Black Friday Megalinks, Part II

Ken from Fang’s Bites here again with the second half of the Megalinks. Sorry for the delay.

Let me add a couple of things to the Weekend Viewing Picks that I had omitted from Part I.

The Bruins are in action Saturday against Detroit in a great Original Six matchup at the Garden. NESN has it at 7 p.m.

And the Celtics are in Charlotte Saturday night to take on the Bobcats. Comcast SportsNet has that game at 7.

Now let’s pick up where we left off from last time.

South
Jack Bogaczyk of the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail writes that West Virginia fans will see plenty of basketball games on TV this season.

Doug Nye of The State has some news and notes today.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says flex scheduling has Week 16 and 17 games up in the air.

Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel has some sports DVD’s, games, books and other gift ideas.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle has college football analysts split over the Texas-Oklahoma BCS rankings issue.

In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ray Buck writes that Dick Vitale shows no sign of slowing down. And Ray has a story on how the Dallas Cowboys were made to look bad by playing football on the weekend of the JFK assassination.

From the Dallas Morning News, Barry Horn reviews the football action from Thanksgiving. And Barry predicts Giants-Cowboys will be the highest rated NFL game of the season.

Mel Bracht of The Oklahoman writes that ESPN/ABC’s Kirk Herbstreit is not traveling as much this season. And Mel has his weekly media notes.

Midwest

Over to Marc Katz of the Dayton Daily News who feels ESPN is overdoing it with the branding.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press says the NFL Network is no more than a luxury at this point.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that despite the merger of two local TV stations, their sports departments will operate independently.

Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin says a new agreement between KSTC and the Minnesota State High School League restricts other TV stations from taping their own highlights.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News says College Gameday was right about the BYU-Utah game for the wrong reasons.

Jay Posner of San Diego Union-Tribune says Matt Vasgersian will say goodbye to San Diego this Sunday. Jay has last weekend’s ratings from San Diego.

John Maffei of the North County Times talks with a native San Diegan who’s joining the Golf Channel.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star says the Skins Game is just part of a big TV holiday weekend menu.

The Los Angeles Times’ Diane Pucin writes that about half of the NBA uses video games to check up on the competition.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News lists his Dubious Dozen, the worst sports media moments of the year. In his blog, Tom has some more moments that did not make his list. Tom has his usual extensive media notes. And Tom talks with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio about his new book.

Beth Bragg says despite ESPN not televising the Great Alaska Shootout this year, the SportsCenter theme can still be heard during the tournament.

Canada

William Houston of the Toronto Globe and Mail writes that when it comes to news, sports plays second fiddle.

Bill Harris of the Winnepeg Sun suggests putting the CFL Grey Cup on both CTV and TSN to satisfy fans who don’t have cable.

The Canadian Press reports that Barenaked Ladies have put their stamp on the old Hockey Night in Canada theme which is now property of CTV/TSN.

East and Mid-Atlantic

I’ll add some more links since the first part of the Black Friday Megalinks.

Connor Enis of the New York Times delves into the Ball State ranking controversy that was raised by Jason Whitlock on FoxSports.com.

National

Mitch Howard of Major League Soccer Talk says now is the time for ESPN and MLS to work together to improve the league’s tepid ratings.

Multichannel News reports the mtn. received its highest ratings ever for last week’s BYU-Utah game.

Joe Favorito says looks at some good and bad news on the football front.

Maury Brown in the Biz of Baseball says the unsealing of the records in the Barry Bonds-BALCO case unveils the weakness in the prosecution’s case.

That’s going to do it for the Megalinks. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.

Black Friday Megalinks, Part I

Ken from the Fang’s Bites blog with your weekly Friday media links.

Because I have to be in several places at once today and my employee here won’t shut up, I’m going to have to post the Black Friday Megalinks in two parts. So without further ado, I’ll provide the Weekend Viewing Picks.

Plenty of college football and college basketball this weekend. But we’ll go over the NFL first. After three blowouts on Thanksgiving, the NFL hopes the Week 13 action Sunday will be much closer. CBS has the doubleheader including the Patriots hosting Pittsburgh on WBZ and WPRI (of course WBCN on the radio). Fox has regional action and the NBC Sunday Night game is Chicago at Minnesota. Check out the entire schedule with coverage maps along with satellite TV and radio channel assignments in the NFL Viewing Picks.

This is essentially the final regular season weekend of college football. Last week, the Big Ten ended its regular season. Now it’s time for the ACC, Big East, Mountain West, Notre Dame, Pac 10 and SEC to wrap up their seasons before next week’s conference title games. Boston College hosts Maryland at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon (WCVB).To go over today’s and tomorrow’s games would make my head explode. So I highly recommend you go to the Black Friday Viewing Picks and the College Football Viewing Picks to review the action for today and tomorrow.

And there’s plenty of college basketball action on the ESPN platforms over the weekend including the Las Vegas Invitational, the Old Spice Classic in Orlando and the 76 Classic in Anaheim.

With golf officially in Silly Season, the annual Skins Game is on ABC at 1 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

HBO has Boxing After Dark Saturday night at 10.

Now to your links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand previews HBO’s new documentary, “Breaking the Huddle” which focuses on the integration of college football. I have a DVD of the doc and expect a review on Fang’s Bites over the weekend.

Christopher Byrne of the Eye on Sports Media blog notes that CBS decided to use three announcing teams for its SEC action this holiday weekend instead of making Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson pull double duty like last year.

Todd Spangler from Multichannel News talks about the NFL Network’s 3D test for Thursday’s Oakland-San Diego game.

The Big Lead supposedly has the picture of the woman who was caught cheating on her husband in a Metrodome bathroom stall.

East and Mid-Atlantic

From the Boston Globe, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell writes that Celtics CEO Wyc Grousbeck will make an appearance on Comcast SportsNet New England tonight.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette profiles WCVB sports anchor Mike Lynch who has emphasized high school sports in his more than 25 years with the station.

Newsday’s Neil Best says the MLB Network is preparing for its launch which is fast approaching on New Year’s Day. In his blog, Neil says ESPN is going to kick off the New Year with some silly stunts.

The New York Post’s Justin Terranova asks five questions of TNT/YES analyst Mike Fratello.

Laura Nachman notices that the Philadelphia ABC affiliate is looking for a new sports reporter.

That will conclude the first part of the Megalinks. The second part including the South, Midwest, West and Canadian links will be coming tonight.

Black Friday Linkage

First, I’m happy to be recognized by the Boston Globe Magazine for being on of the  Sixty-four websites on Boston life that you should know.

Any diehard Boston fan knows the game isn’t over until the blowhards weigh in, which makes bostonsportsmedia.com a great place to keep track of it all. Proprietor Bruce Allen mixes in his own observations with thorough wrap-ups from the “commentariat.”

On Patriots Daily, Britt Schramm has a preview of Steelers/Patriots, another game with huge playoff implications for the Patriots. Kerry J. Byrne says that this game will be the real test for Matt Cassel.

In the Globe OT yesterday, Chad Finn had a piece on Bill Belichick’s redemption this season.  

It’s interesting that there are two statements that were being put out there immediately after Brady’s injury by Patriots haters that you’re not seeing too much these days: “Now we’ll see what kind of coach Bill Belichick really is.” and “Bill Belichick’s record without Tom Brady is ________.”

Curt Schilling did a two-part article about the five year anniversary of his becoming a member of the Red Sox, as you recall it was Thanksgiving 2003 when the deal to bring Schilling to Boston was struck. Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

In her Globe Sports Media column, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell chats with Wyc Grousbeck about the Celtics success. Jeff Goodman has a piece on how long this run could last for the Celtics. Tony Massarotti says we’re now learning the whole truth about Paul Pierce.

Bill Doyle chats with WCVB sports anchor Mike Lynch about the station’s coverage of High School sports, and touches on his relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

The consecutive week streak of BSMW mentions in Michael Felger‘s mailbag has been stopped at two.

High Schools In Focus

We’re focusing on the High School side of sports media today with a few links to blogs around New England that will keep you up to date on the various high school football games going on today:

The High School Sports Blog (Boston.com)

High School Insider – (BostonHerald.com)

High School Sports – (MassLive.com)

HS Game Time – (RI & SE Mass)

Moving the Chains  – (NH Union Leader)

SouthCoastVarsity – (Standard Times)

High School Sports Section – (Hartford Courant)

If you’ve got time to kill waiting for the Turkey to finish and the relatives to show up, you can catch up with last night’s Pro action at CelticsLinks.com and BruinsLinks.com. The Pats are getting ready for the Steelers, and will have Matt Light in the lineup. Check PatriotsLinks.com for the news.

A couple of final other links for your reading leisure today:

Joe Posnanski has posted his AL MVP ballot and explanation, which as usual contains a ridiculous (in a good way) amount of explanation.

SmallWhiteBall, a really good New England sports blog that I only discovered this week (how is that possible) has a look at Boston Sports Radio’s Four Most Ridiculous Current Topics.

Right on the money.

Have a great day everyone.

Steelers’ D Will Be Tough Test for Cassel, Pats

A pretty light day for links today:

John Tomase has the Pittsburgh Steelers bringing the top ranked defense in the league into Gillette on Sunday to face a Patriots squad that has put up over 500 yards of offense in each of the last two games. AP writer Howard Ulman has Randy Moss hitting his stride just in time to face the Steelers.

 Mike Reiss runs through the Patriots options when it comes to Matt Cassel – will they franchise him, will they let him walk – what will they do? Steve Buckley tells us that Matt Light wasn’t too bright to get into a fight on Sunday against Miami. Jeff Howe has this week’s NFL power rankings.

Tomase’s notebook has Anthony Smith, now just a bit player with the Steelers, still mouthing off about the Patriots. Reiss’ notebook has more on the impressive Steelers defense.

Bruins

Joe Haggerty has four veteran Bruins reflecting on their time in Boston and how things appear to have changed from the tough times earlier this decade. After being a student in the Bruins defensive system much of last season, Dennis Wideman is now doing some teaching back there. Mike Loftus has the story. Barbara Matson has Marc Savard working to become a more complete player this season. Stephen Harris has the Bruins taking on the unfamiliar role of the hunted.

The Union Leader has Five questions with Ken Cail the radio play-by-play voice of the Manchester Monarchs.

Loftus’ notebook has the Bruins trying to be ready for the Sabres’s best tonight.

Celtics

Julian Benbow has the Celtics with Kendrick Perkins leading the way, collecting by far the most technical fouls of any team this season. Jim Fenton also examines the technical difficulties experienced by the Celtics. Mike Fine has Patrick O’Bryant hoping to get out on the floor more, but especially tonight against this old team, the Warriors.

The Celtics are mourning the passing of Helen J. (Weiss) Heinsohn, the beloved wife of Tommy Heinsohn, referred to by Tommy on the air as “The redhead from Needham.”

In his notebook, Steve Bulpett says has Doc Rivers saying that his team needs to get better. Benbow’s notebook has Paul Pierce in agreement with his coach.

Red Sox

Alex Speier has a look at what 22-year-old Japanese import Junichi Tazawa  means to the Red Sox and MLB. Michael Silverman has the Red Sox exploring options for replacing Jason Varitek. Dan Lamothe wonders when Scott Boras will begin allowing his players to sign. Amalie Benjamin has the Red Sox announcing their 2009 Spring Training schedule.

Who Gets More Coverage – The Red Sox or Cowboys?

In this week’s edition of Patriots Football Weekly, I’ve got an interview with Albert Breer of The Sporting News.

During the interview, Breer, who left the MetroWest Daily News last year to join the Cowboys beat for the Dallas Morning News mentioned that the Cowboys are covered like no other franchise in sports.

In a followup that didn’t make the final edition of my final PFW column, I asked Breer if he felt that the way the Cowboys were covered by the media in Dallas even surpassed the way the Red Sox are covered here in Boston. I thought that the topic was worth posting here.

Here was his response:

Yes, I do think it is, and for several reasons.

First is the place of the team in the market. I wouldn’t question that the Red Sox are No. 1 in Boston, I just don’t think the gap is as great between the Sox and the other teams here as it is with the Cowboys and the other teams in Dallas. The Cowboys can go 2-14, and they’ll still tower over the Mavs, Stars and Rangers.

Second is the amount of coverage. Here’s an example — The Cowboys held their training camp in Southern California, and traveling people there, as you might expect, isn’t cheap. The Morning News had three beat writers and a blogger there, plus photographers, for all of camp (3 weeks.) Plus, there was a rotation with the three columnists, so one of them was always on the ground on the West Coast. About 10 people travel for the Morning News on every single road trip. And that’s not counting the NFL writer, Rick Gosselin, who does an annual trip of about 10 training camps, and is at a non-Cowboys game every week.

Quite simply, the NFL is king in Dallas and, in general, football rules in Texas to a degree that I don’t think exists here. Just my personal opinion. The Star-Telegram, in Fort Worth, commits similar coverage to the Cowboys, and ESPN has two of its most prominent NFL reporters — Ed Werder on the TV side and Matt Mosley for the dot-com (both DMN-exes, by the way) — in Dallas and covering the club on a near-daily basis. I’d challenge you to find another team in any sport that garners that kind of commitment from a national outlet.

Third is the sheer volume of content. Check the Cowboys Blog at dallasnews.com. I don’t think there’s another mainstream media, team-specific blog in the country that can come close to competing with it. In particular, look at this past offseason — We had 10-20 posts a day, and were generating record traffic even in slow times. As for the print product, there’s an NFL section separate from SportsDay (what DMN calls its sports section) every Monday. And if you look in the offseason, it’s not unusual that Cowboys OTAs (optional offseason workouts) would grab the centerpiece of the section in the middle of May, even with the Mavs and Stars in the playoffs and Rangers season in full swing.

Fourth is the interest in the team. I do know the power of the Red Sox brand, but I would say that their following isn’t what the Cowboys’ is, and for this reason: While Boston transplants are passionate and filling a lot of opposing ballparks, the Cowboys have a rather large faction of fans without having a connection to North Texas. It’s impressive, to say the least. I’ve seen these guys on the road, and even in cities like Charlotte and Detroit last year, when the team bus pulls up to the hotel, it’s like the Beatles just got there.

What do you think? Does what Breer describe about the media coverage in Dallas surpass what the Red Sox get here?

Passing Grades

Michael Felger has an A+ for Matt Cassel and a D- for the defensive secondary in his report card this morning. All other positions on the Patriots fall in between those two grades. Ian Clark‘s grades are in line with those of Felger this morning, as are the grades from Eric McHugh. The Herald Report Card is pretty generous in its grading of the team. I’m assuming Borges wrote it, but there’s no byline to the story at the moment.

Christopher Price has Steelers safety Anthony Smith offering another guarantee of a Pittsburgh victory this weekend with their #1 defense.

John Tomase says that number 16 is really starting to look like number 12 out there on the field. Christopher L. Gasper has Cassel running the spread offense with great success and comfort. Mark Farinella looks at how much Cassel has progressed this season. Bill Reynolds says that Cassel has proved us all wrong. Glen Farley says that Cassel is becoming too expensive for the Patriots to keep.

Bill Burt gives us 10 reasons why the Patriots can win the Super Bowl this season. Shalise Manza Young says that the Patriots defense needs to get its act together on third downs and in the red zone. Rich Garven reminds us that if the season ended today, the Patriots would not be in the playoffs. Daniel Barbarisi has the Patriots expecting another physical game with the Steelers in town on Sunday. Ben Swasey has a few thoughts after re-watching the game against Miami.

Lenny Megliola compares Cassel and BC backup QB Dominique Davis, who was also thrust into the starting lineup following an injury to the starter.

Tomase’s notebook has the Patriots awaiting word on whether Matt Light will be fined or suspended for this Sunday’s game at the Steelers. Gasper’s notebook has more on a possible suspension for Light. Barbarisi’s notebook has Stephen Gostkowski too busy trying to protect his leg to get involved in the Light/Crowder fight right in front of him. Farley’s notebook says that there will be no day off on Thursday for the Patriots.

Celtics

Paul Flannery looks at how the Celtics have turned up the level of their play in the last few games. Frank Dell’Apa examines how the Celtics are a tough team to cover when they’re clicking, as Toronto found out. Mark Murphy has the Celtics bench playing a larger role this season.

Jim Fenton looks at the Celtics getting off to a 13-2 start despite not playing well at times and having a target on their back every night. Mike Fine examines whether Paul Pierce is worthy of being called a top-five NBA forward.

Red Sox/Bruins

Michael Silverman has Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa considering an offer from the Red Sox. Amalie Benjamin has more on the offer to Tazawa.  Dan Lamothe is convinced that Jason Varitek has played his last game with the Red Sox. Joe McDonald says that the Varitek talks are the biggest Red Sox topic at the moment.

Stan Grossfeld looks at the “Mini-Fenway” project in Quincy.

Steve Conroy has Tim Thomas fifth in All Star voting despite being left off the ballot. Fluto Shinzawa has Patrice Bergeron putting his game back together after missing much of last season. Mike Loftus has the Bruins not wanting to let success go to their heads. Conroy’s notebook has Matt Hunwick filling a void on defense.

So Long, Douglas Flynn

If you missed it, Scott Benson on Patriots Daily yesterday had an Exit Interview with Douglas Flynn, who had his position with the MetroWest Daily News eliminated by parent company Gatehouse Media recently.

In the interview, Flynn talks about covering the Patriots, the state of the newspaper industry, what he would do if he could be “media czar” for a day, and what the future holds for him.

I agree with the closing statement from Benson that we need more sportswriters like Flynn, not less.

Cassel, Moss Lead Pats Over Dolphins

First the good news – the Matt Cassel was pretty much unstoppable once again as the Patriots moved the ball at will against the Miami defense yesterday, throwing for over 400 yards for the second game in a row, connecting with Randy Moss for three touchdown passes and running for another in the Patriots 48-28 win over the Dolphins, extracting a measure of payback for the loss earlier in the season to Miami. The bad news is, every other team that Patriots fans wanted to lose yesterday for playoff positioning won, (Jets, Colts, Ravens) meaning that if the playoffs started today, New England would still be on the outside looking in.

Chris Warner has the game recap up over at Patriots Daily.

Chris Price cranks out the 10 Things We Learned Yesterday.

Christopher L. Gasper has the Patriots gaining a vengeful victory over the Dolphins to keep pace in the AFC playoff picture. Karen Guregian has the Patriots making the playoff possibilities a little brighter for themselves with the win yesterday. Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots making a statement with their play yesterday. Rich Garven has the Patriots racking up 530 yards of offense in the win. Rob Bradford says that the Patriots may pay a price for their feisty Fourth quarter.

Everyone who thought Dan Shaughnessy would sneak a Wally Pipp reference into his column today, raise your hand. The good news is, Shaughnessy says that this won’t be a Pipp situation, but still writes as glowing a column about player as you’ll ever read from Dan. Ron Borges is equally impressed with Cassel. Bill Burt says that Cassel is becoming one of the greatest stories ever in the NFL. Jim Donaldson has Cassel finding his comfort zone…and the end zone.

Michael Felger looks at the return of the most dangerous weapon in the NFL. John Tomase has Randy Moss with a monster day after the Dolphins coaches decided to go with single coverage on him for much of the day. Garven has Moss proving to be the top receiver that he is with his play yesterday. Donaldson has Moss proving to be double trouble for the Dolphins.

Brian MacPherson has Kevin Faulk once again kick-starting the Patriots offense. Chris Forsberg has Wes Welker bouncing back from a nasty hit to post 120 receiving yards on the day. Donaldson marvels how Welker takes a licking and keeps on ticking afterwards. Young has Jabar Gaffney with a productive day as well.

Mike Reiss has defensive coordinator Dean Pees calling the game from upstairs yesterday, so as to get a better look at the Miami formations and be better prepared for the “wildcat.” Cristina Ledra has more on how the Patriots slowed down the Wildcat yesterday. Tomase has the Patriots defense just good enough to get by yesterday. Larry Milian has the Dolphins down after the loss.

Young has Joey Porter still talking yesterday, this time about how the Patriots cheated and stole “his” dynasty and that he would be the one with three championship rings if the Patriots hadn’t cheated.

Hector Longo runs through the ups and downs from yesterday and has the early grades for the squad. Borges lists out the best & worst from yesterday. Milan’s Play of the Game was Welker’s 64 yard scamper down the sideline on a shot pass from Cassel. The Projo has their Game analysis program fired up.

Gasper’s notebook has things turning nasty between the two teams yesterday. Guregian’s notebook  has Matt Light facing a possible suspension after a fight with Miami’s Channing Crowder. Young’s notebook has the Wildcat tamed by the Patriots.

Celtics

Frank Dell’Apa and Mark Murphy have Rajon Rondo leading the Celtics to a 118-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors yesterday afternoon. Tim Weisberg has opponents unhappy with the Celtics style of play, and looks at the possibility of Robert Horry joining the Celtics.

The Globe notebook has the Celtics losing out on Antonio McDyess after the veteran forward opted to return to Detroit. Murphy’s notebook has Kendrick Perkins in dangerous waters after picking up his eighth technical foul in fifteen games thus far this season.

Bruins/Red Sox/Misc

Sean McAdam has Milan Lucic adding to his game this season. Fluto Shinzawa revisits the Boston/Montreal flareup on Saturday night. Joe Haggerty has Lucic keeping his gloves on despite provocation.

Michael Silverman has the Red Sox making an offer to Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa.

Will Leitch and Paul Flannery rehash last week in Boston sports.

King: McDaniels Gone in ’09

Peter King on NBC’s Football Night in America:

I’ll make this vow right now – the one thing we know about the NFL in 2009 is that Josh McDaniels will be one of the 32 head coaches in the NFL.

Is this really that much of a forgone conclusion? Others closer to the team have said this year that McDaniels will likely not pursue a head coaching position this offseason, realizing that he still has a ways to go and things to learn before he’s ready for that position.

McDaniels may get offers from around the league, but it says here he’ll be back with the Patriots next season.