry it on one of its many platforms. Now, ESPN has taken a step backwards. It has let an old TV mindset takeover and in the process screw the College Football fans in the digital age.

ERROR CODE

Last season, it was a College Football fanatics dream. If you were on DirecTV (which a lot of sports fans are because of NFL Sunday Ticket) and had an internet connection (pretty standard in 2013) you could watch multiple games at one time via DirecTV and ESPN3. On DirecTV you had your main games you flipped between, your XBOX 360 had another game or two via ESPN3 (any game on ESPN3, ESPNU and even ESPN2 was accessible), and yet another game via ESPN3 on your laptop. This year, unless you are a TV and internet customer of the cable provider (Comcast cable and Comcast internet for example) you can only get games shown exclusively on ESPN3. If you do have this, you’re in great shape. If you have DirecTV, we’ll you’re hosed.

Unable to play via XBOX 360

Why was something available last year and not this year? Probably because contracts got renegotiated at some point between last season and this season and with all of the conference realignment going on that is probably a safe bet.

But why would ESPN, the profit center for Disney, backtrack on showing games? Isn’t showing more games, and selling more advertising a great way to make money? Is ESPN really worried about people the digital world cannibalizing the TV profit? What is this, 2006?

In ESPN’s defense, they are not the only one who do this. The Big Ten Network does not allow you watch a game online if it is being broadcast of the Big Ten Network (as we’ve been told by the DirecTV customer service rep).

The bigger questions still remain why? Why treat TV and online separate when as recently as last season they we’re considered almost equal? Why must you have a TV and internet subscription to watch games on laptop, XBOX or tablet? Why isn’t an internet subscription enough? Why limit your customer base to those who have a cable TV subscription? By cutting out the DirecTV customers your losing 20 million people in the US. 

Could DirecTV help? Sure but their iPad app is…well horrible. You can only watch certain channels and only within your home. That’s like buying a car and only being allowed on certain streets.

There are answers out there. The short-term one is Slingbox. This device will make a comeback but not without a price. You’ll need another DirecTV receiver in another room. Kind of a bummer and a lot more money.

The long-term answer is for ESPN, the Big Ten Network, NBC Sports Network, and Fox Sports, to come up with a digital answer…not to say that they don’t already have one.

For example, when ESPN3 shows CFL games, there are ads during the commercial breaks of the broadcasted game. Yes it’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison but not really. Why can’t ESPN, FOX, NBC and others run different ads online as they do on air? It’s not like they aren’t doing it already.

What is really sad is how unprogressive ESPN and others have become. They are taking steps back instead of forward and giving credence that the ‘any device anytime’ line is really just lip service.

What happens now is that fans will use pirated streams to watch the games. Nobody wins there. If the folks at Fox Sports, NBC, and the Big Ten Network (partially owned by Fox by the way) were smart they would flood the digital space with live, free streaming and sell the bejesus out of it. It’s a white space that can be stolen right from under ESPN’s nose. Then again, maybe this is another reason why the digital world will never overtake TV.

Games to Watch in September

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

The season is upon us. College Football kicks off today and while there are enough storylines to go around the best part about College Football is the games.

Below is a list of what we think will be solid games to watch in the month of September:

Aug. 29th-Sept. 1st

-North Carolina @ South Carolina (This game should be played every year)

-Georgia @ Clemson (Holy Crap!)

-Miss. St @ Oklahoma St (Ok St is a favorite in the Big 12, big game for the conference)

-Boise St @ Washington (Is this the year that Stark turns the corner in Seattle?)

Sept. 5th-Sept. 7th

-Florida @ Miami (This game isn’t played enough)

-South Carolina @ Georgia (Big game but the loser still has a chance in the SEC East)

-Texas @ BYU (Is this is big test for both teams)

-Notre Dame @ Michigan (‘Nuff said)

Sept. 12th-Sept. 14th (Yard Stick Saturday)

-TCU @ Texas Tech (Can Kingsbury have the Red Raiders ready to go?)

-Stanford @ Army (Noon kickoff on East Coast plus defending the triple option. Tough test for the Tree)

-UCLA @ Nebraska (How good are these teams?)

-Alabama @ Texas A&M (Saban wants revenge…watch out Johnny Football)

-Ohio St @ Cal (East Coast team to the West Coast)

-Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (Game is usually close)

-Maryland @ UCONN (Randy Edsall goes back to UCONN)

-Wisconsin @ Arizona St (This game is a big test for both teams)

Sept. 19th-Sept. 21st

-SMU @ Texas A&M (They might score 100 points in this game)

-Utah St @ USC

-Utah @ BYU (Holy War in Septmeber? Yes please!)

-Michigan St @ Notre Dame (This game is never boring)

Sept. 26th-Sept. 28th

-Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech (Always tough playing a triple option team early in the season)

-LSU @ Georgia

-Oklahoma St @ West Virginia (Again, 100 points could be scored)

-Arizona @ Washington (This could be one of the most important games in the PAC-12 this season)

-Wisconsin @ Ohio St (One of the few tough games Ohio St gets this year)