Sunday, March 13, 2005

In the Old Days, I'd Have Told Vitale, Bilas to Shove It

Well, I guess that’s settled.

Dick Vitale won’t be invited to speak at Northern Iowa’s basketball banquet this season or any other time soon.

Jay Bilas, either.

Just when I was getting ready to write that the state of Iowa today turned into a College Basketball Heaven because Iowa State, Iowa and UNI were chosen for the 65-team NCAA tournament, both Vitale and Bilas went on TV today to criticize the selection committee for including the Panthers in the field.


In the old days, I probably would have told Vitale and Bilas to shove it when I heard them say something like that.

Or at least shove their words.

But now I’ll be satisfied just saying that Vitale and Bilas should have to sweep the floor at halftime of the UNI-Drake game next season in Cedar Falls.

I know one thing. That would pack the arena.

Don’t forget, they were both looking for ratings on today’s TV show. So they had to say something to make an Internet columnist mad in West Des Moines, as well as UNI fans around the world.

If they said chairman Bob Bowlsby and his tournament selection committee did everything perfectly, there’d be no reason to have a show, right?


Vitale, who usually displays a soft spot in his heart for underdogs when he’s talking about collegiate basketball on ESPN and ABC-TV, said nothing good about UNI on ESPN after the pairings were announced.

Vitale was steaming when the show began.

“I have two teams that should be in the tournament that aren’t in the tournament,” he said.

I’m talking about the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. I think anytime you go 9-7 with the depth of the Big East Conference, I think they belong in [the NCAA tournament]. They beat the likes of Connecticut, Boston College and Villanova…….

“I think they got a raw deal last year, and they a raw deal this year.”

Vitale went on to say that the “Mid-American Conference got flat-out robbed. Miami of Ohio won the regular-season title, and they should have been in.

“That answers another question—who should be out? When you say two should be in, two should be out.

“Check UAB [Alabama-Birmingham]. I can’t understand it. They had a good year. They won a lot of basketball games. But check their pre-conference schedule. I don’t believe UAB should be in over Notre Dame or Miami of Ohio.

“[Then there’s] Northern Iowa. Look at Northern Iowa’s record against top-50 teams. I don’t believe Northern Iowa should be in over those two [Notre Dame and Miami of Ohio].”


Digger Phelps, who was an underachieving coach when he was at Notre Dame and is a guy who has been playing second-fiddle to Vitale on ESPN for a number of years, also thought the Fighting Irish got screwed by the selection committee.

At least he didn’t pick on UNI to prove his point. Not on the TV show anyway.

However, Bilas agreed with Vitale about Northern Iowa.

“I don’t agree with Northern Iowa and UAB being in over Notre Dame,” he said. “But that’s really a small thing to argue about with the committee.”


Bob Bowlsby, the Iowa athletic director who is chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee and is a former athletic director at Northern Iowa, did another smooth job fielding questions from CBS announcers after the 65-team field was announced.

The one question he didn’t have to answer was whether Steve Alford will be back as the Hawkeyes’ coach next season.

Alford got off the hot seat when his Hawkeyes made a late-season run, and there’s no way Iowa can fire him now.

So those who support the website and other Alford-haters are going to have to wait another year or start buying Drake season tickets.


The early line……

I like ninth-seeded Iowa State’s chances against No. 8 Minnesota at Charlotte, N.C.

I think 10th-seeded Iowa, has a strong shot at upsetting No. 7 Cincinnati at Indianapolis. Alford won’t out-coach many guys, but Cincinnati’s Bob Huggins is a guy he can beat. Huggins’ teams are usually overrated and don’t last long.

Eleventh-seed UNI will have problems with No. 6 Wisconsin at Oklahoma City, but it would be great if the Panthers could pull off an upset just so Vitale and Bilas would have to eat their pre-tournament words.


After the 65-team field was announced on CBS, Bowlsby was asked:

“One of the more burning questions I’m sure you’ll be hit with is this: If there’s a surprise among the No. 1 seeds it’s Washington. Oklahoma State had been talked about as a possibility. If Oklahoma State had played earlier in the day [at the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City], could they have supplanted Washington as a No. 1?”

“We looked at a lot of different institutions on line one, and it was an ever-evolving process,” Bowlsby said. “We were able to put together some contingency plans that involved five or six institutions. Depending on how things went in the four major games today, we had a number of scenarios that we were prepared to implement.

Washington has had a tremendous year. They’ve had a lot of good wins. We felt they deserved to be on line one.”

Vol. 4, No. 320
March 13, 2005