Posted on: March 10, 2012 4:45 pm
It's not the (Dodds and) End(s) of the world. I've moved. Please follow me to my new blog site here.
In the meantime, consider that clever pun above. Thanks for following. See you on the other side.
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:19 am
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This is what a 68-team bracket has forced us to care about …
Northwestern absolutely choking its way out of a tournament it would have no shot at unless there was a 68-team bracket.
Look, I get all the national love for the Wildcats. It’s a nice story that a school known more its catchy ledes than buzzer beaters is this close to getting in the tournament for the first time. But this is what they didn’t tell us when the bracket expanded a couple of years ago: The bubble was dumbed down.
Had the 64-team field remained, Northwestern’s overtime loss to Minnesota Thursday in the Big Ten tournament would have been an NIT footnote. But the expanded bubble being what it is, we must care – about bad basketball. Even now after destiny’s Debbie Downers in Evanston frittered another one away.
Northwestern isn’t the only one. Washington (1-7 against the top 50) won the Pac-12 regular-season title but is now a question mark after losing to Oregon State. Hold your nose but Arizona may have forced itself into the conversation, if not the bracket. This was all for good for Texas, which played one of the more compelling games of the day in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal against Iowa State.
Compelling because Texas continues to be a member of that dreaded bubble for the first time in a long time. They have been tournament regulars under Rick Barnes. Not this season in a tenuous transition season with six freshmen. Things were looking up late Thursday when the young Horns showed some finishing ability – please note, Northwestern – in a 71-65 win over the Cyclones.
At halftime, with his team trailing, Horns coach Rick Barnes took to the dry erase board to state the obvious.
“I wrote it down ‘NIT or NCAA'. Which one would you put your name under right now?” Barnes said. “Whichever one you want, I assure you you’re going to have to earn it.”
So they did, with their best basketball of the season. After Iowa State opened the second half with a 7-0 run, the Horns responded with a 22-4 run of their own. Suddenly, Texas is hot. It has 20 wins, a benchmark of some sort among bubble teams, right? It was won three out of the last four going into Friday’s semifinal against Missouri.
It has what Northwestern and other bubble boys don’t. Bracket credibility, if only for day. Maybe the best thing you can say about Barnes’ team is that it looks less bad that some of the others. The Longhorns have now won 10 conference games while playing in one of the few high major conferences with a round-robin schedule (18 games).
The baby Horns grew up a little Thursday night. Freshman guard Myck Kapongo played 39 minutes, with no turnovers for the first time in his 32-game career.
“We’re not young no more,” he said.
If the Horns have an advantage in the NCAA basketball committee room this weekend, it is because of pedigree. Only Michigan State, Duke and Kansas have longer NCAA tournament streaks than Barnes does at Texas (13 consecutive years). This is not one of Barnes’ classic teams. The Longhorns struggle to score mightily. Three of those freshman start.
I’m not going to tell you that Texas doesn’t belong in the tournament. Not after what I saw and read on Thursday. What makes Texas any worse than Northwestern or Washington or Colorado State or Seton Hall or Miami or South Florida?
When you get to this level of desperation you count “good” losses. Texas has plenty of them -- six, against top 10 opponents. Eight of its 12 losses have come against the top 25.
At the beginning of the day, Jerry Palm had the Longhorns out. I’m not going to say he’s wrong. I’m going to refer him to a gutty second half comeback, those maturing freshmen and Rick Barnes.
“We fought back,” he said.
Beats the heck out of Northwestern.
Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:47 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 8:48 pm
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If clothes make the Bear, consider Sprint Center the latest battleground in the apparel war.
That would be the war between Nike and pretty much everyone else. Fifteen months ago, the first BCS title game between the two apparel titans took the field when Auburn played Oregon in the BCS title game. That would be Auburn, an Under Armour school, and Oregon, a well-known Nike school.
The uniform war was on the night before the game when Nike projected laser images of its swoosh logo on the side of Camelback Mountain. So, yeah, this is getting serious.
The latest apparel incendiary was dropped by Baylor on Thursday in the Big 12 tournament. The Bears wore canary yellow Adidas threads head to toe against Kansas State. Socks to T-shirts. The nuclear yellow was part of the same color combination worn by Oregon 15 months ago. One press row wag took one look at Baylor and said his sinuses were cleared.
On national cable, Adidas just fired off a shot across Nike’s bow. Why it matters: Recruits have chosen schools for lesser reasons than uniforms. If you think it doesn't matter, check out Kansas' Thomas Robinson, who tweeted that he thought Baylor's unis were "tuff."
Even if Baylor as a team isn't tuff all the time.
If you haven't noticed, high-profile games have become the new fashion runways for apparel manufacturers. Baylor got a two-hour plus commercial Thursday for Adidas -- and Baylor -- in that order. Twitter blew up -- not necessarily about the game but about the uniforms.
One tweeter called Baylor, "The All-Star Crossing Guard Team From Waco."
Another: "Here's every idea they've [Adidas] ever had: 'Let's put three stripes on it.'"
Shot across Nike's bow? "Those are hand-me-downs"
If it matters to Oregon fans, then it matters to Nike. If it matters to Nike, it matters to Adidas. If it matters to Adidas, it means something to Baylor. This game alone may enhance a relationship that just got a lot more intimate. Adidas' deal with Baylor has a year to go.
Expect a long-term extension?
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:39 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 6:53 pm
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said his school and Kansas will play again “when common sense takes over emotion.”
Pinkel has been a strident supporter of keeping the KU-Missouri series alive as the Tigers head to the SEC. The argument between the two sides over the century-old rivalry has, if anything, increased after Saturday’s basketball game in Lawrence. KU’s overtime win may be the last meeting of the two schools in a major sport. Kansas has said it has no interest in playing Missouri since it is leaving the Big 12.
“It will be a great continued rivalry and it could happen this year if we really wanted it to happen,” Pinkel said. “It’s all choices. We’re ready to do it anytime.”
The war of words between the two camps isn’t going to end anytime soon. At the end of interview on other subjects Wednesday in his office, Pinkel reacted to a quote from Bill Self after Saturday’s hoops games.
“It’s not the same,” Self said of the rivalry continuing. “Missouri has got to market their future. We’re their past.”
Pinkel said he is convinced that the schools will play again in football and basketball. The rivals have played since 1892 in football and 1907 in basketball.
“There will come a time when, without question, that in Kansas City at the beginning of the football season, hopefully Missouri and Kansas will play,” he said. “That will happen sometime, when common sense takes over emotion. There is sometime when, in Kansas City, Mo., KU and Mizzou will play basketball too.”
The teams have played a neutral-site football game at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium since 2007. There is speculation the schools could meet in the future for a non-conference basketball game at Kansas City’s Sprint Center. There is still a possibility the teams could meet at next week’s Big 12 tournament and, less likely, in the NCAA tournament.
“That rivalry can last forever and ever and ever,” Pinkel said. “It gets kind of comical after a while the more you hear about it, especially when you hear it coming from Kansas City.”
Some Missouri supporters in and around Kansas City had been more vocal about staying in the Big 12 than in other parts of the state. The Big 12 traces its basketball tournament roots in Kansas City back to 1977 in the old Big Eight. The four-year-old Sprint Center was built, in part, as a way to keep that tournament in town.
“Everywhere in the state, everyone has kind of accepted it and you go into Kansas City – and Kansas City is a great city for Mizzou football and basketball – [but] after a while [pausing] … it’s going to happen,” Pinkel said. “When common sense takes over and we relax a little bit why would it not?"
Posted on: February 28, 2012 6:32 pm
It appears Oregon and the NCAA could be heading toward summary disposition of the Will Lyles case. Two sources with extensive experience in NCAA investigations told CBSSports.com they believe that to be the case after reading documents released by Oregon last week in the Lyles case.
That would be somewhat positive news for a football program concerned about major sanctions surrounding the questionable $25,000 payment to Lyles for his recruiting expertise. Summary disposition essentially means that the NCAA and a school agree on a basic set of facts in a major infractions case. The school proposes its own penalties. In such an occurrence, Oregon would avoid an appearance before NCAA infractions committee, which would have to agree to summary disposition.
Such a decision would also cut down significantly on the length of the case. Oregon has been under investigation since September.
The fact that Oregon has “agreed” to three of the seven violations released after a public records request last week – the other four are redacted – is a sign that summary disposition could be on the way. Neither the Oregon nor the NCAA would confirm that assertion.
“When I read that [Oregon documents] I said, ‘Hey, it looks like they’re beginning the process of going to summary,” said Michael Buckner, a South Florida-based attorney with 13 years experience assisting schools through NCAA investigations.
His research showed eight cases disposed of by summary disposition in 2011. That includes the notable West Virginia case decided in July. In both the Oregon and West Virginia cases, it was found that the number of football coaches exceeded the permissible limit in various activities.
If nothing else, summary disposition would signal a lack of contentiousness between the NCAA and Oregon.
“Basically what you’re doing, you don’t have to go to [an infractions committee] hearing,” Buckner said. “You’re not spending all the time and money for a hearing. Secondly, you’re trying to predict by putting down on paper and agreeing on sanctions.”
Summary disposition was a tool added a few years ago to streamline the investigative process. From the NCAA website: Summary disposition is a cooperative process between the school, involved individuals and the NCAA enforcement staff. If these groups agree about the facts and the penalties presented in the report, an in-person hearing may be averted depending on the Committee of Infractions. The COI reviews the report in private and decides to either accept the findings and penalties or conduct an expedited hearing. A school that would become a repeat-violator cannot use the summary disposition process and must go before the Committee on Infractions.
Oregon is not believed to be a repeat violator which would make the program eligible for enhanced penalties. To be eligible, a school would have to have a major violation in its athletic department during the past five years.
Since that formal investigation began in September, Oregon has not so much as received a notice of allegations from the NCAA, which would signal the next step of the investigation. But the documents in question could be a draft version of that notice. In fact, the second of two four-page documents is labeled, “Revised Draft for discussion purposes.”
While Oregon could face major penalties from the case, the fact that it has “agreed” to wrongdoing in the documents is different from more combative language where the NCAA would have “alleged” wrongdoing.
“Once the school tells them, ‘Yes, we want to go summary disposition, they change it from, ‘it is alleged’ to , ‘that it is agreed,’ said another source familiar with the NCAA enforcement process. “That’s what the language [in the Oregon documents] would suggest.”
In the documents, Oregon agrees that …
--In 2008 and 2009 it paid $6,500 and $10,000 to Elite Scouting Services and received reports from Lyles and partner Charles Fishbein
--In 2009 paid $3,745 for service from New Level Athletics and its rep Baron Flenory.
--In 2010 paid $25,000 for a subscription to Complete Scouting Services and reports from Lyles. The service “did not disseminate” recruiting information at least four times per year in violation of NCAA rules.
--From 2009-2011 the program had one more coach out recruiting than allowed.
--There was a failure to monitor football’s use of recruiting services.
Here are those Oregon proposed findings of violations released last week after Freedom of Information Act requests from media outlets.
The Lyles story was broken almost a year ago by Yahoo! It centered on running back Lache Seastrunk who has since transferred to Baylor. Lyles later told Yahoo! that Oregon coach Chip Kelly “scrambled” urging Lyles to produce retroactive recruiting evaluations to justify the $25,000 expense.
You can find a further definition of summary disposition in the NCAA Manual here on page 401.
The NCAA has stepped its enforcement procedures regarding third-party influences in football recruiting. Last year it established a football investigation arm headed by a former Indianapolis deputy police chief.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 12:17 pm
The BCS is interested in bringing in two high-profile television consultants as they move to the next level of reconfiguring college football’s postseason beginning in 2014.
CBSSports.com has learned that respected industry consultant Chuck Gerber is expected to be consulting with the BCS. Sports Business Journal reported separately on Monday that Gerber and Dean Jordan of Wasserman Media Group “were finalizing negotiations” to work with the BCS.
Bringing in TV consultants is the next step in the reshaping of that postseason. The moves would suggest the BCS commissioners are ready to begin pricing postseason models. CBSSports.com reported last week that a four-team plus-one could be worth as much as $500 million per season in the new contract. The current ESPN contract pays the BCS $125 million per year through the 2013 season (2014 bowls). The BCS distributed approximately $180 million to its members in 2011.
Both men are considered at, or near, the top of the profession. Gerber was hired four years ago by the SEC as a consultant after working at ESPN for 15 years. His work helped land the conference a 15-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS. The deal was finalized in July 2009. Jordan most recently worked with Conference USA and the Mountain West on the merging of those conferences beginning in 2013.
Sports Business Journal reported that Gerber is currently an independent consultant. Per its website Wasserman Media Group is a “sports and entertainment marketing company with expertise in, among other areas, media rights. The company has six worldwide offices including (in the U.S.) Raleigh, N.C. New York, Los Angeles and Carlsbad, Calif.
While the commissioners could stay with the current model, but it is widely assumed that the postseason will be expanded in 2014. Three plus-one models appear to be most attractive:
--Semifinals on campus sites with the championship game at a neutral site. This model is now supported by both Jim Delany of the Big Ten and Larry Scott of the Pac-12.
--The entire plus-one played at neutral sites. In both cases those sites would be bid out. Likely interested cities would include Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Indianapolis.
--A plus-one within the bowl system. Current BCS bowls – perhaps with additions – would rotate semifinals and championship games.
The games are expected to be played after Dec. 21 with the championship game to be played as close to Jan. 1 as possible. Last week’s BCS meetings in Dallas did not include TV consultants.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 7:00 pm
Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese had pointed criticism for what he believes is behind conference realignment Sunday during an interview on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Tranghese said that he expects more school movement because “it’s almost like people can’t help themselves.” He added that if there is blame to go around, it should be directed to school presidents.
“I think point fingers at coaches, I think pointing fingers at television, point fingers at commissioners, it’s a joke,” Tranghese said during the interview. “The presidents are in charge.”
Tranghese, 67, remains one of the most respected figures in college athletics. He joined the Big East at its creation in 1979 before retiring as commissioner in 2009. Last year he told The Sporting News, “I would have worked another four or five years. I knew all this stuff was coming. I knew it wasn’t ending. I knew the football structure of the Big East was fragile. It’s a hard way to operate. The problem with Big East football is they didn’t win enough games.”
Here are Tranghese’s most interesting comments on SiriusXM.
SiriusXM: It looks to me as if maybe that (conference expansion) now has slowed down a bit. From your perspective how do you see where we are at right now?"
Tranghese: "I think it is temporary … I think there is going to be more movement. I just think that it's almost like people can't help themselves. Without mentioning specific conferences I just think there's going to be more movement. I think the conferences that have moved recently are probably going to move again.
“I mean, if you're willing to go from 12 to 14 [teams] then you're going to be willing to go from 14 to 16. And I think there's going to be more money when you do that. But I think there's a real negative side. We're heading for supposedly these five super conferences with 16 teams. At the end of the day … I think all it does is create more losers. It doesn't create more winners. It creates more losers.
“You're not playing true double-round robin in basketball anymore. You can't even play everybody in football anymore. I think the rivalries get diminished. It's hard for me to be objective because I'm a Big East person and we've been hit and we've been ripped apart and I know the effect it has had on a lot of people, a lot of good people. Now, some other people have probably benefitted from it but if that's what college athletics is all about then I'm missing the message because, you know, we're in the business of educating. Even the way some people leave has been somewhat distasteful to me. We're supposed to be setting examples and educating kids. I think the only message we're sending 'em is: ‘If you can make more money, do what you have to do.’ “
SiriusXM: "I get the feeling as if, maybe appropriately, you're saying it is easy to point the finger of accountability towards TV..."
Tranghese: "Oh, I don't blame TV at all...I point them at presidents … In 1990, they took over college athletics and said they were in charge. They're in charge, therefore they are responsible. They're the ones …
“I think pointing fingers at coaches, I think pointing fingers at television, pointing fingers at commissioners, it's a joke. The presidents are in charge. When an institution picks up and leaves to go to another conference and leaves the other members that it's been in partnership with for a long time, there is no athletic director who is making that decision on his own. It is ultimately being made by a board who is being directed and driven according to what the president wants.
“Therefore, if people like what's going on they ought to applaud the presidents. If they don't like it they ought to criticize the presidents. But the presidents seem to not be in the firing line at all. I find that almost comical. Because they yelled and screamed that college athletics was in trouble at the end of the 80's and they said we're taking over. That's when the whole governing structure of the NCAA was reconfigured and the presidents now form the board, they have the ultimate control, they have the ultimate control over conferences, obviously the ultimate control over institutions. If we're going to point a finger, they are the ones to point the fingers at."
Posted on: February 25, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 11:56 pm
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Thank you John Brown, Bloody Bill Quantrill, Norm Stewart, Phog Allen -- and God.
If Saturday was the last Missouri-Kansas game, then it will be everlasting. YouTube, cell phone and video all will preserve the images. But there will also be memories. Good, old-fashioned remembrances that will be handed down from generation to generation. Synapses that will fire one on death beds one last time for some of the 16,300 who witnessed a classic -- and a shame.
In the 105th year of the rivalry, Missouri and Kansas played with the urgency that this was their last regular-season conference game against each other -- which was fitting. If this is truly it for the Border War, the hoarse, sweat-drenched fanatics who jammed Allen Fieldhouse will go to their graves knowing these teams never played this hard against each other.
"It's a shame that it's going to end," Kansas' Bill Self said, "but it’s definitely going to end. Playing them once a year with nothing on the line doesn't carry the same value as playing twice a year with a championship on the line."
That was the central theme Saturday with Missouri leaving for the SEC after this season. No matter what happens, it's just not going to be the same anymore. Post SEC announcement, the Kansas stance has been: "Missouri is the one leaving the conference, why should we do them any favors by playing them in the future?" Missouri's general retort: "Why are you throwing away all this tradition?"
Nothing is scheduled and may not be for a while -- if ever.
So it terms of a walk-off to the rivalry, it was David Freese in Game 6. It was Kanye dropping rhymes, then dropping the mic and walking offstage. It was a kick in the jewels to tradition.
In the 267th meeting between these two eternal rivals, KU-MU played one that could have lasted from here to eternity. In the end, it was elongated by one overtime and won by one point. Kansas, 87-86.
Missouri could have been a contendah, stealing the last Big 12 title they would ever play for and keeping it forever. Instead, Kansas clinched at least a share of the conference title for the eighth straight year. For the Tigers, SEC-ond place never felt so bad.
“That was as good as it gets,” Self said. “Plus, recruits were here so I was hamming it up too.”
Self saluted the crowd in is own walk-off [the court]. They did their part raising the decibel level somewhere between 747 takeoff and Who concert. Jayhawkers couldn’t have stood for Missouri winning its final game in Lawrence. One woman sprinted down an aisle in the final seconds with a sign stating: "Missouri Forfeits A Century-Old Tradition. Kansas Wins."
For now. Yes, the series is over but with an asterisk. We should all root for a rubber match in next month's Big 12 tournament. That would probably be in the championship game. Talk about walk offs.
They're both good enough that a fourth meeting in the NCAA tournament is not out of the question.
"I wouldn’t have a problem playing them again," Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor. "Sign me up."
But the series is definitely over in Lawrence which already begs the question: How long will all this be remembered? Just recall how the rivalry started, amid the bloodshed of the Civil War.
There was a fan dressed up as John Brown, the revolutionary abolitionist. NCAA national championship trophy in one hand, 2008 Orange Bowl trophy in the other. Noted pro-slave terrorist Quantrill and his raiders -- thankfully not portrayed on Saturday -- burned Lawrence to the ground 160 years ago. Of the four persons listed in the lede of this blog -- both real and basketball Border War participants -- only one is still alive.
And good, old Norm, bless is heart, just turned 77.
So roll over Phog Allen, tell Bill Self the news.
It wasn't just the best game of the college basketball season, it was arguably the best of those 105 years. Missouri was up 19 in the second half. The last time Missouri led at Kansas by 19 was the Paleozic Era, or at least 1999. That was the last the Tigers won here.
Kansas made less than half its free throws in the first half which had to delight the Missouri fan at the top of Section 15. Each time a Jayhawk would go to the line he'd scream "S-E-C." Kansas fans were beside themselves. Amid the silence providing their beloved Jayhawks with the needed concentration, they couldn't respond.
It was the perfect strategy until Kansas made everything, scoring 55 in the second half and overtime.
Kansas' Thomas Robinson ran into foul trouble, then played himself back into the national player of the year conversation with 28 points and 12 rebounds. If T-Rob does nothing else the rest of his career, they will commission paintings of his swat of Phil Pressey’s driving layup as time expired in regulation.
The ball landed somewhere east of here in DeSoto, Kan. OK, that was hyperbole. The painting, though, was actually the real deal. There was an artist in a corner of the old gym going Leroy Neiman on a canvas as the game went on.
"Playing Missouri, unfortunately, does mean something," Self admitted. "It means something to me. I was at Illinois and coached against Missouri when I was there. I hated nothing more than losing to Missouri."
That hate may never be felt on the court again. Kansas will continue to be a national power. Missouri basketball will fit nicely into the SEC. But now it’s over, at least in Lawrence. We'll just have to remember Saturday being the best.
"I read an article … it said pretty much how I feel. It's not the same," Self said. "Missouri has got to market their future. We're their past.
"[But] for it to end like this is pretty cool."