Yahoo / Google deal – good move

In an award-eligible and widely-ignored piece about five weeks ago, I detailed my unoriginal thoughts on a potential search outsourcing deal that could save Yahoo from collapse in the wake of Microsoft’s failed bid to buy the company.

And today Yahoo and Google struck just such a deal. So I figured it worthwhile to take a look at what they’ve announced and what it means to Yahoo’s financials and future. It’s less worthwhile to write about it here, but what the heck.

Disclosures and street cred: I am still a Yahoo shareholder and picked more up on the tanking this afternoon. I am no longer a Microsoft shareholder. And I used to run a Google-powered web search product for what used to be a major Internet company. So AdSense for Search … I’ve been there.

OK, so what’s the deal? Most significantly, Yahoo is not shelving its own paid or natural search systems; they are simply bolting AdSense on to some or all of their search results page in the U.S. and Canada. AdSense becomes just another monetization route for Yahoo Search – if they can’t serve a valuable ad; just let Google handle it.

And maybe that’s a smart move. It might quell some of the anti-trust sentiment already swirling around the deal, and allows Yahoo to still tinker around trying to build a better search. On the “anti-trust” stuff, by the way, I’m still perplexed at what the issue here would be. Yahoo is entering in to a contract with Google, and other competitors from AOL to the New York Times have the same deal with Google. Google will have no ownership in Yahoo … just a contractual relationship. The companies said flat-out today that the deal is not an anti-trust issue, so we’ll see.

OK, so the financials. Yahoo says they expect to see an extra $800 million in annual revenue, so running the assumptions from my first piece ($80 gross RPM from Google; 75% rev share) alongside ComScore data suggesting Yahoo’s annual query volume – that comes out at right about 50% of searches being monetized by Google. Hey, a round number – and room to grow. Yahoo says Google is going to be serving the deeper “tail queries”, which makes a lot of sense. Yahoo probably gets good value for everyday terms, but there’s no way their base goes nearly as deep as Google’s.

But Yahoo says the $800 million in annual revenue will result in just $250 million – $450 million in incremental net cash flow.

That incremental cash flow is projected to be only 31% – 56% of gross revenue is an interesting projection. Assuming the AdSense deal is set up as Google usually does it, that $800 million should have very little operating expenses laid against it (maybe 10% in administrative / support costs), so I’m thinking Yahoo is going to use a lot of the Google revenue to increase investment in their own search and advertising systems while showing enough bottom-line benefit to hold off the wolves.

Based on Yahoo’s projections, the deal would boost annual revenue 11% from the last four quarters and net income between 24% – 42% depending on where incremental cash falls in their projected range. That … ain’t bad.

Project that out with Yahoo’s current stock P/E ratio and you get a suggested value of $29 to $33 a share. Thirty-three dollars a share … why does that sound familiar?

So if you believe Yahoo’s projections (Google has provided no guidance on what to expect), the company gets a lot healthier real quickly. And I’m inclined to think they have a good handle on what to expect and are providing good guidance.

The Google Effect is very, very real. Hooking up with AdSense is like turning on a money faucet if you have any decent level of search traffic. There’s no reason to believe Yahoo won’t see a tremendous Google benefit. There’s a lot more work to be done in Sunnyvale (let’s see Jerry step aside at the annual meeting for starters), but what Yahoo has shown Mr. Icahn, Mr. Ballmer and everybody else is they do have value to tap and selling out at a discount isn’t in the best interest of the company.

Update: Interesting conclusions can be drawn from Yahoo’s SEC filing on the Google deal. Google has a right to cancel the deal if it doesn’t end up pacing at $1 billion a year in gross revenue for Google; Yahoo projects $800 million a year in gross revenue to them – suggests an 80% rev share for Yahoo. Yep, that’s about right.

Also, the rev share will adjust based on “specified monthly gross revenue thresholds”. Google’s not going higher than 80% rev share, so I’m thinking Yahoo’s take goes down as monthly gross goes up. So Google is giving Yahoo the surety of the big rev share up front to shore up their earnings; then the benefit to Google is a higher take than usual once Yahoo has made its nut.

The “Change in Control” terms are also interesting:

As defined in the Services Agreement, the term “Change in Control” means (a) a merger, consolidation, statutory share exchange, recapitalization, restructuring or business combination involving directly or indirectly a party or a subsidiary of a party in which voting securities of the party outstanding immediately prior to such transaction do not continue to represent more than 50% (or 65% in the case of a transaction involving Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”), Time Warner Inc. (“Time Warner”) or News Corporation (“News Corp”), in each case together with their respective affiliates) of the voting power represented by the outstanding voting securities of the surviving entity immediately following the transaction; (b) any “person” or “group” becoming the “beneficial owner” (as such terms are used or defined in Sections 13(d) and 14(d) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) of more than 50% of the voting power of the then outstanding voting securities of the party, except that, in the case of Time Warner and News Corp, the percentage will be 35% instead of 50% and, in the case of Microsoft, the percentage will be 15% instead of 50% and a Change in Control will also be deemed to occur if Microsoft (i) beneficially owns 15% of the voting power of the party or (ii) acquires directly from a party any equity or voting securities of that party representing (or having a right to receive in the aggregate) 5% or more of the total equity value of the party or 1% or more of the party’s annual revenues on a consolidated basis); (c) approval by the stockholders of a party of a plan of liquidation or dissolution; (d) the sale or disposition of all or substantially all the consolidated assets of a party; or (e) at any point in time, Yahoo! no longer owns and, with respect to the U.S. and Canada, controls a majority portion of Yahoo!’s technology and intellectual property assets that in the 12-month period prior to that time had been owned by Yahoo! and used by Yahoo! to provide services in the U.S. and Canada for either its algorithmic search or search advertising business. The Services Agreement also permits Google to suspend performance of the Services under certain circumstances, including a pending Change in Control of Yahoo! involving Microsoft, Time Warner or News Corp and a change in a majority of the board of directors of Yahoo! following an annual or special meeting of stockholders if a majority of the new directors did not serve on Yahoo!’s board immediately prior to such stockholder meeting and were nominated or solicited for by Microsoft, Time Warner or News Corp or, solely with respect to Yahoo!’s first two annual or special meetings held after the Effective Date where the election of a majority of directors is before Yahoo! stockholders (but not later than September 1, 2009), by any other person or group.
If the Services Agreement is terminated by either party within 24 months of the Effective Date as a result of a Change in Control of Yahoo! (other than a Change in Control triggered only by Microsoft either (x) acquiring beneficial ownership of voting securities representing more than 15% of the voting power of outstanding Yahoo! voting securities or (y) acquiring directly from Yahoo! equity or voting securities representing 5% or more of Yahoo!’s total equity value or 1% or more of Yahoo!’s consolidated annual revenues, unless Microsoft becomes the beneficial owner of more than 35% of the voting power of such securities within such 24 month period), Yahoo! is required to pay to Google the sum of $250,000,000, which payment will be reduced by one-half of an amount equal to (a) all gross revenues received by Google pursuant to the Services Agreement through the date of termination less (b) the amount equal to Yahoo!’s share of such gross revenues during the same period.

Lots of financial legalese up in there. Specific references to Time Warner and News Corp. are interesting, as is the reference to Yahoo not owning its search business anymore.

Worst unsupported browser experience ever

So I opened a new business checking account with SunTrust Bank – had to support the one bank left in East Atlanta Village, and you can’t beat “free” – a couple of weeks ago and ran in to the most frustratingly stupid unsupported browser experience I’ve ever seen.

When you sign up for Business Checking, SunTrust emails you an access code to set up their Online Cash Manager service (what they’d call “online banking” for a regular account, I guess). So I go to the enrollment site, put in my info and access code and hit Submit. I’m left at a “Server Not Found” error when redirected to whatever other site they needed to send me to.

OK, fine. No big deal – I’ll just try again later. Later = same deal. Later still = still the same deal.

I’m not in a particularly big hurry to get set up, so I emailed customer service to find out what’s happening. And several days later – with no response whatsoever from customer service – I needed to get things rolling to move my AdSense payments over to the new account. So I opt for the last resort; talking to a human.

Five minutes on hold and one transfer later, I land at the desk of a SunTrust OCM agent. I tell him what’s happening, and he asks “are you using Firefox?” I tell him yes, and he says “you have to use Internet Explorer. Try that.”

Oh, for F*ck’s sake. I told the guy that they really should let customers know of this limitation, and he agreed. From the tone in his voice, I imagine he gets this call many times a day. I mean, Firefox has about 40% share of the browser market now.

So SunTrust requires new business accounts to go through a process that requires IE (the actual OCM system, by the way, supports Firefox), but they don’t tell you that. Unreal.

They could:

- Actually support Firefox (hard, I guess)
- Mention this limitation in the email they send out with the access code (unbelievably easy)
- Detect your browser and mention the limitation on the sign-up page (easy)
- Detect your browser and send you to an actual error message when you submit the form (harder)

But, instead, they say nothing, ignore customer support emails and probably field calls on 40% of the new accounts when people try to set it up. If anybody is up for the job of VP of Customer Care at SunTrust, there’s a really easy way for you to meet your support-call-reduction goals.

The kicker of the story is that a couple of days later I get a courtesy “welcome” call from the East Atlanta branch manager. I tell him all is fine with my account, but mention this problem with sign-up.

His response – “I know. That’s a problem.”


I’d have to think we’re over Saban now

I saw this snippet today from the SEC spring meetings:

Saban’s LSU reunion a lonely ride
Tide coach will be lightning rod for ire

By Ron Higgins
Thursday, May 29, 2008

DESTIN, Fla. — Alabama second-year football coach Nick Saban is a detail-oriented guy.

Just the other day, for instance, Saban was discussing with his coaching staff the itineraries of the 2008 road trips, which include former LSU coach Saban’s first trip back to Baton Rouge on Nov. 8.

“We talk about where we’re staying and who’s going to ride on what bus to the games,” Saban said on Wednesday at the SEC’s spring business meetings. “Somebody on our staff — I’m not going to tell who — said, ‘I hate to tell you this, but when we play LSU, ain’t none of us riding on your bus.’”

Now, Baton Rouge can certainly be a hostile place (which isn’t a good thing, fellow LSU fans) for visiting teams to navigate through; especially the part between the gates of LSU and their locker room. But does anybody who had some great loathing of Fonzie last season for having left LSU for the NFL and then come back to coach Alabama still give a damn?

I mean, we beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa on the way to the national championship and Fonzie managed only a 6-6 regular season and a bowl trip to Shreveport. Then Leslie spurned his beloved alma mater (they say) to stay at LSU because he digs us so much.

I doubt most Tigers fans will ever fall back in love with Saban, but who’s still holding so much hate? If you are, just let it go.

My college football championship proposal

This is the time of year when people pushing playoffs for major college football like to roll out their flawless plans for how to make college football championships as debate-free as the NFL. I’m against playoffs for major college football, but even so I think I can come up with a better plan than what’s being put forth – typically the “seeded” set of 4, 8, 16, 32 or 64 teams that would fight out a traditional playoff schedule.

And, as a fan of the team that won the BCS title in 2007, I should point out that I was just as against a playoff when LSU finished 11-2 with no title in 2006 as when they finished 12-2 with the BCS title last year.

At the core of my plan are two assumptions:

1) Until you reach Bowl Season, major college football is the most exciting, dramatic and interesting sport there is. That can’t be messed with. Stanford upsetting USC or Kentucky stopping LSU on 4th down in overtime must matter or you lose the greatness of the game.

2) There will never be surety in selecting teams to participate in a championship system. This is not a league like the NFL where you have 32 teams playing 16 games in a roughly equal schedule. There are 120 teams playing 12 or 13 games, including games against teams not among the 120 D-I teams. Selecting 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 or 64 teams to be in a playoff would always be a highly subjective exercise.

So, then, what to do? Just build upon the elimination system already in place for many conferences.

The SEC, ACC, Big 12, MAC and C-USA already use the conference championship game format and every other conference except the Big Ten plays a full round-robin schedule to name a sure champion. Then you have the four “independents” in D-I.

Therefore, after the regular season you’re currently left with 10 undisputed conference champions, likely two Big Ten teams (Ohio State and Michigan, no doubt), Notre Dame and at most three other teams who could legitimately claim a place in the BCS title race (sorry, Georgia). The 120 teams become 16 just through the course of the season.

But I’m sorry, Big Ten. You have to get with the program. You’ve got 11 teams and play 8 conference games. That’s pathetic. If you and Notre Dame want to be in a national championship mix, suck it up and get together. You’ll be 12 teams and have a conference championship game.

Army and Navy, welcome to the Big East and a 10-team, 9-game schedule. Western Kentucky, meet the Sun Belt.

This, however, leaves us with 11 conference champions in the mix. We need an even number. Time to consolidate and shuffle the mid-majors. C-USA, MAC, WAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt are full of hasty cast-offs from failed conferences and illogical associations (such as La. Tech being in the WAC and TCU being in the Mountain West). Figure out how to put the 51 teams into four conferences. The MAC already has 13 teams, so three 13-team conferences and one 12-team conference all with conference title games is a good way to make the mid-major teams earn a shot at the big time. Bye-bye Sun Belt is what I figure, along with re-shuffling to create better regional lineups.

Now we would have 10 teams in the mix. Those would become five through bowl games. And I’m strongly for preserving the bowl traditions.

- Sugar Bowl: SEC v. Big 12
- Rose Bowl: Pac-10 v. Big Ten
- Orange Bowl: ACC v. Big East
- Fiesta Bowl: WAC v. Mountain West
- Cotton Bowl: C-USA v. MAC

All the other bowls would happen as usual. I gave the fifth “qualifying” bowl to the Cotton instead of the Peach because the Peach is a darn good SEC / ACC bowl and nobody cares much about the formerly-significant Cotton.

After the five qualifying bowls (all played on New Year’s Day, by the way – and no other bowls that day), the two teams who won their bowl games and are rated best by the BCS system would play in the BCS Championship Game the second Saturday after New Year’s Day (unless New Year’s Day is a Saturday – then it’s the next week). That game would rotate among the five sites.

And you’ll notice that the bowls would feature consistent conference matchups, not “seeded” matchups that change. You’ll also notice that the Sugar, Rose and Orange match the big boys, while the Fiesta and Cotton put the mid-majors together. That’s because this is not a playoff. If a Boise State that beats BYU in the Fiesta Bowl ends up ranked ahead of a Georgia that beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl or a USC that beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, then so be it. The two teams in the BCS Championship Game would absolutely have earned their spot.

The other three? They would be conference champions and champions of “their bowl”. Both of those things matter quite a lot – just ask the Pac-10 or Big Ten about how much “Rose Bowl Champions” means. Not making the BCS Championship Game – sure, that would suck. But the subjective nature of the current BCS would be reduced tremendously, and rational fans would realize their disappointment is outweighed by keeping all that is good about major college football intact.

New Year’s Day would be an amazing event, as would the BCS Championship Game. And the other bowls would stay as is – and people sure seem to enjoy most of those now.

This system would keep the regular season as is, preserve the significance of the bowls and add a “filter” to the selection of the two “best” teams. You would be selecting two teams from the five who won their conference championships and beat another conference champion in their bowl game instead of the 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 or 64 teams which have … some kind of subjective “good” qualities … and deserve a chance to prove that by tearing apart the best regular season in all of sports.

In the grand scheme of things, this would be only a minor adjustment to the game, and would create new excitement while taking 90% of the bad elements of the BCS off the table. I’d endorse it.

AJC: Fast-pass security lines are “so-called ‘Lexus lanes’” because we call them that

You have to love The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Dying a slow death as the market it serves grows rapidly, the AJC editors can’t help but deride the people in metro Atlanta who should be their target audience.

Case in point is a story in today’s paper about a pilot program at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that may bring fast-track airport security lines to the country’s biggest airport. Aimed at frequent travelers (most likely business travelers), the concept is that for a fee a traveler can be “cleared” as a non-threat through background checks, and thus be allowed to go through security in a special line for travelers who have all been “cleared” as unlikely security threats.

And despite the fact that today’s story is merely about the airport manager issuing a contract that could bring the pilot closer to reality, this is the headline AJC went with:

Airport Lexus Lanes

Ah, yes, don’t miss the opportunity to drum up a little wealth and class envy in a mundane story about a government contract. And never mind that the likely users of this program are the people who have been flooding in to metro Atlanta for the past 20 years … who you need as customers … and who already despise your product because of exactly this kind of crap. Any chance to throw out “Lexus lanes” and rile up that shrinking part of the metro area’s population who still view you as relevant – go for it. Feels good, doesn’t it?

And I was intrigued by the actual reference (in the 9th paragraph) in the story to “Lexus lanes”:

Proponents of the so-called Lexus lanes say they guarantee a trip through airport security in about five minutes. Opponents say they discriminate against travelers who can’t afford the annual fee and raise civil liberties concerns.

So if they’re “so-called Lexus lanes”, somebody’s got to be calling them that, right? Well, if you do a Google search for airport security Lexus lanes and take out references to HOT lanes on freeways, you get a grand total of 44 results. Several are still referring to freeways when “Lexus lanes” comes up, and a bunch more are tied to the AJC referring to them as such. There’s nothing at all to suggest that “Lexus lanes” is some common way to refer to these things.

I can see the flow in the AJC newsroom:

Reporter: Hey editor, the airport put out a contract for the fast-track security lines. No big deal, really. They have to do that, but it doesn’t mean it’ll happen.
Editor: You mean the rich people are closer to being able to get special treatment? Awesome!
Reporter: Well, I didn’t say that. And this is really just a procedural step.
Editor: OK, let’s headline this thing “Airport ‘Lexus Lanes’ closer to a test run”
Reporter: “Lexus lanes”?
Editor: Hell yeah. Rich people drive Lexuses, you know. So it’s like those rich people lanes on the freeways.
Reporter: We have those?
Editor: Well, no. But other places do. And editors of newspapers in those places call them “Lexus lanes”.
Reporter: This really isn’t the same thing.
Editor: Sure it is. Slap that headline on your story and file it.
Reporter: But the story doesn’t say anything about “Lexus lanes”.
Editor: Lemme see that … OK, change “Proponents of the program say …” to “Proponents of the so-called Lexus lanes say …” down here in the 9th paragraph.
Reporter: Who calls them “Lexus lanes”?
Editor: I do. Thus, they are “so-called”.
Reporter: {sigh} Whatever you say, chief.

Microsoft / Yahoo – glad to see it’s (maybe) over

So last night Microsoft officially bailed on its offer to buy Yahoo. Jerry’s kids stuck to their guns on acceptable pricing and scared Ballmer away from a proxy fight with talk of a Google alliance. Well done, I say.

The only thing that would have made sense about this acquisition was a really big premium for Yahoo shareholders (I am one), and what Microsoft (I own it, too) was offering was a big premium on a stock depressed by a lot of missteps and the general decline in stocks over the past six months. YHOO was trading above Microsoft’s offer as recently as late October, you know.

It was an opportunistic move by Microsoft to snap up a battered company at its weakest moment. That Yahoo wiggled its way out of the Redmond Death Grip is impressive. In the short term, I’m sure Yahoo stock is going to get hammered, shareholder lawsuits will be filed and the pain of the Microsoft ordeal will linger a while.

But ultimately, Yahoo is much better off not being a subsidiary of Microsoft. Yahoo is a much, much stronger online brand than MSN (as represented by,,, and whatever else makes up the mishmash of Microsoft’s online presence), and Microsoft is the poster boy for the futility of just throwing money at the Internet.

Microsoft has been growing its online business of late, and also growing its online losses. In the first quarter of 2008, Microsoft did $843 million in revenue and lost $228 million in their online segment. Yahoo, by the way, did $1.8 billion in revenue and made $121 million in the quarter.

Why, then, would Microsoft be a better owner of Yahoo? They wouldn’t. Microsoft just has plenty of cash on hand ($26 billion in cash equivalents) and thought they could pick up a great online asset on the cheap. And it would have been a hell of a nab for Microsoft, but ultimately “Yahoo – A Microsoft Company” would really sell short the Yahoo potential.

Having been a part of the kind of b.s. company outlook presentation Yahoo put together (PDF) to counter Microsoft’s advances, I don’t buy the “look how big we’ll be!” make-believe numbers, but Yahoo is right that the market under-values the company right now.

And the reason is this – all of the focus these days is on search advertising. Yahoo has poured a ton of time and money into their Panama ad platform with little effect against the Google machine, and that failure is what Wall Street has focused on. Microsoft, as well, has failed to put a dent in Google with its Live Search and AdCenter platforms.

Google has won web search as we know it. Period. Fighting that battle has been very bad for Yahoo, and it’s time to wave the white flag. With $50 billion in revenue and net income of $14 billion a year, Microsoft has the ability to continue the fight should they chose, but Yahoo needs to get out.

The logical move for Yahoo now is to syndicate Google AdSense for Search. Not outsource their search engine; just kill Panama and serve AdSense ads instead. An informed hypothetical effect of such a move:

- Say Yahoo now earns $50 per thousand queries (which is probably a high estimate) and their net margin after development costs, administrative costs, etc. of web search and Panama is 25% (what Google nets).

- Say using AdSense, Yahoo would see $80 per thousand queries (a reasonable estimate), get a 75% rev share (also a reasonable estimate) and have administrative expenses at 5% of their Google net. Then spend another 30% of that net on search engine development.

The Yahoo DIY model would net out $12.50 per thousand queries, while the AdSense syndication would net out $39.90 per thousand queries. Throw some conservatism into the estimates and it’s a safe bet that Yahoo could double its net search revenue while getting out of the losing game of chasing Google. Using my hypotheticals and ComScore search data, it seems plausible that Yahoo could add somewhere around $1 billion in net income per year just by getting (back) on board the Google train.

There is, of course, the anti-trust consideration. In a practical sense, Google (through its own site and its many, many syndication partner sites) currently has about 68% U.S. market share for search, with Yahoo probably holding about 23% – 24% with its sites and partners, and Microsoft picking up the remaining 8% – 9%. So if you’re arguing against a Google / Yahoo deal, you’d say essentially that Google would end up with 90+% market share. Of course, if you’re arguing against the deal, you’re probably Microsoft, which holds a 90+% market share in operating systems.

Adding Yahoo would obviously be a huge market share gain for the AdSense platform, but Google is already the ad provider for AOL (No. 4 in web search), (No. 5), the web portals for Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cox and most other major ISPs,, MySpace,,, etc. etc. You get the picture – Google is web search advertising.

Would the Trust Busters really block a service agreement (not an equity stake) between Google and Yahoo because of AdSense market share concerns? Maybe, but it seems like a stretch to block a non-equity contract between two companies. Akamai is pretty dominant in the content-serving business, so are they going to be denied big new contracts because of “anti-trust” concerns?

I have to think the anti-trust hurdle is one Yahoo could clear on an AdSense deal with Google. The actual combination of the No. 1 and No. 3 display advertising companies and No. 2 and No. 3 companies in total online audience probably would have been a bigger anti-trust concern. And Yahoo’s long-held position as the king of online content is at the heart of its real value.

Even having lost a lot of luster during its “Hollywood” years, Yahoo is a stellar online content brand. Their future promise lies not in fighting Google, but in building online audience and monetizing well through display ads. If they had been focusing on that instead of chasing after movie deals and search advertising for the past several years, they would be in much better shape today.

When they’ve done smart things (like buying Flickr), they’ve managed to totally screw up integration after the fact. I guess they’re working on that now, but a real sharp focus is needed on re-crafting the Yahoo product set. The company was barely over its Semel Hangover when the Microsoft bid hit, so it’s going to take a while to really right the ship.

Once tightened up, Yahoo will be in a great position to fight the next online revenue battle – targeted display advertising that yields much higher CPMs. Google, of course, has taken note with its DoubleClick acquisition, and AOL is raising eyebrows with its Platform-A program.

Again, had Yahoo recognized earlier that search was lost, its focus could have been put on the next battle – one it was once in a dominant position to win. But Yahoo is about on par with AOL in terms of its display advertising network and dominates inventory on its own sites. Be smart, focus on the right things … and for God’s sake get a real CEO in there. Jerry Yang stopped being CEO the first time a year and a half before Yahoo reported having 155 employees (including 44 “surfers”) and generating $19 million in revenue. And he’s the guy to turn around a troubled $7 billion company? Please.

Yahoo is full of potential, but given their miscalculations and missteps over the last five years, their potential remains just that. The company could be the Google of Display Ads 2.0 if they start doing things right, or it might get picked up by Microsoft next year for half the offer they just turned down. I’ll be interested to see what the fate of Yahoo is now.

Ryan Perrilloux declares for Arena Football League draft

You pissed it away, son.

It’s impossible to know what’s going on in the head of Ryan Perrilloux, but suffice it to say – that kid ain’t right. Perrilloux finally reached the breaking point of Leslie’s “10 strikes and you’re out” rule on Friday and was un-invited to the LSU football program. Was it just the inevitable outcome for a kid so cocky he came into college talking about “four Heismans”? One has to think that cockiness is at the root of Perrilloux’s sense of invincibility – tied up in counterfeiting, getting onto gambling boats with a fake ID, getting in fights, being an asshole all around town, not going to team meetings, not going to class … hey, “I’m Ryan Perrilloux” – but his degree of delusion is just staggering.

There’s also the factor of his father’s death in February, and I think it’s quite possible that any chance he had of getting right was sunk with that. The kid wasn’t prepared to just do what’s asked of all football players, so toss in the death of a parent and it’s not surprising he flamed out.

So Plan B for Ryan Perrilloux is transferring down to a I-AA program to redeem himself. That will require that he finishes the Spring semester at LSU, though, and there’s still a week and a half to go. If he can’t keep himself straight with the promise of being the starting QB at LSU, he many have a hard time just not killing somebody between now and May 13.

The book is now closed on Ryan Perrilloux. Career stats:

- 52 for 79 (66% completion)
- 704 yards
- 8 TDs
- 2 INT

And now we move on. I wouldn’t have put money down on the idea that Perrilloux would actually play this fall, but it’s more than a little troubling to face the reality now. It didn’t help that I heard this news in Athens yesterday morning from a Gator fan. Maybe Nick Saban coming over to my house to tell me would have been a worse circumstance, but just barely.

Whether it’s Harvard Boy, Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson behind center, “untested” is a huge understatement for LSU’s QB prospects this season. The Tigers have enjoyed an incredibly strong thread of quarterback progression since the emergence from our Dark Days, and you can’t overestimate the significance of that. Consider this history:

2001 – Rohan Davey takes over for the Booty Who Shall Not Be Mentioned, Matt Mauck (pressed into service in the SEC Championship Game because of Davey injury) as backup, Marcus Randall in the wings.

2002 – Matt Mauck takes over for Davey, Marcus Randall (pressed into service for the second half because of Mauck injury) as backup.

2003 – Matt Mauck is the second-year starter, Marcus Randall as backup. JaMarcus Russell, Matt Flynn redshirted. Lester Ricard, Rick Clausen flee the program for lack of opportunity.

2004 – Marcus Randall takes over for Mauck, JaMarcus Russell challenges for the starting job, Matt Flynn as No. 3 QB.

2005 – JaMarcus Russell takes over for Randall, Matt Flynn as backup (pressed into service for the Peach Bowl because of Russell injury). Ryan Perrilloux redshirted.

2006 – JaMarcus Russell as second-year starter, Matt Flynn as backup. Ryan Perrilloux as No. 3 QB.

2007 – Matt Flynn takes over for Russell, Ryan Perrilloux as backup (pressed into service twice because of Flynn injury). Transfer Andrew Hatch is No. 3 QB. Jarrett Lee redshirted.

That was some serious continuity and progression to develop quarterbacks. And *poof* – it’s gone now. I don’t remember who Perrilloux may have chased off in the 2005 signing class, but having the chain broken is a huge potential for program disruption. Davey, Mauck, Randall, Russell and Flynn all had time to develop, and only during the Randall era was there much pressure to rush a young guy into the role. And, of course, during this stretch LSU has claimed two national championships, three SEC championships, four SEC West titles and six bowl wins.

At this point, I’m assuming Lee will be the starting QB come August 30. Somehow the Andrew Hatch bio page doesn’t scream “this guy’s a starter”, and unless Jordan Jefferson is truly special, I’d think Leslie would go with the redshirt QB.

So the question becomes, is Lee a four-year QB like Tommy Hodson … or like Jamie Howard?

My favorite part of the NFL draft

No, it wasn’t that Glenn Dorsey got himself far enough up into guaranteed-money territory to set himself up nicely even if Auburn’s hit-job on him last season keeps him from realizing his pro potential. It wasn’t Craig Steltz and his fabulous man-mane being matched so perfectly with the Chicago Bears.

It was this:

- Former Evangel superstar QB, USC signal caller and flag-bearer for the big Booty family John David Booty sat around until the 5th round (pick 137).

- Former Evangel work-a-day fullback and LSU football plow Jacob Hester goes in the 3rd round (pick 69).

Yes, I’m happy to see John David get the snub.

Link targeting, the “rules”, and the experience

I’ve been tinkering around with things on my new WordPress install, and one of the tweaks I just rolled out was changing the default behavior of the “link” button in my post editor to add ‘target=”new”‘ to the end of URLs I’m linking to. Simple enough tweak (look for quicktags.js in your wp-includes/js directory, kids), but the lack of this as a configuration option hints at the disdain for “target=new” among the Lords of the Internet.

If you don’t know, “target=new” in a link makes that link open in a new browser window, rather than in the window you’re currently looking at. And for many minds absorbed with Internet propriety, that’s just wrong. It’s not quite on the level of “breaking the Internet” (I cherish my freedom …), but it’s widely viewed as “bad user experience”.

But I challenge that notion when it comes to pages referenced in content. Navigational links; links to original sources at the end of an article, blogrolls, etc. – sure, the good user experience is sending folks along and away from your site. It’s been perceived that “bad actors” use “target=new” or “target=_blank” to keep their site alive in your browser even after you’re done with it. And that’s probably the case a lot of times.

Within the context of an article, however, that logic often falls apart. I’ll reference this Wired blog post about Google & ComScore as an example if you’d like to follow along.

Wired links to five outside sources in this rather short article, with each link providing some background or context to the topic at hand. It’s good context and just linking over to previous Wired pieces or outside data or opinion provides quick and easy reference without having to dump a lot of background information, quotes, etc. into the article.

Presumably, the reader has come to the article to read the article. Reference links invite the reader to leave the article and visit the linked content. Having links open in the same window requires the reader to use the “back button” functionality to return to the article they were reading. Using the “target=new” attribute requires the reader to switch back to the original tab or window to return to the article. Neither is an ideal experience, but I would argue that keeping the original page open is a preferable flow. In any case, I don’t think “target=new” is the evil monster some would make it out to be, and in the world of connected content I’d like to see it embraced a bit more.

Ideally, the reference links would appear in such a way as to not disrupt the reader’s flow in the current article. Perhaps something akin to the rather annoying and generally useless Snap Shots functionality some sites such as TechCrunch are in love with is a model, but it’s difficult to display much more than images in a way that makes sense in less than a full-window view.

Not long ago, online content was a series of silos. Newspaper articles republished online would rarely include in-content links, and there was so little original web content out there that linking between pieces wasn’t an issue. That’s changed, of course, so I think more thought is needed on how to best flow users through interconnected content.

Wards of the state

I was reading an AJC piece tonight about the post-tornado recovery efforts in Grant Park’s historic Oakland Cemetery. And I was struck by this sentence:

FEMA, which will fund the majority of the cemetery’s renovation and cleanup, has dispatched archaeologists to Oakland for legal, as well as scholarly, reasons.

FEMA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency – is paying for most of the renovation costs of a cemetery and sending archaeologists out to survey the potential artifacts uprooted by the storm. That’s right – FEMA has archaeologists, or at least has contract diggers in its Rolodex.

How is this what happens? The federal agency entrusted to get you food and water after a hurricane, flood, earthquake or whatever is also charged with conducting archaeological surveys and pay for the restoration of non-federal cemeteries? That’s way out of line.

Even if you’d like to make the case that restoring a City of Atlanta cemetery because of tornado damage is a federal responsibility, why in the name of Michael Brown is this a task to fall to FEMA? As I wrote many moons ago, this is not the Federal Problem Management Agency. And I fail to see what is either Federal or Emergency in Oakland Cemetery right now that needs the Management of this Agency.

We’ve given up, I suppose, our responsibility to take care of ourselves and handed it over to FEMA. My sense is that originally, FEMA was called in just for disasters that were truly beyond the scope of local management. But now, any time a stiff wind blows – in rides FEMA. And nobody seems to complain. At Oakland Cemetery, FEMA kept Atlanta officials out until their crews could get by to check things out.

I guess you’ll give up a lot of freedom and independence for those federal checks.

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!