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College sports shakedown continues
And Bob Feller was spot on about Ted Williams
Good morning, all. I hope you had a great 4th of July weekend. Prayers and thoughts go out to the victims of the Highland Park, IL massacre.
College sports is continuing its seismic shift. I have written about this before, as have others, but major changes abound. Late last week, Pac-12 stalwarts USC and UCLA announced they would be leaving the conference and joining the Big 10. Now there is word the Pac-12 is on the prowl, looking to pick off a couple of schools.
The root cause for the conference switching is college football, the big money maker for universities. I read where someone said college football is going to boil down to two conferences: ESPN and FOX. That is not a far fetched analysis. Big time media is driving this change, and I say media, because TV is no longer an apt description of how the sports content is being delivered. It’s TV and streaming to our devices that is controlling the narrative. And when it comes to the pomp and circumstance of college football, nothing can compare. The sport generates bigs bucks and ESPN and FOX are battling it out to suck up as much of the content as possible.
Make no mistake about it, college football is the big deal here. There are websites, podcasts, social media channels, etc. that squeeze out content year round out of a 12 to 15-game season, depending on if a school makes the post season or a bowl game.
I will write this again, the shakedown of these big conferences by the networks will lead to a few super conferences, leaving the fringe big time college football programs and the mid-major schools in the dust.
Basketball will suffer collateral damage, as mid-major schools will lose out qualifying for the NCAA tournament. The current system is unsustainable. In my neck of the woods, the University of Hartford’s administration has drawn major criticism for downgrading its athletic program from Division I to Division III. It didn’t help matters that the announcement of the change came days after the school’s men’s basketball team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever in March of 2021. But losing tens of millions of dollars a year on sports is no way to run a university, and in the case of Hartford, the corporate community has not stepped up enough to fill the financial void.
Write it down. It is not going to be just Hartford. Other schools are in Hartford’s predicament. Their only savior may be a big time donor or corporate backing, but that paradigm will only last for so long. Look for the NCAA to continue losing its grip on governing the power football schools. The ripple effect will also impact these schools’ basketball programs, bringing major changes to the popular NCAA Division I basketball tournament. All of this will not happen overnight, but it is not a stretch to say it could happen within the next five years.
***March Madness** as we know it will be changing, but in many ways the madness in college sports has already begun.
You couldn’t throw a fastball by him
One of the Twitter accounts I follow sent out a Tweet on Monday breaking down Ted Williams’ batting average against Bob Feller. In 1983 I interviewed Feller and near the end of the interview he explained how he pitched to Williams:
“I tried to keep the ball up and in on Ted; throw sliders on his fist and overhand fastballs; keep it inside so he couldn’t get the big part of the bat on the ball. He could hit the ball out of the park in any direction. You couldn’t throw a fastball by him.”
You can listen to the interview in its entirety here.
Let the rumors begin
MLB’s trade deadline is Aug. 2. Let the trade rumors begin. Expect numerous “scoops,” as newspaper and other sports media websites try to generate clicks. Their social media accounts will be ablaze with the “latest.” Per usual, much of what will be written will not come true, but who is keeping score? If the website traffic increases, “everybody” wins. Doesn’t matter if the rumors are impacting a player and his family’s life, right? We’re talking clicks and ad revenue here. Throw it against the wall and something’s got to stick.
Fans in New York and Boston, calling sports talk radio, will provide much needed relief from the summer heat. Look for Red Sox, Yankees and Mets fans proposing the acquisiion of Mike Trout for a bag of balls and a low-A ball outfielder. The Angels, they will say, are going nowhere, and that minor league player could make it someday, but the clock is ticking on Trout’s playoff aspirations. Come to think of it, even though the Yankees have the best record in baseball, there are a couple of players in the lineup who might not even be able to fetch a bucket of balls. That would make Trout the perfect target. Yankees fans, by the way, know who those players are and don’t need me to name names. Just saying!
That is it for this week’s newsletter. As always, thank you for subscribing and feel free to share the newsletter with others. It would be a big help!