The Tidbits 10/04

This play was not seen on television.

A hypothetical ladder, a bad television policy, a transfer, improved grad rates and a "sports bra" look. Yup, it is the tidbits.

To me this is yet another "ladder" game. "Huh?" you ask. Let me explain. To get to a spot in the Pac-10 standings where they can start thinking bowl games, they have to beat the teams that they need below them. Before you can look pick off an upper division team, you have to beat the lower division teams.

The Cats did that against WSU. It appears as if the Cougars are an 8th or 9th place team in the league. By beating them, the Cats move above them as they try to climb the Pac-10 ladder. Barring a late season improvement, the Beavers appear slated for a bottom four finish. A win here by the Cats and they would, in essence, move ahead of Oregon State on the mythical ladder.

While USC is a taller than tall task, upcoming games against Stanford, Washington and UCLA provide other games on this ladder. Win and they can try to get to fifth or better, lose and a top half finish will be unlikely… The UA/OSU game is not being televised…anywhere. Not in Tucson, not in Corvallis, no where. This is a joke. The Pac-10 has foolishly believed that by not having games compete on television that they do not dilute the product. What they do instead is alienate fan bases. The Cats go head to head with ASU/WSU. By not televising the Cats and Beavs are fans going to instantly go watch the other game? No. Diehards will catch it on radio, and other fans may just avoid television altogether.

The Big 10 has no such policy. There were times in the past where you could catch four Big 10 games at once on a Saturday morning. Did it dilute the product? No, the Big 10 parlayed that exposure into their own network. Not only does the Big 10 carry the bulk of the games, but if you have Direct TV you get the alternate feeds. That means almost every Big 10 game is shown on cable. This means Purdue fans don't get force fed Ohio State and Michigan every week. This means kids know they are going to be on television, regardless if they are a Wolverine or an Illini.

Oh yeah, it also generates some big money for the Conference. This weekend the Cats won't be on television. A major D-I program's fan base cannot watch their team anywhere. The only people that this helps is those who sell the audio feeds for the UA and OSU school websites. Expect a temporary boost in subscriptions…

This will also mark the third straight game in Corvallis has not been televised. This is just bad for everyone involved...

I guess I can get a plug in here. If you are in Tucson you can hear the game on 1290 a.m., the station that employs me to do their pre and postgame shows. Those shows (but not the game) are streamed for free on their website…

Former Wildcat Michael Shelton transferred to Montana. This is not that big of a story as Shelton left the program over the summer after being academically ineligible for spring drills. He had tremendous potential as a pass rusher, but he was always seen as an academic risk and could never adjust to the responsibilities of the classroom…

Speaking of academics, the Cats' improved greatly in the latest grad rate report sent by the NCAA. Overall, the rates for football, baseball, and basketball went up nationally. Women's basketball dropped slightly nationally. Arizona was above average in every sport both male and female.

Although this study really focuses on grad rates for athletes who were here years ago, it is a positive note. The greater influence on academics under Mike Stoops should further improve these numbers. Under Stoops' guidance, the academic support team for the football program has been revamped and has already boosted GPA's and classroom success. This is a huge step up from the John Mackovic era where the academic staff were given little or no support from the top of the coaching staff.

The best indication of the improved program is that no player on the roster was ruled academically ineligible. Shelton left school, but other borderline cases, and there were not many, did what they needed to do to be eligible this season. Under Mackovic, and a lesser extent Dick Tomey, there were usually a small handful of players out for the semester…

Sammy Stroughter has apparently left the Beaver football team again to deal with personal issues. This is too bad. He's a terrific player and a kid that many in the media have really liked to deal with…

I am still not used to OSU's new uniforms. They really do look like sports bras a little bit. While the Cats "fanny pack" stripe on the back catches some flack, and rightfully so, the Cats' uniforms are a lot better than the Beavers…

I usually stay away from the pop culture in this space, but there is too much good stuff going on. Next tidbits I'll talk about the new fall TV line-up, but I still have several Tivo'd shows to watch.

Those who know me, know I am a music junky. My tastes tend to run to the heavier stuff, most of it on small labels. Not the stuff you'll hear very often on radio. That being said, I have gotten some more "mainstream' CD's lately and there is good stuff coming out. The new Foo Fighters is excellent. They are one of the more "mellow" bands I listen too and the new one is outstanding. Melodic, rocking and catchy. There are some really pretty songs on it, and several that will get your head banging.

Down is a "super group" of sorts. Members have played in Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar to name a few. Their latest is a great combination of southern rock, doom, blues and sludge. Take Black Sabbath, Skynyrd, COC and even a little Led Zeppelin and you have a starting point, that doesn't really do it justice. The record is inspired by the events of hurricane Katrina as all of the band members are from New Orleans. Like the aftermath of the storm, their sound is thick, dirty and bleak. Good stuff…

Back to football. Willie Tuitama is just five touchdown passes from breaking the school's single season record. Marc Reed set the mark of 20 nearly 40 years ago. Expect it to fall sometime during the USC game.

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