Every year, I say to myself that “Sweet Sixteen Weekend” – – the 12 games to cut down to the Final Four – – is the best weekend of the tournament because the teams are good and there are still plenty of different games to watch. Last night gave us “one of each kind” of tournament game:
- There was the blowout. Michigan was just awful from the start to the finish last night and Texas Tech mauled them. Tech won by 19, but it could have been 35 of Tech had a hot shooting night.
- There was the winning team that just could n=put the game away until the very end. Florida State hung around and made Gonzaga work all night long. The game was much closer than a 214-point spread would indicate.
- There was the nail-biter down into the final two minutes. Virginia beat Oregon by 4 points but that was hardly a foregone conclusion with two minutes left to play.
- There was the miracle comeback to send the game to overtime. Purdue led Tennessee by 18 points in the second half; Tennessee tied the game and took a small lead late in the game. Finally, in OT, Purdue won by 5.
Every game – even the blowout – was interesting to watch. Hopefully, that is an omen for the games over the rest of the weekend …
There is NFL news emanating from the annual owners’ meeting in Arizona this week. In response to the rules Committee recommendation plus a unanimous vote by the NFL coaches to expand the scope of the replay system, the owners voted overwhelmingly to allow coaches to challenge pass interference calls – – and non-calls – – for the 2019 season. It is a one-year “experiment” to see how it works and then it will be something that could be fine-tuned next year.
The best news here is that coaches still only have 2 challenges per game, so this is not going to extend the length of the games significantly. Nor should it affect the rhythm of the game any more than the current replay system does. The issue that many have raised regarding pass interference on Hail Mary plays could be a wrinkle that will have to be ironed out next year. Let me explain:
- Ever since the first Hail Mary pass play was drawn up on a table napkin and then run on the field by a team, there has been “illegal contact” and/or “outright pass interference” on every single one of the plays. Often, there is offensive interference in addition to defensive interference; the play is NEVER effected cleanly.
- This may call for discretion on the part of the officials doing the reviews on these plays and the whole attraction of “instant replay” is that it minimized any “discretion” and points inexorably to “the truth”. Good luck here…
The Rules Committee recommended by a 7-1 vote to change the onside kickoff rule to something similar to the one used in the AAF. The owners voted it down. Perhaps there was a smidgen of “Not Invented Here Syndrome” in that vote? I don’t read minds, but …
Other “news” emanating from the owners’ meeting had to do with Robert Kraft and his ongoing legal entanglement over an alleged solicitation of prostitution in Florida. Kraft has pleaded not-guilty and has said that the did nothing illegal and he has now requested a jury trial in the matter. The problem I have here is the contradictory behavior.
- Kraft says he did nothing illegal. I do believe that prostitution is minimalist crime, but it is nevertheless a criminal act in Florida as is solicitation of prostitution. Someday, that law may change; but these charges stem from acts that allegedly happened when prostitution and solicitation of prostitution were clearly illegal in Florida.
- Prosecutors and the local sheriff say they have ‘indisputable video evidence” of Kraft participating in these acts. That may or may not be true; that is what they say. There must be some basis for those assertions because Kraft’s lawyers argue that the evidence collected was done under improper circumstances and should be excluded. It seems to me that if there were no such evidence because Kraft committed no illegal acts, there is no point in asking the court to exclude it on the basis that it was improperly obtained.
Here is the only thing related to this matter of which I am certain:
- I do not want to see the video that prosecutors say proves their charges in this case. There are lots of things in this world that cannot be unseen, and I think this surveillance video would fall squarely into that category.
Two sportswriters diagonally across the country from each other had interesting observations related to “The Kraft Case”:
“Attorneys for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, after being charged in a massage-parlor sting, sought a protective order to keep any police surveillance-video evidence:
- “a) Under seal, preventing its release
- “b) In a plain brown wrapper.” [Dwight Perry, Seattle Times]
“Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he is “truly sorry” for being caught at a Florida “spa” in a prostitution sting. I wonder if this story will have a happy ending. Wait. Too soon?” [Greg Cote, Miami Herald]
Finally, Brad Rock of the Deseret News had a recent comment about another legal action peripherally related to the sports world:
“The AAF is being sued by a man who claims the league was his idea.
“Considering the history of other startup football leagues, he may want to keep a low profile on that.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………