Tag Archives: Larry Scott

The Drive Ep 4 Recap: It’s All Ernie

I knew this episode was going to be cut off. College basketball’s closing minutes aren’t just exhaustively long they’re post-game DVR destructive. I went 36-hours off the grid and was welcomed to technology with this fair warning:

Alas, I quickly understood. While The Drive is grand entertainment it’s also a propaganda agent. And if half the episode is going to feature a team coached by former friend of the Networks, Ernie Kent, why not put him on extended viewing? Forget behind-the-scenes, let’s just get WSU max screen time. Basically it seems that Kent muscled Oregon out of The Drive so that I now have 3 minutes and 36 seconds of Washington State Cougar road winning basketball on my DVR and 15-minutes behind the scenes of his program. Continue reading

Week 5 Pac-12 Hoops Preview: Here so we don’t get fined

The Pac is avoiding afternoon broadcasting this Sunday. Fortunately, conference games that day feature the two worst teams in the Pac (USC and Cal). I suppose I’ve tipped my hand surrounding this week’s Game(s) to Avoid, but maybe you’ll be at a house of favorable fandom. Which really just proposes that you’re at a house choosing to optimize the magnitude of the day’s events with the requisite accompaniments of next-level junk food. Like I want to hear about food consumption that has you in a funk so Monday that you think ‘Ernie Kent for the rebuild’ is a great idea. Of course that puts all eyes on Husky fans (no pun intended) who will have dual watching privileges (Cal @ UW 12pm + Super Bowl). So if the Pac-12 is going to try and avoid competing with the Super Bowl, we can oblige! And while it seems that everyone hates both the Seahawks and the Patriots, both produce two very lovable characters. And Tom Brady is awesome.

Game of the Week

A lot of things to keep an eye on this week particularly on Wednesday. Five of the conference’s top six teams will be in action that night including our GotW: Stanford @ Washington. This game features our two leading amoeba candidates with identical 14-5 overall records. Washington hasn’t had quite the conference success of the Cardinal and now will be short their tallest asset: Robert Upshaw. Nevertheless, #TakingCareOfBusiness at home has been a major part of Pac-12 basketball. They have the second highest conference home winning percentage. This bodes well for Washington. The Upshaw story bodes well for the Cardinal.

And while it’s not a game, The Drivedebuts tonight at 9pm PST on The Networks. Expect reviews of that.

Game to Avoid

The aforementioned Sunday slate may be unavoidable. If I’m parked with a booming game day bucket, Taco Bell, ‘za, wings, cheap beer, expensive beer, mid-priced red (someone’s inevitably going to invite this friend), a Chinese spread, why-not-Thai, an assortment of Hostess products, fuggit-a-pie, ice cream, and Tums® then I won’t be opposed to watching Pac-12 basketball, too. Maybe let’s make a handful of prop bets for the weekend? Let me know if you want in on this action:

  • Herb Sendek gets extended: 3-1
  • Spencer Dinwiddie given 6 week D-League assignment in Boulder: 4-1
  • Robert Upshaw transfers to Oregon: 6-1
  • Robert Upshaw transfers from Oregon: 6-1
  • Bryce Alford plays 41 minutes in regulation: 9-1
  • BruinsNation writes something nice about it: OFF
  • Jordan Adams admits he touched the ball: 18-1
  • Larry Scott admits Jordan Adams touched the ball: 5000-1

Something to Prove

They’re paying the team they knocked off a return visit and I can’t imagine the McKale Center is going to be all too kind to the Oregon State Beavers. You have to appreciate that Wayne Tinkle has said that this season won’t be the “year we beat Arizona.” Beating one team does not a season make. Since breaking down in his news conference after beating then #4 Wisconsin, Eddie Jordan’s Rutgers Scarlet Knights are 0-4. They’d just won their championship. Conversely, Tinkle and his Beavers are 3-1 with their eyes on bigger things. Yes, winning in Tucson and sweeping the Wildcats is a tall order. But beating ASU on the road is far more reasonable, conceivable, and immediate accomplishment.

Something to Lose

Washington evidently had someone to lose and it’s in a big way. We won’t dwell on that even though last week we thought Colorado had their season to lose while playing short some critical talents. Turns out, just giving a good effort is enough to earn some PacHoops love. Good job, Buffs! Washington still isn’t our team with the most riding on the line this week. I think that distinction belongs with the Stanford Cardinal. They’ve navigated the circle of suck, as Spencer noted, to a 5-2 conference record. They’ve won at Texas and held court against Connecticut. But they now take all that on the road where Dawkins’ teams are 31-50 All-Time. Woof. At this point, however, the Cardinal are playing the role of expected victor not enigmatic maybe. Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown are granite not sandstone. Is this the year Stanford rides that soundly into the NCAA tournament? It seems that way today, a road trip to Washington could alarm us otherwise.

Texts From Family Members

Mom. FTW.


THREE FOR BART: Reform, Rankings, Real

  1. Pac-12 passes reforms for athletes – I’m on the fence with this stuff. On the one hand it feels like this is a good thing. Change from the norm – which doesn’t seem to be serving athletes well – should be a good thing. They’ll be granted things well beyond unlimited snacks as these Autonomous Five begin to reform for the self-proclaimed better. But at the same time, I don’t necessarily see the athletes being directly involved in these improvements. This remains a top down implementation and seems to be a means for the powers that be to maintain power. It’s a smart move. I’m just not entirely sure it’s going to be in the best interest long (long, long term I’m talking) term.
  2. The best 100 players in college basketball – This is 100 players ranked out of the more than 4800ish scholarship D-1 players. OF COURSE YOU’RE GOING TO DISAGREE WITH IT! Embrace that and appreciate the comprehensiveness of the list as well as the design. We live in an evolving world of web design and when something can be put together functionally and aesthetically, it should be celebrated.
  3. “If we run and they kill us, so be it. But we have to run now.” – This is a heavy read. The story of the Nigerian girls kidnapped six-months ago, this is powerfully written. It’s tone is simple which is fitting its subjects: these are just girls. And they were exposed to such horrors. If you have the time, read.

Pac-12 Basketball Media: Vini, Vidi, Vici

First off a big thanks to Rush The Court for the opportunity, again, to attend Pac-12 Media Day. Appreciate getting to go and their trust in me to cover the event.



For me, Media Day is about the experience. Larry Scott noted as much in his opening remarks, that it’s an opportunity for the student-athletes to do something they don’t necessarily always get to do. For Brandon Ashley, it was the chance to come home and answer to his mom. She asked the last question of the Power Forward, confirming that he was taking his vitamins and that he was ready for the season. You should’ve seen how Brandon beamed, smiled, and got embarrassed all at the same time. I call it 2015’s first shining moment. Continue reading

Don’t Ignore This Letter (The one from the Pac-12 Presidents)

Don’t ignore this letter. I did for a little while, but only because I went to a Mexican all-inclusive (recommended) to celebrate my brother’s graduation from medical school. But I implore you, do not ignore this letter.

The Pac-12 Presidents’ May 22 note to the rest of everyone is written in equal parts legalese, charm, altruism, and self-righteousness. They laud themselves as bold acting and seeking the autonomy not yet afforded them by the NCAA. And now their deadline is approaching (Hi, June) and this letter should not be ignored.

Because maybe these “pioneers of the west” are onto something? The NCAA has demonstrated a general inability to govern its institutions with any semblance of consistency or rationale. It is neither feared nor loved as Machiavelli would suggest leaving themselves susceptible to a coups, loosely what the Pac-12 Presidents have suggested (also, if you think Larry Scott isn’t all over this letter, you’re nuts).

Consider the Pac-12’s chest puffed. Bravado. They want a response from their “peer conferences” (presumably the Big 12, Big 10, ACC, and SEC) by June 4th before everyone meets on June 16th.

And before diving into the outlined objectives of this letter/initiative/revolution/coups, I’d like to note that the group rather swiftly denounces the resolution of athletes unionizing. Immediately prior to mentioning that this is “not the answer” the presidents refer to themselves and their peer leaders as CEOs. I find this language contradictory on many levels in such that unionization implies student-athletes are employees which the schools do not want. Meanwhile, proclaiming oneself a “CEO” suggests you hold chief office over employees. While there is not a concrete parallel between CEO and employment, the vernacular suggests as much. It is the only time CEO is referenced in the entire letter.

But this is less a matter of employment than a recognition that student-athletes (referenced 8x in the letter) deserve more. If they’ll go so far as to threaten unionization – autonomy! – there must be a gap between their needs and what they’re getting. The Pac-12 is recognizing this in a “bold” manner and trying to stay a step ahead. If they can deliver better benefits to their “non-employees,” they’ll pipe down and play the games, or rather get their educations or healthcare benefits. Is this the most fair means to a justified end? I dunno. But the important part is that the dialogue is happening. From Northwestern’s football team to the Ed O’Bannon and his lawsuit, the conversation is being had – for better and worse – which will result in change. Change is can be good.

On to the meat of this. The prezzies have outlined for us ten principle objectives for reform. Here they are with recognition of whether each principle is good or bad, what it is, and why it’d even be included (the third of which is also where I’ll take my blogging liberties). Also worth noting, certainly as we examine what each principle is, none of this has been spelled out for execution. As principles I think that can be excused but also highlights the complexities of institutional change. The good stuff:

  1. Permit institutions to make scholarship awards up to the full cost of attendance.
    • Good /Bad Principle: Good
    • What is it? From snacks to meals to housing and other comforts not currently afforded within an athletic scholarship, the University would have athletes’ backs.
    • What’s the point? Money talks and the NCAA and everything it’s associated with aren’t above this axiom. With the schools promising to spend more on their athletes, they will be demonstrating their commitments and taking care of their “student-athletes.” Further, by taking care of the entire cost of attendance, institutions can sidestep the conversation of paying student-athletes by noting that they’re already going above and beyond covering tuition.
  2. Provide reasonable on-going medical or insurance assistance for student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition  or practice.  Continue efforts to reduce the incidence  of disabling injury.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? Get hurt at school, school’s got your broken back. They’ve also noted the CYA clause that they’ll reduce the incidence of disabling injury. Football is on high alert at all levels.
    • What’s the point? This seems to be a pretty obvious point and a friend of mine is producing a documentary noting that schools most certainly do not cover these athletes beyond their time on campus. Similar to principle #1, the Prezzies are recognizing where they could perhaps improve care of their non-employees. Presumably, as a union and/or employees, student-athletes would be eligible for benefits they are entitled to. If on-going care becomes a part of scholarships, the schools control the care and the amount of it. Not the union or the government.
  3. Guarantee scholarships for enough time to complete a bachelor’s degree, provided that the student remains in good academic standing.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? Fulfilling a promise. These are student-athletes but just because the latter half falls off, doesn’t mean the school is off the hook for the former.
    • What’s the point? This is something like the Friday Night Lights principle. If you’ve ever read the book or are familiar with the story, these kids are adored and taken care of right up until they’re no longer playing. Remember Boobie Miles? Knee gone, love gone. Alas, this is not specifically referencing injury. Sometimes degrees take longer than athletic eligibility to complete. Allowing kids to complete their degree on the school’s dime is a good thing. Chalk this one up as a win for the engineers.
  4. Decrease the time demands placed on the student-athlete in-season, and correspondingly enlarge the time available for studies and full engagement in campus life, by doing the following: 1) Prevent the abuse of organized “voluntary” practices to circumvent the limit of 20 hours per week. 2) More realistically assess the time away from campus and other commitments during the season, including travel time.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Whatever.
    • What is it? The RichRod rule. He got wrist slapped for such abuses at Michigan and in discussing this letter I was passed this glorious rant.
    • What’s the point? It’s weak but I get it. There’s such aggrandized speech surrounding “college life” and “student-athlete” that if principles like this weren’t included we could scream bloody hypocrisy. But perhaps we can anyways. Larry Scott and the presidents’ ability to uphold this one will be fascinating. For example, Pac-12 basketball used to be pretty strictly Thursdays and Saturdays. It was simple, predictable, and allowed for the least amount of time away from campus. Now, with the addition of the Pac-12 Networks, most road trips include a Wednesday or Sunday game. Extended travel, time away from campus. Additionally, there were a handful of weekends that included a Wednesday and a Sunday game. Couple that with a dramatic increase in Thursday night football games and one has to consider why the second of the two sub-principles is suggested. It’s the right thing to do on paper, but would these guys really push for something that didn’t directly benefit them? Spreading the schedule thin benefits the networks. Tightening it up benefits the students (supposedly).
  5. Similarly decrease time demands out of season by reducing out-of-season competition and practices, and by considering shorter seasons in specific sports.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Meh
    • What is it? I’m not terribly familiar with gratuitous amounts of out-of-season competition or where it occurs. I played in summer ball leagues in college but they weren’t school sponsored. Similarly there are Pro-Am leagues all over the country that give college kids opportunities to compete over the summer. Again, I’m not familiar with much beyond that (enlighten me?). That said, shortening season and minimizing competition correlates directly with principle #2 in which we’re trying to reduce injuries.
    • What’s the point? File this principle under “Consistency.” If we’re not going to let players get injured they sure as hell aren’t going to get injured while it’s not broadcast or not counting towards awards.
  6. Further strengthen the Academic Progress Rate requirements for post-season play.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Ask Kevin Ollie?
    • What is it? Schools will have to graduate a higher percentage of their athletes in order to be allowed to play for titles.
    • What’s the point? Teaching to the test. Therein lies the flaw to No Child Left Behind (amongst others) and the APR. The point of upping the standards would obviously be to ensure that more students graduate to ensure more athletes can win! But such a standard directs coaches and players to simply fulfill a score. They can begin to “teach to the test” and the crux of an education is lost: To learn. Simply upping the standards just puts more student-athletes in situations to graduate for the sake of it. Like NCLB, the APR’s heart is in the right place, I’m just not sure it’s the most effective means to upholding the S-A mantra.
  7. Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.
    • Good/Bad Principle: WHAT???
    • What is it? A threat.
    • What’s the point? College coaches and administrators are powerful people and the NBA laughs at that power. The one-and-done rule was a hot topic during the 2012 lockout in college hoops circles. But it’s so un-tied to revenue that the Players Association and owners just tossed it aside. Ignored it. And that stings for these powerful coaches and administrators. It’s screwing with their altruism (student-athlete) and their brand. College basketball is becoming a minor league. The purity of the sport is diluted. A loss of innocence. New GS Warriors head coach, 5-time NBA champion, and Tucson demigod, Steve Kerr, thinks the age limit should be increased, too (that’s one insightful read, btw). But there’s a big gap between the wants and the haves. As it was brushed aside previously, Article X doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So the Presidents here are taking a little brother move and saying, “If we can’t play, then no one can!!” Threatening to keep freshmen from playing (a move institutions would no doubt frame as in the best interest of student-athletes) means NBA scouts and teams can’t evaluate their next generation of talent and forces them into making less educated decisions with their money. While this all boils down to $, NBA teams would likely not be willing to take gambles on assets their unfamiliar with. Schools would be taking a major risk in executing this plan – there are other options like Europe, Junior Colleges, lawsuits, etc. – but the mere threat could be enough to move the NBA needle.
  8. Provide student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and
    NCAA levels.

    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? An invite to the party…
    • What’s the point? And a seat at the kids’ table.
  9. Adjust existing restrictions so that student-athletes preparing for the next stage in their careers are not unnecessarily deprived of the advice and counsel of agents and other competent professionals, but without professionalizing intercollegiate athletics.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Great.
    • What is it? While most everyone is going pro in something other than sports, those going on to play pro sports would have improved access to the people evaluating them as possible employees at that level.
    • What’s the point? As it is today, the (pointless) mid-April NCAA draft declaration rule comes well before the early May draft camps. Not even the NBA’s deadline to declare (late April) allows athletes to participate. Pro Days would seem to be a good idea. Surrounding this principle you hear a lot of discussion about Agents. Certainly they have a beat on draft statuses and interest. They could provide some sound advice, too. The overarching fear here (as evidence by the principles’ final sentence) is “professionalization;” otherwise read, “money exchanging hands.” Ironically enough, this one’s all about making and educated decision.
  10. Liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? Player’s have to sit out a year if they transfer, receive a release from their school (we see you, Leticia), can be limited in the schools the transfer to, etc. They wanna make it easier to move.
    • What’s the point? Transfers, certainly of late, are being considered an epidemic. Transfer rates are soaring and this is a bad thing (supposedly). I’m not sold, one way or the other, but believe that if someone wants to leave, they should be allowed to leave. We can preach all we want about commitment and follow-through. Words coaches use as a lifetime defending something. Transfers use them as a punchline (reference). But everyone else is doing it. Administrators and coaches jump ship for greener pastures, so why can’t the players? Hell, this whole thing is boiling down to what everyone else is doing so why not give the players a little bit of what everyone else is getting? Just so long as it’s not money.

Don’t ignore this letter. The B1G hasn’t and, as June 4th approaches, I imagine others won’t as well. I don’t think these principles are the answer to college sports’ inequalities, inadequacies, or inefficiencies, but it is a start. A conversation starter.

Let’s talk.

Week 10 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Larry and the Pac-12 powers thought they could sneak one past us with a Tuesday night tip between ASU and Oregon. But we’re too clever for that. Of course we’d rather watch this than any of the six, top-25 match ups tonight; catch up on GIRLS, True Detective, or House of Cards; or go on a Tinder date. March is for college basketball so give us college basketball. But here’s a little soapbox on hypocrisy while I get a little hypocritical. This game we love is buried deep in corporate greed and capitalism. That’s why ASU will play in Eugene on Tuesday despite the NCAA’s proclaimed protection and empowerment of the “student-athlete.” The Sun Devils will be in Oregon from Tuesday to Saturday – at the shortest – missing essentially the entire week of classes leading up to…spring break…which naturally will be spent in Las Vegas. The Devil’s are going to miss an entire week of classes for our entertainment and while I’m appreciative of that and excited for all this March hoop, I also recognize the hypocrisy of the system. But it is the final week of the season so…

GotW: Any game that might have tournament or Vegas seeding implications. Which is to say any game that involves a team that, as of publish, has 7 or 8 losses. Which is to say that eight of the twelve games this weekend have NCAA tournament implications. It is March after all. Furthermore, a top-4 finish is a coveted spot with Vegas right around the corner. That earns you a first round bye, one fewer game to potentially lose to the likes of USC (Cal) or Washington State (Washington and Utah). Cal is hosting for their tournament lives this weekend and Stanford could be, too. Oregon has rattled off an impressive five game win streak and has themselves primed for an invitation after being left for dead just 3 weeks ago. Colorado? With that question asked, the feeling that I must pick one GAME of the Week, and a March flair for the dramatic, we could see Saturdays’ penultimate Pac-12 regular season game (UCLA @ WSU closes this thing out) featuring Colorado in Berkeley as the GotW. Pending the mid-week results, this could be a battle royal for a spot in the dance.

Game to Avoid: If we’ve technically got eight games of the week then is it really that tall of an order to suggest we ignore the only other four games? Of course it is! This is March basketball. Almost nothing is worth ignoring except for Thursday’s game between USC and Washington State. What do you want me to say here? These are the last two teams in the conference and have combined for three conference wins. Watching this game could be more difficult than getting a deal done with the Chinese (#TeamUnderwood).

Something to Prove: Two games, with arguably a jaunt in Las Vegas, for the Oregon Ducks to prove to the committee that they deserve an invite. Which is a really interesting position considering all of the work they’ve done to prove otherwise. Alas, they swept Los Angeles and are riding the aforementioned momentum of 5 straight wins. According to Bracket Matrix, they’re back in the mix. Of the 68 brackets aggregated, 66 include the Ducks. And of course with great power comes great responsibility. The power in this equation is the guests. Arizona and ASU pose the toughest travel tandem, the perfect opportunity to solidify a resume. The responsibility, however, lies in the ownership of their own destiny. They earned that right by running through their non-conference slate  and rattling off their last five. They are responsible for their own tournament invitation. A challenge to force the committee to keep them out. Also, Mike Moser is en fuego. He’s averaging 17.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg during this five game win streak.

Something to Lose: After discussing Oregon’s place amongst things, let’s now take a look at Cal. According to the aforementioned Bracket Matrix they are in 63 of the 68 brackets which is still good but far from a guarantee. But it suggests they’re dancing, right? Which further suggests they’ve got something lose. And lose they have. Let’s look at Cal’s win percentage over the conference season vs. the Ducks:

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 7.56.10 PM

Someone’s trending up and someone’s trending down. The Ski schools will be in the Bay (I’m going to try and make it over to Boulder on Saturday) and pose a significant threat to whatever chance the Bears have in maintaining their spot at the ball. Because how ‘hot’ a team is plays into the judgement of the committee and Cal certainly ain’t hot.

The YouTouber: “You blew a wide open layup.” Gold.

The Newsroom Finale, so all Pac-12 Teams as Characters

**Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched The Newsroom finale I do give it all away

Was that the cleanest damn Season Finale ever? We were walked right up to the cliff and then introduced to the bridge for a safe, undiscussed off-season. Everyone loves everybody and Dantana isn’t getting a penny. There are no further storylines to explore unless someone finally makes a play at TessMelvin Udall thinks it was clean. Tide is signing on to be a lead sponsor. I just hope Season 3 gets fired up, whatever news they may have still to break as this season began nipping on the heals of turning current to which I propose a Series Finale of one actual news broadcast. Live with a Will diatribe on that week’s news.

But it is over and so my Sunday nights are now devoid written drama. Naturally I’m coping with that by figuring which Newsroom characters most closely resemble Pac-12 basketball teams. Not aesthetically of course.

*Thanks to @spencerbsmith for the header image

Washington Huskies as Jim Harper


Jim was the only Senior Producer on the Mitt Romney media bus. Overqualified with a tinge of arrogance, he yielded his 30 minute one-on-one with the candidate to a lesser qualified journalist (he’d later leverage that in to a girlfriend so it kinda works out). Washington was the only BCS-size conference champion on the 2012 NIT bus (ever). Overqualified with a tinge or arrogance, they yielded the NIT title to a lesser qualified team (Stanford finished seventh in the Pac that year). Jim blew that one and paved the way for Jerry Dantana to blow News Night up. Jim and Genoa forever linked. 2012 UW and Pac-12 rock bottom forever linked. Tough. Am I saying UW would hop the Sex and the City tour bus to learn more about their secret crush? Would the Huskies incessantly FaceTime their girlfriend? Maybe. Dawgs haven’t hit much on the recruiting trail lately so they’re liable to do anything.

Washington State Cougars as Gary Cooper

WSUCooperI don’t entirely know what Gary Cooper’s role at ACN is. He’s in each of the rundowns that are grossly oversupplied with pastries, pitching stories like it’s his job (maybe it is). But he was sent to Africa with Maggie as a cameraman.newsroom-gary-cooper He’s just kind of there and known as that guy with the same name as the actor. Kinda like Washington State. The school that really only won when their coach had the same name as the singer. We don’t really know what the Cougars are there for – are they competitive? place holders? an excuse to visit Pullman? – but they’re always there and sometimes Klay Thompson. Also, did you think Gary was shot in Africa? It sure seemed he did when he fell coincidentally at the same time as gunfire sounded. Alas, he survived the fall and so did Ken Bone:


Colorado Buffaloes as Neal Sampat


Let me break this one down real simple for you, allowing just the lead that Boulder is about as liberal as a housewife’s noon chardonnay pour. Neal led the way on the Occupy story – good start, seemss very Boulder. He wants to run a report on Bigfoot – Boulder. It was Neal’s girlfriend’s drugs that got Will high before the Bin Laden broadcast – Boulder. He’s the resident News Night blogger and web troll – totally parallels Boulder’s burgeoning tech scene. Buffaloes love to dance. NEAL LOVES TO DANCE!!


Utah Utes as Maggie Jordan


I want you all to know that I don’t hate the Utes. I do hate Maggie. And it’s the Utes who are responsible for the single hardest pill I’ve had to swallow as a Wildcat fan (1998 Elite Eight, Anaheim, California, Arizona 51, Utah 76) but I don’t begrudge them that. I actually applaud that effort and Majerus’ mastery that afternoon in The Pond (I’m never not calling that place anything else). But that was Utah then and Maggie is Utah today. Really spunky and all upstart-like, some potential there but ultimately it’s like “What the hell is going on? Did you miss the memo that you were moving into a big conference? Lose the Runnin’ Utes thing – it’s so Mountain West.” Look, Utah is the 15th winningest school in MCBB history and they’ve spent the better part of the last decade acting like they’re just happy to be here. Maggie, this isn’t your college newspaper anymore. It’s ACN. Start acting like it.

California Golden Bears as Charlie Skinner

CalCharlieCrockety and aged, sipping single malts like water, working things old school in a new world, Charlie Skinner’s been around the block. He’s not the most powerful at ACN but he understands his place and would have no qualms walking into McKale and taking it to the Wildcats. He sure as hell has done it to Leona, blackmailing her and boy wonder with recorded tapes admitting recorded tape (meta). Charlie wins at all costs but he wants to do it right (This is the part of the analogy where we conveniently ignore the Todd Bozeman era in Berkeley). Charlie Skinner would punch Allen Crabbe to get him going. After all, he fired the junkie, and got himself slapped for it. Didn’t even lose his cool when he was set up to fail the Genoa chase. 13-9 (5-5) on February 7? DGAF the Bears rattle off seven straight and then Danced. Maybe each of their best days are behind them (Cal’s won 15 conference titles but just one since 1960) and they’ve each latched themselves to proven winners with a twist (Monty:Stanford::MacKenzie:Will) but when push comes to shove, they will.

Stanford Cardinal as MacKenzie McHale

StanMacThis one got set in stone with that weird narcissistic-but-important-to-me bit about having her Wikipedia page corrected. Please note the following from real life:


Look, Oxford, Cambridge, LSE I don’t know but Neal used more internet wizardry to get it fixed than ever needed to be. A puff piece written and posted by the girl who now only exists via Harper’s FaceTime rectified the issue with the assumption that some uber-nerd would open source that encyclopedia page begging the question: How many page views is Hallie’s political blog garnering? Yeah, when that much tech is dragged into the mix on behalf of MacKenzie and her academic arrogance, she gets Stanford. What’s more is she’s smart and alluring – key components to being a member institution – but you’re also just not that sure about how strongly you feel about all that Mac is (Does Sorkin hate women?). Maybe then, in this vein, Mac isn’t the “Executive Producer of News Night?” We’d need to spice up that title. After all, Johnny Dawkins is the “Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men’s Basketball.” And so I propose the “Leona Lansing Conductor of Will McAvoy’s Ego.” Thoughts?

Arizona Wildcats as Will McAvoy

UAWAOh I know what you’re thinking: Of course Adam’s picking the star of the show to represent his favorite team. What a predictable, homer dick. Well how quickly we forget that McAvoy surrendered $2M annually to have the authority to fire his ex-girlfriend on a weekly basis. That the big dog commissioned an all access and incriminating article to be written about his newsroom by a struggling freelancer who had PREVIOUSLY CUCKHOLDED HIM! He can’t even quit his own job. He could barely propose and did you see his high five after announcing his new wife would have five Mc—-‘s in her name? HE IS HARRY DUNNE! You want the Wildcat counters? Tim Floyd turned down the job. They hired Kevin O’Neill. Twice. Russ Pennell’s DAD was a bench coach in 2009. Josiah Turner. They’ve lost in the NCAA tournament as every seed up to 10 (excluding 7 for whatever reason but impressive in some regard nonetheless)But hey, what’s a hero without his flaws? Go ahead, call me a homer. You expect me to get choked up about it?

Arizona State Sun Devils as Jenna Johnson

ASUJJI knew right away I wanted to make this analogy but when I found out that the sorority girl who asked for a less than one sentence answer that Will didn’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite? was named Jenna Johnson, I couldn’t believe the gold that had fallen into my lap. I mean, it bleeds ASU, it screams Sparky, it tests positive for Tempe. She has an alliterative name for heaven’s sake. Punch that one into the Google and you’re running into some NSFW content (yup, just confirmed while NOT on the office network). And now she’s an intern so there’s that whole avenue of jokes…

UCLA Bruins as Reese Lansing

UCLAReeseDeliberated on this one a lot and there was some serious consideration to equate the Bruins to McAvoy. But the late season developments with the Genoa clusterbang and all the talk of firing and not firing and wanting to fire and not accepting resignations, I couldn’t help but see a lot of Westwood in Reese Lansing. Reese wants to fire everybody. He’s not happy with a slow show. He wants a big fancy show. Entitled entry into House Judiciary Committee’s piracy meeting? No entry. That little ditty plays out a lot like UCLA not dancing. Or not having the right video room temp. It’s going to be difficult to find a parallel between Reese Lansing’s actions and Reeves Nelson peeing on things, but hey, maybe Reese is into some weird shit. After all, he wire tapped his own staff and leaked it to TMI and Nina Howard (Will’s brief muse who is aware of of Will’s everlasting love for Mac but withholds that fact so she can get a little Willy if you know what I mean) in an attempt to bring down his own show. Come to think of it, that sounds like not showing up at a brand new arena because you just really don’t like Ben Howland anymore. Reese loved Will pre-Northwestern, garnering viewers and advertisers like he was an NFL game. He hates News Night Will because he isn’t…well…because he isn’t the past.

USC Trojans as Elliot Hirsch

USCHirschHirsch and USC do well for themselves but they’re never going to be the big game in town. Not even if ACN fires Will and Hirsch takes his seat. Not even if UCLA fires every coach ever. Did you hear Elliot fumble through the “big announcement?” prior to the Will-and-Mack-off in makeup? Hirsch should be taken about as seriously as a song girl sweater: stared at and enjoyed but ultimately you better be paying attention to the game. Yet each recognizes their opportunities to be great. USC brought Andy Enfield’s wife into the mix while Hirsch gave Sloan her own segment. Sex sells. And sure it was nice to get a network anchor into the streets of Cairo for a hard hitting look at the Arab Spring. But it got Hirsch beaten by a rock. And sure it was nice to grab a 6-seed with Mayo and run up a 21-12 record. But it got SC beaten by a rock (or at least that’s what I call handful of sanctions and a Kevin O’Neill tenure). Alas, the Hirsch-bomb: ElliotHirsch

Oregon Ducks as Don Keefer

OregonKeefer“What I have cannot be taught.” Did you see that? Did you catch him say that? Best post-unassuming kiss line since Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn didn’t know it was Dorn’s wife? This goof has Sloan effing Sabbith giving him googly eyes while on set. Keefer is good. Like very good and he’s tough and on top of things and he’s just good. He’s counter-suing and wants Dantana to iron himself with his clothes on. But no one seems to take him all that seriously. He’s kinda goofy and certainly unorthodox – like having a treeline on the floor. And you can’t really figure out if you love him or hate him – like any of Oregon’s jerseys. HOW DOES DON EVER CHOOSE MAGGIE OVER SLOAN? I don’t know if he was ever actually in an either-or scenario but Sloan is all about Don and he was just kinda meh about it to start. Full circle to his unorthodoxy. Anonymous bidding? Looks like he’s taking a page out of the Dana Altman book and snagging her as a grad transfer. Another explanation for Keefer-Sabbith? Because cheerleaders.

Oregon State Beavers as General Stomtonovich

OSUStomYou totally think I’m taking the political route here. You know, because Craig Robinson’s sister is married to the President and how CRob’s the “First Coach” and all sorts of other presidential jokes. Stomtonovich is the Beavers because they just don’t deliver. Maybe we doctor the tape and get Jared Cunningham an NBA salary and eligibility? Or we could use the doctoring to amend team rules? That’d help Eric Moreland and Devon Collier. Maybe we get The Glove involved because, as Stomtonovich would say it, If Oregon State were to be good it’d probably involve some other characters.

Larry Scott as Leona Lansing

LeonaLarryLeona: Hey you guys wanna all quit? Dantana wants $5M for wrongful termination? I don’t give a shit. No to it all. But ultimately my son’s gonna make the call which further accentuates how little merit I give to that DC-based prick trying for a new job at fuggin KickStarter. [insert a fist pumping squeal from Reese here]. And yeah I’m going to get high at my own damn Election Night gala, why? Because I still don’t give a shit. I will defend a broke news story about the US government dropping serin gas. YO SKINNER!? You wanna split a pizza?

Larry: Hey you guys don’t want to carry my network? I don’t give a shit. Drop DirecTV campaign and trivialize nature in doing so. I. Do. Not. Care. I have two conferences blowing whistles now and I look a lot like the other Larry Scott shirtless. Hey, how’s that Longhorn Network working out? Sorry, couldn’t hear what you said over the $20+ annual millions I piled up for my twelve preciouses.

The Pac-12 Conference as Sloan Sabbith

P12SloanSo hot. This conference is so hot and yet so capable of shooting itself right in the foot and doing dumb stuff like have a nudey photo scandal or an officiating bribing scandal. People like the Pac for the same reason they love Sloan: smart and sexy. Or maybe that’s why they hate us? Whatever the case, here’s where I get conflicted: Would Pac-12 Sloan put the moves on Keefer? As stated, I can’t figure out if we could do better than him but I think if the Pac were a dude we’d be Keefer. Though I haven’t seen him attack the vices like I think we would (leaning on Skinner characteristics here). Whatever you want to say about it, Sloan Sabbith team.

Pac-12 and Mountain West join officiating forces (The Book buys in)

At this point it’s old news, if it was ever news at all.

The Pac-12 is partnering with the Mountain West to create an officiating super power in which every call will be made correctly, no officials will ever go to Latin lands or receive compensation for aggressively enforcing bench decorum, and Bobby Dibler is in charge.

So I’ve lent myself to jest but this is indeed a mark of change and progress. It’s the improvement Scott promised and a step towards maintaining the confidence of the conference’s constituents. It’s certainly better than just firing Ed Rush and wiping their hands of the mess. Ice Miller got people off hooks; this officiating program is intended to improve.

And so now take a good look at Mr. Bobby Dibler. This is the last time you should see or hear of BD ever again. Ever.



What we have now is a promise of expanded resources, further materials by which officials can learn, grow, develop, and improve their skillz. If you read the Pac-12’s release, it starts to sound like they’ve built a Hogwarts for stripes. I have no idea what sort of positions were previously filled with regards to Pac-12 officiating but Dibler will now have a Deputy Coordinator (“deputy” seems like the wrong title for a referee), a Technology Coordinator, and Game Graders. Good stuff though I’m pretty certain he already had sufficient Game Graders. Just check any message board post-game.

Understandably, everyone is drinking this Kool-Aid. As will I. The NCAA’s head of officiating, John Adams, had this to say:

Broader regional collaboration between conferences is a positive trend for the future of officiating, the game generally and, in particular, the conferences that participate in them.

Dibler, of course, took a sip:

For our officials, this is a great opportunity to improve their officiating skills, maximize their schedles, and reduce travel.

Big DB also notes that he wants nada to do with emailing Sean Miller or anyone else for that matter:

I look forward to outlining…a clear communications process between all our officials, the conferences, and our coaches.

Larry Scott chimed in but I’m not about to quote him. Not out of spite but because he’s the one with all eyes on him; of course he’s drinking the Kool-Aid. He stirred the instant formula in the pitcher and invited everyone to the party. He did a two-story Kool-Aid bong. He’s on board.

Even the Bible thinks this is a good idea:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor
– Ecclesiastes 4:9

I mean, what more do you need? Religiously speaking, the Pac-12/Mountain West officiating conglomerate should see great success.

Who’s willing to bet $5k on it?

Pac-12 releases Ice Miller report & we still need a better program

The website of Ice Miller, LLP looks a lot like something a first year computer science major would create…in 1997 (POST UPDATE: I was contacted by Ice Miller on August 2, 2016 and asked to remove the previously posted photo. Below is now their updated logo per their request):ICE-Logo_DARK_GRAY_RGB


This is eons from Web 2.0 but that’s not the point.

The point is that Ice Miller is the legal firm tasked by the “Pac-12’s CEO Group Executive Committee” to dive into the events leading up to and surrounding the clusterbang that became the 2013 Pac-12 tournament. Read the thing here.

To summarize those events:

And now we’re here and Ice has interviewed 42 people, reviewed reports and talked to those reporters, consulted with the NCAA, watched video and read documents to come to the following:

Due to the diversity of reported recollections about the Arizona-Colorado post-Game and the Arizona-UCLA pre-game, a singularly reliable understanding of the events of either meeting cannot be reconstructed.

I’m sorry, come again? Your high priced investigation, two months long and involving the aforementioned efforts resulted in not even an understanding?

Well, allow me mine then.

First of all, I’ve long felt that this investigation would be fruitless. It was and has proven to be an expensive reconstruction of the past that, unless something new was discovered (i.e. Michal Irving sipping Pinas poolside at a posh Cancun all-inclusive), we would all read and get upset again.

It also highlights for me human nature.

Have you ever read A Million Little Pieces? Fantastic read but a tale that got author James Frey into some heat. As it were, he didn’t recount his own life’s history all too well and someone investigated his quickly famed memoir to find holes. They found ’em and Oprah got pissed. Of course this incited a deep questioning of what is memoir and would eventually prompt journalist, David Carr to write his own memoir, The Night of the Gun. Carr had taken particular offense to Frey’s muddled story and sought to tell his own tale of alcoholism and life at rock bottom. His twist? He was going to report on it. Use his skills as an investigative journalist to recount his journey through hell as those around him and involved – on many levels – had seen it.

What he found was that his recollection of things was grossly skewed. One example: He would recall that the moment his twin daughters were born he checked into rehab, sobered up and became the man and father he had always intended to be (that’s to say a good one). The reality he discovered through his reporting, however, suggests otherwise. He spent another 9 months following their birth playing the role of shit father and druggie. At one point leaving his daughters in a running car while he got high in a crack house.

Rock. Bottom.

He would eventually sober up but I encourage you to read the book for yourself. Both of them. Because the point I’m trying to make here is that we create our own realities. We see the world through our own filters and so it makes great sense that Ice Miller found a “diversity” of recollections. That both Frey and Carr perceived their own lives far differently than the rest of the world.

Reading through the report, I’m not surprised that two officials recount Rush as “professional and business-like” and acting not at all “derogatory or demeaning” following the Arizona-Colorado game (evidently when things began to spice up with regards to bench decorum and bribery). That’s what they saw. And three other officials in the exact same room reported Rush as “animated… worked up… pretty aggressive…ranting and raving…and out of control.” Naturally, the other two refs in the room reported something falling between these two “extremes.”

The other exchanges and meetings play out the same way. X officials in the room thought he was funny. X other officials thought he was scary. The remaining officials were picking their noses.

But I suppose it makes good sense that we find ourselves with but a disjointed and inconclusive history considering what Ice was specifically tasked with uncovering:

(i) the occurrence, nature, and impact of certain statements publicly attributed to the Coordinator;

(ii) the integrity of the officiating in the March 15th Arizona-UCLA semifinal game; and

(iii) the conduct of Arizona’s Head Coach after the Arizona – UCLA game and the resulting disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Commissioner.

To which they answered (i) jokes, (ii) kinda, (iii) bad Sean. So as Ice stated, they could come to no understanding. These three answers had already been understood.

I mean, I was there and have to agree with Ice’s thought that, “In sum, the Arizona-UCLA game was fairly, although imperfectly, officiated.”

I’ve also come to understand that it’s clear something was lost in translation. That whether Ed Rush was speaking as a jester or a businessman, the hard reporting is such that even Ice believes:

The Coordinator of Officiating’s statements regarding bench decorum in the pre-game officiating meeting prior to the Arizona-UCLA game prompted greater strictness in the manner with which the officials enforced bench decorum guidelines in the Arizona-UCLA game. But for the Coordinator’s statements regarding bench decorum in the March 15 pre-game meeting, the technical foul assessed against Arizona’s Head Coach during the Arizona-UCLA game would likely not have been called.

Which makes the report’s subsequent paragraph a difficult pill for me to swallow. It’s the section in which Ice says that the game was officiated with integrity. Seems like odd logic. Especially as they continue down a path of discussing how Rush’s pre-game comments indeed held affect on the enforcement of that night’s bench decorum. A point that, really, I have no problem with. If the finding is such that officials were to uphold bench decorum rules and Miller and Howland were justly warned, then whammy T him up. The report makes no bones about Rush’s enthusiasm for the enforcement of this rule.

But what goes perhaps calculatedly unmentioned is the so-called bribing. They cite Rush’s “emphatic” pre-game as the reason for a T that would’ve otherwise gone unassessed. Never mentioning foreign destinations or cash.

And then, of course, there’s my favorite part:

According to the Coordinator’s colleague, the Coordinator’s immediate reaction was, “Oh, shit. That’s not good,” because the technical foul did not appear warranted.

Utter gold.

And that is why Rush quit. Or was squeezed out. Because this isn’t a difficult case. You’re a referee, you can’t even tickle the game’s integrity. Regardless of the diverse recounting or where rules emphasis was placed, someone felt it necessary to blow this whistle as the game’s integrity was now in question.

And now the CEO Group Executive Committee (what kind of name is that?) has their review of the events. They can cite their due diligence in gaining a full understanding of what a joke sounds like, what a joke doesn’t sound like, and how 42 different people thought it was hilarious or otherwise.

But it’s really time for the latter part of what the conference mentioned when announcing this Independent Review. The release notes, “In addition [to the review of events], Ray and Scott expect that the review will contribute to a broader examination of the officiating program.” Ray being CEO Group Chair Edward J. Ray.

Because the only thing to understand from all of this is that it was indeed a clusterbang and as clusterbangs go, fixing is in order. It’s time to review the program, find out how to best uphold the game’s integrity and how to deliver a quality product to the players and coaches. And sure, these silly events resulted in a number of “Oh Shit” moments, but where’s the report on Pac-12 officiating on the whole? Why are refs still pining for games and jumping all over their given seaboard (if not the whole country) to get themselves gigs? Why, sometimes, do they utterly stink? But most importantly, what’s being done to get better?

Ray’s quote in accepting all of this from Ice states that, “The report provides valuable lessons for all parties, which will be incorporated in how we restructure the men’s basketball officiating program and policies.”

One can only hope.

So I’m OK considering the hatchet buried. That’s ultimately what the Pac-12’s CEO Group Executive Committee was buying here. And so long as there is a better officiating product and we all – but namely the players and coaches – believe that there is a fair and just upholding of the law, I’ll buy it, too.

And I leave you with some of my favorite gems from the report:

Ice Miller interviewed the Pac-12 Enterprises junior staff member in-person and knows the person’s identity.

Jim Rosborough – Volunteer Coach, Women’s Tennis

The Head Coach formulated his anti-Pac-12 mindset at the 4:37 mark

It is likely that if the Junior Staff Member had been an experienced college athletics administrator familiar with coaches’ post-game emotions, the Junior Staff Member’s reaction to the Head Coach’s conduct would have been far less pronounced.

The content of Head Coach’s statements fits into two categories, expressions of general frustration (e.g., “Fuck the Pac-12” and, “Bullshit conference”) and expressions about cheating (e.g., “Cheat-

ass conference” and, “Cheating fucking conference”).

Not all five attendees report the same exact offer. Some report $3,000 instead of $5,000 or a cruise instead of a trip to Cancun.

On the Latest in the Pac-12 Officiating Story

In case you missed it, USA Today recently obtained documents surrounding the relationship between the University of Arizona (namely, Sean Miller and Greg Byrne) and the Pac-12 (namely, Ed Rush and Larry Scott).

Here is the article.

It’s an interesting read, one that I enjoyed mostly for its entertainment value. For me it highlighted that no one – regardless of title, fame, or prestige – is above the ridiculousness of interdepartmental communications and corporate speak:

“???? Do not see YOUR point.” – Ed Rush

“I will address his style with him to work on improvement in this area.” – Larry Scott

“…isn’t it part of Ed’s job to be the middle man between the officials and our coaches/programs?” – Greg Byrne

Not a quote but:

There is no indication Miller replied to the e-mail, which he forwarded without comment to Byrne.

In addition to the above nuggets of corporate goodness, we’ve been made privy to Miller’s response to his hefty fine. A penalty, it would appear, Miller had the opportunity to have rescinded if he just played the game a little more.

  • If Miller wrote a letter of apology to an unnamed Pac-12 staff member who was standing in the tunnel when the coach made what Scott described as a “profanity-laced verbal attack.”
  • If Miller agreed to meet with Rush and Scott by the end of April.
  • If the Arizona athletic department would “commit to developing a plan to work with Coach Miller on his conduct and reaction to situations like this, to ensure these incidents do not happen again.”

He didn’t.

Though he did write an apology note to the unnamed staffer which only served to raise the question of whether or not Sean Miller regularly directs tirades “toward a Pac-12 banner hanging in the tunnel area near our locker room.”

It also highlights the fact that I too hope to someday send an apology note with no apology and an accompanying a $25,000 check. Big league.

Now I just wonder what was in that check’s memo field…