NFL back to the future
Because, apparently, everyone was having too much fun watching the NFL through five weeks.
So here we are, five weeks in and the TV numbers have witnessed a solid bounce back.
The overnights from Week 5 were stout. Yes, the 4 p.m. national game of Eagles-Vikings was down 5 percent (last year's 4 p.m. national game was the dream match-up of Packers-Cowboys) but the other windows all enjoyed positive returns from the 2017 comparisons.
Overnights have increased in 13 of the 20 Sunday windows this season.
That's the good news.
Now comes the old/new talking points:
Eric Reid took a knee in his first game back with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Reid was right there alongside Colin Kaepernick during the first wave of the protests during the National Anthem in San Francisco. There have been a few others — the Dolphins come to mind — and there have been some fists raised, but the networks' decision to dial back the coverage certainly feels like there have been fewer instances and that we are discussing it far less.
And while you can have a journalistic discussion about whether the protests should be covered — and they should, friends — the business decision of not talking about them makes sense for the networks. NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN collectively are paying billions for the most popular weekly TV programming in the world. The protests and the coverage of such hurt ratings. It's in the networks' best interest to down play the protests. Is it the best journalistic decision? Of course not. Is it the best BID-ness decision? We can all agree on that.
And, as the world was celebrating Drew Brees on Monday night because he set the NFL passing record and stated his case as the most accomplished 6-feet-and-under athlete of all time, there was another strong statement made in New Orleans.
Alvin Kamara, who was as good as any running back in the league through the first four weeks of the season, emerged from the Saints victorious locker room in a Kaepernick jersey. He also was wearing a "Make Africa Home Again" hat that clearly was a shot at the "MAGA" hats from the Trump campaign.
We are never going to be in the "Shut up and dribble" crowd. Ever. You got something you feel strongly about, fine. Make your statement. That's 100 percent your right.
But the rights of reactions from the rest of us are every bit as expected, demanded and respected.
C'mon Alvin. You're from Norcross, Ga. Make Africa home again? Seriously.
You know what? Fine. Make Africa your home again. Now. It's going to be a long commute for practice though.
It's truly a sad statement for a lot of us who believe in the best parts of the fabric of this country and are proud to call America home.
And for a fair number of fringe NFL fans who had sworn off the NFL after the protests that were potentially looking for a reason to comeback to the high-flying fun that has become an NFL Sunday, well, the "MAHA" hats feel like another reason to the TV off.
Wow, what say you now Ricky P?
There are few national journalists who do this craft better than Dan Wetzel of YahooSports.
He's a columnist so he writes his opinion, but like almost all great columnists he is an excellent reporter and his opinions come from that digging.
He has spent the last week or so listening to the testimony in New York City from the called — and sworn in — witnesses in the federal case hovering over college basketball.
Now, whether the feds should be spending time on whether Creighton or Louisville is paying power forwards is a completely fair question. But the feds are putting on the full-court press and the details are staggering.
Brian Bowen, the top-40 recruit who got $100,000 from Adidas, committed to Louisville and was later ruled ineligible, and his family is a major part of this trial.
Well the details and the evidence have led Wentzel to ask the simple question of whether the latest infractions should warrant the death penalty for Louisville basketball. https://www.yahoo.com/sports/louisville-basketball-get-death-penalty-latest-revelations-college-hoops-trial-225857521.html
Yes, the death penalty.
Here are some of the foundations for that assertion:
Louisville was hammered by the NCAA for the recruiting violations involving strippers and such in June 2017. According to testimony, roughly nine weeks after the NCAA ruling Louisville associate head coach Kenny Johnson was in a car with Brian Bowen Sr. and handed him $1,300 in cash.
Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who is suing his former employer for the remaining coin in his contract, has denied any knowledge of payments or wrong-doing throughout the process. Wellllllllllllll, the wire taps played Tuesday had Adidas executive Merl Code saying "He (Pitino) does know something. He doesn't know everything plausible deniability."
Here's more: Text messages and FBI recorded phone calls between Bowen Sr. and Adidas cash-runner and wanna-be agent Christian Dawkins detail the plan for the Bowens to get $2,000 a month to play at Louisville.
And the plan, according to that evidence was for Johnson — again the associated head coach for the Cardinals — to deliver the money.
"Christian basically told me Kenny was supposed to be getting me some money," Bowen Sr. testified. That would be the No. 2 man in the Louisville program delivering the cash.
And for Pitino not to have knowledge — something that we now know is not true — of that is every bit as fireable and punishable as if he was delivering the money himself.
And to make matters seem even worse for ol' Slick Rick, another member of Piton's staff at Louisville has already been mentioned by prosecutors as paying a different player in Las Vegas.
So that's three staffers under Pitino who were up to major NCAA violations, and two of which were major infractions after an announced major penalty for the program.
Coach, you want to revise that BS story (and book) or should we go to expert testimony and ask Coach Urban Liar how you could have handled this better?
Expert testimony from a lying expert
Time for another 5-at-10 faux-pose' as we sit down/conjure up a possible interview with THE football coach of THE Ohio State, THE one and only, Coach Urban Liar.
5-at-10: Coach, thanks for taking the time. I know with cell-phone erasing, text message dumping and back-tracking stories with staff and spouse, your schedule is swamped.
Urban Liar: Hey, you're not Tom Rinaldi.
5-at-10: No, Coach Liar, I am not. Speaking of that, don't you think Rinaldi's interviews were, shall we say, softer than Charmin and cardinal enough to be invited to join the Junior League?
Liar: Say what you want, but Rinaldi is a dear friend. And he also knew that if he pressed to hard, Zach Smith was waiting for him in the parking lot.
5-at-10: Well, that makes sense. Coach Liar, you have emerged from the filth muck of scandal better than most and before we get your views on how ol' Rick Pitino could have better handled his pit of lies and treachery, I do have one more question about the Coach Smith debacle. What do you tell your players and the families of recruits you promise to lead and guide and protect for four years about how one of your long-time coaches treated his spouse? Isn't that a classic example of hypocrisy and asking those under you to do what say rather than what you do, especially since the top two values listed on the locker room wall are 1) Honesty, and 2) Respect women?
Liar: Like I told Tom, who dresses way better than you by the way, I knew what I knew. It was a bad decision. I went too far trying to help this guy. You saw the interview, and now is the point that I sigh, refer to myself in the third person and make some emphatic hand gestures to let you know I really mean what I am spewing.
5-at-10: I know you had a lot of details about this, especially the ones that make you look like a decent dude. But the committee said, and you told Tom that you could not remember a lot of stuff. So, what would you say to Coach Pitino?
Liar: Well, you touched on it there. Don't dig your heels in on the denials. Foggy memories. Medication. High-level stress. There are a lot of ripple effects that you can use, but what you can't do is drop hard and traceable lies.
5-at-10: Yeah, but you did exactly that at the Big Ten Media Days.
Liar: But like I told Rinaldi, I don't lie. I misspoke. I erred at Media Day. There was never a time I intentionally lied at Media Day.
Yes, but I quickly back-tracked on that. And in truth that may have actually helped me in the long run. Look at it this way: The jazz hands of distraction in messes like this are your friend. Sure, I lied at the media event, but c'mon, every coach lies to the media. You want us on that podium. You need us on that podium. And you are begging for us to give you decent sound bites. Do you really think Saban is ticked off half as much as he is? Of course not. He'd have 12 heart attacks by now. Do you think Malzahn believes half that poppy-cock stuff he says. Do you think Leach is half as crazy as he seems? Wait strike that one.
5-at-10: So you are saying it's par for the course? Seriously. And how do you guys get away with that.
Liar: There are ways. And that's a great question by the way.
5-at-10: Thanks Coach. Wait. So, what about Pitino?
Liar: Well, his first mistake was alienating his wife. You have to have a sidekick. Heck, Shelley has been a rock through this and really has fallen on the sword. And man, you got to not do your BID-ness on your phone. Granted, as a told Rinaldi, I had no concerns about my phone. We just erased and deleted those messages for extra space and memory. Have you played that Candy Crush? Now that's a fun way to pass some time.
This and that
— Yankees got bounced by Boston on Tuesday. LCSs are set: Houston at Boston; Los Angeles at Milwaukee. (And don't you know the TV powers involved are praying that the Dodgers get this thing done.)
— Speaking of the NCAA, according to this L.A. Times story, the state of California has ruled that the NCAA's 'Show Cause' penalty on coaches are void and are "an unlawful restraint on engaging in a lawful profession" in the state. That's a potential game changer.
— Speaking of the investigation into college basketball, ol' Roy Boy Williams was adamant that the culture of college basketball is great and that there's nothing to see at all these court details. In fact, as he told the folks at UNC media day. "That world they are explaining out there I am not familiar with. Period. In 30 years as a head coach I've never had anyone ask me for money or asked a shoe company to recruit for me." Hmmmmmmm.
— Speaking of TV numbers, the USA Today says that when it comes to NFL ratings, good football 'trumps' political views. The story is interesting, but I'm curious to why their stated conclusion was, "What really stood out was that people stuck with football if there was a 'football reason' to watch. The data show that quality football and home team loyalty drove the TV audience far more than political tribalism." But they also admitted they did not gauge numbers from games that involved home-market home teams but then said that the reason the numbers were down in places like Phoenix, Houston and Indy were because of disappointing seasons from the home teams. If you have a 'football reason' to watch shouldn't that supersede home-town struggles?
— This is mind-blowing. Before the season we swore off the cliche "video-game stats" and we have stuck to that promise. Well, Tua Tagovailoa is doing better than that catch phrase and almost everything we've ever seen before. Check some of these numbers, courtesy of AL.com: Tua has been the quarterback for 44 drives and Alabama has scored a TD on 31 of them; Tua is averaging 19.7 yards per completion; Baker Mayfield's passer efficient rating of 198.7 is the single-season record and Tua's currently is 258.7; Tua has almost as many TD passes (20) as incompletions (25). Dear Lord.
— Brooks Koepka was named PGA Tour player of the year Tuesday. Two majors in a year? Yeah, that makes sense.
— OK, this story is simply crazy. A dude got pranked by his girlfriend and his revenge was to 'sell' her on eBay. Well, the joke turned into bidding war and the next thing you know the story goes viral and someone was up to $119,000 before the bidding was ended by eBay for obvious reasons. (Although there were several folks wanting to 'test drive' the girlfriend before making an offer.) Dude, there must be some lonely folks out there, you know?
— In today's headline of everything is going to offend someone is this story. An Australian hotel has apologized for an ad that has a young couple relaxing with in robes and enjoying breakfast in bed. The apology was for the insensitivity of the man reading a newspaper and the woman reading a coffee-table book. Oh, the humanity. Think of the children people.
— UTC has re-upped with Finley. Gene of Many Hats Henley has the details here.
Which way Wednesday.
Which way do you lean: That every college basketball program cheats in some fashion or that UNC and the super powers don't have to pay players to get five-star dudes to come to their schools?
Which way Wednesday: Who you got in the World Series?
Which way Wednesday: Which of the new nominees for the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame announced Tuesday is the absolute most deserving? (Here are the choices.) https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/2019-rock-roll-hall-fame-nominee-lineup-coolest-competitive-years-172855926.html
As for today, Oct. 10 — or 10/10 — let's review. (And yes, with the 10/10 designation, it is National Metrics Day.)
There are a slew of silly National Days today. National Pet Obesity Day. National Tuxedo Day. National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work and School Day. International Top Spinning Day.
It's also National Stop Bullying Day, which really should be everyday, right?
David Lee Roth is 64 today. Brett Favre's birthday is today too.
It's also National Hug a Drummer Day. Rushmore of drums and drummers. Go. (And remember the mailbag and the Survivor Pool, if you are still alive.)