It’s bad enough the disease has messed with our lives and routines, but to disrupt football season? That’s a low blow, COVID.
On Tuesday, the Big Ten postponed all fall sports until 2021. The Pac-12 followed suit by giving a Dikembe Mutombo finger wag to fall sports including (wiping tears from face) football. Both conferences will attempt to play in the spring. The ACC, Big 12, and SEC haven’t punted on fall sports — yet — and say their plans are unchanged right now.
I understand; many people want to see college football, including me. I’ve been a football junkie since birth. It wouldn’t surprise me if I came out of the womb resembling an actual football I love it so much, but I’m not going to let that love blind me. I refuse to turn into a moron and say idiotic things about the likelihood of a safe college football season occurring this fall. I could write 19 pages on the current state of college football alone, but I’ll just touch on a few gripes and then tie everything to sports radio.
“College football had all of this time and didn’t come up with a good plan.”
This common complaint is silly to me. Do you know why college football didn’t come up with a good plan? Because a good plan doesn’t exist. A global pandemic is the issue and football goes hand in hand with spreading the virus. Breathing on each other without masks is sort of a bad thing. If the virus isn’t immediately detected, you’re screwed.
Do you actually think that smart people — conference presidents, chancellors, athletic directors — were just too lazy or incompetent to protect millions and millions of dollars? Really? If there was a feasible way to protect their golden goose, believe me, they would’ve found it.
“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay.”
This is the message that President Trump tweeted on Monday. Okay (deep breath), I write this in the most non-political way possible; this is a terrible argument. Do you know who else worked too hard? College basketball players, would-be Olympians, etc. etc. March Madness was cancelled and the Olympics were postponed in spite of athletes working hard because it was unsafe to compete. Working hard isn’t a qualification to proceed with team sports, nor does it make it safe enough to do so.
“Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football.”
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence conveyed this message via Twitter, which was co-signed by Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh, and the president of the free world, among others. Unless you are living your life like an irresponsible bozo, this just isn’t true. Have you ever gone to the grocery store and had someone breathe all over you, or accidentally spit on you as they were trying to physically impose their will on you? Yeah, me either. It happens on the football field though. Constantly.
“We’re a proud member of the Big Ten. The only reason we would look at any other options is if for some reason the Big Ten wasn’t playing. If that’s the case, I think we’re prepared to look at any and all options.”
That was the statement from Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost on Monday. Wow, the balls on this guy. Nebraska and loyalty aren’t exactly synonymous. It doesn’t end here though.
After the Big Ten decided to postpone fall sports, the Cornhuskers released a joint statement Tuesday saying, “We are very disappointed in the decision by the Big Ten.” School chancellor Ronnie Green, president Ted Carter, athletic director Bill Moos and Frost added, “We have been and continue to be ready to play … we hope it may be possible for our student athletes to have the opportunity to compete.”
This is one for the archives. It isn’t smart for Nebraska to diss its conference by openly disagreeing with the decision to postpone fall sports. It’s idiotic to then go rogue and express the desire to still play football in the fall. It baffles me why Nebraska would make these statements when it’s far from a lock that any college football team will be playing any games in 2020. That’s like telling your significant other that you’re proud to be in the relationship, but you’re going to date other people, although there might not be one single person that’s available for you to actually date. Why would you do that?
I could give you opinions for days, but this is what I want you to take away from this column; welcome opposing arguments with open arms. There are people that will read or hear my opinions on college football and passionately disagree with them. That’s fine. Invite that conversation. It’s great for your sports radio show.
The slogan of ESPN’s First Take is “Embrace Debate.” The slogan isn’t, “You Disagree With Me? Go Away!” If Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe disagree with each other on FS1’s Undisputed, Jenny Taft doesn’t awkwardly jump in and say, “Uhh, well it’s time for a break. We’ll be right back.”
Debate is the engine that drives those shows and sparks conversation. It doesn’t help your sports radio show if you avoid opposing viewpoints. Welcome them. It’s an art to have strong stances while still being receptive to other opinions. I encourage every host with a mic in front of their face to emphasize, “Hey, whatever your stance happens to be, hit us up. Call, tweet, text, whatever — we want to hear your opinions too.”
My dad and I went to a Notre Dame-Michigan game back in 2013. God must have been taking a nap because Michigan won. As a kid born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, I’m contractually obligated to despise Michigan football. As much as I hate the Maize and Blue with every ounce of my being, my dad and I stuck around after the game and chatted with a group of Michigan fans inside the Big House. We got along great. Our routing allegiances were the total opposite, but we still enjoyed talking about the game. I think that’s the way it should be with sports radio shows too.
The other side is your friend. You shouldn’t hold up your hand like it’s a stop sign. Figuratively hug the listeners that disagree with you. Roll out the red carpet for their differing opinions. It will grow your audience and in turn your ratings, which is the goal here.
Spoiler alert — there won’t be any college football this fall. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. But it’s true. If a player or coach got severely ill or died while competing in 2020 — while other conferences deemed it unsafe to play — I don’t even want to know what that school and conference would face in litigation and public condemnation.
We also don’t know the long-term impact of the virus. Heart issues could haunt a program down the road. There isn’t a conference president or chancellor alive that’s willing to make a bet that big when the job is to protect the university and individuals attending it. Your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree, are always welcome. Find me @TheNoeShow on Twitter. See how easy that is?
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.