5-at-10: NBA’s biggest all-star issue, CFP future gets a little cloudy, Is Eli Manning a Hall of Famer?

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo during the first half of an NBA All-Star basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo during the first half of an NBA All-Star basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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NBA's biggest issue

So, the NBA is staring down the barrel of the annual "What do we do to make the All-Star Game better?"

Heck, after Sunday's debacle, I would settle for "What can they do to make the ASG just bad?"

And let's be fair here, because all the players saying it's always been that way were not watching when guys like Bird and Magic and MJ and even Kobe in later years cared about winning, at least in the fourth quarter.

Dudes taking halfcourt shots six seconds in the shot clock made a mockery of the game if you ask me, but then again no one asked me.

There are a slew of ideas — make it a four-team All-Star tournament with short segments, experiment with rules like a four-point shot, even pay the winning team $1 million a player and the losing team $1,000 a player — but I'm not sure any of those will work or that this patient is even savable at this point.

But that's not the NBA's biggest issue.

Look around. LeBron is inching toward 40. Steph Curry is in the back half of his 30s and who knows how much longer he dribbles before he picks up his driver full time. (Dude can golf his ball.)

The NIL opportunities is going to put a severe hurting on the G-League in coming years.

Where are the future NBA superstars going to come from and who will be the face of the league in the next season or three when James and Curry are on to motion pictures and putting greens.

That should have been the biggest takeaway from the ASG, and it's way more pressing than the world's most high-flying YMCA pick-up game that is known as the All-Star event.

Because Victor Wembanyama is an amazing talent, but he's in San Antonio. Same with Giannis in Milwaukee and even Anthony Edwards in Minnesota.

Jalen Brunson is in NYC but his game does not scream "Face of the League." Luka could be, but both the Knicks and the Mavericks respectively have a long way to go before becoming true title contenders.

Not sure anyone can anoint the next face of the league, but I am sure about this:

When you are an individual-promoted sport — and the NBA has for decades promoted the names on the back of the jerseys more than the ones on the front — without a mega-star, the sinking tide affects all boats.

Ask the PGA in these post-Tiger days.

Not so fast my friend

So the reports of last week's monster $7.8 billion college football playoff deal were premature.

That was the report over the weekend from the MAC commissioner, who serves on the CFP management committee.

Yes, the process is the process, and every report I saw stated that the deal still must be voted on, but c'mon.

In truth, the slower roll on this will only hurt the smaller conferences and the desperate Pac-12 as they try to find as large a piece of that playoff pie as possible.

Because the union between the 10 FBS leagues — Power Five and Group of Five — lasts until the end of 2025, and the sooner the extension is done, the better for the Group of Five schools.

Even one year of those exploding playoff checks will only further the greed and entitlement of the Big Ten and the SEC, which will force the Big 12 and the ACC to be willing barnacles on the SS Breakaway.

In fact, not sure if we have discussed this interview that SEC boss Greg Sankey and Big Ten commish Tony Pettiti saying they are not sure of their commitment to current 10 conferences and Notre Dame structure.

The clock is ticking, and for the Group of Five, the longer it ticks the more it's going to sound like a bomb.

Chips all in

So last week, Eli Manning was cooking at a craps table at the Hard Rock casino in Florida.

Here's more, and at one point he had racked up more than $40K in winnings and chips.

Cue Ice Cube, "Dang right it was a good day."

But the ubiquitous presence of the Manning crew is undeniable at this point. There's the Manning cast. There's the Manning Bros coaching the Pro Bowl. There's the litany of commercials Peyton and Eli are featured in from insurance to snack crackers.

Heck, even Cooper is in Caesar's commercials with the crew. (Side question: Is Caesar's going to be upset that Manning was in a competitor's casino? Hmmmmmmm.)

And why not. The Mannings are charismatic. And funny. And amazingly accomplished while having an almost perfect public persona since Peyton's alleged 'werewolf' incident at UT when the full moon came out.

It's clearly good to be a Manning these days.

But the story of Eli made me wonder what the group thought of this query:

Is Eli a Hall of Famer? Not will he be, because I think the overwhelming view is yes to that one.

But rather should he be.

His numbers are anchored with two Super Bowls — in which he was MVP both times — and that counts for a lot.

He also is top-10 in passing yards, but from there the questions mount.

In traditional stats, if you count winning Super Bowls, then you need to count winning in general right? And Eli was 117-117 as a starter in his career with the Giants and ranks 12th all-time in interceptions and 10th in league history in fumbles.

Then there are the analytics, like the Hall of Fame Monitor from the talented stats folks at pro-football-reference.com. That, to quote there site: "The base formula uses weighted Approximate Value (which is 100% of the player's peak year, 95% of their second-best year, 90% of their third-best, and so on) as a starting point. Bonuses are added for Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade selections, MVP awards, Defensive Player of the Year awards, first-team AP All-Pro selections, Super Bowls/titles, and Pro Bowls, in descending weights."

And there's the big rub on Eli, especially compared to his peers. In his 16-year career, he made four Pro Bowls, zero All-Pro teams and never placed in the top-10 in the MVP or the offensive player of the year voting.

Is Eli headed to Canton? I would bet heavily on yes.

Does he belong there? Well, that's much more of a crap shoot to be honest.

This and that

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT's new football hires.

— William Byron won the rain-delayed Daytona 500. Did anyone other than J-Mac watch any of it?

— Awful brawl in the handshake line of a Texas A&M-Commerce vs. Incarnate Word last night. I was involved in one of those in high school. My sophomore year at Paulding County, we beat the Patriots 101-69 — I dropped 40 — and one of their players sucker-punched Earl Wise as we were shaking hands. A melee broke out, and after order was restored, a Paulding County sheriff's deputy had to escort us to the county line.

— So Jay's Plays split Monday — hitting Iowa State, which has become every bettor's favorite no-name crew, and missing on Texas — to stay above the magical plus-100 units mark. Wow, Vader, JTC, and the rest of you sports wagers out there, hard to fathom plus 100-units considering Monday was 16 months to the day we started this. To put that in simple math — and I know a lot of you have been with the email from the start and can testify that we have counted every bet (good, bad and awful) and been transparent from the start — if you started with $1,000 bankroll and followed the 1 unit approach (with each unit being 10% of your original bank) you'd have more than $11K. Now, prepare for the slide because we are spraining our wrist patting ourselves on the back.

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning Ern.

True or false, you have been involved in a real sports fight. (If true, please share if you can, court-orders notwithstanding Spy.)

True or false, Eli deserves to be a Hall of Famer.

True or false, you need more golf and NASCAR picks in the Jay's Plays.

True or false, the NBA is about to have a star problem.

True or false, the NBA All-Star game can be fixed.

You know the drill — answer some T or Fs, ask some T or Fs.

As for today, Feb. 20, let's review.

Maybe the biggest anniversary in sports in terms of monster court rulings — on this day in 1953, the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds a SCOTUS finding that MLB is a sport and not a business, which removes all types of anti-trust restrictions.

Kurt Cobain would have been just 57 today.

Big day for current pop stars are Rhianna is 36 and Olivia Rodrigo is 21.

Robert Altman would have been 99 today. Dude was involved in a bunch of great movies.

Cindy Crawford is 58 today.

Does she make the Rushmore of 'Cindy' friends?

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