Monday, March 16, 2009

NCAA to SEC: Drop dead

Yesterday's unveiling of the NCAA bracket without Florida being in it couldn't have surprised anybody. I do think they could have made it by beating Auburn, but it would have been close thanks to all the crazy stuff that happened the last few days that ate up at large spots. (Temple, USC, and Mississippi State winning conference tourneys, for example). Next year's team will finally have some meaningful numbers of upperclassmen again, and if Calathes stays around I believe they will be very good. Without him they would need to sign another point, because while I love Erving Walker's game the kid can't play 35 minutes a night at that spot.

Some people mock the NIT, and it's certainly nothing to do handsprings about. For a team that's still growing, the event does have value. Last year's road win against a good Arizona State team is the best work UF's done on another team's court the last two years. Florida will host three games if they keep winning, and some of the guys on this team can definitely use the work. It's a chance to get more court time together as a team and improve for next year. Ohio State did that last season, won the event, and they're back in the field this year. UF should be able to emulate that.

A few early bracket thoughts: the committee clearly thought the SEC this year was awful, but there's no excuse for Mississippi State being a 13 seed. Go ask Oliver Purnell, the coach of a Clemson team that will face tenth seeded Michigan, whether he would want to trade them in for the "easier" matchup with the 13th seeded Bulldogs. This is a team with the SEC's all time leading shot blocker, good athletes and a collection of shooters. Washington got screwed by having them as a first round matchup despite being a four seed. How are FSU and Utah five seeds? I know the Noles had a nice ACC run, but that seems like an overreaction. If Tennessee doesn't stop Pittsburgh in a tricky second round matchup, the Panthers are the team I'm most sure gets to the Final Four.

Jacksonville got rid of Matt Jones today. That's a good decision on their part. The recent episode with him drinking beer despite knowing he wasn't allowed to while on probation just emphasized again that this is a guy who doesn't get it. Rules matter, and shockingly enough they even apply to athletes sometimes. Jones is almost certain to be suspended for part of the coming season anyway, and who knows when the next headache with him will surface? The Jaguars are better off building with people they can actually depend on.

I'm never happy for anyone to lose a job, but if someone has to Sid Rosenberg isn't the worst choice. This is the same guy who made comments while he worked in NYC that the Williams sisters should be in National Geographic and wisecracked about Kylie Minogue's breast cancer. 790 the Ticket in Miami hired him despite (or maybe because of) all that. I'd love to believe this is an indication the radio business is moving away from hiring people whose main skill is their ability to be as cruel as possible as loudly as possible as often as possible, but I know better. While in Tampa I listened briefly to one radio tough guy screaming insults into his mic about "Renee Caldwell". I'm sure ESPN 1040's Marc Benarzyk is a beast across the middle against NFL safeties and just likes radio better as a career choice, but I wasn't real impressed by that.

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