Friday, September 23, 2011
ND sits on the Big East television committee; Swofford pillaging; Why Serena’s fine was so low; PGA Tour playoffs and much more
I suppose I could write today about the latest maneuverings among the money-grubbing college presidents but, to be honest, I find it hard to care that much. Any notion that tradition or rivalries or geography or doing what’s right has flown so far out the window it isn’t even worth railing about it.
All I know is this: If you put the BCS presidents in a room and someone threw a dollar on the floor it would look like the last scene of “Invictus,” with all of them diving on the floor to try to scoop up the bill. I do have one question though for those who run The Big East: What in the world was the president of Notre Dame doing on your television committee? That’s like giving President Obama final say on who his opponent is next November.
“So, Mr. President, who’s it going to be—Mitt Romney?”
“Don’t think so. Think I’d prefer Rick Perry or, wait, even better Sarah Palin with Glenn Rice as her running mate.”
(Calm down my right wing friends it’s just a joke).
This is the same sort of thing. “So, Father Jenkins, while you sit back there with your $10 million per year NBC contract that you share not a dollar of with us, what do you think we should do with this latest offer from ESPN?”
“Turn it down fellas. You can get more later.”
Unless, of course, your league gets raided by John Swofford, who in his biography lists, “pillaging the Big East,” as one of his favorite pastimes.
Oh, one other thing on my friend Father Jenkins: If you hear him say that Notre Dame might end up in the ACC rather than The Big Ten because the ACC’s ‘academic profile,’ fits Notre Dame better, here’s the English translation of that statement: “We’d rather play Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia a whole lot of the time instead of Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin.” (Yes Irish fans I know they already play Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue).
Anyway, I really and truly don’t care about all the maneuverings. These are bad people doing bad things. Life is too short to pay them much attention. Call me when the 16-team conferences are in place and someone is ready to announce a football playoff. Until then, hey, hockey season starts in less than two weeks.
On the subject of bad people, let’s turn for a moment to the good folks at the U.S. Tennis Association. You might remember that a number of people were stunned when they only fined Serena Williams $2,000 for her outburst directed at the chair umpire during the U.S. Open final a couple weeks ago. How, many of us wondered, could they let her get off so easy for yammering on and on and, (among other things) accusing the chair of being, “the one who screwed me over two years ago,” when (A) NO ONE screwed her over two years ago and (B) it was a different woman.
Turns out there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation. You see, if Serena had been fined $10,000 (or more, the max fine would have been $20,000 which is way too low) it would have been considered a “major offense.” Under the terms of the probation she was still on because of her profanity/threat-filled outburst in the 2009 semifinals, if she had committed a “major offense,” she could have been suspended for next year’s Open by The Grand Slam Committee.
Apparently Bill Babcock, The Grand Slam Committee’s administrator was ready to suspend Williams after looking at—and listening to—the tape. When the USTA realized that it could lose Williams for next year’s Open it made certain to keep the fine well below the “major offense,” level. Obviously, losing Williams would have hurt corporate sales and, perhaps most important, wouldn’t have made the all-important TV partners happy either. So, as usual when a name tennis player is involved, Serena skated.
That will certainly deter her from similar behavior in the future won’t it?
One other note on the geniuses who run the sport: Once upon a time Davis Cup was one of the great events in ANY sport. As tennis has lost luster, so has Davis Cup, to the point where I have suggested it be conducted over two years—meaning top players only have to potentially commit twice a year as opposed to four times a year—to make it special again.
Naturally, that suggestion has been ignored. And so, in order to squeeze it into the schedule, The Davis Cup semifinals were held the week after the U.S. Open. Are you kidding? Novak Djokovic finished off two grueling weeks of best-of-five tennis on Monday, thanks in large part to the USTA’s ludicrous scheduling, and then had to show up to be ready to play in Argentina three days later. What a shock that he couldn’t finish either of his singles matches.
Of course the tennis people will tell you all is well with their sport, which is why nothing ever gets fixed. When three of the top players in the world felt they were put at risk being asked to play on slippery, wet courts, the USTA’s reaction was, basically, ‘get over it fellas.’ Would they consider modifying their schedule so as not to stretch the first round over three days and then ask the players to play semifinals and finals on back-to-back days? (that’s with NO bad weather). Nope. CBS likes it the way it is and CBS pays the freight. Shut up and play.
Question for golf fans: Are any of you into The Tour Championship? I just can’t get excited about it and it isn’t because of the tour’s constant overhyping of the so-called playoffs. It isn’t because Tiger Woods isn’t there either because, as most people know, I enjoy watching and writing about and talking about other players. I do wish Rory McIlroy was there because he’s so much fun to watch play and to talk to when he’s finished playing. But it isn’t that either. I just feel as if nothing is really at stake except money. Player-of-the-year? Yeah, I suppose. If Keegan Bradley wins he deserves the award. If he doesn’t it should be him or McIlroy but I promise you there will be people campaigning for Luke Donald if he wins or Webb Simpson if he wins.
They’ve had wonderful years but my rule of thumb is simple: You can’t be player-of-the-year unless you win at least one major. Jim Furyk won it on The PGA Tour last year in large part because Graeme McDowell wasn’t eligible. McDowell was CLEARLY the worldwide player-of-the-year. If I’d been voting last year, with all due respect to Furyk who I’ve always like a lot, I would have voted for Phil Mickelson because his performance at The Masters was far more significant than Furyk’s three victories in non-majors.
But hey, that’s just me.
Oh wait, there’s a news flash coming in here: The AFC West is joining the ACC. Perfect: more mediocre football teams. Just what the ACC needs.