5-at-10: UT’s Knecht killin’ it, tennis finds in LIV connection, Peacock’s monster NFL victory

Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht (3) dribbles the ball up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht (3) dribbles the ball up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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In the zone

Gang, Dalton Knecht, the Tennessee hoops transfer, put on a clinic Tuesday night.

He was awesome, going 9-of-10 for 22 points.

Then halftime happened.

Seriously, Knecht posted a great full game in the first 20 minutes and finished with a career-best 39 points as UT rolled Florida.

It rightly caused ESPN announcer Jimmy Dykes to proclaim that with Knecht, UT is a different NCAA tournament team than any of the previous March flops Rick Barnes has trotted out.

And it makes sense. Knecht is a bona fide bucket getter, and when he's stroking it like he was Tuesday, egad, UT is impossible to handle.

The Vols are right there with the best defensive teams in the country already. They are right there with Kentucky and Auburn as the deepest teams in the country.

The following evidence points to Knecht being a true go-to scorer.

He's averaged 34.3 points over his last three and is shooting 58.3% from the floor and 59% from 3. In those three games, he has three total turnovers.

He is the first UT player with back-to-back 35-plus point games since some dude named Allan Houston.

He has scored more points in back-to-back games than any other SEC player in the last 15 years.

Love sports

So now tennis has fallen under the charms (read: big bucks) of the PIF-bankrolled attempts by the Saudi royalty to continue its "sportswash" efforts.

Sportswash is a term that was crafted to describe the efforts of the royal family of Saudi Arabia and its insanely deep pockets lined with hundreds of billions in oil money to cover its human rights violations with dollars.

It became a thing with the LIV and the golf divide.

It became a global thing with the most recent World Cup being played in Qatar.

It now has found its way to the tennis courts, as the same folks who fund LIV are in talks to have the season-ending women's tennis tour championship in Saudi Arabia.

Here's more from Caroline Wozniacki, the former world No. 1 who is making a comeback in the Aussie Open and who used to date Rory McIlroy ironically enough.

Wozniacki clearly is not closing any doors or making any "line-in-the-sand" statements like her former beau did.

Also in that story is the news — at least to me — that Rafael Nadal is now a sports/tennis ambassador to the Saudi royal family.

Hmmmmmm, how big was the check Nadal got to take on that role?

Behind the numbers

So, we heard about the monster viewership totals that Peacock generated with Saturday night's streaming-only Chiefs-Steelers playoff game.

I'll admit it: We signed up for the $6 a month streaming package. (I also re-watched the entire first season of "The Office," which is available on Peacock, during our current Iceageddon in and around Chattanooga.)

The numbers are staggering — for Peacock specifically and for the NFL big picture.

— Here are the streaming records set during the broadcast: Peak of 27.6 million viewers with an average of 23 million viewers, according to Comcast.

— Here are the Peacock all-time marks from the broadcast: The above two of course, as well as, single-day audience usage, engagement and time spent on the network, with 16.3 million devices concurrently watching the game at one point.

— And for all this exposure and pub, it only — yes ONLY (seriously) — cost Peacock $110 million for the exclusive broadcast rights for this game.

How huge of a showing is that $27.6 million number? As of mid-December, Peacock had 28 million subscribers, and yes, there were shared viewers held into account. Heck, we had some folks over to watch it.

Still, what would you set the over/under of folks who signed up on Saturday to watch the game with the face of the league (Patty Mahomes), a team with one of the most loyal fanbases in sports (the Steelers) and the chance to see America's pop princess sing along from a luxury box.

(Side question: My buddy Justin came over and watched the Chiefs win and floated this theory, so I want to know your thought: Agree or disagree that there is some sort of buzzer or light in Taylor Swift's suite at Arrowhead that warns her she is about to be on TV, because he thinks there's simply no way any football fan sings and cheers and is 100% bubbly in every single camera cutaway like Swift does? Thoughts?)

Anywell, back to Peacock winning the weekend. Guys, paying well into nine-figures for the rights to one first-round playoff game is brilliant. And just the beginning.

Like the days in the mid-1980s when we were puzzled that college football would — gasp — move kickoffs to night games for TV or even more appalled — double gasp — kicks to Thursday night, streaming will be commonplace. And for those upper-tier dollars, there will need to be levels of exclusivity.

And it won't be confined to one NFL playoff game, because know this: Peacock is a longshot to prevail in the streaming wars with the endless pockets of Amazon, Netflix and others who have up to 10 times the subscribers that Peacock does, and all of those heavyweights have assuredly had multiple meetings with the central focus being "Can we get into the NFL business now or what other sports events can we more than 8% of all Americans to our platform?"

Game 3 of the World Series, only on YouTube, maybe?

The Kentucky Derby, exclusively on Hulu perhaps?

A college football playoff semifinal only on Disney+ even?

We saw the future Saturday night, and no it was not the super offspring of the Kelce-Swift super union.

We were just lucky it was only $6 this time.

This and that

— Monster night in SEC and college hoops Tuesday, and I got to watch more than a hot minute of it. Man, power bills and cable usage are likely at a Monday-Tuesday all-time high with these conditions. One of the things I watched was Alabama coach Nate Oats put hands on a Missouri player's chest during a kerfuffle last night. Whether that is deemed appropriate or not, it's a bad look for a guy who is coaching his whistle off put also someone I would never hire to watch my kids.

— Speaking of college hoops, well, rule 1 of Fight Club is in play people. See you this afternoon.

— We wrote it earlier this season, and there has been nothing to change that opinion — Dalton Knecht's recent scoring exploits aside — but Caitlin Clark is the most entertaining college basketball player anywhere and one of the best in this generation. She passed Brittney Griner for fourth in all-time in NCAA women's scoring. At her current 32 points per game pace, Clark could be the all-time record holder by mid-to-late-February.

— The Falcons have completed a slew of interviews after having had Jim Harbaugh on site following the visit from Bill Belichick over the weekend. Quick side question: Belichick and Harbaugh actually interviewed the Falcons, right? Still, hard not to get your hopes up with that star power. Atlanta will end up re-hiring Dan Quinn. Oh well.

— Man, the NCAA coaching portal is out of control. One guy leaves, then the dominoes start falling and coaches are relocating like crazy. Oh the humanity.

— Speaking of coaches on the move, Bruce Feldman is one of the true college football insiders, and recently he had an interesting name to watch if/when Jim Harbaugh moves on from Michigan: LSU boss Brian Kelly.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which time were you ever in the zone athletically?

Which coach do you want for your Atlanta Falcons? (Or which coach do you want for your Tennessee Titans, if that applies?)

Which coach is the best in Falcons history?

Which UT Vols hoopster was the better shooter, Allan Houston, Chris Lofton or Dalton Knecht?

Which streaming services do you have?

Which sport, after tennis apparently, will Saudi's endless pockets get into next? (Could there be a Saudi 600 with NASCAR in our future?)

Which NFL opening is the best?

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

As for today, Jan. 17, let's review.

Wow, on this day 40 years ago, the first domino in the changing face of TV happened when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that using a VCR to record a program and watch it later did not violate copyright laws.

Man, I thought the VCR changed the world, and it had a shelf-life of a decade-and-a-half or so.

Muhammad Ali would have been 82 today.

Al Capone would have been 125.

Happy birthday James Earl Jones, who is 93 today.

Bobby Fischer died on this day in 2008.

If we did Rushmore of non-biopic movies with a real or fictional person's first and last name in the title, would "Searching for Bobby Fischer" make the grade?

Go.


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