Recent Sports Developments from a Curmudgeon’s Point of View

Al puts on her curmudgeon's cap for this round of commentary

For those of us who love college football and basketball above all other sports, this is a tough time of year. Yes, the NBA playoffs are on but since they go from now until Wimbledon starts (or it so it seems), I can’t get excited about them yet. I’ll be more interested in them around Memorial Day. And, yes, baseball season has started, but I’m a Braves fan who has been denied round-the-clock Braves coverage since I moved away from Atlanta, so I’m not seeing a lot of their games. I do know about that Colorado no-hitter against the Braves (unfortunately), but that’s about it and it’s enough to make me flashback to being a Braves fan in the 1970s.

I don’t know why, but I seem to be suffering from the post-CBB doldrums more than usual. Maybe it’s because, for me, a season in which UNC sucked and Duke won the National Championship is best spent in denial. So, in my mind, there hasn’t been any college basketball since April 2009. However, thanks to a significant other’s love of SportsCenter in both Spanish and English and the continuous ESPN broadcasts at my gym, I’ve been forced to take notice of some recent developments. And that has prompted me to share my curmudgeonly views on them.

68-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament expansion

Whew, we really dodged a bullet on that one? Right? Um, wrong. If I had the power to give awards, the NCAA would get one for “Sneakiest Way to Handle Tournament Expansion.” This was brilliant from a spin and public opinion perspective. Have a couple of NCAA officials and former officials hint that “expansion is possible” and let ESPN and other sports outlets run with a 96-team tournament scenario, getting college basketball fans all riled up and arguing the pros and cons. Then, after letting us rant and wail for awhile, they say, “We’re only adding three more games.” This completely deflated most complainers while fans like me were relieved and happy that we don’t have to worry about a bracket with 96 teams–yet.

Evil geniuses, aka the NCAA

I am completely certain that this was their plan all along. They wanted to go to 68 teams without a fuss, so they cooked up this whole 96-team rumor and ran with it. After all, we’re talking about the organization that gift wrapped the NCAA Men’s Tournament Trophy and handed it to Duke just to make sure that everyone watched the Final Game.

CBS and Turner Broadcasting sharing the NCAA Tournament game broadcasts

Yea! All NCAA tournament games will now be broadcast in their entirety and we no longer have to put up with CBS cutting away to the beginning of some other game in the middle of our least favorite team being destroyed by a mid-major! Instead, we can just turn the channel to TBS or TNT and sit through the excruciatingly bad commentary of the second-rate announcers that Turner always seems to hire to do their sports broadcasts. Honestly, Mexican League broadcasts on Mun2 have better announcers–and they’re simply veejays sitting behind a picture of a goal. I can only hope that Turner uses some cash to get some decent talent to call those games or we’ll be wishing for the good’ ol’ days when Billy Packer would tell viewers that a game was over and they should just stop watching.

College conference expansion/looting

My esteemed colleague, the Sensei, has done a great job discussing the options for this. I personally get sick at the thought of the destruction of the conferences I’ve come to love and hate over the years. Especially when I think about how expansion has not had the desired results for most conferences except maybe the SEC. Instead of  improving the performance of the ACC in college football, the addition of former perennial football powerhouse Miami, along with Boston College and Virginia Tech, has dragged Miami and the others down into mind-numbing mediocrity. Year after year, our conference champion is usually Virginia Tech which then goes on to embarrass us in most of the BCS bowls they go to – after losing to some really bad ACC team in the middle of the season. Expansion also ruined our round-robin basketball schedule and provided more room for unnecessary losses and wins. There’d be no Miami to upset everyone in the ACC tournament or Boston College to pull a game or two out of their buttocks to upset an old-time ACC team on a win streak. I also don’t see where the Big East benefits from having 16 teams (maybe JustBlueMyself can enlighten me on that one).

Will this guy save the ACC?

I know that this may come as a huge shock to the Big 10 Koolaid drinkers who still live in the 1950s and 1960s, but it is not the dream for ACC teams to join the Big 10. It will break my heart if UNC and Virginia are pulled into the Super Humongous Money Grubbing 10 Conference. To prevent the utter destruction of the college conferences, then, I am begging Notre Dame to join the Big 10. Please. You’ll give them the 12 teams they need for a conference championship game and they’ll leave the rest of the conferences alone. Who cares about the $62 trillion contract you have with NBC to show your games until 2075? Network television is practically dead anyway.

Tim Tebow to Denver: It’s done. Get over it. Just because ESPN has turned into Salivation Nation over Tim Tebow, it doesn’t mean that it was a bad move for Denver. Remember when everyone thought that the Giants were nuts to trade Philip Rivers for Eli Manning. A Super Bowl ring later and who’s laughing? Not Rivers.

All the Oklahoma picks in the first round

Talk about living in the past. It’s 2010, not 1990, people. In case you hadn’t noticed, Oklahoma did not win the Big 12 this season. They went 8-5, losing to Brigham Young, Texas, Miami, Nebraska and Texas Tech. The only decent team in the bunch (after all the dust settled in the Big 12) was Texas Tech. And for all of those who say, “Yeah, well, NFL ball isn’t college ball,” see Tim Tebow section above. It goes both ways.

What’s up with Barcelona?

Barcelona is my bandwagon European soccer team. I became enamored of them when I used to travel to Peru on business and they were on television down there a lot. I liked their focus on using teamwork to win games rather than star power and I liked the fancy footwork that they employed to get around pesky, pushy defenders. Last year, the media was slobbering all over Manchester United and what happened? Barcelona beat them.

Now, after their big win over Real Madrid, they’ve turned into the Bad Boys of world soccer. Messi’s sending people to the dentist, the coach of Barcelona has taken on an arrogance that is eerily reminiscent of the NCAA’s “leader of men who just happens to coach basketball,” there’s a 0-0 tie against Espanyol and humiliation at the hands of Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions league semi-finals. It’s quite possible that they won’t make the UEFA Champions League finals. I’m sad to see this happen to what I thought was a great European soccer team. On the other hand, the Inter Milan story’s a pretty good one. Hmm. It might be time to rustle up a horse and hitch it to a new bandwagon.

8 thoughts on “Recent Sports Developments from a Curmudgeon’s Point of View

  1. Pingback: Recent Sports Developments from a Curmudgeon's Point of View | The …

  2. Great stuff, Al.

    I agree that the 68 team “compromise” was their plan all along. When faced with the choice of bastardizing the NCAA Tournament with 96 teams or pissing on a few mid-majors by making them play an extra game, I think most of us would choose the latter. It was great PR on their part no matter how dirty we all feel now.

    The Tebow stuff is being overblown. I’d draft him in the first round as an H-Back or Wildcat QB, so why not take a chance that he might be able to play QB as well? I can’t blame the Broncos for gambling a bit when they already have a solid starter in Orton.

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  4. Notre Dame makes $9 million a year from NBC through 2015.

    Northwestern and Indiana made ~ $22 million a year from ESPN, CBS, and BTN last year and stand to increase that by 10+% per year indefinitely with the crazy increases in ratings and ad revenue BTN is generating.

    Notre Dame might still be able to get an invite to the conference if they get their act together, but as of now they are about th on the list of desired candidates behind the Texas pair, Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers, and Maryland.

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  8. Mr. Sensei, Notre Dame is on NBC every freakin’ Saturday–nationwide. The BTN is not nationwide. That’s like me bragging about how much money the ACC makes on Fox SportsSouth basketball broadcasts. For example, the BTN is not available in the Research Triangle cable market, but NBC is. It’s one of the reasons I hate Notre Dame–I can’t get away from them.

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