Take a look at these two news reports, spaced about seven weeks apart this summer:
Exhibit A (July 9, 2009):
The next chapter of Isiah Thomas’ coaching career will start amid familiar territory for the Hall of Famer: the Big Ten. FIU’s new coach is prepping to debut Nov. 9 at Ohio State in the opening round of a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament.
Exhibit B (August 25, 2009):
Isiah Thomas’ coaching debut at FIU just got a little tougher. FIU’s first season under the Hall of Fame player will begin Nov. 9 at defending national champion North Carolina, part of a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. It’s also the opener for the Tar Heels, according to the schedule released Tuesday by the Atlantic Coast Conference.
What in the name of Anucha Browne Sanders is going on here?!?
Look no further than our old friends, the Gazelle Group. Yes, the entity that decided that the meaning of the word “tournament” is factually and legally ambiguous, (updated for 2009) has decided that a UNC-FIU opener would be more interesting to more eyeballs than an Ohio St.-FIU game, and as such, has switched the openers for both schools as part of its sponsored Coaches vs. Cancer tournament event. Controversy does seem to follow Thomas wherever he goes, but we’re putting this one squarely on the shoulders of the Gazelle Group. In comparison, these guys make college football bowl organizers look fair and transparent.
FIU’s AD Pete Garcia is no more impressed with GG than we are. He claims that the event organizers “bullied” FIU into signing the contract under the pretense that they would face OSU, and you know what, we believe him. He stated that Gazelle Group organizers approached him last week asking him to change teams, and FIU refused. When they received the press release today showing UNC as their opening opponent, they were shocked, and now they’re threatening to pull out of the CvC altogether. As for the Gazelle Group, they’re hiding behind their contract language (which does clearly state FIU will play OSU or UNC), but it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if they promised one thing and did another while they were busily redefining that a basket will be worth 4 points and a player will receive 11 fouls this year.