Friday, November 9, 2007

Below the Radar BlogDog

On my flight to Chicago this afternoon, I was watching ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption. Both of the show’s hosts – Mike Wilbon and Bob Ryan – gave Air Force a better-than-50-percent chance of winning tomorrow’s game at Notre Dame in the show’s oddsmaker segment.

Now, I think both Wilbon (who said there’s an 80 percent chance) and Ryan (who went with 68 percent) were basing their predictions more upon what they know about Notre Dame than what they do about Air Force. And that’s fine. Because they probably have no idea what Air Force has done this year.

That’s neither of their faults. Most people who don’t actively follow Air Force or the Mountain West Conference have zero idea that the Falcons are 7-3. They have no idea Air Force has a first-year coach that likely will be the league’s coach of the year and – with two more wins – should be in the discussion for national coach of the year. And they are clueless that Air Force has a player who – all kidding aside – probably at least should be mentioned in Heisman Trophy chatter. Honestly, is there any player on a bowl-eligible Division I-A football team that means more to his squad than Chad Hall?

So why doesn’t anybody know about this stuff? At least part of it has to do with the conference’s much-maligned television contract. It’s great that so many more games are televised than in the past and – more selfishly than anything – I love that games are (mostly) on Saturday afternoons instead of Monday and Tuesday nights.

But outside of fans of Mountain West Conference teams who actively seek out the games – nobody is watching. My parents wanted to watch Air Force’s game against New Mexico, but they don’t have Versus on their satellite package (they found this out after I explained to them that “Versus” was indeed an actual network).

What made me think about all this was the feeling of utter shock that I got when I saw Air Force highlights on PTI. While Wilbon and Ryan were talking, several plays were shown, including a Chad Hall touchdown run against New Mexico and Jimmy Ollis’ fourth-and-1 touchdown run against TCU.

I was legitimately stunned seeing the Falcons on the Worldwide Leader.

Earlier this week, I was talking to somebody at Air Force about this and he told me that on the morning after Air Force’s huge, thrilling OT victory over TCU, there was one highlight of the game on SportsCenter. Just Ryan Harrison’s game-winning field goal. Not Carson Bird’s key interception – with discussion about TCU’s decision to throw the ball instead of setting up for a field goal. Not Ollis’ run. Just Harrison’s kick.

Now, certainly some of this is a backlash to the Mountain West leaving ESPN to go it alone. Naturally, the network is going to give a little more love to conferences and sports with which it has agreements. Fair? Probably not. But the fact remains – if you ain’t on ESPN, people just don’t know about you.

Ask the NHL.

Speaking of not getting enough TV time, where’s the love for the BlogDog? Norm has nailed four straight games to improve to 7-3 and guarantee a winning season. But I don’t see any pundits talking about the BlogDog – even on The Mtn. I think Norm, at 7-3, deserves his own show.

Maybe that would convince the satellite providers to add the channel.

Since I do not have a Notre Dame helmet, Norm picked between a piece of paper with “AF” written on it in blue and a piece of paper with “ND” written on it in blue and gold. (Remember, if Norm picks the same team three times in a row, he’s thinking blowout. If he chooses one team three times and the other team once, he’s thinking the game will be decided by about seven to 10 points. If he chooses one team three times and the other one twice, he’s predicting a close game).

This week Norm went to Air Force, then Notre Dame twice, then Air Force twice.

Norm’s Pick: Air Force 27, Notre Dame 21
Norm’s Record: 7-3

I'm taking the Falcons. Now where's my TV contract?


Ben said...

Jake -

Call me obsessed, but I taped the very late night edition of SportsCenter on the 13th of September. They had a highlight reel on the Air Force/TCU game, including Jimmy Ollis' 71-yard miracle touchdown to tie the game, and Ryan Harrison's OT field goal. Granted, it's not anything at all compared to teams like USC or Ohio State, but it's something. That something got broadcast to millions of people who, on the Friday morning, were getting ready for work when they replayed that edition the next morning. It's some coverage, but maybe it was just enough to attract people to run a web search on Air Force football that Friday.

Regarding PTI: I watch it all the time, and I have to say that I really like watching Wilbon and Kornheiser screaming at each other every weekday afternoon. The only thing better than Bob Ryan's 68% prediciton would be seeing who Kornheiser took in the AF/Notre Dame game.

Momentum is all on the Falcon's side here, and it's honestly their game to lose. All they have to do is go out there and put it all out on the field. Chad Hall could have a HUGE day here if he can find the seam and cut upfield. There are big guys on the Notre Dame defense, and thay could either help or hurt us.

So all that brings me to my one question: Is the fact that Chad Hall isn't in the Heisman discussion (which is simply retarded, if you ask me) just because Air Force is a 'mid-major'? You don't see many guys like Ian Johnson from Boise State on the Heisman list... I don't get why they judge on the name of the school/conference and not look at the numbers...

Anonymous said...

How do we get Chad looked at for the Heisman. Is thier anyone we can send emails.

Also, did you seen the Bowl schedule posted earlier this week, that did not include Air Force in the Mountian West Bowls slots.

What do you think about a at-large bowl for us

Any comments

jake.schaller said...


Interesting stuff about the Thursday night SportsCenter, and glad to hear they had some more highlihgts on.
As far as the Heisman stuff ... Well, Hall was way under the radar prior to the season, and that's when a lot of the candidates are sorted out. Plus he was relatively quiet early in the season too.
I don't really think he's the Heisman Trophy winner, but I do think they could mention him as a top 10 type guy.

Anonymous said...

If Hall has two more blow out 200+ rushing days, and maybe returns a kick for a TD, he would certainly deserve a trip to NYC. But I doubt there is anything he can do to actually get in the Heisman conversation.

1) Last years season was only good. No real pre-season hype.
2) The first 5 games of the year were not very Heisman like. Calhoun didn't use him enough.
3) The TV contract does not allow many Heisman voters all over the country to see him play.
4) Non-BCS schools generally play against weaker defenses.

jake.schaller said...

If you were just basing the Heisman on the last six weeks, he'd have a great argument. But, as has been posted, he probably hasn't had a good enough full season. I think he does deserve some mention, though. The TV contract really hurts him.
I'll get to bowls in my Sunday post.