Like a horseman of the apocalypse, the HoopsHD podcast series is riding through town once again. Galen and Lee take on several current topics in the game, including Tim Floyd’s irritation at a player wanting to transfer to USC, the continuing issues at North Carolina and the never-ending stream of reporting emerging from that situation, and more.
Andy Katz had a piece on ESPN.com today discussing some proposed rules changes relating to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Since the NCAA doesn’t always have the greatest of track records in choosing and implementing these types of changes, we thought it would be a good idea to review what they’re considering and give the proposals a letter grade.
Tweak 1: Protect the true seed. The basic idea at play here is that the “true seed”, or the spot on the seed list where a team is actually ranked, is getting negatively impacted by the bracketing principles that the committee uses, which are supposed to prevent regular-season rematches from occurring before the Sweet 16. If they are actually going to protect teams’ seed lines, then good — I think the rematch avoidance principle is going to be harder and harder to implement anyway, with the rise of the mega-conferences. A few second or third round rematches are not a big deal, and may actually increase interest in the early stages of the tournament.
A couple of other items from the write-up of this first proposal – in the spirit of HoopsHD contributor Kyle Lamb, everyone needs to cease with this insistence on saying BYU “can’t” play on Sundays. Wrong, they choose not to. Big difference. The massacring of the bracketing process on behalf of a religious preference is rather odd, considering the lack of consideration of so many other variables that exist for other teams.
Second, I think it’s interesting that the committee is happy to recognize the 32 automatic bids now, with the AAC and the Big East both getting one. I seem to recall several occasions where conferences that split (like the Mountain West when it divested from the WAC) were forced to go through a waiting period where they had no automatic bid. Always hilarious to see the hypocrisy of the cartel in action.
Tweak grade: A
Tweak 2: Family Consideration. Here’s a rare sign of intelligence – considering family travel issues when scheduling teams thousands of miles away from their natural regions. Of course, it’s not an actual proposal, just something that’s going to be discussed, and go through the NCAA legislature, where it will almost certainly die. Because that’s what happens to intelligent proposals at the NCAA.
Tweak grade: A. Chances of tweak happening: F-
Tweak 3: Arenas for regionals. The idea here is that domed stadiums aren’t nearly intimate enough to create the atmosphere needed for high-level basketball during the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. This is common sense, is it not? I’ve been to games in both arenas and domes, and frankly, even Final Fours in domes tend to be antiseptic and lifeless. For half the fans, the floor is too far away to ever feel like you’re a part of the action, and the massive amount of open air and unused space ensures that you never get the vibe of being at a college game. Yes, when you have a matchup between passionate fanbases, things can get exciting in a dome (we saw that for Kentucky-Indiana in 2012, among other times), but those matchups are impossible to preordain. In this proposal, the domes wouldn’t be locked out, but for all intents and purposes they’d be aiming future sites at arenas. I cannot think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t support this.
Tweak grade: A+
Tweak 4: Fan experience. This proposal is very light on actual explanation by Mr. Katz, but apparently the committee wants to change or alter the seating configuration for fans. Look, guys…if the game’s in a dome, you’re going to struggle with arranging people. The idea of putting students close to the floor is a good one, but also problematic depending on the distance of the teams from the regional site. Are you going to sacrifice high-priced seats just to maintain a student block?
Tweak grade: C
Tweak 5: Tournament leadership. Is this a “tweak”? I don’t see anything that would qualify. Although I do think it’s hilarious that the NCAA is transitioning from Bobinski, who by all accounts has been an excellent chairman and a good overall leader, to Wellman, who actually chose to hire Jeff Bzdelik as a head basketball coach. That fact alone should cause people some serious concerns.
Tweak grade: If the tweak is Wellman taking over, then D-.
The Grand Canyon University Antelopes begin their transition to full Division I membership this season, as they will become a member of the “new look” WAC. Grand Canyon has one unique feature to its school that is not, on paper at least, possessed by any other Division I school. Grand Canyon is a “for profit” university. This means the school sells its shares and seek investors, and in theory would pay dividends based on its yearly earnings. As a for profit entity, Grand Canyon does not received the same tax-exempt status that every other Division I school has.
It has been reported that other Division I schools are not very keen on a for profit university joining Division I. Cbssports.com’s Dennis Dodd reported that the Pac-12 is in the process of filing a formal protest of their admission and is urging its member school not to schedule any games against Grand Canyon in any sports. Quite frankly, in my opinion, this is one of the most ridiculous and hypocritical things I have ever heard of.
Like it or not, we live in an era where college sports is being driven by one major guiding force. That force, of course, is the almighty dollar. Conferences are signing television deals and creating their own networks in order to bring millions if not billions of dollars into their universities. The dollars being paid out by cable and satellite providers to carry more and more collegiate sports is getting practically insane, and that money is filtering through to the universities. ESPN has about 500 channels, FOX with the introduction this year of their new Fox Sports networks is not far behind, NBC and CBS have their own sports channels, and then we have the individual conference networks, such as the Big Ten Network, Pac 12 Network, and in 2014 the SEC Network. And that doesn’t even bring up Texas’ Longhorn Network.
These Division I schools are receiving millions of dollar each year, but claim they are non-profit entities. They pour the money into supporting their non-revenue earning sports like water polo and badminton and curling or whatever else they offer. They pour money from athletics, in theory, back into their schools to go towards research and financial aid and all those other lofty goals. And what else do they do with the money? Oh yeah, they solicit “boosters” to give the school more money–and then reward these people with the best seats at the games or fancy dinners with the school president or the like. And by the way, each school’s regents/directors certainly checks the bottom line each year to make sure that enough revenue is coming in from the sports that earn money in order to balance the books.
Grand Canyon, as an alternative way of doing business, has decided to solicit “investors” (boosters?) and is attempting to make enough money to support its athletic programs, research, and financial aid. It gives dividends (rewards) to its investors in exchange for the money they invest in it. Its university officials review the bottom line each year to make sure the school is not losing money. In other words, it runs the exact same way that every other school in the country runs, it just uses different terms!
Actually, that is not quite true. Grand Canyon does do one major thing that the rest of Division I does not do. It pays taxes. It’s revenues not only pay for seats with cup holders and built in massagers for its biggest “investors,” but they also go to help pay for all those government funded programs, like..oh..say..disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
If the Pac-12 wants to keep Grand Canyon out of Division I, it should first take a good hard look at itself in the mirror. Grand Canyon is making money the American way, building a profitable business and paying taxes on its profits. The Pac-12 and the rest of Division I are making money as well — they are just exploiting the system, avoiding taxes, and even accepting tax dollars from the government — tax dollars paid by Grand Canyon, by you, and by me.
And now I’m going to see my stockbroker about buying a few shares of the Antelopes.
Brad Stevens to Boston? That’s cause enough for an emergency podcast, as we hurriedly got the band back together at the dawn of Independence Day, and discussed the ramifications of the boy wonder heading to the big scary NBA. We also talked about the culture change that NBA front offices appear to be going through, as well as the long-term prognosis for the Butler program.
Here is an assessment of the changes Butler has undergone, and how the general consensus/main stream media reacted to it.
06-07 – Butler begins the season predicted to finish 6th in the Horizon League. They make the Sweet Sixteen after being in the rankings all year and come very close to beating Florida, who was in the process of winning their second straight title.
After that season, Lickliter leaves for Iowa. People say Butler is done. They end up hiring someone no one has ever heard of to the point to where he was mistaken as a player in street clothes early on.
07-08 – Butler has low expectations, but has another big year under first year coach Brad Stevens. They finish in the rankings, make the NCAAs, and lose in overtime to Tennessee in the round of 32. The general consensus is that the first year coach did it with Lickliter’s players, and now that they’re gone Butler is done.
08-09 – Butler is again picked to finish in the middle of the HL after the loss of Lickliter’s players. Again, they play their way into the rankings, finish first in the conference and make the NCAA Tournament.
09-10 – Butler returns pretty much everyone from the previous year, and people are finally catching on that perhaps they’re not done after all. It took three years for people to realize it, but they began in the top 25, stayed there all year, and ended up as national runner ups.
10-11 – Butler has high expecations but struggles during the year. Throughout the entire year, whenever Butler is playing, references are made how they had one great run but have not been able to sustain that success and were basically a flash in the pan. Most people forget that they weren’t even being picked to make the NCAAs at the beginning of March that season. They win the Horizon League Tournament, make the NCAAs, and are once again the national runner up.
11-12 – Butler is not expected to be good, and does even worse than their expectations. People again think they’re done.
12-13 – Butler begins the season unranked. Everyone is saying they’ll sink in the Atlantic Ten, especially after the poor season they had the previous year. They ended up playing their way into the rankings, making the NCAAs, and losing in the round of 32. Not great, but not bad either.
Summer 2013 – Stevens leaves. The general consensus once again is that Butler is done. The most recent death blow in a long line of death blows that were not death blows.
Okay, when I look at that, I see that the frequent general consensus is that Butler is always done, and every time it’s wrong. They were done when Collier left. They were done when Matta left and won with Collier’s players. They were done when Lickliter left. They were done several times under the Steven’s regime.
Do I think they’ll make the title game in back to back years anytime soon?? No.
Do I think they’re done?? No. I think they’ll remain a top 25 caliber program and be in the rankings more often than not. The same people that are saying Stevens was Butler are the same ones that were saying he would never do well. I was with the consensus before, and like the consensus I was wrong. I’m not with them this time. Maybe the consensus will be right this time, but I doubt it. I don’t think Butler will disappear.