BOZICH | Monday Muse: NCAA system crumbling; Bias against Lamar?
Can the NCAA save itself with more pressure than ever for change? Louisville players are ready for the noise. Indiana overachieves. Does bias against black quarterback persist?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Better post the Monday Muse ASAP, before another stink bomb lands in the college basketball arena near you.
1. NCAA Clock Running Out
Dick Vitale says March Madness will be a mess. Jalen Rose says the players should sit out NCAA Tournament games if rules are not changed to allow them to be paid (more than tuition, books, room and board and the other goodies they receive).
Lonzo Ball says everybody knows that everybody gets paid. Jay Bilas seems profoundly disappointed that Arizona coach Sean Miller misled him.
On and on it goes, with the college basketball world waiting for the next bazooka from Pat Forde and Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.
Which coaches and players will be scratched before the NCAA Tournament begins in 16 days? Has Las Vegas installed VACATE as the tournament favorite?
One day history will show the reporting by Forde, Schlabach and Thamel on the latest greatest scandal in college sports was the nudge that changed the games forever.
What’s the answer?
I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t have the answer. Nobody has had the answer over the 112 years since the NCAA got in the game. Nobody who follows the game has been surprised by the allegations that Forde, Thamel and Schlabach blended into the story over the last week.
The team you follow has always played with integrity and character, adhering to the rules. You do it the right way because your coach and athletic director say that you do.
The team you can’t stomach must have paid or hired somebody to get the recruit your coach wanted. How else did they sign (name the rival’s top player)?
What’s the solution?
Pay the players. Which sports? All sports. Field hockey, soccer and swimming, too? Sure.
Would that make them employees, eligible for worker’s comp?
How much? Unlimited amounts? Let the market decide?
Eliminate amateurism. Pretty abrupt swing.
Bring the agent-player relationships out of the shadows and into the conference room. Encourage players to secure sound representation. Allow them to be compensated for appearances, jersey sales and speaking engagements.
Good luck with that. Stories about professional athletes who have been scammed by agents percolate every week. I can’t wait for the first time a certified agent tells his player to refuse to do something his college coach requests. (It already happens? You’re right.)
Eliminate the one-and-done and encourage more players to move directly to professional basketball. (This is my choice.)
If you can compete in the NBA, compete. If you need developmental time, take your shot in the G-League. The market will decide how much you’re worth – and you won’t waste your time pretending you're interested in going to class or pursuing a degree. As long as we’re being honest, let’s be 100 percent honest.
Get serious about stopping the arms race in college sports that has created the tremendous disparity between coaches making millions and players making room and board.
I’ve mentioned this before but in his final season at UCLA, John Wooden won his tenth NCAA title making $35,000. My cost-of-living/inflation calculator says that would be $166,249.33 today.
Most Power Five programs have multiple assistant coaches making more than that.
I don’t know the answer. Neither do college administrators.
They’d better figure it out because the game has become a punching bag.
2. Cardinals Ready For the Noise
ESPN dispatched a crew to Blacksburg, Va., Saturday. Heather Dinich interviewed interim coach David Padgett and several Louisville players about the events of the last week – at Louisville and across the game.
Not a problem for Padgett or his guys. They’ve been answering these questions for months. Will their experience with the noise be a benefit moving forward into conference and NCAA Tournament play?
Hard to say. U of L guard Quentin Snider said it was a relief the latest blast of news focused on other programs.
“Everything had just been on us,” Snider said. “Really we’re not looking at that kind of stuff.
“Our sanctuary is on the basketball court. We don’t really care about none of that. We’re all together. Everybody comes as a group. We’re a brotherhood.”
3. Cameron Crazies 1, Virginia Tech Crazies 0
One challenge of this job is deadlines. Another challenge is writing stories with admiring fans sitting inches behind your computer screen, eager to edit your copy.
You can’t wait until the game ends to begin your story. You have to write as the game develops. Sometimes you have to pick an angle and hope for the best. Sometimes that results in an audible.
I’d heard the horror stories about Duke students making working conditions uncomfortable at Cameron Indoor Stadium. But in both my trips to Cameron, the students sitting millimeters behind me were polite and accommodating. Two thumbs up.
It was a Virginia Tech fan who (with mostly with a smile) played editor Saturday. He advised me that I would have to change my story to focus on 502 Guys being the difference makers for Louisville Saturday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.
I told him I’d be ready to swap out several paragraphs if needed.
But my story survived. Credit 51 points by the 502 Guys.
4. Another Take on Rick Pitino
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes with as much humor as anybody in the sports writing game. He’s always had that skill and fine-tuned it while working with the remarkable Jim Murray at the Los Angeles Times.
Ostler recently filed a column with his comments about Rick Pitino. It’s an interesting read.
5. Did Indiana Overachieve?
Sixth place in the Big Ten won’t get Archie Miller a parade in Bloomington. Sixth place in the Big Ten had people howling at Tom Crean and Mike Davis.
But this was Year One for Miller. He competed with an incomplete roster that lacked dependable shooters. Guys had to adjust from Crean’s offense-first style to Miller’s defense-first approach. Center De’Ron Davis missed the majority of the Big Ten season. Collin Hartman never looked right.
Sixth place was not great, considering the Hoosiers could not make the two or three plays they needed to beat Michigan State, Purdue or Ohio State in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
But sixth place was better than the wise guys predicted – or anybody predicted after IU lost to Indiana State and Fort Wayne by 20.
And it was certainly better than the pre-season magazines predicted. Miller got his guys to defend and cut back on crazy turnovers. With the addition of a shooter (or two), the return of Juwan Morgan and more development from forward Justin Smith, Indiana should move forward next season.
6. Why People Like Bruce Pearl
Love him or loathe him, you cannot ignore Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl.
I can’t extol his ability to follow NCAA rules but he is a master at Public Relations 101. Pearl showed that – again – last weekend in Gainesville where Auburn lost a game to Florida.
Pearl loves the sunshine. There are ample pictures on the Internet that testify to that. Pearl proved it again in Gainesville where he sat shirtless at the team hotel.
Somebody snapped a picture. The picture became a poster. The poster found its way into the hands of a heckler.
Pearl handled it with humor. He took out his Sharpie and signed.
That’s how you make friends and influence people.
7. Bias Against Lamar
With about two months to go until the NFL Draft, former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson remains one of the most debatable players in the first-round discussion.
His numbers at Louisville were incredible. He was the game’s most dynamic player for two seasons, a relentless playmaker. Jackson has said repeatedly that the only position he wants to play is quarterback.
Others are not as certain. They question his accuracy and arm strength. Guys like former Colts general manager Bill Polian have said that Jackson should make the move to receiver now, not in 2020. Maximize your ability to avoid tacklers.
Some see comments like the ones Polian made as code words that black athletes cannot player quarterback in the NFL, even though Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Dak Prescott and others have proven otherwise.
The story was revisited by Alex Putterman at Awful Announcing. I recommend it.
8. Shot of the Weekend
The Iowa basketball team will not play beyond this week at the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden but Hawkeyes’ guard Jordan Bohannon has already launched the best shot of the season.
And Bohannon missed it.
Coolest miss you'll ever see. @JordanBo_3 needed one more free throw to break the late Chris Street's @IowaHoops record of 34 consecutive made free throws.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 26, 2018
After the game, he admitted he missed intentionally to keep the record in Street's name. pic.twitter.com/qHYZZDcOsJ
Bohannon is a deadly shooter, a guy who had made 34 consecutive free throws for the Hawkeyes. That number – 34 – was the Iowa record, set by Chris Street, the beloved Iowa star who was killed during his junior season in 1993 when his car was hit by a snowplow.
Bohannon went to the line for his 35th straight made free throw in the second half of a game Iowa led by eight against Northwestern Saturday.
He missed. On purpose.
And put his name in the record book along with Chris Street’s name. Jordan Bohannon is another guy who gets it.
9. Poll Results I
Will the Louisville basketball team make the NCAA Tournament?
(Question asked Thursday, after the Duke loss but before the win at Virginia Tech.)
Yes – 36 percent.
No – 64 percent.
10. Poll Results II
What level of support would you give an NBA franchise in Louisville?
Not interested – 36.7 percent
As much as I could afford – 32.8 percent.
Season ticket holder – 20.9 percent.
I like the NBA, but not NBA prices – 9.6 percent.
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