A very large institution, University of Kentucky basketball isn't one to dwell on bad times, savor them for character building lessons, beg for mercy or just sit there and take it. Ordinary struggle for other programs is trial-by-fire at UK. Anyone else who thinks they have the biggest or baddest program is shamed into silence by watching UK at a moment like this.
We made such a fuss a few weeks ago when Xavier lost three straight on the road in the Atlantic-10 Conference. We started wondering if the same team that could lose to tournament rejects on the road could beat tournament teams on neutral sites. What got into us? What made us forget that the regular season is such a colossal waste of time?
It wasn't Billy Packer's job to make you feel good, warm your innards with a sweet story, make you smile with a well-turned phrase or confer the dignity of royalty on persons within the game. Too many broadcasters think that's their job and, worse, they're usually bad at it. Packer unfortunately won't be part of the CBS coverage of the NCAA Tournament, having left quietly last July for reasons that have never been fully disclosed.
The older one gets, the more college sports make the head shake. It’s not the money or the corruption. It’s not the academic compromises involved in putting on athletic shows. All of that’s been around forever, and it’s part of the guilty pleasure involved with following college sports. But the kids. You just don’t know what you’re going to get from the kids, because they don’t know what they’re up against.
More than once during his 16 years coaching the University of Cincinnati basketball team, Bob Huggins remarked that the Bearcats are written off locally before they're written off nationally. A case in point might have presented itself just three days after the Bearcats beat Huggins to enhance their chance for a return to the NCAA Tournament.
Boredom might be a suitable attitude for sports fans after the Super Bowl, but one hates seeing a college basketball team assume that malaise, especially when that team was in the thick of the national picture. Thus we encounter the present Xavier basketball season as one of the most dumbfounding to pass this way in quite some time. The X-men rose as high as ninth in the national rankings on Feb. 2, only to mock their own prosperity with three dismal road performances in the Atlantic-10.
Imagine the scene in a week. Nancy Zimpher is leaving, Bob Huggins is returning, Fifth Third Arena could be full and the University of Cincinnati's basketball team could be headed back to the NCAA Tournament. Can it be that the more things change the more they stay the same? Of course not.
Bob Castellini went on the radio a couple weeks ago to clarify that he is, indeed, excited about the upcoming Reds season. And who isn't? The Reds season is baseball season, after all. Castellini didn't go so far as to say the Reds are going to win this year, but if he did say it who would believe him anyway?
Watching Joe Willie Namath wade through the Pittsburgh Steelers with the Lombardi Trophy right after Super Bowl XLIII brought back the true meaning of the Super Bowl even more powerfully than the game itself, which, considering the stakes, has to be considered one of the greatest football games of all time. In today's splintered popular culture, any production that puts Americans on the same page is already a remarkable show. And when the show also happens to be good on its own merits, you almost can't wait for the next one.