Today in sports: The Indianapolis Colts make their intentions clear regarding Andrew Luck, building an NFL schedule involves lots of grids and special requests, and Ivan Rodriguez hangs up the catcher's mask after 21 seasons.
The Indianapolis Colts have reportedly informed former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck that they will select him with the first overall pick in this month's NFL draft. This isn't hugely surprising, since owner Jim Irsay very publicly backed the unproven Luck over Peyton Manning this past offseason, albeit a Peyton Manning who didn't play a down last season and is recovering from multiple neck surgeries. But Peyton Manning all the same. With Luck headed to Indianapolis, fans of the Washington Redskins no longer have to consider painful hypotheticals in which the Colts -- on a whim or for very well-thought-out reasons-- pass on Luck to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, thus ruining a coronation Washington has been planning for the better part of two months. [ESPN]
Putting together a 17-week NFL schedule is hard work. To begin with, a full 17-week grid is full of lots of tiny boxes. That's always a sign that things are going to get complicated. There are also travel considerations (you don't want to send Minnesota to Miami and then up to Seattle the very next week), bye weeks, the NFL's new plan to stack divisional games in the second half of the season, and conflicts with other weekend jamborees. The league office uses a computer For the last eight years, the first step has been consulting a computer capable of "spitting out 400,000 complete or partial schedules from a possible 824 trillion game combinations." After sorting through 14,000 potential schedules, NFL "scheduling czar" Howard Katz sent commissioner Roger Goodell an email at 12:33 a.m. on Monday that the 2012 slate was finally set. The entie process "gets serious in January, when teams submit lists of requests detailing stadium availability and preferences for scheduling order. This year, teams submitted more than 70 blocked-out dates for stadiums," for various reasons. Bruce Springsteen is playing MetLife Stadium September 19, 21, and 22 so both the Giants and Jets are playing road games in Week 3. Then there are the preferences. So many preferences, per The New York Times' Judy Battista:
Florida teams often ask not to play 1 p.m. games in September and October, believing it is more difficult to sell tickets in broiling heat; sometimes the same organization will submit different requests because coaches believe the heat provides a competitive advantage. Southern teams do not want to go north late in the season. Teams that struggle to sell tickets worry especially about their late-season schedule.the N.F.L.’s expanded Thursday night package, which gives each team a game in a short week, to potential baseball playoff situations that could impact the availability of stadiums and parking lots in October.
The initial glut of 14,000 schedules was "reduced to 150 with an eyeball test. Then the scheduling department reviewed those 150 by hand, scoring them for each team and each network." Katz thought he engineered the perfect schedule weeks ago until he rechecked the matchups and "realized one team had a three-game trip heading into a Thursday night game." Back to the drawing board. [The New York Times]