Monday, March 27, 2006


Color changes on the header in honor of the George Mason Patriots and their rise to the Final 4. Take that Billy Packer!!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Packer and Nantz eat crow... sort of has a short interview with our good buddies Jim and Bill, giving them the opportunity to apologize or at least admit they were wrong. They prettty much did (at least Nantz did)...

Nantz: Best tournament ever. And obviously, the Missouri Valley has proven us wrong, so good for them, good for [MVC commissioner] Doug Elgin. As I said on the air, this has validated what they had been crowing about all season long, and now I see why they should have their chests stuck out so proudly.

But they proceeded to try to reframe their comments from the selection show to be not challenging the selection committee for their picks of mid-majors, but to actually challenging the RPI...

Nantz: This is what the tournament is about. One thing -- I know you want to get it right and I know this will get edited, but our question had to do with the RPI, not with the committee. That's what got lost. It came across like we were challenging Craig Littlepage and the committee. We were saying, 'Wait a minute, the Big Ten this year beat one team out of conference that was a top 10 team, and yet they're rated the No. 1 conference, how can that be? How can teams like Hofstra be ranked 31st in the country and their best nonconference win was St. John's?' We were just confused by all of that.
Right... That's exactly what they said...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Nantz: Criticize the mid-majors? Not me...

A more complete post on this great weekend of action to come, but "champion of the mid-majors" Jim Nantz made me alternate from laughing to wanting to throw my remote through the TV during his commentary today. While Billy Packer noticibly avoided the subject of the MVC and the CAA's successes, Jim Nantz noted that "some" criticized the selection and that "some" were very vocal in their thought that major conference teams should have made it in over the MVC teams. An apology? An acknowlegement that "some" included (actually, was headed by) him and Billy? Nah... It was everyone else... Because, of course,

[Nantz is] all for the little guy

Umm... sure...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

BSU Press Conference regarding coaching change



Opening Statement:

Good afternoon. Thanks for coming on short notice. As you know from the release, we're going to go ahead and make a change in the leadership of the men's basketball program here at Ball State University. I do want to take a minute to thank Tim and his staff because they've represented Ball State University with dignity and class in everything they've done. This is a tough day, but we'll get through it. I just felt today was the day that we needed to make the change and move on.

How did you come to this decision?

I listened to a lot of people inside the program and outside the program. I did a lot of searching myself and what I thought, where we could be, where we should be, and just felt we needed to make this change at this point in time.

Did you take the team's injuries into account?

I think you look at that in whole. You look at it when you're looking at everything else. That's part of what goes into the equation. I still felt it was time to make a change.

What didn't happen that could or should have?

I don't know that there's any one particular thing. It's just a gut feeling I had, where the program was at and where we want it to be, and I just felt like I needed to make the leadership change to make that happen.

Where should the program be?

I would think that Ball State University would want to position itself at the top of the MAC. I think we should be competing for that MAC Championship every year.

How difficult was it to reassign Coach Buckley?

It's a very difficult decision. I mean, you're dealing with people's livelihoods. And they have families, and I have empathy for that. It's very difficult. It's one that I didn't come to just all of a sudden. I've been talking to people. I've been listening to the people. I've been going to the games. I've been observing. So I took a lot of those things into account.

How did you evaluate this program week-to-week since you came here to arrive at this decision?

I listened to a lot of people, staff people and people outside the department. A lot of people sent me e-mails, both pro and con. I talked to people that I trust in the basketball industry. I tried to go through all those things and in my mind figure out where the program is at and where we need to go and if that required a change in leadership. And I got to the end, and I felt it required a change in leadership.

What kind of input did you receive?

I had all kinds of input. Everybody had their own opinions.

What qualities are you looking for in the new coach?

Be a great leader, a great teacher, good at X's and O's, a recruiter, someone who can fit in to the Ball State University family, someone who understands a little bit of the Midwest and the recruiting processes here in Indiana, a good organizer, able to hire a good staff to complement what he might not be best at.

Will you use a search firm?

We'll probably direct it ourselves. We probably will not use a search firm. We'll probably direct it ourselves, get some of the staff involved and go through a thoughtful process to make sure we've got a good pool of candidates.

Do you have a short list yet?

I do not. I meet with the President on Friday. That will probably be the first time we'll discuss how we're going to go about the process. It's a search. It's not going to be a rush. We need to find the best person that can help lead Ball State University.

Who will direct the recruiting efforts?

We probably won't do any recruiting in the short run here. Michael Bennett will remain with the program, and the players will check in with Michael. We want to make sure that the kids who are here do what they need to do, and then we'll keep them involved in the process here.

What was Coach Buckley's reaction?

Tim's a professional. Tim has acted professionally the whole way, and I appreciate that from him. I know it's a difficult day for Tim and for his family.

When was the decision made, and when did you tell Coach Buckley?

He was informed this morning. I met with Tim at 10 a.m., and I probably made the decision on Monday.

What would you like the new coach to do better?

Compete in the MAC for a championship. Being able to compete every year for a MAC title and get to postseason play, preferably the NCAA.

Buckley out as BSU coach

Days after CMU decided to retain Jay Smith, BSU decided to not do the same with Tim Buckley. Buckley "has been reassigned to [the] University Development" department. This is the same tactic used when Bill Lynch was removed as football coach... reassign and hope they take another job instead of buying out the contract.

I say "It's about time... ." I always liked Tim, and he faced a lot of injury-related challenges here, but the multiple years of futility needs to end and a fresh outlook is needed. Here's the statement from AD Tom Collins (courtesy

WISH-TV and the StarPress have the story as well. DN story confirms the press conference.

I'll have updates after the 3pm (ET) press conference (if there is anything new to add)...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

ESPN Bracket Challenge

I've posted a group in the ESPN Men's Tournament Challenge for those interested in a little friendly competition. Winners will get the respect and awe of me and the other participants, recognition on the website, and nothing more (hey... betting is illegal! ;)).

Scenes From a Hat Tournament Challenge Group

NCAA mid- and low-major analysis

Tim over at is putting together some very nice capsules on the mid- and low-major teams that are dancing this year. Another article details how to pick the upsets.

Also, he is going out on a limb to predict an Oral Roberts upset of Memphis! I'd love to see that, but I don't think I'll be so daring...

His blog is definitely worth a read this time of year...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Statler and Waldorf on the NCAA Selection Show

I watched one of the most humorous of Muppet episodes last night. The one about the two crumudgeonly fellows sitting around being all sour and talking about how awful things are and all the wrongs in the world. You know... Inequities in society and stuff like that (or maybe just how bad Fozzie's last joke was). Last night they were cranking about the evil MVC. That young upstart that's trying to butt into established society. Crashing parties and being generally disrespectful of their proper place and their rightful betters. And also about the evil leadership that was allowing, no... enabling, it to happen. What? That wasn't some kinda silly comedy act? Those guys were actually "objective journalists" and legitimately commenting on the NCAA selections? They actually belittled the head of the selection committee and cut him off? Oh, come on... no one can be that sour-pussed because of a 9th place Big East squad or a 7th place team from the Big Can't Count didn't get into the NCAA tournament, can they?!?

Apparently so. From the beginning, every cut-away to Billy Packer and Jim Nantz looked like Statler and Waldorf. Grumpy and not enthused about the show they were witnessing.

(Note: vcthree at Cultured State has a full transcript of the on-air portion of this rant, while other quotes were pulled from press conferences afterwards)


Something has gone haywire with this computer system . . . I mean, the ACC and the Big 12 generated the same number of bids (four) as the Missouri Valley? I don't buy it.


Do you think for one second that a Louisville or a Notre Dame, two teams that obviously got no consideration whatsoever, wouldn't be favored against the likes of the teams from the Missouri Valley or the Colonial Athletic (Association)?


"It's gone way too far now. The fact that Hofstra merited even any discussion on our air or ESPN's air all weekend long completely baffles me."


I'm really not an expert on the Missouri Valley, but . . . it doesn't make any sense to me. You put Florida State and Maryland into their league, I'd like to know where they'd end up. Do you see any of those four teams taking Duke to overtime, at Duke and beating them on their home court?


The media has perpetrated the myth all season long about how great certain conferences are and how weak other conferences are.


One of the things you can not overlook is the strength of what leagues do year in and year out . . . The Colonial and Missouri Valley end up with six representatives in the tourney and the ACC and the Big 12 end up with eight - you've got to be kidding.

And on, and on, and on... I mean, these guys wouldn't shut up.

Packer made a point to say that 58 of the 80 teams that played their way into the Sweet 16 in the past five tournaments were from the BCS conferences. Well, anyone with an ounce of sense would also note that the majority of the participants are from BCS conferences, and the vast majority of the BCS teams start with a high seed, while the vast majority of the mid-major teams start with a low seed. I would love to see the average seed that each of these groups faced in the first round. Maybe I'll do the research and update this post, but my guess is that the average BCS school faces an 11 to 14 seed at highest in the first round, while the average mid-major faces a 3 to 6 at lowest. Do you think that could maybe, possibly have something to do with the disparity of the advancement? Hmm?!?

Also, I would love to see a comparison of records for teams of similar seedings. That would pit top level mid-majors with mid-level BCS teams, which is a much fairer comparison. Again, I haven't done this research and will add it if I have time. Regardless, to compare Duke's success against 15 and 16 seeds to Kent's success against 5 seeds is ludicrous and borderline dishonest.

Craig Littlepage, the head of the selection committee and representative of the ACC's University of Virginia, after receiving a tongue-lashing from the dynamic duo over the fact that Billy's conference of choice (the ACC) was demeaned by having the same amount of bids as the lowly MVC, tried to explain that conference affiliation was not considered. After whines of schedule strength of the mid-majors, Littleton pointed out that scheduling is basically a two-way street... patsy schedules by the BCS teams of course leads to less strength in the middies schedules. Since Littlepage's arguments made too much logical sense, he was summarily cut off and dispensed with, not even receiving the customary 'atta-boy' for all of the work behind seeding the tournament.

Of course, I'm sure Billy and Jimmy would prefer that all mid-majors play road games exclusively at the BCS schools and never get a shot at them at their home court... or, better yet, they probably would prefer that they play only amongst their own type. Maybe they can lobby for a 1-AA designation like football?!?

Good for Doug Elgin, the head of the MVC, for calling out these jokers:

I'm disappointed in both Jim Nantz and Billy Packer and their behavior. Their comments were inappropriate and wrong. They need to do some research before they make statements like that.

You can take a year in which the Big Ten went 1-6 in the tournament and that doesn't impact the Big Ten's ability to place teams in the field next year. You can win a lot of arguments by taking a selective cut of information and that's what these guys did.

In his statement, Elgin pointed out that the MVC had reached the NCAA Sweet 16 twice in the last seven seasons and had beaten BCS teams such as Florida, Louisville, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Texas Tech and Oklahoma to do it. Why wasn't this mentioned by Jim and Bill? Elgin has a supposition:

Billy didn't have that information at his disposal

Oh, he didn't say that, did he? He-he...

I'm a MAC guy, so I am biased. I have seen my Cardinals walk into a Sweet 16 game and give the future national champions their only test for the entire tournament. I have seen Kent and Miami and other MAC schools achieve a great deal with the one bid the conference seems destined to always receive. So, naturally, I am loving this attention (but wishing it was the MAC and not the MVC). I admit my preferences and offer no illusion of balance in my reporting. But, then again, Jimmy is perfectly balanced, or so he says:

I'm all for the little guy


My favorite part of the show? Seeing Packer give away the Minneapolis 8-9 seeds before they were announced while talking about the Washington seedings. Classic... broadcasting at it's finest...

Update (3/13/06 9:45pm):
Craig Littlepage strikes back. Good for him. I'm sure ABC/Disney/ESPN will be glad to cover the tournament if CBS isn't interested anymore...

Update (3/14/06 8:52am):
I'm reading that Billy has defended and expanded his comments on Imus. I'll see if I can snag a transcript. I also read that Billy said Louisville would cakewalk Hofstra's schedule. Hmm... let's see... It appears that Hofstra also cakewalked their schedule, losing only to ND at Joyce in their OOC. Let's pop on over to Louisville for a second... Wow... two road games and one neutral. Outside of travelling to their traditional rival UK, there ain't much difference (except for the freqency of playing at their homecourt).

Billy: "I'm really not an expert on the Missouri Valley, but... ." Really? Well, you certainly seem to have a strong opinion on why they shouldn't qualify for the tournament! If you are not an expert, and likely have not seen them (or CAA, or MAC, etc...) play, how can you know that they don't deserve to be in?!?