Posted on: October 7, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 11:39 am
By Jeff Goodman
I'm already locked into going to Midnight Madness down in Chapel Hill this Friday night.
But I'm tempted to go to Marquette Madness.
That's when coach Buzz Williams and his point guard, Junior Cadougan, are set to square off live in a Karoake contest.
Talk about pure entertainment.
The two potential songs, according to Marquette spokesman Scott Kuykendall, will be Livin' on a Prayer or Sweet Caroline.
The best part is that Williams actually thinks he can sing.
"With the headsets on, you think you're good," Kuykendall said.
Well, Buzz, I'm here to tell you that you need to stick to coaching.
What ultimately I'd like to see is a sing-off of point guards: Cadougan and Ohio State's Aaron Craft.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 12:05 pm
By Gary Parrish
The next move in the ongoing game of conference realignment has been made.
And the Big 12 made it.
Which is why the Big 12 seems poised to survive in this eat-or-be-eaten world of college athletics while the Big East continues to get picked apart by anybody and everybody. Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced last month that they're leaving for the ACC; that took the Big East down to seven football-playing schools. Now TCU, according to my colleague Brett McMurphy, is headed to the Big 12 and leaving the Big East with just six football-playing schools ... at least one of which (Connecticut) has made it clear it would like to find a new home, too. Meantime, the Big East has done nothing of note. The league is just sitting there taking punches to the face, one after another, and, consequently, sooner or later, it'll be down for the count and in no position to adequately recover.
The possible additions of Army and Navy won't fix the Big East's problems.
At this point, I can't imagine anything really will.
What the Big East should've done is tried to take advantage of the Big 12's turmoil last month and offered invitations to any Midwest school willing to leave the Texas-Oklahoma fight behind. It might not have worked, obviously. But if we've learned anything over the past few years it's that one way to strengthen yourself is to damage the competition, and that's something the ACC highlighted when it targeted Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The Big 12, under new leadership, also understands this approach. But the Big East never has and apparently never will. So it can add Army and Navy if it wants, and perhaps East Carolina, Temple, UCF and SMU, too. But the decision to be reactive rather than proactive has put the Big East in a nearly impossible situation, and, truth be told, the storied league has only itself to blame.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 12:53 pm
By Gary Parrish
It's not like we needed a reminder that basketball is largely irrelevant in the world of conference realignment, but we got one Sunday when ESPN.com's Andy Katz reported that the Big East is considering offering SMU an invitation to join its BCS-affiliated league. That's the same SMU that is barely above .500 (1,169-1,115) in its basketball program's 94-year history. The same SMU that is 21-57 the past five seasons in Conference USA. And the same SMU that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1993, i.e., back when Guns N' Roses still featured Axl and Slash, and before Prince had ever even considered calling himself anything other than, you know, Prince.
The Big East wants that SMU?
Answer: Maybe -- because that SMU would help in the Dallas television market, and because that SMU is suddenly relevant again in football (thanks to June Jones and the school's commitment to June Jones). Those two things -- notable television markets and respectable football programs -- are the two most important things in conference realignment. Great basketball won't really help anybody's cause. Traditionally terrible basketball doesn't seem to hurt.
Consequently, Matt Doherty just might end up back in the Big East.
He started there (at Notre Dame) and could finish there (at SMU), too.
It's the circle of life, I guess.
It's also kind of crazy.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 10:31 am
By Matt Norlander
When the Orange leave the Big East, they won't be leaving the region. Syracuse's chancellor, Nancy Cantor, said the school very much plans on utilizing New York City as a second home, perhaps even more prominently than the men's basketball team does currently. That facet of Syracuse's conference hop to the ACC was a critical part of the discussions with ACC commissioner John Swofford, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.
The newspaper talked to Cantor and got her on record for the first time since her school was accepted into the ACC. She also offered up some information about the deal that contrasts with what we've heard previously: that Syracuse was working on this for a good, long while. Turns out, not really, at least it didn't get serious until 72 hours before news of the move leaked out.
In her first interview since the move, Cantor laid out the fast-paced chronology that led to the announcement Sept. 18 that Syracuse was leaving the athletic conference it helped found in 1979. The action started Tuesday, Sept. 13, when ACC officials voted to accept new members. The conference had planned to stay at 12 teams, but that week decided to expand because other conferences were moving in that direction, Swofford has told reporters. The next day, the ACC called Cantor to see if SU was interested in applying. She called Swofford back the next morning, Thursday, and had a lengthy conversation that included the New York City dimension that SU could offer, she said.Syracuse's proximity to New York and the opportunity to play three or four games there -- outside of any possibility of the ACC tournament, should it even flirt with getting Madison Square Garden down the road -- was really what got this deal done. If Syracuse is located in Buffalo, meaning New York City trips are a little more logistically shaky and a little less attractive overall, then the Orange probably don't leave the Big East.
Cantor and Swofford had their conversation on the 13th, and less than 24 hours later, Syracuse's board of trustees had approved a move to the Atlantic Coast Conference. You can see why there's been plenty of hand-wringing over this swift decision. That's a really fast marriage to decide on. As for the Garden, yeah, it definitely makes sense to get Syracuse in there as frequently as possible; I don't think there's a diminished-returns factor. Orange hoops fans are extremely passionate and devoted to seeing the team as often as possible.
And if the Garden is impossible to book for a few games, remember, the brand-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn (opening next year) will also have plenty of opportunities. And it'll be a new venue, a new building for Syracuse to make its affiliation with.
Cantor said the other factor in leaving was the TV money. The Big East doesn't have a deal that extends beyond 2013. The ACC is set for more than a decade with its $1.86 contract with ESPN.
“Certainly, we had hoped it (the TV deal) would go through,” she said. “Obviously, when you think about the stability of what was offered with the ACC, that was attractive to us.” SU must pay a $5 million exit fee to leave the Big East. That penalty will be made up by the increased revenues in the ACC “in not too long a time,” Cantor said. SU hasn’t calculated how long, she said.For nearly a decade Syracuse has somewhat foolishly and hopelessly marketed itself as "New York's College Team," a moniker that few in the fan base ever went out of their way to boast. Seven years ago or so, the Carrier Dome actually had a banner with this logo that ran alongside the Statue of Liberty. But there's no denying New York City -- and the cities and towns around it -- does house thousands of SU alums. The initiative to get more games in that area makes sense, and if the ACC is led into NYC much more frequently because of Syracuse's influence, this move will be as shrewd as anything the progressive Pac-12 has done.
Because, generally speaking, nothing in sports is more valuable than all New York City has to offer.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 12:58 pm
By Matt Norlander
Living in Connecticut, I can tell you the issue of UConn's perceived instability has been the dominant sports topic for the past two weeks. It's living and moving on the surface of mainstream discussion every day. And so much so that politics have gotten involved -- or been vested -- to a minor degree. Reporters recently asked state governor Dan Malloy his thoughts on UConn staying or going in the Big East, and whether the ACC would make a good fit.
Malloy was questioned because the governor's office has always had a tight relationship with the state schools, UConn chief among them. Malloy offered some perspective that wasn't new, but interesting to hear nonetheless.
In terms of Connecticut's prospects in the ACC, Malloy believes Notre Dame is what makes the move happen, no questions, asked, but anything short of that means Huskies fans are going to have to wait a while before finding out where the schools ultimately settles.
Malloy ... said he has spoken with UConn President Susan Herbst "a half dozen" times about the issue. Asked if he would "lobby" Herbst to join the ACC if Notre Dame joined, Malloy said, "I don't think you'd need to lobby President Herbst on that subject." He said that he has spoken with officials from other universities, but declined to detail what he called "private" conversations.Malloy (above, left, with Jim Calhoun in the spring) probably is about as tuned into the discussions as anyone at UConn, since he's close with Herbst and the financial effects of Connecticut's primary university with the state are a big, big deal. Him bringing up Notre Dame is akin to a few flares tossed into the air, but the Irish simply won't be going to the ACC in football, it seems. And so the school will remain as a basketball member in the Big East. Without the ACC finding a good partner for UConn to join the league with, are the Huskies going to be forced to pay rent in the Big East for the long road?
Plenty of questions still linger. Everyone up here is asking them every day. Connecticut's willing to answer and let the world know, again and again, it wants into the ACC as soon as possible.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 12:58 pm
By Matt Norlander
I don't have many issues with Rick Pitino spending his free time blogging, but one of them is certainly his insistence on using the PR-smelling "BIG EAST" capitalization approximately 15 times per post. The other is the outdated use of auto-play music on his site. You remove those two distractions from RickPitino.com, and his message gets even louder and more genuine.
Pitino's a pleasure to read. He's challenging convention and remains to be the outspoken guy he's always been. Some like him, many don't, but he's always going to talk. Why confine it to a microphone or camera during the season? Pitino's got thoughts, lots of them, on conference unrest. His school stands to be one that's considerably vulnerable, should the Big East's football arrangement collapse on itself. There isn't a better coach in place to speak -- and fight -- on behalf of his university than Pitino, who many in and outside of his industry listen to.
Pitino, who first came out and spoke on the issue two weeks ago, put up today a post that's going to cause some more conversation. The man's always been a reliable quote. At least someone his age (59) is willing to embrace the Internet and use it adequately.
The post, which unintentionally (or was that an intentional shot?) misspells Jamie Dixon's first name as "Jaime," makes good mention of how all non-football and men's basketball sports will struggle in the coming years, as conferences neglect reasonable geographical connotations in favor of money-chasing. And, yep, there's an irony to a coach in Louisville, effectively located in the Midwest, railing against geographical decisions. That lack of awareness extends itself even further when Pitino haphazardly suggests Air Force (located in Colorado Springs, Colo.) join the league in football.
Doesn't undo the point that volleyball, softball and men's soccer teams will feel a squeeze in areas outside of direct competition. The money's going to be there? Most university athletic departments operate in the red, you know.
In the wake of Dave Gavitt's wake and funeral, Pitino insists the Big East get back to the fundamentals Gavitt built the conference on. (Omitting the nature by which Gavitt did that, for the record. He was a brilliant businessman and is one of the 10 most influential men in the history of college basketball, but there are DNA strands connecting Gavitt's Big East construction in 1979 and what's happened in the past two years in conference realignment.) Foremost, he went after the narrow-minded visions of university presidents.
"When it comes to athletics, they should defer strongly to their conference commissioner and their athletic director," Pitino writes.
He wants honest discussions with hopeful and willing and eager future members of the conference. Pitino also wants Temple to join the Big East as soon as possible. That notion isn't new, but Pitino's push gives it mainstream attention.
"They have a highly competitive football program with outstanding basketball tradition," Pitino writes. "They are a past BIG EAST member and an excellent school academically. And as all my friends say in Philadelphia, they are located in BIG EAST territory."
That they are, but I'm not too sure Villanova would be all that pleased with having Temple come back aboard, especially when Villanova would love to join the league in football. Overall, I'm glad Pitino's speaking, even if some of this is grandstanding and ultimately he has little-to-no say about what happens in the league. I completely agree with him re: presidents, but that power simply will not be acquiesced. Ever.
The only hope there is that most presidents have a very good relationship with conference commissioners and athletic directors; that movements made or not made will happen for reasons beyond the dough and promise of more. Even when coaches lack power, they still have the opportunity to speak up. More should follow Pitino and Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun's lead. They are the faces of the sport, even if the body's controlled by presidents pulling the strings.Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 2:31 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Some guys just aren't cut out to be head coaches. They make better assistants.
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto may be one of those guys.
"I firmly believe we would manage this a lot better with a different leader," said one Big East head coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "He's a good man, a good right-hand man. But I think he's in over his head."
To be fair, Marinatto was thrust into an unenviable situation, following the late Dave Gavitt and Mike Tranghese as the leaders of the Big East.
Marinatto's resume reads as follows: A Providence kid who graduated from Providence College in 1979, then later went onto become the athletic director at the school for 14 years. He was the associate commissioner of the Big East from 2002-2009, when he took over for Tranghese.
"There's just no way it would have gotten to this point if Dave or Mike were still in charge," another Big East head man said.
One thing is for certain: Gavitt and/or Tranghese wouldn't have had the news of Syracuse and Pittsburgh's departure delivered to him in a football press box on Saturday - as has been reported to be the case with Marinatto.
"I'm not sure how it would have worked out, but it would have," a coach in the league said about the overall situation the league now finds itself.
``I doubt it," answered yet another when posed the question whether this would have occurred under previous leadership.
However, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh departing for the ACC at some point (likely prior to 2014) and UConn begging and pleading to join the exodus, Marinatto has come under fire.
While there are certainly those who are skeptical, Marinatto does still have his share of support.
"I think eventually this would have happened anyway," one coach said. "Everyone wants to put it on Marinatto, but this is a league that's been built on instability."
Now the future of the Big East - and the way it'll be comprised - is in jeopardy. Will it add a couple members to replace what is has lost - and may lose - and move forward? Or will it re-shape itself for improved long-term stability and go the route of the "basketball-only" schools, thus going hard after Xavier and Butler?
We'll see what Marinatto does - and whether his fate mirrors that of outgoing Big 12 commish Dan Beebe, who's at left of Marinatto in the photo above.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:17 am
By Matt Norlander
Jim Calhoun sure knows how to get himself into this blog as frequently as possible. That's because he's one of the most opinionated guys in college basketball. And when you operate a blog that revolves around the fifth-most popular sport in America, the people with the loudest voices often receive the most attention.
Three national championships go a long way as well.
On a day when we reported his team was locked into an agreement to be the second tip-off in the newly formed Carrier Classic, the 69-year-old coach told the Chicago Tribune he's embracing the lockout. And all basketball fans should make the most of it, do the same, and occupy their time by watching more college ball than they normally would. Why is Calhoun sharing this with a Chicago-based reporter? Because he was in the Windy City to receive the Ray Meyer College Coach of the Year Award at the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner. Duh.
Here's what he said, re: lockout.
"Now you're going to have to watch us, whether you like us or not," Calhoun said. "It's a good thing for me, personally. We have 12 kids coming into the NBA. ... Ray Allen and a kid who was great when he was here and would like to still be here probably, Ben Gordon. And Rudy Gay … those guys are with our students right now. So we have all-star games, which I can't see unfortunately, every day of the week. But for a kid like Kemba Walker, we want to kind of get him on to his career."Calhoun's referring to the fact that all these NBA players have been spending their September staying in shape in Storrs. The pros can't be in NBA-affiliated facilities, so plenty of 'em have headed back to bounce the ball on campus. College coaches can't work out/coach their guys until Oct. 15, so they get secondhand information. Restrictions at the NBA level have forced college players into the gyms and turned them into de facto coaches at a time when the real coaches are still waiting in the hallways to start their seasons, further enticed by the squeaking of the sneakers they hear through the corridors.
It serendipitous situation for the college players. College teams could actually see an uptick in productivity, fluidity and overall competence because of the help and playing time against some of the world's best. And for the pros, who must be plenty nostalgic, there's also benefit on their end, as they stay in shape with about as good of competition they could ask for on a weekly basis.
And let's not forget the fact this rare offseason fusion strengthens the bond and affiliation between former player and university. The programs and schools can have residual benefits from this.
As for realignment (we got Calhoun on record about that earlier this week, too), here's what he told the Tribune:
"I know for sure that I can introduce myself as Jim Calhoun, UConn baskeball coach. After that, I don't know what else I can tell you," Calhoun said. "I do think we are very attractive. We have won 10 championships in men's and women's basketball in the past 13 years. ... But when all is said and done, and all the talk about what is best for the student-athletes, and also what's best for academics ... it's money. And it's more money. ...Calhoun's in an interesting spot because, while most basketball coaches are unlikely to be truly tapped into their university's situation, he absolutely is. New president Susan Herbst is a huge fan of Calhoun, and the two of them essentially kicked former athletic director Jeff Hathaway off campus. If UConn can or is going to move, Calhoun's very clued in. He won't go beyond that publicly, though.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE