CRAWFORD Morning Edition: Cal and the SEC, Mathiang's struggles, - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD Morning Edition: Cal and the SEC, Mathiang's struggles, Mac's money and Trump's letters

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some stories we figure to be talking about all day, or talked about all day yesterday . . .

1. CALIPARI SAYS TO MOVE THE SEC TOURNAMENT TO PRESEASON. At first glance, you think the guy has lost his mind to suggest moving the SEC Tournament to November, and he acknowledges is idea is "crazy," but as often happens, it's not as crazy as it sounds.

As it stands right now, the SEC Tournament at the end of the season is irrelevant -- at least from Kentucky's standpoint. It's played on Selection Sunday, it doesn't affect UK's seeding. About the only thing it offers is for some bubble team that gets hot a chance to make the field.

For Calipari, it's even worse. It's the boil on the bubble of college basketball. It takes up time and effort. For the Wildcats most years, staying at home to practice would be just as useful.

So Calipari's suggestion was rooted less in reality than in making a point. What Calipari's suggestion really underscores is the SEC's postseason tournament plight. That it could be moved to November and have just as much impact is a perfect illustration.

The SEC does need change with its tournament though. Primarily, it needs to tell TV to find someone else to take the Sunday afternoon time slot and move its own tournament to a Saturday conclusion, or even earlier. It does its best teams no favor by having them scramble home on Selection Sunday only to have to leave for their tournament site 48 hours later.

2. MATHIANG SUFFERS ANOTHER SETBACK. University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino told The Courier-Journal's Jeff Greer that center Mangok Mathiang will have another surgery to clean out scar tissue in his injured foot and will be on the shelf for six weeks this summer. The senior captain needed this time to work himself back into playing shape after missing all but the first 10 games of last season.

3. CREAN TALKS LOUISVILLE AND MORE AT HUBER'S. At the program's annual summer stop in Southern Indiana, Hoosiers' coach Tom Crean said he's already at work on a game plan for Louisville, and has watched his team's 2013 meeting with the Cards -- and the 2013 NCAA Championship game between Louisville and Michigan.

“Every time we’ve played them in my history as a coach (usually at Marquette), we’ve learned a lot about our team,” Crean said. “But even at Indiana when we played them a couple of years ago, we learned a lot. The thing that separates them, it’s not just how relentless some of them are, it’s how relentless all of them are, especially their guards. And one of the things that will be such a battle-cry for us throughout the fall, the summer and fall, going into (this) season, is the relentless spirit that your backcourt has got to have. Not only your frontcourt, but your backcourt has got to have to be able to deal with that."

WDRB's Rick Bozich was at the event, and has more details here.

4. McDONNELL BECOMES HIGHEST-PAID COLLEGE BASEBALL COACH. You can't handle a news conference better than Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell handled his presser after receiving a 10-year, $10.6 million contract on Wednesday. He thanked athletic director Tom Jurich and president James Ramsey. He thanked his predecessor, Lelo Prado, for laying the foundation. He thanked his assistant coaches. He thanked the fans. He thanked his players.

Saying and doing the right things are part of McDonnell's DNA. People ask why Tom Jurich would spend a million dollars a year on a baseball coach. U of L doesn't even sell tickets to the games. They're free. (Jurich, by the way, says he expects them to remain free.)

McDonnell's pitch-perfect off-the-field efforts are every bit as appreciated by Jurich as his success on the field, which has been considerable.

Bozich and I, in talking about it, were both reminded of how McDonnell handled last year's loss in the NCAA Super Regional. And if you're looking for perspective on the coach, revisiting that moment is worth a minute of your time.

5. INTERESTING STORY OF THE DAY. Media coverage of Republican Presidential nominee-elect Donald Trump will run into the millions of words, if it hasn't already. From today's New York Times comes a different perspective -- a look at the man through letters he has written. He doesn't have a computer on his desk. The Times tracks down letters he has written over the years, and a couple of examples give a pretty good depiction of the fascination with him:

The 2009 letter that Mr. Trump sent to Mike Tollin, a movie director, makes for painful reading: It denounced Mr. Tollin’s film about the collapse of the United States Football League, and about Mr. Trump’s role in the demise, as “third rate” and “extremely dishonest.” In a final, fulminating flourish, Mr. Trump wrote: “P.S. You are a loser.” Nevertheless, Mr. Tollin had the letter framed and he keeps it on a shelf in his office, next to photographs of his family.

"People come by and immediately want to see it, touch it and hold it," Mr. Tollin said with pride. 

Today, as Mr. Trump tries to make peace with hostile figures in his party, the candidate renowned for his rhetorical flame throwing is deploying a conciliatory style of letter writing as his chief weapon.

His handwritten overtures have started to arrive in the mailboxes of seemingly implacable foes, like Charlie Sykes, a conservative radio host in Milwaukee, who has described Mr. Trump as a “whiny, thin-skinned bully.”

“Charlie,” began Mr. Trump’s note, scribbled with a thick black pen on the front page of The New York Times, next to an article about skeptical Republicans warming to Mr. Trump, “I hope you can change your mind.” Ever attuned to incentives, the real estate mogul dangled an offer: “Look forward to doing your show,” he wrote, adding, “I will win!”

It did not change Mr. Sykes’s dim view of Mr. Trump. But he was, he conceded, impressed by the gesture. “Give him credit that he’s doing this,” Mr. Sykes said. “He’s willing to do some things that might be somewhat at odds with his public image.”

Here's the thing. The first letter there was written to someone who clearly doesn't like him, yet he frames it and talks about the attraction of it. The second was handwritten and scrawled to a critical radio host, who acknowledged being impressed. I'm not going to go deep into the subject of Trump here. I'm not offering this as endorsement or excoriation. That's not my place. I've said from the beginning, based on what I know about this country in 2015 and '16, I'm going to be surprised if he's not elected. Depending on where you stand, that will either make your day or ruin it. Take heart. I'm more comfortable picking Derby winners than election winners. And I'm not very good picking those. But we've had a preview in Kentucky. The media was standing around scratching its collective heads after the last gubernatorial election. If you spend much time with people here, you weren't surprised at the outcome.

Regardless, I just thought this was an interesting story, and different from the day-to-day churn we generally get.

6. YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE. Brent Musberger has signed a multi-year deal with the SEC Network, ESPN announced today. Lots of changes at ESPN lately, good to see something staying the same. 

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