Princess of Darkness

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 10.17.2016

Amy Trask was the first female NFL executive. There have been female owners, wives, daughters and others but she was none of these when she went to work for Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. She worked her way up from an intern to be CEO of one of the NFL’s most storied and divisive franchises and along the line gained the nickname ‘Princess of Darkness.’

Amy TraskTrask has a new book out called ‘You Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football League’ and was recently featured on the Sports Business Radio podcast. One of the stories she told was how Davis didn’t consider her a woman and how that was one of the more special moments of her career.

Trask makes the point, ‘Don’t we all want to be regarded without respect to gender, ethnicity, race, religion, all of those characteristics which have no bearing what so ever on whether we can do a job.’ It’s a perspective that has examples all over the Raider organization. The Raiders were the first team to hire a Hispanic head coach (Tom Flores), an African American head coach (Art Shell) and numerous young coaches (Jon Gruden and Lane Kiffin).

Trask may not consider herself a trailblazer but she was. I look forward to reading Trask’s book and I also look forward to more NFL franchises seeing things the way Davis did when it comes to race, gender, ethnicity and so on. It is 2016 after all.

Sports Business Radio Podcast

Lost Respect

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lovie Smith, USC’s Steve Sarkisian, Oakland Raiders Dennis Allen, and Penn State’s Joe Paterno. What do they have in common? All were fired either over the phone or via email.

Lovie SmithLovie Smith was let go via an unexpected phone call. This shocked a lot of people. Not only because of the way it happened but because it happened at all.

Sarkisian didn’t answer the phone call from Athletic Director Pat Haden because he was on a plane to rehab. So he found out in an email instead.

Dennis Allen had just returned to Oakland after playing a game in London. He was a head coach while on the 11 hour flight but was fired via a phone call once he got home.

Paterno was Penn State football. While he already said he was resigning at the end of the season, the administration fired him over the phone anyway.

Now Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger was fired via Skype while in Switzerland. At least his was face to face. Granted it was over a computer screen.

This doesn’t just happen in sports. Former Yahoo CEO was sacked over the phone by the Board of Directors.

It’s not that it’s cold or impersonal, it’s that it shows a lack of respect. While each case is different and each had it’s own set of circumstances, it still comes off as cowardly. If you are the one in charge and you can’t look someone in the eye and say, ‘we’re going a different direction’ then you have no reason to be in charge.

This is sports after all. The arena of competition, alpha males and pissing contests. So the best you can offer up is a phone call? Really?

What to Watch Fri. 11/13 – Sun. 11/15

All times are Pacific

Friday November 13th

San Jose Sharks at Detroit Red Wings  – 4:30pm NHL Gamecenter: These two had some legendary playoff series back in the day.

USA vs St. Vincent & The Grenadines – 4pm ESPN2: Let the road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia begin.

USC at Colorado – 6pm ESPN2: Colorado is better than their record shows. USC has some NFL level talent. At night in Boulder is a tall order for the Trojans.

 

Saturday November 14th

Georgia at Auburn  – 9am CBS: Fact is, if Mark Richt and Georgia win then he may have saved his job.

Texas at West Virginia – 9am ESPNU: This is a swing game for both when it comes to Bowl eligibility.

Miami at UNC – 12:30pm ESPNU: Last time Miami was in the state of North Carolina they won by lateraling the ball like eight times. UNC is on a roll though.

Alabama at Mississippi State – CBS: Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs have one last chance to beat the Tide and prove that they are a force to be reckoned with in the SEC West.

Memphis at Houston – 4pm ESPN2: The over on this game should be like 150 points.

Oklahoma at Baylor – 5pm ABC: Game of the day and OU has always had problems defending Baylor. Question is, can OU keep place offensively?

FourtnetteArkansas at LSU – 5:15pm ESPN: Like old school, run oriented offenses and hard hitting defenses? Well this is your game. One is coming off a tremendous win in OT while the other got beaten down pretty good.

 

UFC 193 – 7pm PPV: Ronda Rousey takes her winning ways to another continent (Australia) to square off against Holly Holm. Hidden gem on this card is Mark Hunt vs Bigfoot Silva in a rematch of their legendary 2013 fight.

Washington State at UCLA – 7:30pm ESPN: Washington State lost their first game of the year to Portland State who plays in the FCS. People were calling for head coach Mike Leach’s job. Boy how things have changed.

 

 

Sunday November 15th

Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 10am ESPN3: It’s playoff time in the CFL and this is a great way to start it off. Both have had to overcome injuries at key positions and it’s the equivalent of a ‘backyard brawl.’

Minnesota Vikings at Oakland Raiders – 1pm FOX: A year ago we wouldn’t dream of making this a ‘must watch’ game but man, what a difference a year makes.

BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders – 1:30pm ESPN3: The defending Grey Cup Champion Calgary Stampeders begin the final run of head coach John Hufnagel’s career. They are heavy favorites but don’t count out the Lions.

Toronto Maple Leafs at NY Rangers – 4pm NHLN: Always a fun game to watch.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks  – 5:30pm NBC: Two top teams in the NFC West square off the end your weekend.

What To Watch Fri. 11/6 – Sun. 11/8

All times are Pacific.

 

Friday November 6th

Tyler ErvinBYU at San Jose State – 8:30pm CBSSN: SJSU running back Tyler Ervin is a stud. He has almost 1200 yards rushing already this season and 12 TD’s. BYU are some tough dudes though. Last thing they want is for this guy to run wild on ’em.

 

Saturday November 7th

Penn State at Northwestern – 9am ESPNU: Big Ten match up with poll position for a decent bowl game on the line.

Duke at North Carolina – 9am ESPN2: UNC is getting no love this year and Duke is coming off of that bad referring loss to Miami. Is there a hangover for Duke?

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh – 9am ABC: All Pitt is doing is winning. Yes they are coming off of a tough loss to UNC but they are hard nosed football team. Notre Dame is going to get all it wants from the Panthers.

Florida State at Clemson – 12:30pm ABC: Clemson is the number 1 team in the land. Florida State doesn’t care.

TCU at Oklahoma State – 12:30pm FOX: TCU is getting no love…even with the number 2 offense in the country. The over/under is 78. We vote to take the over.

Cincinnati at Houston – 1:30m ESPN2: These two teams rank 5th and 7th in total offense at the FBS level. That alone is a reason to watch.

Navy at Memphis – 4pm ESPN2: Navy is 6-1 with the NCAA All Time touchdown king in quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Memphis is shooting for a big time bowl bid. Should be whoever has the ball last wins.

Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens – 4pm NHLN: Original 6 matchup.

LSU at Alabama – 5pm CBS: Two teams that are currently in the College Football Playoff.

 

 

Sunday November 8th

Arsenal vs Tottenham – 7:55am NBCSN: A North London Derby for your Sunday morning.

Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers – 10am CBS: Man, can’t believe the Raiders are a must watch team. This could be the best game of the day.

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers – 10am FOX: Packers got exposed last week in Denver. Now they have to rebound on the road against another undefeated team.

DC United vs NY Red Bulls – Noon ESPN: Red Bulls got the always valuable road goal so they look to be in good shape in this one.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: First game was a 1-1 draw which gives Dallas the advantage heading into the second leg.

Timber vs Whitecaps

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 7pm FS1: Like the Seattle vs FC Dallas game, the first game was a draw and that should give the Whitecaps the advantage here.

 

 

What To Watch – Fri. 10/30 – Sun. 11/1

All times are Pacific.

The best time of year because we have NFL, College Football, NBA, NHL, MLS Playoffs and World Series not to mention Nascar and F1.

Friday October 30

Dartmouth at Harvard – 4:30pm NBCSN: Both are 6-0 and tied for first place a top the Ivy League.

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 3 with the Royals up 2-0. This one is in NY though and that can make a huge difference.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets – 6:30pm ESPN: Defending champs go on the road to a team that is one of their main challengers this season.

 

Saturday October 31st

Chelsea vs Liverpool -5:45am NBCSN: Liverpool looks for it’s first win under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp. Chelsea looks to turn the season around.

2015 Rugby World Cup Final – 9am NBC: It’s Australia vs New Zealand.

Florida vs Georgia – 12:30pm CBS: We don’t care, it’s still ‘The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.’

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech – 12:30pm ESPN: Plenty of points and a tough place for the Pokes to get a win.

Nashville Predators at LA Kings – 1pm NHL Gamecenter: The Preds are the best in the West and LA isn’t far behind.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: Sidney Crosby heads to the heart of the hockey world.

Michigan at Minnesota – 4pm ESPN: Michigan is a hard nosed football team and Minnesota will be playing with a heavy heart as their head coach retired due to health reasons.

Notre Dame at Temple – 5pm ABC: Huge game for the undefeated Temple Owls. First visit by ESPN Gameday, they’ve never been undefeated this late in the season. The question becomes, can they handle it all?

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 4.

Stanford at Washington State – 7:30pm ESPN: For the lead in the PAC-12 North believe it or not.

 

Sunday November 1st

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers – 10am CBS: Boy these two teams are good this year and the Steelers look like they might get Big Ben back under center.

goalDC United vs NY Red Bulls – Noon ESPN: One of the longest standing rivalries in MLS. NYRB took home the Supporters Shield again this year but will Jesse Marsch be able to lead them to an MLS Cup?

NY Jets at Oakland Raiders – 1pm CBS: No seriously, this game should be really good.

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 2pm ESPN: If you didn’t watch arguably the most exciting MLS Playoff game ever the other night then…well you missed out. Portland was able to survive and now they host Cascadia Cup foes Vancouver.

Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Two undefeated teams square off in the Mile High City. Can the Broncos find their offense?

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas – 6:30pm FS1: FC Dallas has arguably the toughest road to MLS Cup. Why? Your first playoff game is going to be in front of the largest crowd in typical Seattle wet and cold conditions.

 

If none of these do it for ya, Twitch is running a marathon of ‘The Joy of Painting.’

Kiffin-ed

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Lane Kiffin is unemployed. He was fired as the Head Football Coach at USC on Sunday. It comes after a 62-41 loss at Arizona State which is the seventh loss in the last 11 games dating back to last season.

Lane Kiffin

Belive it or not, Kiffin has a winning record as a head coach (40-37). While his record is better in college (35-21) than it was in the pro’s (5-15) no one would say that his tenure’s have been a success. USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and University President Max Nikitas pulled the trigger on Kiffin and put former Ole Miss Head Coach Ed Orgeron in charge for the remainder of the season.

Pat Haden

What sealed Kiffin’s fate was not win’s and losses although that did play a big factor. It’s the fact that wherever he goes problems seem to follow and no one really seems to care for this guy.

From a fall out with the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis where Davis fired Kiffin with cause to recruiting mistakes at Tennessee that ended up putting them on probation.

The problems continued for Kiffin in how he handled just about every situation. From the way he left Tennessee to his walking out of a post practice press conference at USC. He doesn’t give anyone a chance to like him.

But don’t cry for Kiffin. He’s not yet 40 years old, he’s made millions, and will be able to sweet talk some AD or NFL owner into giving him another chance.

In the end, Kiffin just didn’t seem ready to take on the jobs that he talked others into giving him and really has no one to blame but himself.

The need for the Specialist

For those who have read Malcom Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ (and even those who haven’t) you have heard about the ‘10,000-hour rule.’ The idea that mastery of a specific discipline will take a certain amount of hours. The mastery of the long snapping duties in American Football is a discipline that is seriously lacking.

During the first week of the NFL season the Oakland Raiders lost a game to the San Diego Chargers in part because of poor long snaps to the punter. The Raiders normal long snapper left the game after suffering a concussion. The back up long snapper Travis Goethel came in and rolled two balls to future Hall of Fame punter Shane Lechler and delivered another high and the punt was eventually blocked. The next day the Raiders were flying in potential replacements.

Long snapping is such a specific task that the University of Alabama offered a scholarship to Cole Mazza specifically for his long snapping skill. This is the first time Nick Saban, who has won three National Championships in the last decade, has offered a scholarship specifically to a long snapper. Two time Pro Bowler Brian Jennings of the San Francisco 49ers now has an off season camp to teach the mastery of long snapping.

In the modern era of football you’re seeing a lot of overlap. Wide receivers are lining up as running backs, quarterbacks are their teams best running threats and defensive lineman are coming in as extra blockers on offense. Specialization is being lost in the modern football game except for a few positions and the long snapper is one of those positions.

It’s one of those positions that you do not notice until you do not have it. When the you lose the regular long snapper the timing is off. You saw this with the Raiders. You’re even seeing it in the Collegiate ranks. More kicks are being missed and while the long snapper cannot take all the blame for the missed kicks, if the timing is off or the snap is too high or too low the odds of the punter or kicker failing at their job goes up. The odds of the other team being able to block the kick also goes up.

Some coaches have even toyed with the idea of not punting at all. This past summer San Diego State Head Coach Rocky Long through out the idea based on statistical analysis. He also probably didn’t have reliable punters or kickers or long snappers. Long didn’t jump head first into the idea probably because he knows how vital a punter or kicker can be. Punters like Lechler can change a game by changing field position. He can pin an opposing offense against their goal line and open up opportunites for his teams defense. If you don’t have a solid long snapper to get people like Lechler the ball then you can have a major shift in momentum or even give up a score like what happened to the Raiders.

Think about how important a solid special teams play can be in the Collegiate ranks. If the long snapper snaps the ball over the punters head and is then recovered by the other team. Think about the psychological factor of that with a 19 year old. One minute the confidence is on one sideline and after a bad snap the momentum swings over to the other sideline.

While you’ll continue to see more and more multi-positional players come into the game of football you may start to see the development of a long snappers with the ‘10,000- hour rule’ fully intact.