Slant Pattern Mailbag

Howdy, folks. It's time for another addition of the Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, I do not get any questions myself, so I poach them from other mailbags.

We will start with Stewart Mandel's college football mailbag in the Athletic. By the way, I cancelled my Athletic subscription after they stopped giving me sweetheart "please stay!" deals, but now that the New York Times has wound up their own sports department and uses The Athletic for sports coverage exclusively, I find that my NYT subscription "works" for The Athletic. Just in case anyone else like me didn't know.

Justin from Denver asks:

"Brett Yormark has clearly outmaneuvered George Kliavkoff repeatedly since becoming commissioner. Is it possible he's quickly becoming the best conference commissioner? If so, how far can he realistically take the Big 12? With Oklahoma and Texas leaving, it no longer has any big-time brand names, but it historically has a very unpredictable season with a lot of fun and exciting games. Is there any possibility of gaining ground on the SEC/Big Ten, or is reaching for a very distant third-best conference the Big 12's ceiling?"

Eh, I think it's a little early to call him the best, and being better than Kliavkoff is an awfully low bar to clear. Getting Colorado to come back even before the Pac 12 went caput was his slickest move, but really the Big 12's additions has been more about quantity than quality. And that's fine, it's going to keep the Big 12 alive for now, but it's a practice that hardly takes a genius commissioner to make.

Inasmuch as the Big Ten and the SEC are clearly viewed, for good or ill, as the two most desirable and sustainable conferences, it's hard to imagine the choicest cuts of Big 12 and ACC meat not to eventually get subsumed into the Big Ten and SEC, forcing the ACC and Big 12 to either fold, or add other castoffs and G5 programs. Which is precisely the Big 12 model now.

Also, I just want to add my voice to the choir and say all this realignment sucks and is short-sighted. I do not take it for granted that the U.S. economy and energy availability will always be strong enough to sustain nationwide conferences, and I think fans do like their local and regional rivals. It's going to be funny if in 20-40 years we start seeing conferences break into smaller pieces to resemble the regionality of the '80s and earlier.

Over at the SI NFL mailbag, @AlexLeeSays/asks:

"Any truth to [Bill] Belichick on the hot seat this season?"

I'm going to combine this one with another question posed to the Athletic's college football mailbag about Mike Gundy, because the answer is the same for both: barring multiple downright catastrophic years, Belichick and Gundy will never be fired.

In the case of Belichick, whether this is all thanks to Tom Brady or not, he has really put together the greatest resume of all-time. He has earned the right to be the head coach of the Pats until he wants to retire, and I doubt the Patriots ownership feels any differently.

Obviously, Gundy has not had Belichickian success at Oklahoma State. He's done very well, though, and I think if the OSU brass had any interest in firing him, they could have and would have done so already: 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2022 were all seasons where he got the kind of results that have led to the dismissal of head coaches at more impatient athletic departments.

SI also has a new-to-me sports media mailbag, where one @ilovemfrancesa asks:

"When was the last time a three-man booth worked? Catalon is good, but that new booth seems like it was made for 4 PM NFC games starring the Cardinals."

If I had more reach, I would get roasted for this, but I liked Dennis Miller on MNF, when he was joined by Al Michaels and Dan Fouts. I don't see any inherent reason a three-man booth can't work. It seems like more often than not, the play-by-play and color commentators aren't really conversing particularly cohesively as opposed to two people working independently. Maybe having three people in the booth will help that.

But can I put in a plug here for an announcer-less booth? I ask because I watched the Michigan/TCU national playoff semifinal on one of ESPN+ alternate camera feeds (overhead, if I remember correctly), which had no announcers, and it was scintillating that way. I'm sure the craziness and the high scoring-ness of the game didn't hurt, but having no announcers brought to crowd into play in a magical way.

NBC tried this in 1980 with an NFL game, and then tried again last year with an MLB game, and ratings were successful for both. However, pointyhead criticisms outside of ratings have meant we haven't seen more. I hope that changes soon.

I want to close by going to this mailbag question posed to all the way back in 2015, where Bob in California asks:

"Do you actually think Tiger will ever win again on Tour? And what do you think he'll need to do to get back in that kind of form?"

Far be it for me to speculate on how someone like Tiger can get back into form, but I do indeed think he will win again. I do think it will take a couple more years, but I think he'll get back in the winner's column. In fact, I will be specific and predict he will win ... oh, let's say the 2018 Tour Championship, the 2019 Masters, and the 2019 Zozo Championship, which is a tournament I predict will first be played that year as a joint venture between the U.S. and Japan PGA tours.

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