Morning Five: Cinco de Mayo Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 5th, 2010

  1. Kentucky’s John Calipari is the news gusher that keeps on giving.  After a single year of work in Lexington, the school is already discussing a contract extension with the coach that would (ostensibly) keep him at UK until he retires.  Of course, Kentucky could give him a 1000-year contract and it would be relatively meaningless if he has his eyes on coaching a superstar like Lebron James in the League someday.  Last evening’s buzz is on the heels of rumors that the Chicago Bulls were interested in trying to lure the Squid back to the NBA.  Would the chance to coach Derrick Rose again (and no threat of vacated wins) and Lebron and D-Wade as free agents be enough to move on to Chicago?  You never know.
  2. This is pretty amazing if you think about it.  Long before the endless griping about a 96-team tournament and the subsequent decision of the NCAA to opt out of its current television deal with CBS in favor of a new joint deal with CBS and Turner Sports, the Blinking Eye Network approached ESPN to take the Big Dance off its hands.  In fact, facing up to as much as a $50M loss in 2010, CBS was willing to pay ESPN to take it off their hands.
  3. Bad decision, FTW, Alex.  Louisville’s Samardo Samuels has hired an agent and is locked into the NBA Draft even though most experts have him as a fringe second rounder at best.  Remember this from a few weeks ago?  It feels to us like Samuels just wants the hell outta dodge.
  4. Will the last player in the state of Iowa leave the lights on?  Iowa’s Aaron Fuller, an all-Big Ten honorable mention selection who averaged 10/6 in 2010, will resurface at USC for Kevin O’Neill, and Iowa State junior Charles Boozer will transfer out of Ames after a weekend incident where he is alleged to have assaulted a woman outside his apartment complex.
  5. If you can name the two current head coaching jobs still available, you likely already have your application in — Mt. St. Mary’s and Chicago State.  Thanks to Seth Davis’ wrap-up of this spring’s coaching carousel, we now know that factoid and you do too.  Check out the rest of his piece for a breakdown of the good and bad from this year’s version.
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A Look At The Future Of The NCAA Tournament (For Now)

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2010

Over the past few months this site and many others that cover college basketball were filled with columns about what was viewed as an almost certain expansion of the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams. It turns out that almost everyone in the media (including us) had it wrong as the NCAA announced its plans to expand to a 68-team tournament while being broadcast on CBS and the 3 Turner networks (TBS, TNT, and truTV). Technically the NCAA Board of Directors still has to approve the changes next Thursday, but that should be a rubber stamp situation given the unanimity in today’s decision. The deal, which should account for approximately 96% of revenue for men’s college basketball, will pay the NCAA $10.8 billion over 14 years (or a little over $771 million per year) compared to the previous deal of $6 billion over 11 years (or slightly more than $545 million per year). That deal, which was signed in 1999, allowed the NCAA an opt-out by July 31 of this year. Once the NCAA exercised that option it was widely believed that their intention was to sign with ESPN in the network’s attempt to take over all things sports-related. When it became clear that ESPN was no longer the front-runner in the bidding, everyone’s attention turned to the CBS/Turner bid. We will get to the whole 68 team thing in a bit just bear with us while we go through the TV issues.

Credit: Indy Star/S. Riche

Coming soon to TBS. . .

While everybody is familiar with CBS’s work on the NCAA Tournament since they have broadcast every NCAA championship game since the 1982 Tourney which involved a freshman named Michael Jordan hitting the game-winning shot, Turner’s association with college basketball is a little less well-known. When I say “less well-known,” I mean that I am unaware of any prior association between Turner Sports and college basketball.  Some news reports are indicating that the NCAA was leaning towards the joint bid because of their desire to have every game broadcast nationally, which would require four channels broadcasting games. Even though ESPN would have that capability (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, and ESPN Classic) and we are still searching for truTV on our local cable provider (Comcast in Boston) it is being reported that this desire favored the CBS/Turner deal. All of the games will continued to be streamed online. What this will do is eliminate the need for Greg Gumbel to switch you to a different game (often at inappropriate times) and allow those of us who don’t get DirecTV’s March Madness package to watch two close games at once on a split screen (assuming you have picture-in-picture on your TV). [Ed. Note: TNT/TBS reaches almost six times as many households as DirecTV (99 million versus 18 million).] It is unclearexactly how much ESPN bid for the NCAA Tournament, but it is believed to have been relatively close to the CBS/Turner bid.

Credit: DickVitaleOnline.com

We won't be seeing these two broadcasting NCAA Tournament games any time soon

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March Madness…And April Anxiety?

Posted by jstevrtc on February 1st, 2010

Call it what you want, but that’s what college basketball fans might be experiencing as soon as next season.

The buzz today among college hoops lovers is the latest talk regarding changes to that holiest of holies, the NCAA Tournament.  According to an article on the website SportsByBrooks from earlier today, after this season, the NCAA could very well opt out of its current deal with CBS and start negotiating with other networks for broadcasting rights, either in whole or in part.  We’re not saying it’s going to happen for sure, yet, and Jeff Goodman reported this afternoon that it’s not a “done deal” according to the NCAA.  But the talks that are evidently taking place about this are assuming an expanded tournament field — specifically, a 96-team beast — which would evidently meet with the approval of at least one big-time coach (and certainly countless others).

As for when the NCAA will make its decision, your guess is as good as any, but late spring/early summer would probably be a good bet.  Sports Business Journal, citing the NCAA’s RFP (request for proposals) on the matter, states that the organization has until August 31, 2010, to opt out of its current $6B deal with CBS, and can do so at any time prior to then.  Undoubtedly no decision will be made until after the 2010 season is complete, but with the NIT contract also up for renewal after this season, there’s a strong indication that the NCAA could be looking to fold that tournament into the Big Dance.  Other networks said to be in the mix for the Dance include ESPN (no surprise, they’ve been there), Fox (Joe Buck?  Calling NCAA hoops?), and Turner Sports (OK, now we’re alarmed – keep the Carays 500 miles away from any and all NCAA events).

Obviously, money is at the heart of these talks, as it is at the center of any negotiation.  Increasing the number of tournament teams by 50% to a 96-team weirdness would obviously add untold revenue to the pockets of both the NCAA and the winners of the TV rights.  It would also screw up the nice, even, symmetrical bracket and add a round or two of “bye games.”  Adding rounds means you’ll have venues dying to host those games, and probably an extra week added onto an event that already spreads eleven days of actual game play over three weeks.  And of course, the most important issue; the NCAA could never again hold up its alleged value of the term “student-athlete” as some badge of honor.  With money as the only motivating factor here, it sounds like they’d still be willing to pull a greater number of  students out of class for a longer amount of time.

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The Hypocrisy of ESPN

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2009

Before I get started, I want to reiterate our stance against the scumbags who surreptitiously videotaped Erin Andrews in the clips that apparently came out almost 4 months ago and somehow remained unknown before exploding on the Internet one week ago. . .

As you may know by now the past week has been a particularly trying one for the sports media overlords in Bristol as they have been hit by the aforementioned peephole video scandal, which their own sister network claims might have been an inside job [Ed. Note: Can ESPN sue its parent company?],  and the Ben Roethlisberger fiasco where they waited several days to announce the news that one of the most recognizable athletes in America had a sexual assault charge filed against him. Perhaps the most interesting story out of Bristol this week was that ESPN had decided to blacklist all New York Post staff members from appearing on any ESPN or any of their outlets after the Post ran screencaps of the infamous videos that left little to the imagination. On a basic visceral level, most people would agree to ESPN’s decision as they would  be disgusted by the decision of the Post brain trust to run the screencaps.

hypocrisy meter

The situation becomes a little more dicey when 2 other major media outlets (CBS and FOX News) decided to show the actual clips on their news broadcasts. If the front office people at ESPN actually had a policy or stance regarding the use of these illegally filmed clips, they should have taken a similar stance against CBS and FOX staff members. This raises an interesting question: Why did ESPN single out the New York Post? While some may argue that it was the way the Post utilized the images, we find that rather hard to believe. Although CBS and FOX were not as sensational in their presentation of the clips as the Post was they are in fact doing the same thing–using the illegal footage to try and further their story. For our money, there is a simple answer as to why ESPN singled out the Post staff members for their blacklist–because they can.

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Rating the Sweet Sixteen Announcers

Posted by jstevrtc on March 26th, 2009

John Stevens is a featured writer for Rush The Court.

It looks like CBS has made its selections and placements for the Sweet 16 announcing crews.  I think this is important for a couple of reasons; first, because we got us some heavyweights going at it this weekend and these matchups deserve top-drawer announcers; and second, because when you consider some of the tournament’s great moments, the announcing calls are just as much a part of the history as the actual visual images.  It’s good to have the big boys behind the mics in case a legendary event happens.  That said, let’s take a look at, and rate, the pairings.

The New #1 Crew
The New #1 Crew (image credit: daylife.com)

SOUTHJim Nantz (pbp) and Clark Kellogg (color)
Games:  North Carolina v. Gonzaga and Syracuse v. Oklahoma (Friday)
Grade:  C+

This is the premiere crew, as CBS would have you believe.  I give this pairing a C+ because I think these two gentlemen are still working on their rhythm with Kellogg having taken over the seat previously occupied by Billy Packer.  Jim Nantz, despite being one of the consensus nice guys in television and a man who has more than put in his time as far as being a basketball announcer, has just never done it for me as a play-by-play man.  He’s always struck me as a big-picture, in-the-studio guy, the captain of the whole ship.  I have nothing against Kellogg or Nantz as individuals, but because they’re still feeling each other out this late in the year, I don’t think it’s the “premiere,” automatic, Final Four crew any more.  Plus, Syracuse v. Oklahoma is going to be an absolute war, and I think it’s a game that’s just tailor-made for Gus Johnson at the play-by-play mic, or Raftery doing color, or — God help us all — both.

Lundquist and Raf. (image credit: ning.com)

EAST Verne Lundquist (pbp) and Bill Raftery (color)
Games:  Pittsburgh v. Xavier and Villanova v. Duke (Thursday)
Grade:  B

I’ll admit, there’s really no reason to give this pairing anything other than an ‘A’ except for my own sour grapes.  I always loved the pairing of Lundquist with Len Elmore.  Plus, if CBS reunited them, it could slide Raftery over to the seat next to Gus Johnson and blow the speakers out of your television.  Both Lundquist and Raftery still give me the impression that they’re still amazed to be getting paid for doing this for a living, and when that comes through, it always enhances my enjoyment of a game they’re calling.  Especially Raf.  Those tag-lines that we all know — “The Kiss!” or “A little lingerie, Mr. Lundquist!” or “Onions!!” — just never get old to me.  Also, if a legendary moment presents itself, you know neither of these guys is going to drop the ball.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.14.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2009

dynamiteWelcome back to the weekend edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite. First off I’d like to commend rtmsf for his strong work on yesterday’s BGtD. You guys really have no idea how exhausting it is doing a full day’s worth of this is and he managed to do it with only a short break although it almost caused me to give up working on the site after being forced to endure the American-Holy Cross game yesterday. As he outlined in his After the Buzzer post last night/this morning, there are 12 conference championship games today. For the sake of maintaining our sanity and having enough energy in the tank for our huge March Madness preview, we’ll be taking multiple shifts but we promise to coordinate it so you won’t miss anything during our handoffs.

6:00 AM: Yes. That’s actually the time I’m starting this thanks to a “short nap” that ended up going from 9 PM to 5 AM. Obviously my posts will be infrequent in the early morning hours, but I’ll be passing along some news and links to you before the games start at 11 AM. The New York Times has been stepping it up with their college sports blog “The Quad” recently and has an interesting post on Louisville‘s Terrence Williams and his pre-game ritual of the giving himself a pep talk during the national anthem. Before anybody thinks this might be a Chris Jackson Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf situation, it should be noted that Williams actually stands during the anthem and is supposedly talking about family members that he has lost and asking that everyone on the court avoids injuries. Of course, we can’t verify this, but if we have any lip-readers in our vast legion of RTC readers, we would love hear your take on this particularly if you have seen this is in person.

7:00 AM: Before I head out for a few minutes to take care of some errands like stocking up on groceries for the coming storm where I probably won’t leave my apartment for 3 weeks. I thought I would pass along one of my favorite things we are doing at RTC right now. We enlisted the help of our correspondents and got them to send us their favorite March memories. We narrowed down the submissions to the 16 best entries and are counting down to #1, which will be revealed on Wednesday (the day before the tournament starts). I’d encourage you to check out the entries we have so far and keep on coming back throughout the day to see what they selected as their favorite March memories and then chime in with your memories on those moments.

8:45 AM: Ok. False alarm on that grocery run. Apparently Costco doesn’t open until 9:30 so after this post I’ll be on a short break. So today’s RTC East breakfast is brought to you by Flour Bakery and consists of their Bobby Flay-slaying “Sticky Buns” and a twice-baked brioche. Here’s a quick run-down of the games (title game in red–there’s a lot of red) that I will be focusing on today:

Early Games

  • UMBC vs. Binghamton at 11 AM on ESPN2 for the America East title
  • Memphis vs. #3 Tulsa at 11:35 AM on CBS for the Conference USA title

Afternoon Games

  • Mississippi State vs. #16 LSU at 1 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • #6 Michigan State vs. Ohio State at 1:30 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals
  • #1 UNC vs. #22 FSU at 1:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • Tennessee vs. Auburn at 3 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • Maryland vs. #8 Duke at 3:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • #25 Illinois vs. #24 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals

Evening Games

  • #23 Arizona State vs. USC at 6 PM on CBS for the Pac-10 title
  • Baylor vs. #15 Missouri at 6 PM on ESPN for the Big 12 title
  • Temple vs. Duquesne at 6 PM on ESPN2 for the Atlantic 10 title

Late Night Games

  • San Diego State vs. Utah at 7 PM on Versus for the Moutain West title
  • Morgan State vs. Norfolk State at 7 PM on ESPNU for the MEAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Buffalo vs. Akron at 8 PM on ESPN2 for the MAC title
  • #5 Louisville vs. #20 Syracuse at 9 PM on ESPN for the Big East title
  • Jackson State vs. Alabama State at 9 PM on ESPNU for the SWAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Utah State vs. Nevada at 10 PM on ESPN2 for the WAC title
  • Cal State-Northridge vs. Pacific at 11:59 PM on ESPN2 for the Big West title (This one is questionable)

10:55 AM: Ok. I’m back from my extended Costco run and have enough food to last me through the week. A quick summary on the early games. In the America East, Binghamton is a 5-6 point favorite (depending on your gambling establishment of choice). Honestly, I’m surprised that they aren’t bigger favorites since they come in at 22-8 while UMBC comes in 15-16 and the game is at Binghamton. It could be interesting though as they split the season series in the regular season with Binghamton winning the last game of the regular season at home against UMBC 71-51. I’m guessing the America East commissioner is rooting for UMBC to avoid the embarrassment of the CBS announcers having to explain why the conference’s regular season leading scorer (D.J Rivera) was left off the all-conference team. In Conference USA, Memphis is a 14-point favorite against Tulsa. Memphis might be playing for a #1 seed even with their ridiculously easy schedule. We’re hoping this game is more like the first time they met (a 55-54 Memphis win) rather the last time they met (a 63-37 Memphis win). I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be more like the latter, but we’ll be following it anyways to get a last look at Memphis before CBS’s new Billy Packer rips the NCAA selection committee for putting them over a Big East team.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.08.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 8th, 2009

dynamiteWe are finally here. Today is the last day of the college basketball regular season. What’s that? St. Mary’s didn’t get the memo? Ok, after today 99.99999% of the programs will be done with the regular season. After we attempted to write the college basketball version of War and Peace for yesterday’s Boom Goes the Dynamite, we get a little break as there aren’t quite as many high quality games today, but the ones that we do have look like they will be pretty entertaining. Here are the games that we will be following today:

  • Noon: #20 Purdue at #8 Michigan State on CBS
  • 2 PM: Virginia Tech at #24 FSU on Raycom, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com
  • 2:05 PM: Illinois State vs. Northern Iowa on CBS
  • 3 PM: Old Dominion vs. Virginia Commonwealth on Comcast, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com
  • 4 PM: #7 Duke at #2 UNC on CBS
  • 5 PM: Northwestern at Ohio State on The Big Ten Network
  • 6 PM: #19 Clemson at #10 Wake Forest on FSN
  • 6 PM: College of Charleston vs. Davidson on SportsSouth and ESPN360.com

There are a couple of big story lines here. Outside of the obvious ones happening in Chapel Hill (Tyler Hansbrough‘s last game in the Dean Dome, UNC’s quest for a #1 seed, Duke’s last gasp effort for a #1 seed, and all the injuries including the under-reported–not by RTC–injury to Ty Lawson), we’ll be looking in on East Lansing where the Spartans will be looking to solify a #2 seed (forget all the talk about them getting a #1–not happening), Saint Louis where the Missouri Valley will award a ticket to the NCAA tournament, and Chattanooga where Stephen Curry and his Davidson teammates will be battling for their NCAA tournament lives as they will not get in if they don’t win their conference tournament.

There are also some great games out in Las Vegas for the West Coast Conference tournament with Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara, which will be featured as our RTC Live event, that will be followed by Saint Mary’s vs. Portland (aka “The Return of Patty Mills“). Unfortunately, that’s past my bedtime on the East Coast (tips at 9:30 and 11:30 PM ET respectively) although if you’re really nice you might be able to talk rtmsf into staying up late for you since he’s on the West Coast.

11:30 AM: It looks like we only have 2 games (Purdue-Michigan State and Alabama-Tennessee) worthy watching in the noon time slot. Unfortunately, they’re both on CBS so most of the nation will only be able to follow one on television. Luckily, I’m getting the better of the two games (Purdue-Michigan State), but I will be following the game in Knoxville on GameCast as well. If any of you are in Tennessee or Alabama, feel free to send in your thoughts in the comment section so the rest of us will know what’s going on in the game beyond the box score.

While we’re waiting, I wanted to pass along a photo I found on Deadspin this morning featuring Erin Andrews, who found something in Freedom Hall a little disturbing (probably Rick Pitino‘s yelling).

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.21.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 21st, 2009

dynamite1

It’s BracketBuster Saturday, and we’re back with another compelling edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite.  We don’t know how it is where you live today, but it’s rainy and chilly here at the RTC Western Compound, which means it’s a great day for huddling up on the couch, firing up the three tvs, ordering up some pie and watching hoops all day.   There are some pretty strong games on the slate today, starting with Butler v. Davidson early and finishing with BYU v. UNLV late.  Settle in and feel free to make your own observations in the comments section.

12:08pm. Oh no, Steph Curry’s mom is NOT at the Davidson game today!!!!  Who will the cameras show in the crowd?!?!!?  Oh yeah, Dell’s there.  Ok.  Whew.

12:10pm. Wonder how ESPN decides who gets to host these games?  Seems like a pretty big decision considering Butler and Davidson are so tough at home, and the loser could drop a seed line or two based on this game.  Curry doesn’t like quite as quick as normal so far – the ankle is probably a little tender.

12:17pm. Our new uber-intern sent over some interesting news today – looks like Patrick Patterson might go for Kentucky today against Tennesee (coming up at 1pm), and surprise of all surprises, the NCAA is investigating USC with respect to recruiting Daniel Hackett.   His dad is the strength and conditioning coach at USC (which is legal, btw).

12:30pm. There are a couple of other BB games that started at 11am, and the most interesting one is Northeastern at Wright St., which is on ESPN2.  NE is leading by six right now, while CAA sibling ODU is crushing Liberty and Seth Curry.

12:46pm. How many games this year have we watched Davidson only to hear some announcer talking about Steph Curry having an “off” game.  It would be nice if he’d just come out and blow up one of these nationally-televised games.   As it now stands, he’s 1-10 and 0-6 from three.

12:50pm. Interesting stat from Brad Nessler there – that if Curry continued his 30 ppg pace for another season-plus at Davidson, he could conceivably catch Pete Maravich’s all-time scoring total record.  Of course, Pistol Pete did it in three years, but that would be a phenomenal record to approach.  We’ll see if we can figure the math and get back on that.

12:52pm. Early afternoon bubble watch.  Miami is smoking BC in S. Florida at halftime (up 12) and ND is also up 12 at halftime on Providence.  These are both pretty much must-wins, although Notre Dame needs it a little more than Miami.

12:57pm. Somehow three of the top four CAA teams drew road games in the BracketBusters event.  So far, the CAA looks good.  VCU only lost by one at Nevada last night, and Northeastern is finishing off Wright St.  ODU already won, and it’ll be very interesting to see what George Mason can do at Creighton later this evening.

1:02pm. Wow, Doug Gottlieb just eviscerated Jay Williams as to why Georgetown was going to make the tournament.  He must have thought he was back on that motorcycle there.  No inside presence?  Except the best freshman big in the country, Greg Monroe.  We get his point about frontcourt depth, but we’re with Gottlieb here – we think Georgetown makes a run to get to 9-9 in the Big East.

1:06pm. We’ve got some 1pm games starting here, incl. Bruce Pearl’s orange blazer at Kentucky (speaking of bubbles), Buffalo at Vermont on the deuce, and the second half of ND-Providence on ESPN FC.  Oh, and did we mention Gus Johnson is in Lexington today.  Oh yes.

1:11pm. Thanks CBS for showing me a graphic telling me that UK is on a 5-0 run in the last 3:20…  or, to start the game.  Brilliant.

1:18pm. Ok, here’s the deal on Curry catching Maravich.  Curry had 2414 coming into today.  Maravich ended with 3667 pts.  If we assume eight more games this year (three regular season; three SoCon Tourney; two NCAA Tourney), and 35 games next year, that’s 42 games.  He’d have to average 29.84 over that stretch to pass him.  Since he’s averaging 29.0 already this season, this is eminently possible should he stick around another season.  That would be fairly cool to track next season – let’s hope he returns.

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Escape from Detroit

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2008

You may have heard things haven’t been going too well in Detroit lately. The city that has been trashed by countless writers including RTC’s very own rtmsf. While the Wolverine basketball team has turned it around this year including a big win at Crisler Arena, the Motor City has been hit by hard times. Their NFL team set a new benchmark for futility, their college football team lost to Toledo and that was only a harbinger of things to come, their MLB team finished last in its division, and their NBA team is no longer a contender. And then there is the impending economic depression that will hit Detroit if the Big 3 collapse, which they will even if the government continues to recklessly throw money at them as long as they continue with their flawed business model.

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times
Credit: Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

There is some good news for the residents of Detroit. [Ice hockey is not a sport so don't even bother telling us about the Red Wings.] In a brilliant PR move, the University of Detroit has decided to make tickets for their New Year’s Day game against Youngstown State free. If you’re in the Detroit area on New Year’s Day, we want to tell you how sorry we are recommend you check out the “Free for All” at Calihan Hall (1:05 PM tip). In addition to the free tickets, spectators also get free non-alcoholic Bloody Marys and complimentary aspirin or ibuprofen for the hangover from some more potent drinks the night before. To be honest, this isn’t the most attractive match-up on paper (3-8 Youngstown State at 4-7 University of Detroit), but we believe that it is important to reiterate that it is FREE. According to our rudimentary math skills, it’s pretty hard to beat that value proposition (at least in ratio form).

While the University of Detroit is probably most well-known as the only successful stint of Dick Vitale’s coaching career (78-30 with a 21-game win streak that ESPN uses to justify his role as the most well-known promoter of our beloved sport), the Titans have been perennial contenders for the Horizon League title and had 4 consecutive 20-win seasons between 1997-98 and 2000-01. The Titans program also produced NBA stars Dave DeBusschere and Spencer Haywood.

http://www.cineastentreff.de

Credit: http://www.cineastentreff.de

While I hope that the Detroit basketball program reaps some rewards from this PR move, I am more intrigued by the idea of a grassroots campaign to get people into college basketball at a level that is more pure than what ESPN and CBS feed down our throats from Midnight Madness until One Shining Moment. If more colleges try this model, they can start to pull in families and get a younger generation of fans who actually root for their local team rather than just what they see on SportsCenter or what some rapper is wearing on BET. If they do that, college basketball can start to fight its way back into the national conscience, which is a place we all know it belongs.

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Adios, Billy Packer!

Posted by nvr1983 on July 14th, 2008

In a move that we are certain will generate a ton of praise around the college basketball world (and the blogosphere), CBS has decided to not renew everyone’s least favorite curmudgeon Billy Packer (h/t to The Big Lead for pointing this out). After 27 years at CBS and having called the national championship game every year since 1977, CBS has “decided to move into another direction” (a phrase I’m sure many of our readers have heard before).

Like most college basketball fans, I’m excited to see Packer and his bitterness leave the airwaves (although I’m sure that rtmsf is sad to see a Wake Forest alum lose his job). While Packer has certainly become an institution (of hatred) in college basketball, it seems like in recent years, Packer has been more controversial than normal although that may just be a recency effect.

Among Packer’s “memorable” moments:
-1996: During a Georgetown-Villanova game, he calls Allen Iverson a “tough monkey”. He apologizes and John Thompson (the original, not JT3) says it’s a non-issue because he says Packer is not a racist.
-2000: When two Duke female (yeah, I know an oxymoron) students ask to see his press pass, Packer reportedly responds “Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game? Why don’t you go find a women’s game to let people into?” Once again Packer apologizes.
-2004: Criticizes the NCAA selection committee for giving 1-loss Saint Joseph’s a #1 seed in the East Regional. This leads to a small disagreement between Packer and the CBS guest–St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli. The Hawks go onto reach the Elite 8 (beating Packer’s alma mater Wake Forest in the Sweet 16) before losing to Oklahoma State in a tight game.
-2006: Packer rips into the selection committee for taking mid-majors over BCSconference schools. The mid-majors responded by having Bradley and Wichita State make it to the Sweet 16 and George Mason make it to the Final 4.
-2008: With 27:30 left in the national semifinal, Packer tells viewers that the game is over. Surprisingly it isn’t. I’m sure the CBS bigwigs weren’t too thrilled that Packer essentially told viewers they could stop watching with 27:30 left in the game.

I’m sure there are others dating back to the beginning of his time on TV, but frankly I’m too young to remember the more distant controversies.

In an attempt to remain “fair & balanced”, we should note that Packer is most likely the 2nd person casual college basketball fans think of when they think of announcers–a distant 2nd to Dick Vitale. We’ll leave you with this YouTube clip from last year with Packer and Jim Nantz discussing his potential legacy (disclosure: I haven’t listened to this because I’m at work and I forgot my headphones–it’s a Monday):

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And the Angels Shall Sing…

Posted by rtmsf on April 22nd, 2008

Several commentators are already all over this story, but we cannot simply sit by without giving our view on the NY Daily News blurb that Mr. Cash and Purveyor of All Things Hoops and Holy, Mr. William “Billy” Packer, might be on thin ice at CBS for his insistence that the national semifinal game between Kansas and UNC was “over” at the 7:32 mark in the first half.

Bill Raissman writes:

CBS is paying $6 billion for the right to air the tourney over the life of its contract with the NCAA. From a business perspective, telling viewers to turn off the TV is not a great idea, especially in a soft advertising market. Naming a “winner” with plenty of time left in a game does not sit well with corporations paying top dollar to advertise their products during the tournament. Some of these same companies will be asked to purchase time on next year’s tourney.

Photo Credit – Where’s He Get the Mask?

You might recall that we wrote last week that, from a purely statistical standpoint (h/t Bill James), Packer was egregiously wrong (the magic number of insurmountability was 44 at that point in the game); but from our own sensory perspective and the ultimate result of the game, he was absolutely correct.

Still, we find it beyond hilarious that a man who has based his entire career on unabashed vitriol, criticism, vituperation and downright nastiness could end up getting canned (or at least censured) for something like this. Should that happen, there will undoubtedly be a national day of celebration not unlike what we saw when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon – angels will sing, the dealers will bust and even the strippers will taste a little sweeter.

In summation, remember kiddies – all you young Packers out there with your mics and your viscous hatred – you cannot call a game over in the first half, but you can do this:

  • Call Allen Iverson a “tough monkey” on the air of the Georgetown-Villanova game in 1996.
  • Publicly disparage two Duke women checking press passes at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 2000 by stating, “Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game? Why don’t you go find a women’s game to let people into?” When asked if he was joking, Packer reported said, “No, that’s just the kind of guy I am.”
  • Tell Charlie Rose in an interview in 2007 that he always “fag[s] out,” as in promising to help but not following through.

All we can say is best of luck to Billy in his dealings with CBS brass, as we’d hate for him to have to revert to his Mr. Cash persona full-time. For poking fun at such a sinister figure, we’d normally be a little nervous that Packer might read this and hunt us down with his henchmen, but remember, the man famously doesn’t even own a computer. Whew.

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Sign Up Now!

Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2008

CBS was advertising last weekend for its annual March Madness on Demand (MMOD) service, which is now available for sign-up.  According to their site, it’s worthwhile to get a VIP pass now (some 61 days from Selection Sunday) because the passes are limited.   Was it last year that their servers were overloaded with the throngs of fans who woke up on the Monday morning prior to the Tourney and realized they’ll have to work on Thurs/Fri again this year?  This is the message you get after signing up:

CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE SIGNED UP!

<!– Click here to view highlights from some of the most memorable NCAA March Madness games of all time.–>

Bookmark This Page — Return to this page to launch the video player. Check back with us in early March, when you’ll be able to watch past NCAA Championship highlights before the live games begin on March 20, 2008.

As a VIP member you will have access to the live games much faster on game day. Plus, you will have access to on-demand highlights, buzzer beaters and detailed recaps all at your fingertips.

MMOD logo 

So there you have it.  Now you too can contribute to the incredible $3.8B corporate timesuck known as March Madness.  Or not.  Us, we’ll be in Vegas anyway, contributing to their local economy in other ways.

(h/t to our buddy N-Bug for the find)

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