by Joe Santoro

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January 12, 2012
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Sports Fodder: Failing TV ratings the road to college football playoff


Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

This nation's college football fans need to stand up and give each other a big round of applause. They deserve a huge pat on the back for refusing to watch this year's meaningless, less-than-thrilling bowl games, including Monday's night's Alabama-LSU snooze-fest. Television ratings for the Alabama-LSU title game are the third lowest for a title game since college football has been giving us this manufactured TV sit-com known as the BCS championship game 14 years ago. Television ratings were down 30% (from last year) for the Fiesta Bowl, down 22% for the Orange Bowl and down 14% for the Rose Bowl. And they were down 11% for all of the 28 other non-BCS bowl games combined. America's college football fans are finally getting smart. This -- dwindling TV ratings -- is the only way we'll get a playoff of some sort. You have to hit the selfish university athletic directors and presidents where it hurts the most -- in their fat wallets. This is a great start. Another year or two of falling ratings and we'll get our playoff.

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Speaking of getting smart, well, the University of Nevada still doesn't get it. Is there are other university that repeatedly insults its own fan base in not-so-subtle ways as the Wolf Pack does repeatedly? This week, on its own web site's home page, the university basically called all of its fans a bunch of front-runners who don't show up to games unless the team is winning the vast majority of its games. A sample of the marketing department's latest blunder: "Calling the Wolf Pack Nation . . . It's time to run with the Pack. You wanted us to win, We are! . . . No excuses, no empty seats." Gee, if that doesn't get you to buy a ticket, what will? And they wonder why there is a huge disconnect between the community and the university.

. . .

The Alabama-LSU game should have brought home one glaring point to all Wolf Pack fans. All Pack fans everywhere should be thankful for Chris Ault. The Wolf Pack will never win a national championship. That's just the reality of big-time college football. And they'll never own a collection of athletes that either LSU or Alabama put on the field on Monday night. That's another ugly reality. But the Pack will also never be as boring or inept offensively as either LSU or Alabama were this year as long as Ault is around. Wolf Pack football has been a lot of things with Ault as coach the past three-plus decades. But one thing it hasn't been is boring. Can you imagine if the Pack had an offense like LSU or Alabama? There would be 6,500 fans at Mackay Stadium on Saturday -- and that's only if they gave away 2,500 tickets.

. . .

Tim Tebow is all the proof you need that the NFL will always be more popular than college football. The fact that the BCS title game is now on cable (can you imagine the Super Bowl on cable?) is more proof. The stupid BCS is even more proof (can you imagine the NFL getting away with merely picking two teams to meet in the title game?). Tebow's popularity, though,  demonstrates just how much the NFL means to the entire nation. When Tebow was with the Florida Gators, he was just another great player on a great team. Nice story, nice kid but nobody outside of Gainesville, Fla., truly cared about him. There is another nice story, nice kid every year in college football. But now that Tebow is in the NFL, he's a national phenomenon. The national media can't mention Tim Tebow's name often enough. He would have won the Iowa and New Hampshire Republican primaries in a landslide. Forget Tea Party. It would be the Tebow Party and nobody would be dumb enough to run against him.

. . .

Will Tebow and the Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots this weekend? A week ago you'd have to say there was no chance. But then Tim Terrific beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on a did-you-just-see-that? pass in overtime and, well, if you are not a believer by now you just haven't been paying attention. I'm not betting against Tebow again. Ever. Broncos 28, Patriots 24.

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As much as it would be nice to see the San Francisco 49ers season keep going, it's hard to see them beating the New Orleans Saints this weekend. The 49ers defense is great but so is the Saints offense. The Saints offense doesn't have to be great to beat the 49ers. They just have to be consistent. Saints 24, 49ers 20. If I'm going to pick an upset this week it will be New York Giants 28, Green Bay Packers 24. I really don't like that Packers' defense.  The Houston Texans-Baltimore Ravens game is a toss-up. Two ugly teams, two ugly offenses. Give the edge to the Ravens' defense at home. Ravens 21, Texans 17.

. . .

What are the Oakland Raiders thinking by firing Hue Jackson after just one year? Jackson did a solid job keeping the team in the playoff hunt despite losing his starting quarterback (Jason Campbell) and his starting running back (Darren McFadden) for the bulk of the year. Al Davis wouldn't have fired Jackson.

. . .

You have to wonder what the Portland Trail Blazers' plans are for Luke Babbitt. They pull Babbitt from their D-League team on Tuesday just to have him play four garbage minutes in a loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. Babbitt is the third-string small forward behind Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum. He needs to get out of Portland before his NBA career faces away. Babbitt was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves and traded to Portland on draft night. If he was still with Minnesota he'd be playing with Ricky Rubio, Michael Beasley (now injured) and Kevin Love. He would have been better off with the T'Wolves.


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The Record Courier Updated Jan 13, 2012 07:32PM Published Jan 12, 2012 05:33PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.