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The Awesomeness of the ESPN-SEC Deal

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 26, 2008

Living on the East Coast, my thirst for SEC sports has been left unquenched for years. Unfortunately, I’ve been surrounded by the ACC, Big East, and other coverage of the Big 10 (11), and even Pac-10. Sure there have been options such as the ESPN Game Plan. However, jumping through hoops and having to pay money for easy access to the best conference in college sports seems a tad unjust.

In steps in the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN. Sure, the WWL has a monopolization on sports media coverage and uses that to push their own biased agenda. But there’s no getting around it, they are the best. ESPN gets the top talent, is a leader in media technology, and provides viewers with the essentials of sports analysis.

You can read the full press release from secsports.com, but here are some highlights:

Basketball

  • ESPN and ESPN2 will TRIPLE their coverage. So, not just Super Tuesday, but also Thursday and Saturday games.
  • More prominence for the SEC/Big East Challenge. (Remember how lame it was last year with only four games?)
  • More coverage on ESPNU, ESPN360.com, ESPN Classic (vintage SEC games and instant classics!), and ABC, among the other ESPN outlets.
  • SEC Tournament semifinals and finals nationally televised on ESPN/ABC.

Football

  • ESPN will have the rights to every SEC home game.
  • ESPN and ESPN2 will televise a minimum of 20 games during the season.
  • Supplemental coverage on ESPNU, ESPN Classic, etc.

Other

  • All SEC championship games except football will be aired on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN on ABC, ESPNU or ESPN Classic.
  • ESPN and the SEC will work together to offer multi-sport packages (including football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and conference championships).

Overall, I could not be more excited. The 15-year, $2.25 billion deal will be quite the economic boon for each member organization. Facilities will improve and recruiting against other conferences will get better, which will lead to trickle-down upgrades for academics.

The Sports Business Journal reports that the current $5.3 million doled out to each of the 12 SEC member schools from television rights could increase over 283% to $15 million per year. Just imagine what this would mean for a school such as Mississippi State, which currently operates with a $32 million athletic budget, the lowest in the conference.

So pop the cork on the champagne, it’s time for a celebration….the Southeastern Conference is coming to ESPN.

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Posted in arkansas razorbacks, auburn tigers, espn, florida gators, georgia bulldogs, kentucky wildcats, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ncaa football, sec basketball, sec football, SEC Sports, south carolina gamecocks, southeastern conference, tennessee volunteers, vanderbilt commodores | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Is Mississippi State Basketball a “No-Win” Situation?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 5, 2008

Mississippi State head basketball coach Rick Stansbury has certainly had his share of detractors. I’ve been critical of the guy at times myself. But I maintain that Stansbury is the right man for the job. In my opinion, no other coach could get the big time recruits into Starkville as Stansbury has proven capable of doing time and time again.

Recently, Coach Stansbury has come under fire as a result of the transfer of ‘great white hype’ Ben Hansbrough to Notre Dame. Message board aficionados cited a recent trend of non-NBA related premature departures from the MSU basketball program. A more in depth article on Bulldog basketball transfers will be forthcoming, but essentially, these occurrences are no biggie. Just look at what’s going on at heralded and beloved programs such as Georgetown.

Sports Illustrated recently polled college basketball coaches on their opinion of the most difficult jobs in each of the six BCS conferences. Evidently, the ACC was deemed to be exempt as every head coaching job is seemingly an ideal situation. Either that’s a complete crock, or a drastic statement on the inability of some ACC coaches to win at certain programs…..but that’s neither here nor there. I will respite from analyzing ACC basketball history.

As you can predict, Mississippi State came up as the most difficult place to win in the SEC. Here is the excerpt from No-Win Situations? by George Dohrmann of SI.com:

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Coaching in the SEC requires “a moral flexibility,” as one coach terms it. “Most of the schools are willing to bend the rules to help get the recruits you need to win.” Another coach says, “It’s not easy to get a recruit to go to Starkville,” but the Bulldogs’ Rick Stansbury has “proven it can be done.”

The following schools from the other four BCS conferences were mentioned: Oregon State (Pac-10), Penn State (Big 10/11), Nebraska (Big 12), and Seton Hall (Big East).

Now, I’m not necessarily offended…..wait, I am offended. Coaches are saying that Mississippi State is more difficult than Ole Miss? C’mon folks, the Rebels play at the decrepit “Tad Pad” and have 22 less wins that the Bulldogs in the past ten years…..that’s pretty much an entire season.

In comparison to the rest of the league, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are perpetually the bottom two in terms of athletic department budget. According to 2007 numbers, the Bulldogs are an SEC worst at $28 million while the Rebels come in at $33 million. The University of Florida has the highest budget at $76 million and is followed by seven schools, (Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, and South Carolina), all whose budgets more than double that of Mississippi State. So yes, athletic budget would be the most glaring factor in determining the difficulty of success.

What does this all mean? It means that Rick Stansbury is doing a helluva job. During his ten seasons as head coach of the Mississippi State basketball program, Rick Stansbury has only amassed 208 wins (the most in school history), a .647 winning percentage, 5 NCAA Tournament appearances (3 NIT), 4 SEC West titles, 1 regular season SEC championship, and 1 SEC Tournament title. During this time, only two SEC programs have more wins that Mississippi State, Florida and Kentucky.

As of April 10 of 2008, Rivals.com listed Rick Stansbury at #23 of its college basketball head coach power rankings, behind other SEC coaches Bruce Pearl (#7 – Tennessee), Trent Johnson (#15 and new at LSU), Billy Donovan (#16 – Florida), and Kevin Stalling (#20 – Vanderbilt).

Stansbury is also willing to recruit 8th graders…or “cats” (hasn’t happened to date), and probably has more flexibility than a yoga instructor in Sports Illustrated’s aforementioned prerequisite for SEC coaches.

You know what I say…..keep on keepin’ on. Now if Stansbury can only find a way to get to the Sweet Sixteen.

Posted in florida gators, kentucky wildcats, mississippi state bulldogs, ole miss rebels, rick stansbury, sec basketball | 4 Comments »

Florida Gators Too Young, Too Small For Bulldogs

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 2, 2008

I know there’s a joke involving the Gators and “Barely Legal” somewhere here….Anyway, after losing the 2-time National Championship squad starters, the Gators are fighting along with 7 freshman, 3 sophomores and 2 juniors this season; one of those juniors has only played 9 minutes this season. I’d say that Billy Donovan has done a pretty nice job this year and is well deserving of the University of Florida taking him back. Heck, Billy even has clearance to give his own version of Rick Stansbury’s habitual song and slow dance of having fresh meat on his roster as a precursory opt-out from potential future troubles. Of the players who “matter,” Mississippi State has 5 frosh [1 RS] and and 3 sophs). So yea, the Bulldogs are far from a veteran team, but Billy Donovan doesn’t have himself a Jamont Gordon and a Charles Rhodes.

But before the game…..CBS stole from me. Being in Washington, DC, the local CBS game after Georgetown vs. Marquette was the Texas vs. Texas Tech match-up. So, I headed over to the Crystal City Sports Pub with my father to check out my Dawgs on satellite TV, as it was promised the game would be shown.

Regardless of CBS alternative channels available via satellite, neither the Gators-Bulldogs, nor the Red Raiders-Longhorns were being shown until the G’Town-Marquette match-up ended. Misery. Of course, as fate would have it, the game went into overtime as Marquette proved they were far from deserving of a win. With 2.8 seconds left in regulation, and up 3 points, Dominic James of the Golden Eagles fouled Georgetown’s Jonathan Wallace on a 3 point attempt. Wallace, being Georgetown’s best FT shooter ever…or something like that….made all 3. Great, overtime; I figured that I wouldn’t be seeing the Mississippi State game until half, a phone check by some other Bulldog fans at CCSP to their friends back in Starkville would confirm that they were also deprived of the game. The worst part about was the Marquette foul on the 3 point attempt. James didn’t have his arms high contesting a potential game-tying shot, he was called for swatting his hands down at Wallace. What was he thinking? In any case, Georgetown went on to win in OT as Marquette couldn’t even get a shot off down two with the ball and the clock ticking away. Mentioned as an “undervalued” coach by CBS earlier in the game, I’d say that Tom Crean blew that one.

Back to CBS, they blew it more than Marquette. The official word from the Crystal City Sports Pub staff was that the CBS alternate feed was not working. I took their word for it….seemed perfectly plausible. Nonetheless, the staff and customer service was more than you could ask for. However, as the CCSP was bringing out their own laptop to somehow pull up the game on CBSSportsline and to somehow connect the computer to the flat-screen to show the game, my dad and I could take it no longer, especially after I saw another patron blow his nose in the bathroom sink. You stay classy Crystal City Sport Pub guy wearing a Detroit Tigers hat. My father and I headed out to his truck to listen to Jim Ellis and Jack Cristil on the radio. By the time we made it, there was 13 minutes left in the 2nd half and a 41-36 lead for the Bulldogs.

Ok, well, thoughts on hearing the last 13 minutes of the Mississippi State – Florida game over the radio:

After relying mostly on cell-phone reports from other Bulldog fans at CCSP (CBS was inadequate at giving updates during the Georgetown game as well), I knew the MSU halftime lead was 12. But by that 13 minute mark of the 2nd half, Florida had cut the lead down to 5….that’s when Charles Rhodes, with only 7 points at that point of the game, began to make his push. He went on to hustle, score, and go to war; dominating the paint with 8 points in the next 5 minutes, aided by a Ben Hansbrough 3 pointer and a Barry Stewart bucket as the Bulldog lead was pushed back to 12 with 7:00 left, 54-42. During this stretch, Jim Ellis really liked the Bulldog spacing and ball movement on offense, this was later supported by evidence I would see in the form of ESPN highlights. Seems like Florida saw this coming, guess they left their brains at home today. But regardless of Florida’s lack of interior presence, the Bulldogs were snagging all the loose balls, another fact of which Jim Ellis was proud.

The Gators were able to hang around thanks to a couple 3 pointers by Chandler Parsons, whose name sounds like he plays with a piece of argyle clothing somewhere on him during games….maybe socks? Marreese Speights (why didn’t his parent(s) just go ahead and double up on the a’s and s’s in his name too?) also appeared, or sounded, to be all over the court. He finished the day with 20-10.

Of course, none of this could not have happened with (or without) Jamont Gordon who picked up his 4th foul on a careless charge with 9:38 left in the game. My dad wondered if charges count as turnovers, they do. When Florida began to press, I was somewhat glad that Jamont Gordon was not in the game. When Hansbrough was injured, Jamont was the only one who could bring the ball up the court. But let’s just say that sometimes Gordon’s recklessness negates his positive efforts and this team has been playing much better since Tyler’s little brother got healthy.

The Florida Gators were even able to get their deficit down to 6 at 58-52 with just over 3 minutes left. Thankfully, Hansbrough followed with a huge 3, very nicely set-up by Jamont Gordon penetration (I guess teams will still always make Gordon their focus when defending, regardless of how he is doing in a given game — he only ended up with 4 points on the afternoon). The Dawgs would go on to close out the game from there as the Gators would get no closer than 9 points the rest of the way.

The final score: 68-59 Bulldogs, a huge road win. Four SEC West titles in the past six years for the Mississippi State Bulldogs — I’d say a pretty damn good job of program building by Rick Stansbury. The Gators were able to cut into a dominant day by the Bulldogs and get within 5 or 6 points a couple of times, but they simply didn’t have the horses. Their late game pressure wasn’t much I suppose as the Bulldogs were able to survive on only 8 team turnovers…WOW!, did I just type that?

From the Stansbury post-game comments file:

  • Poor fella, his hoarse voice is progressively getting worse over the years. He sounds like he’s near his death bed after some games now…..and he’s only 48.
  • From Stans’ initial statements, it’s clear that he gave the “no one else outside this locker room thinks you can win” speech before the game….and from my memory, that one usually worked. Of course, my dad figured that Florida, being the home team, would be a 4 or 5 point favorite. Sheridan’s odds on USAToday had the Gators giving 3.5 — really, that’s not much for a 2-time defending national champion at home. I’d say that there were a lot of Kenny Rogers’ (the gambler, not the baseball player) across the nation who thought the Bulldogs would win.
  • Stansbury also liked the fact that the Bulldogs really attacked the basket, evident by MSU shooting 25 FTs to Florida’s 11 attempts. Of course, Rick didn’t mention that his team missed 10 of those 25 attempts.

Overall, even the most pessimistic of Bulldog fans (I’m not including myself in this category, but there are many, many out there — I’m speaking to a fella known as “Boss Hog”) can find joy in a big win like this. Dr. Jack C gave credit to the Dawgs taking care of the ball…those aforementioned 8 turnovers. Stansbury cited an “efficient” Jarvis Varnado who had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks (and a big inside bucket against UF man-D with 3:34 left to put the Dawgs up 58-50), in addition to the fact that the fans in the “Gator Zone” never got into the game as Florida was held to scoring about 20 points below their season average.

OTHER NOTES:

Shady John Brady was in the heazy….as reported on the Clarion-Ledger MSU blog by Kyle Veazey. The other Kyle was not sure why former LSU coach John Brady was at the game, but I have my suspicions: perhaps he wanted to play a little game of wife-swap with Billy Donovan, as both of their main ladies were recently cited among the more hotter wives of college basketball head coaches. Hmmm….not sure who I would pick myself. As speculated here and here, John Brady is rumored to be married to a former/current stripper/aerobics instructor, “The” Misty Champagne. Then again, considering Billy Donovan’s recent financial troubles, the wifey may be bailing on him soon.

Posted in ben hansbrough, florida gators, jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, rick stansbury, sec basketball | Leave a Comment »

Big Game For The Bulldogs, Those Florida Gators

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 1, 2008

Well, I’ve been out of the country for the past couple of weeks and in the process, missed 3 and 1/2 Mississippi State Bulldog games. I say 3.5 because I was able to catch the first half of the Arkansas game in the airport before I left. I’d say that a 3-1 record is not bad in my absence.

W VS. ARKANSAS
First Half observations: Ravern Johnson is going to be a helluva ball player….evident by the nice dunk he had at the 12:30 mark. Charles Rhodes is an agile big man, with very nice footwork, who has skills which just might translate to the next level, but he will need a good NCAA tournament a la Antonio McDyess for Alabama years ago to really get noticed by NBA scouts. Patrick Beverley made Ben Hansbrough look pretty silly on defense….then again, Beverley is good and Hansbrough is white. The Bulldogs built a 13 point halftime lead despite the usual Jekyll and Hyde act from Jamont Gordon. As for the second half, I caught an update from my father over the phone on my layover in Atlanta….and from the first 60 or so seconds of our conversation, I was under the impression that the Dawgs blew it and lost — only later to get that “a win is a win” relief in finding out that MSU prevailed over Arkansas 80-74 thanks to the strong effort by Charles Rhodes and no thanks to a horrible effort by Jamont Gordon. [game photos from the Clarion-Ledger]

L @ OLE MISS
I initially predicted that the Bulldogs would beat an overrated Rebel squad up in Oxford. They didn’t. Oh well, you can always throw records and theories out in rivalry games such as this. From what I read overseas, it looked like the Dawgs got off to a hot start and were well on their way to routing Ole Miss as they did in Starkville. From the light-hearted nature of the team leaders after the game, maybe they expected to lose. In the end, not being able to stop a freshman point guard (Chris Warren has 22 for OM — not sure who was guarding him) and allowing Dwayne Curtis to dominate the boards with 16 (8 offense) will easily lead to a 74-63 loss to Ole Miss for the MSU Bulldogs, despite Jamont Gordon “limiting” himself to only 4 turnovers.

W (in OT) @ SOUTH CAROLINA
I didn’t read anything about this game except for an email from one of my contacts which pretty much sums it up: I don’t care that we beat USC in OT. Very lucky. Coaching is terrible. Gordon runs wild. Points off turnovers – 26-5 Carolina.” I’ll just go with that “A Win Is A Win” thing again, especially on the road in the SEC. And at least young Ben Hansbrough came through big time in the clutch. Of course, if you go read the Clarion-Ledger or the official MSU site, they will paint the game as pretty picture and a great win. But the fact is that South Carolina is terrible. Right now, they are 12-15 overall and 4-9 in the SEC….a Bulldog team that wants to make noise in the NCAA tournament would have cleaned their clock.

W VS. AUBURN
Auburn is bad too. The Dawgs made them look like a D2 team on the Plains with an 83-64 win back on February 9th. I had a pretty intensive break-down of that Mississippi State-Auburn game on this blog. There was no reason to think that the Dawgs wouldn’t win this one at home on February 27th….they did, 89-78, clinching at least a tie of the SEC West crown. And look! — the team only had 12 total turnovers….Jamont came through with 6 of those 12.

Today’s Game @ The Florida Gators
Here’s where the Mississippi State Bulldogs stand: with a 19-8 overall record and a 10-3 SEC record (and a 41 RPI), the Bulldogs are pretty much a cinch for the NCAA tournament. I think I heard on ESPN this morning that only two SEC teams with 10 conference wins have ever been left out the big tourney (they were talking about Kentucky), but that’s when they played 18 conference games instead of 16. ESPN Bracketology currently has the Dawgs as an 8 seed playing UNLV in Little Rock. Forget playing for the SEC West title, forget playing for higher seeding in the NCAA, forget playing for a chance at the overall, and outright, SEC title……the Bulldogs need to win this one to gain momentum and confidence as a team heading into the SEC conference tournament and the Big Dance. I’ll be heading over to the Crystal City Sports Pub in Alexandria, VA to watch the game and will get an analysis of the game in a subsequent post.

GO DAWGS!

Posted in arkansas razorbacks, auburn tigers, florida gators, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ole miss rebels, sec basketball, SEC Sports, south carolina gamecocks | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »