LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford are back with their Monday-morning back-and-forth, and dive right into it with a swimming debate.
Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte will be the Go-To Rivalry for NBC at the London Olympics. Phelps beat Lochte in two of three events in the Olympic Trials. Will America be cheering for a Phelps repeat or for Lochte to become the face of the Olympics?
RICK BOZICH: Phelps is inches from touching the wall as the most decorated American Olympian of all-time, bigger than Jesse Owens, Bruce Jenner, Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton or anybody else I can think of. He won eight gold medals in China, and he's acting as if he wants to win that many again in London. He's the New York Yankees, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Lakers.
Americans like dynasties. Some people say that they don't. But most do. So look for Phelps to enjoy another blast of cover shots on Sports Illustrated, Time, Fortune, Rolling Stone, People, Real Simple and every other magazine. He'll feel the love.
It seems as if most of the marketing of Lochte has been aimed at selling him a sex symbol. Not sure about the wisdom of that. So advantage, Phelps.
ERIC CRAWFORD: What? Since when has selling sex ever NOT worked? Okay, don't answer that.
I'm going to stretch your memory a bit. Do you remember the Dan vs. Dave commercials? The ones that pitted decathletes Dan O'Brien and Dave Johnson against each other before the Barcelona Olympics 20 years ago? Reebok went all in to make that the rivalry that consumed the world, only to see Dan not qualify for the Olympics at all and Dave struggle to win Bronze.
This rivalry is the real deal. For years, the only one Michael Phelps was racing was the clock. Now he has real flesh-and-blood competition, and you can't help but think it's good for him, after he seemed to lose interest in training following his 8-gold finish in Beijing.
I think people respect Phelps. And I agree they'll root for him. But they will LIKE Lochte more. Lochte is free-wheeling. He has fun. He smiles. He has a modeling portfolio on his website. He has the teenage girl demographic locked up. And let's get this clear -- those girls watch TV. NBC is going to tap into the American Idol demographic on this one. Don't be surprised if Lochte's fun-loving approach doesn't capture more people in contrast to the buttoned-down Phelps in London.
But the face of the Olympics? That'll be whichever one hits the touch pad first.
New South Carolina coach Frank Martin popped off to John Calipari on Twitter last week, advising Cal that while he keeps talking to the NBA, Martin planned to keep talking to the next group of NBA players. Should Martin delete that Tweet or keep talking smack to Cal?
CRAWFORD: I'm afraid Martin brought a smartphone to a mainframe fight on this one.
If I'm an opposing coach and Cal Tweets that he can't recruit much because he's tending to this NBA Draft picks, to me, the best thing that can happen to that Tweet is for it to pass into timeline oblivion. I don't bring it up. I don't RT, MT or otherwise respond.
I like Martin, and I'm not going to lie, I love the fighting spirit. But I'm afraid Frank, with his 24,570 Twitter followers, has just ridden the whole bunch of them into the Little Big Horn of the Twittersphere, where Calipari and his 1.197 million followers are always waiting to deliver a Tweet-down.
I don't think there's much chance of any elite prospects saying, "Man, that Calipari spends TOO MUCH time in the green room." Martin needs to just move along, or at least pick a more even battlefield.
BOZICH: Roll with it, Frank, roll with it.
The worst emotion SEC coaches should project is fear. Chances are that none of them will out-recruit or beat Kentucky on a consistent basis. But they have to at least carry themselves as if they're not conceding the league title for the next decade.
Besides, I've been to the South Carolina-Kentucky game in Columbia the last two seasons. The Gamecocks need fans. Talking smack with Calipari is an easy way to sell tickets so Kentucky fans are no longer sitting in the first 10 rows all the way around the lower bowl.
Which team will have the most first-round draft picks next season -- Kentucky, Louisville or Indiana?
BOZICH: I'm going to mix it up -- and stick with Kentucky. Nerlens Noel is a lock. Alex Poythress is being billed as a Top 15 pick. Either Ryan Harrow or Archie Goodwin could join them. That's three -- and Louisville has never had more than two first-round picks in one draft, while Indiana hasn't had three first-rounders the same year since 1976.
Louisville could have three. So could Indiana. But Kentucky is a safer bet.
CRAWFORD: Oh my. We may have to revoke your Hoosier card over this one. I agree that Noel figures to be a lock (though let's not forget, he still needs to get eligible to play in college). But can Calipari keep batting 1.000 on these signings? Poythress and Goodwin appear to be great players, but isn't there a chance one of them stays around?
Louisville has a solid chance at three, in my mind, with Chane Behanan, Gorgui Dieng and Wayne Blackshear, with Peyton Siva in the wings if he plays smart and takes advantage of that cast around him. Dieng says he's determined to graduate first, but he might have the best NBA upside of any of them. He has no plan to leave early, but has never explicitly said he wouldn't, only that his father greatly values education and he could not fail to get a degree. He has spoken just as eloquently about his NBA dreams and what that would mean to his home country, and has an uncle who is well connected as head of NBA Africa. Blackshear figures to be an NBA level talent and if Behanan increases his range, he could be a threat.
I'm not saying any will be ready after this season. But since when do you have to be ready? If the Cards make another Final Four run, I say all three are potential picks.
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