Jay Bilas clowns the NCAA, NBC's Premier League plans, more

Monday August 12th, 2013
Phil Sears/US Presswire
Rebecca Lowe (right) will anchor NBC Sports' upcoming coverage of the English Premier League.
Bebeto Matthews/AP

3a. A pair of NYC-based sports media writers -- Phil Mushnick of the New York Post and New York Daily News writer Bob Raissman -- each suggested in columns that ESPN on-air staffers were being hypocritical in not discussing Douglas' alleged invective as the network spotlighted the actions of Eagles wideout Riley Cooper. ESPN talent has a long history of not commenting on their own given how heavy the company tries to manage its outward reputation. (Keep this in mind when a show like First Take or Around The Horn touts how fearless its debate is. It's only fearless when it involves non-ESPN issues.) But this is tricky ground for all of us who work for sports entities, and I can't crank on ESPN staffers for staying silent on workplace personnel issues when it's doubtful I'd do the opposite. (Chastising your network or publication for a B.S. manufactured debate or over-covering a story is another issue.) Where ESPN does have a responsibility to the public is for its management and PR staff to address what will happen to Douglas and to reiterate that its workplace (and that extends to a journalism conference where ESPN employees are representing the company) will be a safe place for employees. To that end, I respect ESPN PR for responding to me in the manner above.

4. Golf.com's Michael Bamberger reported that Fox paid $100 million a year for 12 years for the multimedia rights to golf's U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open Championships, as well as the USGA's national amateur championships and other live content. The deal begins in 2015 and runs through 2026. It will be the first time a golf major airs on Fox. (Under the current deal, NBC paid $50 million a year to the USGA; Bamberger reported NBC and ESPN were willing to go to $80 million.) The final two rounds of golf's U.S. Open have been televised by NBC Sports since 1995. Said NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller, to the AP, upon hearing of the deal: "I feel bad for the USGA in a way that money was more important than basically a good golf crew."

4a. Fox also announced it had entered an agreement with The Jockey Club to air a series of graded stakes races starting in 2014. The new horse racing series will debut on Fox Sports 1 on Feb. 9, 2014 from Gulfstream Park featuring the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

5. ESPN will air 90 NBA games during the 2013-14 regular season, including 75 games on ESPN (and 33 doubleheaders) and 15 games on ABC, with six doubleheaders. The schedule opens with a doubleheader on Friday, Nov. 1 with Heat-Nets (8:00 p.m. ET) followed by Lakers-Spurs (10:30 p.m. ET). The Heat and Knicks will appear 16 times on ESPN and ABC. The Lakers, Thunder and Bulls are scheduled for more than a dozen appearances.

5a. ABC and ESPN will air five NBA games on Christmas Day, including Nets-Bulls (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN), Knicks-Thunder (2:30 p.m. ET, ABC) and Heat-Lakers (5 p.m. ET, ABC). ESPN has the late doubleheader with Spurs-Rockets (8 p.m.) followed by Warriors-Clippers.

6. TNT will televise 52 games during the 2013-14 NBA regular season, including 10 appearances each by the Clippers, Lakers and Thunder. The Heat, Knicks, Bulls and Rockets will make nine appearances each. TNT will televise 20 Thursday-night NBA doubleheaders during the regular season and opens with a doubleheader on Oct. 29, featuring the Heat-Bulls (and Derrick Rose's expected return) followed by the Lakers-Clippers.

6b. TNT will have coverage of All-Star Weekend including NBA All-Star Friday (Feb. 14), NBA All-Star Saturday (Feb. 15) and the 2014 NBA All-Star Game (Feb. 16) in New Orleans.

6c. NBA TV will televise 97 live games during the upcoming season, beginning with the Nets at Cavaliers on Oct. 30.

7. Sports pieces of note this week:

•Raiders punter Chris Kluwe wrote a brilliant piece for The MMQB on competing against a younger teammate.

•Loved this Matthew Berry column on ESPN.com about appearing on the Howard Stern show.

• "I'm An Openly Gay Gold Medalist and I Reject the Sochi Olympics Boycott." Worthwhile piece from Olympic diving icon Greg Louganis.

•Via The Atlantic: "How Parents Pick The Sports Their Daughters Play"

•The LA Times examined the upcoming Fox Sports 1 vs. ESPN battle.

Two books to recommend: "The Sports Gene", by SI's David Epstein, is a brilliant look inside the science of athletic performance. Also, check out University at Michigan professor John U. Bacon's "Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football."

Non-sports pieces of note:

•Cannot recommend more highly this brilliant piece of journalism on the abuse of civil forfeitures by Sarah Stillman of the New Yorker.

Yet another great The Economist obit.

8. Once upon a time ESPN pushed the idea that there was a blanket ban on its employees blasting competitors on social media. We all know better (talent with juice can fire away), and we're glad to see management dialing back on any Orwellian tendencies. Thus, we were treated to ESPN's Bill Simmons delivering a straight right to Fox Sports 1 on Saturday night followed by a solid Fox Sports 1 counter followed by an uppercut from SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross mocking Fox Sports 1 executives for mentioning the word "fun" in every interview. SI scored the round 10-9 to ESPN.

8a. Scott Van Pelt also showed some nice mic skills on Fox Sports 1 this weekend.

9. NBC broadcaster Al Michaels agreed to plead no contest to reckless driving following a misdemeanor charge of DUI on April 19. He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and placed on probation, according to TMZ.

9a. The Rich Eisen Podcast recently reached a podcast milestone: 10 million downloads. This week's episode featured Larry David and Matt Damon, and Damon was asked about the loss of wide receiver Wes Welker from his beloved Patriots. Said Damon: "He is irreplaceable in many ways. I sent an e-mail to Brady telling him I was available."

10. Former ESPN anchor Mike Hill will handle a number of roles for Fox Sports 1, including news updates and serving as a guest host for Fox Sports Live. Hill will also be part of Fox Football Daily and contribute to the network's coverage of college basketball.

10a. The next Nine for IX film from ESPN Films is Runner, which examines the story of American distance runner Mary Decker and her Olympic debut in the 3,000 meters at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. It premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

10b. Nice story here highlighting the reporter instincts of ESPN NASCAR associate producer Trevor Gavin.

10c. The Paul Finebaum Show will debut on Monday, Aug. 12, at 2 p.m. ET. The four-hour daily program will be produced by ESPN Radio and is based in ESPN's Charlotte, N.C. studios. As of this writing, ESPN said the show will initially air on two Birmingham stations. Look for more station additions in the future.

10d. Photographer Olivier Morin explained how he got his incredible photo of a lightning Bolt over Usain Bolt:

10e. Outside The Lines averaged 160,000 viewers last Tuesday, the first day the daily program had moved from ESPN to ESPN2. Prior to the move, the show had averaged 336,000 viewers when it appeared on ESPN. (Viewership courtesy of the TVSportsRatings Twitter feed.) You don't need to be Nate Silver to understand this represents a de facto burying of the show. ESPN management will additionally shift the Sunday edition of Outside The Lines from ESPN to ESPN2 starting in September and replace it with a football show hosted by Colin Cowherd. (I assume because of the protests in cities all over the U.S. demanding a Colin Cowherd football show.) OTL staffers can't speak out here -- and certain members of ESPN's outreach armada will continue to sell the soap that all is sunny in OTL Land -- but people throughout ESPN are disheartened by the move and I'm with them. A product that represents the best of ESPN deserves so much better than this.

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