They May Never Get It…

•August 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So ESPN released a memo to its staff (pasted below) that essentially forbids them, as ESPN employees, from posting on message boards, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

This is hysterical to me, because they are making the same mistake as newspapers. They think you are going to get all of your information from ESPN.com because it is ESPN.com, and that’s an ESPN personality delivering me the information.

What’s worse (for them), is that they keep moving content behind a pay wall.

They keep forgetting it isn’t about who delivers the information, it’s that there is information delivered. They don’t seem to understand we don’t need Andy Katz to tell us what Larranaga or Yeager said. ESPN cannot lock up information.

To be clear, Andy Katz is very good at his job. He provides excellent information. But that information, if it is valuable to me, will find me. It is distribution, and we have the means to distribute it ourselves now.

They are underestimating you. They are underestimating technology. They are underestimating the willingness of athletes and teams to offer the information. And they are underestimating this blog, this website, and my plans for us.

Anyway, I’m glad ESPN made this move. It is actually better for all of us.

The memo:

ESPN’S ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR SOCIAL NETWORKING
ESPN regards social networks such as message boards, conversation pages and other forms of social networking such as Facebook and Twitter as important new forms of content. As such, we expect to hold all talent who participate in social networking to the same standards we hold for interaction with our audiences across TV, radio and our digital platforms. This applies to all ESPN Talent, anchors, play by play, hosts, analysts, commentators, reporters and writers who participate in any form of personal social networking that contain sports related content.
ESPN Digital Media is currently building and testing modules designed to publish Twitter and Facebook entries simultaneously on ESPN.com, SportsCenter.com, Page 2, ESPN Profile pages and other similar pages across our web site and mobile platforms. The plan is to fully deploy these modules this fall.
Specific Guidelines
· Personal websites and blogs that contain sports content are not permitted
· Prior to engaging in any form of social networking dealing with sports, you must receive permission from the supervisor as appointed by your department head
· ESPN.COM may choose to post sports related social media content
· If ESPN.com opts not to post sports related social media content created by ESPN talent, you are not permitted to report, speculate, discuss or give any opinions on sports related topics or personalities on your personal platforms
· The first and only priority is to serve ESPN sanctioned efforts, including sports news, information and content
Assume at all times you are representing ESPN
If you wouldn’t say it on the air or write it in your column, don’t tweet it
Exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for your colleagues, business associates and our fans
· Avoid discussing internal policies or detailing how a story or feature was reported, written, edited or produced and discussing stories or features in progress, those that haven’t been posted or produced, interviews you’ve conducted, or any future coverage plans.
· Steer clear of engaging in dialogue that defends your work against those who challenge it and do not engage in media criticism or disparage colleagues or competitors
· Be mindful that all posted content is subject to review in accordance with ESPN’s employee policies and editorial guidelines
· Confidential or proprietary company information or similar information of third parties who have shared such information with ESPN, should not be shared
Any violation of these guidelines could result in a range of consequences, including but not limited to suspension or dismissal.

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The Saints Marched In…

•August 3, 2009 • 2 Comments

So I was thinking a little about scheduling over the weekend–specifically nonconference scheduling and how a mid major can best earn an at large berth.

Keeping in mind this is a scheduling discussion, not an at large discussion, here’s where I landed:

1. Yes, this is only a tangent: it’s hysterical that the selection committee has come out and said they will not strictly enforce “last 12 games” in evaluation. Everything is subjective, and they will trot out a measure when they need it, specifically RPI. We all know that. Bank on it–somebody will be left out next March, major or mid major, and the quote will surround “didn’t finish strong.”

2. The bottom of the conference has to schedule wins. There is no ground to make up when conference season rolls around, so get business done early. It is vital to have no (4-14, 7-24) teams.

3. Schedule aggressively. This is my main point.

Last season Siena took on all comers. The Saints played–and lost to–Tennessee, Wichita State, Oklahoma State, Pitt, and Kansas.

Had Siena not won the MAAC championship, they would’ve been a very interesting at large study, because they had zero top 50 wins but still sported a top 20 RPI, a gaudy record, and recent history of success as a conference champion.

We’re not going to debate at large here. No, the point is scheduling: Siena beat nobody of significance in its nonconference season. Nobody. But they still scheduled them, lost, and maintained a very good RPI despite that fact.

Is the message play as many good teams as you can, because a loss to a good team isn’t exactly a death knell?

Life is Better With Color…

•July 31, 2009 • 2 Comments

We’re spoiled in the CAA. We have some of the most quotable coaches around. Sure, Anthony Grant was a cliche-machine in his three years and even though I love Bill Coen his comments make you wonder if he thinks his team could go .500 in a Boston YMCA league–but in the grand scheme we’ve got it good.

For instance, Tom Pecora could say that he needs Corny Vines to be more consistent. Blah, blah, blah.

No, Pecora tells me: “He obviously plays with a green light and can play with a red light, but he’s one of those kids that needs to learn how to play with a yellow light.”

(Side note: Vines makes my All CAA:LAMM first team, which is judged not by ability but by how much I like and enjoy watching them play.)

Blaine Taylor–on the complementary skills of his frontcourt of Lee, Hassell, and Carter–could’ve bored me to sleep with a version of they play well together.

Or, what Taylor did say: “You are looking at a straight flush, not three-of-a-kind.”

Larranaga is a good quote, Moss and Ross will laugh along with you, and Barnes is straightforward and incisive. Brady ducks nothing.

And to think, I haven’t yet spoken to Bruiser, the best of them all.

***

One final clarification on the whole Brady/Marist thing…I had it correctly pointed out to me that Marist is not taking the low road, that I was a bit harsh.

This is correct–Marist isn’t doing anything underhanded or unethical. They are doing what they believe is right for Marist, and that is fine. My main point that still holds true is that I cannot see what they are getting out of this.

Yes, they can have a $100K check and it will pay some bills, and mail from Harrisonburg (even with a paper cut opening the envelope) is a lot easier than a bus trip to Syracuse for a 25-point beating and the same check.

But in the grand scheme, I wouldn’t want to be “that school.” The thing that gets me is that this also seems to be a pound-of-flesh issue. It could not have been an easy breakup between Marist and Brady. It was sudden, and it was followed by the player movement.

It isn’t that Marist did anything untoward, but if I were looking at a place to work, I’d see this situation and wonder.

The High Road is Closer Than You Think…

•July 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

ALREADY UPDATING

Here is Dopirak–who is killing it with this story, by the way–with an interview of Marist AD Tim Murray.

Also, one more DNR perspective.

After reading Dopirak’s interview, I’m even more staunch with my question to Murray: is it worth it to be “that guy” and “that school?”

Plus, Murray says: “It was just at that point to me it was out of character for Matt,”

And that leads to my final (for now) question: if Murray believed it was out of character for Brady, why would Murray be compelled to put it in the contract?

I also need to clarify a poorly-written sentence from Friday. I said that it was clear that Brady had contacted those recruits, and that is obviously a wretchedly incorrect statement. What is clear: recruits bound for Marist ended up at JMU. My apologies for the misconception, it was never meant to be read that way.

Earlier below the stars…

***

It wasn’t exactly newsworthy that the best word I could come up with on Friday to describe this whole Marist vs. Brady dustup was “convoluted.” The more the whole deal turned over in my brain, the more unease I felt.

Finally, I’ve figured out why: we’ve all seen this before.

Four years ago Bill Coen took over at Northeastern for Ron Everhart. When Everhart departed he took everything–I mean everything. You name it, it moved with Everhart. If the basketball office had contained a kitchen sink, there would’ve been nothing left but a few screws on the floor. Everhart would’ve found that irony funny.

This includes Coen and his staff running out to buy new basketballs. That’s right, basketballs. Coen didn’t pull a Norman Dale and take the basketballs away. He had none because they were in the trunk of Everhart’s car. When folks talk about Coen building from scratch, in this case it is specifically true.

But Everhart also took with him Shawn James, a wiry game-changer who led the nation as a sophomore in blocked shots. James was the returning CAA defensive player of the year and interestingly was also D-POY as a freshman in the America East (NUs previous conference). The only thing about that was that James was not going to return. He was going to Duquesne.

(Many of you remember James. For the youngsters picture Larry Sanders, only with a better offensive repertoire.)

Because I hate recruiting, I have no line into recruits that were at least contacted by Everhart on behalf of Northeastern that eventually made their way to Duquesne, Everhart’s new job.

Sound familiar?

So how did Coen and Northeastern react? The let James out of his scholarship to move with Everhart to Duquesne. They scheduled guarantee games at Syracuse, at Pittsburgh, at UConn, at Louisville, and at Boston College. You know, basketballs (and computers and practice gear) are not cheap.

What did Coen and Northeastern NOT do? Whine, complain, ask for a handout, grind axes or file a lawsuit for a ridiculous reason like “we have to protect our program.”

They moved forward. Took the high road.

Now, longtime readers also know we’re huge believers in karma at CAA: LAMM. I think we’re seeing it play out.

Northeastern has taken a rocky path but they are going to be predicted near the top of the CAA standings this year, coming off a season in which the Huskies went to the postseason and won a game. The program is clearly in forward motion.

As for Marist, last season’s 4-14, 10-23 season is but two years removed from a near-palindromic 14-4, 25-9 season. However that is not the karma. That’s coming. If you are an up and coming coach, would you go to the school who is willing to go to court for a few dollars? Doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies for my contract negotiation.

So my question is one of “why?” and “why not?” Why bother, and why not move on.

Or, a question of: the day after you get that settlement check from JMU, what are you going to do next? What changes, outside of the perception others now have of your program?

I’m betting Northeastern believes the high road is worth it.

Was the low road worth it?

Brady Versus Marist…Or, All My Children…

•July 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

As usual, Dopirak does an outstanding job…he covers every base with the entire Marist sues Brady, JMU, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The facts are the facts, and they are laid out in the above link. No matter which side you take, it happened.

(And more from Mike Barber.)

This whole situation is extremely convoluted and to be honest, stupid. It is drama for drama’s sake and could’ve easily been avoided. Keep reading for why.

As usual, Tom Pecora sums it up best: “I think that’s ridiculous,” Pecora said. “They’ve got a good basketball coach at Marist. They should just move on.”

This whole situation is not unlike many workplace problems in that we can go down 54 worm holes if you’d like and pile on to the drama, but it is pointless because we all know how this is going to end:

JMU will say: “We’re extremely sorry this happened, and we’d like to put it behind us.”

Marist will say: “We’re extremely sorry this happened, and we’re glad it has come to a conclusion.”

Some sort of dollar figure will go from Harrisonburg to Poughkeepsie and we’ll forget about it by October 15.

The problem is that it needs to play out this way and that is a shame.

Marist wants its pound of flesh, even if all this litigation hullabaloo is a non-starter. JMUs mistake, I imagine, is that it didn’t give Marist some TLC for eight months. That’s our problem.

If Jeff Bourne had called Tim Murray at any point over the past year, apologized, and perhaps offered up some token of his shame we may not be here.

It’s very frustrating because nobody has leg to stand on here, and simple egos may have gotten us to this point.

You see, it is clear that Brady contacted those recruits–that’s how they ended up at JMU–and it appears from what I read that it is in clear violation of contract terms. But, as noted in Barber’s report, it’s hard to see how a no-contact clause would hold up in court.

Agreed.

To me, it is exactly like the popular clause in many mid major contracts–if a coach leaves to go to a top RPI conference school (say, Jeff Capel and Oklahoma), that school is contractually obligated to schedule the mid major in a home-and-home.

It’s a wonderful clause and makes people feel good, but it is also extremely dubious if ever challenged in court.

The issue is that nobody is going to challenge it and everybody knows that. No major will take the hit of going to court to avoid scheduling someone. That would be a laughingstock move.

No, both parties simply add a buyout to the contract that allows everyone to go away not angry, but just go away. The mid major gets a six-figure payday, and the major gets to avoid the scheduling black hole. Everybody wins.

Same is true here, in my opinion–Marist is looking for their “buyout,” which oddly was not in Brady’s contract.

Here’s where Marist deserves credit. They are stepping down the path exactly as they need to be:

1. We called.

2. We called again.

3. They never responded so we’re forced to do this.

4. It isn’t about the kids. We need to protect ourselves.

For JMU, they made two mistakes. First, they never called (as currently reported). Second, the whole “it happens all the time” doesn’t wash with me. Just because it happens all the time doesn’t make it right.

Yes, we all know Calipari took those recruits with him from Memphis to Kentucky. The issue there is that Memphis let it happen, not that Kentucky allowed it to happen. Questionable, yes, but with nobody calling their bluff, Kentucky took on all-comers.

You know as well as I do there were several phone calls from athletics director to athletics director nobody ever heard about. Privately the situation was smoothed over and handled.

This is what JMU did, or did not, do. Jeff Bourne’s responsibility was to proactively do something. He owed Marist at least a phone call to say “sorry, what can we do to make it better.”

Why? Because that would’ve made it better.

You cannot restrict a coach who is changing jobs from recruiting any kid he’s spoken to or he’d not recruit for four years. Keep in mind that recruiting begins (in earnest, not the hysterically overblown shots at a seventh grader) in a kid’s freshman year of high school.

The issue is that you’ve got no place to draw the line. At the LOI? At the oral? It is an impossible measure because recruiting is fluid and people (kids and their college choice) have the right to change their minds. When you add to that the whole murkiness of recruiting, you end up in situation just like this.

The root of the problem is that the whole thing was botched. First, Marist botched Brady’s contract. They had no buyout, and it was awfully Pollyanna-ish to think they could enforce a “don’t chat” clause.

When Marist realized this problem–somebody in NY clearly looked at the contract and said “we have no monetary buyout–are you kidding?”–and began rectifying their mistake, JMU botched it by not responding.

If everybody had just acknowledged they didn’t like it but it’s part of the business and JMU had done something–anything–to appease Marist, we wouldn’t be here.

So Many Conflicts…

•July 21, 2009 • 1 Comment

It is only July 21, and I’m already twisted into knots. Specifically, and this is just off the top of my head:

Matt Janning or Gerald Lee for preseason POY?

What to do with VCU–no Maynor, but Sanders continues to improve and somebody that knows such things (cough, cough, a coach) says Jay Gavin is the real deal.

What to do with Mason–no Monroe or JV, but the Foster kid is supposed to be better than Ryan Pearson (who is pretty darn good) and they have scads of very young talent.

We have the very same Georgia State question we had last year at this time, do we not?

Was last year a hiccup for The Tribe, or was two years ago the hiccup?

JMU–how high?

Finally, your sleeper pick is most likely Hofstra. The Pride has the same makeup as its 2005-06 team: a very solid core of five returning players, with talent coming in to support them.

So we’re clear–in no way am I comparing Jenkins, Washington, Lester, Corny Vines and Mikey Szabo to Stokes, Rivera, Uter, Agudio, and Kieza.

Oh no sir, on no planet would I do that.

But give Tom Pecora some experience, some talent, and some youthful aggression, and he’s proven he can win at least enough games to get screwed by the NCAA Selection Committee.

Oh, and did I mention not knowing the impact of Northeastern hanging around the top of the standings last year and it will do for an experienced 2009-10 team?

Cranking Things Up…

•July 13, 2009 • 2 Comments

Getting into that state of mind…Blue Ribbon first edits are underway–we really do put more work into that pub than any others out there, and proud of it–and when it is late on a Monday I’ll do very odd things like read through some of my favorite blogs. I’ll sometimes find snippets that crack me up, or make me wish I could’ve written those words.

Happened again today on one of my favorite sites, the ye olde Joe Cribbs Car Wash. (Sorry Jerry, I avert my eyes at that warblogeagle stuff.)

Jerry Hinnen wrote, last March 23, an ode to every moron you see sitting at a sports bar during the NCAA tournament:

But then you get guys like the tool sitting a table in front of me at the bar last Friday, wearing no Kansas paraphernalia or showing any particular affection for Kansas over any of the other eight teams playing at the time … and nonetheless frequently turning to clap and cheer the Jayhawks and 7-foot behemoth center Cole Aldrich as they desperately held off North Dakota St. and the legitimately spectacular and yet not quite 7-foot Ben Woodside. Why? I’m assuming–because this has been the logic of similar tools over the years–because he had Kansas in his bracket.

Attention, tools: if you would rather win your pool than see North Dakota St. upset Kansas, you are not a sports fan. You are a fan of something else: a Brackets fan, a You fan maybe. But not college basketball.

Hinnen understands spirit and hates chalk. Bravo.

Actual CAA stuff, including lab results, forthcoming, including:

Mark this date, because I’m saying the 25th Anniversary of the CAA is going to be a helluva year.