Fans will get a big dose of late-night Wolf Pack football
April 17, 2014
Sports fodder for a Friday morning… CBS television has Late Night with David Letterman. NBC has the Tonight Show. Northern Nevada has Wolf Pack football. Get ready for Late Night with Brian Polian, Pack fans. Wolf Pack football has turned into a late night television show. Five Wolf Pack football games — four at home against Washington State, Colorado State, San Diego State and Boise State — are already scheduled for 7:30 p.m. kickoffs this fall. Get used to it. Coaches love the bonus they receive in their already inflated paychecks and conference commissioners and school athletic directors love the television revenue. Attendance at college football games simply doesn't matter anymore. It won't be long before college football games on TV use a "cheering" track the way TV sit-coms use a laugh track.
Late night college football games are designed for a very specific live audience. It's basically the same fun-loving crowd that dresses up like Santa in December and walks up and down Virginia Street with an adult beverage in their hands. Families with young children don't go to late night games in large numbers because well, let's just say that Mackay Stadium isn't exactly a wholesome family atmosphere at night. Older fans are more likely to stay home because the living room couch watching the game on TV is a much more enticing option than sitting next to the Santa Pub Crawl crowd and freezing in the stands as the clock approaches midnight. Late night college football on TV is simply about lining the pockets of the athletic directors and coaches.
The athletic directors and coaches will tell you that college football on late night TV is about all the great exposure it gives their university. Don't buy it. ESPN, which has more cable stations than programming, and the CBS Sports Network simply need something other than bass fishing and poker contests to put on the air. Who, exactly, is watching a San Jose State-Nevada football game? A Washington State-Nevada football game? Colorado State-Nevada? San Diego State-Nevada? Boise State-Nevada doesn't even have the same appeal it once did. Don't forget that these games are starting at 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. everywhere east of Denver. Late night games also destroy local media coverage. So what exposure, exactly, do these late night TV games generate for the schools?
Has Aldon Smith played his last game in a San Francisco 49ers uniform? The 49ers would be fools to simply release Smith. Smith, who sacked Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick at Mackay Stadium in 2009 as a member of the Missouri Tigers, is one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Smith, who is this generation's Charles Haley, is simply too talented to release. It really doesn't matter how many times he gets arrested or yells "bomb" in a crowded airport.
Golf's Masters tournament had its worst TV ratings last weekend since 1993. That shouldn't surprise anyone. Tiger Woods didn't play and Phil Mickelson missed the cut. There was nothing to watch except green grass, pretty trees and nameless, faceless players hitting a golf ball. You know, like the Reno-Tahoe Open every summer. Golf has always been about its stars. Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen carried the sport before television.
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer ushered the sport into the early television age in the 1950s and 60s. Woods helped the sport explode by exposing it to more than just the country club crowd.
The problem with Woods' appeal, though, is that all the fans he created aren't really golf fans. They are Tiger fans. They go where Tiger goes.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are in trouble. The Reno Aces' parent club has started the season by losing 14 of its first 18 games and are in jeopardy of being out of the pennant race by the time the horses line up for the Kentucky Derby next month. And there doesn't seem to be any quick fixes. Even pitching phenom Archie Bradley was less than impressive Wednesday night at Aces Ballpark. The Diamondbacks have just one big-time hitter (Paul Goldschmidt) and their pitching staff has been horrible. It looks like there will be a lot of roster shuffling between Reno and Phoenix this spring and summer.
Who will be the first major league manager fired this season? Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks is one of the best young managers in the game and would be out of work for about five minutes if the Diamondbacks fired him. The early favorite to get the first ax, then, is Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels. Injuries are starting to pile up for the Angels and Scioscia's club looks like a bloated, bored softball team most nights. The Angels would be doing Scioscia a favor by allowing him to escape that mess in Anaheim. The ex-Los Angeles Dodger catcher also wouldn't be out of work for long.
You can bet Deonte Burton of the Wolf Pack cringes each time an underclassmen declares for this June's NBA draft. Duke's Jabari Parker, Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Syracuse's Tyler Ennis, Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and even New Mexico's Alex Kirk are among the youngsters with big dreams who have already announced their intentions to join the draft. And more, no doubt, will declare for the draft by the April 27 deadline. Burton, at best, seems to be a late second round pick now. But it's looking more and more like he will have to go the free agent route. That means he will likely be creating YouTube dunk highlights next season somewhere overseas.
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