I cover the NFL for a living.
And if I didn't, I would still be passionate about it. It is by far the greatest of the sports leagues, and the NFL playoffs are the best three weeks in sports.
Yet every March we hear all the talk about how the NCAA Tournament is the greatest sporting event of them all, even better than the NFL playoffs.
|Sorry, Belmont fans, but Pete Prisco doesn't want to see those 15 and 16 seeds. (AP)|
Give me the NBA playoffs even over this 64-team field known as March Madness, which should be called March Sadness for the way the games are played.
College basketball has turned into a game of over-coached, skill-deprived players who run so many sets mandated by their coaches that they often resort to taking bad shots as the shot clock winds down.
There is no beauty to the game. That's sad, too, since the athletes of today are so much better than the athletes of yesterday. But we never get to see it.
We have some coach on the sideline whistling up a set every single time down the floor. It puts him in the spotlight and puts him in the eyes of his recruits, but does it make the basketball better?
When UNLV was running up and down the floor for Jerry Tarkanian, the Rebels were ripped as a team that didn't play defense. The reality is, they were very good on defense. They just knew how to play offense. Tark let them go.
When David Thompson's 1974 North Carolina State team beat Maryland 103-100 in overtime in the ACC Tournament final, called one of the greatest college basketball games of all time, they scored those points without a 3-point line and without a shot clock.
How? The coaches let the players play. That score was 55-50 at the half. That's a tournament final now.
Could you imagine Norm Sloan running set after set for that N.C. State team? It would have been like holding back Secretariat or adding a five-pound weight to Edwin Moses when he ran.
Every single possession in college basketball has become a laborious effort to put the ball in the basket. The players spend way too much time looking over at the coaches for direction, rather than just playing. Then, when they take a bad shot or force a pass as the shot clock winds down, the coach is again on center stage, stomping his foot and making nasty faces for all to see.