Friday, June 05, 2009

The Works, gameplanning for GamePlan-style

Gone, but their spirit shall live on.

I take that back. I'd said not long ago that I expected to skip purchasing ESPN's GamePlan pay-per-view package this year, since despite it being one of mankind's better inventions--ranking somewhere between the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine and those Haggar slacks with the adjustable waist--I figured the new slate of games on newly-available ESPNU would replace ye olde regional morning telecasts of Raycom/Lincoln/Jefferson-Pilot yore. But now comes Jon Solomon to say Not So Fast My Thin-Walleted Friend, explaining that those games have been assigned to something called "ESPN Regional." I'll let Paul Westerdawg explain what that means:
This is not a network. It's a syndication company that signs deals with third parties to televise the rest of the SEC football and basketball games not shown by options 1-3. So far ESPN Regional has lined up CSS TV (available to Comcast and Charter clients) for six football and 20 basketball games per year. According to the B'ham news above, they are also in discussions with Fox Sports South for an additional package of games. Lastly, ESPN Regional works with local TV stations inside and outside of the SEC geographic footprint for TV distribution deals.
In other words: it's the Raycom system, just operated by ESPN. And as long as that's in place, the ex-pats among us will have to continue to shell out for GamePlan. What a hard-knock life we lead, having to pay to see every single game of our favorite football team via satellite from a thousand miles away. WHY DO YOU KEEP US IN THE DARK AGES, ESPN?

The other negative to this development, Solomon reports (in easy chart form!), is that the early SEC game will now kick-off even earlier. (This is actually a positive for the homebound of us, since that first half-hour when the Big 10/ACC had kicked off but the SEC has proven more frustrating than it should have, but obviously the earlier wake-up call and reduced tailgating suuuuuuuucks for those in attendance.) Here's the upside, though, and it's a big one: if the old Raycom games aren't shifting to ESPNU, that means that it's an extra set of games that will reside on the U and ESPN Classic. Games like last year's surprise thriller between LSU and Troy, or Auburn-La. Tech, or even lower-rung SEC tilts like Miss. St-Vandy ... all of those should now find their way to national television, leaving only the very dregs of the slate on team-only PPV. Thanks to that and ESPN's aggressive pushing of SEC fare into stations elsewhere around the country, the SEC's footprint will only expand even further than it already has. So that's cool.

Don't forget, too, when you're grumbling about waking up for an 11:21 kickoff or a fourth straight night game, that this deal allows the SEC's athletic departments to wallow around in a giant pile of money like a pig in beautiful, beautiful green slop. So there's that.

You're too kind. No, I mean it. Say this for Lache Seastrunk--it's sure as hell not like he doesn't care about his public image:
He was caught on video saying, among other things, "What's up Nick Saban?" while generally having a good time talking up Auburn. The Saban part bothered Seastrunk.

"I called and apologized to him," Seastrunk told ( "I wanted him to know I was sorry. I got caught up in the moment and Coach Saban understood that.

"That's not what I'm about. That's not what I stand for ... I wasn't trying to call him out or anything, create any type of controversy and he didn't think I was. He was very receptive and very understanding. He is a really great guy."
Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Lache. The apology is classy. It's a good move. It should put to bed (though it won't) the "diva" chatter from certain crimson-tinted corners. But ... it would have been OK to stop short of calling Saban a "really great guy." Really. You didn't have to go that far. It would have been fine.

Well, it would have been if you'd asked me. The, uh, Auburn fan. And my not-at-all biased and embittered opinion. (PPL has a worthwhile take as well, paired with a Simpsons reference--always a positive--and some cool baseball news.)

Hey! Quit being accurate! Dr. Saturday reproduces a selection of anonymous opposing coach quotes from this year's fresh-off-the-presses Athlon, and some LOSER had this to say about Auburn:
"The biggest thing that's different at Auburn now is there's no true home run threat at tailback. You can stop them from running the ball and make them one-dimensional."
Listen, anonymous ass, just because Ben Tate's led Auburn in rushing for two straight seasons despite averaging less than four-and-a-half-yards a carry, and even less against better teams, doesn't mean that ... but if you look at it from ... well, OK maybe it does mean that! Up yours anyway! (By the way, this exact quote is why I have such high hopes for the Onterio McCalebb era.)

BlAUgosphere. I spent yesterday afternoon fretting Louisiana Tech's strength and experience along their lines, so there's no doubt about my personal highlight from Acid Reign's Ball State preview:
Auburn defensive line vs. Ball State offensive line: On paper, this is a mismatch. Ball State's one returning starter is guard, junior Michael Switzer. Ball State will have to deal with quick ends such as Antonio Coleman, Michael Goggins, and Antoine Carter, with new tackles. Only two of the new starters have even earned a letter!
I'm nowhere near as worried about Ball St. as I am Tech--there won't be the same opening-game jitters, and the Cardinals have had an incredibly tumultuous offseason--but this is still very much in the category of "good news."

Also: does it get more enjoyably meta than the funny, chart-lovin' Auburner publishing a funny reader-submitted chart about how the Auburner isn't publishing funny charts at the moment?

Don't screw this up. College Football Live will be visiting Alabama next week, and maybe I'll be able to make myself sit through it for the first time. There's a poll involved, and if Bo doesn't win "Best Player," may all involved have tarantula eggs laid in their ears.

It's gold, Jerry. Linking to EDSBS is, as always, an exercise from the Department of Redundancy Department, but I have to point out that this little line from Orson's "Commenter Code" post on Alabama--
140 OBJECT RULE=(current coach) + (even a legitimate criticism) RE: (current coach) THEN command RUN FATAL ERROR
--had me howling. The truth can be awfully, awfully funny sometimes.

Etc. Curtis Luper is a Lakers fan ... Bobby Johnson has increased Vandy's Pythagorean wins for six straight seasons, an absolutely, patently ridiculous achievement ... if you've got some time to kill and don't mind some 20 years after-the-fact whining about Dye's decision to kick for the tie, this exhaustive-but-enjoyable recap (like mine? I hope?) of the '88 Sugar Bowl is worth your attention. (Via, then via.)


J.D. said...

Personally, I don't like our recruits calling Nick Saban on the phone. Now I'm just waiting for him to work some black magic and get Seastrunk going to UAT...

Marcus said...

For two years now, I rock "basic, basic" cable during the offseason, then upgrade to 'Standard' (which costs $50 more) to get ESPN, and of course you have to add the Gameplan for the JP/LF/Raycomm whatever the heck they are called games).
However, this season I discovered ESPN-360 (after I upgraded and ordered Gameplan unfortunately). If you are on Verizon or AT&T, you can log into ESPN-360 and watch EVERY SINGLE game that is shown on ANY ESPN network, including the Gameplan games... for FREE!!!!!!!!
So, this year, my plan is to go that route. Of course, it is going to suck not watching Gameday and watching the games on a tiny, laggy screen, but it beats paying nearly $100/month extra during CFB season.
I'm sure ESPN will figure out a way to screw this up for me though :(

Jerry Hinnen said...

JD, I feel you.

Marcus, Comcast has added ESPN360 as part of their deal, so that's an option for even more people now. Unfortunately, it's not for me--this is going to sound horrible, but I spent too much on my television to watch Auburn games on my computer.

Marcus said...

I hear ya. Here in June I'm all about watching CFB on my computer, but I'm sure around the middle of August I'll pony up the cash so I can watch it like it's supposed to be watched... parked on my couch in my pajamas watching one game while DVRing (is that a verb?) two others and trying to ignore the ticker at the bottom of the screen because somehow it would ruin the Georgia versus South Carolina game to know who was winning at the end of the 1st quarter.