Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Temple To Join Big East?

Funny how things happen, eh?

Nearly a decade ago, the Big East was tired of Temple's lousy football program and basically forced them out of their conference. This was at a time when Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech were bolting for the ACC and the league had to rebuild.

Fast forward to today when the Big East is begging Temple to come back. Yes, the Big East wants Temple to join their league. And the Big East is desperate.

You see, with West Virginia settling with the league so they can leave for the Big 12 right now, the Big East is left with just 7 football members next year. Down the road, they're fine but next year they are in trouble. Only Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, UConn, Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be in the league next year ... and Pitt and Syracuse have one foot out the door. None of their soon-to-be members can or are willing to get out of their current leagues early to join.

Temple makes sense because they know 'em, they're in the geographical footprint, they have a nice hoops program and their football team has gotten much better. As a member of the MAC, Temple has been a bowl team the last several years.

What is interesting is how this goes over at Villanova, the only Big East team in Philadelphia. Nova cannot like Temple joining the league again (Temple wasn't in the basketball conference at any point) and pushing in on their market. Remember, too, that the Big East has been trying to get Nova to move their football program to Division I status.

If Temple did join, it would make for an interesting football and hoops league.

EAST: Cincinnati, Central Florida, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida, Temple
WEST: Boise State, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, San Diego St, SMU
(Navy will be a football only member in 2015)

Cincinnati, Central Florida, DePaul, Georgetown, Houston, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, SMU, South Florida, St John's, Temple, UConn, Villanova

That makes 18 hoops teams and 12 ... soon to be 13 ... football teams. Of course, the Big East knows that someone could come knocking at their membership down the road. UConn has all but said they'd bolt to the ACC if they asked (and they will if they can get Notre Dame to join, too). The Big 12 could come after Louisville and Cincinnati. Maybe the Big East is stockpiling for another raid. Maybe they really think this will work.

Oscars Should Act Like Sports Halls Of Fame

The Oscars are this Sunday so all the pomp and circumstance about film and the industry will be at their highest levels. I live the Oscars, but I'm not a total fan of how they do it.

The Oscars are huge for an actor's, director's, cinematographer's, etc's career. I mean, Cuba Gooding Jr can say that he's an Academy Award winning actor as he works on his latest straight-to-DVD flick. So they need to get it right each year.

That's why I am proposing that the Oscars wait 5 years ... just like many of the sports Halls of Fame ... before honoring those films. (I know, it would never happen). That's not to say that the Academy never gets it right ... but it doesn't hurt to get some perspective.

I mean, five years ago (that would be the 2006 awards), The Departed won for Best Picture. I can't argue with that since I did love that movie. But how about the year before? In 2005, Crash won over Brokeback Mountain. While I can honestly say that I didn't see Brokeback Mountain (my wife did, and we both saw Crash), it seems to everyone that saw it a much better movie. It certainly has survived better than Crash has over the years.

How about 1999 when American Beauty won over movies like The Sixth Sense or The Green Mile? Even worse, the year before when somehow Shakespeare In Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. Saving Private Ryan is one of the most meaningful movies in my life. The first half hour alone should horrify everyone into never wanting another war to take place. The English Patient over Fargo in 1996? Please. Even last year's The King's Speech over The Social Network and Inception could be rewritten. Remember that the critic's all-time favorite movie, Citizen Kane, didn't win for Best Picture.

Would history be re-written? Maybe not. But it would make things a lot more interesting. I mean, I can't blame Forrest Gump winning in 1994, but I'd love to see a battle between it and Pulp Fiction five years later for the top prize (you can throw The Shawshank Redemption in that brawl as well). Both are excellent movies and both have been very impactful for film making to this day.

So put this year into that mold. What would happen in February 2017 when we would decide between The Artist and The Help? Who knows? But we have to decide that just a few months after those movies were released (has anyone seen The Artist?)

In the sports world, we do name our MVPs and such after the regular season each year. I can see how you can make it a similar case as naming a Best Picture each year. But unlike MVPs, winning a Best Picture or an acting award puts you in a sort of acting Hall Of Fame. Like I said, Cuba Gooding Jr can make Boat Trip 2 and all of the promotional tools will say "Academy Award winner" right before his name. Hell, Jonah Hill will now go the rest of his life with "Academy Award nominee" tagging him.

In sports, legendary status is bestowed via the Hall Of Fame. You can win scoring titles, MVPs and other awards but it is the Hall Of Fame that makes you a made man. Becoming a Hall Of Famer is akin to becoming an Oscar winner.

Well, if sports just gave Hall Of Fame plaques after you retire, imagine 2001. The year 2001 was the final season of Mark McGwire's career. Had the HoF voted then, Big Mac would've been a shoo-in. Just three years prior, his assault on Roger Maris' home run record saved baseball from their 1994 World Series cancellation. He was amazing.

But they wait five years. And in those five years, the steroid bomb blew up and critics had to adjust their voting measures. McGwire's numbers would've normally equaled HoF status. Not anymore. Soon they'll have to do the same to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez. This isn't just for the steroids era ... but how many guys are thought to be Hall Of Famers when they retire that just don't make the cut five years later?

To wrap this us, I'm basically saying that making a decision that is basically a career defining moment in an actor's/athlete's on such sort notice can be hasty.

That's why Mark McGwire waits for a phone call from Cooperstown that may never come.

Yet we never have network television make a special showing of Academy Award Winning Best Picture Shakespeare In Love like we do with Saving Private Ryan. In 25 years, which one will you remember?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where Should 34th NFL Team Go?

Roger Goodell said that if an expansion team was placed in Los Angeles, the NFL would then add a 34th team. That being said, that is a huge IF. I would most likely bet on the Chargers, Rams or Jaguars moving to the new stadium in Los Angeles than an expansion team. Goodell doesn't want that to happen, but it very well could.

So if there is a 34th team ... who should get it?

1-TORONTO: This is an interesting choice, but I think they would be a frontrunner. They have a stadium (albeit an older one) and a nice fanbase. Obviously, it would open up the entire Canadian market for the NFL ... including some Canadian television rights fees ... but it would also stomp all over the CFL. The Buffalo Bills have been placing a home game there for the last few years so they've had the NFL in their city. Toronto is huge so there shouldn't be much trouble building a fan base and there would be natural geographical rivalries with Detroit, Cleveland and, of course, Buffalo.

Unlike other sports, Toronto won't have trouble attracting talent. While the taxes and Canadian lifestyle might scare off NBA and MLB players from the Raptors and Blue Jays, it won't be as big a deal in the NFL. Green Bay is highly successful for crying out loud.

2-PORTLAND: Portland is a great sports town and Oregon is a great sports state. I don't think losing the Portland market would hurt any of the Seattle Seahawks plans (though could Paul Allen figure into anything here?). Seattle is kind of on an NFL island so Portland would be a nice partner and and obvious rival. Nike has a huge presence there so there is money.

3-LOS ANGELES: What? Could Los Angeles actually have two expansion teams? That's the word but I don't see it happening. It will be hard enough to build one team from the ground up in the area, let alone two. It would also damage the Chargers who are already struggling being the only team in SoCal over the last 15 years. If anything, the Chargers could eventually move to be a co-tenant with the expansion team in LA (and don't think that little loophole won't be in any expansion franchise agreement). Of course, if the Chargers were serious about a move up the coast, the NFL wouldn't even bother expanding in the first place.

4-OKLAHOMA CITY: OKC has burst onto the pro sports scene with their support of the "borrowed" Hornets several years back and their support for the current Thunder. Oklahoma City reminds me a lot of Charlotte in the late 1980s to early 1990s. An NBA team showed the country what the city has for sports teams and the NFL cashed in on it. I can see the same thing here. Good football state who wouldn't mind dumping the Cowboys for their own squad.

5-MEXICO CITY: This would be a huge curveball that could really pay off. Mexico City has a huge metro area and would easily support an NFL team. But that is asking a lot of players to go there on purpose. I know that it is sort of in the same boat as Toronto but the Mexican culture is a much bigger shock to American players than the Canadian one. Still, you cannot tell me that this hasn't crossed Goodell's mind.

6-SAN ANTONIO: They are always in relocation discussions, but I just can't see the NFL heading here. While there are plenty of football fans to go around in Texas, that would mean people would have to quit the Cowboys or Texans. The Alamodome is serviceable but I'm not sure if it is a true NFL quality stadium.

7-LAS VEGAS: Doubtful, but not out of the question. If any league could figure a way to make pro sports work in Sin City, it would be the NFL. But it could turn into a nightmare since football is bet on more than any other sport. I think this is a headache Goodell doesn't want.