Big10 Not So Big

While the Big10 might be the most attractive conference to universities when it comes to television money, it surely isn’t performing very well on the field.  The Big10 got 7 bowl bids this season which was good considering the fact that 2 teams (Ohio St and Penn St) were ineligible due to sanctions.  That would have been 9 teams out of 12 that were good enough to make the post season.

But then you look at the record of those 7 teams at 2 wins and 5 losses and it has a lot to be desired:

  • Minnesota narrowly lost 34-31 to Texas Tech
  • Michigan St defeated TCU 17-16
  • Northwestern defeated Mississippi St 34-20
  • Michigan lost 33-28 to South Carolina
  • Purdue got shellacked by Oklahoma St 58-14
  • Nebraska got whipped 45-31 by Georgia
  • Wisconsin lost 20-14 to Stanford

Now throw in Rutgers, who while they played this season in the Big East, they are a new addition to the Big10 and you have 2 wins and 6 losses.  Rutgers lost 13-10 to Virginia Tech in overtime.

It’s evident that the Big10 is the conference to be in, but that is all dictated by money and television revenue.  Rutgers and Maryland don’t add a whole lot to the Big10 outside of more television revenue.  Granted, Ohio St and Penn St are by far the best teams in the Big10 and likely would have helped the record, but still a losing one at that.  If the Big10 expands again, they need to look beyond television sets and more at competitiveness.

Remembering When Anthony Grant Left VCU

I remember the day that Anthony Grant had decided to leave VCU for greener pastures at Alabama.  I had the day off and was in DC at the Newseum and the first thing I saw was one of many papers with the headline, “Alabama gets it’s man”.

I’ll never forget the quote from Anthony Grant, “We have been given the opportunity to create a very special situation for men’s basketball at the University of Alabama and we look forward to getting started…There’s a commitment throughout the athletic department to make sure that we have the resources necessary to compete for championships.”

Those words stung.  I remember just how disappointed I was and thought the Rams would be in for some lean years ahead.  How could a program recover if they were only going to have a commitment from their coaches for a few years before moving on to greener pastures?

Fast forward from March 28, 2009 to December 15, 2012…were those pastures really that much greener?  Let’s evaluate Alabama’s accomplishments:

  • 2009-10 – 17 wins 15 losses, no post season
  • 2010-11 – 25 wins 12 losses, runner-up in NIT
  • 2011-12 – 21 wins 12 losses, lost first round of NCAA Tournament (and one win during the regular season at home against a very young VCU Ram team)

Seems fairly successful, nearly winning the NIT, amassing 63 wins and 39 losses.  But still, no championships for the Tide.

But VCU didn’t see lean years ahead.  Instead, they hired a young man named Shaka Smart that took the Rams to heights beyond what VCU fans could have imagined.  Let’s see just what VCU has done in that time:

  • 2009-10 – 27 wins 9 losses, CBIT Tournament Champions
  • 2010-11 – 28 wins 12 losses, NCAA Tournament Southwest Regional Champions, lost in the Final 4
  • 2011-12 – 29 wins 7 losses, CAA Regular Season and Tournament Champions, lost in NCAA Tournament 2nd Round (3rd if you count the play-ins)

For VCU, that is 84 wins 28 losses and 4 championships.  I don’t know but that sounds like a lot more success than what Alabama has done.  Say what you may, VCU played in a weaker conference in the CAA.  But the best Alabama has ever done in basketball is an Elite 8 appearance in 2003-04.

Today, Anthony Grant came back to the Siegel Center where the Rams hosted his Crimson Tide.  It was never a game as VCU took command early and won 73-54.  While the only player left from the team when Grant was here was David Hinton (who isn’t a regular) – it wasn’t so much revenge for the team.  Neither do we VCU fans hold a grudge against Anthony Grant.  He used VCU as a stepping stone to get more money and dream of having an easier path to the NCAA tournament.  He was a great coach (and still is) and brought our program to new levels.  I wish him the best and actually do root for him (when he’s not playing the Rams).  Thank you Coach Grant!

But this day was special for some of us VCU fans who were disappointed that day he left.  The day that the grass was greener and the thought was that something very special could be done and championships could be won.  Instead, we got a gem of a coach that has done what you, Coach Grant, have dreamed of doing.

Boycotting ESPN

I’ve had enough of ESPN as I posted earlier. I’m starting out by not using their website as I’ve removed it from my favorites. I’ve found that of all the different sites, Yahoo, CBS and Fox are going to be my go to sites. I also cancelled my ESPN the Magazine subscription too. The magazine was really disappointing and the college basketball preview was horrendous. The only thing left is the television network which will be a little harder. I don’t really watch night games because I’m an early riser. That leaves an occasional soccer game, college football and basketball. I guess I will watch them now like any other sports network…when I’m in a restaurant or VCU basketball is on (which is rare). After the New Year, I’m planning on dropping Directv…the only thing that kept me from doing so was ESPN. I will lose ESPN3, but seriously, ESPN3 is a joke as they blackout games that are nowhere near your region anyways. So long, sayanara, adios…I HATE YOU ESPN!

Why are the Yanks Signing Youk?

I just don’t understand the Yankees signing Kevin Youkilis.  Yes, they need a 3rd baseman while A-Rod heals, but why go with someone so old and on the down part of their career?  The Yankees are aging and refusing to spend money on younger players but keep spending money on old one’s?  In their pursuit to get below the $189 million salary cutoff to save on be taxed – there is going to be some lean years coming in the future.  With the aging players and the other teams that are spending like crazy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yanks finish last in the AL East.

Conference Realignment Not About TV Sets?

Is conference realignment not really about the TV sets?  Think again, the Big Ten Network is considering keeping all Rutgers and Maryland games off of the network televised games once they join.  The reason?  They want to get the local cable companies to place the network on their basic tiers.  Currently, the Big Ten Network is only available in the home markets of Maryland and Rutgers as optional cable subscriptions.  The cable subscribers outside the Big Ten market are paying about 15 cents a month for the network.  Once the network hits the basic package in the Big Ten markets, that jumps to 80 cents a month.  It doesn’t matter if people are watching the games or not, all that matters is that they have a basic cable package.

And who says the realignment focus is not based on money and tv sets?  Here it is, the dollar, greedy people, tv and ESPN are all destroying NCAA sports.

Look Out 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers sit atop the NFC West right now with 9 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie.  But hold on, this week is a cross country trip to a very hot New England Patriot team.  No offense to the 49ers or their fans, but I don’t see the 49ers winning this one at all.  So that will likely put them at 9 wins, 4 losses and 1 tie.

The Seattle Seahawks will be going to Buffalo and if they play the way they have been playing, this is a winnable game.  I look for the Seahawks to improve to 9 wins and 5 losses as they sit in 2nd place in the division.  Then comes week 16.

In week 16, the 49ers will be visiting Seattle.  I think this will be a very entertaining game and am looking forward to watching it.  But I think the Seahawks are going to win this game and be on route to winning the division.  The 49ers should be ok for a playoff wildcard though, as the lowly Cardinals will visit them to end the season.

Atlantic 10 Trying to Add Catholic 7

Now that the basketball only schools, otherwise known as the Catholic 7, have become fed up with the Big East, they are seeking a split from the league to form their own basketball conference.  Of course, standing in the way is the money that would be owed to each team from the past tournament success.  They would have had a 2/3 majority vote to dissolve the league, except for Temple having full voting rights despite not becoming a full member.

So now the Atlantic 10 is becoming proactive in this and trying to offer the Catholic 7 a spot in the league to form a conference of 21 teams.  Of course, I would absolutely love this being a VCU basketball fan, however, I think it is more a thing of desperation.  The Atlantic 10 knows if the Catholic 7 get to break away, they will likely seek schools from the Atlantic 10.

There are all kinds of rumors about them selecting other Catholic schools from the A10 along with Creighton or just selecting some of the better teams from the A10.  I was surprised to see VCU listed in the possibilities, however, I cringe to think what might happen if VCU gets left behind in a watered down A10.  It still can’t be much worse than the CAA, especially with the possibility of them adding some of the other top mid-majors like George Mason or Drexel.

This could either go really well for VCU or really bad.  An A10 conference minus some of the top teams brings VCU back to the land of mid major and possibly a one bid league.  I am currently on pins and needles right now.