NCAA Tournament – - Week 2

The tournament resumes today. In a normal year, the games that cut the field from 16 teams to 4 teams are the best collection of games in the whole season. This year’s tournament is hardly a normal one, but I suspect that the 12 games between now and Sunday will provide some grand entertainment.

The Secretary of Education said before the tournament that schools with less than a 40% graduation rate should not be allowed in the tournament. During political campaigns over the past 30 years, we have always heard about how Washington is out of touch with Main Street. Secretary Duncan demonstrated that the situation remains the same today. Colleges no longer care about graduating star athletes; colleges only care about the money they can make because their star athletes are just a bit better as athletes than a rival college’s star athletes are. And, that leads me to the first Quick Quiz of the day:

    What is the bigger shame?

      a. The lack of education required to get star athletes in college.

      b. The lax educational requirements put upon them once admitted.

      c. The bazillions of dollars earned by the coaches who recruit them and enable them.

      d. The sanctimonious college administrators who ignore the situation.


Looking ahead at the brackets, we could have a match-up of West Virginia and Kentucky this weekend. That would put John Calipari on one bench and Bob Huggins on the other bench. All we would need is to have Jim Harrick doing color commentary for the game and Tark as the sideline reporter and we would have the Mount Rushmore of Rule Bending Coaches.

Speaking of potential games, imagine a game between West Virginia and Kansas State with Bob Huggins on one bench and Frank Martin on the other. Which coach would have the edge on “intensity”? Too close to call…

Since I am in the mode of imagining tournament situations, consider the possibilities if Billy Packer were still at the mic for CBS and doing these games. Imagine how he would choke on his words as he praised teams like Northern Iowa and St, Mary’s for sending home his beloved “big name schools”. Cornell is still here and some major ACC and Big East schools are home and “going to class”. I am sure Packer could get those words out, but I also think there would be small wisps of steam emanating from each ear as he uttered them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”

That statement demonstrates the “littleness” of my mind because I see a definite consistency in the outcomes of tournament games involving teams coached by Oliver Purnell. Those teams always lose. Happened again this year…

After my rant last week about the tournament games, I got an e-mail from a reader who identified himself as “Milwaukee Curmudgeon correspondent”. He attended the first round games in Milwaukee and reported that fans who traveled to Milwaukee for the games faced parking rates of $80.00 per day in downtown Milwaukee. I can understand the law of supply and demand but that is price gouging. The correspondent closed with this comment:

“Us locals who know how to use the bus system and know where the free parking is feel bad for these people. We know they will probably never set foot in our city again.”

I also got an e-mail after last week’s tournament commentary from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reacting to my statement that Quincy Pondexter is REALLY GOOD. Here are two interesting tidbits from that communiqué:

“Pondexter is a typical example of a player who stays around for four years (what?) and slowly blossoms, not to mention truly getting something out of the college experience.”

“…this Washington team has not played anywhere close to this all year — underachieving until beating Cal in the Pac-10 tournament title game and then these first two NCAA games.”

I also got an e-mail from an old friend who went to Missouri for undergraduate school and then went back to Mizzou several years later for a graduate degree. Let me just say that he was not overly distraught to get the news that Kansas lost to Northern Iowa to become the first #1 seed eliminated this year. Here is the title he put on his e-mail:

“Rock Chalk, Jayhawk = Rock Chalk, Take a Walk”

Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald about a college non-revenue sport:

“Parting thought: A court ruled Cal-Davis broke gender-equity laws by eliminating its women’s wrestling team. The university complained costs were so much greater than for the men’s team because of the rising cost of mud.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • Rob  On March 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    “What is the bigger shame?

    a. The lack of education required to get star athletes in college.

    b. The lax educational requirements put upon them once admitted.

    c. The bazillions of dollars earned by the coaches who recruit them and enable them.

    d. The sanctimonious college administrators who ignore the situation.”

    As a non-trad aged college student, I find a. the most egregious. I not only take classes full-time, but I also work, I’m doing an un-paid internship and I’m active in a couple of college organizations (professional ones, I’m too old for frats) and no one cuts me any slack at school. To see someone get a pass just for being an athlete just strikes me as somewhat unfair.

    For the record, my college (University of Maryland Baltimore County) does have a highly ranked team on campus: the chess team.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 26, 2010 at 8:25 am


    Congratulations to you for the time and energy you devote to your education. (No snarkiness whatsoever contained in that last sentence!)

    As someone who is not immersed in the college education process anymore and who has no current connection with that process, I find all four of these things reprehensible. If I had to pick the one of them that I find worst of all, I would probably pick “d” by a whisker over “a”.

  • Ed  On March 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    D – they control the process. They hire the cheating coaches, they allow the admissions people to allow semi-literates because they are athletically adept, and allow profs to let them remain. The lower administration people take their lead from above. The coaches and athletes and only use the rope they are given.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm


    What I love is when the “Faculty Senate” or whatever the equivalent body at Whatsamatta U gets together and allows courses like Theory of Basketball 101 to count as a course for credit toward a degree at their hallowed institution of higher learning.

  • Murray  On March 27, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I watched the Ohio State – Northern Iowa game last night. I believe it was one of the Buckeye players who was said to be majoring in Pre-Family Resource Management! Up here in Kamloops, BC, where I teach, I think we call that Grade 10 Life Skills or Planning 10!

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 29, 2010 at 11:03 am


    Welcome aboard. For the record, I once visited your fair city whilst traveling between Vancouver and Banff/Jasper.

    When I was in junior high school in the 1950s, they taught a course for half a year called Life Adjustment. I taught us things like how to write a check, how to balance a checkbook, how to pay bills, how to do comparison shopping etc.

    I do not know what they might teach in Pre-Family Resource Management courses that lead to a degree with that as a major, but I have a hunch some of the same concepts play a prominent role…

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