Friday, March 30, 2007

Rampant Speculation Update

Friday was Rick Majerus day at Iowa. Which leads to my story of the day.

For those of you who haven't figured it out, I am a lawyer. I spent today in depositions with about 6 other attorneys. At about 10:30, one attorney's Blackberry goes off, and he quickly exited the room. About 10 minutes later, someone else's phone goes off, and he does the same. At our next break, I found out the first guy had received an email saying Reggie Theus was heading to Iowa. The other guy got a Rick Majerus message. It was far more important than the deposition.

Anyway, after today's events (which have been run down pretty solidly by our friends at The Hairgel), I'm putting the odds at 65% Majerus, 25% Altman, 10% field (with Theus and Lowery leading the way). The odd part of the Majerus speculation is the rumor that B.J. Armstrong would be brought in as his assistant, obviously as the heir apparent if and when a massive coronary takes down the great man.

Updates this weekend as news warrants. I'll be in Iowa City (hopefully in the mafioso booth at Quinton's) knocking back some cocktails Saturday night. Ladies...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rampant Speculation on the eBays...

...Dana Altman will be named the new head coach at Iowa by noon tomorrow. Purely speculation at this point, though.

UPDATE: OK, maybe not. Kevin McKenna's move for the Indiana State job (to be announced today) is a bad sign; he was long thought to be the heir apparent to Altman at CU.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's Not Plagarism If You Link To It...

Take a time out from reading the personal and professional bio of Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy (oh, what a stroke of poetic justice that hire would be) and check out what some other people have done over the past few days.

From the Wiz, smart people are burning down ivory towers over Domaingate. Note how sports bloggers are now known as "rabble-rousers." By the way, after I'm done rousing rabble over here, Jughead and I are going on a double date with the Boppsie twins.

Awful Announcing has graded the performances of the announcers doing the tournament. Billy Raftery...With the A minus! Take it to the rack, big fella!

The Big Ten is #1/#2 in the Fullmer Cup. Jim Delaney was absolutely right about those standards.

In a move that would demand its own post under normal circumstances, ESPN decided that Joe Theismann wasn't good enough for football on Mondays but plenty good for football on Saturdays. Because you know what I want from a college football announcer? One who admits he likes pro football more. By the way, EDSBS is threatening self-induced brain damage over this turn of events.

And finally, the Big Blue basketball search has turned the Michigan bloggers against one another.* Of course, you all know what this means...


For a thorough update on the UM search, check out this post from mGoBlog. And if Bielein really is their choice, it may require a complete recalibration of the Iowa odds. I still think Altman will be announced by this time next week, but Lowery and Stallings might be more eligible than I first believed.

* - By the way, I wrote a post last night that I decided to delete. If you wanted the jist of it, read this column and substitute "Altman" for "Beilein." Note especially the last two graphs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Short List, v. 2.0

It's Going to be OK

I think the running opinion now, at least among non-delusional Iowa fans, is that Barta will make a solid, safe choice now that Pearl is out of the picture. That only pushes Dana Altman closer to the job (if he will take it, that is). But there is one interesting scenario in play: the short-term PR fix.

The biggest problem for Barta now is Minnesota's signing of Tubby Smith (a masterstroke, especially coming off the confusing Tim Brewster hire). There is nobody else on the radar with the same star power as Smith, but Barta doesn't want to be seen as falling behind Minny. The smart play would be Altman or Lowery, a young coach with a proven track record from a mid-major program who would bring stability and, hopefully, success to the program. But Barta may feel pressured to make a big move. Imagine getting Majerus or someone of that ilk, a stand-in coach with a big name who can give you three to five years of his time until another successor is ready. For that reason, I'm moving Majerus to 10:1 odds and leaving the door open for Steve Lavin, Huggy Bear (still highly unlikely, but maybe a little less so), or another big-name coach waiting in the wings. I still don't see a big-money run at Gillispie or Stallings in the mix, though.

I still think this is Dana Altman's job to lose. But that's not to say it's a mortal lock.

By the way, Bruce Pearl is a class act. He could have declined the call, thereby diminishing the stature of the program. He could have played Iowa's offer for a raise from Rocky Top (like Alford or Ferentz has done routinely in the past). But he praised the institution and the program, then said he was happy in Knoxville. So thanks for making the rejection sting just a little less, Bruce.

One Down...

Barta talked to Bruce Pearl. He's not interested.

One big name down. The Hairgel is still considering Majerus, but I don't see it happening. Are there any other big names being considered, or is this now Altman's job? Huggy Bear is a non-starter, given the current administration's NFLPA-like performance in getting rolled by the faculty. Does Barta attempt to throw more than $2M at Crean/Stallings/the like? Would that even be enough? And doesn't that leave us with another Alford-like monster, looking for a better job every offseason?

Lon Kruger, maybe the biggest name left out there, moves to 4 to 1.

The head coach at Northwestern State has applied for the Iowa job. 30,000 Iowa fans just started screaming.

The speculation has Billy Donovan going to UK. That means Izzo stays put, and the dominoes that may have been set in motion by Izzo to UK don't fall.

Update later this afternoon.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Short List

Before I get to the topic of conversation, I'd like to thank the following people:
  • Gary Barta (let me count the ways...)
  • Steve Alford
  • The people buying Kirk Ferentz termination-related domain names
  • Steve Alford's Hair Gel (who knew there were this many snarky Iowa fans out there?)
  • The Wizard of Odds (who broke Domaingate, and will hereafter be known in this circle as Woodward & Bernstein)
  • Anyone who added a link to this site or added us to a blogroll
  • Anyone who reads this site (I can't imagine why you do it)
  • Google Analytics
Due to the power of modern technology and the unusual plethora of Iowa-related sports stories this week, we just had the biggest week in the history of the site. So thanks, y'all.

Now, the short list of possible successors to the throne:

DANA ALTMAN - Current head coach at Creighton

Positives: Midwestern guy who has turned down other schools (most notably Miami (FL)) so he can stay in the midwest; very successful with Creighton for a very long time; well-known and respected by Iowa fans; runs a high post offensive system that would fit the program well; strong, if not spectacular, recruiter, who improves his players over time; recruits Iowa particularly well (Nate Funk, Kyle Korver, Ryan Sears, to name a few); Ferentz-like demeanor and attraction to the school; inside word is Iowa is the job he's waited for (loyalty should not be an issue); routinely kicks the crap out of his in-state rival (this year notwithstanding)

Negatives: Got canned at K-State; doesn't deal well with primadonnas (and so he doesn't recruit them, though that could be a positive); while he carries the same kind of respect at CU that Captain Kirk does here, he also has been subject to some of the same tongue-biting criticism as of late; hasn't fared particularly well in the tournament; not yet known if he can build a Big Ten contender with the type of players he regularly gets; is already making about $800k a year at Creighton with complete job security, so the offer would have to be significant

Prognosis: Despite rumors to the contrary, I still think he's the leader at the turn. If you didn't catch it in my earlier remarks, I think he is the Kirk Ferentz of basketball. And, in Iowa City post-Golden Boy, that would be a very attractive thing. Not the wildiest pick, but likely the safest. Odds are 2:1.

BRUCE PEARL - Current head coach at Rocky Top

Positives: Former Tom Davis assistant; proven commodity as a recruiter and coach; has told people he would only leave UT for Iowa (loyalty isn't in question); would drive ILLINI supporters crazy; coaches teams that are entertaining as hell; would no longer have to wear orange jackets

Negatives: May want too much money; has a tendency to implode down the stretch on occasion (as in, the loss against tOSU Thursday night); desire to return to Iowa is little more than speculation and gossip at the moment; may not be able to recruit the players he had at UT, thereby short circuiting the "entertaining as hell" basketball; may drive ILLINI supporters a little TOO crazy (and, believe me, they're unstable enough right now); oh, and there was the body painting thing.

Prognosis: Well, Barta's probably not going to ever have to hire a football coach, so if he wants to make a splash, this would be the pick. It would take a lot of moolah, but he was already paying a ridiculous amount to a basketball coach, and he avoided a buyout with Alford's move. It still remains to be seen if Pearl would consider leaving Knoxville. If so, I don't think the search goes any further, regardless of the price. Odds are 3:1.

LON KRUGER - Current head man at UNLV

Positives: Unquestionably successful at the college level (with a disasterous Tim Floyd-esque foray into the NBA); resurrected the legacy of Tark the Shark; Big Ten ties; solid recruiter with connections into Chicago; will also drive ILLINI fans crazy; give him two hours and a graduate course catalog, and he will find a way to get his son Kevin on next year's team; once offered fans of his awful Atlanta team a $125 refund on their season tickets; kind of looks like my high school math teacher; if he sucks, at least we can all say "Kruger, my son tells me your team STINKS!" in the Frank Costanza voice

Negatives: Has job-hopped a lot, and loyalty has to be an concern; has never been an trancendent game coach; without aforementioned Iowa ties, may take a job elsewhere; would you move out of Vegas?

Prognosis: I haven't been enamored with Kruger, but while writing this I realized there aren't any particularly negative things to question. I still don't think he's the top pick that some others do, but he wouldn't be a bad choice. Remains to be seen if he would take the job. Odds are 5:1.

CHRIS LOWERY - Current head coach at Southern Illinois

Positives: Another Mo Valley product with midwestern ties; his teams play stifling defense which I would give my right hand to watch; product of the Southern Illinois coaching juggernaut; Illinois recruiting inroads; hottest coaching commodity out there right now

Negatives: Hottest coaching commodity in a market where both UK and Big Blue are looking, so we might not have a chance; three former Saluki coaches in the Big Ten might be the first sign of the apocalypse; liable to get into a fistfight with Matt Painter, and Painter usually keeps a baseball bat under the ring for those sorts of things

Prognosis: If he doesn't get the UM job (or another one when a top coach goes to UK), Iowa could be an attractive option. Then again, he could just stay at Southern and keep winning the damn conference every season, too. I don't think we can get him. Odds are 8:1.

KIRK SPERAW - Current head coach, Central Florida

Positives: Young, talented, and successful; Sioux City native; played at Iowa under Lute; learned as an assistant under Lute and the aforementioned Kruger; built a program at UCF from the ground up; recruing ties in the south and southwest; wins a lot of games and makes the tournament occasionally, even though he coaches at a school nobody has ever heard of.

Negatives: Nobody has ever heard of him; has his own self-aggrandizing website, which seems a little Alford-esque; having two coaches named Kirk would almost certainly make my head explode.

Prognosis: The real dark horse here. If Barta wanted to make a pick out of nowhere and hope to be considered a genius down the road, this might be the choice. Would almost mirror the Ferentz football hire, in that he is an unknown coach with UI ties who may well see Iowa as his dream job. Don't count him out. Odds are 8:1.

GREG McDERMOTT - Current head coach of The Great Satan

Positives: Would only add to the inferiority complex of ISU (only Bruce Pearl would piss off a rival more); was considered the heir apparent if Golden Boy made the jump to Hoosier Daddy or Mizzou last season; has publicly stated an interest in the job in the past; loves Iowa (the state) to the point that he refuses to leave for employment elsewhere; could be announced in one of those "Hulk Hogan joins NWO" press conferences, where he takes a steel chair to Jamie Pollard's melon

Negatives: Known terrorist

Prognosis: Is not going to happen. Barta is too emasculated to make this move (and if you're emasculated by a guy named Jamie, you might have had good reason to purchase, and, frankly, I don't want him. Odds are 15:1.


Billy Gillispie (A&M) - Surely you jest.
Tom Crean (Marquette) - Comical. There is NO CHANCE he's leaving Marquette (now a bona fide major program in the Big East) for Iowa.
Kevin Stallings (Vandy) - Maybe a little less myopia, but still not gonna happen.
Rick Majerus (your local IHOP) - Mentioned at the end of every season since 1995, but the age/health concerns/total obnoxiousness makes him a bad choice. He does know a lot about O-fense, though.
Bob Huggins (K State) - Too many concerns about graduation rates from the holier-than-thou eggheads. Too little time at KSU. I'd kinda like to see it, but it ain't gonna happen.
Bob Knight (Texas Tech) - Would be like watching Kill Bill every time Hoosier Daddy came around. He would be my choice. But he'll be 67 when next season starts, and his son has indicated that he thinks pops is going to call it quits soon.
Dr. Tom Davis (formerly of Drake) - Can you imagine the reaction from Bowlsby? That alone would make the return of the troll worthwhile. He's retired though. And you have to question the judgment of a man who named his son after the casino game with the worst odds, don't you? I wonder if his daughter is named Roulette.

Is there anyone else?

Larry Eustachy - Now we're talking!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Make Like a Tree and Get Outta Here

It's official. Golden Boy is in New Mexico. I thought the best part of this would be the (hopefully) inevitable turnaround of a once-proud basketball program, but that's not it. I thought it might be the exorcism of so many demons (some Steve's fault, some not), but that wasn't it, either. It was opening the Des Moines Register to the Shakespearean prose of Seth "Lil' Sonderliter" Gorney:
  • "Around here, he was getting a bunch of slander and everything."
  • "It boggled my mind. If they don't know him, then why would they want to judge him? I don't think it's fair."
  • "Out there, they're big-time with basketball, whereas here, it's football - with some basketball. He's going to a school where basketball is the main sport."
  • "I don't think anyone likes to hear that the coach that recruited you is taking another job. I'm really indifferent to it right now."
  • Gorney said he doesn't have a preference on the next coach "as long as they know what they're doing," he said.
Greco-Roman wrestling match with the English language aside (I highly doubt he meant to use "indifferent" as he did, and I guarantee he couldn't identify "slander" if it walked up and introduced itself), Gorney's comment on Iowa as a football school is the one true indictment of the Alford era. Take a trip with me, the future!

The date? October 26, 1999. Earlier in the year, Iowa hired two new coaches: the unknown Kirk Ferentz and the positively famous Steve Alford. In the prior year, Iowa football was 3-8, and Iowa basketball had made the Sweet 16. Every person on campus believed in Alford; nobody had ever heard of Ferentz. Alford even sold out a preseason lecture on basketball. In his first game, Ferentz was trounced by perennial powerhouse Nebraska, a team two years removed from half a national championship. On the other hand, in his first game, Alford beat the #1 UConn Huskies, the defending national champions. Both teams eventually sucked (football only won once; basketball went 14-16), but there was a hint of promise with the basketball program that simply didn't exist with football.

But football began to improve, and the (dare I say) magical 2002 season put Iowa football back on the national radar. In the meantime, Alford's basketball teams continued to languish in the middle of the Big Ten. Compare the year-by-year records of the two coaches:

1999: 1-10 (0-8) / 14-16 (6-10)
2000: 3-8 (3-5) / 23-12 (7-9)
2001: 7-5 (4-4) / 19-16 (5-11)
2002: 11-1 (8-0) / 17-14 (7-9)
2003: 10-2 (6-2) / 16-13 (9-7)
2004: 10-3 (7-1) / 21-12 (7-9)
2005: 7-4 (5-3) / 25-9 (11-5)
2006: 6-7 (2-6) / 17-14 (9-7)

In all but two seasons, Ferentz's teams exceeded expectations; in all but two seasons, Alford's failed to meet theirs. The mediocrity and underachievement of the program, when combined with the Pierre Pierce fiasco, the constant wooing of Indiana, the arrogance (real or perceived), and the consistent success of football made it impossible for the Golden Boy. I've handed it to him all season; this team did far better than I ever thought it could. But when 17-14, with losses to UNI and Drake, is in excess of expectations, you realize how far you've fallen.

I'm glad Alford is gone (I even did a little jig around my office when I heard the news), but I don't think I'm glad for all the same reasons. Contrary to popular opinion, he did a pretty good job the last couple of years. But it is unquestionably the best move for all parties that he leaves now on his terms.

As for Gorney, someone needs to get him a tape of the Lute years. Or the Armstrong years. Or even the Settles years. Iowa isn't a football school with a little basketball. Iowa supports a program that wins with class. Too often in the past eight years, Iowa basketball has done neither.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dana Altman Had Better Be on Speed Dial

Do Lobos have horns?

Golden Boy is off to the great Southwest, like Don Quixote without the windmills. And this isn't idle chatter; it's coming from semi-legitimate news outlets like WHO Des Moines (did you know they used to employ Ronald Reagan?) and KXIC Iowa City.

Obviously, this moves Domaingate off the front page, and there are plenty of questions. But I, like most Iowa fans, will not shed a tear over the loss, especially if Dana Altman gets the job. He's the obvious choice (actually, he was the obvious choice 8 years ago), because he would reinvigorate in-state recruiting.

Just look at this list of Iowa basketball players who didn't play for Iowa during the Alford tenure (just off the top of my head):
  • Kirk Hinrich (Rock Chalk)
  • Nick Collison (Jayhawk)
  • Kyle Korver (lifelong Hawkeye ignored by Alford; Creighton)
  • Nate Funk (Creighton)
  • Brian Bohannon (whose dad played for Iowa; Wisky)
  • Grant Stout (UNI; in Steve's defense, might not be any better than our current guys)
And I doubt that's it. Now, the big questions:
  • Why the hell did this happen? It's a pretty obvious step down, after all.
  • Who else is in play for the job? The Lon Kruger rumor is absurd.
  • Who leaves? The only obvious question may be Tyler Smith (who would dominate in Altman's high post set, by the way)
  • Do the recruits stay? I'm guessing the annual contingent of mediocre Indianans (I made that word up) may back out, but the big question is the much-hyped class of 2008.
In any case, it's finally a brave new world in Carver-Hawkeye. And probably not a moment too soon.

By the way, Tom Davis retired today, as well. It seems particularly fitting now. Godspeed, Good Doctor.

Is "Keep-Kirk-Ferentz-but-Fire-His-Offensive-" Taken?

Earlier in the week, we brought up the story from The Wizard of Odds. Irish Hawk left this comment:
How much do these go for?? B/c we could register
or another variation of bad coaches and make a killing.
Well (again according to the Wiz, who is a much better reporter than me), that's exactly what's happening:
Given developments since the story broke, Iowa's decision to snap up seven domain names appears to be backfiring. Interest in other cyberspace combinations have sparked a new round of domain name staking. We heard from one individual who purchased A check also showed that had been secured in the previous 24 hours.
Now, we all need to come together as a nation of Iowa supporters and agree to a method for deciding which Kirk Ferentz termination-related website will rule supreme. You know what that means...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Big Ten Year in Review - Minnesota/Penn State

So, now that the annual Billy Packer Douchebag Extravaganza is entering its second week - and my bracket is in flames (the chalkiest tournament in recent memory, this March Madness) - I'm going to begin reviewing the Big Ten season. I'll be referring to the preview I did in December, pointing out where I was right and, more often than not, where I was wrong.

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (9-22 overall; 3-13 conference)

I think that pretty well sums it up.

First, from the preview:
The rumors of Dan Monson's imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated over the past couple of seasons (to the point that the Star-Tribune made a "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline gaffe last March). He benefits from being the fifth-biggest game in town (Vikings, T-Wolves, Gopher football, and Gopher hockey are bigger, as are ice fishing and licking flagpoles). But this might be the season where he finally goes down. The Precious Metallic Rodents return zero seniors, and only four players with conference game experience. Vince Grier is gone, along with pretty much everyone else you ever saw in a Gopher uniform over the past season. And that team wasn't very good, either. They're replaced by a ragtag group of JUCO transfers and typically unathletic Minnesota big men. And the unathletic big men are their best asset this season. Yikes. Throw in Monson's traditional inability to win games (as in, one NCAA appearance in six years) and all indications are that this team will blow, a feeling that has been confirmed by early-season losses to Iowa State, Southern Illinois, Montana, and Marist. Ouch. This one's gonna hurt....You can't spell "Minnesota University Golden Gopher Basketball" without "STRUGGLING." 9-20, and Monson gone by February 1.
I Was Right:

Well, I was right about Monson. He was gone by the beginning of Big Ten play. And the unathletic big men were their best asset; the best Gopher all year was Spencer Tollackson (the aforementioned brother from My Name is Earl). Oh, and I hit the number of wins right on the money. Someone call Vegas.

I Was Wrong:

I was wrong to say there were no positives for this team. There were no seniors, so the experience of a Big Ten season alone should help, especially with the return of Coleman, Mackenzie, Tollackson, and Abu-Shamayla. All four of those guys showed a little promise this season. If they ever decide on a coach, they could be a little interesting next year. Also, I was apparently wrong on the number of games they would play. Not entirely certain why.


Still pretty negative. The program has absolutely no continuity at the moment, and the athletic department really doesn't seem to care. They return everyone, but I don't know exactly how good that is. I would expect a little improvement next year, but 6 conference wins would be great unless Bob Knight is the next coach.

PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (11-19 overall; 2-14 conference)

The closest PSU came to stomping an opponent all season.

From the preview:
JoePa, titanium knee and all, could probably outjump anyone on this team. That being said, they're young, they had a relatively good year last season (6 conference wins, NIT appearance), and their best player returns....Geary Claxton will make or break this team. He averaged 15 last season; getting into the 19-22 PPG range could take this team over the top. Combine that with some experienced guard play (2 senior starting guards, neither of which score a whole lot) and PSU might not be too bad....There's no size on this roster. They have a couple of stiffs over 6'9" but no low post threat. Actually, outside Claxton and Jamelle Cornley, who averaged over 11 PPG last season, there's not a whole lot of scoring here. Big problem when the team that scores the most points wins the game. Oh, and Claxton broke his hand and will be out until at least the second week of December....The Claxton-less Lions already lost to Stony Brook. And then they beat St. Joe's. So who the hell knows what's going to happen? I'll say they finish about 5-11 in the conference (they have a brutal two week stretch in February where they will face tOSU and Wisky twice each). They'll drop at least two more in non-conference play. That means something like 15-14 should be about right.
I Was Right:

They had no size or scoring. And JoePa could outjump everyone.

I Was Wrong:

I completely underestimated the effect College Station apathy has on this team. I don't think Iowa fans can understand how little PSU fans care about basketball. Their spirit has been sucked dry by year after year of rebuilding projects, losses, firings, rebuilding projects, losses, firings, ad infinitum. England and Ireland haven't repeated history this often. Every coach walks into that program looking to turn it around, and every one fails to make an immediate impact, and the fans head for the exits. Ed DeChellis may soon be gone, for exactly the same reasons (Run Up The Score, if you want to chime in here on whether I'm accurate and why, I'd appreciate it).

I was right to say that Claxton was their best player, but even his Herculean performances couldn't hide the fact that this team sucked. Claxton finished with 16.9 PPG, but would have had to approach 30 to pull PSU out of its tailspin. In fact, some might argue that Claxton's return hindered the progress of this team in some way. I also failed to call the inevitable win at home over Iowa in late February, a pick so obvious a caveman could make it.

When I'm calling in a wager on Iowa-Penn State, I wonder, "Are
there demons inside this contraption controlling my thoughts?" I
don't know. My caveman mind cannot grasp these concepts.

Prognosis: I don't think Ed DeChellis is a particularly bad coach; he's just a mediocre coach in a no-win situation. He should get one more year, and I think he will. He returns a (hopefully) healthy Geary Claxton and the underrated, and very talented, Jamelle Cornley. They should be better. Then again, they can't be worse.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Who Wants to Fire El Capitan?

Long-time readers may remember this: Back in September, we found the University had purchased the rights to ("The Real-Life Gil Thorp," 9/25/06). Well, that's not the only domain name the University owns. Via The Wizard of Odds:

Last month, the University of Iowa Athletic Department purchased the domain, which was previously owned by, a site that sells fireyourcoach domain names.

Ferentz, the Iowa coach, is the highest-paid employee in the state with an annual salary of $2.7 million. His teams won 31 games during a three-year span from 2002-2004, but his past two squads have struggled to 7-5 and 6-7 records. now redirects you to, the main site of Iowa athletics.

Redshirted is reportedly operated by a technology worker in Austin and last August had fireyourcoach domain rights to 27 coaches. That list has dwindled to 20 and the site lists as one of nine domains sold.

To the best of our knowledge, Iowa is the first athletic department to take the proactive move of purchasing domains that could be used to criticize athletic department officials. Iowa also has rights to, the women's basketball coach, and FireGaryBarta, the athletic director. Those two URLs also redirect you to

Up to this point, such purchases have been made by fans, the most notable coming in 2002 when a Florida fan purchased shortly after he was named Gator coach.
Notably absent? Because Tom Brands rules.

I'll be back tonight or tomorrow with a review of our Big Ten preview.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tournament Picks, Final Eight

I hate the "Elite Eight." I refuse to use it. So there.

Before we get going, Bill Simmons stole my Snoop Dogg/LBC angle from yesterday (not that it was particularly original), then included Name of the Year as his "favorite March Madness timekiller" today. I think he's a closet fan of the site.

And, after further review (especially the criminal seeding), I'm changing my pick, putting UNLV over Georgia Tech. They could be Wisky, as well, but I'm not going that far.

To the picks...

MIDWEST - I know it was their best game of the season, but after watching the Pac-10 final, I get the feeling Oregon is peaking at exactly the right time. Regardless of who comes out of the top half of this bracket (I have Maryland; the rest of the planet has Florida), I think OREGON gets the win.

WEST - Normally, I would look at the numbers and knee-jerk choose Rock Chalk over UCLA. But let's have a look at KU's losses this season. Oral Roberts and DePaul make virtually no sense, but Tech and A&M were losses against great game coaches. And if there's one thing Bill Self will never be confused with, it's a great game coach. When the talent gap tightens, it's the coaching that matters. And guess what? Ben Howland is one of those coaches. Throw in the experience from a Final Four run and games in their own backyard, and I'll take UCLA over KU.

EAST - Too much size. Too much Jeff Green. Too much ability to slow down Carolina. Too much mask on Hansborough's melon. It's everyone's favorite #2 seed, but I too am going with GEORGETOWN.

SOUTH - Ohio State was playing with 9 chiefs and no indians for a good chunk of the season, but all of that changed sometime in mid-February. Finally, they were content to work the ball through Oden. And great things happened, like two dismantlings of Wisconsin. I'm the first one to admit the Big Ten is down this season, and there's no way the conference deserved the number of bids it got, but tOSU is for real. And, despite my love of Acie Law and all the clutch shots that come with him, I don't think A&M has enough to stay in this game. OHIO STATE is my only #1 seed in the Final Four.

OREGON vs. UCLA - Oregon won game 1 by 2 at home. UCLA won game 2 by 12 at home. UCLA is the better team. I'm taking the Bruins.

tOSU vs. GEORGETOWN - Georgetown has beaten its opponents all year long by occupying the middle with their big guys, putting the ball in Green's hands, and letting him destroy the opponent. I don't think you can beat tOSU that way. Oden plays his one-man zone and contains Hibbert, and the never-ending wave of tOSU perimeter players stifles Jeff Green (to the extent Jeff Green can be stifled). In other words, the team with a dominant center and a never-ending stream of perimeter players who can play some defense is the worst possible matchup for Georgetown. So long as tOSU's shooting doesn't go south (and it hasn't crippled them in a game since Oden got to 75% health), tOSU is in the final...

tOSU vs. UCLA - ...and they're an equally horrible matchup for UCLA, a team without a big man to answer Oden. They should have had it in football; they'll get it in basketball. THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY is your national champion. Get down, Mr. Oden...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

World B. Free's Got Nothin' On Me

I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. Read and it will be self-explanatory:

Name of the Year

I highly recommend the Name of the Year lists on the right. Oh dear God.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Billy Packer Douchebag Festival Begins...

...and it's not yet even Selection Sunday.

For those of you who have forgotten, Mr. Packer is the 137 year-old (approximate) curmudgeon who does color commentary on CBS. He's joined by "King of the WASPs" Jim Nantz in what can only be described as a soul-sucking unholy allegiance of hatred, oldness, and bad punnery. You might remember him from such idiotic comments as:

  • "He was just going for the ball...Jim, if anything, that was probably Hansbrough's fault for going after Henderson's elbow with his face ..." - Packer on Herderson's assault and battery of Hansborough (though he did have the decency to point out that "The game is over, scorewise," reminding us gamblers that Duke still had a chance to cover the spread)
  • "I don't see how you let in a George Mason and leave out a Maryland." - Packer on Selection Sunday 2006, lamenting the rejection of a 7-9 ACC team for a mid-major. When not annoying the public at large, Packer does ACC games for local affiliates. Oh, and GMU went to the Final Four.
  • "He's a tough monkey." - Packer describing Allen Iverson, circa 1996.
  • "I never wanted Billy inbounding the ball, because he would try to throw it to himself." - Packer's coach at Wake Forest
And the list goes on today, as Packer takes a shot at the impending inclusion of more mid-majors in this year's tournament (in USA Today):
CBS analyst Billy Packer, who will call his 33rd Final Four, doesn't like what he sees as change in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Now, he says, there will be 50 tournament teams "that can beat any other team on a one-game basis," up from maybe four teams in that category a decade ago. But isn't that more entertaining? Sure, Packer says: "If you're a sports fan, this is far more exciting."

But, Packer says, "If you're a technical nerd, like I'm considered by some people, there are all kinds of flaws." Like the college tournament, he says, having been infected by And1, referring to the shoe sponsor whose tournaments spawned ESPN's TV series. "That's summer-league guys showboating," he says. "It's like the NBA All-Star Game. I call that And1. It's not basketball."

The new rule forcing players to go to college for a year before turning pro has created "a problem much bigger than anybody in position of control is admitting." Players who should go straight from prep games to the pros should just do it, he says.

I'm sorry, but enough is enough. Why in the name of all that is holy does CBS subject us to this never-ending douchebaggery? I know Billy probably knew Dr. James Naismith in college, but the "And 1" game? So what exactly IS basketball, Mr. Packer? It's not as if basketball players started running the fast break and wearing baggy shorts overnight, after all. The obvious response to Packer can't be done any better than it was on Run Up the Score, and I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel. But there are three other obvious flaws in Packer's idiocy that must be tackled:

First, exactly what is the correlation between the rise of mid-major programs and "And 1" basketball? When you think up-tempo, "showboating" basketball, the names that immediately come to mind are Rock Chalk, Ohio State, UNC (to a ridiculous degree), and (maybe) Arizona. Can anyone name one single mid-major team which "showboats" like any of those teams? If anything, Packer should be praising the mid-majors as the triumph of experience and fundamental basketball over McDonald's All-American recruiting, not trashing it as the cause of all the (non-existent) problems he has with the game today.

Second, and this is almost indisputable, but the immediate jump of top players from prep ball to the pros is exactly the reason the mid-majors are winning. A group of seven upperclassmen, who have played together for 2-3 years, can overcome the five best freshmen in the country on a given night. If those freshmen still played as juniors, the same could not be said. It's not just mid-majors, but senior-laden mid-majors, who are making it into the dance. George Mason and Wichita are perfect examples from last year, and Southern Illinois and Butler are great ones from this year.

Third, what exactly makes a major conference? Is there any discernable difference between the Big East and the Mo Valley, other than tradition? Look at the numbers:
  • There are exactly the same number of state schools in each conference (6), even though the MVC has six fewer members
  • Average enrollment is skewed by South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinatti, and Pitt, but the Big East leads (21,110 vs. 12,476); that number was much closer in the original Big East (17,670 vs. 12,746), as South Florida and Cinci move that number up.
  • Average attendance is tighter (10,585 vs. 9,478). In the interest of fairness, that number has moved slightly closer since the exodus/expansion; South Florida plays in an elementary school gym with 37 seats, though they sell out almost all of the time.
  • The Big East has D-1 football, but barely; eight teams don't play. None of the Valley teams play D-1, but that's reallty only three more basketball-only members than the Big East.
  • The "tradition" of the Big East, ironically, is in schools that weren't, until recently, members of the conference (Louisville and Cincinatti have won the most championshipsand appeared in the most Final Fours; UConn is the only original member to have ever won more than once).
So where's the marked difference in size that entitles the Big East to Packer's praises? The play is probably better (mostly due to the "And 1" recruits at those schools), but, as we all saw last year (and this year - just ask Syracuse/LSU/the entire state of Iowa), not that much better. So what's the basis of this David vs. Goliath thing? Why does Packer lament at-large bids in the Colonial, the Valley, or the WAC when asking for more from the Big East or ACC? (By the way, the ACC is even smaller in average enrollment than the Big East, but at least they have some good football, and nobody can deny the tradition of Tobacco Road.)

The lesson, as always: Billy Packer is a turd sandwich.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It's Not Plagarism If You Link To It...

Stuff other people have written that you should read:

ESPN ombudsman George Solomon, who I kinda sorta attacked as a sycophant last month, is calling it quits. His greatest hits have been compiled at Hurricanes are for Drinking (which I haven't read until Deadspin linked to it this afternoon, and I've gotta say it's not too bad).

Complete Sports blatantly steals my idea for the rest of the week. Bastards.

Via Deadspin, Ron Zook can't read a schedule

The Every Day Should Be Saturday run-down of ESPN: The Weekend is about as funny as it gets.

And this is almost a year old, but it's probably my favorite article of all time. The guys over at the M Zone took the time to publish the M Zone Wonderlic test. It was then stolen, word-for-word, by Colin Cowherd from ESPN Radio. I hate that guy, not only because he sucks at life but also because he took Kornheiser's radio spot. Now, with the return of Old Guy Radio on (with podcasts available on iTunes), seems to be a good time to resurrect this bit of humor.

Monday, March 05, 2007

March Blahness, Pt. 1 - The Big Ten (plus one)

I hate being an Iowa basketball fan.

Implode at MSU. Stomp Purdue. Collapse against Penn State. Beat ILLINI. I can't take it anymore. This season has to end before it leaves me in a coma.

Speaking of which, Big Ten tournament pairings are out. My preview:

(8) Michigan vs. (9) Minnesota - Everyone is claiming this is a must-win for Michigan. I can't imagine any possible scenario where Michigan gets in without winning the whole damn thing, and I don't think anyone who has watched them more than once can claim differently. The collapse against tOSU would be absolutely epic, had it not been for the fact that Big Blue has collapsed in an identical manner at least 5 other times during Amaker's reign of terror. And, even though I know Blue is the better team, I'm taking the awful, AWFUL Gophers here.

(By the way, the answer is yes: it might actually be worse to be a Michigan basketball fan than an Iowa fan. That being said, name one thing about Michigan's resume that Iowa doesn't have, and I think we all know the Hawks are heading to the NIT. The fact that Michigan's in the discussion is absurd).

(7) Michigan State vs. (10) Northwestern - What, are you kidding me? MSU needs two to punch their ticket, and this is the first. Izzo HUGE.

(6) ILLINI vs. (11) Pennsylvania State University - Goodbye, Geary. Goodbye, Ed DiChellis. Hello, JoePa Basketball!

(1) tOSU vs. (9) Minnesota - Heh.

(4) Iowa vs. (5) Purdue - I want to take Purdue here. I really do. I just want this roller-coaster to end. And I know that, if Iowa wins here, I'll talk myself into thinking they'll get tOSU feeling a little lackadaisical, and Haluska will put the team on his back and go for 40, and I will be forced to go to Chicago for the weekend. And then they'll certainly lose and I'll be stuck in Chicago watching tOSU against whoever beats Wisconsin (more on this later).

But you know what? Iowa won't lose this game, because they won't lose to a team coached by Shane McMahon. Hawks in a close one.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet
your 2007 Purdue Boilermakers!

(2) Wisconsin vs. (7) MSU - Take it away, Mr. Sinatra:
And so, the end is near, and now I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case of which I'm certain:
I've lost my big man, I'm guaranteed a Number Two,
And much, much more than this, I'm playing again against MSU"
Didn't win the first time. Shouldn't have won the second time. Won't win the third time. MSU rolls the Badgers. And, believe me, we'll be pulling the final curtain on Wisky soon enough.

(3) Indiana vs. (6) ILLINI - After losing at Carver, The Team Without A Name needs a win to punch their ticket. But last I checked, Illinois still doesn't have a point guard. Maybe Kelvin will loan them The Troll. Hoosier Daddy BIG.

(1) tOSU vs. (4) Iowa - The incredibly freaking awesome Big Ten Wonk published his big statistical analysis of the conference (and a smaller look at all other power conferences) this weekend. Iowa averaged 1.05 points per possession in the conference this year. Points allowed per possession? 1.05. That's fourth in the conference on offense and eighth on defense. However, there aren't that many teams who are better in both:
  • Wisconsin
  • OSU
  • Indiana
  • North Carolina
  • Maryland
  • Pittsburg
  • Louisville
  • Georgetown
  • Notre Dame
  • Rock Chalk Jayhawk (whose number is astounding)
  • A&M
  • UCLA
  • USC
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
Not on that list? Just about every lock from the ACC (such as DUKE, BC, GT, etc.), Pac-10, and Big XII. There are obvious differences in the conferences which may determine some of this, and he is adding a "tempo rating" to account for some of that differences. Also, there are some teams better in one and even in another (including good teams like Washington State and Rocky Top, and not so good ones like Mississippi State and Mizzou). Nevertheless, Iowa's numbers are awfully good when you look at it. Every team on that list is a lock. Pretty much every one of them will be a top-5 seed. I know the non-conference losses screwed Iowa's chances (Drake, Arizona State, and UNI in particular are looking awful), but I still don't get why this team has no chance when Big Blue and ILLINI are in the hunt.

In any case, Iowa has to win here to get into the conversation. But tOSU knows a #1 seed is locked with a win here (the selection committee will already have them in place before the conference final is played, especially if Wisconsin goes early). Too much Oden. Too much talent. Too much tOSU.

(3) Indiana vs. (6) MSU - Is there anyone else who thinks Izzo watches the Iowa-IU game tape and realizes he has the personnel to shut down D.J. White? And is Indiana good enough from the perimeter to make up for it if he does? I think the answers are "yes" and "not quite," but Sparty has been so turnover-prone that the Sampson pressure wins out. Indiana in a close one.

(1) tOSU vs. (3) Indiana - Hoosier daddy now? Exclamation point game for a team that knows it's got a chance. Your conference champions are The Ohio State University Buckeyes.

Shocking result, I know, but is there anyone in the conference who can beat this team when they're ready to play? I haven't seen them yet. So it's hoping for a lousy performance with the season wrapped up, but I just don't see it happening with this team. Believe me, I hope I'm wrong.

So, after wrapping up that little exercise, I think I'm going to do the Mo Valley later in the week. Oh, wait, nevermind. Creighton already won, I guess.