Links: The selling of ‘Beast Mode’ & Shaq & Tark & More

The debates rage about the future of Marshawn Lynch, but there’s no question about his growing brand. The Seahawks’ running back is cashing in off the field.

Lynnley Browning of Newsweek writes about how you market an athlete who doesn’t talk to the media:

The less Lynch speaks to the media, the more his popularity grows. He doesn’t even want to talk about his company right now. Mitch Grossbach, president of M3/Relativity, which oversees the development of BeastModeonline, says Lynch couldn’t speak to Newsweek for this story because he was “in no mood to talk right now. He’s emotionally debilitated by [the loss]—he needs a week to recover.”

In a world of professional athletes happily shilling everything from Cialis to car insurance, Lynch’s verbal striptease is a test case for how to grow an emerging rock-star athlete into a brand worth millions. “He’s maintaining the irony of not talking, and that has made him more marketable and more endearing with fans and consumers,” says Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert who is executive creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. “It’s the antithesis of how you would go about becoming a marketable star, and it’s working.”

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Washington Huskies star Shaq Thompson figures to a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s MMQB recently caught up with Thompson:

The NFL is still trying to figure out what position best fits Thompson, who wasn’t a good fit for baseball. He went 0- for-39 with 37 strikeouts during his pro baseball career:

King writes:

… In his freshman year at Washington, coaches created a hybrid safety/linebacker position just to get him on the field. Over the next three years, he played five other positions. His mere presence was a weapon. “We put him at personal protector, not only because he’d be good at it,” says Huskies coach Chris Petersen, “but also, teams would be so worried about us snapping the ball to Shaq that they backed off on trying to block our punts.”

That’s the paradox of Shaq Thompson: Nobody knows exactly what he is. They just know they want him.

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Alexander Wolff of Sports Illustrated  writes about Jerry Tarkanian, the former UNLV basketball coach who died Wednesday. He was 84.

The headline says it all: Always A Rebel: Jerry Tarkanian was college sports’ original honest man

Wolff writes:

Tarkanian spent most of his professional life as a poster boy for disreputability. Today, with the NCAA itself in broad disrepute, it’s almost as if he lived just long enough for public opinion to catch up to him. There would be much worse things than if, in death, Tarkanian were to earn something like vindication.

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You want more offense in baseball? Raise the strike zone. MLB is taking a look at doing just that. Read this story by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

Passan writes:

At baseball’s GM meetings last November, the room of executives teemed with discussions about how to jolt offense in a game lacking it. Radical ideas were proposed, from putting rules into place on defensive shifts to the possibility of forcing relief pitchers to throw to more than one batter. Generating the most agreement was the problem of the low strike.

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Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports writes about college football’s most intriguing head coach. Tony Sanchez guided Bishop Gorman HS to an 85-5 record in eight seasons.

Wetzel writes:

Sanchez is a rare breed; the college football coach hired directly from the high school ranks. He’s just the fifth in the modern era – Jim Bradley to New Mexico State in 1973, Bob Commings to Iowa in 1974, Gerry Faust to Notre Dame in 1981 and Todd Dodge to North Texas in 2007.

None lasted very long.

UNLV is arguably the worst program in the country, posting a pathetic eight two-win seasons across the last 11 years. It’s been to four bowl games … ever. The glory days are that time they finished tied for third in their division of the Mountain West.

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Charles Barkley doesn’t like analytics, but analytics like him. Neal Paine of FiveThirtyEight.com compared Barkley to power forward greats Karl Malone and Tim Duncan.

The numbers breakdown came after Barkley ripped Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey for his over-reliance on analytics. Morey in turn ripped Barkley on Twitter:

Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment

Here’s Sir Charles’ words that sparked the debate:

“I’ve always believed analytics was crap. … I never mention the Rockets as legitimate contenders ’cause they’re not. And, listen, I wouldn’t know Daryl Morey if he walked into this room right now.”

“The NBA is about talent,” Barkley added. “All these guys who run these organizations who talk about analytics, they have one thing in common — they’re a bunch of guys who have never played the game, and they never got the girls in high school, and they just want to get in the game.”

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