Happy Thursday to you, Followers. Hope you’re having a great week!
Today marks the second installment of our new epic drama called “Three Questions.”
As noted last week, in contrast to most of my features which often leave you wanting less, each of these tasty morsels are crafted to leave you wanting more. So, if you’re still left hungry for what our special guest stars are cooking, well, you’ll be able to find them out there on the internets, the radio, the tee-vee, and so forth. They ARE stars, afterall…
Here is the list of our special guest stars according to their scheduled date of appearance.....
June 14th: Brock Huard
June 21st: Bob Condotta
June 28th: Ted Miller
July 5th: Howie Stalwick
July 12th: Cindy Brunson
July 19th: Brian Floyd
July 26th: Bruce Feldman
And yes, they were all tremendously gracious hostages…
Today, our special guest star is none other than fellow Cougar, and Seattle Times scribe extraordinaire, Sir Robert Condotta. To see what Bob has in store for you in today’s Q & A, read on....
Followers, those of you who have frequented these blog parts over the years know that I am convinced that Bob Condotta is a cunning cross between Harry Potter and the evil young Malfoy from Slytherin....
But beyond the nuanced majesty of Mr. Condotta's visage, a few things are abundantly clear about him: Bob Condotta is THE SINGLE BEST beat writer/blogger for an individual program/team in the entire country. In fact, Bob has pretty much written the book on how to keep a fan base engaged and riveted throughout a season and beyond. And for that reason alone, The Seattle Times and Muttlake Nation are beyond fortunate to have him.
And so are we today.
Without further ado, our own Victory Bell recently "sat down" (otherwise known as accosted) with Bob--during his kid’s Little League Baseball game no less--and conducted the following interview.
Victory Bell: Bob, as we are sure others have told you, you stand alone as the greatest beat writer and team-specific blogger in College Football to date…That said, in addition to your team-specific duties, you also have a vote in the AP's Top 25 College Football poll. So, here’s our first question: With all of the time you have to put into covering the Dawgs--including transcribing interview notes from Sark’s radio show of all things--how are you able to track what goes on elsewhere in the conference-let alone the country? In other words, what’s the process that you use to cast the most informed/educated Top 25 ballot possible?
Bob Condotta: First, a clarification --- I don't necessarily "have''' the AP vote in the state. The vote is something that's kind of like a football scholarship, awarded on a one-year renewable basis. Who votes is decided each year before the season by the AP editors. I have indeed voted in the poll the last three years, but it's common for the vote to be spread around among a few different people and I actually don't know if I will be the voter this year (happy to do it if asked but that simply hasn't happened yet).
It's also important to remember what the criteria is for being a voter in the poll --- basically, being a full-time reporter on college football, be it for a newspaper, TV or radio, and generally for a news organization that belongs to the Associated Press. There are a lot of polls out there that feature all kinds of voters -- current coaches, former coaches, computers, guys who work only at ESPN, etc. The AP poll simply happens to consist of media members selected by the AP to vote in its poll. Any additional credibility accorded by the public is a testament to the job the AP has done through the years (it began on a full-time basis in 1936) in running its poll. As is evident in the proliferation of polls in recent years, anyone is free to start up their own and see where it goes, and as a consumer, there are also lots of polls out there to choose from.
As for the meat of your question, that's a common query asked of those who vote. No doubt, during the season media members have a lot on their plate. But everyone who agrees to vote does so understanding there is an additional responsibility to know everything you can about everyone else in the country. It's hard to give specific numbers of time spent on this because almost everything you do during the season (and even in the off-season) helps in some way, some large and some small. If you're on the Pac-12 conference call, for instance, and you hear a coach say something about a certain team, that adds to your knowledge that can help when it comes time to vote, etc. Before the season in years when I know I'm voting, I definitely take a few nights away from the family to study everything I can to compile an initial Top 25 (and beyond) which helps provide a base of knowledge to rely on all season. During the season, I basically shut off watching much of anything else other than college football, instead taking in every replay I can during the week, all the various highlight shows, etc.
I'll take some time to study the stats, read stories on various teams, talk to other reporters I know, etc., all of which helps provide a base of knowledge to rely on when it comes time to actually vote. Obviously, the time constraints of the vote itself --- it has to be in by 7 a.m. Sunday --- means you can't have watched every game that weekend, which is why doing all the studying you can during the week (Fridays are always a good day for this, when the work I have to do for my regular job during the week is basically done) is vital. And depending on when UW plays, I can have more time than you'd think on a Saturday to work on it --- one reason I kind of like the night games when I can watch other games all day long and continually move teams up/down based on the results. It's basically just a continually, evolving process that culminates with the vote each Saturday night/Sunday morning.
Victory Bell: As the Coug-A-Sutra has told you over Twitter, your coverage of the Sacramento Kings Arena situation has been beyond first rate. Now that the Arena deal in Sacramento has moved from being "off again" to "on again" and now a final "off-again," do think the Kings will eventually find a home in Seattle? And if not, do you care to speculate about leading candidates to become the SuperSonics 2.0?
Bob Condotta: First, thanks for the kind words --- I covered the NBA for an entire season in 1996-97 and in other years at other jobs used to be around the league quite a bit, so it's nice to be able to dip back into that from time to time. As for the Kings, it depends almost solely on if the Maloof family decides to sell the team.
Chris Hansen wants to be part of a group that owns a team in Seattle, and since expansion isn't happening, that means buying a team from somewhere else and moving it here. Speculation has focused on Sacramento because the team has obvious issues where it is and because, as the Times reported, it was the team specifically mentioned in some of the initial correspondence between Seattle/King County officials and Hansen.
Obviously, the Sacramento arena deal is falling apart, largely because the Maloof family is killing it --- and that's largely because they don't really want to keep the team in Sacramento and are mostly just looking for excuses to derail the deal. Some people down there will tell you they've wanted to move the team from the moment they bought it in 1996 but had no choice but to keep it there once the team started winning and setting attendance records.
As has been well reported, the Maloof family really wants to just move the Kings to Anaheim (they'd really love to move it to Las Vegas, but that isn't realistic right now). So the key for the Hansen group is for the Maloof's attempt to move the team to Anaheim to fail and then for them to decide they don't want it anymore and put the team up for sale (obviously, there are all kinds of other scenarios that could happen and who really knows what is going on behind closed doors. But this seems like the most likely scenario).
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is working pretty hard to find some groups in Sacramento to buy the team and keep it there, and that could be a real option (and possibly the one preferred by David Stern). But if the team becomes available, the Maloofs would almost certainly prefer to sell it to the highest bidder, so if that's Hansen and his group, they could get the team and move it here. But that's why getting some of the Seattle arena stuff done quickly is paramount, so Hansen and the NBA would know that the arena is on course before he actually had to start writing checks to the Maloofs. As for other options, they aren't incredibly great, especially with New Orleans getting sold and staying put. The Memphis owner would love to sell, but there's all kinds of lease things that make that team hard to move (note - Memphis has a tentative deal in place for a new owner, which was not known at the time of this interview). Milwaukee would be easy to move in terms of its lease and has an aging owner who could decide at any moment to sell. But he's also said he wants the team to stay there and being a lifelong resident there, on paper he seems unlikely to do to Milwaukee what Schultz did to Seattle (unless he doesn't find a buyer). Charlotte's a disaster, but Michael Jordan seems unlikely to sell the team to someone who would move it. The Hawks could probably be had, but now that the NHL team there is done, the Hawks will probably stay.
Victory Bell: Over the past few years, some on the WSU Football Blog hammered you pretty good whenever you predicted horrible fortunes for OUR Cougars (Never mind that you were always right). However, so far in this off-season, you seem to be more optimistic. In fact, you implied in a Tweet during the off-season that the winner of the Apple Cup might be headed to the Desert for the Las Vegas Bowl! Care to share your current season outlook for the Cougs?
Bob Condotta: Sorry, but as with everything, I'm just trying to call things as I see them. I didn't think WSU would be all that good the last few years so that's what I wrote/said. Simply put, I think WSU will be better this year, so that's what I'm writing/saying now. I definitely think WSU can contend for a bowl game this year --- the non-conference schedule should yield a 2-1 record, at worst, and then with five conference home games (though I realize, only four in Pullman), the schedule might provide a little clearer path this year than it did last year. WSU proved at the end of last year it was making progress, and it doesn't have to be taken as a shot at Paul Wulff to say that there should be an upgrade in coaching this year.
Experienced QBs are always a key to success, as well, and WSU has that this year, along with some proven skill talent and just enough elsewhere to make you think that it should be able to compete with just about everyone it faces this season. I think I'm far from alone in thinking that both teams could have bowl spots on the line in the Apple Cup this year, which would be a nice change for everyone, I think, for the game to have a lot more meaning than it has for a while.
So, there you have it, another episode of Three Questions.
Our most heartfelt thanks to Bob Condotta for taking the time to join us for what was an AWESOME interview!!! As always, you can find all of Bob’s work at the Husky Football Blog at the Seattle Times website by clicking right HERE.
Please also keep in mind that Bob writes about and links a lot to things other than the Dawgs over the summer months. So, to all Cougar fans: Check him out for some Pac-12 insights, occasional Mariners coverage, and all of your Sonics related updates. And if that’s not enough, you can follow him on Twitter.
Okay, enough of my yacking. Have a great weekend, everyone..