Saturday, March 31, 2007
Florida and Ohio State renew acquaintances Monday night. Just three months ago, these two schools met in the Arizona desert for the BCS national championship in football. The Gators won going away. Now, the two schools play for the national championship in basketball on Monday night in Atlanta.
This is the first time a school has played for a national championship in both sports since the 1987-88 school year, when Oklahoma lost to Miami in the Orange Bowl, and lost the basketball national championship to Kansas three months later. I am still sick over both of those, especially the basketball championship game. That was OU's best team ever (3 first round draft picks), and they were the best team over the regular season. KU has probably had 10 better teams than that one, but that one won the national championship. Yuck. Ok, I chased a rabbit there.
It just so happens that not one, but two schools are playing for national championships in both sports. With a win, Florida would 1) repeat as national champions, and 2) would be the first school to win football and basketball national championships in the same year.
Monday night will be a hot night in Hotlanta.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I stand by my pick of Florida vs. Ohio State, with the Gators winning the whole enchilada.
Thankful I'm not Ugueth Urbina, who is looking forward to 14 years in a Venezuelan prison...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
It is very possible for a school to be successful on both the football field and the basketball court. Florida and Ohio State have a very good chance to play for a national championship in basketball, just as they did in football back in January. It is next to impossible for a fan base to be equally passionate about basketball and football. Traditions are built over decades, as is fan loyalty and passion. Florida, for instance, returned 750 tickets out of their allotment of 1500 to last week's Midwest Regional in St. Louis. We're talking about the flagship university in the nation's third largest state, with over 40,000 students and tons of alumni. But, while Gator fans are proud of their success in basketball, they are most passionate about football, where they won their second national championship in 11 years last season. If there were a bowl game in St. Louis, or even a college football playoff game there, I'm sure the Gators would sell more than 750 tickets. Ron Zook was fired as football coach for going 7-4.
The opposite exists in Kentucky. UK fills 23,000-seat Rupp Arena for the first practice of the season, at 12:01 AM of the first allowable practice day. They also fill the arena for the most pedestrian of non-conference games. Last Thursday, on the day of Tubby Smith's resignation, the message board at leading UK fan site www.catspause.com drew as many as 13,658 visitors at one time. This is more than the capacity of Florida's arena. Kentucky deserves credit, though, as they sold two-thirds of the seats for their football team's appearance in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
Schools such as Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas will forever be basketball schools. They will have good football teams from time to time, but fans and alums eat, drink, and sleep hoops. Mack Brown went 10-1 with the Tar Heels in 1997, but missed out on the BCS, and took the Texas job, where he won a national championship in 2005.
Schools such as Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama, among others, will forever be football schools. They will have varying degrees of basketball success. Texas has been to the Sweet 16 four times in the last six years. Texas and Oklahoma have been to Final Fours in this decade. But, for many fans of these schools, basketball serves as a diversion during the off-season of football. Basketball even competes for attention with football recruiting and spring practice.
Money will buy a lot of things, including coaches and the latest and greatest facilities. The big money generated by football helps bigger programs become more competitive in other sports. However, money can't buy passion.
More on this later, as Kentucky and Florida launch their bidding war for Billy Donovan.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
We have an old-fashioned Southwest Conference bidding war between Texas A&M and Arkansas. Program-builder and miracle worker Billy Gillispie is being courted by Arkansas to take over the Hogs' basketball program.
Why would Billy Clyde think about moving to the hills of Arkansas? $$$$. As in $2 million per year. The Texas A&M board of regents are prepared to give him an extension and a sizable raise in order to keep him.
The guy is a recruiting machine, having brought studs into places such as Baylor, Tulsa, and Illinois as an assistant, and in bringing players to UTEP and Texas A&M as a head coach. He's also proven himself as an X's and O's coach. He has taken A&M from 0-16 in the Big XII to the Sweet 16 in three years.
As an OU fan, I hope he stays. It would be bad for the Big XII if he left.
Monday, March 26, 2007
We could have the following:
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas vs. Memphis
Sugar Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Pittsburgh
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. UCLA
Orange Bowl: Georgetown vs. Texas A&M
National Championship Game: Florida vs. North Carolina
That's just a really good way to determine a national champion. (sarcasm)
Wait a minute: Where's Ohio State? Sorry, the selection committee seeded North Carolina as the #2 team in the country, even though Ohio State was #1 in every major poll at the end of the season. Doesn't that sound like the BCS?
Let's enjoy the Tournament, and hope, wish, and pray that more sensible heads will prevail in the world of college football.
This picture was sent to me a couple of days ago as a nomination.
This is Al Horford of the Florida Gators during last year's national championship game. The Florida Gator road uniform isn't that bad. Those shoes, though, do not go with it. The shoes are putrid. They look like they would match the Tennessee Volunteers' uniforms. I call that deer hunter orange.
Eye gouge rating: One
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I hate to add insult to injury, but I'm going to do so here.
Winona State had a 56-game winning streak end in a bizarre ending to their game with Barton (NC) in the Division II national championship game. Winona had a seven-point lead with 45 seconds to go, before Barton went on an improbable 10-1 run to win the game. I speculated in an earlier post that the away version of the Winona uniform must be really ugly.
I found a picture of it, and it exceeded my expectations for ugliness. They wore a black jersey, with the horizontal trim and striping. The school colors are purple and white. These are bad unis. Eye gouge rating: Two
The Gators are back in the Final Four for the second year in a row, and are favored to win the whole thing. But, the question is: does Billy Donovan remain as coach? He's rumored to be in line for the Kentucky job. He's one of the few coaches out there that can handle the job, and that are qualified. On the other side of today's game, Oregon was in their second Elite Eight in five years. They had three mediocre seasons in between, and the Ducks are in the process of changing athletic directors. Oregon is building a new arena, and rumor is that mega-donor Phil Knight of Nike would like to change coaches. The Ducks would like to bring alum Mark Few back from Gonzaga to coach their team. Current coach Ernie Kent isn't feeling the love, and is most likely looking elsewhere. This run didn't hurt his apparent search for another job. Maybe he'll wind up at Michigan.
I hated Georgetown in the 80's. I've chilled over the years, and even picked the Hoyas to make this year's Final Four. The Hoyas and North Carolina went to overtime, and the Hoyas pulled away to make their first Final Four since 1985, when Patrick Ewing was the star, and John Thompson was the coach. Now, Patrick Ewing, Jr. plays for the Hoyas, and John Thompson III is the coach. The Hoyas now face the buzzsaw that is Ohio State on Saturday in Atlanta.
I have three picks left from my original brackets: Florida, Georgetown, and Ohio State. I had Kansas as the other team in the Final Four, but they lost to UCLA. My original prediction of a Florida-Ohio State final still stands.
Until further notice, it's still the Gators' and Buckeyes' world. The rest of us just live in it.
This is the ending to Saturday's Division II men's championship game. Winona State (Minnesota) had a seven-point lead over Barton College (NC) with 45 seconds left in the game. Barton came back to win at the buzzer with a steal and a lay-up.
A simply wild ending. It's never over until the buzzer sounds.
By the way, Winona State's uniforms were ugly. They had this trim reminiscent of the 70's Cavaliers, and the horizontal stripes down the side. I'd hate to see the away version of this uniform.