published Thursday, March 27th, 2014

5-at-10: NCAA's new reality, Pacers-Heat and celebrating the anniversary that started the Madness

Gang, we have an open spot or two in Friday's mailbag. Whatcha got?

From the "Talks too much" studios,

Game changer

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    In this Jan. 28, 2014, file photo, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, right, speaks while College Athletes Players Association President Ramogi Huma listens during a news conference in Chicago.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

By deciding that the Northwestern football players are employees, Peter Ohr has opened a Wal-Mart-sized trunk of questions about college sports.

And, if his decision is not overturned on appeal, he has delivered a clear and single sentence: College sports will never be the same.

Ohr's decision is directly applicable for athletes at private universities such as Northwestern across the country. As for public universities like UT, UGA and UTC, well, the state's laws on unions for public employees would govern different schools. That in and of it self makes for head-spinning controversy, since the various laws differ and the variances in Right to Work states limit union opportunities. (Side note: Most of the schools in the SEC are in Right to Work states, so this may not directly apply in a legal sense. But if private schools such as Northwestern or Stanford or even Vandy are offering better 'working' conditions as in worker's comp for injuries, input on practice schedules and negotiations about how the program and employees interact or potentially wages, how long before the 'recruiting' worm turns.)

In fact, while the unknowns clearly outweigh the knowns about the future of employee-athletes, if this is not overturned, we'll add this prediction to the equation: This is will be remembered as the first punch in the slugfest that killed the NCAA.

This completely derails the entire foundation the NCAA has constructed. These guys are not legally viewed as student-athletes, which is the shroud under which the NCAA operated. That shroud may have been a facade for more than a decade, but it was still the cover that everyone acknowledge. That blanket was burned Wednesday.

Now that the Northwestern football players are considered employees, the other lawsuits in the works against the NCAA — the class action suits suing the governing body of college sports for everything from using players' likenesses in video games to concussion suits to suits claiming back wages — get a huge lift since there is precedence about employees suing people as opposed the unknown interpretation of student-athletes trying it.

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Game time

We'll post the contest entries we have received so far this afternoon.

There's still time to play. Send us the two players you think will combine for the most points between tonight and Sunday. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

As for the games, well, we're stoked for the two games in Indy tomorrow night. We have interest in tonight, but it's more casual. Here's some of the latest odds from our guy RJ Bell of Pregame.com. Enjoy.

Updated Sweet 16 point spreads:

Florida -4.5 over UCLA

Stanford -3 over Dayton

Wisconsin -3.5 over Baylor

Arizona -7.5 over San Diego State

Iowa St -1.5 over U Conn

Michigan St -2 over Virginia

Michigan -2.5 over Tennessee

Louisville -4.5 over Kentucky

Updated Title Odds:

FLORIDA 7/2

LOUISVILLE 5/1

MICHIGAN ST 11/2

ARIZONA 6/1

VIRGINIA 10/1

WISCONSIN 16/1

MICHIGAN 18/1

KENTUCKY 20/1

UCLA 20/1

BAYLOR 25/1

TENNESSEE 30/1 (200/1 before tourney)

IOWA ST 30/1

U CONN 30/1

SAN DIEGO ST 50/1

STANFORD 65/1 (300/1 before tourney)

DAYTON 90/1 (500/1 before tourney)

Since the start of LAST season, Louisville has been favored in 73 of 74 games (including 45 straight)!

Perfect bracket:

Odds against picking perfect so far in tournament (picking winner of 48 out of 48 games)

Based on Vegas odds of each game: 6.44 BILLION to 1 (!!!)

Percentage Chance:

77% chance at least ONE #1 seed will make the Final Four

68% chance either Florida, Arizona, Michigan St, or Louisville wins the Title

61% chance that the Final Four team’s seeds added together has a sum of OVER 12.5

50% chance the largest margin of victory during Sweet 16 round will be over 14.5 points

39% chance at least TWO #1 seeds will make the Final Four

33% chance a team with a double digit seed will make the Final Four

MVP Favorites:

Scottie Wilbekin (Florida) 7/1

Russ Smith (Louisville) 9/1

Adreian Payne (Mich St) 10/1

Gary Harris (Mich St) 10/1

Nick Johnson (Arizona) 12/1

Patric Young (Florida) 15/1

Casey Prather (Florida) 15/1

Luke Hancock (Louisville) 18/1

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Game on

The Pacers beat the Heat 84-83 on Wednesday night in a game that was physical and competitive. And while the Pacers prevailed and took a large step toward securing home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the real winners were the folks who like the NBA.

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    Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) reacts after bing fouled while playing the Indiana Pacers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The Pacers won 84-83.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A real rivalry is developing. A real bitterness that screams dislike and aggression and the physical aspects of the old-school throwback NBA rivalries that made casual games fun and playoff games must-see.

The Pacers-Heat are very close to that point, and if the two teams meet in the Eastern Conference finals — and let's be honest, the East is so bad it would be a major shock if they don't — the emotion and intensity will match the stage.

A generation of AAU stars that have grown up playing against each other have turned 90-percent of the NBA into the world's richest pick-up game. There are pregame hugs and postgame after parties for each side. These guys were playing among friends and until something happened to make someone mad, it was casual and light.

That was not the case Wednesday night in Indianapolis, where the Heat and the Pacers traded hard fouls and animated displays. It was fun and it only hints to more of the same when these teams meet again.

This was more Pistons-Bulls, circa 1988-92, than the celebrity horse games the current NBA regular season can become.

One caveat, though. The next time these guys get together, can we get the varsity officials in the building. That game was in a lot of ways decided by the officials, and that's the worst scenario. Lance Stephenson was tossed because Dwyane Wade tattled on him. LeBron was whistled for a Flagrant 1 on and a drive to the basket.

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This and that

— The Gruden quarterback camp starts tonight with Jon Gruden sitting down with Johnny Manziel. We'll give that a watch.

— Colts owner Jim Irsay has $29,000 cash with him when he was arrested on a handful of felonies for possessing a bunch of prescription drugs. The Indy Star reported the amount of cash on hand and that Irsay was arrested on his way home. Which of course makes us wonder, "How much money did he take our with him if Irsay was returning home with close to $30K?"

— Terribly sad news about Jim Kelly, the former Bills QB who has had to cancel cancer surgery because the doctors believe it would not eliminate it. Great quarterback and guy. Is he second on the Rushmore of best quarterbacks without a Super Bowl?

— What in the name of nut job Americans going abroad is going on here? First Dennis Rodman is an ambassador to North Korea. Now Steven Seagal is an advisor to Vladmir Putin. Are we too far from seeing Screech Powers and Mr. Belding in an envoy to Afghanistan? Some get Lawrence Taylor in diplomacy school stat. What's Mike Tyson up to these days, may be he can lead the peace talks in the Ukraine.

————

Today's question(s)

Have you enter the final college hoops challenge? Need all entries by 7 p.m. tonight.

We have two questions for you and they both deal with the news that happened on March 26:

1) Finish this sentence, in 10 years, the NCAA will be __.

2) On March 26 35 years ago, Michigan State beat Indiana State in the NCAA title game that really started the Madness. Some kid with a cool nickname like Magic and some bushy-haird hick from French Lick stole the show. That game became the rivalry that saved the NBA and birthed the greatness that has become the NCAA tournament. What other NCAA tournament games are on the Madness Rushmore? Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
MocTastic said...

The NCAA will be somewhat the same, if the NLRB decision gets overturned in court. If it doesn't, the NCAA might not even exist.

Other games that are memorable:

NC State and Houston 1983 - Lorenzo Charles put back game

Villanova Georgetown 1985 - big upset

Georgetown North Carolina 1982 - Hey Freddy Brown, James Worthy is not on your team!

Duke Kentucky 1992 - Christian Laettner shot

Michigan North Carolina 1993 - Hey Chris Webber, you dont' have any timeouts, don't call one!

Texas Western Kentucky 1966 - first time ever a team started five African Americans, go watch the movie Glory Road if you have never seen it

March 27, 2014 at 10:10 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Behind the Northwestern union deal is NOT about workman's comp, You can be sure the Unions are after the big piece that would cripple the BCS schools and that is revenue-sharing. If this moves forward the SEC's of the world are going to have a major fight on their hands. College player's and the union's that ultimately represent them on are going to want similar revenue sharing models that NFL, MLB and NBA have. They are going to want close to half of what these SEC schools think they are going to get in these new network and pay-per-view deals. It doesnt matter if its NCAA or BSC-created associations, These unions ( if they survive the lenghty appeal processes ) dont want this for workman's comp, the holy grail will be revenue-sharing, which is what the BCS schools get to keep themselves. You may be right this would end the NCAA but it may also end the BCS schools being so flush with cash, and maybe an end of the "arms-race" of facilty building if ultimately the schools and conferences have to give up half that money to the players. . . . .a lot of questions to be answered

March 27, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.
MocTastic said...

..and it could kill sports as we know it in the smaller schools. Also, predict many of the men's minor sports will be cut at many schools.

March 27, 2014 at 10:17 a.m.
jomo11 said...

i disagree with MocTastic, the smaller schools dont have Giant TV money to share. In a weird way the smaller schools might even be the winner in this as the money gap could be made smaller AFTER big schools give up half their money to revenue-sharing . . .but who knows. As long as 85 schoolarships, and 13 basketball scholarship numbers remain the same ( a psuedo-salary cap ), their will still be plenty of players to go around

March 27, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JoMo11 - I agree that the small schools are not the goal of the unions and moneygrabbers, but they will be collateral damage. If it ends up with all atheltes being declared employees, ie professional athletes, how will the smaller schools deal with the huge extra costs?

There are so many ramifications of this, if football players are declared defacto professional, the NCAA is blown up. Then what is to keep schools from keeping players around more than 4 years? Have a player who is good, but not good enough for the NFL, let him play for your school for 10 years. Whose to say this can't or won't happen down the road if this stands?

March 27, 2014 at 10:36 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: Contest entry: Wilbekin and Hancock.

The NCAA needs a union about like Volswagen does. I agree with jomo11 it is all about revenue sharing for the unions. It is another way to put easy money in their pockets and it will ruin sports as we know it plus hurt some if not all universities. The minor sports will be no more.

Basketball Rushmore Entry: UCLA-North Carolina State semi-final game that starred Bill Walton and David Thompson and went into overtime.

March 27, 2014 at 10:37 a.m.
chas9 said...

Putin romancing Seagal is proof positive that the Rooskie is an out of touch joke. Even in his younger days, I didn't get Seagal, and now he's pitiful. Way worse than Stallone. You won't catch Chuck Norris anywhere near the Stalin wannabe.

Mr. Belding's good, but T.O. could be more fun.

The 76ers are oh-for-February-and-March. This evening they go for the futility record. Somewhere a tear rolls down Wilt's stoic face.

I like MT's choices. UCLA's Tyus Edney's full-court dribble to layup at the buzzer was jawdropping, too.

Obviously, the perfect Laettner game is on the Rushmore. Speaking of the evil Blue Devils, did you see that Mitch McConnell's campaign launched a video that was supposed to show The Wildcats celebrating a big win, but the mistaken clip was of Dook players. Don't know that the Dem nominee can beat ol' Mitch, but his own campaign may have sunk him.

I'm still taking UK in the glamour game, but Pitino has never lost a sweet sixteen tilt.

March 27, 2014 at 10:38 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring:

Yes, this ruling is a rifle shot at college athletics as we know it today, however, there is an appeal to the NLRB in DC next. Lose that case, the schools and NCAA will get another bite in US District Court, up the appellate ladder. Could be years, before the outcome is clarified.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/sports/ncaafootball/national-labor-relations-board-rules-northwestern-players-are-employees-and-can-unionize.html?_r=0

"A Northwestern spokesman, Alan K. Cubbage, said in a statement that the university would appeal the decision to the five-member N.L.R.B. in Washington, a process that could take months."

My question is do you believe Obama wants to go down as the guy who destroyed college athletics? I'm not so sure about that. If Obama wants this stopped, he can stop it at the five member NLRB, each one appointed by the president. All Obama need do is pick up his telephone and make three calls.

Greatest NCAA Tournament game...

NC State beats UCLA in Semi-Final in '74 and wins it all against Marquette. The other significance, UCLA decided not to play the Consolation Game. The next year this silly exercise was ended for good.

March 27, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.
fechancellor said...

MocsTatic,

Just a bit more on your savvy recognition of Villanova.

(8) Villanova beats Georgetown 66-64 in the 1985 final. St. Johns also a made the Final Four. The only instance three teams from same conference making the finals. Villanova remains the lowest seed to win it all.

March 27, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.
chas9 said...

Sure, I agree that nothing good will come from paying college athletes, etc., but I was caught up short at the notion that BO would be blamed as the President who destroyed college athletics. WTF?

But then I realized where fec is coming from. The nattering nabobs of negativity blame Obama for everything bad in the universe, even without regards to logic.

Some have suggested that universities get out of big-time athletics, limiting collegiate sports to something like intramurals or Division III sports. Perhaps the big-time schools could maintain some kind of tie to a minor-league developmental team in their town. The Tuscaloosa Tide and the Lexington Wildcats could pay whatever the market would bear, but their young athletes need not attend classes.

This is not my recommendation, just a thought exercise. And I get lost in the intricacies of how it would play out. Can the thoughty guru Swami Jay help?

March 27, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Chas9 - I think the rationale, and I am not making the case, that traditionally the NLRBoard reflects the political opinions of the President at that time, thus, one could make the argument that fechancellor is making.

With hundreds of schools dropping athletics, think of the tens of thousands of high school kids not getting scholarships in baseball, gymnastics, tennis, running, etc. Also, if only the big schools have football, think of the great players that weren't great coming out of high school that would never get discovered. With that system you would have never heard of Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, and most any non BCS school player you can mention.

March 27, 2014 at 11:36 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Chas 9:

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a panel five political appointees chosen by Mr. Obama. This board is part of the executive branch, hence Obama reaps either the gain or pain of their decisions. I simply suggest if Obama does not want to shoulder the board's decision in favor of unions, then it might behoove him to contact at least three of his appointees on the board to stop it in his tracks.

Obamacare is the collision of lofty ideals and the execution of incompetents. I'm only saying Mr. Obama does not need another cluster flop fostering disgruntled Americans from coast to coast in an even greater magnitude. "If you like your football team you can keep it, well," that ain't making it.

Bottom line, like some other prickly decisions dodged by the Obama administration by putting them over to after the election, this case might not see the docket at the NLRB until 2015.

March 27, 2014 at 11:59 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Great points all around, and FE to the C is spot on that this will become political sooner rather than later. In fact, here's what Lamar Alexander told the Washington Post:

Imagine a university’s basketball players striking before a Sweet Sixteen game demanding shorter practices, bigger dorm rooms, better food, and no classes before 11 a.m. This is an absurd decision that will destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it.” — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former president of the University of Tennessee and former U.S. secretary of education under George H.W. Bush.

There's no clear way to see what would or would not transpire right now because of the jungle of questions that appear. And this has nothing to do with paying players yet. This all about the designation of athletes as employees.

This also does not address other sports. Are the volleyball players employees or are they treated more like students? Would that designation be federally legal under Title IX?

The questions lead us in dozens directions from the original narrative.

That said, the NCAA has to spend everything to fight this.

We can see Jomo's point that the unions of the players of the power conferences will want to grab a share of the revenue. We agree also with MT that if that scenario plays out, it would cripple mid-majors and below, likely forcing a lot of them including UTC to look at going D-III with no athletic scholarships and glorified club sports.

If the unions start getting into the revenue share, the big conferences will adjust by breaking away and cutting of the mid-majors. And as great as the drama of watching Mercer beat Duke or App State beat Michigan in the Big House, that drama is gone if the big boys do not let the little guys get a shot.

Change is coming friends.

March 27, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.
chas9 said...

fec--Strong summary of your position. Spoken like, well, a chancellor. If I had the skills of my cousin Vinny (and his beautiful research assistant) I might challenge you. But I don't, and I can't quibble about what you say, anyway.

My guess is that if BO made those calls, he'd be urging that the NLRB overturn the regional ruling, or at least slice and dice it. He seems to be a fan of our current collegiate sports system.

UK alum Rajon Rondo will be in the TV broadcast booth for the first quarter of the Celtics-Bulls game March 31. Coming back from his knee injury, he doesn't play back-to-back games.

March 27, 2014 at 12:21 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Chas9,

Thanks, I do appreciate it. I certainly hope this does not become war with many causalities. As 10 Ring is saying, scholarships and the opportunities for poor kids, who could get to college no other way, will evaporate if small schools go D-III

I think a note to the Vice President concerning this matter is worth the effort. (I believe all fans of the game should be doing the same to any elected official able to make a difference). The odds of getting read in Mr. Biden's office are greater than writing directly to Mr. Obama.

To quote Cotton Hill, "Don't hit me in the face, that's how I makes my livings."

March 27, 2014 at 1:08 p.m.
jomo11 said...

"Right-to-work" just means being a union member can't be a condition to receive, or keep a job. It has no affect on union formation.

If you cant see that the group that will take the biggest hit on this will be the BCS schools, you are wrong. The unions are like bank robbers . .why banks, because that is where the money is. If the unions demand revenue-sharing and the BCS schools resist, then strikes will happen.

Everybody keeps saying that FCS and mid-majors would be over If the big schools break away from NCAA, for all practical purposes BCS football has already broken away. They dont share any bowl money and they dont share any of the new Playoff money. FCS schools already have smaller budgets that DONT depend on big TV revenue. And sure if an FCS school plays a BCS school in a football game for $450,000 thats nice, but that number has not incresed much in the last 10 years and yet FCS budgets HAVE increased. $450,000 is not as big a percentage on a $19 million budget as it once was on a $10 million budget. If SEC schools have to share revenue with the Unions, the schools only recourse would be to raise ticket prices at games that are already trending downward in attendence.

March 27, 2014 at 1:59 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

They have broken away, but the biggest pay check for the NCAA and the trickle down for other championship events and other extras for all the NCAA is March Madness.

And if the big boys break away, March Madness will be a dead tournament watching. The drama of Mercer beating Duke is not going to be replicated by the drama of Mercer-ETSU.

So if that kills the NCAA, who is left to govern/organize the small schools. And a hodgepodge of conferences looking around for NIT bids or the random Liberty Bowl invite will not last long.

Plus, your view on the budgets and the concerns about FCS schools in the modern realm make sense, but this will be nothing like the modern realm. And now add this: If the state of Tennessee higher education folks have to make a decision about cutting finances to keep the Vols in the SEC and in competitive athletics, where do you think this is coming from? And the competition for donations will be even greater.

To think that UTC would not feel the tsunami waves of this — and feel them hard — is not realistic.

March 27, 2014 at 2:10 p.m.
jomo11 said...

And Jay, it also is not unrealistic If the unions win and demand a revenue sharing similar to MLB, NFL, etc there wont be an SEC, there will be no need for conferences . . .as you say that March Madness drives other revenue and the big schools break away and all 64 big schools go to the tourney, there would be no need for conferences

March 27, 2014 at 2:17 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

The NLRB decision to label scholarship athletes as employees is certainly a big deal, potentially huge. However, the antitrust claim filed against the NCAA by Jeffrey Kessler might be such a game changer that the Northwestern case could be all but forgotten in the near future.

Kessler is arguing that the NCAA is guilty of price fixing by capping compensation to student-athletes, or employees if you please, by limiting said compensation to scholarships, room and board, etc., etc. Kessler's antitrust claim, if successful, will introduce the concepts of an unfettered free market into college athletics. Not only will those providing the "essential services" of big time college athletics no longer be asked to "work for free", they will have the opportunity to shop around for the best deal and bargain for a desired cut of the action far above and beyond the cost-of-attendance.

Amateurism in the NCAA isn't dead, but it has seen better days.

March 27, 2014 at 3 p.m.
jomo11 said...

If the Unions can kill Detroit and General Motors, the Unions can definitely kill the SEC and College Football

March 27, 2014 at 3:43 p.m.
chas9 said...

For the Friday grab bag--Part A: Which team made a bigger March turnaround, The Vols or The Cats? Part B: If their coaching was a game of chicken (last one to flip the switch wins), who won, The Conz or The Cal?

For the money, I'll go with Russdiculous and 'Zona's Nick Johnson to score big.

March 27, 2014 at 4:33 p.m.
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