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Can BCS title game challenge TV ratings record?

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Can BCS title game challenge TV ratings record?

NEW YORK (AP) Two undefeated teams, three Heisman Trophy finalists, five lead changes and 19 seconds left when the winning touchdown was scored.

No other BCS title game has come close to matching that perfect formula for broad appeal. The 2006 tilt between Texas and Southern California was on in nearly 22 percent of American homes with televisions; the second-best number is under 18 percent.

Now, seven years later, a matchup may finally challenge that Rose Bowl's TV ratings record.

No. 1 Notre Dame, so popular it can stay independent and negotiate its own television contract, is competing for its first championship since the 1988 season. Notre Dame's opponent, No. 2 Alabama, is a big name in its own right, made bigger by two titles in the last three years and the Southeastern Conference's run of six straight crowns.

``It sets up really remarkable possibilities,'' said Burke Magnus, ESPN's senior vice president for college sports programming.

Just as fans and media break down position-by-position battles for the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide, a look at how this year's matchup stacks up against the record-holders from 2006:

- NAME RECOGNITION. Texas and USC are hardly slouches in the tradition and popularity departments, but Notre Dame is in its own category. Plus there's the added intrigue of the Irish's title drought.

``It definitely raises the bar of the hype and the buzz of this national championship compared to any of the other games I've had the good fortune to call,'' ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said.

Even if much of the interest sprouts from fans rooting against one of the teams.

``Notre Dame is the Yankees, is the Celtics, the Lakers and so on, the Dallas Cowboys. They're polarizing, which helps,'' Magnus said. ``Actually, both of them are right now because of the SEC factor, and Alabama has been the standard bearer for that.''

Herbstreit chuckled at the thought of some fans vowing not to watch because they detest both teams.

``Anybody who takes the time to make a comment like that clearly will be watching the game,'' he said. ``They'll in fact watch the four hours of pregame we have before the game and be blogging and tweeting about how wrong everybody is on those shows.''

- STAR POWER. Texas-USC sparkled far brighter here. The three Heisman finalists that season were from those two teams: Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart (who won the previous year) and running back Reggie Bush (who won this time, before later returning the trophy because of NCAA violations) and Longhorns quarterback Vince Young. All were skill position players believed at the time to have promising NFL futures.

Notre Dame's Heisman finalist is a defensive guy, linebacker Manti Te'o. Alabama's four first-team All-Americans are offensive linemen or defenders.

- ANTICIPATION. Texas and USC were the undisputed top teams in college football - the only undefeated squads in the country who led the rankings all season. Alabama has one loss, and while there has been almost no controversy as to whether the Tide deserves to play in the title game, the late-season rankings scramble that led to this game doesn't carry quite the same buzz.

- MARKET SIZE. In the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, postseason viewership often varies significantly based on whether the teams involved hail from cities big or small. In college football, that's less of a factor, though it didn't hurt the 2006 title game that a school from Los Angeles, the country's second-largest market, was involved.

The program from South Bend, Ind., of course is a classic example of national appeal.

``(Alabama is) the franchise right now and another mega brand,'' Magnus said. ``It doesn't matter that it's Tuscaloosa - the TV markets don't matter when it comes to teams like that.''

- ON-FIELD THEATER. One of the biggest factors in the final rating won't be known until the game kicks off. If the score stays close, more viewers will stick around to the end - and more will join in. Magnus believes the rise of social media will increase the audience of tight games even more than in the past, as casual fans learn through Twitter or Facebook that they can catch a tense finish if they tune in.

The Longhorns' 41-38 win featured 10 touchdowns, and the teams combined to score five times in the fourth quarter. Neither school ever led by more than 12 points.

Notre Dame has had a penchant for close games all season and Alabama also has lately. But the other half of the entertainment equation - high scoring - may be less likely with these two programs. Each allows fewer than 11 points a game.

- RAW NUMBERS. The Texas-USC title game set the record with a 21.7 rating - 22 percent higher than the next best BCS championship. No. 2 all-time was the 2001 Oklahoma-Florida State final with a 17.8. The best ratings since 2006 were a 17.4 for both the 2007 Florida-Ohio State and 2008 LSU-Ohio State matchups.

The 2006 championship was on ABC, but the BCS games have since moved to cable. ESPN is in about 14 percent fewer homes than the traditional broadcast networks, though executives note that college football fans are more likely than the general population to have cable. Ratings since the switch have seemingly been more affected by the matchups and competitiveness of games than by their availability.

Regular-season viewership, while still strong, was down for college football this year. On ESPN's networks, the average audience decreased more than 10 percent on ABC, almost 4 percent on ESPN, and nearly 13 percent on ESPN2 from 2011. SEC games on CBS also dropped 10 percent.

For the four BCS games so far, preliminary ratings are up 1 percent on ESPN from last season.

But Notre Dame and Alabama have already shown their ability to lure big audiences. The rating for the Tide's SEC title game against Georgia - essentially a national semifinal - was up 34 percent from the previous year's LSU-Georgia matchup. With an average of 16.2 million viewers, it was the season's most-watched college football game before the bowls.

No. 2 was Notre Dame's win over USC to clinch a berth in the BCS title game with 16.1 million viewers. That was the highest-rated Saturday night regular-season game on ABC since at least 1991.

Herbstreit is one of those sports fans who watch golf only when Tiger Woods is in contention on a Sunday. He considers Notre Dame-Alabama to be the college football equivalent of that.

``Without a doubt,'' he said, ``if you're a college football fan, or even if you're a fringe college football fan, you're going to watch.''

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'I think it's a travesty': Former Washington kicker Mark Moseley upset by name change

'I think it's a travesty': Former Washington kicker Mark Moseley upset by name change

For many who have played for -- or even just followed -- the Washington football team over the years, the name change can be seen as a bittersweet moment. It's viewed by many as a necessary change, but also the end of an era filled with history.

Former Washington kicker Mark Moseley sees nothing "sweet" about the switch in monikers, as his feelings toward the decision are mostly bitter.

In an interview with ABC 7 News' Scott Abraham, Moseley shared how he felt about the name change, expressing great disappointment. To him, the ones most negatively impacted by the decision are the Native Americans.

“Well, I’m disappointed naturally that we’ve given up the fight here," Moseley said. "I’m disappointed here because they are the ones that are losing with this. They respected us, they loved the Redskins. That’s all I got.”

“Now, what do they gain from this? What are the Native Americans going to gain from this? Absolutely nothing. What do they lose? The constant representation of their people," Moseley said.

Moseley explained that throughout his life, and especially during and after his time with Washington, he has made an effort to connect with the Native American community. Through visits, football camps and more, he feels he has a strong understanding of how the name change really impacts the community. 

Based on his past conversations, Moseley believes that the Native American community didn't want the name change. Rather, it was the past moniker that was helping people learn about their history.

“That’s not what they wanted, I can assure you from personal experience of meeting with hundreds and hundreds of them, that’s not what they wanted," Moseley said.

"These radicals once again are going to jump up and down holler and scream that we won, we won," Moseley said. "They haven't won a damn thing. All they have done is hurt the Native Americans. I hope they are happy with themselves."

RELATED: WALKER WONDERS HOW TO CELEBRATE HISTORY MOVING FORWARD

As for the conversation on how the name change impacts the history of the franchise, Moseley feels that isn't what the focus should be. To him, it's not the franchise past that will be forgotten

“That’s not the point. That’s where this is all gong wrong. That’s not the point," Moseley said. “The point is that people are taking away liberties every day and this is just another one of them. The name Redskins was not doing anything but helping the Native Americans. It was keeping their name out there, it was making people remember who they are.”

Moseley, who played 13 seasons in Washington, always saw it as an honor to represent that Native Americans with the name and logo. It was a reason he spent so much time with the franchise, stating that it was bigger than the game of football.

“Me as a player, I took great honor and respect to that name," Moseley said. "Every game, every year, year after year after year that I played here I played because that name meant something.”

“I think it’s a travesty that they’re taking that away from the Native Americans here," Moseley said.

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Though Moseley is strongly against the name change, he's accepted that change is sometimes inevitable. He personally believes it was the wrong choice, but is now going to "learn to live with it."

He believes others against the decision will as well. When it comes down to it, the name is only one part of the franchise. For Moseley, as much as he loved what it represented, it's the players past and present that truly make Washington football what it is.

“It’s not really the name so much as it is the players. That’s who the fans, the fans love the players. Those guys that are out there every Sunday, those guys that every day they work their butts off to get bigger, stronger, faster so they can improve and make the team a better team," Moseley said. "That’s what it’s all about, and that’s going to continue."

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Which Nationals would have been named All-Stars in a normal season?

Which Nationals would have been named All-Stars in a normal season?

July 14, 2020 was supposed to be a day for celebrating the best players in Major League Baseball. The 2020 MLB All-Star Game, set to take place that evening at Dodger Stadium, had the promise of putting some of the biggest names on display such as Mookie Betts in his new LA threads, Gerrit Cole still fresh off signing a $324 million deal last winter and Mike Trout from only a few miles down the road.

However, the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. MLB suspended spring training on March 12 and spent three months on hold before ultimately settling on a 60-game season that begins July 23. As a result, there will be no All-Star Game for the first time since 1945.

The Nationals, coming off their first World Series title in franchise history, have plenty of stars who would’ve merited consideration. Even with 2019 NL MVP candidate Anthony Rendon departing for the Los Angeles Angels in free agency, there’s no shortage of talent in D.C.

Here are the players that stood the best chance of representing the Nationals in this year’s All-Star Game.

The favorites

SP Max Scherzer

Name value alone could’ve gotten him in if fans could vote on pitchers, but even a 35-year-old Scherzer can’t be counted out of making another run at the NL Cy Young.

SP Stephen Strasburg,

The reigning World Series MVP is already a three-time All-Star and coming off an offseason in which he signed a seven-year, $245 million deal to return to Washington.

LF Juan Soto

Making his first All-Star team would seem like something of a formality for Soto, who has already established himself as one of the game’s best young stars.

RELATED: DANIEL HUDSON ISN’T SURE A 60-GAME MLB SEASON CAN DETERMINE THE BEST TEAM

Needed a career year

SP Patrick Corbin

Corbin was given the Warren Spahn Award for the best left-hander in baseball last season and is no stranger to the Midsummer Classic. If he could’ve avoided the infrequent implosion (five starts of 5+ runs allowed in 2019) on the mound, he stood a good chance of posting numbers worthy of a selection.

RP Sean Doolittle

With Will Harris and Daniel Hudson in the fold, Doolittle wouldn’t have been relied on as much as he was last season. By getting more rest and still handling closer duties for a contending team, Doolittle certainly would’ve been in the running.

SS Trea Turner

No broken finger holding him back, Turner had a chance to show he can help replace some of Rendon’s production in what would’ve been his age-27 season. Shortstop is a deep position in the NL (Trevor Story, Javier Báez, Fernando Tatís Jr., Corey Seager) but Turner has to make it one of these years, right?

2B Starlin Castro

Castro may not be the first player who comes to mind when you hear “four-time All-Star” but that’s what happens when a young, healthy infielder plays every day during a rebuild. However, coming off a 2019 second half in which he hit .302 with 16 home runs, Castro came to D.C. looking to show he’s developed into a different kind of player.

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If he made the leap

CF Victor Robles

Though it’s a bit of a long shot considering his struggles at the plate as a rookie, Robles has always displayed the tools that make coaches dream of what he can become. As he gains a few more pounds—Robles is one of the strongest players on the team—and improves his plate discipline, there’s no telling what his ceiling might be.

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