Grounds For Divorce

I’m filing for divorce.

There, I said it.

I need time away to see if I want to continue this relationship as a Hawkeye fan.

Why am I doing this? Easy. There is a faction (a certain group) of Iowa fans and media that has made it hard for me to remain a fan.

The last three weeks should have been something to  smile and cheer about. The Hawkeyes men’s basketball team ended up playing for the NIT championship game on Thursday night. They finished with 25 wins, the first time the Hawks finished with 20 or more wins since 2006.  Fans have started to rally around this team and coach Fran McCaffrey.

But, most of that took a back seat to something that should have went away after a few days, but it continues to have legs.

An individual, who left this state in the spring of 2007 became the hot topic for Hawkeyes fans. I’m not going to say his name. I’m tired of hearing it. I’m not going to list all of the things that took place during that era, because most of you are well-versed in.

I never had an opinion of him either way. Nor do I care. It was time for a clean slate.

However, a certain group of fans, some members of the media, and others can’t seem to cut loose an albatross around their necks. A few days of it is okay, but like many topics, they go away, and a new topic comes up.

But, they are still talking about him and won’t shut up about it. We’ve wasted our time and are burned out.  It’s time to drop it, once and for all.

The more you talk about this individual, you downplay the efforts of what Fran McCaffrey has done to revive this program. The more you talk about “that guy”, the more you prove Dan Dakich’s point that we live in the past and can’t move forward.  The more you keep bringing up “that guy’s” name, you drive away loyal and sensible Hawkeyes fans with this drivel. 

Those fans have moved on from that era, but you won’t let them.

It’s time for the rest of you to do the same.

If you can’t, then that’s a “you” problem. You should appreciate how far this Iowa men’s basketball program have come from that sordid, tense, and acrimonious era. and the period after that.

As fans, we’ve seen the bottom of the barrel. We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly, some choose to keep lurking in the dark, obsessed over one guy. How dare you let your obsession of this individual take the fun away from the rest of us.

Herky has no time to live in the past. He should know. He’s seen the days of losing football and basketball before. He likes what he sees in Fran and the boys.

You make it hard to be a Hawkeye fan, especially when you can’t appreciate what you got now.

Jay Whannel, fellow Wartburg College alum, put it best:

“He’s not here anymore. It’s over. Move on.”

But, most of you refuse to do so, and it’s pissing me off.

I don’ t need to read Pat Harty’s column, watch Keith Murphy rant, listen to Ken Miller, and read Dan Bernstein’s troll tweets about this individual. Enough already about “that guy”. Yet, you keep poking us with a stick to get us to react to your opinion about him.

Three weeks of this crap is enough. I don’t care if you support him or hate him. It’s time to bury the damn coffin and walk away.

Which is why I want a divorce.

This time, it’s not about me. It’s about you. You won’t let it die, and it’s killing us.

It’s not your problem anymore. It’s UCLA’s deal now.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a fan base spend more time talking about a polarizing individual than Eric May, Devyn Marble, and a group of kids busting their asses on the floor. We’re still picking at the healed scab, screaming to the rooftops to anyone about how much that scab hurts.

I’m fed up with it.

This guy and his team would prefer that you stop standing under that black cloud that you’re holding over yourself. It’s a new day in Iowa City. Take advantage, man, take advantage.

Fran McCaffrey and the Iowa program doesn’t need a black cloud hanging over them, but you keep pulling the cloud back over the program so you can continue to bitch about “that guy”.

Company loves misery.

I’m not down with that. A few others are with me on this.

So to the group of fans and media that’s still picking that scab known as “that guy”, I’ll see you this fall.

I’m willing to reconcile and get back together. I believe in the adage that time heals wounds and rebuilding trust.

But for now, get your shit together, get some counseling, or whatever you need, and stop talking about “that guy”.

You’re better than that.

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Part 2 of “Ideas for a 96-team tournament to be successful”

On Tuesday, we started exploring ideas that the NCAA can make their men’s basketball tournament successful once they expand the field from 64 to 96 teams.  Today, we’ll look at the teams, television coverage, and the tournament locations.

The decision to expand the field will most likely come in July, with the proposal to go in effect starting with the 2011 tournament.  In part one, the tournament committee make-up and the schedules were discussed and I gave my ideas on those two factors.

Teams

Teams need to finish .500 or better in the league if they want to get in the Big Dance.

The expansion of the tournament may be a sign that the non-major conferences like the Missouri Valley, the Southern, and the Big West conference will have more teams in the field.  But there is a concern that mediocre-to-poor  teams from power leagues like the Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC, and Big East will get in, solely on the basis of the reputation of their respective leagues.

Idea:  a team that has less than a .500 record in conference play in any league, will not be considered for an at-large bid, unless they win their conference tournament.  That may include leagues in which the conference champion has a less than a .500 record and no league tournament.

Example:  West Eastern State is the regular-season conference champions with an 8-10 record.  If their league has no conference tournament, they should not get an at-large bid.  If a conference tournament is held and they win it, they will receive the automatic bid.  This is an attempt to get the best teams with good records in the tournament. If a conference doesn’t have a team with a .500 or above record, they probably don’t deserve to have a team representing them in the tournament.

Television

The NCAA, upon approval of the expansion, will likely opt out of its television contract with CBS, ending a 28-year relationship with the network when CBS acquired the rights to broadcast the tournament in 1982.  ESPN will get the first crack to bid on acquiring the rights.  Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.  However in this day and age, there are many viewers who, for some reason, still do not have basic cable to watch ESPN.

"It looks I'll have to use my 'Hello Friends' line for the Masters starting in 2011. Damn."

Yes, they still resort to watching terrestrial television.

With that said, efforts have been made in the past to provide the extra coverage of games for fans who want to follow their teams.   The March Madness on Demand website the NCAA provides has been one of the most successful ventures to be created to cater to those who are unable to watch the game on television.

I don’t have a suggestion for television because if ESPN gets it, it can handle the workload, which is something that CBS could do, but may not have the expansive resources that ESPN has.  Though I have one wish:  CBS to do the coverage from the Sweet Sixteen to the National Championship game.  Then again, it’s me.

Locales

With the creation of the pod system in 2002, the efforts to limit the early-round travel has been a moderate success.  However, the hangup I have is that the NCAA tends to re-use the same venues over and over.  This is a prime opportunity for cities like Des Moines (Wells Fargo Arena) to be considered to host the 1st 2 rounds , or the 3rd and 4th rounds of the expanded tournament.  There can be so many times Spokane, Birmingham, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Boise State can continue hosting games. The NCAA needs to break out this comfort level and move the sites around to give cities like Des Moines and Omaha a chance to prove that they can be great hosts during the tournament.

Des Moines' Wells Fargo Arena could finally get that coveted 1st & 2nd, or a 3rd & 4th round games.

Idea:  stop re-using the same tired old venues and move the tournament sites around, as the tournament was designed to do.  Also consider doing what the women’s tournament has done for some time now:  have the higher seed host the 1st two rounds on campus.   Keep in mind, the state of  South Carolina has been excluded from hosting, due to that state’s refusal to take down the Confederate flag.

Those are my biggest ideas and suggestions at this point with respects to March Madness.  Things could change between now and July when the NCAA makes the final decision.

I invite you to read these suggestions from today and from Tuesday, and tell me what you do you think?  Did I go far enough or is there a better plan that you have?


“Better get used to it” Ideas for a 96-team tournament to be successful

It's going to be tougher for Mr. President to fill out his bracket next year.

Someone I know asked me late last week what is my opinion on the NCAA’s inevitable decision to expand the men’s basketball tournament from 65 teams to 96.

My official response was “personally, I’m not a fan of it, but it’s going to happen.  Better sit back and get used to it.”

I’m not a fan of changing something that has worked successfully, but I’m open to the idea of 96 teams.  Let’s face it, the tournament has went from 8 to 64 teams since 1939, and no one complained.  But with that said, I’m not the head of the NCAA.  There may have been some push-back when the field expanded to 64 in 1985, but it has done quite well.

I’m going to break this topic into two blogs because I’m not going to turn this into a manifesto.  I think the 96-team field can work, if some tweaks and ideas can be considered.

Tournament Committee

This is a mock NCAA selection committee meeting. The real one isn't as easy as many think it is.

The committee decisions over the years have become the sore point for many fans, especially coaches, who feel their team has been slighted.  By no means the committee are a bunch of non-sports business wonks.  Many of them, mostly athletic directors, are former college athletes.  They know what they’re doing.

There are cases where they need more information about a certain team that is sitting on the fence, wondering if they will play in the tournament or not.  A suggestion made was to add coaches to the committee, but no one has yet answered how many coaches should be on the committee.

Idea: use retired coaches to follow three leagues in a region.  Example:  Lute Olson will follow the Big West, Pac-10, and WAC.  Tom Davis follows the Southern, Mid-Atlantic, and Big East.  When the committee asks for more information on a team that wasn’t on the radar before, these coaches can provide the information and consult the committee about each team.

Scheduling

I think college basketball plays too many games.  From season opening tournaments to conference tournaments, the players spend more time away from campus and class than football players do, despite what the BCS says.  To accomplish such a feat of scheduling these games will require a lot of work and shuffling around.

Idea: either eliminate season opening tournaments, or wipe out exhibition games completely.  All the rounds are to stay in the Thursday/Saturday and Friday/Sunday format.  It’s a stretch to ask teams to play a Thursday/Saturday/Monday type of schedule, and then turn around and prepare to play again in 2-3 days.  Adding another weekend to the tournament is simpler.

Later this week, we’ll look at the teams, locale of games, and offer more ideas on how this expansion can be successful.

Sorry folks, it will happen, so here’s your chance to play NCAA and give suggestions on how do it right with 96 teams.

What are your thoughts and ideas?