Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wake Up The Echoes, And Start Up The Plane, Part Two

Last week in this space, I opined on Notre Dame's future traveling road show, playing home games in Texas and Florida. I asked why the Irish are playing Washington State in San Antonio, instead of another Texas school. Well, it turns out that the Irish are playing a Texas school in Texas. It was announced this week that the Irish are playing Baylor at the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington on October 6, 2012.

This is a guaranteed sellout. This will be the biggest non-conference game in the history of Baylor football. There will be plenty of Irish fans there, but Baylor will be very well represented, with the game being played in the heart of the largest base of Baylor alumni. This is an interesting matchup between the world's most famous Catholic university and the world's largest Baptist university (even though both the student population and the faculty of Baylor are only around 50% Baptist, a good percentage of which are not as conservative as the general perception of Baptists). On the field, Notre Dame should be able to have their way with the Bears.

The author of this blog is a Baptist, but is not a fan of Baylor, mostly for reasons not having to do with athletics and reasons better discussed on a non-sports blog. A dirty little secret: I was accepted into Baylor a long, long time ago, but chose not to go there. I don't regret that decision. However, I will be cheering for the Bears on 10/6/2012.

This is also a matchup that the city of Dallas tried to lure into the soon-to-be sort-of renovated Cotton Bowl. That begs the question: If you're Notre Dame and Baylor, where would you rather play? A patched-up pig of a stadium in Fair Park, or Jerry Jones' new palace in Arlington? With no tradition tied to the Texas State Fair, Jerryworld is a no-brainer.

For one day in 2012, Sic 'em Bears!

Postscript: The Irish are also coming to Oklahoma. In 2012, the Irish will visit Norman to play my Sooners, and OU will play Notre Dame in South Bend in 2013. This will be the first visit by the Irish to Oklahoma since 1957, when they broke Oklahoma's record 47-game winning streak.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Eleven Plus One=Ten?

The Conference That Can't Count, a/k/a the Big Ten, is considering expansion again. After adding Penn State as its eleventh member, the conference kept the name Big Ten, thus receiving ridicule for its inability to count. The conference is now looking for a twelfth member.

The impetus for expansion interest comes from the newly formed Big Ten Network. The cable/satellite channel premieres in late August. The network is jointly owned by the Big Ten and Fox. The network is already scheduled to be carried on Directv, and by several cable companies. However, the BTN has not struck deals with Dish Network, Comcast, and Time Warner. The latter two are the largest cable companies in the region.

The interesting thing to note here is that this talk is not being driven by the potential revenue of a conference championship game, but by potential cable/satellite TV revenue. The BTN is charging cable/satellite providers only 10 cents per subscriber outside the Big Ten region, but is charging $1.10 per subscriber in the eight Big Ten states. So, the Big Ten is looking to add a new member in an adjacent state, in order to increase revenue for the BTN. The conference projects an additional $5.5-7.5 million per year to be distributed to each school as a result of the BTN.

There is no guarantee that there would be a Big Ten championship game. For starters, Ohio State and Michigan would be opposed to it, as it would detract from their existing season-ending showdown. But, such a game would generate an incredible amount of revenue.

Who would become the 12th member? Syracuse? Rutgers? Missouri? All of those schools are located in adjacent states, and have academic reputations that would be acceptable to the current Big Ten membership. Notre Dame? They will remain independent as long as NBC gives them big money for their TV contract. Pittsburgh? Doesn't bring anything to the table that Penn State doesn't already bring. West Virginia? Viewed as academically inferior.

The Big Ten Network, if it succeeds, will revolutionize college sports. The SEC is watching eagerly, as they are ready to create their own cable channel. These networks are likely to drive another round of conference expansion and turnover.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

When You Fight With The Dogs, You Get Bit

Michael Vick is in big trouble.

He is supposed to be in Falcons training camp on Thursday. Instead, he will be in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, to face indictment on animal cruelty charges. This stems from a dog-fighting ring at a home he owns in a rural area near Norfolk. The feds have reasonable evidence that he is in on the fighting along with his friends. Dogs were fighting to the death at his house. I'm no animal rights advocate, but this is disgusting. It is definitely not entertaining. And, it's illegal. Vick is in big trouble with the law.

Now, the NFL is investigating the incident, in light of the league's new player conduct policy. The Falcons had planned to suspend him for four games, until the league intervened and told them to hold off. The league is exercising their due diligence, desiring to make sure that he is innocent before proven guilty.

Peter King from Sports Illustrated quotes Bucs CB Ronde Barber as saying: "I would bet you that every player in the NFL knows somebody that has been to a dogfight". That's sick. It's one thing to watch dogs playfully wrestle. It's another thing to watch dogs fight to the death. It disgusts me to think that anyone would be entertained by this.

In the meantime, Joey Harrington is now the quarterback in Atlanta, with yet another chance to renew his career. I believe the Falcons would like to have a do-over on the Matt Schaub trade to Houston.

As for Michael Vick, perhaps he called a Dallas law firm with the phone number, 1-800-THE-DOGS. He needs some legal help right now.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

They're Texans

This is the Houston Texans' marketing slogan for last season and this season.

I'm glad they're Texans, because I'm not.

A lame slogan for a lame franchise.

Go Cowboys.