Diary Of A Cord Cutter: Variables Of Failure

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.4.2018

It’s not very complicated. If you want people to adopt your service, it needs to be easy and it needs to work. It sounds simple but it’s really not especially when when you only control a portion of the environment you service needs to run. ESPN, YouTube TV and others are making some interesting products and services but they have a ways to go before they can truly be user friendly.

On Saturday, I was watching the Tennessee vs Charlotte game (cause I’m a very proud Tennessee alumni) via the ESPN app on Roku. All of a sudden the feed got decrepit and eventually went out. There was no change to the environment. Internet was working fine. One minute it was working and the next it wasn’t.

After a quarter and a half, the feed came back (luckily the game was terrible so I really didn’t miss much). However, it seems pretty unacceptable to have a feed just go out in the middle of a game. Below are some steps I took  during that quarter and a half:

*Deleted and reinstalled app.

*Checked feed on other devices (iPad) only to find same result.

*Tweeted @espn and @espnapp multiple times to no avail.

*Finally found streaming support on ESPN.com.

*Chatted with support person only to have them tell me, ‘well it works on my machine.’

Here is the takeaway; Google, Dish, AT&T and others don’t own the end-to-end environment. For example, Dish owns the app but doesn’t control the router and device while AT&T controls the app and possibly the bandwidth but not the router or the device. To troubleshoot an issue is tough because there are so many variables.

All cord-cutters have experienced problems like this. One of the more frustrating parts is just finding a customer service. Once you do, With so many variables, the customer service rep is usually at a loss and seems to always recommend  the following: A) Reboot of the device B)Delete and reinstall the app or C) Reboot the router. These are viable options but you generally don’t run into these issues when you have a cable or satellite setup.

In order to keep prices low where consumers will adopt these cord-cutting one of the sacrifices is the customer service. It’s outsourced, hard to contact and generally pretty useless.

It use to be that you’d call the cable or satellite company when your service went out. Now, twitter may be your best option of getting a hold of a customer service rep. Even that can be iffy because of the amount of variables involved with the issue.

Cord-cutting is cost effective and generally a pretty good option. It does have draw backs due in part to the lack of customer service and the various points of failure that are out of the providers hands. Don’t know how to fix it but it is something that needs to be addressed.

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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.

Choices and Patience

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.29.2016

After the 2012 college football season, some fairly big jobs opened up. Two of the coaches looking to move up to a Power 5 school were Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones and San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre. Jones was doing the proverbial tour. He interviewed at Purdue and Colorado before taking the Tennessee job. MacIntyre was lower on the tier and Colorado ‘settled’ for him. Fast forward four years and MacIntyre’s Buffaloes are playing for a Pac-12 title and Tennessee is again 8-4 and not playing for a conference title. So which one was right?

Butch JonesUnder Butch Jones, Tennessee has shown continual improvement in his first three years going from 5-7 to 7-6 to 9-4. With sky high expectations this year, the Vols were never able to put together a complete game. While they did beat Florida, Georgia, and Virginia Tech they also lost to two teams they should have beaten handily in South Carolina and Vanderbilt not to mention being blown out by Alabama. The 8-4 regular season record still qualifies Tennessee for a quality bowl game but the season is seen as failure in the eyes of many.

Mike MacIntyreOut west Mike MacIntyre has not shown continual improvement in Colorado’s record. Going 4-8, 2-10 and 4-9 in his first three seasons in Boulder, only the hardcore football fan could see light at the end of the tunnel. The improvement was incremental but it wasn’t reflected in the record. This season MacIntyre put it all together and turned the 2016 season into a PAC-12 South divisional title.

The Buffaloes got off to a fast start by dominating their in state rivals Colorado State in the season opener. The Buffs built off of that and were able to rattle off some impressive wins even with a backup quarterback under center for three games. Tennessee meanwhile needed overtime and a whole lot of luck to beat a quality Appalachian State team. Both openers were a precursor of things to come.

Both coaches were hired at the same time. While Jones teams showed more promise early on, MacIntyre’s didn’t. Credit to Colorado for giving MacIntyre time to build the program back from the oil spill it was under previous regimes. While he started off on a ‘lukewarm seat’ this season, MacIntyre quickly erased any doubts about his job status as his team rattled off impressive win after impressive win. Jones will need some of that patience from Tennessee as he searches for answers going into year five.

Jones went from being the second coming in Knoxville to ‘is this guy any better than a 8 or 9 win coach?’ His job status will be questioned over the next several months not only because Tennessee didn’t live up to expectations this year with a senior quarterback and highly thought of defense but also because he will have a new boss come summer as current athletic director Dave Hart steps down.

Was Jones the right choice for Tennessee? At the time yes. They needed someone to put out the dumpster fire that Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley left behind. MacIntyre was the right choice at Colorado too. He has built a program with NFL quality talent and a belief that they can compete with and beat the best teams in the country.

While both are right for their jobs, it’s clear that both coaches are at the same crossroad. Both need to go to the next level but momentum seems to only be on Colorado’s side.

The Best

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Pat Summitt has died at the age of 64. The trailblazing coach roamed the sidelines at Tennessee for 38 years, won eight national championships and 1,098 games. She has gone down as not only one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time but as one of the greatest coaches in all of sports.

“The word icon and the word legend is probably used too much in today’s sports society, but it is certainly appropriate when describing Pat Summitt,”

– Peyton Manning

Summitt was an innovator. Her teams practiced against men, played in your face defense and were famous for playing anybody, anywhere at anytime. She was once offered the Tennessee men’s basketball job where she replied, “Why is that considered a step up?” Years later while watching a men’s practice, she got so fired up at what she was seeing that she took over practice from then men’s coach Bruce Pearl.

She was renowned for her toughness. It was on full display when she went on a recruiting trip to Allentown, PA to convince future star Michelle Marciniak to come to Knoxville. Her water broke as she walked in the door and refused to let the pilots land anywhere but Tennessee where she gave birth to her only child Tyler. Yes, she epitomized ‘Tennessee Tough.’

That toughness was reflected in her team. Year in and year out, the Lady Vols were always among the country’s elite making 18 trips to the Women’s Final Four. They practiced hard, played hard and studied harder. I can remember a friend telling me how blown away he was by the fact that three members of the Lady Vols were in the front row of his 9am class the day after playing a late night game in Ames, IA during the NCAA Tournament.

While there are many great coaches in basketball, Pat Summitt is among the top. She is in the same class as Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Knight, Phil Jackson and John Wooden. Heck, you have to put her in the same class as Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, Knute Rockne, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre. She was one of the greats and will be sorely missed not just in Knoxville but around the world.

Tribute to Pat Summitt

Out Of Control

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


National Signing Day is officially out of hand. It was bad enough when ESPN and CBS Sports began doing live shots of high school football players announcing where they are going to play their college football (at least to start with before they transfer due to lack of playing time) but a live show complete with celebrities? Skydiving? Really?

Ric FlairIn case you missed it, Jim Harbaugh and Michigan put on an event complete with former Michigan players like Tom Brady and Desmond Howard along with host Randy Sklar, Harbaugh’s brother John, Ric Flair, Lou Holtz, Mike Shanahan, Todd McShay and oh yeah, ‘The Captain’ Derek Jeter whose site, The Players’ Tribune, live streamed the event.

Tennessee streamed their day live online too which was some six plus hours. While it didn’t have Brady, Jeter or Ric Flair it was still six plus hours of a live event for players turning in a piece of paper.

While over the top it was still nothing compared to Ole Miss signee Deontay Anderson. He went skydiving to make his announcement.

Really?

These are high schoolers who have never played a down of collegiate football. Heck, most haven’t even graduated high school yet. There is no guarantee that any of them will turn out to be a quality player or even be playing football within a year. Isn’t this a little much?

A few years ago I had a couple of posts pointing out that a top class doesn’t always equal success on the field. According to Rivals.com two schools with the top 10 recruiting classes in 2015 fired their head coaches this past year (USC and Georgia) and another school tried to fire their’s (LSU).

Yes a higher ranked recruiting class gives you a better chance to be successful than a lower ranked recruiting class. However at what point do people stop and say ‘hold on a minute, these are just kids we are putting up on a pedestal. Maybe they should earn it first before we shower them with praise’?

No? Well maybe that won’t happen but even the craziest of people has to admit that this is getting a little out of control.

The Grass Isn’t Greener

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Sometimes people, companies and institutions think they are bigger than they are and think they deserve better. Well in college football the ‘we deserve better’ mentality runs rampant. The latest institution inflicted with this virus is LSU. LSU is on the verge of dismissing the most successful football coach they’ve ever had and for no good reason.

Les MilesLes Miles, aka The HAT, is apparently going to be forced out at LSU. He is the winningest coach in school history, has seven 10 win seasons, one national title and played for another. But that’s not enough for some of the big money folks at LSU. It should be and if history is any indicator, LSU is in for a bit of a slide if The Hat takes his bag of tricks elsewhere.

Other schools have done similar things: Nebraska (twice), Tennessee, Miami, and Texas. All came to the conclusion that letting go of a coach with a winning percentage of over 700% wasn’t good enough. They all saw a drop off after they ran the coach out of town and some have yet to recover the glory they so desperately seek.

To play the other side for a minute, none of the coaches who were run out have ever coached again at a school in a Power 5 conference. Part of that might be by choice but we don’t know that for sure.

The fact remains that Miles is the best coach that LSU has ever had. He has earned the right to get this train back on track (if it’s even off the track) and if the LSU money men are tired of losing to Alabama and Nick Saban, well take a number and wait in line like the rest of the SEC. If they go through with this and dump Miles, LSU will take several steps back and Miles will probably be employed at another Power 5 school faster than you can say ‘The Hat’.

Don’t do it LSU, it’s a very bad idea.

What To Watch – Thurs. 9/10 – Sun. 9/13

All times are Pacific.

Thursday September 10th

Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees – 4pm MLB.TV: It’s the first of a four game set for the lead in the AL East.

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots – 5:30pm NBC: Well Tom Brady is playing and we can only hope that NBC Sports doesn’t pull some nonsense with Ryan Seacrest again.

 

Friday September 11th

Utah State at Utah – 6pm ESPN2: The battle for the Beehive Boot. A tough, hard nosed football game.

Houston Astros at LA Angels – 7pm MLB.TV: The Angels look to keep their playoff hopes alive as the division leading Astros come to SoCal.

 

Saturday September 12th

Everton vs Chelsea – 4:40am NBCSN: The Premier League season has yet to settle down which means there is a chance of an upset in this match.

Liverpool vs Manchester United – 9:30am NBC: Yes it’s a College Football Saturday but this is a classic match-up.

Oklahoma at Tennessee – 3pm ESPN: A power 5 matchup, two Top 25 schools with a lot of history and an orange and white checkerboard stadium. Oh yeah.

Oregon at Michigan State – 5pm ABC: Sparty shut down the Ducks for three quarters last year in Eugene. Then Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota took over and led the Ducks to victory. Mariota is now in the NFL and Sparty wants revenge.

LSU at Mississippi State – 6:15pm ESPN: LSU’s game was cancelled last week and Miss State got in a preseason game against Southern Miss. How big of a factor will that play?

Boise State at BYU – 7:15pm ESPN2: BYU pulled one out of the fire last week with a backup QB fresh off his two year mission and Boise almost blew it against Washington. Should make things interesting.

LA Galaxy vs Montreal Impact – 7:30pm MLS LIVE: Didier Drogba hits LA to take on Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane. Drogba had a hat trick in his first start for the Impact. What will he do for an encore?

 

 

Sunday September 13th

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears – 10am FOX: One of the games best QB’s in Aaron Rodgers against one of the games most overrated in Jay Cutler. Can Rodgers still air out the ball without Jordy Nelson and a one shouldered Reggie Cobb?

New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals – 1pm FOX: Can Drew Brees find someone in the redzone now that Jimmy Graham is in Seattle?

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos – 1:25pm CBS: Could be Peyton Manning’s last go round. And with a new offense no less.

NY Giants at Dallas Cowboys – 5:30pm NBC: It should be a fantastic game but man, Cris Collinsworth twice in one week?

College Football Recap Week 1

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The first full weekend of College Football is in the books (almost) and there are some big takeaways and moments we should visit again and again.

Upset City

Several schools from the Power 5 conferences lost their opener. Washington State, Kansas lost to FCS schools along with non Power 5 school Wyoming (Portland State, South Dakota State and North Dakota respectively). Colorado, Vanderbilt and Penn State lost to non Power 5 schools.

Penn State’s loss to Temple falls into the historic column. It’s the first time Temple has beaten Penn State since 1941 (39 games) and Penn State gave up 10 sacks. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when Penn State goes into Columbus in October? Yikes.

Other upsets included BYU beating Nebraska on a last second hail-mary in Lincoln. Northwestern manhandled #21 Stanford in what may be the biggest surprise win of the weekend.

 

Just The Hits

The fact of the matter is that football is a violent sport. It’s part of the reason why we enjoy it. One of those big hits happened on Friday night at Montana State linebacker Mac Bignell leveled Fort Lewis running back PJ Hall.

https://twitter.com/jackmurrey/status/639678894887469056

South Dakota State quarterback Zack Lujan got drilled on a pass play. In fact he got hit so hard his helmet went rolling down the field.

The best may have been the phantom one. Bowling Green defensive lineman Mike Minns lost his shoe and when he realized that he couldn’t get to the sideline before Tennessee would snap the ball, he just fell down and played dead. Classic.

 

The Takeaways

Some people had Arizona State as their dark-horse College Football Playoff team. The odds of that happening now are a little darker as they were beaten by Texas A&M. The man of the hour was A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. He was unblockable and finished with three sacks and eight tackles.

Injuries were big in week one. Arizona loses All Pac 12 linebacker Scooby Wright III to a knee injury but it sounds like he could be back in a month. BYU lost QB Taysom Hill for the season….again. Oregon was looking real good offensively until new QB Vernon Adams took what looked like a cheap shot to the head. He might have a concussion but was on the sidelines at the end of the game. Oregon will need him healthy with a trip to Michigan State looming next week.

All Coaching Aside

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Being a head coach in college football is not just about coaching. While actually coaching football is the cornerstone of the job, the majority of the job now consists of selling, raising money and riling up the fan base. Sounds more like a politician than being a football coach.

There was once a time when Nebraska was the 800lbs gorilla in College Football. That changed in recent years and now they have the ‘nicest guy in the coaching’ Mike Riley heading up their program. Riley, like a lot of other coaches, is out shaking hands, making appearances, and selling the program to future recruits.

Nebraska’s recent video reflects the importance of quality PR when you are trying to put a program back on track. It captures some of the beliefs that Riley has and plans to instill and is actually pretty damn cool.

Yes, coaching on the collegiate level is more than just coaching, especially when you have to get a program back on track. Just look at Tennessee. Lane Kiffin was terrible at PR and Derek Dooley wasn’t much better. Butch Jones on the other hand has embraced the role like seasoned politician. He has riled up the fan base, taken pictures, shaken hands and has done a little bit of that coaching part too. He was gotten Tennessee on the road back to prominence or at the very least, raised expectations.

Former Texas head coach Mack Brown may have been the best at this. He had to constantly win people over in probably the most demanding job in all of college football (and probably in all of Texas.) Pat Forde wrote a great series about Brown a few years ago called Constant Eyes Of Texas or CEO of TexasIt seems that a lot of coaches now are pulling pages out of Brown’s book on how to run a successful modern day college football program. They are being part football coach and part politician.

Being a head coach in major college football is a very tough job. You are the face of the program and the only constant it has. With that comes great monetary reward but also great scrutiny, just like any high profile politician. In order to be successful in this day and age, the PR part is almost as important as the coaching part.

The Sunday: Scuffles, Farewells, and Finishing

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The college football regular season is done for all intents and purposes. While nothing has truly been decided on the national scale, a lot has been decided on the state level. And sometimes it wasn’t all that pretty.

The Scuffle:

Rivalries are called that for a reason. While Kentucky vs Louisville in football isn’t always a ratings grabber it is an intense rivalry. This one got started before the game did and Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino was even involved. He appeared to push a Kentucky assistant coach during the second of two pre game confrontations.

Farewells: 

Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pellini was fired on Sunday after another 9-3 season. In fact, in all 7 years of Pellini’s tenure the Huskers have won 9 or more games and lost a minimum of 3. Worst part about this is that it probably means an end to the Faux Pellini twitter account.

Faux Pellini

 

Saturday also saw the probable end to the storied career of Thierry Henry. The Frenchman has played for the biggest clubs in the world, won every trophy the sport has to offer and as a parting gift left the media with four words, ‘Well done New England’. 

 

Finishing 

Several college football teams finished 500. Some of those teams will go to a bowl game. Some are happy to be 500 and going bowling while others see their season as a failure. Those who are excited are Tennessee, Illinois and Arkansas. Those who are not are Florida and South Carolina.

Tennessee, Illinois, and Arkansas had to scratch and claw with young teams to get to this point while South Carolina and Florida started the season with expectations of competing for a conference championship.

Two performances of note from rivalry weekend in college football. Arkansas QB Brandon Allen tweaked his back against LSU two weeks ago. By the end of the game against Missouri it was clear that it was effecting his throws. He continued to fight and while the Razorbacks fell to Missouri it was a gutty performance.

Brandon Allen

The other performance was that of freshman Deshaun Watson. The Clemson QB is something special to watch and this week he did it with a torn ACL. That’s right. He apparently tore his ACL in practice and played against arch rival South Carolina anyway.

The college football and MLS seasons are rapidly coming to a close. With it comes the end for some but a beginning for others. What is always means though is a time for the body to heal for yet another season.