• Have You No Decency, Delany: PR fallout continues over Big Ten commish Jim Delany's borderline tantrum last week against the notion any activity in his beloved conference might be considered "second tier." The Detroit Free Press runs two significant letters to Delany's office today, both ominous for the expansion of the burgeoning Big Ten Network, the first from high-ranking Comcast suit David Cohen, who outlines his public position on the BTN as a viable option for basic cable:
2. The most attractive Big Ten programming is being made available first to ABC and ESPN. The press and public do not need to take my word for that -- ABC and ESPN have chastised the Big Ten for exaggerating the quality of the programming that will be placed on your new Network and have made clear that they will continue to carry the first choice, prime Big Ten programming on their channels (which already are available to all of our cable customers).
3. Consistent with your existing, long-term agreements with ABC and ESPN, the Big Ten Network will only be able to offer second and third choice (or tier) programming.
Cohen completes his rhetorical smackdown with a reference to a "Big Ten tax" on millions of poor Comcast subscribers the company is only interested in protecting from having to "pay for expensive, niche programming that they will never watch," though that happens to describe a huge majority of every cable plan I'm aware of over the last decade, from Comcast or anyone else. Expensive niche channels only a few people ever watch is how cable TV works in the continued prohibition of a la carte programming. I agree completely with Comcast's stance in this case, because of the ridiculous cost, but why doesn't it take the same attitude towards, say, the Home Shopping Network, the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, A&E, Versus, the Golf Channel, Country Music Television, BET Jazz, HGTV, Animal Planet, E!, SCI FI, iTV, Trinity, the Learning Channel, the Travel Channel, Court TV, SOAPTV, WE, Discovery Health, the Lifetime Movie Network, FUSE and/or the Food Network? Just to throw out a few from my own "basic" Comcast package that I pay for despite having never considered watching, some of which I was not even aware existed until I just went down the list - what the hell is iTV?
Delany might be concerned with his next response, if his last one hadn't drawn slightly more serious attention - Michigan Congressman John Dingell wants a few answers about the BTN's negotiations, expected revenue and distribution plans. This dealing with a privately-owned entity would not normally be any of a Congressman's business, but there are scholarships, academics, tax dollars at stake, etc., and consituents are concerned about the local availability of Michigan football games. The free market is one thing, but we're talking about people's lives here, man.
Actually, I take that back about FUSE - in weak moments, it's hard to beat Pants Off Dance Off.
The Columbus Dispatch asks readers this morning: would you pay a dollar a month for the Big Ten Network? Comcast will be satisfied with the early returns.
• Have Pulse, Will Win Championship: Barry Tramel in The Oklahoman, discussing Bob Stoops' apparent comfort with uncertainty at quarterback:
Josh Heupel in 2000. Nate Hybl in 2002. Jason White in 2004. Paul Thompson in 2006.
That's more than just interesting. That's historic.
In college football history, here are the major-conference programs since World War II that have won at least four outright league titles in a seven-year span, with at least four championship quarterbacks.
Bud Wilkinson's Oklahoma. Bear Bryant's Alabama. John McKay's USC. Darrell Royal's Texas. Bobby Bowden's Florida State. Tom Osborne's Nebraska and Texas A&M under Jackie Sherrill and R.C. Slocum.
If the Sooners win the Big 12 in 2007, it will be five titles under five quarterbacks in eight years, and that would be an even more exclusive club: Wilkinson's Sooners and the Bear's Bama.
"This isn't something that's different for us," Stoops said of the quarterback search. "Last year was probably as difficult circumstances as we've had and still did it."
Thriving on the borderline, eventually.
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This is true: any system that's been so consistently fortunate with such consistently borderline talent at quarterback - and that's made a Heisman runner-up and winner, respectively, of rag-armed Josh Heupel and crippled Jason White in years with sub-1,000-yard talent behind them (a young Quentin Griffin and Renaldo Works in the former case, Works and Kejuan Jones in the latter) - is doing a bangup job. None of those guys, though, produced a conference championship in his first season; even White, the statistically dominant `03 Heisman winner, was overrun by K-State in the Big 12 championship and had to wait to win the league as a ninth-year senior like the rest of them. Hybl beat Texas in '01 (well, didn't lose to Texas in a defense-driven classic), but struggled against Nebraska and lost the division title in the finale against Oklahoma State. Thompson, too, began the disappointing 2005 season as the starter before Rhett Bomar took over. Winning big has been a progression in every case, which with a couple of freshmen (redshirt Sam Bradford and incoming Keith Nicol) and an inexperienced former JUCO transfer (Joey Halzle) in the running is probably the best reason to lay the Big 12 South odds on Texas until 2008. But seriously, watch out in 2008.
• Watch Lists! Hooray: the Maxwell Football Club releases a bunch of names eligible for its Bednarik and Maxwell awards, though good luck finding an actual list for the latter without visiting a couple dozen schools' media sites to construct your own; the club's Web site certainly isn't helpful.
UPDATE: L.A. Daily News' USC man Scott Wolfe to the rescue with the surprisingly Trojan-light Maxwell list. I'm rooting for Malik Douglas, personally.
• Quickly: The once-tossed suit against Arkansas officials rears its ugly, slightly revised head ... Kentucky has a chance to beat Louisville, but not because of when they play. And at least the state's most important game could have gone national again ... Injuries, inconsistency: What's up with Cedric Dockery? ... Earl Campbell briefly hospitalized after a car wreck ... The Birmingham News sits down with a concerned Tommy Tuberville ... UCLA gets a commit from the next Maurice Drew ... At Maryland, practice turned reality show ... The Swamp looks like a good bet to host the AAFL next spring ... A track meet in Osaka, Japan might cost Trindon Holliday the first month of the football season ... Mississippi juggernaut South Panola provides three commits to Ole Miss, none of whom have lost a high school game ... Dan Hawkins unveils his three-year philosophy on the links ... Catching up with heroic Kansas assistant Steve Tovar ... Assessing post-I-AA growth at Marshall ... Early Kansas-Missouri ticket sales are taking off ... And compromise at Iowa State: what about a life skills aide?
The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
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Dismissed, for "not adhering to disciplinary guidelines" after a disorderly conduct arrest for allegedly throwing a beer bottle at a man outside a bar, Montana cornerback Qwenton Freeman. The latest arrest - as noted Monday, Freeman is wanted in Arizona for skipping out on a diversion program for an old assault charge - is a good excuse for the Grizzlies to cut their losses with the guy Los Angeles authorities accuse of failing to cooperate with the murder investigation of Montana's other starting corner, Josh Wilson, who was arrested for a shooting north of L.A. last month that Freeman supposedly witnessed. The university had also issued a zero tolerance policy last week laying down "strict orders to fully cooperate with law enforcement officers in the investigation," which the L.A. sheriff's department indicated was ignored completely during its trip to Missoula for questioning. Covering Big Sky receivers, from the university's perspective, is obviously not worth that sort of baggage.
Freeman was out on a whopping $100 bond Sunday. Wilson remains in California in lieu of $2 million.
Dismissed, from Louisville, backup fullback/linebacker Tyler Wimsatt (Kragthorpe's platooning them now? - ed.), for the ubiquitous "violation of team rules," which must be harder to say with a straight face with Willie Williams around.* Presumably any arrests would be spotted and reported – any Louisvillian readers with salacious clues?
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* - Yes, yes, Williams has been a model citizen since joining the Cards, I'm sure. Compromise is essential to success.