Well, that did not take long… After setting the table with a long-term CBA in place and new long-term broadcast rights deals to fatten the bank accounts signed, sealed and delivered, the NFL announced yesterday that its regular season will now be expanded to 17 games. One need not to have been in training to become the modern Oracle of Delphi to have seen that coming. The NFL’s 16-game schedule has been in place for more than 40 years and it is formulaic to the point that one could project the structure of the league schedule decades in advance. But it is not so easy to figure out how that would work with an odd number of games in the regular season. Here is my understanding – – with the proviso that I have a track record of getting some of the details wrong in these sorts of complicated maneuverings:
- There will be no changes made to the basic 16-gaqme schedule rotation that has been in place for years; the only change will be in how the 17th game is woven into the schedule rotation.
- The 17th game will be an inter-conference game and it will be a “standings based” pairing based on the finish from last year. First place team in Division A plays first place team in Division B and etc. It will pair divisions from each conference on a rotating basis and in one year all the AFC teams will get an extra home game while in the following year all the NFC teams will get an extra home game based on the 17th game addition.
Here are three questions I have about this announcement that I have not been able to track down:
- If a player has a contract that calls for him to earn $1.6M this year (for 16 games that is conveniently $100K per game), will he earn $1.7M this year because the number of games increased?
- Has the “increased inventory” of games been negotiated into the prices that the NFL’s “broadcast partners” will pay to the league to carry the regular season games? Or … will those revenues expand by 6% over what was previously announced?
- Will there be a reduction in the number of meaningless Exhibition Games to pay lip service to player health and safety?
Remember, follow the money…
The Final Four have established themselves for next weekend. Here are my notes from the games that put those teams in that company:
- Oregon St./Houston: Houston is dominating the boards offensively and defensively in the first half; Oregon St. is playing like a 12-seed tonight. Houston is denying the ball to Ethan Thomas; Oregon St. continues to wonder what else to do on offense. Houston doubled-up Oregon St. at the half and it really was not that close. Oregon St. rallies furiously to close the score to 2 points – – but not enough. The difference was Houston getting 19 offensive rebounds in the game and the fact the Oregon St. shot 11 for 20 from the foul line. Houston won ugly; Oregon St. lost ugly.
- Baylor/Arkansas: Baylor’s offense is run by and through point guard, Davion Mitchell. He committed 2 personal fouls in the first 4 minutes and got his third foul with about 9 minutes to go in the first half with Baylor ahead 33-18. Arkansas closed to 46-38 at the half; Mitchell on the floor is key in the second half. The second half is a game of runs; Baylor made the last run and won by 9 points but they had to sweat it out to do so.
- Gonzaga/USC: Neither of the Mobley brothers can play a lick of defense; if Evan Mobley is the PAC-12 Player of the Year, it is amazing that PAC-12 teams did so well in the tournament. USC is trying to run with Gonzaga and keep up with them; that is not working and will not work; the Zags are clearly the faster team. “Seems like no changes were made at halftime for USC so the outcome is pretty obvious.” That comment was noted at the “under-16 TV time-out”.
- Michigan/UCLA: Michigan is not playing the same offense that got them to this game; no inside passing and little cutting to the basket. Other than Juzang for UCLA, no one on the court can make a shot to save his life. “Ugly game, team that makes the last mistake will lose” (Comment was noted at halftime.) Here is how the game ended… UCLA was up by 1 point with 19 seconds; Michigan had the ball. Michigan gets an open-look 3-point shot and misses followed by a missed put back. UCLA got the rebound and was fouled with 6.3 seconds remaining. Bruins hit one of the foul shots; to lead by 2 and Michigan calls time out. One more shot fails, and Michigan loses… UCLA won ugly; Michigan lost ugly.
My respect for the law is matched by my contempt for legislators who write the laws. There always seem to be ways for the laws they create to be circumvented by “folks on the inside” when that becomes convenient. The latest example I read about pertains to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) dodging a Tennessee state law regarding nepotism in hiring for state employees. Here is the deal:
- The son of the head football coach was hired to be the tight ends coach. This had a whiff of nepotism associated with it.
- The solution was for the Athletic Director to declare that it was he – the AD – and not the head coach who hired the son to be the assistant coach.
- The AD explained that they have a process within the university by which this can be approved, and they exercised that process.
Isn’t that convenient…?
[Aside: The kid may be the best Tight Ends coach in the history of football but that does not remove the stink associated with the reports about this hiring process.]
Finally, the legal loophole exploited in that last item recalls one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain:
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………