Some networks just don’t belong in the college football business. With every passing year, I am more and more convinced that NBC is one of those networks.
Now, as you probably know, NBC is barely in the college football business to begin with. The network has one property – Notre Dame. Given the Fighting Irish’s tradition and nationwide fanbase, if NBC is only going to invest in one college football team, there is a good argument to be made that it picked the right one. But on Thursday night, news broke about the network’s plans for Notre Dame football in 2022 and to say it left me scratching my head is an understatement.
The report says that the top USFL booth of Jac Collinsworth and former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett are among the top considerations to call Notre Dame home games next year.
I am not a Notre Dame fan at all. I genuinely loath this insistence that the school is still capable of producing a national championship-level football team and has not been surpassed by a dozen more likely winners. Still, I found myself thinking “how insulting” when I read the news.
Does NBC even like Notre Dame football? Every action the network takes and decision it makes points to the fact that maybe the people in charge don’t.
Let’s start with the fact that there is almost no significant Notre Dame presence on the broadcast. Collinsworth, who originally joined the crew in 2020 as the studio host, is an alum of the school, but he doesn’t have the personal connection and passion for the team that this broadcast would warrant. Corey Robinson is part of the studio crew. He played in South Bend from 2013-2016, but he was more of a one year wonder than a bona fide star.
Think about all of the accomplished analysts and former analysts that NBC could pick from. Mike Golic, Mike Golic Jr, Jerome Bettis, Brady Quinn, Joe Theisman, and Aaron Taylor all fit that bill. That is half a dozen options I came up with right now off the top of my head.
Hell, let Lou Holtz get on the set. I don’t care that he clearly hasn’t watched a game since 1995 (yes, I am aware he coached until 2004).
Fans of Notre Dame love the smell of their own farts. Give them some of that sweet stink with an icon!
Instead, NBC leans on Doug Flutie, who didn’t play at Notre Dame. In the past, it was Pat Haden, who played for Notre Dame’s most hated rival, USC.
Brian Noe asked Mike Golic about this last year. The Radio Hall of Famer said that it certainly seems like an intentional decision by NBC to keep former Notre Dame players out of the broadcast booth.
“We’ve had Boston College guys in there in Flutie, and Tony Dungy in there, and now a Purdue guy in Drew Brees,” Golic said. “I’m like wait a minute, man, I’m a Domer. Let’s get a Domer in there a little bit. But I don’t get to make those decisions because I would love to do that, sure.”
If the booth on Saturdays this fall really will be Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett, it continues a long tradition for NBC of treating the Notre Dame broadcast like an obligation and not a priority.
Now understand me. I don’t think Jac and Jason are bad. I don’t think they’re good. They are just kind of there.
NBC has to replace Mike Tirico. He is one of the top voices in broadcasting right now, but even with his talent and star power, the network had a habit of saddling him with whoever was around.
An untested Drew Brees? A well-worn, unremarkable Doug Flutie? If they’re nearby and don’t have anything better to do, sign ’em up!
Why not kick the tires on Brad Nessler? Surely he’d love some more job security with time running out on the SEC on CBS. To a generation of gamers and college football fans, he is the voice of the sport. How about Tim Brando? He deserves to be on a network’s headline crew.
Or what if NBC did something really interesting and different? The network already employs one of the most unique voices in sports broadcasting. Between EA Sports and Ted Lasso, his profile keeps growing in the US. If NBC doesn’t want Arlo White on Premier League games anymore, why not give him a crack at Notre Dame? It would give the broadcasts a big feel that Jac Collinsworth just can’t.
Let’s forget about the broadcasters for a second. I don’t want to pile on them. I want to look at how little NBC does to support Notre Dame football.
There is no other college football on NBC’s airwaves. That may make Notre Dame feel pretty, but the truth is that it can justify the network never putting more money or effort into the product.
Remember, NBC only has the media rights to Notre Dame home games. When the Fighting Irish are on the road, the TV rights belong to whoever the home team’s conference is partnered with. That means at most, NBC will have 8 games per year.
That’s a part-time schedule. It’s pretty easy for the network to justify part-time commitment.
Notre Dame’s media rights are not the most valuable in college football. The SEC and Big Ten command a much bigger price. And truthfully, if networks could do a deal with any single team in all of college football, year after year, Ohio State continues to prove it is TV’s most popular team.
None of that means that Notre Dame isn’t valuable. Again, I will reiterate, I do not like Notre Dame, but I recognize what they mean to the sport and that they have appeal in parts of the country some of the current powers do not.
Maybe Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett will be awesome. I hope they are, but the fact is that Notre Dame football is a TV property that is worth investing more in than just a “maybe.”
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.