Friday, August 29, 2014

Gator Nation's Best and Worst of Times

Something I heard Greg Schiano say once that has always stayed with me: you’re never as good as your best game, nor are you as bad as your worst game.

Nothing exemplifies this statement more than the Florida Gators football team of the past two years. Will Muschamp’s best year, in 2012, saw the Gators go 11-2. His worst year, 2013, saw UF finish 4-8.

So which is it? What team is the real Florida Gators? Are they the 11-2 squad that was a national championship contender, or the 4-8 team that saw many calling for Muschamp to be fired? If we look at the team from the vantage point of Schiano’s statement, we’ll see that the answer is, in fact, neither.

For all the good Urban Meyer did for Florida – two national championships are nothing to sneeze at – what he didn’t do is still affecting the team to this day; namely, to bring in depth and talent on the offensive side of the ball, especially in the receiving corps. In 2012, Florida tight ends had 63 receptions – or 18 fewer than the top three wide receivers combined.

So how did the Gators go 11-2? Well, Meyer left the cupboard completely full on the defensive side of the ball, and Muschamp, a defensive coach, took full advantage. The Gators basically scratched out points on offense and then sat back and let the defense do the rest. But when they came up on opponents whose offense was as good (or better) as the Gators’ D, UF’s O couldn’t rise to the occasion. Thus, losses to Georgia and Louisville, the first one keeping Florida out of the SEC Championship and the second a preview of the season to follow. (The latter game saw the Gators trailing 24-3 late in the first half before eventually losing, 33-23.)

Unfortunately for Florida, even a sound defeat by Louisville to end the 2012 season couldn’t tamper expectations for the 2013 campaign. This was an 11-2 team, remember? They were thisclose to playing in the SEC Championship! That means they were thisclose to possibly being this close to maybe playing for the National Championship!

What happens when an 11-2 team that wasn’t really an 11-2 team loses 28 players, including 20 starters (a number that includes those backups who became starters after the original starter was injured), including its first-, second- and third-string quarterbacks? Well, 4-8 happens. A loss to FCS team Georgia Southern* (a game that I attended, much to my chagrin) happens. No bowl game happens. And calls for Muschamp to be fired happens.

But give me one program that would survive with its third-string quarterback starting a significant amount of the season. Most fans would say that if a team is on its third-string quarterback, its season is already over. It’s very easy to blame the coach, but what I saw from these Gators is guys playing hard even while losing badly. That, to me, is the mark of a good coach.

Pundits far and wide have said that the Gators will be better this year, which isn’t really stepping out on a limb after their 4-8 campaign. This is a team that isn’t 11-2, but also isn’t 4-8, so somewhere in the middle is going to be an improvement from last season. Bringing in Kurt Roper will improve the offense; Andre DeBose will stay healthy and the Gators’ receivers will be more productive; the defense will remain solid; the team will (hopefully) stay (mostly) healthy; I foresee it will play in a January bowl.

I like Muschamp. I like that he’s a Gainesville native. I like that, unlike Meyer, the Florida gig really is a dream job for Muschamp. I love when he gave Meyer crap by saying “we appreciated our friends from Ohio making sure we're compliant with NCAA rules. They certainly know a little bit about that subject.” I’m proud to call him coach of the team that I love.

But I also at one point loved Ron Zook. Don’t be Ron Zook, Coach Muschamp. For all of our sakes.

*Post was changed to say that the Gators lost to Georgia Southern, not Georgia State. In my defense, I'd like to forget everything about that loss, but all I managed to forget was the second part of the team's name.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Putting the M and E in Emmys.

You can’t spell the Emmy’s with out M E.

No industry does a better job of patting itself on the back than entertainment. From the Grammy’s to the Emmy’s to the Oscars and everything in between, entertainers LOVE to tell us how wonderful they are, how wonderful their friends are, what amazing work they all do and why we should all watch everything they do ever.

But you know what? Even if we’re watching to make fun of them, we’re watching, we’re being entertained (either by them or my ourselves), so everyone’s happy.

I for one am excited about the Emmy’s. Among other things, I’m looking forward to seeing what Seth Meyers will do with the opening monologue. He helped write Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s opener for last year’s Golden Globes, which was amazing. That said, after last night’s VMA’s, I’m gonna be ticked if Seth doesn’t show any skin. I think we deserve it.

8:03pm: Nice job by Seth acknowledging the writers that make the shows happen. Too bad they were too busy doing their job to be around to hear him.

8:06pm: What’s a VCR?

8:08pm: TV > Movies.

8:10pm: I’m probably not the only one who is surprised that Tony Hale didn’t win. I would have expected Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson to split the Modern Family votes so that neither one earned the award.

8:11pm: Ty Burrell stealing a bit from Steve Carrell. Well, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

8:18pm: Louis CK is short and to the point. I like it.

8:21pm: CJ Craig!

8:21pm: I love Allison Janney. From Private Parts to West Wing to everything she’s ever done ever, I love her.

8:25pm: My wife and I just had a conversation about what Julia Louis-Dreyfus will do this year if she wins an Emmy. Last year she brought up Tony Hale, earlier this year at another awards show she brought up Matt Walsh

8:28pm: Crazy Eyes doesn't sound or look so crazy. I'm beginning to think that she may be a tremendous actor.

8:30pm: Modern Family cleaning up so far. Which is funny, because everything the one article I read said that the voters are tired of Modern Family. So nice job prognosticating, folks!

8:32pm: Gail Mancuso is just as funny as any of the Modern Family actors.

8:33pm: Billy on the Street appearance!

8:34pm: Seth MacFarlane?! I don’t think the internet is ready for him to host another show.

8:35pm: I love Billy on the Street, and I loved that bit, and my wife was skeptical at first but at the end she was crying laughing so there.

8:36pm: Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets hotter every year. That is all.

8:38pm: How did Katherine Heigl get Jim Parsons-area seats? I mean, what I’m trying to say is, HOW DID KATHERINE HEIGL GET IN THE SAME SEATING AREA AS JIM PARSONS??!?!

8:40pm: I can't knock Parsons winning again, even though I was pulling for Louis CK. I mean, someone has to show CBS that they made the right move by paying Parsons approximately 7 bajillion dollars an episode.

8:45pm: Brilliant job by JLD – we’re all expecting someone from Veep to come up with her, and she went and kept the Seinfeld bit with Bryan Cranston going. Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant.

8:49pm: Reality show blah blah blah “reality” blah blah blah "nothing real about it" blah blah blah.

8:49pm: “Julia Roberts began her career in television.” Way to explain to us why she’s here, Emmy’s.

8:55pm: I like the idea of the Q&A, but I dunno if it quite worked. Jon Hamm and Juliana Marguiles were funny, the Andre Braugher-Josh Charles bathroom key was humorous, but the rest of it was meh.

8:58pm: Sherlock is amazing, and if you haven’t watched it yet you haven’t been living.

9:00pm: Pretty funny that there’s a TV actress named Julia Roberts. The real Julia Roberts is going to be a little ticked.

9:01pm: I’ll bet Kathy Bates isn’t feeling any Misery tonight!

9:01pm: Seriously, I’ll bet she’s pretty stoked.

9:06pm: You all should watch About a Boy. It’s really funny. No joke, it’s a really good show.

9:08pm: I love Colbert, but that one fell flat.

9:08pm: The Normal Heart had four out of the six nominations in that category and still lost. To one of the stars of Love, Actually. I’m just saying, Martin Freeman was in Love, Actually. Along with the star of 12 Years A Slave. And the star of Taken.

9:15pm: Bad Judge makes me think that someone was a bad judge of what is funny. And that someone is NBC.

9:18pm: We got the plagiarism joke, Matty. We all read the internet. But the joke was funny, all right all right all right?

9:21pm: I am way more excited than I should be that Benedict Cumberbatch won an Emmy. And way more bummed than I should be that Sherlock isn’t coming back for like five years.

9:25pm: Lemme get this straight – Weird Al makes no appearance on the VMAs, but he has a whole segment on the Emmys.

9:25pm: On second thought, I wasn’t planning to watch the VMAs, so this worked perfectly for me.

9:31pm: While I don't think the bit was great, it was an awesome idea and I love Weird Al and that will never change.

9:33pm: Fargo is cleaning up the dramas so far. I really should watch that. I’ll add it to my list.

9:41pm: Ricky Gervais just killed it. I know people haven’t liked him when he’s hosted, but I thought he was funny, and I thought he was tremendous while presenting. The fact that Sarah Silverman won, kicked off her shoes and ran up the stairs only added to my enjoyment of that segment. And I really need to add Dexter to my list.

9:51pm: “Two things that can happen to your car, Key and Peele!” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

9:53pm: As always, Key and Peele crushed. Just crushed. Those guys should really have their own TV show.

9:54pm: Hardwick had me until he said “let’s give out a fancy award to a deserving human.” THEY'RE ALL DESERVING HUMANS, OK? EVEN THE ONES WHO DON'T WIN.

9:55pm: The guy who won had a shocked face, which would have been much more believable if the trophy wasn’t basically already in his hands when the announcement was made.

9:57pm: The one thing I’m going to miss when Colbert moves to CBS is his banter with Jimmy Fallon. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that won’t happen when they are competing against each other.

10:04pm: The grand poobah of the academy is now up, and he’s put Sophia Vergara on a pedastal. Literally. And I have no idea what he said after that.

10:09pm: Peter Dinklage slow clapping for three seconds was like watching a dramatic, angry monologue. I need a gif of that posthaste.

10:20pm: I never thought there was a right or a wrong way to do the In Memoriam, segment, until now. I think the Emmy’s did it brilliantly.

10:26pm: A great acceptance speech always follows “I should have written something.”

10:27pm: At least it was short.

10:33pm: Katherine Heigl is in a new show on NBC. THAT’S why she gets seating in Jim Parsons area. The Truth Is Out There. As is she, if we are to believe the stories.

10:39pm: I am thrilled that Juliana Marguiles won, because I LOVE the Good Wife, and she totally deserves it, but I find it…unsettling, for lack of a better word…that the woman who is skinny like no woman I know in real life opens her acceptance with “what a great time in TV for women.” It is a great time in TV for women, because there are so many great roles, and they're all doing such amazing jobs, but I just wish more of those women didn’t have to look like they never eat.

10:46pm: Are we going to get another “I love my life” here from movie star Roberts?

10:47pm: We’re not! And Bryan Cranston won. I really gotta check out Breaking Bad. Adding it to the list!

10:50pm: Anna Gunn got music'ed out. Bryan Cranston is still going. That's messed up, Emmy’s.

10:50pm: Jay Leno comes on, and immediately tells a tired joke about how long these award shows are. You know, he used to be comedian*.

*Joke stolen from Jimmy Kimmel.

But seriously, Jay Leno used to be HILARIOUS. Then he got the Tonight Show and went completely vanilla.

10:52pm: The Emmys is playing off the cast of Modern Family. I don’t understand their music-off policies and procedures.

10:57pm: And now Vince Gilligan and Breaking Bad are getting musiced off!

10:58pm: So yeah, I guess I gotta move Breaking Bad up on my list.

10:58pm: The show ends! Two minutes early! I guess that means they’ll get permission to do it again next year.

11:00pm: Let the Tuesday morning quarterbacking begin. I thought Seth Meyers did a fine job. Perhaps not as good as Fey/Poehler (but really, that's an impossible bar to reach), but still pretty good. His Billy on the Street bit was outstanding. Key and Peele were tremendous, and I really hope they get to host an awards show soon. Congratulations to all the winners, congratulations to all the losers nominees, and I look forward to seeing what this year will bring in television.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Perfect from Start to Finish

I walked into the dimly lit building. Music was playing in the background. I looked around, and locked eyes with one of the women standing there. She beckoned me to come sit by her. 

When I got to her, she said "hi" and I said "hello." She asked me what I wanted, and I told her. She nodded her head in acquiescence and began following my instructions.

Neither of us said a word from that point on, until she was done and I thanked her, paid and left.

That is how getting a haircut should be every time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pay to Play, NFL-Style

The NFL is apparently strapped for cash.

The League that brings in more than $9.5 BILLION (with a B) per year is hurting, and it is asking for help from some super duper mega stars.

That is the assumption I’m making based on these repots from the Wall Street Journal that the NFL wants its Super Bowl Halftime performersto pay in order to play. According to the WSJ, the NFL has asked the three contenders for this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show (Katy Perry, Rihanna and Coldplay) to give some of their post-Super Bowl income back to the NFL, or to “make some other type of financial contribution.”

The three artists listed above are not keen on the idea. Which isn’t surprising, considering it’s a ridiculous request. Here are two reasons why:

1) Artists who do the Super Bowl Halftime Show are not paid. Not a dime, not a nickel. The NFL gets to promote them to get people to tune in to the halftime show, the NFL gets to promote them to advertisers to get the halftime show sponsored, the NFL makes money from the advertisers who are paying because of all the people who are tuning in, but the artist doesn’t make a buck. The artist is already paying the NFL by not getting paid.

2) The NFL makes a boatload of money every year. The NFL does not need to ask these artists – who again, are NOT GETTING PAID TO PERFORM – to pay to play. It just comes across as greedy. You want more money, NFL? Raise your advertising rates. Sure, it’s still greedy, but at least it doesn’t seem as greedy as asking someone who is doing something for you FOR FREE to pay YOU.

But fine. If the NFL wants the artists to pay in order to play the halftime show, I would suggest that the artists merely put in two stipulations in the contract.

1) I (the artist) get a percentage of the advertising for the Super Bowl. Not just the halftime show – the entire Super Bowl. Since you are going to promote my halftime appearance as a reason for people to tune in to the game, and since advertisers are paying you because of all the people who are going to tune in to the game, I should get a cut.
2) I (the artist) am going to be giving up a lot of my time to prepare for this halftime show, so you’re going to reimburse me for all the concerts I wasn’t able to do. And I was going to do a lot of concerts. Like, one per day.

The argument I’ve heard in favor of the NFL’s request is that these musical acts become stars and make a lot of money following their Super Bowl Halftime appearance because of all the exposure they get. The premise is that the NFL is much more popular than these super stars, so the financial windfall they receive post-Super Bowl more than makes up for whatever percentage they give to the NFL. And I’m sure that these artists do see a spike in their popularity because of their halftime show appearance – which is why they agree to do the show FOR FREE. But I would like to frame my counterpoint to this argument as a question: how many songs, albums or concert tickets have you purchased from a Super Bowl Halftime show performer based on their Super Bowl Halftime Show performance?

It’s not like the NFL is getting up-and-coming stars whom no one has ever heard of before they signed on to do the Halftime Show. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers last year, Beyonce the year before that, Madonna before that…these are all HUGE stars who don’t need the NFL to boost their careers. The NFL needs them much more than they need the NFL, because the NFL is trying to bring in eyeballs who normally don’t watch football.

The NFL books super stars for its Super Bowl Halftime show so that it can promote the beejesus out of its Super Bowl Halftime show so that it can draw many more eyeballs than would normally watch a football game so that it can bring in a lot more advertising revenue. If the NFL felt confident that everyone would watch the game regardless of who was performing at halftime, it would simply promote the game itself and not even mention the halftime show. Or it would simply say that the halftime show will feature a special guest.

But hey, the NFL has a right to ask for whatever money it wants, because it’s a business and the primary goal of any business is to make as much money as it possibly can.