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Saturday, 4 a.m.
Do you think that Ben Bishop will be with the Lightning for the entire season?
It depends on what other teams are willing to give for him. Andrei Vasilevskiy, frankly, has outplayed Bishop so far this season. But it will be a while before any of us trust Vasilevskiy as much as Bishop.
I think they're better off with both of them, frankly. But a team usually can't afford two for very long. So I think this happens: The Bolts continue to play both of them for the time being. But as the trade deadline approaches, they let it be known that Bishop can be had. And then they weigh the offers.
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Obviously, the new Las Vegas franchise would love to have Bishop, but the Bolts don't want to let him walk without anything in return. I was surprised that no one offered more last off-season, to be honest. I don't think Bishop is Martin Brodeur, but he's solid, and I think the Lightning like him in their net.
I have to go with FSU, even though I think, all things considered, the Gators have had a better season. It feels like overachieving; FSU feels as if it hasn't measured up to its ability.
Warning: I'm about to sound like a grumpy old guy here. But there is no way in the world that reporting is as good now as it used to be. That isn't the fault of the writers now. They simply have less access to the athletes they are trying to cover than in the old days.
The first day I covered the Dolphins, I was given a list of players and their home phone numbers. That doesn't happen anymore. I was at the door each morning when players walked in. That doesn't happen anymore. I could sit down and have a long interview with players. That doesn't happen anymore. Again, this isn't because I was so darned good. It was just the time I covered sports in.
These days, players talk only once a week, on their designated days. They're in a press conference setting much of the time which limits the follow-up questions by a writer. There are so many websites to get in the way of an interview that it's harder to conduct one.
Writers stopped mattering nearly as much to NFL teams some time ago. It isn't their fault, necessarily. But I think the average Bucs' fan knows much less about Gerald McCoy than he did about Warren Sapp, and less about Kwon Alexander than he did about Derrick Brooks. There isn't as much space for a writer to do a major takeout on an athlete.
In some ways, it all makes it harder to report now than in my day. I never had to tweet. I never had to post video. But, no, the overall product is nowhere near as good.
There is a very likely possibility that Ohio State will be picked for the CFP without even qualifying for the Big 10 conference championship game. Do you think that is a good thing for college football? In order to enhance the integrity of the regular season should there be a rule established that only conference champions or eligible independents be allowed to play for the national championship?
I don't think so. I think the ultimate rule that the college playoffs have to go by as they pick their four teams is to pick the four best. That's tough enough.
But if Florida, for instance, were to upset Alabama in the SEC title game, well, I'd still take Alabama. I'd pick Ohio State or Michigan over Penn State.
Again, the College Playoff people are trying to pick the best four teams. If conferences want to block sending their best teams, and take a chance with their conference champions, well, they can try. But the bottom line: we want a champion we can all agree on, one that has had the best overall season. That isn't always the conference champion.
We are now about 60% through the 2016 NFL season. Which team has exceeded expectations the most? Which team has been the biggest disappointment?
I think the Cowboys are the most improved team in the NFL. Remember, they were 4-12 last year. They draft Zeke Elliott and Zak Prescott, and whammo, they're 10-1. That isn't just because of rookies. Their defense is much better, and that offensive line is playing wonderfully.
It's a tough question to ask which team is the most disappointing. The Panthers were in the Super Bowl last year. This year, they're under .500. The Packers, the Cardinals and the Bengals have all been sad.
Then there is Cleveland. No one should be surprised by the Browns. But it's still sad to see the dysfunction continue.
While reading your column Wednesday about the fun the NFL used to be, the first thing that came to mind was saturation and that was before reading one of the comments that stated the same thing.
It happened kind of in the background for me years ago. Like somewhere in passing I heard certain games would be aired on ESPN. Okay. Then another would air on the NFL channel different days of the week. At that point I thought are you kidding me? We now have to have sports channels to see football? What about those few without those channels? It didn't affect me at the time. Until it did. I thought no way am I going to survive. Seven years and many regular network games later I was quite satisfied. Now I'm able to watch all the games and I am just not that interested in watching every game anymore. Too much of anything is just that. Even when it's football. Especially if it's bad football.
I think a lot of people feel the same way you feel. Thursday night football has been a disaster. If the league really cares about injuries to players, why play in mid-week? Like I said before, it's a K-Mart version of Monday night football.
It's odd. I remember when Monday Night Football was such an event. Now, it's just another night. Sometimes, less is more.
More and more, I think, fans are content not to watch a game but to just see it's highlights. Football is best when you can take time for the entire novel, not just the Cliff Notes.