Fans on ball from midcourt
It has been the sports video sensation of the winter: Fans hither and yon sinking one halfcourt shot after another to win big bucks via assorted promotions.
From college to the NBA, there have been a dozen or so documented makes since mid-January - and that doesn't include the ridonkulous one off a front flip by Ashlee Arnau, a cheerleader at William Carey University.
Tuesday it was the turn of Thunder fan Heath Kufehl, whose bucket netted $20,000 for the father of seven whose wife, Jenni, is undergoing expensive treatment for colon cancer.
The most replayed was Jan. 25, when Michael Drysch won $75,000 at a Heat game, whereupon LeBron James tackled him in celebration.
The marketers at State Farm, which sponsors on ESPN's "College GameDay," have experienced the trend firsthand.
Their halfcourt promotion began seven years ago, with one fan making a 47-footer (and winning $18,000) in each of the first two seasons. Over the next four years . . . nothing.
Then came Jan. 19, when Butler student Kevin Schwartz made one, snapping an 0-for-32 streak. Three weeks later, Notre Dame student Casey Murdock did it, too.
"Absolutely, we're rooting for the student to make it," said Justin Reckamp, a marketing analyst for the company. He said the beauty is it is a "realistic opportunity."
More realistic then ever, evidently.
"A lot of people are practicing at home, apparently," he said. "I don't know if there's a rhyme or reason to it, but it has created a ton of excitement lately."
ESPN skipper is a Jets fan
For decades, men who grew up in the New York area have dominated the upper ranks of network sports executives, much to the annoyance of the rest of the nation.
Enter John Skipper, president of ESPN and thus among a handful of the most powerful people in sports. He grew up in Lexington, N.C., attended college in Chapel Hill and still has the accent to prove it.
And yet, it turns out he is a . . . Jets fan?
Skipper said he had no pro loyalties growing up in a pre-Panthers era, then moved to New York in 1978 for grad school at Columbia and had friends with Jets season tickets. He became a regular at Shea Stadium.
"I adopted the team," he said. "The Giants were harder to get [tickets for] because of their popularity."
"Actually, you have to be a little careful," he said. "You generally have to figure out when it's appropriate to wear it and when it's not."
One "not" would be when attending an NBA game with owners who do not own the Knicks.
"Do I wear it on my sleeve while I'm talking to them that I'm a Knicks fan? No," he said. "But when I go to Madison Square Garden I stand up and cheer for the Knicks."
Andrews likes Fox variety
Since leaving ESPN for Fox last summer, Erin Andrews has done a little bit of everything - from the Daytona 500 to handing out the NLCS and World Series trophies to covering the NFL playoffs - which is how she likes it.
"It's been the right move," she said. "I have no regrets."
Andrews' biggest role is as host of Fox's college football pregame show, a job she considers a work in progress. "It will forever be the area that I need to improve in," she said.
She beat herself up regularly over her performance last season.
"But I think the reason I have been able to have success in this business is because I'm my worst critic, I'm so hard on myself, I don't shake anything off," she said. "I would be a terrible quarterback, because if I threw an interception I'd be done for the game."
Andrews lives in New York and commutes to Fox's studios in Los Angeles in the fall. How did that go?
"It's OK; as it turns out now my boyfriend lives in L.A., so I'm doing it anyway," she said, referring to the Kings' Jarret Stoll. "For football season I was traveling all the time [for ESPN] anyway. I hadn't been home in 10 years during football season."
Glazer ready to take on ESPN
The new Fox Sports 1 plans a daily NFL news-oriented show prominently featuring information man Jay Glazer, who is looking forward to expanding beyond the few minutes he gets on the Sunday pregame show.
"[In the past] I reported two percent of what I'm told," he said. "Now if you really want to know what's going on in the league, this is the place to watch it."
Glazer has had a long rivalry with ESPN's newsgathering forces, at times accusing them of following him on stories without credit.
"Not anymore; that's the best part," he said. "Now I'll be out there shouting from the rafters, 'Turn on Fox Sports now!' Now they can't steal the stuff anymore."