5-at-10: Bieniemy discussion in D.C., ESPN bets on its future, LIV-PGA merger in trouble?

United States' Rickie Fowler lines up his putt not he 1st green during the final day of the British Open Golf Championships at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, Sunday, July 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

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Washington double takes

In almost every direction the "what about ..." conversations in today's overly heated debate/yell-fest world are pointless.

The current White House does something awful — or their family is involved in something awful — and it is not a discussion of the issues, it's "what about Trump?" as a retort.

Which also brings us to the base defense of any and all things Trump, which starts "what about ..." and finishes with "the Clintons" or "the Bidens" or any or all things that fit the Trumpian narrative.

Both are equally counterproductive.

So this is not a "what about ..." discussion as much as it is a look at each side of debate that is so important the NFL instituted league rules and incentives to cover it.

Eric Bieniemy is an extremely talented football coach. He has spent his career as an NFL assistant and his success is undeniable.

His resume — especially his most recent role in the Chiefs' championship success — screams NFL head coach.

Heck, both coordinators from the Philadelphia Eagles — a team the Chiefs beat in the Super with Bieniemy as their OC last February — are not NFL head coaches.

It's not a fact lost for a lot of folks who say the Rooney Rule does not go far enough.

Side note: The Rooney Rule is an NFL bylaw that requires NFL teams to interview a minority candidate any time there is an opening for a head coach. Whether it goes far enough or if it has become a farce — the Raiders a few years ago had already hired Jon Gruden but also interviewed Tee Martin and someone named Bobby Johnson (the other one) — is a great debate. Heck, I could see the side of the Rooney Rule being the most hollow form of the once-well-intended idea of affirmative action. Discuss.

A lot of the talking heads on the national platforms were quick to say Bieniemy not getting a head coaching spot was about his skin color.

OK. To say racism does not exist is as foolish and nonsensical as saying everything is racist.

But jobs are not given on resumes alone. Especially jobs as high profile and important as an NFL head coach, who is the upfront leader of a 10-figure entity.

The interview matters, and the recent news out of preseason camp with Bieniemy and his new team Washington, also matters.

That was ignored in the conversations and platform debates when Bieniemy went from Kansas City OC to Washington Assistant Head Coach/OC, and that's OK. It's an easy drum to bang.

But here's the reverse beat.

If you want to say Bieniemy would have a head coaching job in the NFL right now if he were white, then what would the narrative be if a new white OC was berating and possibly verbally abusing his players in his new job?

Because those are the headlines coming out of Washington's training camp, and they are glossed over with words like "intensity" and "adjustment."

Do I think Bieniemy has done enough to be a head coach? Without ever speaking to him, I would say absolutely.

Do I think Bieniemy is getting a pass on these allegations out of training camp? Without being there, I would say absolutely.

ESPN and gambling

Betcha didn't see this coming?

So ESPN has partnered with ... yeah. We knew ESPN was looking for a deep-pocketed partner, and they may still be looking, but the news of this merger was kind of a surprise to me.

ESPN has formed an alliance with PENN Entertainment, an online betting operation.

The ripples of this hard to ignore and impossible to foresee, in truth.

First, let's start with a hard financial fact that presents ESPN's power in the sports world.

DraftKings, which is right there with FanDuel as the biggest and most well-known online sports betting operators, had its stock drop more than 10% Tuesday when news of the ESPN-PENN fusion was reported.

Heck, I can't help but wonder what it will mean for all the DracftKings and FanDuel commercials — nationally and locally — now that ESPN is in the sports betting business.

And to think the Worldwide Leader in sports news will not become more gambling-centric is a fool's errand.

ESPN has been mired in slumps, layoffs and downturns.

It has made it clear that it needs a partner (and potentially a buyer/bailout) so maybe this is a way to save the franchise.

But now, considering in some ways ESPN is the house when it comes to fantasy football or favorites and underdogs or everything else that we may wager on in sports, this has to raise a question about their purpose and credibility in terms of trust no?

Because if ESPN-PENN has an avalanche of bets on Conor McGregor or the Jets minus-3, and they know that McGregor has a cracked knuckle in his left hand or that Aaron Rodgers has COVID, do they report it and risk the lines/outcome?


Fore shadowing

Gotta give props to Bearddawg, who may or may not be a lawyer but almost assuredly stayed at a Holiday Inn Express at some point.

BD has said from the jump that the LIV-PGA merger was not going to happen.

Now comes a report that everyone's least favorite commissioner Jay Monahan called a meeting before this week's St. Jude's Championship in Memphis for the 70 players who made the FedEx playoffs.

Yeah, about 25 showed up. You do the math.

Tom Hoge — one of the 25 — told the AP after the sit down that there is a "very real possibility" that the deal never happens.

Cue the dramatic music.

To make matters more confusing — and insulting for Monahan — the only two players to make the top-70 that are on the players advisory board are Rory McIlory and Patrick Cantlay.

Rory walked in the meeting drenched in sweat, choosing to work out rather than sitting through Chief Sitting Bull's bull sit. Cantlay skipped it all together.

I stand by the notion that if they stay divide and eliminate the President's Cup and start a PGA-LIV team competition every two years, it would be the most-watched golf event of the year.

Heck, in a sport that needs conversation and interest, has there been anything since Tiger at his apex that has created the interest, passion and debate like the LIV-PGA stuff?

This and that

— Wow, today's the first day of school and my kids headed off to start their sophomore and seventh-grade years. Where did the time go? Remind me to tell you folks a funny story about "sophomore."

— So Pete Rose stopped by Alabama football practice. I can see Nick Saban being a huge Pete Rose fan. Overachiever. Midwestern background. Terrible haircuts. Wonder if Pete opened his remarks with, "Hey guys, sports is great. And if you want any advice on a three-team parlay with some that NIL money, Pete's got the inside skinny."

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall with today's UT football update.

— Here's the latest from Hargis on prep football as the Dynamite Dozen (plus-1) continues with Baylor QB Whit Muschamp. (Side note: Whit is a cool name in my opinion.)

— Braves played. Braves won. Yeah, Braves offense. That said, Ronald Acuña left the game after getting hit by a pitch. Here's hoping it's nothing serious or lingering.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which was the best Baylor School QB ever?

Which word would you use to describe ESPN getting into the gambling business?

Which way would you vote it happening, PGA-LIV merger, yay or nay?

Which way would you describe the first day of school as a parent?

As for today, Aug. 9, let's review.

Whitney Houston would have been 60 today. Rest easy. The voice only God could give.

Some sports greats celebrate birthdays today — Bob Cousey is 95, Rod Laver is 85 and Brett Hull is 59.

Also the Sistine Chapel opened for business on this day back in 1483. Spy, did they serve snacks at the premiere?

Rushmore of churches/cathedrals/chapels and such. Go.