Who is behind NCAA tournament expansion? Obama and Pelosi?

1 04 2010

The NCAA continues to prove it is guided by the quest for the almighty dollar and not the desire to put the best product on the field. With the announcement today that IF the NCAA expands the NCAA basketball tournament, it will explode to 96 teams – not a more sensible expansion to 68.

Who is in charge of this mess? Barrack Obama and Nancy Pelosi?

Expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams will only dilute the product already out there. Yes we all love to see the David’s slay the Goliath’s, but no one ever really gives Lehigh a chance to beat Kansas. And now you are adding 32 teams worse than the 15 and 16 seeds already in the tournament. Say hello to the sub-.500 teams making the tournament field.

It’s like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of basketball tournaments; you got your NCAA tournament in my NIT, you got your NIT tournament in my NCAA tournament. All for the sake of trying to squeeze more money out of the TV networks stupid enough to go along with this charade, the sponsors buying the commercial space on those networks, and the helpless fans who will be milked dry for the sake of following the teams they love.

And how will you make the bracket work at work? The NCAA claims to have the system in place, but it all won’t fit on one piece of paper you can run through the copier and hand out at work for $5 a pop. The top 32 teams will get a bye, and while the lower 64 teams fight for the lower half of the “original” 64-team bracket. On top of that mess, they plan to squeeze the whole thing into the same window as the regular NCAA tournament.

So instead of the NCAA expanding the BCS into a football tournament, the NCAA is choosing to dilute an already weak product. The fans want a football playoff and get “the heisman” from the NCAA. But when fans oppose the basketball tournament expansion (polls right now on national sports sites show a 3-to-1 ratio against expansion), the NCAA says “open up, this will only hurt a little bit” as they ram the tournament expansion down our throats.

When did the NCAA headquarters relocate to Washington, D.C.?

Mr Pressbox Out!!



CBS Final Four coverage needs multi-channel play-by-play

28 03 2010

Do I really have to listen to Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg during the Final Four broadcasts? Hello, Mute button.

Why can’t they broadcast the Final Four like NASCAR or even The Masters, with multiple channels simultaneously but with different broadcast teams? Or even broadcast the same channel with multiple audio channels to choose from?

So instead of being forced to listen to Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg, we could choose to listen to Dick Enberg, Gus Johson, Ian Eagle, or possibly Verne Lundquist. Better yet, we could flip back and forth just for the pure entertainment of it all.

Maybe I don’t want to listen to a Duke promoter, or the guy who is calling the game from the “this is what Butler needs to do to win the game” angle. Maybe I want to choose the bias I want to listen to, not the one CBS is forcing down my throat.

And while I’m at it, maybe someone from Fox Sports could look into the same thing for the football playoffs. I can’t tell you how many times I would beg to hear Kenny Albert’s (or anyone else’s) voice over Joe Buck and Troy Aikman during the NFC playoffs on Fox. Maybe they can get Darryl Waltrip and Mike Joy to do an alternate NFL broadcast opposite of Joe and Troy. At least they would make Cowboy’s games interesting to listen to.

Mr Pressbox Out!!


Kansas City might be too good to have NBA, NHL franchise

23 03 2010

Kansas City is the ultimate leverage piece for any sports franchise negotiation. When Nashville and Pittsburgh were entangled in fierce battles with their city and state governments attempting to renew leases or build new arenas, Kansas City was the pawn used to achieve their goals.

Ownership groups never really intended to relocate their franchises to Kansas City, they just teased the sports fans and civic governments threatening to move to Kansas City if their demands were not met. The results; both Pittsburgh and Nashville hockey franchises brokered new deals and new venues out of the negotiations.

And Kansas City was left feeling insecure and dumbfounded. Again.

So why is Kansas City not a realistic option for these teams, but worthy of serving as a bargaining chip? The demand for an NBA or NHL franchise is significant enough to serve as a serious threat. But not enough to seal the deal. Why?

Kansas City is virtually in the center of the circle of the closest hockey teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. Sports fans have clamored for the return of NHL hockey to Kansas City since the KC Scouts (now known as the New Jersey Devils) left in the late 1970s. Since then, several lesser professional leagues have attempted to land teams in Kansas City, with limited success. Currently, the Missouri Mavericks (of the Central Hockey League) call Kansas City home.

The numerous failed attempts at hockey franchises does not help the city’s bids for attracting a major hockey franchise, but the desire and capabilities are there. And the Sprint Center is in serious need of a permanent resident. The multi-million dollar facility has been good leverage for professional teams, but has yet to take any permanent takers.

The Sprint Center would also serve as the perfect home for an NBA franchise, there is one major problem, Kansas is the home to one of the meccas of basketball, the University of Kansas. Kansas City doesn’t need professional basketball. Fans follow the Jayhawks, once coached by the father of basketball James Naismith, the Kansas State Wildcats (currently in the Sweet 16) and the Missouri Tigers. All three schools were in the NCAA tournament and won their opening round games.

The NBA has not been in Kansas City since the Cincinnati Royals made a three-year layover on their way West, eventually landing in Sacramento in 1975. The Kings changed their name from the Royals to the Kings because Kansas City already had a team called the Royals. Preseason exhibition games do not count.

People love their basketball in Kansas City, but there is only so much hoops love to go around. Regardless of the team – because no serious basketball franchises would consider relocating to Kansas City – it would never rank higher than second on the basketball depth chart (behind the Jayhawks). So there really is no incentive to move to Kansas City. The risk would be too great.

And since neither league is seriously considering expansion anytime soon because both leagues are debatably over-extended with too many teams, the likelihood of an NBA or NHL franchise moving to Kansas City are pretty much Zero.

And with the recent (lack of) success of both the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, complete with nearly empty stadiums, there is not a lot the city can hang its hat on to promote itself as a prime candidate for another major sports franchise.

Mr Pressbox Out!!


Northern Iowa detonates ticking Kansas timebomb

21 03 2010

The Northern Iowa Panthers upset the Kansas Jayhawks. No doubt about it. They busted brackets like a professional demolition crew. They shocked America. But anyone who paid any attention to Kansas Jayhawks this season saw this coming a mile away.

Kansas escaped the jaws of defeat several times this season. Even Corey Thibodeaux of the University Daily Kansan called it on Friday (March 19). “For whatever reason, Kansas constantly causes a ruckus among its fans and coaches by its revolting play to start games. Putting everyone through a 12-4 deficit against 16-seed Lehigh Thursday was evidence enough.”

The only difference is that every other time they got off to a lackadaisical start, Coach Bill Self found a way to rally the boys and remind them exactly who they were.

The Jayhawks were the epitome of “playing down to the their opponent” because they were obviously so much more talented than their opponents, but they egos got in the way. They were the best team in the country and they knew it. That was the problem. They believed they could coast through games and turn it on with 10 minutes to go in the second half and still put out the win against weaker opponents.

But not Saturday.

As Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports put it, they decided they wanted to win the game about a minute too late. The buzzer had already sounded when they decided that they wanted to take the game, and their opponent, seriously.

This is the NCAA Tournament people!! Upsets and bracket busters are why people watch – why the tournament is one of the most watched sporting events in the world every year. It’s the upsets like Villanova and Kansas the make the world go ’round.

And this is exactly why we do NOT need to increase the field to 96 teams, despite what the NCAA says. As shocking as it is, UNI upsetting Kansas makes sense. UNI is a good team that beat an overconfident Kansas team that didn’t respect its opponent. There is no need to dilute the pool.

And one last shot … anyone who calls them a senior college basketball writer should not be so apologetic when a top seed gets what they deserve for being cocky and apathetic in the NCAA tourney. Did Jeff Goodman even watch a Kansas basketball game before the tournament? And what journalism school did this “senior writer” attend when his whole argument is; “Sure Kansas did this … But ….” and “Sure Kansas did that …. But …” Really?? That’s all you got? And they pay you for that?

I threw my tournament bracket in the trash, and that’s OK. I would rather watch compelling basketball than win my pool any day. Maybe that’s because I never play in paid tournament pools. Here’s to more exciting games!

Mr Pressbox Out!!


86 the 96 idea – NCAA tournament expansion idea gets Major #Fail grade

3 02 2010

On the biggest college football day between the National Championship and Spring practices (the NFL draft doesn’t count), let’s talk some college basketball.

Some knuckleheads got the great idea to expand the college basketball tournament – one of the greatest sports inventions since the forward pass – from its 64-team format to a 96-team mega-format.

What idiot on what planet thought that was a good idea? I know who; some moron who thought adding 32 more teams would generate millions of dollars in added revenue for college basketball.

WRONG! And here’s why.

The 64 teams (ok, Mr Technical, 65) already scrape the barrel of the mid-majors with borderline competition for the major conference champions. Yes it is exciting to see a #2 seed upset by a #15 seed. But that #15 seed is usually a good team from a small college and small conference. They deserve their shot in the spotlight, but no one takes them seriously for a chance to win the whole tournament. That’s why they are seeded against the top seeds – to lose early and go home.

The NIT is filled with all the bubble teams that had a shot at making it, and that tournament is horrible. People don’t watch it on TV or at the venues. What once used to be the pinnacle of college basketball, was replaced by the current tournament (and its subsequent revisions) and is now relegated to a “feel good” for some of the mediocre teams who managed to break .500.

If you add 32 more teams to the NCAA tournament, it’s like adding the NIT and the NCAA Tournament together, and then can you imagine the horrible talent featured in the NIT? And don’t for one second think that the NIT is going anywhere. It’s tradition will keep it alive.

And the only way for a field of 96 to work, and STILL keeping the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four rounds in tact is to incorporate an extensive series of byes or simply separating the top 32 from the bottom 64 until the 64 worked its way down to 32, which would then be merged and re-seeded with the top 32 and formatted like the current tournament. This would extend the series at least by one more unwatchable week of horrible college basketball. And here’s a news flash; no one would watch the tournament until the group was reduced down to the final 32 or even Sweet 16.

So technically, expanding the field would actually hurt the NCAA tournament’s pocketbook because you have to pay for the travel and venues of those extra games somehow, and minimal attendance numbers will not put the ledgers in the black.

So why mess with it? There is no good reason at all to mess with the current SUCCESSFUL formula.

I am totally OK with adding an extra “Bubble Buster Night” adding four more teams to the tournament, making four “play-in” games (one for each bracket) vice the current single “play-in” game. At least people would watch that. People would even attend the game, especially if you held all four games in one venue.

My suggestion is, if the NCAA wants to tinker with a postseason playoff tournament, spend the time and resources wisely and figure out a playoff system for the college football BCS series. Now that is what fans want. Listen!

Mr Pressbox Out!!


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Iowa Hawkeyes All-Decade team (2000-2009)

8 01 2010

The 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes capped one of the best seasons in the school’s history with a victory over Georgia Tech, 24-10, Jan. 5, 2010. The victory ensured Iowa its fourth season-ending top 10 ranking of the decade (2002, 2003, 2004) and possibly its first top 5 finish since 1960 (finished #2). And four top 10 finishes easily qualifies as the best decade the team has had since it finished with four top 10 finishes in the 1950s (’53, ’56, ’57 and ’58).

In celebration of Iowa’s success beginning the new millenium, here is the Iowa Hawkeye All-Decade team (2000-2009) – as determined by me.

POS: STARTERS in all-caps (and reserves)
QB: BRAD BANKS (Drew Tate, Ricky Stanzi)
RB: SHONN GREENE (Albert Young, Ladell Betts, Fred Russell)
TE: DALLAS CLARK (Scott Chandler)
Stross, Kahlil Hill)

Clayborn, Kenny Iwebema, Mitch King, Matt Kroul)
Woods, Mike Humpal)
CB: ANTAWN ALLEN, JAVON JOHNSON (Bradley Fletcher, Charles Godfrey,
Amari Spivey)
S: BOB SANDERS, SEAN CONSIDINE (Marcus Paschal, Tyler Sash)

K: NATE KAEDING (Kyle Schlicher)

This is not official, and strictly my opinion. Please feel free to contribute your nominations and comments.

— Mr Pressbox Out!!