CRAWFORD BLOG | Evening Edition: ACC cashes in, Pitino and '96, the boy and the gorilla, and more
Eric Crawford with an evening digest of interesting news items from the day, and more.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Today's interesting stories -- as judged by me, with my own opinion thrown in occasionally. I know, you didn't ask for it. You did, however, click on it, which in some ways, to me, means more.
1. THE ACC MADE A BUNCH OF MONEY. The University of Louisville received $24 million of the Atlantic Coast Conference's record disbursement to members in its first year in the league, according to reports from USA Today, ESPN and the Newport News Daily Press.
Their reports came late last week when the ACC sent out copies of its 2015 Form 900 tax returns to those outlets per open records requests. The tax forms were for Fiscal Year 2015, which ran from June of 2014 to June of last year.
Overall, the ACC declared $403.1 million in 2014-15, up from $302.3 million the previous year. The increase came because of increased revenue from the College Football Playoff and $31.4 million from Maryland in its exit agreement with the league.
A year earlier, the league saw a $70 million revenue increase.
David Teel, the Hall of Fame reporter with the Newport News Daily Press, went into more detail on the return, and his rundown is worth a read. His numbers show U of L's share of the ACC disbursement and get into some possible developments with football, and show the ACC's historic revenue figures.
I'm working to get conference disbursements from past years for U of L, but there's always a snag when reading financial returns and documents from universities. The financials U of L fills out for the NCAA and Department of Education break its conference money into three separate categories, which then are combined with other revenues, meaning it's very difficult to compare years. Suffice it to say, U of L's conference check was the largest it ever has received -- by a pretty wide margin. More on that soon.
2. BEST SPORTS WRITING OF THE DAY. Harvey Araton of The New York Times does a difficult thing elegantly -- he puts into perspective what we're seeing from the Golden State Warriors, something all of us who watch sports have been looking to put into words.
Turns of phase are less important these days than turning copy around. I can get as many "hits," lets just put it bluntly, for aggregating five stories, say, than for pouring a ton of effort into writing something if it does not resonate with people.
Araton finds the sweet spot of a subject people are passionate bout, with words you can't help but admire. Here's his lead (his "lede" as we would say in the newspaper biz), then get to The Times online to read the rest.
What is the point, really, of historical comparison? How do you measure a basketball mutation, which is what the Golden State Warriors have become, with their long-distance dialing that makes comparing them with storied N.B.A. teams of yore like distinguishing between a smartphone and a land line?
You watched Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson dishearten and finally defeat a resolute Oklahoma City team on Monday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. You watched them make 3-point shots over the outstretched arms of men much taller, and you found yourself saying the unbelievable, ridiculous, stupefied words you mouth when you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing.
It is practically a reinvented game these so-called Splash Brothers are playing, having drastically extended the standard scoring range, the acceptable area from which to consistently unload and succeed.
3. A GIFT. My sister, Andrea, is cleaning out her apartment, getting ready to move. I don't know exactly why she assigned this Gandalf bobblehead doll to me, but he now sits on my desk and looks at me, I think, a tad disapprovingly, though I'm not sure why. Two of his sentences from J.R.R. Tolkein books I remember more than others. The first: "All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us." And then, there's his advice from the book, The Hobbit: "The world is not in your books and maps. It's out there."
4. THE GORILLA AND THE LITTLE BOY. This story, I feel like, could have come out of a John Irving novel. Yes, it was still a topic today, because the tragic events at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend only today got true closure with the chance for talk radio to weigh in. I feared the worst. Instead, I listened to three radio sources today, and all three, at least in the snippets that I heard, sounded reasonable.
Leland Conway on WHAS this morning tried to bring a note of sanity to the discussion about the parent-bashers who were quick to bring out their torches and pitchforks on social media over the weekend. I also heard him, and I can't quote him exactly because I was driving, use the words "tragic accident," and I'm glad he expressed that, because it's what I'd been thinking all weekend. Four-year-olds are quick as cats and can get into even more mischief, no matter how much you watch them.
When I came out of a U of L baseball news conference and was heading to lunch, Rush Limbaugh was talking about the subject, and in the few minutes I was in the car I heard him say this:
I just don't think there was any way that boy was gonna get out of there alive short of what happened. And I think the people that are being forgotten in all this are the zoo people that had to do it (shoot the gorilla). I think in all the agony that's out there today, the people that run that zoo that had to do this are probably feeling the worst of anybody, 'cause that gorilla was part of their lives. The gorilla had a handler, somebody fed the gorilla.
The gorilla's born in captivity, so the gorilla had a lot of contact with people at this zoo, and to have to take the gorilla out to save the boy, they're gonna be distressed over this for a long, long time, the people that run that zoo and had to make the decision, whatever, to pull the trigger.
I thought that was important to say, though I missed the part before and after, I guess, where Limbaugh critiqued the response of Black Lives Matter and other political groups to the accident. I don't want to get into the politics of it.
Finally, on the way home, I flipped on Tony Vanetti who, with Dave Jennings on The Afternoon Underdogs, had been talking about the episode, and he expressed the same kind of balanced approach I'd heard before. It was a terrible thing, but what else could the zoo have done, knowing the facts as we know them? I guess we've officially come to this, on the subject of social media. It's so crazy that it makes even talk radio seem tame.
I've always felt that those of us who grew up in rural areas, where people owned various kinds of livestock, maybe have a different way of looking at the question of human life versus animal life, from those who, say, have interacted with animals merely as pets. It's not that we don't value animal life, or appreciate our own animals. But I can tell you, there's no question that there's a clear line between a human life and animal life for me.
I'm sorry that gorilla lost its life. It was an awful accident. But I believe the zoo officials made the difficult, but right decision.
On a personal note, my brother, Wes, has been in Cincinnati covering the story for ABC News, doing sound work for a camera crew there. His take on the whole thing, via Facebook: " Being in Cincinnati throughout this whole gorilla vs. 4-year-old story has been exhausting. I think all of you with passionate, bloody, venomous convictions on both sides of this are going to look and sound hilarious when the episode of 'South Park' dealing with this whole thing airs."
Spoiler alert: They're going to kill Kenny.
5. CARDS TO PARTY LIKE IT'S 1996. Here's the drill. Whenever Rick Pitino mentions the University of Kentucky, it's an obligatory headline somewhere, because you get 2-for-1; that is, you're likely to wind up with two agitated fan bases for the price of one news conference.
Today's Pitino UK reference was fairly benign. He said in fishing around for a style for next season's team, he settled upon the way his 1996 NCAA championship team at UK played. That team used relentless full-court pressure, but also dogged half-court defense, while being one of the most potent offensive teams in the nation. That style is hard to beat when you've got nine NBA Draft picks on your roster.
Pitino was quick to say that, "In no means do I try to say we have that type of talent."
Then he went on to explain that, "We have that type of length, that type of quickness, that type of athleticism. So we are going to play like that basketball team. That team had great depth. It also had great athleticism and could score a lot of points. We’re hoping to emulate that basketball team in terms of style of play."
I am hoping to emulate the late, great, Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray for the rest of this column, in terms of style of writing.
6. THIS JUST IN. The Colorado Rockies just finished a 17-4 pounding of the Cincinnati Reds.
Gentlemen, start your coffins.
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