LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Of all the mindless predictions, finger-pointing and Grade A baloney that leaked from college basketball media days, nobody said something with more hot sauce than West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
Huggins wants to take the NCAA Tournament away from the NCAA and turn it into a Big Boys Only event.
Not because Huggins is anti-Little Guy. I don't believe that he is. Huggins has Eastern Kentucky and Bellarmine on his schedule this season. There are big guys in the state of Kentucky who are unlikely to give the Colonels and Knights regular-season games.
Huggins has two legitimate reasons to reshape post-season basketball -- to give the Big Boy basketball programs a chance to keep more of the revenue they generate every March and to increase basketball's voice in the conference realignment nonsense that has diminished several leagues since the musical chairs began.
Never thought I would think that, say that or type that, but I agree with Huggins. The last blast of conference realignment pushed me into the camp that basketball programs need to push back.
Let the 60-to-70 Big Boys break away for a high-school style all-inclusive tournament they control.
You'd still have upsets. Who knows, last season the upsets might have been delivered by a 13-7 Louisville team or a 9-16 Kentucky team or a 12-15 Indiana team. That got your attention.
Everybody else is encouraged to stay with the NCAA, which can run its tournament as it pleases.
You say that would hurt smaller leagues and conferences that depend upon their slice of NCAA Tournament revenue.
Well, let the marketplace decide what fans want to watch and support.
I'd love to find out.
"They're doing it in football," Huggins said to Myron Medcalf of ESPN at Big 12 media day in Kansas City, Missouri, Wednesday.
"Why wouldn't they do it? The presidents and athletic directors that have all the juice, why wouldn't they do it? Makes no sense why they wouldn't do it. I think it's more 'Why wouldn't they?' than 'Why would they?' And then, the other people, they can have their own tournament."
I'll take a 60-second timeout here to acknowledge the squawkers because my guess is they outnumber the group that agrees with Huggins.
How can you have March Madness without Abilene Christian, Loyola of Chicago, George Mason, Lehigh, Mercer and, of course, UMBC?
Isn't there a law against being mean to Cinderella?
Has Huggins become an old cranky symbol of the establishment who has forgotten there was a time when he was part of "the other people?"
My guess is that Huggins is merely a coach who remembers what a great time he had competing in the Big East when the Big East was a spectacular basketball league. Or when he was going sneaker to sneaker against Rick Pitino (Louisville) and John Calipari (Memphis) in Conference USA.
Football realignment drove West Virginia out of the Big East into the Big 12, where the Mountaineers are constantly playing road games at venues that are 900 to 1,500 miles from his campus in Morgantown, W.Va. That, friends, is plainly stupid.
Now, because of football, the Big 12 is morphing into an even more bizarre collection of teams that will include Brigham Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston. Oklahoma and Texas are in the process of telling West Virginia to get lost.
If you were Bob Huggins and you once competed in a ferocious league with Villanova, UConn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Georgetown, Marquette and others that were usually a short flight or a bus ride away, wouldn't you consider changing the way you did things to get more control over your life so the football outlook did not dictate everything that happened?
I would. If that means taking control of your post-season basketball tournament because that was your strongest piece of leverage, go ahead.
"We have no power because we don't generate the same kind of TV income that football does," Huggins told Medcalf. "But we don't try to."
The Big Boys could gain control with their basketball tournament. Football programs do not pretend that everybody is equal in the way they approach the playoffs and bowl structure. Basketball should take the hint.
I've heard the howls about the unfairness of this idea and how it would flush Cinderella out of the March storylines. Cinderellas are a treat on the tournament's opening weekend. By the Sweet 16, the Oral Roberts story line gets a bit soggy.
The world will adjust. As recently as 1974, the NCAA Tournament was only a 25-team event. In 1979, when the championship game drew its highest TV ratings ever, it was a 40-team party. People adjust.
Things got crazy over the next six seasons as the tournament grew to 64. That was a perfect number that put every team in position to win six games but the NCAA made another money grab by expanding the field to 68 teams.
We've stayed at 68 since 2011. Don't worry. They'll be back, trying to make room for others with more tournament expansion.
Executed properly, Huggins' idea would give us two post-season basketball tournaments -- one for the Big Boys and one for everybody else.
Maybe the champions of the two events could play. Let the marketplace decide.
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