Random thoughts while listening to far too much radio sports talk over the weekend...
This UK basketball teams doesn't have the talent to run with the other top teams
No joke, heard this on a call-in sports radio show, as a way of explaining away the loss to North Carolina. Granting, no one wants to lose to NC, especially us (though maybe Duke would like such a loss even less, though that's another story...), but when I heard this excuse, I had to almost freak-out.
Ok, let's go ahead and admit, the team may be talent-depleted. After all, they only have what, three or four high-school all-American players, other top recruits, and all-in-all no shortage of good players. Well, there have been some injuries to a couple of their better players, so that's at least a legitimate concern.
The thing is, I remember these three years back about 18 or so years ago, when the basketball team could have used that "lack of talent" excuse for underachieving. All they had were a bunch of third-string rejects, none of whom would not have be recruited (let alone start) for any other school serious about winning big. Guys with names like Pelphrey, Feldhaus, Farmer, Miller, and Hansen. I remember that first team having a rough season, actually having an .500 season that was considered very successful, and winning a big game against a very impressively talented (think Shaq among others) LSU team.
A couple of years later, a team with most of those same under-talented guys and one major talent named Mashburn played a super-talented Duke team in the NCAA. In all likelihood, only Mashburn would have been a major contributor on that Duke team. And when all was said and done, the Duke team won, but only by a miracle, and that game is among the classics.
The problem with this team isn't talent, or lack of it. They've got plenty, they've had plenty for years. They've had plenty for the last couple of years, despite the poor results for the past couple of years.
Do you know that two years ago they had three seven-footers? Did you know that all year long, the main complaint of the team was that they didn't have a strong front-line? And in the first part of the season, everyone was pinning their hopes on the return of a player who the year before had proven absolutely nothing except that he could play in a lack-luster fashion all year and still be the starting center. To be fair, Morris did play better that second year after his return, and in his third actually showed something like heart.
I do think, though, that that situation is what hurt the team, and for all that I like Tubby Smith and think him a better coach then most fans seem to want to admit, how he kept with Morris despite his indifferent play while not keeping with the others when they goofed was one source of mixed-messages and one reason the past two years, despite the high-end talent, that the results were less then they should have been.
Honestly, after Morris pulled his "I'm going into the draft without telling anyone", Smith should have told him to sit out a year and see how truly sorry he really was. At the least, he should have put the bum at the back of the bench and let him not play the role of instant-savior for a team that really didn't need him.
College football doesn't need a playoff
Seriously, some sport-talk radio guy was saying that he was rethinking his position on the that. He had been of the position that it needed a playoff, today he's saying it doesn't. His reasons for this are that it makes the games in the last week of the season more meaningful and important.
Personally, I think Cutler must have been suffering from lack of sleep.
Ok, let's say that in the last week of the season there were, oh, four games that had some big meaning to the overall big national-championship picture. Certainly compelling, no doubt.
Now, lets say we go to a 16-team playoff. We would then have 15 games that were important to the overall big national-championship picture.
And look at college basketball. Sure, the fact that the NCAA basketball tourney has,what, 64 teams (not counting the loser of the play-in game), that yes some of the conference championship games are not so relevant (though one may not want to tell the rabid fans that), what you get in exchange is the craziest three weeks in sports (not counting the World Cup) (ok, let's count it anyway).
So, a few games lose some significance, but several others gain an extraordinary amount. That's a positive trade-off.
And anyway, the NCAA football scene is a joke. Just ask Auburn.
What can be done? Simple. The fans of the teams that could have been considered realistic contenders for the playoff if the NCAA football people has sense need to think that while they do want to support their team, that so long as they keep on spending their money for tickets and hotels and food and fan stuff like t-shirts, then the bowl-people have no reason to change.
Thus, here is my idea--support your teams by not supporting them. I'm serious. The bowls are cheating your team, and they will continue to do so so long as they keep getting your money. Therefore, don't give them your money. When they realize that the fans really do want the playoff, and they'll not spend money until they get it, the big bad bowl boys will crawl to get the playoff.