Jon Gruden was formally introduced as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders at a press conference, and if the hype surrounding yesterday's event was any indication, this is very good news for both the team and the league.
Let's be honest for a moment. No matter what we may think his chances may be of being a success on the sidelines, this is a smart move from a marketing standpoint.
Gruden is a well-known commodity for the league. His near-decade of experience in the broadcast booth has made him a well-known entity. His opinion and his influence are a regular fixture in the league. His personality will be a welcome change in the media world and, regardless of the team's successes next season, he makes the brand of the Raiders must-see television.
It may be one small step, but the league is attempting to change its image. Gruden is a no-nonsense guy, he speaks his mind and he is not likely to be tolerant of what many fans and detractors like to refer to as "a distraction".
Raiders owner Mark Davis, perhaps sensing the need to restore some law and order, not only to the team but to the league as a whole, might have hit a home run with this hiring. Gruden's image will be seen a lot during this offseason and his relationship with ESPN, one of the league's biggest television partners, should go a long way.
Somehow, you just kind of knew that former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was going to find his way into the headlines made by the Crimson Tide's latest national championship.
Kiffin, now roaming the sidelines for the vaunted Florida Atlantic University, told Dan Patrick this week that Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was preparing to leave the Crimson Tide because he wasn't seeing enough time on the field.
Tagovailoa came into Monday night's national championship game to start the second half, replacing Jalen Hurts and with Alabama trailing 13-0 to Georgia. Tagovailoa threw for three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, polishing off one of the most historic comebacks in recent college football history, with Alabama winning 26-23.
Kiffin claimed that without a chance to play, the freshman quarterback would have likely transferred.
"If the second half (of the national championship game) doesn't flip like this, people that really know what was going on will tell you that (Tua) was leaving," Kiffin said. "He felt he should have been the starting quarterback and (coach Nick Saban) never gave him an opportunity."
The validity of those statements is still to be determined, but Kiffin may well benefit from the way things played out anyway. Kiffin coached Hurts last year at Alabama and said last week, prior to the national championship semifinal game against Clemson that that the sophomore quarterback has been unjustly criticized this season.
Now the ball would appear to be in the court of Hurts, who may well decide to transfer himself rather than engage in a battle for the starting spot at Alabama.
Well-played Lane. Well done indeed.
For the record, Prienai Vytautas picked up a 90-80 victory yesterday over Zalgiris’ second team in Prienai, Lithuania.
If you had wagered on Zalgiris plus 9.5 points, you'd have lost. So there's that.
The younger and lesser known Ball brothers (LaMelo and LiAngelo) combined for 29 points in the win with parents LaVar and Tina sitting courtside.
Meantime, there was continued fallout from the comments LaVar made last weekend regarding friction in the locker room of the Los Angeles Lakers, in which the patriarch of the family and the business leader of Big Baller Brand contends that the team is no longer behind head coach Luke Walton.
Earlier this week, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr chimed back, suggesting this was more on ESPN and other media outlets for continuing to give almost unrestricted and unfettered access to LaVar Ball.
Now add another name to that list. Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy.
Van Gundy told reporters yesterday that he was considering reevaluating the access which ESPN has to NBA coaches and players.
In calling out the network's coverage of LaVar Ball's comments, Van Gundy said, “I’m not denying them access. I’m not kicking them out of press conferences. They want extra stuff from us and they’re going to treat an NBA coach with that little respect? Then I’m going to choose not to give them extra access.”
Van Gundy reportedly informed the NBA Coaches Association, players’ association and commissioner Adam Silver of his intentions as well.
I'm on record with this, threatening broadcasters and journalists is not the way to primarily, but there needs to be accountability on both sides. If ESPN, Fox Sports or a reputable sports outlet chooses to give column inches or airtime to LaVar Ball, it should also come with some equitable reporting of ascertainable facts.