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The Life and Times of the Hartford Whalers.
The story of the Hartford Whalers is a particularly interesting one to me. From their very beginnings in the WHA, to joining the NHL, to being the perennial underachiever, to finally being moved to North Carolina. Obviously there is a lot more to this story than "they were bad and they moved", much, much more. The Hartford Whalers started life as the New England Whalers, a franchise in the World Hockey Association, a rival league to the NHL, that challenged the NHL's hold on Hockey and their reserve clause(basically meaning: You play with us, until we trade you or you retire). Over 67 players jumped to the WHA, including names such as Gordie Howe or Bobby Hull, with the WHA also going onto sign more European players and having young stars such as Wayne Gretzky. The New England Whalers started playing in 1972, led by ex-NHLers, Tom Webster(Red Wings), Ted Green(Bruins)(Inaugural Captain too) and many others, the Whalers first season was an incredible one for them, finishing First in their division and winning the Avco Cup. At the same time though, they had to play around the schedules of every other team playing in the Boston Garden, which led to scheduling issues for the Whalers, they essentially got the shortest end of the stick, because they were seen as a joke. Enter Hartford, Connecticut, one of the richer cities in North America, they had just finished building the Hartford Civic Center, a multipurpose arena in the heart of downtown Hartford. The City had been hoping to attract an ABA Franchise to the city, but when that failed they had settled on the Whalers, giving them a home for their rest of the franchises existence(...ish). On January 11, 1975 the Whalers played their first game at the Civic Center, in front of a sold out crowd, where they defeated the San Diego Mariners 4-3 in Overtime. The next few seasons were pretty good for the Whalers, although they never quite achieved the success they had in the first season, they made It back to the Avco Finals in the '78 season, losing to the original Winnipeg Jets, although this came at the cost of losing their new arena, due to a roof collapse they were forced to play 26 miles up the road in Springfield, MA at the Big E Coliseum and the Springfield Civic Center(home to the AHL Thunderbirds and NCAA Yellow Jackets), for the remainder of their two WHA Seasons. After 8 years of operation, the WHA merged with the NHL, with most of the clubs outright folding, save for the Whalers, Oilers, Jets(final Avco Cup winners) and Nordiques. Unlike the other clubs, the Whalers were allowed to keep the NHLers they had on their roster, rather than sending them back to their original team, as the other “new” teams had to do. This allowed the Whalers a slight advantage over many of the other NHL Teams, especially being able to keep players like Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe and Andre Lacroix(WHA All-Time Leading scorer). This advantage helped them become the first expansion team in NHL History to make the playoffs in their first year, a feat which would not be broken, until the Vegas Golden Knights joined. This merger was far from smooth however, as the Bruins who held a firm grasp on the New England market came close to(or did?) suing the league over admission of the Whalers, finally settling allowing the New England Whalers to join on the condition they change their name to the Hartford Whalers.
Attendance for the Whalers was never great, the only time it was really full was during Rangers or Bruins games, because of how close in proximity they were to NYC and Boston(5 hours..ish combined) and how well both fanbases traveled, it was usually a guarantee that you would see a sea of Blue / Gold. Hartford was a smaller market, but had the potential to be something incredible. Hartford for all of their existence were bottom five in attendance, it was always just a smaller arena, at their lowest they drew around 9854 fans, in their first NHL season, even with the improvements it wasn’t enough, Hartford just wasn’t a big major league market.
It was around this time that “Brass Bonanza” was introduced. Originally a B-Side on an album of team radio-broadcast highlights, it was composed by Jacques Ysaye under the pseudonym Jack Say. It gained popularity pretty fast, becoming the team’s theme song, being played during warmups, the team walking out, goals and victories. It is the one thing people think of when you say “Hartford Whalers”. It’s still used today by the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL(more on them later). During Brian Burke’s short tenure(literally a season), he got rid of the song saying “the players are embarrassed by it." It came back the next season, after Burke got fired.
Their first NHL season was one of their best ever, finishing with 73 points, the best of the former WHA Teams. In the first Round of the Norris Division playoffs however, the Whalers fell 0 Games to 3 Games, to the Montreal Canadiens, the reigning champions went on to lose to the Minnesota North Stars. That however proved to be their only playoff run for about 5 seasons, as they lost their stars in Howe, Lacroix and Lacroix, all announced their retirements, although this was not Howe’s final time playing professional hockey as he later signed a contract to play 1 game, 1 shift, with the IHL’s Detroit Vipers(the IHL was the NHL’s previous farm league before the ECHL). Losing their stars, combined with the aging WHA roster and a management making bad trades to try and stay afloat, led to a 5 season long drought. Despite the drought, attendance rose at the Civic Center and would continue rising until the 88-89 season, where attendance finally began falling off. The 1981 Draft was a great time to be a Whalers fan, they had just missed the playoffs, but had gotten Fourth Overall, leading them to draft Ron Francis. Francis made almost an immediate impact, with multiple point per game seasons, though it wasn’t enough to lead to the Whalers to a playoff berth, that wouldn’t happen until the 85-86 season. 85-86 was a magical time to be a Whalers fan, things began looking up, which seemed fair. In Game 1 of the season, down 3-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, Kevin Dineen led the Whalers in an incredible comeback, scoring 2 goals, which ultimately led to the Whalers winning 5-4. The following night was their home opener at home against the Rangers, with goals by Francis and Ferrao, the Whalers decimated their opponent with a score of 8-2, in front of an incredible crowd of over 15,142 fans. October was a pretty good month for them, beating the Canadiens 11-6 and going 6-4-0 for the month of October, leading to them sitting in third place in the Adams division. It cannot be stated enough how much these Whalers seemed like they were a playoff team, goalie Mike Liut was having a spectacular first few months, after being acquired late last season from the Blues for Greg Millen and Mark Johnson. November was a different story! Their first three games they lost by over 20 goals total, scoring only 7 total in this time. After trading for Defenseman Dave Babych, they looked legit for at least one game, against the Jets where they won 8-1, with Francis getting a hat trick. The fun didn’t stop there though! They went onto win their next two games with a combined score of 25-6(and 1 shutout of the Kings). After falling to the Oilers though, things went back to normal, they fell out of their playoff spot, dropping it to the Canadiens, who also were barely holding on. November ended with a record of 5-7-0. The rest of the season had its ups and downs, Francis was incredible, Dineen was an incredible player, while goaltending could be better, it could be much worse. They barely got into the playoffs, but it didn’t matter to the fans, they were going to the Adams Final this year! ...Where the Canadiens proceeded to destroy them in 7 hard fought games. All in all it was considered their best season ever at this point and to be fair, it was the best the Whalers would ever get, even though they finished 1st in the Adams the following year, they lost in the first round to the Nordiques(Hartford was cursed to lose to Quebec), this was the first and only season the Whalers had finished above Fourth in the Adams. To be honest, they were never “worldbeaters”, they were a smaller market team, which meant it was harder to attract great players, let alone trade for them, in many ways it’s the curse of location. The 80’s Whalers didn’t bring us much playoff victories, but they brought us...Whaler Mania. Sung by the one and only “Whaler Maniacs”. This video features a Hall of Fame cast, inspired by the likes of "the Bears Shufflin Crew’ Crew or the LA Rams “Ram It”, this summed up the 80’s in a nutshell, music videos from sports teams. The next few seasons were about much of the same, making the playoffs only to lose to Montreal, minus the two years where Boston beat them, it was usually just Montreal kicking them out of the first round. The 80s came and went, in what could be considered semi-successful, they got out of the first round once, they made it to the Adams Final, finished 1st in the Adams, but just couldn’t beat Montreal, Quebec, or Boston, to make a real run. Their best playoff run ever was celebrated with a Whalermania Parade, where over 40,000 fans attended. You might be wondering why a parade? Honestly who knows, it was probably to get more eyes on the product.
March 4th, 1991, the trade that in effect killed a franchise:
The Hartford Whalers, trade forward Ron Francis Defensemen Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in exchange for Forwards John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Defenseman Zarley Zalapski. You may be asking “Why did they trade Francis!?” Well, so did the fans. The Hockey News reported the Whalers got the “better end of the deal”, leading many fans to question what these writers were smoking and where to buy some of that shit. To their credit though, Cullen was the Penguins leading scorer and the other two were no jokes, they were good players the Pens gave up, Mario wasn’t that great at the time, he needed someone like Francis to compliment his abilities. The Penguins went onto win the next 2 Cups, cementing Mario's legacy as one of the top five players to play in the NHL. Francis cemented his legacy as one of the best as well, not top five, I don't think though. Francis even had a hat trick in the '92 playoffs against the Rangers. (I can't find anything with Francis from the '91 Finals, so enjoy this clip! of him scoring on the Caps!)
Why was Francis traded? Well let’s rewind a bit back to December of the previous year, the Whalers stripped Francis of his “C” and gave it to Forward Pat Verbeek(current AGM to the Wings). Why did this happen? Well, Head Coach Rick Ley felt that Francis was too “laid back”, while Verbeek was seen as “more intense” and he had been the team’s leading scorer prior. It seems Francis was traded, because he was seen as expendable, they needed help with the Defense and decided Francis could go. Unfortunately, Parker had suffered a career ending injury months after the trade, leading fans to just shake their heads and sigh. The Whalers were falling apart, their GM had no real power and was basically a figurehead to the shitty owner. Ley left the following season to join the Canucks as an Assistant Coach, before becoming their Head Coach later. The Whalers hired Jimmy Roberts as his replacement. Penguins GM Craig Patrick was asked about this trade, responding with: “Certainly, we weren’t a championship-caliber team, in my opinion, until we made that deal to get Ronnie and Ulf and Grant Jennings,” also saying, “We had made a lot of changes that whole season, but that was the icing on the cake.”
The Penguins needed help and this was the trade that got made them into a Dynasty and helped further cement Mario Lemieux as one of the greatest players ever. Funny enough, Whalers GM Ed Johnston, left the organization two years later to join…The Fucking Penguins. From what I've read this wasn't so much a move Johnston wanted to make, ownership had more or less forced his hand. Gordon meddling constantly in hockey ops, meant Johnston had no real power. He later joined the Penguins(3 seasons later)
Despite this, they made in the playoffs in 91-92, losing to the Canadiens, who despite looking like favorites to sweep, blew it, the Whalers responded by winning Games 3 and 4, Montreal won Game 5 due to crease violations(these weren’t enforced at the time), but Hartford tied it in Game 6, 24 seconds in Overtime thanks To Yvon Corriveau. Heartbreak happened though as usual, as they lost Game 7 in Montreal. During the offseason Coach Jimmy Roberts was fired, alongside GM Eddie Johnston, who just took his talents(???) to Pittsburgh as a Coach instead.
That same mediocre Summer:
The Hartford Whalers announce the hiring of Brian Burke, naming him the 5th General Manager in franchise history. Burke had most recently built the Vancouver Canucks who had gone onto a Cup Final(You know how that ended..). GM Brian Burke announces the hiring of Paul Holmgreen, the 10th Coach in franchise history. Holmgreen had most recently coached the Flyers, through a crazy playoff run, they had beat Lemieux's Penguins 4 games to 3, winning Game 7 in Pittsburgh. They then missed the playoffs twice, before he got fired. Holmgreen proceeds to name Pat Verbeek the team’s new Captain, counting the carousel of Captaincy. He got to play with up and coming stars, Andrew Cassels and Geoff Sanderson though, which was nice.
The Whalers also introduce their newest assistant coach, Pierre McGuire(Yes, that Pierre, the annoying one).
Burke’s first trade as a GM came quick: The Hartford Whalers trade Forward Bobby Holik, a 1993 Second-Round Pick and a conditional draft pick in 94(I can’t find anything on the condition) to the New Jersey Devils for Goaltender Sean Burke(no relation to Brian) and Defenseman Eric Weinrich. Burke had been playing internationally for Canada’s national team and for the Devils’ IHL affiliate. To say the least, he was a rookie sensation for the Devils, he had previously helped Canada(Junior) win a Silver Medal and from there went straight to the NHL, where he seemed...good. In the ‘89 season he was even named to the All-Star Game, being one of the few rookie goaltenders to make get named to the game. He was quickly becoming the face of the franchise, becoming the first Devil to be on the cover for The Hockey Digest. However by 1990 he became unhappy with the team and sat out 91-92, playing for Team Canada instead. So this was a seemingly good trade that Burke made, a change of scenery could do him well. He was even voted Whalers team MVP from 94 to 97, so it worked out for him, even though this team never even so much as sniffed the postseason again. Behind the scenes, things were...rough. Brian Burke didn’t last long in the role as GM, he quit after one season. Head Coach Paul Holmgreen stepped into the GM Role as well as staying head coach, until November 16th when he stepped down as coach, citing a “lack of effort from the players” and “wanting to focus on being a GM”. Pierre Mcguire(again that Pierre) became the new Coach and...he was pretty hated actually. To quote the Hartford Courant: “He fancied himself two-parts Scotty Bowman and one-part Bob Johnson. It was a super-human leap of faith on his part.” Basically he tried to act like Scotty Bowman, being cold and distant to the players, while at the same time trying to be ``friends” with them, like Bob Johnson tried to do more of. He was so hated that Whalers Captain Pat Verbeek(amazing he lasted this long as Captain!) was quoted as saying: “the best thing that could have happened to the Whalers.” Yes, the team captain is literally shitting on the ex-coach, because he was that goddamn awful. Nobody liked Pierre, he mocked other coaches and drove away players, even the fans were happy he was gone. He later went onto be the annoying guy NBC trots out to torture us, because they hate all of us. You might be thinking, “Can’t get any worse than Pierre,right?” Well it does. March 30th, 1994(before Pierre got fired), GM Paul Holmgren was arrested for driving drunk in Simsbury, Connecticut. From there he went to the Betty Ford Center for treatment / rehab, where upon Whalers owner Richard Gordon tried to fire him, being stopped by Bettman himself and Connecticut Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr, who convinced him to not. Aka Bettman told him “Do it and you’ll get a fine” most likely and Weicker probably say “Don’t do it please!”. He later became the coach again because the players were ready to either kill Pierre or hitchhike out of Hartford, if it meant not playing for him again. Seriously nobody liked Pierre, he got the job because he was an assistant under Scotty Bowman. The Whalers finished that year with only 63 points, 5 points better than last, but nowhere near good enough. Summer of 1994. The Whalers announce the team has been sold to Compuware(They specialize in equipment for IT) CEO Peter J Karmanos, the cheap bastard himself, alongside partners Thomas Thewes and Jim Rutherford(Pens GM). Rutherford quickly became the new GM of the Whalers, succeeding Holmgreen, whom went back to being a coach. Karmanos wanted a winning team, which made Rutherford to get Jimmy Carson and Steven Rice, in Free Agency. During the draft Rutherford selected Right Winger Jeff O'Neill with their First Rounder, O’Neill was a highly touted player, who had put up over 329 Points in only 3 Seasons with the Guelph Storm, so this was a smart decision. He never really lived up to his potential though, especially in the early years where he bounced between the Pros and Minors. Among other trades Rutherford made, he traded Chris Pronger(they weren’t happy with him not developing fast enough) for Brendan Shanahan, who was incredibly unhappy about this trade. Did it matter? Hell no! He was named Captain before even skating a single practice, the whole time he wanted out of Hartford, he felt it was too small of a market and they had an “uncertain future”. To Karmanos’ credit, he wasn’t new to owning Hockey, he had previously owned the OHL’s Windsor Spitfire, back in 1984 along with Thomas Tewes(longtime business partner) and Jim Rutherford. The Spitfires never won a Memorial Cup with Karmanos as owner, but they came close. Karmanos eventually sold them to someone who pledged to keep the Spitfire in Windsor, so long as the OHL granted him an expansion team in Plymouth, Michigan. It was that or he’d move the Spitfire to Plymouth, so he got the Plymouth Whalers.Karmanos’ group tried unsuccessfully to get an expansion team in St Petersburg, Florida. Eventually getting his hands on the Whalers. That’s right, behind the scenes, the Devil himself, Karmanos was trying to move the Whalers out of Hartford, unless he got a shiny new arena built by the taxpayers. At this point, Hartford was starting on an economic downswing and the Government didn’t care that much about the Whalers, to pay for a new arena. Can you blame them though? Karmanos didn’t want a new arena, he never wanted Hartford to begin with, he was eyeing another market. It was easy because the Whalers were bad, had they had good management, things might have gone differently. The team was bad and it was even worse behind the scenes, but they had recently re-acquired Kevin Dineen who was a fan favorite and helped boost morale at the least, along with mentoring the young players. It...didn’t really help though, attendance was down and they had missed the playoffs yet again. Due to his comments, Shanahan eventually got stripped of the “C”(why give it to a guy who didn’t want to be there I don’t know), due to fans and the media attacking him for his comments. Dineen was given the Captaincy instead, but it was another season lost. Shanahan finally got traded to a big market though, Detroit. The Detroit Red Wings acquire Forward Brendan Shanahan from the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Keith Primeau, Paul Coffey and a first-rounder. It actually helped the Whalers at first, as they started the 96-97 season with a winning record(that wouldn’t last).1996 was good for them, 1997 turned awful as losing kept happening, the playoffs slipped further and further away, until it was another season of no playoffs.
More behind the scenes chaos: The 96-97 Season was horrible, Karmanos announced unless the team sold 11,000 tickets he would move the team. If that didn't make things hard, he also eliminated ticket package deals, so you couldn’t just buy a package for 4 games and be good, you had to buy Season Tickets. That was literally the only option and helped Karmanos’ case of moving the team. His reasoning for moving them? Poor attendance and no corporate support(this one is fair, it’s been said that could be an issue with a Quebec team. I am not smart enough to say if this is a real issue or not). Despite Governor Rowland publically saying the state will not use public funds to build Karmanos a new arena, they were negotiating just that behind the scenes and talks were going well, until Karmanos wanted an additional $45 million to cover the team’s losses during the three years it would take to actually build the arena.
To be fair here, it wasn’t all because of Karmanos that the team moved. Yes he ultimately is the one who pulled the trigger and moved him, but this tale goes back to previous ownership and people no longer in charge. A lot of this can be blamed on Richard Gordon, the former owner who bought Donald Conrad’s(the other owner) stake in the team, in the later 80s, but this story goes well into the 90’s. Donald Conrad didn’t have the money needed to equal Gordon’s investment and had to get the help of Benjamin Sisti and Colonial Realty. In the end, Conrad had to sell his share to Colonial Realty and Gordon got the control he ever so desired. It doesn’t end there, Colonial Realty then declared bankruptcy because it turns out, they were a massive ponzi scheme. This gave a ton of uncertainty to the Whalers, since now it was they didn’t meet the financial terms of Conrad’s exit, which could also lead to Conrad being back in the ownership picture. Gordon pressed the NHL to investigate Colonial Realty, but this was the 90s NHL, they let a broke guy briefly own a team, they didn’t do their due diligence. For the first time, the 90s brought the word “relocation” to the Whalers, with Blockbuster owner Wayne Huizenga trying to buy the Whalers to move them to Florida, he later got awarded an expansion team in Miami. (this is a complicated mess I'm still trying to understand) To Gordon’s credit, he refused all relocation offers. But this was a long standing issue, people blame Karmanos, but it’s far more than just “Karmanos moved the team because he hated Hartford”, he did. Gordon’s micromanaging seems to be the reason for some of the baffling 90s trades, like trading Francis, or then trading Liut for Corriveau, who was nowhere near as good. Liut led the league in shutouts the year he was traded to Washington, while Corriveau was...bad, he bounced between the pros and minors constantly. Gordon was just as bad an owner if not worse in many ways, than Karmanos. It didn’t help that in 92, there was a player strike(it lasted 10 days) while Colonial Realty was going bankrupt. All in all it was a mess, I could write up a novel detailing all of this, but that would be boring. Gordon sold the team to Karmanos knowing Karmanos wanted to relocate a team, so please blame him more. Fun fact: Dallas, Minneapolis(Well ok, Minneapolis never did, but Minnesota got another), Las Vegas, Anaheim and Miami all tried to get the Whalers to move to their city. All of these cities later got an expansion team, or in the case of Dallas, a relocation. It also didn’t help that former Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry(or Hat Lady) was anti-Whalers. Famously saying “Hockey is for White People”(She’s not totally wrong though, unfortunately) and this was in a time when concession sales were becoming a much bigger deal. She didn’t want to play ball with the Whalers, she didn’t want to re-negotiate on the lease, I think she may have just wanted them gone to be honest. She wasn’t well liked by many, Aetna(they previously owned the Whalers) threatened to leave Hartford if she won a fourth term as Mayor. I won’t go into further details on who to blame, or it’ll be forever. With talks of the Whalers leaving, fans were livid. A “Save the Whale” Campaign launched, buying up just over 8,563 tickets, in under 45 days, despite the Whalers doing everything possible to get people to not buy tickets, fans bought up tickets to save the Whalers. It wasn’t enough though, even with the people wanting to save the team, even with everything else, Karmanos announced they were leaving. Karmanos had discussed moving to Norfolk VA, but the only arena they had, The Scope, was too small to house an NHL Franchise and the city wouldn’t build them an arena. (Norfolk is a great minor league market I think, but I’m heavily biased). Rowland’s offers weren’t good enough for Karmanos, since he was trying to move the Patriots to Hartford(spoiler: that didn’t work), he wasn’t really trying to please the Whalers, but would have bent over backwards for the Patriots. It’s a lot of bullshit. The relocation proposals: The Move. On April 17th, 1997, the Whalers played their final home game in Hartford, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1, with Captain Kevin Dineen scoring the final goal. On May 6, Karmanos announced the team would be relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite years of trying and the Government doing what it could, they left and that was the last time a major league team had come to Hartford. In many ways this was the final nail in the coffin for Hartford, they were beginning to struggle and the 2000’s made the cities downswing much worse. On October 1st, 1997, the new Carolina Hurricanes played their first game in North Carolina, losing in front of a sellout crowd to the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-4. Unfortunately, things didn’t improve, crowds were regularly drawing below 10K, the new arena wasn’t ready yet forcing them to move to Greensboro, as it was the only NHL ready arena in the state. Triangle area fans didn’t want to drive down I-40 to Greensboro, as it was an 80-Mile drive, while fans from the Piedmont Triad refused to support a lame-duck team and one that displaced the popular minor league Greensboro Monarchs. This was for all intents and purposes a stupid move, the arena was still 2 years out and fans in the area refused to support it, Karmanos had effectively killed a team that was at least getting 10k+ people to watch the games, in favor of an area that wanted nothing to do with them. It didn’t help the Greensboro Coliseum held over 20k+ seats for hockey, making it the biggest at the time in the league, but made it worse when nobody came to their games. It was so bad that sections had to be curtained off so that it wouldn’t look so awful on TV. It didn’t help only 29 TV Games were shown and radio broadcasts were often preempted by basketball, leading many to wonder “Why move them if nothing was ready?” Even Karmanos later admitted Greensboro was a mistake. The Whalers weren’t doing well in Hartford, yes, but moving them without a plan was just the best way to fuck up a relocation quickly.
In the end there were many guilty parties for “what killed the Whale?” Karmanos, Gordon, Weicker(the Governor at the time), Sisti(ran the Ponzi Scheme), they were what killed the Whalers in the end. It wasn’t a “lack of fan support” or “corporate support”, yes the latter didn’t help with the Whalers issues, nor did them being in the smallest NHL market help. But to blame anyone but these three you would be crazy to do so. The Government was incompetent, they wanted the Whalers to stay, but they were looking ahead at getting the Patriots and spending taxpayer funds to build them a stadium, you would probably see the Whalers in Hartford still, had the Governor not tried to flirt with the idea of an NFL team in Hartford. But realistically the only circumstance a new arena should have been built was if there was a guarantee that the Whalers would stay and that Karmanos would fit good portion of the bill as well.
After the Whalers left town, the Rangers moved the Binghamton Rangers to Hartford and renamed them the Hartford Wolfpack, playing in the same building as the Whalers played in, meaning NHL Hockey was gone, but AHL Hockey was here to stay. Unfortunately, even with hockey still in Hartford, not many attend Wolfpack games. But minor league teams are never that popular, so it makes some sense. For 3 seasons(2010-2013) the Wolfpack became the Connecticut Whale, paying homage to the former Whalers.
The Carolina Hurricanes won the cup in 2005, with only one Whaler left on the roster, Defenseman Glen Wesley won his first and only Stanley Cup. I’ve always considered the Hurricanes one of the weirder cup winners, they missed before and after their win. 04-05 was cancelled due to the lockout, but they missed in 02-03 and 03-4, missing again in 06-07 and 07-08, before coming to a conference final, where they were swept by the Penguins. That was their last playoff appearance for a full decade. Why did they miss so much? It’s simple: Karmanos. He refused to spend on the team after the cap became a thing, he stopped spending, he was content with the Hurricanes being awful and being a laughing stock of the NHL. Calls to move them were more common because of Karmanos, because nobody went to games, because they were losing money.
Could Hartford somehow get a new team? No, the answer is no. It’s too small of a market for the NHL to return to and the city is one of the poorer ones in the country as of now, with 1 in 10 citizens living in poverty, it wouldn’t be the right move to bring in a new team. Like the MLB, the NHL has a small market issue, free agents don’t want to go there, your gms can’t do much to fix anything, because nobody is giving up good players, unless it’s a cap dump and you get the picture. People in Hartford want a team, sure, but it’s mostly a minor league town, that’s what it can support, not every city can host a major league team. At the end of the day, Hartford just wouldn’t make any money for the NHL.
Jim Rutherford is regarded by many Canes fans as a terrible GM, he didn’t help much. He eventually ran off to Pittsburgh, turning them into a back to back cup winner and then wrecking any momentum they had, by signing some mediocre players to long term deals. (Jack Johnson.) He was replaced by franchise legend, Ron Francis who got replaced by Don Waddell, Francis is currently GM for the unnamed Seattle expansion team.
The Hurricanes are looking to rebound, after a decade of nothing-hockey, they look ready to make a comeback. The question is, was last year a fluke? or was it the start of something new? I hope it's the latter, I want this franchise to succeed, I want Hockey to succeed in North Carolina.
The Hurricanes also honored their heritage with a Whalers throwback night, where they beat Boston,(a feat the original Whalers didn't manage to do much) in front of a bigger home crowd than the Whalers ever had. Dundon's philosophy seems to be honoring the Whalers, instead of treating them like something shameful.
Karmanos finally sold the team in 2018, to Texas Billionaire, Tom Dundon who so far hasn’t done much of note, but enjoys talking about the Hurricanes. At the very least, it seems like he might be the owner the Hurricanes have needed.
The story of the Whalers isn’t a very happy one, in fact it’s pretty depressing when you realize this franchise never really had a chance, due to ownership, due to being a small market, due to a lot of factors. In the end, the Whalers are remembered for Brass Bonanza, for their run to the Adams Final, that had them a goal away from a Conference Final.
I'll probably cover the North Stars and everything that happened with them next, I dunno yet. I omitted a few things I know, like talking about the logo or mascot, but I covered the major events. Special thanks to the mods, who I didn't have to harass this week, because the bot deleted a post. And thanks to jacoobz for linking me to the Whalers article, I read through it and enjoyed it.
We all thought MacCagnan was going to stay around for the Gase era, and I remember putting up a post detailing the reasons why Mac wasn't good enough to stick around as a long-term GM. I didn't think i'd get my wish so soon, but regardless, Mac still had one draft left to put something together for the Jets. I'm sure others have already posted about this draft class, and probably the UDFA class as well, but I'm not sure if they have posted it with a basis in analytics so i'm going to do some of that.
3rd Overall - IDL Quinnen Williams
I was vehemently against drafting Quinnen when the pre-draft rumors started and by the time of the draft became neutral to it. I think Oliver might've been a better surface-level prospect because of his exceptional outlier potential. That's important to note because with an interior lineman, we all already know what a "good" lineman looks like and what their real impact is since we've had Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson here prior to getting Leonard Williams and now Quinnen Williams. I can't say for certain what makes a good definsive lineman analytically, but via some minor analysis, athleticism seems to play a notable part. And in order for Quinnen to return the value of a 3rd overall pick, he has to be an outlier at the interior defensive lineman position. Even Fletcher Cox or Geno Atkins might not be enough to make a significant dent, and by most public WAR ratings (still a work in progress by many sources, PFF's soon to release theirs publicly i think), they don't. But Aaron Donald does, even if that impact isn't even close to as much as some offensive players- like even Wide Receivers. Quinnen Williams athleticism vs the field We're using the combine for athleticism because we don't have any other more 'accurate' choice. The combine isn't the end-all-be-all because it's a single day in a players life where they get measured, and is without any sort of pads, but it's still valuable for some positions. I can't argue without a doubt that athleticism matters for the defensive line position, as i haven't done the regression work myself and i haven't seen it from others, but from basic data analysis it seems like it does. In a "loglcal" sense too, the position that spends all of it's time wrestling with another gigantic human being would benefit greatly from being able to overpower, or overrun, or juke them in a small and limited space. However, Wide receivers were also assumed for a long time to have a direct athleticism->production correlation, but that's been disproven through a lot of the public regression work since the position is far more about cunning and setting up your opponent to fail than outrunning them. But comparing Quinnen to the field, you see clearly he has the potential to become one of the all-pro players. His speed at his size is in the top 5% of NFL players overall (edge rushers, offensive lineman at all positions, other interior lineman) and his explosion is in the top 20%. It's similar to Aaron Donald in that regard but Donald was also 30 pounds lighter and his numbers were still so impressive that even size-adjusting kept him in the top end. That's why i say that Oliver might've been the better prospect here, since he fits the mold of being so outrageously athletic that he has the potential to break the game like Donald did. Quinnen in a literal sense looks more like the mold of Geno Atkins, a special player for the position but maybe not as capable of game-breaking. At least on the surface. Size-adjusting can only take you so far, as just being more agile than the gaurd your up against will put you in a position to get the sack, as Donald has constantly shown even if that player is "adjustably" up to par. They're literally not as fast. One thing Quinnen really has going for him is his age. He played his sophomore season at Alabama at 20 years old. Age doesn't always correlate to being good at every position, but being young and dominant shows an advanced ability to process the game and nuances of the position than the opposite would. It increases your chances for success dramatically, and at least in the regressions i've worked on it's always come out as predictive for linebackers and safeties. Speaking of that season, he was really good. 45 solo tackles for a defensive lineman is no joke, and 71 in total is really high. Especially in the Alabama defense. It's a mark that Donald, Wilkerson, Leonard, and many other good defensive lineman have hit. The 19.5 tackles for a loss are extremely high too. Former Alabama first rounder Jonathan Allen wasn't able to get close to that mark until his Junior year, and had to wait until his senior year to get to that tackle number. The other recent first rounder from Alabama Daron Payne never got close to either in his three years on his team. I would bet money that Quinnen has zero chance of busting. At worst he would end up like Sheldon Richardson, an elite run defender who can get some pressure that never becomes a real finisher. But he's got a good chance to become a cornerstone defensive piece. Was that valuable enough to stay at 3rd overall instead of trading down? My opinion is no, but at least he's got some chance of being dominantly game-changing to keep the hope alive that it will be.
68th Overall - Edge Jachai Polite
Polite is what i'll call a black box player. Edge rushers still wrestle with offensive linemen to get their stats, so their combine is still important. However, Polite was injured at the combine, and barely performed at his pro-day. In fact he was somehow .2 slower in the 40-yard dash at his pro-day than the combine. Either way, here's what we get: Jachai Polite athleticism vs the next edge rushers picked Really, the black box player might be the best one in these scenarios. Crosby and Nelson are far more athletic, but *Crosby is an end from a small school, while *Nelson might be too big for an OLB role. If the Jets were willing to move away from 3-4 they might've been better picks. I'd imagine by next year they will anyway. Production wise, Polite doesn't have anything that stands out in solo tackles. His sacks were a healthy 11 and he had 19.5 tackles for a loss in his only season as a starter. Justis Mosqueda's work on Force Rushers, a formula and set of thresholds that try to find future elite edge rushers had an important threshold for age attached to it based on the total sacks a player has before a certain age in the NFL and college and Jachai Polite has a chance to meet that. He'll be 21 as a Rookie with 15 college sacks already on his resume. Finally, if we run him through the old Waldo math rusher formula that was posted about 11 years ago on a random green bay packers forum, he comes out as a high risk prospect given his combine performance, but injuries while performing could be the cause of that.
92nd Overall - OL Chuma Edoga
Another black box player. The Jets got smarter this time around with their draft picks by picking players you can make excuses for, unironically. Mac had time and time again taken players for whom the lack of production or athleticism or age was hard to excuse or understand and made the players washing out in the NFL extremely likely and ultimately inevitable without a reason for upside. Last years 3rd rounder Nathan Shepard being an example, or Ardarius Stewart the year before. Chuma and Polite both are black box players who didn't get to do combine or pro-day workouts because of injuries and are inherently now upside players because their downsides are unknown. Once you're out of the first two rounds, that's what the draft is all about, at least to me.
121st Overall - TE Trevon Wesco
Trevon Wesco's playerprofiler page MacCagnan's tenure was filled with these sort of mediocre profiling tight ends who he hoped would turn up in the NFL. Tight end has been a really difficult position to predict in the NFL via analytics or otherwise, with some predictive regression work finding the vertical jump to be quite valuable (along with size) while others finding some production thresholds being valuable. In either case, Wesco doesn't meet any of those thresholds or analytics and would be a better bet to fail than succeed. However, it was a position the Jets needed considering Herndon also didn't look like a special player coming out of college and the Jets were smart to hedge their bets to make sure they have a second option in case Herndon comes crashing down. There just might've been better options on the board than a player who seems like they were drafted to block, something FA and UDFA can cover for you. Even the Patriots spent a 4th round pick on a quarterback the year after Tom Brady won his first Superbowl, just in case. Wesco was a complete non-factor in the West-Virginia offense that had it's starting Quarterback and a starting wide receiver drafted, so that doesn't come out as too good for his prospects and neither does his average efficiency per catch. Not that the latter has ever been proven to correlate to anything in the NFL. Or even the former. Tight ends are just kind of a mystery, at least from the public data.
157th Overall - Blake Cashman
Now this is my wheelhouse, inside linebackers. I'm still working on improving the model i built for these, but given the current state of it Cashman profiles a lot more like a short-term starter than a long-term fixture. Blake Cashman profile Cashman is an elite athlete, however in all my research athleticism really doesn't matter much for linebackers! It does not seem to change the quality of their play significantly. You can look through this sheet i did two years ago where i compared all of the combine events, as well as the 'smarter' athleticism formulas to NFL production. Other than volume production, it's not relevant. The numbers represent what percentage of the value on the left was explained by the combine event at the top. For example, the 40 yard dash is only predictive enough to explain 0.0408 (aka 4%) of the variance in total solo tackles in a linebackers first three years. Would you take high stock in a value that only explained 4% of the players production? No, you wouldn't. However, one number does have a BIT of power in explaining something, and that's Adjusted Agility (a players agility in context of their size) to the amount of solo and total tackles they get per snap, at 5% and 7%. That's as strong as the combine gets for linebackers, folks. Production on the other hand, really valuable. So is age. Cashman's profile shows you what it is, a late bloomer with incredible athletic gifts. He's late to become a starter (age breakout), he was productive as a starter, but his production for his age was extremely weak. All three of those numbers have been predictive in my research for a linebacker (as in running a regression model finds them as meaningful), and he's not hitting the mark. He also doesn't have many excuses for it given the players that were ahead of him in college don't seem to be any good. However that level of production and athleticism is good enough to probably let him rotate in and do some work here and there. However, hitting the mark here isn't the end-all. Predictions are not 100% accurate, just a clue of what the right things to focus on are. Running him through my comparison model, here's the players who most fit his profile: Blake Cashman Comps Malcom Smith is one of his closest comps to get some NFL success while Zach Brown and Thomas Davis are distant comparisons who have enough similarities to appear in the top 10. Most likely, he'll make a great depth piece who will have some splash plays. At least that's my bet.
196th overall - CB Blessaun Austin
Austin was one of the slowest cornerbacks at the combine and has had multiple season ending injuries at this point in his career. That gives him some upside as another black-box player with little history, but it's more likely he'll just flame out.
Surprisingly, this isn't even one of the worst surface-level drafts Mac had. There's no outright fumble on any of these picks, and other than not trading down during the Quinnen pick, Mac made some reasonable decisions. This draft year was surface-level terrible, as countless prospects had very few excuses for their lacking measurables or production and in general the class was filled with specialists from all kinds of positions. It wasn't a class worth over-investing in, so in that regard the Jets got lucky to have so few picks in this year but are unlucky that they are desperately still in need for a talent surge and only one player they drafted has that surface-level talent, unfortunately at a position that might not matter all too much. I'll be posting another thread for the UDFA's later.
The Weekly Post (May 18, 2018): 99 OVR Upgrades, Fan Appreciation Packs, Level Cap Increase, MUT Rewards
Sean Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, Champ Bailey Upgraded to 99 OVR
The long-awaited upgrades to three players that MUT users have had or been chasing since last summer were finally announced on Thursday night — at 10:02 p.m. Eastern, which is, uh, late? — and are here as of Friday's store reset: Players can now get MUT Master Sean Taylor, Level Master LaDainian Tomlinson, and a Power Up Champ Bailey that was part of the Kickoff solos up to 99 OVR through new sets. For Taylor, the set requires the 97 OVR Sean Taylor that players got by bumping up the 95 OVR Sean Taylor this winter, three Elite Tokens, any three Gold Tokens, and any three Silver Tokens. That set returns a NAT 99 OVR Sean Taylor with an X3 chemistry of your choosing and the Secure Tackler and Tip Drill red chems. For Tomlinson, the set requires the 98 OVR LT and just 30 Tomlinson Tokens. (As someone who has 102 — not a misprint — and a 98 OVR LT, that seems very cheap!) The reward is a 99 OVR LT with a 2X chemistry of your choice and the Never Stumble and Playmaker red chems, making him the lone running back in MUT with Playmaker. Excess Tomlinson Tokens can also be quicksold for 1800 coins each. That's a heck of a rebate. The Bailey sets are unequivocally the most intensive ones. To get a 95 OVR Champ to 97 OVR in a first set, you'll need that 95 OVR Champ, three Elite Tokens and any two Gold Tokens; to get 97 OVR Champ to 99 OVR, you'll need the same thing. But while six Elite Tokens and four Gold Tokens is a steep investment, the 99 OVR Champ is quite clearly going to be an endgame cover corner and a starter for many players, even if his run support stats leave something to be desired.
Fan Appreciation Packs Return to MUT
Possibly more exciting than that? Fan Appreciation Packs are back. The packs that dropped in June of 2017 in the MUT 17 cycle and crashed the market for good have made a surprise debut in MUT 18 this Friday, and are every bit as potentially loaded as last year's were. For a mere 50,000 coins or 500 points, players get five guaranteed Elite players, including one Replay player, one Ultimate Legends player, one Draft player, and two 85+ OVR players. Players are limited to six purchases, whether with coins or points. These are not nearly as lit as last year's Fan Appreciation Packs, which guaranteed 90+ OVR Elites, but should still be well worth the purchase, as the worst five cards you could pull from something like this would have gone for about 50,000 coins as of yesterday, and the potential for pulling fire will be very high. These packs will also assuredly crash the Auction House market, and maybe most meaningfully do that for Ultimate Legends, which have not been guaranteed in coin packs until today. I would also strongly urge players to buy them as quickly as possible, because I believe they currently do not provide what is advertised on the description — i.e. you can pull Elite Players under 85 OVR, and the description is misleading — which has, in the past, been a recipe for players receiving a customer service grant of some kind. (It is possible that the description is meant to imply only that at least two of the five cards in the pack will be better than 85 OVR ... but given that literally every Replays, Ultimate Legends, and Draft player is better than 85 OVR, there's some significant mendacity going on there if that is the implication.) Update: That was, apparently, what was happening. I ended up getting eight Fan Appreciation Make-Right packs (over and above the six I purchased and the two I had opened from my MUT Rewards haul), all of which had five 85+ OVR cards.
Fan Appreciation Solos and Set Released
In addition to the Fan Appreciation Packs, there are also new Fan Appreciation solos and a new set tab that currently has just one set. The solos — 11 of them, all moments, all on Competitive, some longer than others — will reward you with 67,000 coins and a random 99 OVR NAT Ultimate Legend — which should mean, if you zip through the sequence today, you will get one randomly-chem'd version of Mean Joe Greene, Calvin Johnson, Ray Lewis, or Dan Marino, so long as Limited Time Ultimate Legends are excluded from the pull pool (which they should be, if history is any guide, because none are in packs). But Saturday should bring at least one other 99 OVR UL into the pull pool, and if the LTD 99 OVR UL is eligible, that deepens the pool yet more. And that set is a monster: For five Elite Tokens, players can get one random 97-99 OVR NFL Draft Future Star. An in-game screen existed that suggested that players can "play to earn a Best of the Best Pack" which is "available this weekend only", but it was unclear how that is possible, as that tab takes players to the Fan Appreciation solos, and no Best of the Best Pack is listed among the rewards. All in-game references to that have now been removed. (My bet: That was an idea that got scrapped in favor of the NAT UL.) Elite Token prices are likely to stay up this weekend thanks to the Taylor and Bailey sets, but the components should be available for a song to snipers so long as players are pulling the Fan Appreciation Packs. As a result, that set could be a way to get a very good player very cheaply — and it should also drive down the price of the NFL Draft Masters significantly. And new NAT ULs for everyone will drive down the prices of existing ULs for at least the weekend. Both these solos and the set expire at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 21, which also makes it likely the Fan Appreciation Packs will expire at the same time.
MUT Level Cap Increased (to 52?) Plus Double XP
In conjunction with all of the above, the level cap for MUT has also been raised from 50 to ... something more than 50? There are new Level Cap objectives in the game for reaching MUT Level 51 and 52, and Level Challenges that unlock at Level 52, which would suggest 52 is the new cap, but we're unlikely to know for certain whether that is in fact the cap until someone reaches it. And, well, it's gonna be a while before someone does, because it will take a whopping 12,000 XP to get to Level 51 from Level 50. That will be true even though this weekend is a double XP weekend, per an in-game screen. (That will run until Monday at 10 a.m., as has been true with everything else pertaining to this Fan Appreciation Weekend.) The objectives, though, are very generous: Reaching MUT Level 51 and 52 each reward 200K coins and an Ultimate Legends Fantasy Pack. The Level Challenges at Level 52 also reward 9,000 coins and two items — likely to be jerseys of some sort, given the Level Challenges' rewards to date — and the Objectives and Progress screen teases exclusive store offers unlocked at Level 51 with an image of an Ultimate Legend Fantasy pack that has Ray Lewis on the cover. Someone is already assuredly ahead of me in the race (read: grind) to the Level Cap, but I'll update this post when Level 51 and Level 52 are reached and the details of what is unlocked at those levels become available. Update: Via u/Freshman4life05, the pack that unlocks at Level 51 is an Ultimate Legends Hero Fantasy Pack that contains a choice of three 97+ OVR full Ultimate Legends, costs 1,500 points, and is, naturally, a single purchase only. Also via u/Freshman4life05 the pack that unlocks at Level 52 is a reduced-price Best of the Best pack for 1,050 points with the same choice of three 96+ OVR players it's always had. And, finally, via u/Freshman4life05 — whose free time and focus I am jealous of — the Level Challenges at Level 52 are all easy Moments-style solos, and the second and fourth ones award fantasy packs with Bullfrogs uniforms that have 3X chemistry (one for offense, one for defense, with Toughness only on the offensive unis).
MUT Rewards for May Released
And on top of all of that, the MUT Rewards for May are now available — and they're Fan Appreciation Packs. Rookie Tier users get one, Pro Tier users get two, All-Pro users get three, and Legendary players will get four. This is, by some margin, the most generous MUT Rewards release of the year.
New Replays, Signature Series Players
This week's new Replays heroes: Eli Manning, who is Eli Manning, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has 98 Speed and a 6'2" frame because we actually need 30 different endgame corners. The Power Up DRC is the first defensive player in MUT 18 with stock 99 Speed, and the second overall — following the Power Up T.Y. Hilton that was released last Friday after his Silver Token Master dropped last week. This week's Signature Series players, who are in packs until Saturday morning: Mike Daniels, a good but deeply unsexy RE, and Maurkice Pouncey, a very good center who is still not the 99 OVR auctionable center the market has been waiting for.
These are the questions I don't have answers to at the moment, and ones that we'll get answers to either from players hitting certain milestones and/or EA communication.
What players are available in the 99 OVR NAT Ultimate Legend pack?
I think it's likely that players who open the pack today will receive a random 99 OVR set Ultimate Legend from the existing pool — again: MJG, Calvin, Ray, Marino — with whatever chems the game spits out. That's consistent with the pulls being reported in this Muthead thread. You do not get a choice of chems or players, it would seem. If it's possible to pull a Limited Time UL from the pack, though, it might behoove players to put off opening it until Saturday or beyond. And opening it on Saturday should enable you to also pull whatever 99 OVR set UL drops tomorrow — but, again, we don't know for sure.
[OC][LONG] Winning Is Not Winning: A Retrospective On Kevin Durant's Move To The Warriors
I just want to go ahead and prepare you for what you're about to read. This is a 6000-word essay on why Kevin Durant's (and subsequently Demarcus Cousins' as well) move to the Warriors was horrible, including why every common defense of it is completely bankrupt. I believe if you are still defending this decision, you have either completely lost the plot, given it a very shallow analysis, or some odious combination of the two. Anyway, enjoy. When Kevin Durant decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016, many fans of the NBA were shocked and outraged, myself included. No one expected one of the best players in the sport to join the best team in the sport and create a super team the likes of which we’ve never seen. Now I sit here, having been forced to sit through two years of (seemingly) preordained basketball seasons wondering why I am still so bothered by Kevin Durant’s decision and its defenders. No doubt personal flaws are in play here, but I believe there are rational reasons that cut through to deeper truths yet explored by the NBA media explaining why the decision is maligned by so many. I believe that by joining the Warriors, Kevin Durant displayed a complete and utter lack of respect for professional basketball and the spirit of competition, upon which the game is based. To begin to understand why his event caused so much outrage, it’s necessary to understand the context which surrounded Kevin Durant’s decision. Kevin Durant was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, and after their relocation to Oklahoma City, spent his first nine years with the franchise. He quickly became one of the best players in the NBA, racking up five First-team All-NBA selections, four scoring championships, and one MVP. By 2016 he had been regarded as one of the 2 best players in the game for five years and was knocking on the door of the top 25 players of all-time. In the 2016 season, the Oklahoma City Thunder were very good. Other than Kevin Durant, they had Russell Westbrook (who would go on to win the MVP the very next season), Andre Roberson (an elite perimeter defender), and Steven Adams (a young, but good and improving, defensive big). This squad managed to find themselves up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, who had that season broken the all-time record for wins, going 73-9 in the regular season. Despite only needing to win one more game to advance, the Thunder lost three games in a row and had to watch the Finals from their couches at home. After the Warriors lost the championship in 7 games to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Durant joined the team as a free agent. Since then they have won two titles and he has been selected Finals MVP both times. What, though, is it about these events that bothers fans so much? The way I see it, there are three aspects of the decision that made it so hard to stomach. By joining the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant: · Made one of the best teams of all-time much better. · Removed a potential championship contender in Oklahoma City without replacing them by joining another team that could have used him in order to compete. These are the main problems, and the reason that they are problematic is that they each hurt the competitive balance of the NBA. Together they kneecap it. There is one less team with a realistic shot at a championship and every team that did have a shot now has a much steeper hill to climb. There is one more reason that this decision is problematic, but it probably wouldn’t have been as big a deal without the first two issues. Considerate it icing on the cake, a cake that is already oh so hard to swallow. Kevin Durant: · Joined a team he lost to. The “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality blatantly flies in the face of spirit competition. There is no way to honestly contend that Kevin Durant cares about competition after he tried to avoid it by joining his biggest obstacle to success. This is a problem entirely divorced from the competitive balance of the NBA. The issue here is with how it destroys Kevin Durant’s personal narrative and career legacy, which are important reasons why people follow the NBA. To make my case on the first point, I have to prove that the 2015-2016 Warriors were one of the best teams of all time and that the addition of Kevin Durant made them nigh unstoppable. It’s easy enough to cite their record 73 wins in the regular season, but there’s plenty of advanced statistics to support their inclusion among the best teams ever. They led the league in Offensive Rating (15th all-time), as Stephen Curry was named the MVP for the second consecutive season. Their offensive was historical, led by their MVP, who had the most efficient 30 points per game season ever (.669 TS%) with an NBA record 402 3-pointers (5.4 per game), and Klay Thompson, whose mark of 276 3-pointers has only ever been surpassed by Curry. Their defense was elite as well, led by Draymond Green, who most recently won this season’s DPOY and has 3 times been selected First-team All-Defense, and Andre Iguodala, whose defense on LeBron James in the 2015 Finals earned him the Finals MVP. These two along with great team defense led to a Defensive Rating that, while not all-time great, was good enough for 5th in the league. Great defense combined with a historically great offense allowed the Warriors to outscore their opponents by 10.76 points per game, a mark good enough for 7th all-time. Clearly, this squad was up there with many of the great teams in NBA history, but what would happen if they replaced Harrison Barnes, a role player who will never even sniff an all-star game in his career, with Kevin Durant, one of the game’s 5 greatest scorers ever, a 7-footer with ball-handling skills who can pull up from anywhere on the floor? The answer is that one of the greatest teams ever gets even better. That Offensive Rating that was 15th all-time is now the greatest offense ever recorded by advanced stats. That Defensive Rating that was 5th in the league is now 2nd overall. Their Margin of Victory is now 11.63 points per game, which is the 4th most ever. In the playoffs, it would only get worse as they outscored opponents by 14.5 points per game and sweeping their way to the finals before taking down the Cavaliers in 5 games. It is now generally agreed upon that Warriors have 2 of the top 3 players in the league (LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant), 2 of the 5 greatest shooters ever (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird), and one of the top 2 defenders (Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard) who is also routinely among the top assist-men in the league. Having this much talent concentrated on one team is an incredible accomplishment for the organization and is the result of good drafting (Steph Curry-7th overall, Klay Thompson-11th overall, Draymond Green-35th overall), luck (Steph Curry signing a 4-year $44 million contract extension in 2012 due to concerns about his ankles, making him one of the most underpaid players ever after his emergence as an MVP, thus opening up cap space for the Warriors to sign Kevin Durant), and the gift of having an all-time great decide to join your team in his prime instead of being your main competition. However, having so much talent concentrated on one team means that other teams don’t get to have as many good players, therefore fewer teams can realistically compete for a championship, and the NBA (and sports leagues in general) are at their best when several great teams are competing for championships. One of the problems with Kevin Durant’s move is that it not only made a championship caliber team even better, but it simultaneously eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder’s championship aspirations. In any given NBA season, there are about six teams that start the season with realistic title hopes and by playoff time that number is usually cut down to around four. Assuming Kevin Durant signs with Oklahoma City, those four teams would have been (assuming no injury) the Thunder, Warriors, Cavaliers, and the San Antonio Spurs. It’s worth mentioning here the deluge of teams, other than the Thunder, where Kevin Durant could have gone and would, merely by his inclusion, replace Oklahoma City’s spot as a contender. These teams are the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, and the Memphis Grizzlies. Now some of these teams would have been better than others (some would have been favorites), but every single one of them, barring significant injury, would have been in the conversation at the end of the season. By going to the Warriors, however, he ended the Thunder’s chances and reduced the odds significantly for the Cavaliers and Spurs. Going into the 2016-17 season, the Warriors were given 5-8 odds which indicates an exceptionally heavy favorite. To put that into perspective, a successful bet placed at the beginning of the season on the Warriors winning the Finals would have paid out less than you put in (so if I bet $100, I would only win $62.50, in addition to getting my money back). Now, the NBA has never been a league of parity, and most of its history features dynasties that won multiple championships. This is a problem intrinsic to the game of basketball, an inevitability of the fact that only five players are on the court at a time, therefore the impact that great players have on the game is naturally much higher than in sports like baseball or football that have around twice as many players on the field at once. Far from a problem, the growth of the NBA was largely built on the backs of its dynasties. Bird’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, and Jordan’s Bulls were largely responsible for the surge of popularity the NBA experienced throughout the 80’s and 90’s. People love rooting for dynasties, they like watching dominance and seeing records get broken, but they love rooting against dynasties even more. Fans watch, waiting for a team to come along and knock off Goliath. At bottom, that’s what competition is all about. I would never claim that dynasties are a problem. The problem is that when an established dynasty gets much better while gutting one of its main competitors, the season feels like a foregone conclusion. Because the best players have such a great impact on the game, personal narratives and ultimately legacies are woven into the entertainment of the NBA product. This is not an accident, the NBA spends a tone of time and money in a concerted effort to market its stars. This is why accolades like All-NBA teams and MVP awards draw so much attention and why morning shows like First Take and Undisputed devote so much time towards debating all-time ranking of players. The only other people in sports that get as much attention as NBA superstars are NFL quarterbacks, whose effect on team success is incredibly disproportional relative to their teammates, and Soccer superstars, whose popularity is mostly overseas and due largely to the worldwide appeal of the sport. I’ve said that NBA history is largely built on the backs of its dynasties, but those dynasties were built on the backs of their superstars, and that’s just as, if not more, important. I’ve mentioned Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan, three players who are in most people’s top 5 greatest players ever, because they have a case for being the three most important players for the sport’s growth and popularity and that is largely because of their narratives. Magic and Bird’s narratives, and legacies, are intertwined because they combined for six MVP’s and eight championships in the 80’s as the faces of the two most important franchises. Both their careers were ended early for non-sports related medical issues/injuries incurred around the same time. The argument over who was better had started while they were in college, persisted throughout their careers, and will likely never end. While those two were battling it out on the biggest stage, Michael Jordan was building a narrative of a player who, while great individually, wasn’t good enough to lead his team to a championship, whose stats were empty, and who needed more talent around him to win (remind you of anyone?). However, once the 90’s rolled around, Jordan flipped that narrative on its head, winning 6 championships, taking the crown of greatest player ever, and creating a brand that turned him into a billionaire, a cultural icon, and a god among basketball players. Some of the most watched moments in NBA history are so only because of Michael Jordan and his personal narrative. Hell, some of the most watched moments in Minor League Baseball history were only because of Michael Jordan. Recently, LeBron James’ challenge of Michael Jordan’s GOAT status has been a major talking point on every NBA media platform and forum for years, continuing the entertainment lifetime that his legacy brings. What Kevin Durant did may have temporarily ruined the competitive balance of the NBA, but it permanently ruined his narrative and destroyed his legacy. For nine years, the story of Kevin Durant was a story of an unbelievably gifted scorer, a seven-footer with an unprecedented skill-set, a player who, with a championship, would certainly be talked about among the all-time greats. A ring was the only thing left to add to his legacy because the stats were saying, and continue to say, that his basketball abilities are unrivaled. Now his narrative is of a player who is great, but can’t win without three Hall of Famers by his side, who, when faced with adversity, simply joins forces with his opponent, which is an affront to the spirit of competition that is absolutely unprecedented in the history of sports. As a fan of the NBA, I may never know if Kevin Durant can lead his team to a championship, I may never get to watch as he celebrates with his teammates after rising up in the face of adversity and beating a worthy opponent in the Finals. Even if he does, that moment will be tainted by the knowledge that he decided to forgo competition for two easy titles and the memory of these last two downright awful years of NBA basketball. In fact, I don’t believe it to be an overstatement to say that his decision to join the warriors is the biggest black mark on any player’s legacy ever simply because of what it says about his respect for competition. That is to say that it shows he has none. He didn’t truly care about beating Steph, Klay, and Draymond, because when faced with the choice he would rather play with them and avoid the hardship of competing with a worthy opponent. In the two years since Kevin Durant’s free agency, several arguments have been made in support of his decision. I find most of these arguments to be ridiculous, but people keep saying them, with a smug look on their face, unaware of how little substance there is behind. So I have deemed it worthy of my time (which honestly isn’t all that valuable) to describe how stupid they are to the best of my ability in the hopes that, in a few days, I may never hear them again. Buckle in, because we’re only about halfway through. He Just Did The Same Thing LeBron Did This idea is extraordinarily reductionistic and has been repeated ad nauseum by NBA commentators and media members to defend Kevin Durant’s decision. The narrative is quite simple, LeBron James left the Cavaliers in 2010 for a better team in the Heat, Kevin Durant left the Thunder for a better team in the Warriors, therefore they both basically made the same move. If this is as deep as your analysis goes, then I don’t know what to do with you. Yes, I concede that they are the same in that both players left the team that drafted them for a better team, however, any honest analysis deeper than that leads to the conclusion that Kevin Durant’s decision was so much worse so as to be incomparable. The key differences are as follows: Kevin Durant left for a pre-established team, with a core in place that had just won a championship together the two years before. LeBron James left in order to establish a core that he believed could compete for a championship. Kevin Durant joined a team that had broken the regular season wins record, going 73-9, and was one win away from a second consecutive championship. LeBron James joined (albeit with Chris Bosh) a team that won 47 games and got bounced in the first round of the playoffs two years in a row. Kevin Durant left for the team that beat him. LeBron James never lost to the Heat (or the Raptors for that matter) in the playoffs. The Oklahoma City Thunder surrounded Kevin Durant with far more talent than the Cleveland Cavaliers ever managed to give LeBron James, giving him less reason to give up on the franchise. The fact of the matter is that LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers, a franchise who in seven years had failed to surround him with anyone better than Mo Williams, who is nothing more than an average role player. In the next four years without LeBron James, the Cavaliers lost their way into three first overall picks, compiling a 97-215 record in that span, the worst in the NBA. It’s not only reasonable but compelling, to believe that the Cavaliers would have continued to fail to surround LeBron James with the talent needed to compete for a championship had he given them the chance by resigning with the team in 2010. Therefore, he joined forces with another all-star in Chris Bosh, who had been stuck on a similarly terrible Toronto Raptors team for his 7 year career as well, to join Dwayne Wade who, since winning the Finals in 2006, had failed to get his team out of the first round in four consecutive seasons largely due to the incompetence of his front office to surround him with talent after the departure of Shaquille O’Neal. This core group of players had spent most of their careers to that point on hopelessly undertalented teams and, in the midst of poor executive decisions, decided to be executives unto themselves and cooperate in forming what would become termed a “superteam” in Miami. During these years preceding that summer their conference had been dominated by a similar team in the Boston. Their trio of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett had also spent their careers on otherwise untalented rosters, going to three conference finals series between them in their combined 32 seasons in the league before finding success on the Celtics, at which point it’s worth mentioning that the narratives on all three players changed for the better. The only difference seems to be that Allen and Garnett were acquired by trade, and were significantly older, but as far as I’m concerned the only lessons to be learned from that Celtics trio, if you’re James, Wade, or Bosh, are that winning titles is the ultimately goal, and that a mediocre front office will waste your prime years if you let them. Therefore, they decided to come together on their own accord and begin the process of competing for titles as a team, but it wasn’t easy. These three players had to figure out how to play together and their games changed as they evolved into a championship caliber team. James and Wade, having spent their careers as primary ball-handlers, learned to share and found their powers complemented each other perfectly in the fast break as the Wade-James alley-oop would become an iconic play of the era. Chris Bosh, who had spent his career up to that point as a primary option in the post, had to adjust as a tertiary option, with far fewer touches. He ended up revolutionizing the stretch four position that would become more prevalent as small-ball ended up taking the NBA by storm, adding a 3-point shot that would become necessary in the trio’s path to their first championship in 2012. The point is that these three players put in a ton of effort and sacrifice in order to make their team work whereas Kevin Durant simply hopped a ride onto an established system that was already competing for titles without him in order to avoid putting in that same work of establishing a system and a winning culture with the Oklahoma City Thunder or any of the other teams who, with his addition, would be competing for championships. This may muddy my point somewhat, but it is worth mentioning that I actually agree with his decision to leave Russell Westbrook. I believe him to be a delusional player whose basketball IQ and general self-awareness is seriously lacking and if I’m a star player who wants to win titles, there are other players I’d rather play with. I don’t have a problem with Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City, in fact, trading away James Harden is an egregious enough mistake in itself to justify his departure to me, especially after spending nine years there. The problem is that instead of leaving a title contender and going to another team that could take its place, he joined the odds-on favorite to win and took the easiest possible path to a ring of any superstar ever. To put in perspective how unprecedented Kevin Durant’s decision is in the history of sports is quite a tall task. I contend that any comparison between what he did and any other conceivable situation in sports history would still reflect poorly on his side of things. People often say “it would be akin to X (player) going to Y (team) in Z (year), but taking into account every variable, it is almost impossible to conceive of a situation that is as extreme. For example, you will often hear that what Kevin Durant did is akin to LeBron joining the Celtics in his 2010 free agency. This makes sense on certain fronts. The Celtics, like the Warriors, had been competing for titles for a couple years, had won a championship with an established core, and had beaten LeBron James in the playoffs that year. Still though, the analogy breaks down a bit when you take into account the fact that Cleveland’s roster was putrid and completely falls apart after realizing that the Celtics core three, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, were slated to be 35, 34, and 33 respectively the very next season and well outside of their primes whereas the Warriors core of Curry, Thompson, and Green were to be 28, 26, and 26 respectively, and were just entering their prime years. You will find that any comparison will require tweaking the dials in some significant way. For example, it would be like Michael Jordan joining the Bad Boy Pistons after they beat him in the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals IF the Pistons core was a bit younger AND Michael could opt out of his contract several years early AND Jordan’s team was better (i.e. Scottie Pippen was in his prime). In order to find an acceptable comparison you would need to imagine an all-time great player leaving a team that drafted him, while they had the pieces around him to compete for a championship, for a team that beat him in the playoffs and had already been competing for titles for at least a couple years, had actually succeeded once, still had their core together in their prime and had that core on cheap enough contracts that they could sign that player without gutting their team for him. This is a combination of scenarios that has never existed in the NBA and any comparison requires enough variables tweaked that the situation is hardly the same anymore and the analogy falls flat. Comparisons to other sports fall apart when taking into account the difference in impact that a single player can have on the success of a team, which is why people don’t fault baseball and football players for signing with established teams. Only an NFL quarterback can have a comparable impact to an NBA superstar because they touch the ball on every offensive snap and they couldn’t be able to join an established dynasty because an established dynasty by necessity would already have a great quarterback and wouldn’t want to sign another one in the first place.
He Just Went To A Better Team, Anyone Would Do The Same Thing In Their Own Career
Some people seem to be under the impression that professional basketball should operate just like the free market, forgetting that the semblance of competition is what makes basketball worth watching in the first place. Just imagine, if Google suddenly had access to all the best engineers, computer scientists, and executives, and just as soon as anyone in the world became better than someone who worked at Google in any of these departments they were immediately absorbed by the company. What would be wrong with this? They would make all the best products, eventually run every competing company out of business, and would end up with a monopoly in the tech industry. Now, the problem with this scenario is that Google could then jack the prices up on all their products and people would be forced to engage in their business, seeing as the world now relies on technology. It would not, however, be the case that their products themselves would get worse and, if they did, it would only be the result of people being forced to buy them, negating any motivation for Google to innovate. Basketball does not work like that. Imagine if this happened in the NBA and the fifteen best players magically went to the Orlando Magic (absolutely pun intended). If a player becomes better than one of those fifteen, they are automatically traded, ignoring any issues with the salary cap. This team would win every single championship until the league ceased to exist. Coincidentally, this would happen quite quickly because no one would want to watch a league that is predestined. The difference with basketball is that the product would suffer because competition is not just what makes the product better, it IS the product. Of course, if I’m working at Apple and Google offers me a much better job, I would take it. The difference is that my job isn’t based on there being an entertaining rivalry between Apple, Google, Facebook and every other tech company out there. If those other companies go under, my job security is fine, but the NBA doesn’t work like that. Great teams need other great teams to threaten their greatness, otherwise there’s no point in watching and Kevin Durant doesn’t get to just ignore the ethical responsibility that he has as an NBA superstar to maintain some semblance of parity without significant pushback. This might seem like a hyperbolic claim to throw on to the end of my argument for emphasis, but it’s not. I’m claiming that it is actually the case that NBA superstars have an ethical responsibility, not only to the fans of the NBA but to the other players themselves, to maintain some semblance of competitive balance within the league. Something that is unique in the NBA is the Max Contract, which limits how much a team is allowed to offer a player to play for them, otherwise players with the impact of a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant could command $70mm/year salaries. One of the effects of the Max Contract in a league with a salary cap is that the other 448 players make significantly more than they would otherwise. I say that in order to say that superstars’ value as far as the NBA product is concerned is very disproportionate to what they get paid and, in fact, most of the players in the NBA are getting compensated in large part due to the entertainment derived from watching these stars compete against one another. If these stars decide that, instead of competing against each other, they want play together, this entertainment value starts to dissipate. Without this entertainment, or with significantly reduced entertainment, the players who will feel the resulting impact will not be the superstars, whose value to a team is not even covered by their contracts, but the average players, whose salaries are subsidized by the (now lost) entertainment value the superstars bring. This would be the case until the CBA was renegotiated to account for the resulting loss of revenue, which would likely involve lowering the Max Contract appropriately. The ethical responsibility I am talking about is the responsibility to continue to put out an entertaining product for the consumers so that this exact situation, or maybe something less extreme, doesn’t happen and this responsibility doesn’t fall on all NBA players to the same degree because people don’t tune in to watch all NBA players to the same degree. Now the counterargument to this is that the Max Contract itself is unethical, but let me spend a little time defending it. In order to make professional basketball a viable career path, there needs to be a guaranteed payoff for becoming as good as NBA players are. There are 450 roster spots in the NBA and it is an incredible accomplishment to make one. Because of the Max Contract, wealth generated by the NBA is spread relatively evenly between every player meaning that the accomplishment of earning one of these roster spots is awarded a similarly incredible payday. Without Max Contracts, I can easily envision a league where the top 20 or so players are earning 90% of the available revenue, depriving many players of the money that incentivized them to put in the work required to get into the league in the first place. This would lead to an NBA populated by unskilled athletes, similar to the 70’s and 80’s, as great athletes forgo the game of basketball in order to avoid the uncertainty of basketball contracts. Contrast that with the present, when many athletes are turning away from football in favor of basketball because of the guaranteed nature of contracts and as a result, the game is more skilled than ever. The lucrative nature of shoe deals and other endorsements allow star players other avenues to massive wealth, meaning that their limited salary under a Max Contract is less significant. Now I’ll extend an olive branch and say that it is far from my place to tell LeBron James how much money he should be satisfied with, but as he is earning $50 million per year off the court, I don’t feel as bad with his NBA contract essentially stealing around $30 million of value from him each season. Even with Max Contracts, most great NBA players are going to retire with at least $200 million in the bank and set up their children (and their children’s children) with enough money for life. Now I admit this is a relatively tepid argument in itself compared to others in this essay, but it’s the best one I’ve got, and combined with the previous point about maintaining the skill level of NBA players, it amounts to a better system than any alternative I can think of. What would be interesting is if the league decided to eliminate Max Contracts and the salary cap all together as this would solve all the problems I’ve mentioned, but it adds bigger problem in that the advantage for larger markets would likely be too much for so many teams to overcome. So yes, the system isn’t perfect, but for it to work optimally as is the superstars need to acknowledge and respect the responsibility of putting out a good product which necessitates maintaining at least the appearance of competitive balance.
The Houston Rockets Almost Beat Them In The Playoffs, So Clearly The Warriors Are Not Unstoppable
Now, this argument doesn’t address all the problems I have with Kevin Durant’s move, but it does push back against one of my biggest points, and it is an absolutely reasonable position to take. The Rockets went up 3-2 against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and arguably only lost because their second best player missed the last two games with a strained hamstring. So no, the Warriors are not unbeatable like I have claimed throughout this essay, but there are other problems that this argument doesn’t address. Even though they didn’t win the championship, the Rockets were a historically relevant regular season team, winning 65 games and running one of the greatest offenses ever. My problem with the spirit of this argument is that it doesn’t address the fact that this team SHOULD have won the championship, and I think would have almost any other year since the advent of the 3-point line. This matters, and it’s going to affect the way people remember James Harden and Chris Paul. These two players share a common criticism, justifiably or not, in that they haven’t been successful in the playoffs. Chris Paul, in particular, has advanced stats that put him among the greatest point guards to ever play the game, including the best WS/48 of all-time (.2512). The only thing missing on his resume when comparing him to other great point guards is a championship. James Harden, on the other hand, has had one of the greatest statistical four-year stretches in the regular season in recent memory averaging 28.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game on .609 TS%. In that time he was an MVP runner-up twice before finally winning the award this past season. Like Chris Paul, the only thing missing from James Harden’s personal narrative is seeing him lead a team to a championship. If Kevin Durant doesn’t go to Golden State, it is likely that we would have seen that happen just this past season and we could talk about these players like the champions they should be. As it is, the likelihood that they will overcome the four-headed beast in Golden State is shaky as injury concerns plague Chris Paul’s future and the franchise is justifiably ambivalent about giving him a contract that would pay out $205 million through his age 37 season. If it turns out that last season was the peak of these players playoff success, future generations of players and fans will be inclined to lump them in other players were great yet failed to win a ring, and that is a damn shame. No, it is worse than a shame, it is downright unethical. Kevin Durant is effectively robbing these players of the legacy they deserve simply because he wanted the easiest path to a championship imaginable and I refuse to sit back and watch people justify it with the Rockets’ greatness. Part of the reason I wrote this was because I was concerned about how little criticism Kevin Durant was getting. I know he got killed, but the fact that anyone could find reason to defend him was absolutely reprehensible to me. My concern was that if there was any cover for Kevin Durant, other stars might think a similar move acceptable. Truth be told, I should have written this two years ago and closed the door to any belief in the minds of fans that what Kevin Durant did was okay. Maybe then, what was once an unprecedented decision could have remained so. But, alas, we now live in a world where DeMarcus Cousins has signed with Golden State for $5.3 million. There aren’t words for this, to describe how this makes me feel, so I will settle for what it makes me think. The slippery slope that I was afraid of is real and it has resulted in a team that is easily the best ever and a season that will almost certainly be the worst ever. The Warriors are going to win the title for the third season in a row behind a starting line-up built entirely of all-stars but I think even that might be underselling how good this team is. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the Warriors are a better team than next year’s Eastern All-Star Team. I'm afraid that, at this point, I might actually be looking at a year where NBA basketball is not in my life, but maybe that's for the better. Even now, this subreddit is inundated with posts by people who can't seem to follow the plot on this, who think that fans should just accept the Boogie signing without a second thought. Such an extraordinarily selfish decision should not be tolerated for a second, and the people affected by it (the fans) should do everything in their power to shine a light on just how selfish it was. He has taken some enjoyment in the NBA out of my life, and likely from many other people's lives as well and that matters. I'm not going to just lie down and I watch someone steal fun from my life without making sure they get the criticism they deserve. If you're still with me, I want to thank you for taking (all the) time out of your day to read what I had to say. If you're interested in tearing my head off in the comments, I want you to know that I'm willing to go to the mat about anything I said in my ~6000 words so bring it.
The Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Selecting an IPTV Provider
So you cut the cord, already did some reading around research on IPTV, and are now ready to make the jump into the actual act of buying/trying an IPTV service. A lot of guides/stickies out there do a fairly solid job of presenting the info you need in a general sense, but ultimately fall short on providing the key explanation details in some areas that make weeding between the endless options out there after-the-fact a lot easier. So in general...this guide is aimed at you. Think of it as a rather long worded shortcut to what you'd eventually find out and realize for yourself anyway after an endless amount of testing around with different providers while looking for "the one" (which in my case is pushing hard on triple digits at this point btw). Now before getting into what you ideally want to be looking for it's important to both acknowledge and dispel a couple surrounding IPTV myths. Which ultimately just serve the purpose of leading people down a fruitless side track search for what they **want** to exist, and prolonging the process of picking the best provider for you that actually **does** exist. MYTH #1 - YOUR IPTV PROVIDER IS A DEPENDABLE CABLE ALTERNATIVE IN THE LONG TERM: This myth is probably the biggest misconception that newbies and/or people looking to save every last penny in particular get hung up on. Regardless how professional that website may look, and/or the effort a provider may put into presenting themselves in a broader "we the company here" sense, it's important not to lose sight of what it is you are actually buying here. At it's core IPTV is a get your profit in the moment business, run in a back room type setting, and built on a model that is offering these providers themselves no guarantee of a tomorrow. As such, the behind-the-scenes infrastructure and decision making processes on when/where to reinvest the profits (if at all) it sees tend to reflect fairly heavily on that. Basically and if making any assumptions always assume profit in pocket is going to stay in pocket (AKA: they ain't running that heavily discounted sale which cuts their own long term profit potential throat with a surrounding goal to turn around and reinvest that money). Even if that means bleeding out some unhappy subs latter while simply choosing to ride out rough patches after a profitable run is achieved. MYTH #2 - PICTURE QUALITY EQUAL TO CABLE: In the grander scheme of things IPTV boils down to a game of trade offs, and the very first one you should expect going in is the sacrifice being made here. In short, and while the amount of quality channel feeds can/do certainly vary on a provider to provider basis...no single IPTV provider out there is offering the same across the board FHD channel lineup as your legit cable company or streaming service (such as Playstation Vue/Sling/DTVnow). Going back to myth #1 (this won't be the first time in this guide)...they simply aren't going to realistically have the invested infrastructure to reliably support that. MYTH #3 - PROVIDER X IS BEST FOR SPORTS: One of the more popular general questions always being asked, and which at best are always going to just generate flawed answers that almost never take into account the all important variance factor in play there. For starters, it's important to understand that there is no "static" and across the board factor going in to each of provider's specific sport coverage feeds. They are all usually sourced individually from different places, subject to differing levels of quality/stability, and as a whole have a tendency to see random switch outs for something completely different at any given time (which never comes with a guarantee of maintaining that same exact level of previous quality/stability either). For example, the last 3 providers I tested for a full month all switched their base NFL section feeds at least once during my sub period, some not for the better, and I've yet to ever come across a single provider that saw every one of their sport sections always out-preforming something else I already had. On top of this, it is also important to not to get caught up in the hypothetical paper theory that everything is going to be ok when you need it to be. Especially on things that are going to see a high amount of server traffic. If you are the type that loves sitting down to watch your NFL Sunday coverage or UFC PPV every month, you really need to account for the outside-the-hypothetical and reality based variance a lot of that stuff can see. NFL coverage in particular can be notorious for running into bad buffering weeks, and that big UFC PPV is always going to subject to a monthly roll of the dice that is more or less unpredictable. Outside the "I've never had a problem!' claims being made by people who are either not watching enough of this stuff to actually notice, or who are just flat out lying, you won't find a single provider that isn't going to let you down hard in these areas at one point or another. Hence...the serious consideration that should always go into running at least 2 different providers. Trust me, I'm as cheap/frugal as they come with a lot of different things in my life, and *always* am looking to save an extra buck wherever I can. But that extreme tendency to be frugal goes out the window in a hurry those moments my Sunday football game/s starts having issues, or when that UFC PPV I've spent all month looking forward to watching live starts buffering heavily on all a provider's feeds right before the main event (I could not load up a backup provider a single time all month and in that moment - it's hands down worth the extra $5 to me and then some). Lastly and as an extension of everything above, always be wary of any best claim that isn't actually telling you what it is they are specifically watching. If you are a strictly US based content consumer like myself for example, who doesn't watch a lick of soccer, that foreign soccer fanatic poster (who doesn't watch a lick of NFL football) from elsewhere who is essentially basing their entire recommendation on their own experience with something you'll never watch probably isn't the best one for *you*. MYTH #4 - "PREMIUM" PROVIDERS AND ANY 99% UPTIME CLAIMS: Two surface advertisement terms that can be completely misleading. Starting with the fact that for the most part and generally speaking, you are going to find a lot of these providers using the same sourced feeds (example: 4 the 5 providers I keep on my Perfect Player setup atm all use the same one for all the paid movie channels) and regardless of the price they are charging. In fact, price tag usually boils down more to a matter of individual profit margin goals, and something more centered around the market area of people it's aiming to pull it's subs from. For example, Youtube is generally full of a huge amount of people that don't spend any time debating/comparing IPTV on a forum like Reddit, and who as a result are are basically more open to spending $15 on a one line provider when they aren't being openly or directly compared to any of the better $5 providers. Hence, and to break it down in simple street terms - the typical going rate you can effectively charge for an IPTV service over there is higher. Secondly, "uptime" claims are essentially just BS fluff to an advertisement line. From a user end perspective the more important factor there is the reliability %, or more specifically how often you aren't going to run into any potential playback issues when you click on something you want to watch. Which is obviously a much more complex % to calculate accurately, but don't kid yourself....even among the most reliable providers out there it's not going to be 99%. Or even 95% for that matter. Which is again why, and I know a lot of people out there looking to save every last penny hate hearing this (and why I'll keep making a point to repeat it), it's always going to be recommended by experienced IPTV users that you plan on buying/budgeting fokeeping at least two separate providers. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ So with the myths out of the way we'll now move on to better identifying the potential red flags to look out for, and which can help make that initial weeding out of the crap out there a lot less tedious. Especially if/when you aren't hobby shopping like I tend to do, and with at least a decent surrounding expectation that I more or less just threw some $$$ out the window in the name of testing different stuff ;) THE HEAVILY DISCOUNTED YEARLY OR LIFETIME SUB: See Myth #1 on why this is always a terrible idea to begin with. But never-the-less, that surrounding appeal to get cute in trying to "save" every dollar is always a strong one for many, and there is never a shortage of crappy IPTV providers out there trying to capitalize on this. It's always a safe bet that these deals are essentially being offered because it's the easiest way to rip you off, and the general rule of thumb that 'if it's too good to be true - it probably is" applies in spades here. IPTV providers exist to make $$$, not to be your friend or only take a quick $35 instead of the $60 they might otherwise accumulate in a fraction of that time with any internal projection of still even being around and thriving 6 months down the road. My personal favorites on these are the ones running with a "LIMITED TIME OFFER ONLY!" add btw. Now stop and think this completely through for a hot minute. Even if you want to believe these are not a scam, if a provider is apparently so hard up for cash that they need to sell a couple heavily discounted lifetime subs at a measly $50 or whatever...what is that really telling you about the overall financial situation going on in the backround? (extra hint: providers without a financially stable base on the back end are always going to make for both the worst short and long term bets). THE APPEAL TO EVERYBODY POSSIBLE SPAM ADD WITH NO PERSONALIZED TEXT: I'm sure you've run across them. Copy and pasted in short format wherever they can find IPTV interest, and usually re-posted again after being taken down. "7000+ CHANNELS! 40 DIFFERENT INTERNATIONAL GROUPS! 5000 VOD TITLES! INCLUDES ALL SPORTS! 24/7 UPTIME AND SUPPORT! BLAH BLAH BLAH". Yet other then an original poster not even bothering to list the price and that is simply replying "PM me" to everybody instead of engaging in any personalized conversation, you can't seem to dig up any actual information on them. No reviews, no other users with an account that wasn't made the previous day talking about or recommending them, ect. Now your first instinct might be to think to yourself 'wow that is a a lot of stuff to be offering, and I've been looking for a good US based provider that also offers some polish channels for a while now. Maybe this will be a hidden gem!". You need to ignore that first instinct though, because the reality there usually amounts to the easiest crap filter warning of them all. Unless of course you are specifically looking for a provider that basically just throws together the cheapest channel feeds possible they can find, with no real emphasis placed on anything beyond the initial advertisement sell. Much less one placed on maintained reliability. Fun fact - No provider that has accomplished any notable level of popularity on reddit, while I've been posting here at least, got their push start from these type of mindless spam ads. Of the couple hidden gems I have hit on, none were just random buys on my behalf without a little finger pointing in that direction from somebody I trusted either. I'm genuinely like 0-30 and down a couple hundred bucks on random shots in the dark lol. TOO MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE OFFERING TO SELL THE SAME SUBS: Another fun fact - Outside a virgin public message board like the one I'm posting this on now, most feedback places you'll find see a heavy population of people with an underlying interest in reselling these IPTV services for profit. As such, the potential overall "popularity" any individual one can achieve isn't going to be equal, and will largely be dependent on the profit margin potential being offered to resellers behind it. So basically, being more popularity doesn't always translate into a default assumption that it's going to be better. For example, Provider One (we'll use N24 which I just reviewed btw) may be a great value on the pure consumer end at $6/per account, but only offer a bulk account sale rate that comes out to $5/per for resellers (a small difference which then also has to account for website/transaction fees, the potential absorption of charge backs from unhappy customers, ect). Provider Two isn't as reliable/stable and hence might not of made my cut on providers I choose to sit down with for an entire month of testing, but the difference between their individual consumer offered rate and the one being offered to resellers in bulk might be $5. Guess which one is going to end up seeing a lot more reseller sales, and as a result gross a higher total amount of hype/recommendations? ;) On top of this, and we'll just go ahead and label this "The Vader Streams rule" - more people is generally never a better thing once a provider branches out from it's initial growing stage. Again, check your wishful thinking assumptions of what ideally **should** happen on the provider end at the door and go back and re-read Myth #1. Or more specifically, don't lose sight of the basic math principle going into all this. These pirated servers trying to turn an expiration date which could always be tomorrow profit, and that don't have big corporation $$ behind them, are realistically only going to be able to comfortably accommodate X amount of people before running into server load issues. The more outlets you have dumping in subs and/or an endless stream of free trials towards that limit, the faster things are potentially going to go to buffering crap. NO DISCORD OR TELEGRAM OR WHATEVER ELSE CHAT ROOM: Granted there are some exceptions to this, specifically among the long running and super well known providers already running a couple 100k subs. But for newer or up and coming providers, this is pretty standard customer service stuff to expect nowadays. It can also be a great go-to way, or at least was before some started (understandably) restricting access to paying members only, to really get a legit pre-purchase feel of what a provider is all about. If able my advice is to always hop in one of these chats first thing, and at least make the effort to read a couple days back. Paying extra attention to how active the chat is, how often are the people asking for help receiving some, and how much overall complaining about the service is going on. A HEAVY EMPHASIS SELL PLACED ON THE VOD FEATURE: Saved the best for last, and since I already know this is going to be highly controversial for many. I do get it though, and realize a lot of people out there love the added all-in-one benefit of having their VOD bundled in. But again and to remind people that IPTV tends to boil down to a game of trade offs, it's important to realize though that such a benefit comes at a cost. Namely that it's shared existence tends to leech away from your provider's servers and the one area you should care most about paying out on IPTV to begin with....Live TV stability. In fact, nowadays you can pretty much even conclude that the only services out there completely ignoring the long term legal concerns and pushing hard on some "MASSIVE VOD COLLECTION!!!" sell aspect anymore are only doing so to essentially compensate for the fact that their live tv stream stability (not to mention the underlying investment on their end going in to it) isn't measuring up to some of the better ones to be found out there. Bottom line - None of the providers I've tested and would recommend as having one of the best and most stable live TV stream experiences possible offer a notably huge or extensive VOD selection, if it's even being offered at all. Which in essence leaves you with a one or the other priority choice to be made there...you don't get an option to have the best of both worlds. ***(additional red flag note - a lot of people would choose to include the lack of a free trial here, and which while always nice to see...honestly couldn't be further from the actual truth. The reality there is that for the most part and outside brand new providers who essentially are forced into begging for more subs, free trials are essentially a waste of time/effort on the provider end. As in maybe on average 1-2 out of every 100 lead to an actual sale, then sees most of the rest just create a fresh email address and re-apply to leech another freebie. Where as even a $1 leech filter price on the trial tends to vastly limit the amount of inquired trial requests, but while drastically increasing the actual buy rate % that results out of them. This approach also tends to cater more on the flip side to, you know...the people already paying out in full on the service and who don't see any potential benefit in having a bunch of constant leechers eating up the finite amount of server capacity)*** _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Myths and potential red flags to look out for aside, we'll now move on to the fairly straight forward basics. Which starts with an understanding that for the most part...any provider worth a dang is essentially offering you the same exact thing as the next one. More obscure channel offerings and international feeds (if any) can vary of course, but it is all largely built on the same platform sell regardless of cost, and especially if you are primarily after US content. All the popular channels and then some will be present, all the major sports and PPVs will be be covered, ect ect. In short and assuming you are already following the guidelines laid out above, you don't have a waste any time asking whether a provider has ESPN or Fox Sports, the NFL package, Soccer game coverage, or plans to carry the next UFC PPV. To quote an old Ragu spaghetti sauce commercial - it's in there. So with that all that said, I **strongly** recommend starting your search in the $5/month price range, and as already noted above with a preferable aim that you'll ultimately be shopping for two different providers. From the "I just want the basics" point of view, and given all the emerging quality options that already exist in this price bracket, there is really no legitimate reason outside your own (usually misguided) wishful thinking fantasies to stretch beyond that. Depending on your own individual experience preferences, there are exceptions to this rule where paying out more can be beneficial though. Which I personally like to summarize up as what additional feature offerings are unique enough to be classified as "premium", and hence potentially worth the extra cost: RELIABLE TV CATCHUP: TV catchup is a continuous recording log of everything airing on the specific channel it's being offered on, and spanning back X amount of days before gradually being over-written by the new stuff (time period depending on the provider, and where longer logs as I'm about to explain aren't always the most ideal btw). I included the reliable tag there because while only a small % of providers offer it nowadays, even fewer tend to actually get it right. Basically due to the fact that it can generally be a tricky pita to both add and successfully maintain on the provider end, and therefore ultimately regulated to something that ends up being viewed more as window dressing for their features advertisement then something that actually sees a lot of consistent maintenance effort. When it is done right it can be a fairly invaluable tool in your streaming arsenal though, especially for adequately covering your playback area needs in a timely manner when the otherwise fantastic free VOD options like Kodi/APK's don't. For example and in my own experiences: CBS soap operas, same night WWE PPVs, UFC/Bellator shows airing on FS1/Paramount, ect. EXTRA CONNECTIONS: Being able to watch your provider on one then more device at a time is obviously a biggie, and usually the #1 feature people rightfully look for in any value based offering. That said, it's also **extremely important** to be mindful here that the surrounding concern within Myth #1 and the X amount of server capacity red flag math above still can apply in spades here. Especially if/when those extra connections are not IP locked, and can therefore be shared/abused among multiple people. It's really really easy for servers offering this, which on the provider end is aimed at selling the most amount of subs in the least amount of time (with not a lot of caution thinking usually going towards it's down the road future), to start hitting problem inducing server capacity levels in comparatively quick order. A HEALTHY AMOUNT OF BACKUP CHANNEL FEEDS: This goes double for the cheap people out there who are still going to ignore the advice I laid out twice already on buying at least 2 separate providers. This also includes the option for SD alternatives as well. Don't underestimate the potential value in having backup options you can immediately switch to once outside of ideal "everything is running smooth" paper theory, and especially when it comes to the day in and day out reality of running with IPTV as your only access to what you are sitting down to watch live AN APK THAT HAS A BETTER PROGRAM GUIDE THEN WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE IS OFFERING: This in particular applies to you android box/stick users out there. Coming in right after that wishful thinking expectation of a complete FHD channel lineup is the reality sacrifice you have to expect on the program guide aspect. With the exception of one established APK out there and another one that's still a stability work-in-progress, pretty much every single provider is offering the same exact player options to run your your service on. All of which have their own pros and cons, and none of which include anything even remotely resembling that hassle free channel surfing experience you found in cable TV. At best the guides are clunky while still retaining a more 80's vibe generic type feel. At worst they aren't even worth the hassle, or just flat out non-existent. No fail shopping rule of thumb here btw - Don't spend more then $10/mo for 1 connection or $15 total (regardless of the offered connection total they force bundle in) on anything that is just defaulting to using Smarters as their APK. If it's running Smarters as it's base APK (instead of you know...being "premium" and actually developing their own), and it isn't offering a less aggressive upfront $10 or less buy in plan option to start with...it is extremely likely you buying what essentially amounts to an inferior IPTV product and overpaying in comparison to what else one can find out there. Period. 50-60 fps CHANNEL FEEDS: As an IPTV whole most of the reliable feeds you find are going to be 30fps, which is generally due to surrounding costs, bandwidth concerns, and a need to cater more the consumer masses who generally don't mix well with the increased probability that their unknowingly weakened wifi internet connection is going to lead to buffering. None of which is to say this should be viewed as some "more is always better" make or break factor either, or that those 30 fps can't be of high picture quality mind you. In fact in a lot instances, such as my TV shows/movies or something like a UFC PPV, I honestly could care less about FPS and half the time couldn't even pick them out on sight alone anyway (which in the case of UFC PPVs routinely is never the best quality one to begin with imo/btw). That said and for other stuff like my NFL football games...I do find it to be a nice extra have, and indeed find myself making that effort to search out. **(additional extra note - While I won't go as far as to label it a premium feature, a lot can be said about having a large extra lineup of local channel feeds for ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX. Especially when it comes to keeping you covered for something like NFL football games, and which can be a day saver when as noted earlier your direct NFL package feed runs into that bad week of buffering. The locals are usually always carrying those games)*** _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Lastly but certainly not least, I'm going to close this guide out with one last bit of advice. Something routinely ignored, and which honestly is most common pitfall of them all that people find themselves falling into. Not to mention the #1 gateway to making a bad decision - DON'T GO INTO THIS TRYING TO SAVE EVERY LAST DOLLAR ON DAY ONE! Seriously, I can't stress this enough. At minimum your first 2 months should be dedicated to trying and testing different things. Because regardless how much total info I can cram into a guide, or how many people line up to tell you what your own best choice will be.... **nothing** trumps that extended period of first hand trial and error. Especially considering all the potential variance factors that can come into play, and where something that is great for me might not be great for you for whatever random reason (location, primary channel interests in things I never watch or tested, ect). Don't be overly cheap and hesitant to pay out a measly $1 trial cost on something of potential interest that requires one, and don't get lazy in that approach with the first decent thing that comes along either. In fact and whatever you do decide to buy, go in to that purchase both completely open and all but expecting to buy something different the following month. Even if you pick well that first try. If those latter choices end up busting out, you'll always have the option to go back and re-spend that measly $5 or whatever again on whatever provider you liked best before.
As is tradition: Hello Fifth_Down here to shoot down all your hopes and dreams Since my laziness pushed this post into the season most of you aren't that familiar me. I'm been doing a series of selfposts based on articles I've written regarding realignment for over a year now to get us through the offseason. As usual here is the OP With recent news that the Big 12 has whittled down their expansion list to eleven schools, I felt now would be a good time to critically examine these schools to look at where they are in the realignment process as well as gauge the Big 12’s decision making process.
Is the Big 12 embarrassing themselves with the way they have gone about evaluating schools?
This has been by far the most frequently asked question regarding the unusually public process the Big 12 has gone about evaluating expansion targets. The process has been open to any school who have an interest in joining the conference, presentations by the schools have been made available to the public, and no one seems to be able to keep the list of schools involved as well as the schools eliminated confidential. I have seen people blame both the candidates and the Big 12 for these problems, but the truth is neither deserve blame. The fundamental problem is that Boren publicized expansion talk regarding the Big 12 which brought the media spotlight on everyone. Then to make matters worse the Big 12 didn’t intend to expand until the eve of the expansion vote because of developments regarding the ACC network and grant of rights. When we typically see “conference X is considering expansion” on ESPN the conference in question is on the tail end of their expansion process. To put it in football terms the Big 12 is currently in the NFL preseason whereas everyone else is starting the NFL postseason. Then the problem was enlarged with the Big 12 having no obvious G5 candidates to choose from giving them a much larger list of candidates they had to be in contact with. With more schools involved this exponentially increased the chances of a leak. So for the Big 12 it is hopeless to think they could keep things confidential. Usually the conference membership and candidates would have only a handful of people “in the know” at any given institution. But with “Big 12 expansion” dominating the news that sets off a wave of politicians, donors, boosters, and alumni going to these schools and demanding to know what is going on. Then the institution is forced to comply because those people have leverage and the job security of said institution’s leadership depends on keeping these people happy. But the Big 12 does deserve some amount of blame. The idea to allow schools like Arkansas State and other longshots into the conversation was stupid. It reflects poorly on the Big 12 leadership that they did not understand how any named candidate was going to be a lightning rod for media coverage. Secondly I am flabbergasted that the Big 12 appears to have had no contingency plans in place in the event that they suddenly had to seriously consider expansion. The ACC was able to replace a blindsided departure from Maryland in less than two weeks. It is perfectly acceptable for the Big 12 to make this process relatively long. But the pace is slow even for realignment standards which usually takes months and the fact that the Big 12 appears to be conducting their process as if they had never even considered the possibility of expansion before (Arkansas State) reeks of incompetence. Now let’s look at the eleven remaining candidates as well as those eliminated.
Why not Memphis?
There was a lot of shock to the news that the Big 12 had eliminated the Tigers, especially when it was learned that Rice and SMU advanced. If you were to make a points based system of all the attributes for a Big 12 target, (academics, football, basketball, geography, etc.) Memphis would probably place higher than a number of the other eleven schools. However those other eleven schools all came with very big pros offset by very big cons. Meanwhile for the Tigers all those attributes could best be described as “good but not great” relative to G5 standards. I was not surprised by Memphis’s exclusion from the new list of candidates. In fact I was expecting schools such as New Mexico and Temple (if they could make progress on a new stadium) to last longer in the process. For Memphis this isn’t a sign that they are a bad candidate or inferior to the others. It came down to the Tigers not having that one quality attribute which would get their foot in the door. There is nothing to really highlight for Memphis and thus nothing for the Big 12 to point to and say “we need that.” There are also a number of things we learned about the Big 12 based on the eleven schools selected.
Academics absolutely do matter.
With any other conference I would have pushed the value of academics. Academics matter a great deal in conference realignment, but I was skeptical as to whether the Big 12 could afford to give weight to academics given the recent instability of the conference. With Rice and Tulane advancing to the next round while stronger football schools such as ECU and Boise State were eliminated it set a clear message that the Big 12 considers academic profile to be a key asset for an institution’s resume. But the elimination of Boise State was intriguing for another reason. It suggests that geography and/or academics will be a complete nonstarter even if the school in question has been arguably the most football competitive G5 school of the 2000s.
We have a clear idea of the Big 12’s geographic preferences.
The elimination of San Diego State, UNLV, Boise State, and even New Mexico suggest the Big 12 is considering western expansion, but only if it relates to BYU either by adding just BYU or BYU and a travel partner. The first three schools only expand the Big 12 footprint away from BYU. New Mexico can kind of be argued as capable of being a travel partner, but only between BYU and the Texas schools. A Colorado school would be more ideal for connecting an outlier gap between BYU and the non-Texas schools. Odds are that BYU will not be in a division with the Texas schools so that is a critical detail. Plus BYU is closer to Colorado State and Air Force as well as having much stronger historical ties to those two institutions than New Mexico. So the Big 12 appears to be considering BYU and a possible travel partner. That’s great news for Colorado State, but the inclusion of Air Force should be alarming to the Rams. Colorado State is one of the strongest G5 schools when you measure what they could bring to a P5 conference. However the Rams have a critical problem and that is the fact that they are overshadowed by the University of Colorado. The University of Colorado (CU) was one of the original Big 12 members, but as the lone western institution in the conference the Buffs struggled to fit in with the Big 12. For CU the institution felt like it had more in common with their future Pac-12 counterparts and recruited prospective students/football players largely from outside the Big 12 footprint. Colorado State like their sister state school has a very similar profile. If the Big 12 were considering Colorado State they would have to ask themselves why they should add a school who has the exact profile (but weaker in overall strength) of a school that was already a member of the Big 12, didn’t really fit in, and left. In other words the Big 12 must ask themselves why would Colorado State succeed where CU couldn’t and do so in a conference that essentially traded the closest school to Colorado (Nebraska) for West Virginia after the CU left? On top of that there is a second problem being the fact that no P5 administrator would ever take Colorado State (CSU) over CU as a conferencemate. You may think the idea that the Big 12 is stronger or equally as strong in 2016 as it was in 2009 prior to the loss of four major schools is ludicrous. But college administrators are often prone to living a lie rather than acknowledging the truth. 1 The Big 12 knows adding CSU would be viewed as swapping CU for the Rams and thus an open admission that the loss of CU hurt the Big 12 and the conference is now weaker for it. These two issues don’t kill CSU’s chances, but it is an issue they have to overcome. This is why Air Force is such a threat to Colorado State. Air Force can be spun as “they are not a ‘little brother’ school” because they are a service academy and therefore different. Plus another cause of concern is that Air Force was a Big 12 target in the last round of expansion but no evidence has ever surfaced to suggest CSU was a target. So the Rams have lots to fear from the inclusion of Air Force especially when the chances of the Big 12 adding two Colorado schools are slim to none. On the other side of the Big 12 footprint a number of eastern schools were eliminated. The only schools remaining are Cincinnati, UConn, UCF, USF, and Tulane. Tulane has already been mentioned due to their academics. However they are also located in a major city, reside in a state with very fertile recruiting grounds, and would be a way to counter the recent SEC expansion into Big 12 territory. But these pale in comparison to my three favorite factors for Tulane. The first is that they border the Big 12 footprint making them an ideal geographical fit being not too close but not too far. The second factor is their brand new stadium. Building a brand new stadium is one of the best things a G5 school can do for their P5 chances. A new stadium does a lot for a G5 school and facilities are way undervalued in realignment discussion on forums and in the media. The third factor is their belonging to a state that is unsaturated in football. Louisiana has just one P5 school which is low considering their recruiting grounds and population. Tulane has a lot of positives with their lone downside being their football program. Unfortunately football is all that is keeping them from being a slam dunk candidate. It is possible to gain entry based on the overwhelming pros Tulane has to offer, but the football question will be working hard against them. Both UConn and Cincinnati (UC) have a history of being considered the next man up for a P5 bid. This places them among the heavy weights of the G5 as only a quality and highly respected school would be in that position. Cincinnati has dominated the coverage but that doesn’t guarantee a bid. Cincinnati should remember a painful lesson learned by UConn who was long considered the next P5 school after West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse would be selected. Instead they watched two more Big East schools received a bid while they remained in the AAC. The trivial amount of coverage UConn has received is surprising. People seem to forget UConn has by far the wealthiest athletic program in the G5, is the lone flagship of the eleven remaining schools, as well as the only one who is the sole FBS school in their state. UConn is one of the few G5 schools that is a national brand. People often associate them as more alike to P5 schools such as Syracuse and Boston College than your typical G5 school. The obstacles UConn has to overcome are subpar football and being a massive geographic outlier. The last eastern schools are UCF and USF. Florida schools have proven to be an incredibly safe bet for future growth thanks to being in the state with the best recruiting grounds in the nation, large media markets, massive enrollment numbers, and a history of very rapid growth in their football programs. Miami, Florida, and Florida State are the best trio of football programs from one state you can find despite being much younger football programs compared to the rest of the P5. The programs of UCF, USF, FIU, and FAU have all seen rapid growth in the last few decades despite having very new programs themselves. While Houston and UConn have grown considerably in the last decade, many (including myself) would bet on a Florida G5 school to be a future G5 power. Unlike the other eleven schools UCF and USF are essentially joined at the hip. If the Big 12 were to add only one of them they would become a problematic outlier. With a pair not only can the two support each other, the Big 12 programs in their division would be guaranteed one game in the state each year which is a big help in establishing a pipeline for recruiting. All five schools are either a great builder addition and/or have a terrific name brand. In other words the only eastern schools the Big 12 is considering are those who can bring something of value rather than adding an eastern school just for the sake of adding an eastern school.
Being a Texas school is not a problem
A lot of realignment commentary has worked under the assumption that another Texas school was either a complete nonstarter or a major longshot. This assumption was flawed because it highlighted the problems of adding a Texas school, while ignoring the reasons for adding one. The former SWC members (Rice, Houston, and SMU) went three for three with every one being included in the expansion list. Rice (academics) and Houston (athletics) had obvious upsides. However SMU is neither an academic nor a football power and their inclusion highlights the fact that being a Texas/former SWC school is a huge advantage. These Texas schools have a lot of political clout supporting them. Thanks to geography these are schools who most Big 12 institutions are familiar with and have worked with before. None of these three schools should be written off. However it is a longshot that more than one receive a bid and of these three schools Houston’s resume is well above the rest.
The Big 12 has options and can go in a number of different ways which I discussed above. I didn’t intend to prop one possible direction up more than the others. It is still an incredibly open race and none of these possible moves the Big 12 could make would surprise me. With the ACC, Pac-12, and Big Ten we knew exactly what the direction those conferences wanted to go. The Big 12 hasn’t really figured out which direction they want to go. If forced to pick which schools are the biggest winners in all of this I would say BYU and Houston. However I would caution that “no expansion” is still a possibility. Brigham Young’s positives regarding name brand, football, and facilities don’t need to be highlighted. The downside is the institution is a lightning rod for criticism regarding political issues. Time is not on BYU’s side. The longer this expansion process takes the more likely that some key Big 12 administrator after constantly hearing these criticisms repeated by a family member, friend, or by the media decides it has become too much of a liability for the conference. Whether these criticisms are fair or not isn’t really relevant. They have been widely covered in the media and that is the problem in itself. People often look at problems regarding Big 12 candidates as thinking “well if another Big 12 school has this problem then it shouldn’t be a problem for us.” This assumption is flawed because we are discussing barriers to entry and the standards are much higher for the new members. The Big 12 is essentially endorsing everything BYU by inviting them and they do not want the narrative to become “they endorsed these controversial political issues.” Houston also appears to be in a solid position. However I would note that Houston fans should be more fixated on the football season. Houston is quickly emerging as the next TCU or Utah and doing so at the best possible time. Having a strong football team this year will do more to help them than anything else. TCU and West Virginia were the safest bets for football and also had an administration that was well connected with the Big 12. Houston has both of these traits and that is a great sign for the Cougars. 1) This line of thought is the foundation of modern college athletics as administrators are quick to promote basketball and football as regular students playing your typical NCAA match due to the love of the game. But we know full well that it has more to do with being a business and that these are “students” have academic transcripts and amateur status that can get pretty shady.
I'm an options trader who grew up playing basketball. My education is BS Finance and CFA Level II. I'm writing this post to say hello and give my picks for tomorrow, which I'll be posting daily from here on out this season.
I'm coming off a strong NFL season, although I didn't make a pick for SB LIII. However, I did pick LAR to win the NFC championship ML for +165 parlayed with NE/KC over for a decent end to the season. My LAR pick was predicated on the fact that the new LA stadium, the largest real estate investment in NFL history, cannot perform weak for it's first season, and the refs would help LA over the line if necessary.
I've got some time off and started picking up the current NBA season 3 weeks ago and doing well so far. 13/16 on straight bets and 3/5 on underdog ML's, including +475 Pels over Rockets in Houston, three games ago. I hope to bring some good action and quality picks to this forum. I love breaking Vegas, as it's all corrupt, roughly speaking. (Shot out to JP) You can find my options forum on reddit @ OptionsOnly
TripleTheta Wednesday Feb 6th NBA Picks HQ
MIL -11.5 GS -11 WAS/MIL ov 230 ________________________________________________ ~Alt lines parlay~ MIL-17 GS -16.5 WAS/MIL ov 235
92,018 college football fans for 5 years. Finally, the start of football season is almost upon us. What a perfect time to feature a sub dedicated to that great game. The fields are ready, the players are taking the fields, the grudges, and the dreams of reaching the championships are starting again in earnest and, most importantly, my pretending that soccer is the football that I want to watch has come to an end. I can smell the pigskin already. One can feel the energy building up in universities all over the nation as students, alumni, and fans from all the corners of the earth ready themselves for the season to begin in earnest. They've purchased their body paint and are just waiting to get into the stadiums. Who needs professional football with a spirit like that which can be found at a packed college stadium? Where people aren't watching the game because someone else scored free tickets and didn't want to go, but because everyone wants their school to be victorious. Where all of those shirts that comprise the sea of a given school's colors were purchased long before the day of the game. Oh football, how I have missed you. Where else to go to keep up with it all have a nice place to do it in other than /CFB? Anywhere you say is probably inferior. I'll be frank, we here at /Subredditoftheday are not all of us the most avid of sports fans. I chose to do this feature because my enjoyment of the sport without all of the interest of the stuff off the field because that was better than most. That said, I don't think I have featured a subreddit with a team of moderators that have been as helpful or have made a feature as daunting as this one is. From pointing out their extensive list of AMAs, to pointing me to the fundraisers they have a part in that have raised over $5500 across 4 brick drives across the country (placing 12 bricks in various places) and of that over $1000 to charitable causes such as the Kidz1stFund, to their huge subreddit twitter account. The resources this team provides to their visitors to keep them informed and to stir the conversation about the sport and the resources they have provided to me to try and give as informative feature as possible is astounding. They have made this feature almost impossible to fuck up, but I'll be damned if I didn't try my hardest. This sub really does have everything and I can do little more than to continue to pile praise on it. You want fun offseason content? Go check out /TheFulmerCup where the winner of the cup is the team that has the biggest criminal record during the offseason. You want to learn more about some teams? They have a comprehensive wiki that has full articles on, no joke, 132 teams. Want international football team recognition? Well, they also loosely follow international college football when internet streams are available with a small but regular group that includes CIS (Canada), JAFA (Japan), BUCS (United Kingdom) as well as international competition between national teams in the IFAF. Want other things? They've probably got them, and I can try to present them in some flowery way to make it all nice and make them more impressive sounding, or I could just let the points so far draw you in so that you can find out all of the other great things this team of mods accomplishes. Truly, I have seen fewer subs more worthy of recognition. Step your game up, everyone else. Here are the mods living up to my praises and giving me the longest interview I have done yet. Must say that I enjoy it. See you all at the stadium!
1. Tell us about yourselves.
Corporal_Hicks: I was born into a Husker family and have been a fanatic ever since. Currently I am a criminal defense lawyer in Texas with season tickets in Lincoln, Nebraska (it's a shorter drive than you think). I obviously love college football, but really I love all sports. One time I was so desperate I watched a WNBA game for five minutes. It went okay... thrav: I am a 26 year old software engineer working for a small company overseas. The only thing I like more than CFB is skiing. I grew up with tons of Longhorn family attending games regularly at DKR. I went to almost every University of Texas home game from 2003-2006. In 2002, I went to my first A&M game and was absolutely blown away. My cousin began playing for A&M, my older brother headed off to school there, and eventually I followed suit. I immediately fell in love with all things A&M. sirgippy: I'm an Auburn alum who works as a data analyst and software engineer. I grew up rooting for Auburn with my Dad, but wasn't really that invested until I went to Auburn myself. Since then I've gradually expanded my interest and knowledge of CFB to a more national perspective. Honestly_: I've been admining or modding online forums since 2000 (when I was already in my 20s) and my philosophy has been simple: never write anything you would not want attached to your name. My usernames were almost always my real first name, so I've never been one to care about being doxxed as I out myself. With that said, if you want to know more about me, here you go.
Corporal_Hicks: I was an avid reader of /cfb as soon as I joined reddit and became the mod of /huskers pretty quickly after that. When /cfb took applications I applied considering I was going to be on the site all the time already, and I was one of 3 selected, with Thrav and Diagonalfish. thrav: My involvement in /CFB began a few years ago when I moved to Utah. In Texas, I was always attending games or watching with a group, so my national CFB exposure was extremely limited. Plenty of people in Utah care about CFB (BYU/ Utah/ Utah St), but I needed somewhere to get my southern football fix. I was already involved in reddit and found my way over to CFB. Back then it was still very small. I remember a time when there were 12 members with Texas A&M flair and I was familiar with every single one of them. 2011 was the year I started to become a regular in /cfb's IRC. In there, I was hanging out with blueboybob who founded /cfb, nolez, sirgippy, toastercookie and many others. When mod applications came up the following season, I was selected because I could help manage the CSS and my ideas about the direction of the sub were in line with those of the other mods. sirgippy: As an original member of the /CFB poll, the previous poll administrator recommended me to take his place when he stepped down. Since then I've taken on various other responsibilities as needed based on the various ebb and flow of the mod team. Honestly_: I was suddenly deputized into the mod team on July 4, 2013. There was a lull in mod activity during the offseason so diagonalfish, who felt like we needed more help, saw I was around, not insane, and I'd shown some trust in handling over a thousand dollars in /cfb redditors' money to buy the first /CFB Brick, so he modded me. I remember logging into reddit to find out I was now on the team. I was asked to help develop the AMAs, do PR stuff (e.g. the brick things) and I decided to learn how to use twitter and team up with BBB in running that popular account. A while earlier I had unsuccessfully applied to an earlier formal process--and I did so a lot of hesitation because I was worried about the time commitment (from my experiece modding elsewhere) plus my ability to mod from my phone. As it turned out the delay was serendipitous: That same July I finally retired from another forum where I'd admined for 13 years (due to waning interest) so I had more time to devote to this one and, as it turned out, I had no problems modding from my phone--which helps me be active all the time.
3. What does college football have over professional football for you?
Corporal_Hicks: College and the NFL are two completely different games. For me, there is something about the amateurism of the college game that adds a certain X factor to every event. In the NFL the better team usually wins and you're either a good team, an average one, or you suck. In college these lines blur, and the chaos created by this are just so fun to watch. It will make me sort of miss the BCS. Sort of. thrav: Unless you grew up a Cowboys fan, Texas never really felt like an NFL state to me. I was born into a Houston that had the Oilers and then lost them to Tennessee. As such, I never really cared about a single NFL team. Without a team you can get behind, the sport is never going to be that appealing. I've only ever enjoyed watching red zone the couple of years I got serious about fantasy. My love from college football comes from a combination of so many things. I had unlimited access to some of the best seats in DKR. I loved the bands and the pageantry and the community, as I would tailgate with all of my parents' college friends and their kids. I loved the passion of the 12th man once I made it to Kyle Field for one of their best games of the decade. I love the constantly changing landscape; the oversized stadiums with decades of character; the family friendly atmosphere (most places); and I'm a sucker for the fashion too. I'm not a fan of fans in jerseys or autograph culture and all that jazz. Typically you see less of all that in CFB, though there are exceptions. I also think the fact that there are no trades means players have a different kind of loyalty to their program. Transfers happen, but they're rare. Anyway... that got long; I'll quit there. sirgippy: First and foremost for me, it's that I am more invested in Auburn football than I think I could ever be with an NFL team. The perception that football is an integral part of the culture at SEC schools is fairly accurate; at Auburn it dominates the fall and for many students nothing is more important. I think the investment that CFB fans feel towards their teams leads to an intensity of fandom that the NFL can't achieve. In the NFL players are mercenaries hired to put on a show. In CFB, players are family members and the results seem personal. Finally, the much larger number of teams and turnover of players leads many coaches to experiment with wildly different styles of play, and having clashes between those styles (think Bama v. Texas A&M) can be an incredible experience to watch. By comparison, the NFL and its polish is relatively boring to watch. Honestly_: Pageantry, tradition, genuine connection to its fans. My team isn't going to threaten the city for a new stadium or move across the country. The increased unpredictability of games comes from the amateur nature of the contestants. There are more teams, more stories, more history. I like being a visiting fan and seeing parts of the country I might not otherwise visit as well as the universities. There's more heart in this version of the game.
4. Where do you see college football heading towards in the future?
Corporal_Hicks: To focus on one thing, I definitely see a 8 team playoff in the future. Not only do I think it's feasible, I believe it's the perfect number of teams to include every team that deserves a shot, while keeping the regular season important. I've thought maybe there could be some controversy when it comes to the #6 team when you factor in small conferences, but once you reach the 8th and 9th team, it would be hard to make the "we got screwed" arguments considering you would have 1-2 losses at this ranking. At the same time, I think any more would cheapen the regular season. Hopefully I'll find out if I'm right soon enough. thrav: I'm afraid of where CFB is heading, but I'm also excited. As a Texan, I'm just a fan of the sport. I'd go watch high school kids play, as long as I could get excited about the team. I would rather see the overall quality of play drop than see schools making players employees. If somebody thinks an 18-21 year old pro league is viable, they're welcome to try setting one up. In my opinion, the demand is gone the second they're no longer associated with a school. Plenty of guys would kill to make a college team as a walk on. If the top talents think they're too valuable for just a scholarship, I'm fine with them going to a different league. sirgippy: In addition to this year being the first year in CFB's nearly 150 year history to include a national playoff, there is also currently an ongoing struggle between the hundreds of teams in division one football and what the rules and policies should be. For a variety of reasons, the differences between the needs and wants of the top tier of conferences vs. the rest of the top division continue to increase - and there's a decent chance it will lead to a formal separation between them. But who will join the top tier? And will the ongoing amateurism lawsuit put schools in a rough spot? Even after the last three years of flux between teams, it seems we're only in a brief repose before everything is once again mixed up. As far as /CFB goes, a new season brings back all of our in season features including the poll, pick 'em contests, weekly threads including trash talk, the prediction thread, the gambling and user bet threads, and game threads for every big game. Honestly_: /CFB is an interesting position as a neutral source between all the big corporate media sources such as ESPN, Fox, NBC, etc. Our strength has been our position as a place where fans of all teams can come together without it devolving into the crap people see on ESPN.com's comment section or even partisan team forums that sometimes get overwhelmed with a fanbase's more deluded members. We've even dabbled in some interesting OC, such as independently investigating stories that weren't being sufficiently covered in the press (example). As such we've heard from multiple directions that we have the opportunity to rise and take advantage of our position as an independent media source, and that's something I'd like to see us continue to do: our upcoming redesign can be seen as a step into our maturity as an outlet. Perhaps we might sponsor an award (something positive to go along with The Fulmer Cup), continue bringing in bigger AMAs, encouraging OC, really more of everything. Our strength and our limit are our contributors (i.e. redditors!).
5. Anything else to add?
Corporal_Hicks: The 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers are the greatest college football team to ever play the game. This is not an opinion. thrav: Enjoy the new design! Thanks & Gig'em. Honestly_: The strength of this mod team is everyone is genuinely committed to making /CFB a better place for all CFB fans. The strength of this subreddit are its users. The strength of our Twitter account is the unstoppable power of Windows NT (that reference might be a bit old...).
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