The Madness of Bilas
Analyst suits up for CBS and ESPN; studs and duds
Posted: Monday March 17, 2008 2:08AM; Updated: Tuesday March 18, 2008 11:40PM
SI.com's Richard Deitsch checks in every Monday with the latest doings in TV, radio and the Web.
ESPN's Jay Bilas says he does not know the terms that were negotiated for his job-sharing program with CBS but he could not be happier about his over-exposure in March. "I'm exclusive to ESPN but CBS traded some sort of rights for me," he says. "I think it was a ham sandwich and a bag of chips."
For the record CBS gave ESPN better access at the men's Final Four, reduced the restrictions on highlights of the men's tournament, and will actively promote ESPN's coverage of the women's basketball championship game. ESPN also gets the right to put some men's basketball games on ESPN Classic. It's unknown how many cold cuts were thrown in to the deal.
Such esprit-de-corps benefits viewers. (In the same vein, the NFL Network recently added CBS NFL insider Charley Casserly for its NFL draft coverage).
Bilas has long been a cogent and thoughtful voice in the sport. He's not afraid to chastise the game's sacred cows. Most know him as a television basketball analyst but he's also a litigation attorney in Charlotte (he successfully won a case against the company behind the purple dinosaur, Barney). At the moment, he has no active cases but works at his law office when he's home in Charlotte.
"I hear people say you can have it all but I believe you can't," Bilas says. "You have to make choices. If I wanted to carry my litigation to the highest level for me, I could not do all this basketball stuff. I had to make a choice seven years ago and I made the choice." His choice for the tournament? Bilas likes Kansas over UCLA.
Person of the Week
Tim MacMahon, Dallas Morning News reporter: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has long been a powerful voice on how to exploit and monetize content on the Web, and his Blog Maverick is always interesting reading. It's particularly appreciated in this space how accessible Cuban is to the press.
Alas, Cuban recently made a foolhardy decision when he instituted a new policy banning full-time bloggers from the team's locker room. The timing was curious: It came after MacMahon wrote this critical piece on Mavericks coach Avery Johnson. The ban also effects one person: MacMahon, who has been blogging about the Mavericks since 2006. Cuban says he is not singling out MacMahon and that it's an issue of space in the locker room. The Society of Professional Journalists offers a different take here.
Professional sports and college programs have some tough decisions ahead about which bloggers to credential, both from traditional and non-traditional sources. There is no gray area here. MacMahon is employed by the state's biggest paper and has covered the team as a professional journalist for two years. The decision smacks of retribution for a critical piece on Cuban's coach.
They Said It
"I think that teams No. 14 on down can beat anybody No. 3 on up in that given game. Davidson can play anybody in the United States a legitimate game. Maybe you can make an exception for the No. 1-seeded line, but Davidson played Duke, North Carolina and UCLA and had leads in those games."
-- CBS Sports analyst Billy Packer, on a lower-seeded team that could reward you in your pool. No. 10 Davidson plays No. 7 Gonzaga in Raleigh on Friday.
They Said It II
"They are lending credibility and even some civility and authority to kind of a frontier universe. So you have a chance to call attention to your own responsible ideas and your own responsible ways of framing them, even in a world where there is a lot of irresponsibility."
-- Roy Peter Clark, the senior scholar at the Poynter Institute and the author of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies, on why a major sports columnist would interview a then anonymous sports blog