I watch a lot of sports, and when something needs fixing, I make note of it. So when a friend recently asked me what I’d change, I reeled off several things off the top of my head. To get us through the long summer months, in no particular order, here is Part One, of everything I'd fix in the sporting world.
Brett Favre Corollary:
It’s become a summer right of passage. Barbeque on Memorial Day, go to the beach, set off some fireworks on the 4th of July, and of course watch Brett Favre wallow in his decision to retire, like a teenage girl standing at a CVS counter for 10 minutes, unsure which brand of make-up to buy.
Every year it’s the same deal with this guy. Favre feverishly announces his retirement, sometimes even throwing out some tears for good measure. He follows that up by going to the local high school, and tossing a few balls to the kids, you know, basically Mother Teresa in football pads. And then a week or so later Chris Mortensen’s blackberry begins overheating, culminating with Favre on an NFL sideline and Mort at the Cingular store getting a new phone.
Look, I understand that Favre is an aging athlete, and is having trouble coming to grips with what his post NFL life will be like. We see it in every business and profession across America. That’s why at the job you work, ole’ Mitch gets moved from CEO to corner office, to making sure the coffee pot is always full. Sometimes you can’t force someone out, so you slowly phase them out instead. And hopefully that’s what the NFL is doing with Favre.
Because lets be honest, aren’t we all sick of Favre hijacking our summers? It could be 75 and sunny, but there’s always a big dark cloud overhead when Favre isn’t under contract. Something needs to be done. And that’s why one of my changes in sports has to be the “Brett Favre Corollary.”
It’s simple really, and can save everyone a lot of headaches in the process. First of all, at no point is Favre, or anyone else forced to make a retirement announcement. Until the actual announcement happens, the player is still on the roster, or if they’re a free agent, allowed to sign with any team willing to take on their rotting corpse.
However, once an announcement is made, whether it’s by news conference, e-mail or through your barber down the block, there is a 48-hour window before the announcement becomes official. If no change takes place after that 48-hour buffer zone, the player must stay retired for one calendar year of the original announcement. End of story. No flip-flopping, no indecisiveness. Just one sound decision.
I know this whole thing sounds stupid, and may ultimately only apply to one guy, but it helps everyone.
For starters, I can’t imagine any player will announce their retirement, unless they are 100 percent committed to it, the risk would be too much. But in a unique case like Favre’s it covers everyone.
The player has to really think about the decision before they make it, but still has two full days to determine if it’s what they want. Should the player stay retired, they can always come back the following year.
It also covers the coaching and front office staff of any given team, because they can prepare for the upcoming season without the uncertainty of who will be available, and in what capacity. And of course it covers the fan, who won’t be subjected to three straight weeks of Favre or anyone else dominating every headline in sports, even when there is no news to report.
Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. But one thing’s for sure. Like an old dog that can’t make it up the stairs, Favre needs to be put out of his misery. This should do the trick… At least for 365 days.
John Calipari and Kentucky Basketball Need Their Own Reality TV Show
Forget Coach K, Ben Howland and Jim Boeheim. Those guys are week. Last week.
No one in college basketball is more adored by his home fan base, while at the same time equally loathed by everyone else from opposing coaches, to players, to beer vendors than John Calipari. With Memphis and Conference USA in his rearview mirror, Calipari has brought his three-ring circus to college’s basketball’s biggest stage. That’s right, folks, Calipari is now part of Big Blue nation at the University of Kentucky.
With Calipari there always comes a cloud of question and concern after every step he takes, every text he sends. Of course he also comes to town with a pretty impressive resume. Try 30 wins for four straight seasons (the only coach in NCAA history to do that) on for size. How you like them apples?
And even more exciting he'll be patrolling the sidelines of the University of Kentucky next year, a place where basketball is not only important, but a way of life. Boy is this going to be fun.
Since arriving in Lexington, Calipari has already marked his territory like a Great Dane at a fire hydrant, bringing one of the best recruiting classes in the history of college basketball. And that’s with only three months in Kentucky under his belt.
Of course in true Calipari fashion, with the good comes the bad, as he has already ruffled feathers by “politely asking,” certain players to leave the program to make room for his super-sized recruiting class. And that’s just a minor blip on the radar on what could be coming down on Calipari.
Remember, shortly after Calipari left Memphis, it was revealed that a pair of players who may have been part of several wins in his tenure- including maybe the most talented player who ever played at Memphis, Derrick Rose- may have cheated on their college entrance exams. But hey, that’s just another day in Calipari-land.
If I haven’t already convinced you that this reality show would work, let’s dig further into the possibilities.
Like the day freshman point guard John Wall gets to campus, almost assuredly the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. What happens when he hurts his draft stock with a 2-13 shooting performance with one assist and eight turnovers in late February? Does he mail in the next game? Does he go into, “I’ve got to get mine mode,” with 25 NBA scouts in the stands? Tune in Wednesday to find out.
And how about the inevitable holy wars between Calipari and his two biggest college basketball nemesis’ Rick Pitino and Bruce Pearl?
Calipari will have to play each at least once annually, and if you think that John Chaney threatening to beat him up 10 years ago was a big deal, you haven’t seen anything yet. I can already hear the commercial tease now, Calipari-Pitino. Kentucky-Louisville. Heidi and Lauren have nothing on these two. The Bloodbath in the Bluegrass. Live from Lexington after these words from our sponsors.
And that’s just the on the court stuff. Could the other stuff top it? I think it might.
Like in episode one, when we find out which of the four highly touted McDonald’s All-American’s is first to puke at a frat party, with the after show telling us how many millions the player lost when the clip hit Youtube. Or when the team managers mysteriously sneak out in the middle of night and head to an ATM before “picking up,” a player. And how about when half of the Kentucky squad “forgets” what their class schedule is once second semester starts. My oh my, I can barely contain myself.
Even Calipari’s recruiting visits would be must see TV. Can’t you just imagine Calipari, his slicked back hair shining off a freshly polished trophy, trying to woo the next big high school hot shot?
I certainly could, and you better believe I’d wait for scenes from the next episode, when Calipari not only offers the kid a starting position, but his cousin/AAU coach/guardian a job as Director of Basketball Operations.
The show could even have a cheesy name like “Cal’s Crew,” or if the season goes down the tubes “Lexington Blues.” Get out the smelling salts, I may pass out right now.
Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that it in this case, it doesn’t matter if Kentucky takes home a National Championship. Because when “Cal’s Crew,” hits the air, I can promise you this, we’ll all be winners.
Fox Sports is never allowed to announce BCS bowl games. Period:
I don’t care if Fox offers 500 million more than their closest competitor. Never, under any circumstance should they be allowed to broadcast the BCS National Championship game. Period. Can you tell yet I’m serious about this?
Maybe I’m just being nitpicky, I don’t know.
But doesn’t it seem bizarre that we go through a whole season, wake up early every Saturday morning for College Gameday, watch the SEC game of the week on CBS with Gary Danielson, and then click back to ABC for the evening game with Kirk Herbstreit, learning about all of our favorite players through these soothing familiar voices.
Yet then the most important games of the season are played and we’re subjected to Thom Brenneman (or is it Kenny Albert?) doing play by play and some guy who won the CFL MVP in 1991 doing color?
I know college football is the most blood thirsty, money hungry business out there, but in what other sport would this ever happen?
Would the NBA (maybe the most well run sport from a business standpoint) ever, in a million years, allow Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown to call games all season long, then sell out to Fox and subject us to Joe Buck and Bill Laimbeer for the NBA Finals? I know, I know that sounds ridiculous, but that’s exactly what the bright minds behind college football have done to us for three years.
It seems that year to year, it really doesn’t really matter who’s in the championship game. The awkward encounter on the trophy stand is always the same, and always priceless. It usually goes a little something like this.
Albert: “Coach Meyer,” what’s it like to be the BCS National Champion?”
Urban Meyer (looking at Albert like he just asked the coach for his teenage daughters hand in marriage): “Ahh, umm (then realizing he’s on National Television). Oh it’s great, these guys have worked so hard, but we couldn’t have done it with out the fans. They’re second to none!”
Then the fans yell, as Albert is shuffled off to shoot a commercial Big Ed’s Porto-Lets and Meyer inquires with his SID who the guy who looked like a washed up porn star is.
With all that said, I am still a reasonable man. I know money talks, but even so, there must some kind of compromise we can come to. As usual mine is simple.
If Fox absolutely must broadcast these games, than there has to be some way to get real college football announcers on. No Kenny Albert, Thom Brenneman. No homeless guyfrom the street corner mumbling to himself.
Wouldn’t it add that much more appeal for the diehard fans (like me) if Musberger-Herbstreit, Lundquist-Danielson, Nessler-Griese or even the three man team of Fowler, Palmer and James did the game? The familiar voices, the subtle nuances, these guys have them down to a tee. They get us through the whole season, the ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys. Reward these guys for their hard work, by giving them the biggest games.
I know I may be getting a little pushy, but I really can’t take the Fox guys much more (Thank god ESPN is set to take over the contract after the 2010 games). Things actually got so bad during last year’s title game between Florida and Oklahoma, that I put on the radio just to drone out Albert and his color guy with Herbie and Musberger.
Of course since radio was a few second delay, the result was disastrous, leaving me with two choices. I could either just put the game on mute and do play-by-play and color myself, scaring my next door neighbor in the process, who might have had me committed after hearing me talk to myself for three hours.
Plan B of course was to just throw the radio through the television, drink a liter of Captains and cry myself to sleep.
I just narrowly chose neither and listened in silence. Luckily by 2010 I should be in the clear. Although I’ll never be able to avoid the memories.
The NHL and ESPN:
Honestly, I’m not here to knock hockey. It’s too easy, too overplayed, and at this point, boring and cliché.
But, despite the league continuing to be a recurring punch line, its hard to argue that hockey as a whole is in much better place in 2009 than it was just a few years ago when a strike ravaged the sport.
This past season, the NHL experienced what turned into a virtual dream scenario, as the young and likeable Pittsburgh Penguins captured the Stanley Cup, Detroit held strong as the Western Conference’s elite team, and Chicago and Boston re-established themselves as hockey hubs.
Of equal importance, after years of having unrecognizable and unlikeable superstars, the NHL is on course with the NBA, as young guys like Sid Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and others have established themselves as not only talented on the ice, but marketable off of it.
But there still something missing, something keeping hockey from re-establishing itself as mainstream, allowing professional sports to become the “Big Four,” again. That something is ESPN.
Now I know that ESPN is not the be all and end all in sports, but remember, there’s a reason it’s called the Worldwide Leader.”
Virtually anything that the network touches turns to gold, and it’s the largest platform in American sports. If ESPN and hockey were able to work together, it’d do wonders for a sport that’s just a few small steps away from becoming truly relevant again.
So from here out the plan is simple for the NHL, get back on ESPN’s airwaves, somehow, some way. It doesn’t matter if it’s once a week, or once every other week. Or if the NHL has to play the first year for free. Or if Gary Bettman has to tie himself to a tree at ESPN studios and go on a hunger strike until the two come to an agreement. Whatever it takes.
Who knows what kind of agreement the two sides could come to. Maybe every Friday night would be “Hockey Night in America,” the way the term is coined for every Saturday evening in Canada. Or NHL games could be played every Sunday night after the NFL season is done. Trust me, if ESPN keep the WNBA afloat for 10 years, the NHL will be back on the tip of our tongues in no time.
The television contracts with NBC and Versus could stay, but they’d be complimentary. Versus is nice for Tuesday night’s between the Flames and the Wild, but the big boys (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago) need to be in front of more eyes.
They need to be on ESPN.
Jim Tressel will never be the definition of cool. But with his stoic, professional look, he’s the only one who can adequately pull off a sweatervest. No other college football coach should be allowed to wear one.
As for college basketball coaches, no longer during regular season games are they allowed to wear those weird athletic turtleneck things (yes I’m talking to you Bob Huggins). Is it too much to ask for a shirt and tie for one two hour game, twice a week? There are only two exceptions to the shirt and tie rule: Sneakers are allowed on “Coaches vs. Cancer,” day, and of course Hawaiian shirts are not only allowed, but required if a coaches team is playing in the Maui Invitational. That’s it.
Speaking of Hawaiian shirts, Chalie Weis looked great wearing one in last year’s Hawaii Bowl (And they say stripes are slimming. How about a few palm trees). My proposal? Since he is undefeated wearing one, he has to continue to do so until Notre Dame loses a game, no matter how cold it gets in South Bend. Luckily for Weis, USC is still on the schedule, so he won’t have to stick with his “fashion statement” for too long.
Finally, in the NFL, can someone get Bill Belichick a polo for the fall, and a full length hoodie for the winter? Please someone? Seriously coach, you’ve won more games than God. I know the cut-off hoodie was cute for a few weeks. Now you just look like a vagrant.
Eric Mangini can no longer be referred to as the “Man Genius.”
Sure it fit when he led a woe-be-gone Jets team to the playoffs in his first year. But did you see how he coached the team down in 2007 and 2008? I’m sorry, but the “Man Genius” nickname should have been retired the second the Jets lost to the Raiders in Oakland last October. If not a year sooner.
Of course Mangini was fired by the Jets in the winter, but quickly landed another job in Cleveland, where he just as quickly ostracized by his new team - the Browns- by trying to force his players to attend a summer camp he was running.
Now in Mangini’s defense he did get a lot of flack. Of course he did also want to bus his players from Cleveland to attend the camp. Where was the camp you ask? Toledo? Cincinnati? No folks, but beautiful Hartford, Conn.!
Wow really coach? So let me get this straight, you wanted to bus professional athletes half way across the country for your own camp? Way to make a first impression. Why didn’t you just have them pick up aluminum cans along the highway as a team fundraiser? That would have been a good bonding experience as well.
As far as I can tell, this guy isn’t the next Belichick (someone Magnini was compared to early in his career), but Clark Griswold with a clipboard. Simply put, he can’t get out of his own way.
My guess for Mangini’s future? Selling bad instructional videos out the trunk of his car by 2014.
You heard it here at www.aarontorres-sports.com first.
The NCAA Tournament: Don’t Change Anything
Nothing gets me angrier as a sports fan than when the coach of whichever bubble team doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament, rants and screams, points to a win in November and a tough loss in February, claiming them as proof that his team is deserving of playing the Big Dance.
Hey coach, here’s an idea, do a better job, and maybe that loss in February wouldn’t have happened. What are we paying you 1.2 million, if you can’t beat San Diego State on a neutral court anyways?
But of course with the rants and raves, comes the inevitable yearly talk that maybe the tournament should be expanded. If I can give the NCAA one piece of advice, one desperate suggestion as a fan it’s this: Don’t do anything!
The NCAA Tournament is one of the few great things left in sports and life that hasn’t been tweaked and tinkered to death, and may be the only sporting event outside the Super Bowl that brings fans of all ages and sexes together.
Seriously, what’s better than rooting for your alma mater, or upset pick in the first round? And of course, once you get your girlfriend to fill out a bracket, you have a free pass to watch sports for three weeks. Who among us hasn’t had conversations with our significant other that have gone a little something like this:
Honey, I know your Final Four team lost in the first round, but if Eastern Illinois beats Syracuse here, you might still be able to finish in 11th place. We’ve got to watch.
As for the coach that didn’t make it? Well since there are already 3-4 totally undeserving at large teams in the field every year, sorry, but I’m not losing too much sleep over you.
Check back next week for Part Two