Happy Memorial Day to everyone around the country, whether you’re honoring our fallen soldiers and/or the family members who are no longer with us. It’s a day worthy of reflection and memory, and we hope that your day will be spent in equal parts pouring out an ounce of liquor and cooking up some tasty barbecue. After all, life is here to be lived, even while we’re remembering those who are gone.
- As if five full days of the hoops extravaganza known affectionately as the Big East Tournament wasn’t already enough, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said late last week that he wants to see the tournament expand to 17 teams (or further upon additional expansion) when TCU formally enters the league in 2012-13. His justifications — that teams (such as UConn last year) can win five games, and that every player in the conference deserves a chance to play in the Garden at the league’s marquee event — sound reasonable enough to us. Although the idea of a #16 vs. #17 play-in game between DePaul and TCU on Monday night seems about as enticing as talking derivative markets over at the Harvard Club. The setup Boeheim suggests, though, would be more workable if the league ultimately expands to 20 teams and could have a “First Four” of its own then.
- Speaking of Big East expansion, maybe someday soon the University of Memphis will get a long-desired invitation to the league, but in the meantime we’ll have to settle for a home-and-home series between the Tigers and longtime rival and nemesis Louisville scheduled to begin next season at the KFC Yum! Center. The two schools who battled for decades in the old Metro Conference and later in Conference USA (when it was still relevant) have not played in six years since Louisville left CUSA (the infamous Darius Washington game) but, needless to say, the two are still not friendly. This will be a great series, and we hope that even if Memphis doesn’t join the Big East in the coming few years, that the two will continue this series indefinitely.
- Say what you want about Dick Vitale as an announcer past his prime or a shameless homer for certain east coast schools where he’s friendly with the head coaches… but never question the man’s commitment to improving the lives of the people around him through his relentless advocacy to fight cancer in his role as a spokesman for the Jimmy V Foundation. As Andy Staples writes in this piece on Friday, Vitale has leveraged his name within the sporting community to raise over $100M at his gala in just the last six years, a ridiculous number in philanthropic contributions when you think about it. Someday, when this very site or its replacement is writing the obit for one Richard Vitale, the first sentence shouldn’t mention the word ESPN, or Duke, or even basketball — it should focus on the consuming passion that he has given into the fight against cancer and how his tireless efforts in the “fourth quarter” of his life helped make the world a better place.
- The LA Times published a piece over the weekend examining the odd situation of three southern California kids all returning back home to play for UCLA after spending at least one season all the way across the country at UNC. Larry Drew II, Travis Wear and David Wear each returned to LA after finding Chapel Hill not to their liking for one reason or another, and are looking to regain some of the form that made each of them elite recruits coming out of high school. Considering that very few players leave Roy Williams’ teams to transfer elsewhere (only seven in over 20 years of head coaching), it’s a weird coincidence that four of those players came from the sunny skies and endless avenues of Los Angeles (Alex Stepheson was the other). Good news for Tar Heel fans: none of the players on the 2011-12 UNC roster is from SoCal.
- It continues to amaze us that South Park is still on the air, but it is, and it continue to push the envelope with its politically incorrect jabs at just about everything anyone considers holy and sacred. It’s been a long time since anyone considered the NCAA sacrosanct, but SP’s recent episode, “Crack Baby Athletic Association” skewers the governing organization in a parody that likens modern student-athletes to slaves in a for-profit scheme run by a select few. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s alma mater, the University of Colorado, comes off as particularly complicit in this show as the school the boys visit in an attempt to ply their exploitative trade. We could go on, but don’t take our word for it — the entire unedited episode is here.