BOZICH & CRAWFORD: Monday Meeting - Paterno statue, Cards football
LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Every Monday Morning, WDRB columnists Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford go back and forth on a few issues from the week. Here's this Monday's installment . . .
1. Despite the Jerry Sandusky guilty verdict and the thunderous Freeh Report, the Joe Paterno statue is still parked outside Beaver Stadium at Penn State. Should it stay there, be moved elsewhere or be placed in the Witness Protection Program?
RICK: There might, might, be a day when the statue can be displayed in State College, but that day is not July 2012 or any time soon. It's not a statue any more. It's a lightning rod.
For Paterno supporters, it inspires either A) disillusionment or B) anger about the fall of the once-beloved football coach over the last eight-plus months. For Paterno critics, it's symbol of the failings of the coach and other Penn State leaders to protect innocent children.
Any chance that Penn State has to move forward from this tragedy begins with eliminating the debate about the statue.
ERIC: I agree, the statue can't stay where it is. But I'm not so sure it needs to go into hiding.
That Paterno statue is a reminder of not only the good but the bad. In fact, it might be the most tangible reminder on that campus of how its reverence for football enabled these horrible crimes.
I suggested in a column last week that the statue maybe be removed to the administration building to remind those people that they're the ones in charge, and of what can happen if they are not.
2. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas is one of the most thoughtful and provocative observers of the college sports. scene. In a story on ESPN.com, Bilas suggests that it might be time to downsize Division I college basketball. Are you in favor of swinging the knife?
ERIC: At one point in his argument to "streamline" Division I college basketball, Bilas says this: "No reasonable person I know in college sports has differed with me when I suggest that Division I basketball should mirror college football in the number of teams."
I'm differing. And I'm reasonable. Jay makes some good points. That smaller programs are straining themselves to keep up with larger. That the disparity is growing among programs. Jay's main goal, as I get it, is to cut Division I almost in half so that the big-time teams, the Kentuckys and Syracuses, instead of playing teams ranked 250 or higher, would be playing teams ranked 150 at worst. There's something attractive to that.
But I think it's backward. Look at professional sports. They all place limits on the richest franchises, impose strict revenue sharing and, in short, keep their sports in line through tight regulation. Instead of cutting the number of Division I programs, how about enforcing some limits on the top?
The last thing basketball needs is to become more like football -- allowing less access to its championship and less access to the revenue that championship provides. If you want to reform college sports, you need to start at the top, not at the bottom. And for that matter, start with football, not with basketball.
RICK: No, sir. Don't swing the knife. That's the direction college football seems headed -- and how do University of Louisville fans like it when they read that Big East teams are going to get excluded from the goodies in FBS football.
That's what I thought.
If a school wants to spend the money and chase the dream, chase away. In the end, the Big Boys are going to dominate. But don't tell me you didn't enjoy watching Lehigh take down Duke or seeing Butler show up in back-to-back Final Fours.
3. According to the web site BeyondTheBets.com, a super book in Las Vegas has already posted over/under win totals for 35 college football teams for the 2012 season. For Louisville, the number is eight. Are you over, under or riding fence?
RICK: Over. Under. On the Fence.
No, I'm over. The Cards have a shot to be favored in 10 games. So without taking an exhaustive look at the prospects of all 12 opponents, I'm going with nine wins for Charlie Strong's team.
ERIC: I'm over, but I'm not in the land of 10 wins just yet. U of L still has to pass one hurdle in all of this. The four-game stretch, at Southern Miss, at Pittsburgh, then home to South Florida and Cincinnati is a huge stretch for the team and, frankly, the program. Winning at Southern Miss is no easy thing, as U of L fans of a certain age will tell you. The Golden Eagles have a new head coach and need to find a new quarterback, but there are plenty of guys back from a team that won 12 games last season. Getting past Pitt also is something U of L hasn't had much luck with in recent years, while USF and Cincinnati at home will be winnable but tough games.
If the Cards emerge from that quartet with three wins, they could be on their way to that 10-win season. They also could split those four, and still have plenty of work to do in the season's final month. I think the Cards win at least nine, but it's not the breeze some are making it out to be. Let's not forget, the team isn't yet fully mature, even if its potential is impressive.