Back On The Air…

The confluence of social obligations and time spent on home maintenance chores wiped out the time for rants earlier this week.  Sorry about that.  So, today needs to be a catch-up day…

Congratulations to the Baylor women’s basketball team for their totally exciting win over Notre Dame in the NCAA Women’s final game on Sunday night.  The games in the women’s tournament from the Elite 8 on down to the final game were generally interesting contests instead of monstrous blowouts.  I have suggested in the past – and this year’s women’s tournament reinforces my belief in this suggestion – that the women’s tournament should not be 64 teams in scope.  There just are not that many competitive programs in women’s basketball at this time and the women’s tournament would draw more interest if it could put on more competitive/compelling contests instead of early round blowouts where one team more than “doubles up” on its opponent.  [See Mississippi St. 103 – Southern U  46.]  Reducing the field to 32 would be a good idea; I think a better idea is to start with 24 teams; give 8 teams a bye through the first round and go from there.  I doubt that is going to happen any time soon, but I do think it would be beneficial for women’s college basketball.

Congratulations to the Virginia men’s basketball team for winning the first national championship in school history.  The games in the men’s tournament from the Sweet 16 forward were good contests – – even the Auburn win over UNC by 17 points was exciting to watch.  I realize that there was another point where human error presented itself with regard to the officiating in the Auburn/UVa game.  I refer back to my comments about officiating last week and the impossibility of eliminating human error from any human endeavor.

  • [Aside:  I forget which comedian said this, but he pointed out that if someone spent his lifetime making a device “idiot-proof”, it would not take the world long to develop a bigger idiot.]

Like most everyone else, I expected the final game against Texas Tech to be a low-scoring affair.  At halftime, I thought to myself that 60 points could win the game and that 65 points would surely win the game.  Well, it was 68-68 at the end of regulation time and the teams combined to score 26 points in the 5-minute overtime.  So much for my expectations…

In terms of next season, Virginia stands to lose DeAndre Hunter to the NBA Draft, but the rest of the starters will be back.  Michigan St. will also return a bunch of starters.  Such is the positive aspect of staying out of the annual “one-and-done” recruiting wars…

Chris Mullin resigned as the head coach at St. John’s.  If that was expected, the commentary surrounding the expectation escaped me.  Mullin has been at St. John’s for 4 seasons and the team made the tournament this year for the first time since 2015 and for only the third time since 2002.

In my commentary last week about the NBA turning itself into a 3-point shooting contest with players launching them at the rate of about once every 46 seconds, a commenter, Rich, said that Wilt Chamberlain set some impressive scoring records (on the court and presumably in the bedroom too) without resorting to the 3-point shot.  My response was that Chamberlains sent a lot of staggering records during his playing career.  That sent me to the stat sites and from there let me present these facts:

  • In NBA history, only 4 players have ever collected 40 or more rebounds in a single game.
  • Jerry Lucas did that one time taking down 40 rebounds.
  • Nate Thurmond also did that one time taking down 43 rebounds.
  • Bill Russell did that 11 times taking down 40 or more rebounds in a single game.  He snagged 51 rebounds in a game in 1960.
  • Wilt Chamberlain did that 15 times taking down 40 or more rebounds in a single game.  Chamberlain holds the NBA record for most rebounds in a game with 55 – – against the Boston Celtics with Bill Russell in 1960.

You may recall back when rumors began to get serious that the Lakers would fire Luke Walton soon after the NBA season ended, I said that the major issue in LA was not Walton; it was the roster handed to Walton by the Front Office of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.  Well, Magic Johnson just stepped down as President of the Lakers; he is leaving the free agency recruiting to “someone else”.  I think Johnson has gotten a pass from criticism over his personnel decisions during his time with the Lakers because – – after all – – he IS Magic Johnson and how can one be critical of such a great person and such a great player.  Well, he deserves to earn a “C-minus” for this aspect of his managerial endeavors.  Luke Walton will probably also take a fall here; but Walton could not have been successful with the roster he had; Johnson could have done a better job than he did assembling the Lakers’ roster once LeBron James signed on.

This summer, the NBA will see a bunch of free agents with name recognition.  There are three free agents who are at the top of the class:

  1. Kevin Durant
  2. Kyrie Irving
  3. Kawhi Leonard

[Aside:  Maybe I could stretch a point and add Jimmy Butler to this list…]

If the Lakers – and their new recruiting team – do not entice at least one of those players to come and play alongside – and sometimes under – LeBron James, they will continue to be a non-playoff team in the NBA West.  Unless, of course, the NBA Lottery once again “miraculously” awards the Lakers a top pick that gets them Zion Williamson …

Finally, since I mentioned Jimmy Butler above, consider this comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:

“A study says one-third of young Chicagoans want to leave the city.

“Maybe Jimmy Butler wasn’t so wrong after all.”

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



Sports And Linguistics Today – – Really

The first fictional character I ever identified as a young adult was Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series. As a kid, my objects for identification were baseball players – – and mainly pitchers.  But Mr. Spock’s unerring focus on reality instead of symbolism and inuendo has been an important part of my maturation process.  [Please do not listen to my long-suffering wife who claims that I am the world’s only 75-year old 14-year old.].  Mr. Spock always valued data in order to support observation.

You may recall that I have kvetched here more than occasionally about how NBA games are regressing into nothing more than 3-point shooting displays.  Mr. Spock might have read those kvetchings and raised an eyebrow – – until an AP report on March 30, 2019 provided data to support my complaint(s).  Here are the highlights of that report:

  1. “The NBA has set a record for 3-pointers made for the seventh consecutive year, after the 25,808th of the season was made…”
  2. “The league is on pace for about an 8 percent rise in 3-pointers over last season — and 3s are getting made a staggering 57 percent more often than what was the case just five years ago.”
  3. “The league record for total 3-pointers attempted was broken earlier this month, with 72,354 getting hoisted…”  [This happened in a total of 1144 regular season games, so this extrapolates to 77,793 attempts for the full NBA season.]
  4. “The first season where the NBA combined to make 15,000 3-pointers was 2009-10. The 20,000 plateau was broken just three seasons ago, and this season’s total is on pace to end up just shy of 28,000.”

If in fact the NBA teams attempt 77,000 3-point shots this year, that would mean teams would – on average – attempt 63 3-point shots per regular season game.

  • That is approximately one 3-point shot every 46 seconds of play.

I plead guilty to being grumpy and crotchety on this issue; nonetheless, there is a basis for my grumpiness and my “crotchetude” …  [meaning my state of being crotchety]

Since I just made up the word “crotchetude” because I can’t easily come up with a real word for what I wanted to say, that reminds me that there is a mysterious process by which the “Keepers of the English Language” – – probably secret members of the Trilateral Commission don’t you know – – add “official” words to the language by incorporating them in the Oxford English Dictionary.  Here are some words that were not officially part of the English Language until recently:

  • Cosplay – – admitted in 2008
  • Broadband – – admitted in 2012
  • Kombucha – – admitted in 2013 [Aside: It tastes just as bad in 2019 as it did in 2013.]
  • Sexting – – admitted in 2015
  • Ringtone – – admitted in 2018.

I suspect that the Keepers of the English Language have not yet focused on a word that I would love to see acquire the status of “Official English”.  It started as an acronym for a happening in baseball games and it has now begun to morph into a word used to describe the player who is involved in that happening in a baseball game.  I present to you the word:

  • Tootblan

The original acronym stood for:

  • Thrown Out On The Baselines Like A Nincompoop.

There is not a tootblan in every game – – but when you see one, you can give yourself a facepalm [another word that Official English needs, by the way] and immediately recognize that the player is a tootblan.  If admitted to Official English, the word could then acquire the properties of a verb so that when Joe Flabeetz gets thrown out at home by 15 feet, we could say that he was tootblanning all the way from third base.

  • Memo to the Keepers of the English Language:  Give some attention to “tootblan” as a candidate for admission to Official English.

Speaking very loosely about baseball, here is an on-sight report from #2 son who was attending yesterday’s Yankees/Orioles game in Baltimore.  According to a text he sent me, there was a standing ovation in Camden Yards when the O’s sent up a pinch hitter for Chris Davis late in the game.  Here is why:

  • Davis is in the 4th year of a 7-year deal that pays him $23M every season.
  • The O’s Opening Day Payroll this year totaled $80.2M; Davis accounts for 28.6% of the total club payroll.
  • Last year, Davis hit .168 with an OPS of .539 and struck out 192 times.
  • So far in 2019, Davis is 0 for 17 with an amazing 11 strikeouts.
  • Davis ended 2018 with an 0 for 21 streak; so, he is now hitless in his last 38 MLB plate appearances.

Oh, by the way, Chris Davis is in no danger of winning a Gold Glove for his defense at first base.  Hence the warm welcome for the pinch hitter yesterday…

The Final Four happens this weekend.  My bracket died in the beginning because I thought Nevada was going to the Final Four and that Texas Tech would go out in the Round of 32.  So, I choose not to pretend that I had this one psyched out from the start…

As you prepare to watch the semi-finals on Saturday night, here are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Auburn, Texas Tech and Virginia have never won a national championship.  Therefore, if Texas Tech beats Michigan State in the second game on Saturday night, there must be a “first time champion” this year.
  2. Auburn is a 5-seed in this tournament.  According to a friend who has his own databases related to sports that he has been nurturing for at least the last 20 years, there has never been a team seeded #5 in any region that went on to win the entire tournament.  The NCAA tournament began in 1939; you may be certain that I have not and will not go back through the records to confirm my friend’s assertion.

Finally, since I advocated above for the recognition of a new word in the English language, let me present a similar sentiment expressed by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Shouldn’t an errant hike over the punter’s head be known as a snapfu?”

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



Basketball Here And There

Muffet McGraw is the highly successful long-term head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.  Her squad is in the Final Four for the ninth time; this year the Irish are there as the defending national champions.  Her coaching career started in 1982 at Lehigh; in 1987, she got the job at Notre Dame and has been there ever since.  Her overall career coaching record is 918-274 (.770).  No matter how you look at it, her record is laudable.

Muffet McGraw was interviewed by – and was subsequently the centerpiece of an article – an organization called Think Progress.  This is an organization that promotes and advocates for a variety of causes to include women’s advancement opportunities in the workplace.  In that interview, she said, “People [meaning Athletic Directors] are hiring too many men.”  Her coaching staff at Notre Dame has been all female since 2012 and when she was also asked if she would ever hire another man as an assistant, her answer was “No.”

There has been a smidgen of controversy associated with that report – and some praise and support for McGraw for taking such a definitive stand on an issue she believes in.  I believe that she has earned the privilege of assembling whatever coaching staff she wants for the rest of her career; if she decided that only left-handed women with freckles should be on her staff, then she should go for it and everyone else should let it ride until everyone saw the results of that decision.  So, let me be absolutely clear about this:

  • Muffet McGraw should always have as her assistant coaches whomever she wants, and everyone else should keep their comments to themselves.

I do question, however, the coverage of matter in the sporting media.  Obviously, this is a topic in the wheelhouse of Think Progress; the minute that interviewer had those quotes, you can be sure that was going to be a prominent piece on the website  However, please imagine for a moment that Joe Flabeetz is the head coach of a team at Whatsamatta U and he said on the record to an interviewer that:

  • He would never again hire a woman as an assistant coach.  [Or just for fun never again hire a Black man or a registered Republican…]

Ignoring the “exclusionary aspects” of Coach Flabeetz’ idiotic remark, how do you think the sporting media would handle the story?  How long would it be until someone hung the label “sexist” around his neck?

Remember, I think Muffet McGraw can hire whomever she pleases based on whatever criteria she sets for her assistant coaches.  My question here relates to the way the sporting media might cover the story were it presented in its mirror image…

For the record, this year’s Women’s Final Four will take place in Tampa this weekend.    Baylor plays Oregon in one semi-final game while Notre Dame takes on UConn in the other on Friday night (televised on ESPN2).  The winners there will meet on Sunday night (ESPN) to crown this year’s women’s national champion.

Let me turn now from a highly successful coach and basketball program to the Washington Wizards and their former GM, Ernie Grunfeld.  The Wizards had been guided by Grunfeld for the last 16 years until he was fired earlier this week.  At this moment, many readers here are shaking their heads wondering what had been going on for those 16 years – – because when you look back there has not been a ton of success.  So, let me give you thumbnail history of the last 16 years of the Washington Wizards:

  1. The cumulative record – as of this morning – has been 568-725 (.439)
  2. There have been 5 head coaches in those 16 years all selected by Grunfeld.
  3. He took over a hot mess in 2003.  Then owner, Abe Pollin had just fired Michael Jordan – – yes, THAT Michael Jordan – – as the Team President and the squad included the likes of Christian Laettner at the end of his career, Kwame Brown who never should have had a career and Tyronn Lue as the point guard.
  4. Grunfeld’s failing was his unerring ability to draft the wrong guy – or to trade away a pick that could have drafted a star player in order to get a mediocre player or two.  Consider:
  5. He traded away a pick that could have been Steph Curry to acquire Randy Foye and Mike Miller.
  6. He passed up the chance to draft Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in two different drafts.  Somehow, the Golden State Warriors’ braintrust was able to see some value in those two guys.
  7. He took Jan Vesely and passed on Kawhi Leonard.
  8. He has signed good-but-not-great players to super max contracts.  Presently, the Wizards are committed to pay John Wall about $170M through 2023.  Wall is injured and will miss most if not all the next season; even if healthy, there is plenty of reason to suggest that he would be overpaid significantly by such a deal.
  9. The best player on the Wizards’ roster is Bradley Beal and his “rookie contract” is about to expire and he too will be looking for a max deal.

The Wizards were a hot mess in 2003 when Ernie Grunfeld took over.  He was able to improve the roster to the point where the team was a regular playoff contender – – even though the Wizards have not won 50 games in a season since the 1978-79 season.  But now the team is a hot mess once again and the next GM will have a serious reclamation project on his hands. The roster is talent-deficient, and the cap room issues are significant.  Fans in Washington should expect several years they can label as “Tankapalooza”.

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times:

“Spotted on the license plate of a white Bronco in North Carolina: ‘AIN’T OJ.’”

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



A Story Within A Story?

Occasionally, there is a news story out there with enough dimensions to it that a consequence of that story goes under-reported – – or unreported.  Such may be the case with the folding of the AAF.  Reporters and analysts can focus on:

  1. Are the Orlando Apollos the AAF champions with the best record in the league’s only partial season?
  2. Where did this business model fail?
  3. Can professional “Spring Football” survive?
  4. Did the AAF project any players to the NFL or resurrect any NFL careers?

All those questions are interesting; the second and third questions there might even border on important.  Nonetheless, there is another aspect here that needs to be considered:

  • With the folding of the AAF, Johnny Manziel is yet once more a free agent.  Let the rumors and the paparazzi shots begin…

Speaking about football players with a history of notoriety, it turns out that Pacman Jones is going to do some jail time for that arrest at an Indiana casino a little over a month ago.  He was arrested for a skirmish with officers called to the casino to investigate cheating at one of the table games.  There are now reports of a plea deal.  When all the smoke cleared, Jones was charged with 9 felonies and 5 misdemeanors in the matter; according to reports, he plead guilty to 1 felony count of cheating at gambling and 1 misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.  According to reports Jones will spend 10 days in jail and will be on probation for 18 months.  Not surprisingly, he is also barred from ever going to that casino again.

  • Ten days in jail and 18 months of probation may seem light for a menu of 9 felony counts and 5 misdemeanors, but it is more severe than a four week stay at an anger management counseling session held at a spa somewhere…

UCLA is searching for a new head basketball coach.  The program that once won 10 national championships over a 12-year span in the 60s and 70s has not resembled that stature for years.  Yes, UCLA won another national champio9nship in 1995 and made three consecutive Final four appearances about 15 years ago, but the last several years have been dismal.  Two years ago, UCLA had to win a play-in game to be part of the tournament; last year they fired their coach in mid-season and finished with a 17-16 record with no tournament slot available to them.  As bad as that is, I believe that UCLA struck out twice in the past several days:

  1. First there was the report that they tried to hire John Calipari away from Kentucky to resurrect the program at UCLA.  Cynics may say that Calipari used the noise surrounding that story to get a new deal from Kentucky that will make him the coach there for his lifetime AND when he chooses to retire, he will be a “Special Ambassador for Kentucky Basketball” for as long as he wants.  In any event, UCLA was told to take their offer and – – you know the deal…
  2. Then, the guy that UCLA could have hired – and should have hired – took the job at Texas A&M.  Back when Steve Alford was fired, I said that UCLA should target Buzz Williams as their next coach.  Williams put Marquette basketball back on the map; he has had Va Tech in the NCAA Tournament for 3 straight years now and Va Tech is a football school not a basketball school.  Buzz Williams is a very under-rated coach and that is the kind of guy that UCLA must find because the fact is that UCLA is no longer “the gold standard” of college basketball.  In fact, it’s much closer to a slag heap than it is a gold nugget.

The Sacramento Kings made a run at the playoffs in the NBA this year; they won’t make the playoffs, but it appears that they will finish 9th in the NBA West.  That is a big deal because the last time the Kings saw post-season action was in 2006 when they were eliminated in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.  As of this morning, the Kings’ record is 38-40; if they win 1 of their remaining 4 games, they will have their best record since that 2006 playoff season.

The Kings’ franchise is a mess.  I think it gets less scorn that it has earned because it is in Sacramento; and even though Sacramento is the capital of the largest State in the US, Sacramento is a backwater in the sports landscape.  Here is some Kings’ history:

  • In the 13 seasons since that 2006 playoff appearance, the Kings have had 9 head coaches.
  • Of those 9 head coaches, the best record belongs to Reggie Theus – – 44-62, a .415 winning percentage.
  • Rick Adelman coached the Kings from 1998 – 2006; he had an admirable record of 395-229 (.633) with playoff appearances every year.  Adelman’s contract with the Kings expired and the team did not renew it.
  • Prior to Adelman’s 8 years of success, you have to go back to Cotton Fitzsimmons coaching tenure (1978-1984) to find another coach with a better than .500 record – – and it was only a little better.  Fitzsimmons was 248-244 over an almost 6-year stint on the bench.

The current coach is Dave Joerger.  If you live more than 100 miles from Sacramento and could recognize Joerger on the street, you are a true NBA junkie.  Joerger’s deal with the Kings is entering its fourth year; according to ESPN reporting at the time the contract was initiated, this upcoming fourth year is a “team option”.  Joerger’s record is nowhere near .500 over the past 3 seasons, but this year looks promising.  So, what might the Kings’ front office do now?  Maybe they will make an offer to John Calipari?  It would fit right in with the decisions made by these folks in the past decade or so.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this observation about another less-than-brilliantly-run NBA franchise in the Seattle Times:

“President Trump paid a recent visit to America’s last tank factory.

“Apparently, it was his first Knicks game in years.”

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



Back And Forth And Back Again…

News reports continue to appear saying that the AAF might cease to exist within days if there is no “agreement” reached between the NFLPA and the AAF.  The majority owner – the guy who bought up most of the league earlier this season – says that the AAF cannot exist unless the NFLPA allows young developmental players to be in the AAF.  Why the NFL teams seemingly have no say in that matter is not clear to me, but so far, the differences of opinion here are attributed to the NFLPA and the AAF.  Is this for real – – or is this some sort of negotiating strategery?  I have no idea.  However, if the AAF folds even before its inaugural season ends, I wonder if that will have some bearing on the launch of XFL 2.0 next year.

Meanwhile, another pro sports league just folded in the last week.  The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) will discontinue operations as of May 1 making the announcement to the teams and players via conference call over the weekend.  By all reports, everyone other than the Board of Directors for the League were shocked by the announcement.  The CWHL has 6 teams and it has been around for more than a decade.  Suddenly, it has one month left before it fades to black.

I will not pretend to have had any familiarity with the CWHL before last weekend.  But the press release announcing the liquidation of the league says that “… while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable.”

Those 6 teams in the league are far-flung indeed.  There are 4 teams clustered in eastern Canada and New England (Markham, Toronto, Montreal and Worcester); the other two teams are in Calgary and Shenzen, China.  Immediately, I perceive a lot of travel expenses for a league whose regular season extends to 28 games.

For what it is worth, the Calgary Inferno finished first in the league standings in this final season of the CWHL and Calgary also won the Clarkson Cup – the playoff championship.  The other item of marginal interest in this final season is that the Worcester Blades ended the season with a record of 0-28-0.  Ouch!

As the NBA season winds down, there is still a lot of hyperventilation around the Lakers’ season and the future of Luke Walton as their coach.  About 2 weeks ago, there were hints/rumors/unsourced reports that said Doc Rivers (of the Clippers) was being courted by the Lakers and that he “might be interested”.  I like how Doc Rivers handled that situation.  After about 36 hours where this story was percolating in far too many places, Rivers put it to rest.  He said unequivocally that he was not interested in the Lakers’ job and that he intended to stay in LA to coach the Clippers.

Ever since the Clippers moved to LA from San Diego more than 30 years ago, they have been the “Los Angeles junior varsity basketball team”.  This action by Doc Rivers – a well-respected NBA coach – would seem to announce that the “JV status” of the Clippers may be coming to an end.

In another coaching move, St. Joe’s University fired Phil Martelli as its head coach.  He had been an assistant at St. Joe’s for 10 years before taking over as the head coach in 1995.  Martelli’s Hawks had been in the NCAA Tournament 6 times and his teams made it to the Elite 8 once and to the Final Four another time.  The last two seasons have not been banner years for the Hawks, but Martelli’s overall record at this small school that is just down the road from powerhouse Villanova who dominates college basketball in that area was a very respectable 444-328 and he is the winningest coach in school history

Martelli’s replacement is Billy Lange who had been an assistant at Villanova – just down the road – and an assistant with the Sixers in the NBA.  In addition to the impressive record Phil Martelli posted at St. Joe’s there is another coach in school history who draws comparisons.

  • From 1955 to 1966, Dr. Jack Ramsey was the head coach at St. Joe’s.  His record over that span of time was 234-72 (winning percentage .765)

Staying with basketball for another moment, this year’s Final Four will not see participation from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNC.  To give you an idea of how dominant those programs have been in college basketball recently, consider this stat:

  • Since 1985 there have been only 5 Final Fours that did not have at least one of those four schools as a participant.
  • Starting in 1986, there have been 34 tournaments meaning that there have been 136 “slots” in the Final Fours over that time.  These four schools – Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNC – account for 39 of those “slots” (29% of the total “slots”).

Evidently, some of the smaller schools that earned a slot in this year’s NCAA Tournament did not – or could not – send their pep band to the venue for the game.  In a couple of cases, they hired band players from other schools and dressed them up to look as if they were from the small school that did not send their band to the game.  Unless you are one of the band members who did not get to go to the game, this is not such a big deal – – but the Internet reports made it a much bigger deal that it needed to be.  Brad Rock of the Deseret News put some perspective on all this:

“Fairleigh Dickinson was a 16 seed in last week’s West Regional in Salt Lake and played its role superbly.

“So did others.

“In the Knights’ 38-point loss to Gonzaga, their pep band performed with gusto. Except that FDU has no pep band. The mystery musicians were actually the University of Utah’s, wearing FDU T-shirts.

“Imagine that — one band posing as another!

“Said Milli Vanilli: ‘Cool! Can we get in on this?’ ”

Finally, let me close today by sharing another observation from Brad Rock:

“A study in the U.K. says people are the happiest at ages 16 and 70.

“That pretty much covers both ends of Vince Carter’s career.”

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



Instant Replay And Basketball Officiating

Yes, it is April Fool’s Day.

No, there will be no “Gotcha” moments in today’s rant.  You will have to find that sort of thing elsewhere if you have a craving for such…

The events in the final moments of the Texas Tech win over Gonzaga last weekend have been recounted in dozens of places.  If you did not see the game – or if you have not read an account of the late stages of that game yet – here is one report that is as good as any of the ones I saw.

There are two very distinct categories of controversial calls by the officials that are contained here.  The first category represents what surely appears to be missed calls by the officials:

  • There was a play that looked an awful lot like a kicked ball that was not called.
  • There was a ball saved from out of bounds where the player making the save stepped on the boundary line prior to making the save and that was not called.

In both cases, the replay rules would not permit officials to go back and “get it right” – which seems to fly in the face of the fundamental selling point for instant replay.  But hold that thought; I think there is a bigger point to make regarding instant replay and those two “missed calls” that I will try to make after I talk about the other controversial call.

The second category of controversy comes from a call that one sees about once every other year in all of college basketball.  [Aside:  And I cannot ever recall seeing this generate a whistle in an NBA game.]  Basically, what happened was that the defender on an inbounds pass reached across the plane of the boundary line and touched the ball before it crossed that plane.  In the rule book, that is a technical foul; in the real world, that happens every once in a while, but it is usually called as an out-of-bounds play and the team throwing in the ball is awarded another chance to do so.  [Aside:  This rule has been “on the books” for as long as I can remember from my basketball officiating days that spanned the 60s through the mid-90s.  It has not been called often but it is not a “new rule”.]

Given what happened Saturday night vis á vis what is usually called on these sorts of plays, you may choose to praise the game officials for “getting it right” or you may choose to say that they were showing off their rule-book knowledge and making a call that really only pertains to the rules’ exams that all officials must take and pass every year.  From my perspective, there is a little of both choices at play here; I have to say that were I confronted with the situation and I had a whistle in my hand, I too would have called the technical foul.  And at the same time, I acknowledge that officials far more competent than I ever was would not make that same call.  Your mileage may vary…

Here is what I think is an overarching point that seems not be getting sufficient attention:

  • Instant replay is not an unalloyed benefit for the college basketball.

Moreover, the problems associated with instant replay for basketball transcend the idea of “getting it right”.  Let me state the obvious just to get it out of the way:

  • Every fan of college basketball wants to see the officials get every call right; no one is in favor of incorrect decisions by officials during a game.

There was a time in my life when I was in charge of the officials for a local recreation league; and at that time, we used adult volunteers and high school/college students to officiate our games.  That meant that I had to run “classes”/”clinics” to teach some of them how to officiate because some of them had never done it before.  The following is the statement that I made as the opening remark in the first “class” for new officials every year:

  • If you think you are going to get every call right in every game that you do, you are going to be very disappointed.  There are two kinds of referees; those who have made mistakes and those who are about to make mistakes.  Your biggest challenges are to make as few mistakes as you possibly can and to avoid trying to “make-up” for your mistake once you realize you made one.  “Make-up calls” simply turn one mistake into two mistakes…

Instant replay takes the reality of officials’ mistakes and turns them into something much more than an error.  There are 3 officials on the court; how could it be that none of them saw that “kicked ball”?  There was an official in good position to see that foot on the boundary line, so why did he not blow the whistle and “get it right”?  [Aside:  There was another “foot-on-the-line call” that was “missed” with an official in perfect position to make that call in the final 5 seconds of the Duke/Va Tech game.  Since that “missed call” did not affect the outcome of that game, this error received little to no post-game attention.]  What happened in all these instances is that a highly competent official fell victim to “human error”.

  • If you believe that it is possible to eliminate “human error” from any human endeavor, you are probably someone who would have believed that no one would produce or consume alcohol during Prohibition because it was against the law.

When TV commentators choose to criticize officials for “ticky-tack calls” or for “the right call but not the correct call” on TV shows that can only survive with a progression of “hot takes”, they often resort to the old saw:

  • No one paid their admission – or tuned in – to see the officials put themselves in the spotlight.

That is anything but a constructive comment – unless the commentator can provide some sort of additional evidence that the official did whatever he did with that sort of motive in mind.  Moreover, that “insight” from “hot take analysts” ignores a very important feature of officiating that seems never to be articulated:

  • Maybe no one paid admission to see the officials, but if there were no officials there would be no game to pay admission to see.
  • Think about it; any player or any coach or any trainer or any pep band member can be removed from the arena and the game will go on.  If the officials leave the arena …
  • The officials are not perfect; they will never be perfect; they are not and should not be the focal point of the game; AND they are indispensable.

Instant replay shows the world the fallibility of the best of the basketball officials.  It is not a huge leap of logic for fans to conclude that less competent officials will make even more mistakes than the top-shelf ones do.  And so, when those fans attend a high school game to see their kids and/or their kids’ best friends play, they bring heightened suspicion to the gym regarding the correctness of the officials’ calls that evening.  Now, if you think I am being too defensive here, consider that the ranks of high school officials are the incubators for the officials that will replace the current “top-shelf officials” when Father Time eventually sends today’s officials to the sidelines.

Let me provide two data points:

  1. About 30 years ago, there was a sticky point for high school basketball officials here in Northern Virginia.  Schools and leagues wanted to put 3 officials on the court for all their games; it stretched the numbers of “certified referees” beyond the breaking point for a year and they had to postpone expansion from 2 officials per game to 3 officials per game for a year.  There are lots more officials doing games at the high school – and recreation league – levels than there are doing Power 5 conference games in college; but there is not a huge over-abundance.
  2. Today, the numbers of officials at the high school level are decreasing.  In Florida, the high school athletics oversight folks at the state level reported that the number of officials (in all high school sports) dropped from 8,352 in 2014-15 to 7,792 in 2017-18.  That is about a 7% drop in 3 years and there was an even more ominous note in their report.  Of the young officials who start out on this “career path”, 80% of them give it up in the first two years of experience AND the most often cited reason for giving it up is “adult behavior”.

The “adult behavior” here is the abuse and vitriol directed at the officials in those high school contests.  That sort of “stuff” predates instant replay to be sure; I heard more than plenty of it long before there were daydreams – let alone thoughts – about instant replay being used in the course of a game.  However, it seems as if the level of vitriol has spiked recently; and while I cannot prove it, I believe that some measure of that spike in vitriol is due to the prevalence of replay demonstrating the constant presence of human error and to the TV commentators using the officials as a foil for the “hot takes” that allow them to continue to earn their paychecks.

I started this by saying that instant replay is not an unalloyed success.  It is not; nor is it an unmitigated disaster.  It has provided plenty of value in those circumstances where the “replay rules” allow the officials to review and correct calls that were clearly incorrect.  It is – like every other human endeavor – less than perfect.  Lest anyone misinterpret, I am not suggesting that we ditch instant replay; that would throw the baby out with the bath water.  What I think needs to be done is to:

  • Examine the rules regarding when instant replay can be used to “get it right” for what categories of calls as often as possible.
  • Amend the tone and tenor of the commentary regarding missed calls when they happen.

It would be heaven-sent if officials walked into basketball venues where all the players coaches and fans began the game with a stipulation that the officials are both competent and people of good will.  That is not gonna happen in my lifetime … so maybe the best I can hope for is that players, coaches and fans will stipulate the good will of the officials prior to tip-off?

So, maybe that actually is today’s April Fool’s “Gotcha” moment.

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



Bouncing Around …

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]

And …

“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………



Making College Basketball Even Better

As I get set to watch the Sweet 16 whittle itself down to the Final Four this weekend, let me talk about college basketball in general today.  I have always liked college basketball; I began watching it on TV in the mid-50s.  There were not a lot of games on the air back then, but I enjoyed them when I could get them.  My first “live game” was in February 1959; I learned quickly that college basketball was even better in person than it was on TV.  I have said before and will repeat here for the record that:

  • The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the best sporting event of the year.  Its excellence makes the existence of the normally useless NCAA worth tolerating.

Having said that, I still believe that college basketball can be improved, and I would like to offer a few suggestions as to how to do that:

  • First of all, no college basketball game should ever be played in a venue where it is possible to play a football game or a baseball game.  I reject any and all attempts to justify such settings and I would put a hex on Houston and UCLA for opening up that can of worms with the “Game of the Century” in the Astrodome back in 1968.  Feh!
  • I have said before that I want to limit dunking in college basketball.  I do not want to ban it completely as the rule makers tried to do back when Lew Alcindor – not yet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – came into college basketball.  However, it does not take a ton of skill for a player who is 6’9” to jump up and throw the ball down through the hoop from 6 inches away.  So, I want to make a dunk worth only 1 point.
  • I also want to modify the 3-point shot in college basketball.  Too many teams employ an offense where one player – and sometimes two – go and stand in the corner doing nothing until and unless the player with the ball whips a pass out to them from the lane and we see a “catch-and-shoot” 3-point attempt.  That is boring offense.
  • The problem here is that “solutions” to that irritant may have negative impacts on the game.  The problem with the 3-point shot is not just the guys standing the corner waiting for something to happen; the problem is that some teams do not even try to play offense; all they do is come down and set up and throw up a 3-point shot.  Extending the 3-point line and/or painting the corners as 2-point shots would only encourage those teams to take longer jump shots – – and that won’t be a ton of fun to watch.
  • So, maybe we need to insert a bit more coaching and skill development into the game and perhaps the way to do that is to put a cap on the number of 3-point shots a team may take in a game.  Suppose a team could only try 20 3-point shots in a game; after that allocation is used, any field goal would be worth only two points – other than a dunk which would count as 1 point from the modification above.  Now, teams would have to shepherd those attempts in case they need to come from a double-digit deficit late in a game.  Maybe that would encourage coaches to teach players how to do something other than shoot long jump shots or play “two-man-inside-out-offense”.

Those ideas seek to change the over-arching way that the game is played.  The other problem with college basketball games in 2019 is that the final three minutes usually take a half-hour to complete.  There are three major factors that contribute to that stasis and the solutions are not so difficult:

  • Teams have too many time-outs.  If a game has even one “TV Timeout”, then the teams should not have more than 2 timeouts apiece.  That will move the game along faster and it will put a premium on coaching and floor management.
  • Teams commit too many intentional fouls late in the game to stop the clock.  Indeed, teams that are behind are playing against the opponent and against the clock at the same time, but the strategy of “foul-after-foul” can drag a minute on the basketball clock into a geological time dimension.  The solution here is to put a limit on the number of fouls a team can commit before the next foul gives the opponent “two-shot-and-the-ball”.
  • Officials spend far too much time at the monitors in the final two minutes of college basketball games.  I have no problem with them reviewing if a shot is a 2-point or 3-point shot; I have no problem with them reviewing if a foul is flagrant or not; I have no problem with them reviewing an out of bounds call or if a shot was taken before the expiration of the shot clock.  I do have a problem with them spending 2 full minutes reviewing to see if they should add or subtract 0.2 seconds to the game clock.  If they cannot figure a way to speed up all of those reviews – – and there are a ton of them since teams are intentionally fouling for the final two minutes of just about every game – – then they need to stop doing it at all.

There is a perversion to the final minute reviews of timing.  If you think about it, you will realize how silly all of this is.  Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope estimating here:

  • When officials review the game clock in the final two minutes, it is almost always “incorrect” and some adjustment needs to be made.  Let us assume that the average correction is 0.3 seconds.
  • For the first 38 minutes of the game, no such reviews are carried out.  But if every clock review in the final two minutes shows the need for a correction, it is only logical to assume that every out of bounds play and every called foul in the first 38 minutes also should have resulted in a clock correction.
  • If there are 30 total fouls called in the first 38 minutes and 15 out of bounds calls in that period and a half dozen time out calls, that means there are about 50 instances where 0.3 seconds (on average) need to be added to the clock.  That means at the very least, the game clock is 15 seconds “off” before the first time that an official is allowed to check to see if it is “correct” down to the tenth of a second.  [By the way, every out of bounds call results in two potential clock errors – one when the ball goes out of bounds and the clock does not stop perfectly and one when the ball is thrown in bounds and the clock does not start perfectly.]

Lest anyone think that I am losing my affection for college basketball, that is not the case.  I still enjoy it immensely and only seek to make it better.  Many folks argue that NBA basketball is the superior basketball product for the simple and indisputable fact that the skill level of the players in the NBA is far superior to that in the collegiate game.  Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot has made that argument in the past; my counter-argument has always been that too often there are NBA players on the court who are “playing nonchalantly” (if I am being polite) or who are “dogging it” (if I am saying what I really believe).  We have agreed to disagree on this point.

However, Professor Molinaro had a comment in a recent column that makes me think he might be open to considering my point of view slightly more favorably:

“Hoop du jour: I’m not sure when this phrase began appearing in the NBA lexicon, but the all-too-prevalent trend of teams sitting down their healthy stars is called ‘load management.’ For fans who buy tickets expecting to see the absent stars, it’s a load of something.”

You don’t see any “load management” in college basketball and when you tune into the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games this weekend, you will not see any players “dogging it” on the court either.

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



MLB Opening Day Is Tomorrow…

Notwithstanding the “Early Opening” series between the A’s and the Mariners in Tokyo, the “real” MLB Opening Day is tomorrow.  So, I guess that means it is time for a prognostication as to what will happen once the 30 teams have played out the 2,430 regular season games.  As I wrote here before, there are a bunch of teams that really have no shot at the playoffs, but they do have the potential to impact who does and does not make the playoffs.  So, let me begin in the American League.

AL East:

  • This is a two-horse race.  Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox have holes in their starting lineups; both teams will score plenty of runs.  The Sox have better starting pitching; the Yankees have the better bullpen.  Both teams will make the playoffs.  The oddsmakers in Las Vegas like the Yankees to win the division; the win totals here are Yankees at 97 and Red Sox at 94.  Your mileage may vary…
  • There is one other certainty in the AL East.  The Orioles will finish last; the O’s have just begun the tear-down process to reshape the team; that is going to take some time and this year could be butt-ugly.
  • The Rays and the Blue Jays will “fight it out” to see which of them can finish third here.  I will try to contain my exuberance…

AL Central:

  • The Indians should win this division on cruise control from the time of the All-Star Game in July.
  • The team that might still be chasing the Indians come August would be the Twins – although it is just as likely that the Twins will be fighting to get north of a .500 average for the season.
  • The other seeming “mortal lock” here is that the Tigers will finish last in the division.  They should not be as bad as the Orioles in the AL East, but they will not keep up here.
  • If you make me care enough, I would take the White Sox to finish third in this division and the Royals to finish fourth.
  • Only the Indians sniff the playoffs…

AL West:

  • The Astros won this division last year by 6 games; they should win it again this year by an even bigger margin.  I think the A’s overachieved in 2018 by winning 97 games; I think this year is a regression to the mean; it would not shock me if the A’s finished third in this division.
  • The Mariners won 89 games last year; that did not put them anywhere near the top of the division, but it is not commonplace to see a team win 89 games in a season and then start a rebuilding process – which is what seems to be underway in Seattle.  I think they will flirt with a .500 average this year and probably fall a bit short of that mark.
  • I do not think the Rangers pose any threat to any team in this division.
  • Ergo, by default, the most interesting team in this division is the Angels.  They won 80 games last year; might they be the AL team that overachieves this year and sneaks into the second wild card slot in the AL?  Using last year as a yardstick, the Angels have a 17-game gap to close on the A’s to make it to the playoffs.  I’ll go out on a limb and say the Angels will be in the post-season this year…

NL East:

  • This is the most interesting division in MLB.  We all know that the Marlins will finish dead last here; they lost 98 games last year and given that they will play 76 games against the other teams in this division, they could replicate that record again in 2019.
  • The other four teams here all aspire to win the division in 2019.  The Braves won it last year with a young team that looked as if it might be a dominant team for a while.  The Braves’ concern has to be that the rest of the division made major moves.
  • The Mets acquired Robinson Cano and created some clubhouse goodwill reaching a contract extension with Jacob deGrom.  Might that vault the Mets over the Nats and Phillies up to the point where the Mets challenge – or overtake – the Braves?
  • The Phillies acquired Bryce Harper, David Robinson and Andrew McCutcheon in free agency; they also traded for Jean Segura and JT Realmuto.  That is the biggest lineup overhaul in MLB.  The Phillies won 80 games in 2018; they obviously intend to do better than that in 2019.
  • The Nationals lost Bryce Harper to free agency but acquired another starting pitcher – Patrick Corbin – in that process.  The Nats must hope that Juan Soto does not suffer a “sophomore slump” while also looking to get significant contributions from rookie Victor Robles.  The Nats won 82 games last year as the biggest underachievers in MLB.
  • My guess here is that the Nats win the division and the Phillies finish second and make the playoffs as a wildcard team.  But this is indeed a four-horse race.

NL Central:

  • This is the next most interesting division in MLB; there are three teams that finished last year within 8 games of one another and the Cardinals – the team at the bottom of that trio – acquired Paul Goldschmidt in the offseason.  I think the Cards, Cubs and Brewers will duke it out all season long.  I like the Cubs to win the division with the Cards a very close second.  That will leave the Brewers on the outside looking in regarding the playoffs.
  • Neither the Reds nor the Pirates are going to finish north of .500 this season.  If I had to guess which team to finish at the bottom here, I would say the Pirates are the team supporting the rest of the division.

NL West:

  • Given the lineup depth of the Dodgers, they should win this division comfortably.  The return of Corey Seager from injury makes last year’s division winner even stronger.  Trading away Yasiel Puig to acquire two prospects is something a rebuilding team might do; my guess is that Puig had worn out his welcome in the clubhouse and the Dodgers chose to use their depth to bid him goodbye.
  • The Rockies are the “best of the rest in the NL West.  Last year, it looked as if the D-Backs were going to be a serious threat to the Dodgers until the middle of August when the D-Backs came apart at the seams.  Any hope for putting the magical part of last year back on the field in 2019 evaporated when the D-Backs traded Paul Goldschmidt away.  [Aside:  I would not be shocked if Goldschmidt won the NL MVP Award]
  • The Padres’ acquisition of Manny Machado via free agency gives them hope to make a significant improvement in 2019.  Since the Padres lost 96 games last year, improvement is not a high hurdle to cross; they will be better this year but no threat to the Dodgers.
  • The Giants have shrunk; for 2019 you can consider them the Midgets.  Last year they won 73 games and they should be happy to repeat that performance in the upcoming year.

Finally, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times provided this MLB-themed “Q and A”  recently:

“Q: How do MLB apologists try to spin it when a player vanishes for half a season because of a marijuana suspension?

“A: Tommy Chong surgery. “

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



Operation Varsity Blues

The college admissions/bribery scandal has attracted a lot of attention and more surprise and righteous indignation than it deserves.  I am not suggesting that bribing the sailing team at Stanford to give your kid an edge in gaining admission to Stanford is a good and proper thing for anyone to do.  I am suggesting that the shock and horror expressed by many folks is out of proportion.  I prefer to live in the reality of the moment and here is reality:

  • Rich people can – and do – use their wealth at times to influence the decisions of other folks in ways that are beneficial to the rich people or the spawn of those rich people.

If you want to decry that element of the human condition, please have at it.  When you have finished your one great moment of resentment, please come back and join me in the reality dimension.  If I am surprised at anything that has come to light so far in this scandal is that somehow, people donated more than $700K to the Stanford sailing team and no one noticed that.  Some of the schools named in the scandal have scrambled to make it look as if they are “taking action here”.  Let’s hear from the folks in charge at Yale:

“The ongoing federal investigation has publicized wrongdoing by one Yale coach who participated in this scheme; however, I have decided that we must conduct our own searching review in order to learn whether others have been involved in activities that have corrupted the athletic recruitment and admissions process.”  [Yale President, Peter Salovey]

There is a footnote here.  That “searching review” to look into who and what may have “corrupted the athletic recruitment and admissions process” will be conducted by – – you guessed it – – the Yale Athletic Director.  I believe the fashionable term of art for this sort of situation is “bad optics”.

At UCLA, they are doing another internal investigation to examine “every aspect of the student-athlete admissions process.”  The UCLA Athletic Director said that the existing processes for such things at UCLA “among the most demanding and thorough in collegiate athletics but, as the recent news illustrates, it is not foolproof.”

  • Memo to UCLA Athletic Director:  Evidently what you thought was “most demanding and thorough” was neither.  Good luck with whatever changes you make; they too will not be foolproof.

And at Stanford, they have already implemented a “fix” for this problem.  They did what any ossified organization would do under the circumstances; they added another level of review to the existing process.  Here is a description of that new level of review:

  • An official – not specified – in the Athletic Department will in the future “review and confirm” the athletic credentials for recruits in all men’s and women’s varsity sports.

That added layer of review must mean that such “review” and “confirmation” was not done in the past which might make one wonder what all those functionaries do for a living.  But that’s just me…

Look, might we deal with a tad of authenticity here for a moment?  First, rich people have avenues of influence not available to us mere mortals – – and they use those avenues of influence.  I am not shocked by news that confirms that statement.  Let me give an example here:

  • Phil Knight – the kingpin of Nike – is a major supporter of athletics at the university of Oregon.  Reports say he contributed $100M to the construction of the new arena there and that he and his wife donated $500M to the school to build a science campus.  I don’t know if those numbers are correct, but let’s assume they are close to correct.  Now ask yourself this question:
  • If Phil Knight’s granddaughter applies to the University of Oregon, will her application be treated exactly the same as every other application?
  • The answer is of course it will not and there is no procedural step that can be inserted into the admissions process that will assure that it would.  The bottom line here is that if Knight’s granddaughter (this is purely hypothetical; I don’t know if he has a granddaughter) has a high school diploma and has an IQ greater than a stove bolt and is not currently serving time in a penitentiary somewhere, she will be admitted to the University of Oregon.
  • Such is life at the intersection of “Reality” and “Like it is” …

There is another aspect to this scandal that has not attracted any attention so far and I find it very interesting.  Once again, Federal law enforcement resources have been used to bring the hammer down on people who violate NCAA regulations – and in this case violate collegiate admissions regulations and procedures.  Once again, our tax dollars have been used to uncover wrongdoing(s) that one might think the NCAA bloodhounds might have picked up on.

  • Would it be too much to ask of Dr. Emmert that he thank the taxpaying citizens of the US for doing what his minions should have been doing all along?
  • The answer is that it is indeed way too much to ask down here at the intersection of “Reality” and “Like it is” …

Finally, Brad Dickson summed up all of this mess in a recent Tweet:

“The scandal continues to grow. It’s now alleged that Lori Loughlin & her husband bribed an official $250,000 to get their not-so-bright dog into obedience school.”

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