Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 'True' March Madness

'Duke University will do more for
you than you will ever do
for Duke University'
Here's a statement we would all love to hear and see come out of the mouth of the leading college basketball coaches and their athletic directors soon after this season concludes with 'One Shining Moment' at the end of the CBS broadcast on April 7 in Dallas, Texas:
'We have enjoyed our run with the current format of NCAA eligibility for college basketball players. It has been fun while it lasted.
However, we realize that recruiting and training so-called '1-and-doner Diaper Dandies' to our universities and colleges has contradicted what a college education is all about in the first place.
This is the 'true' March Madness of college basketball. And September. October, November, December, January, February and April Madness as well.
We are supposed to be dedicated to: 1) helping young people get a first-class education so they can be productive citizens later in life and 2) winning NCAA titles for our schools and not serving merely as a jumping-off point for the NBA draft.
We really could care less if the Sacramento Kings get one of our players and if they ever win an NBA title somewhere along the way. Most wind up bouncing around from franchise to franchise anyway.
What we do care about very much is the reputation of the university or college that is written on the front of our uniforms and which we represent each and every time we take the court at home in front of our fans or away on courts across the nation.
We want our players from now on to come and get a full-degree education and win championships for our college and fans. Not NBA titles for the Minnesota Timberwolves or Cleveland Cavaliers. Who really cares about them?
That is what we pledge to do. Because it is the right thing to do.'
How many people would pass out from an angina attack if they read that in the news or heard it on SportsCenter right after the NCAA tournament was over?

Let's face it: The NCAA basketball world has been significantly diminished since the advent of the early departure rules for the NBA. No more Lew Alcindors staying in college for 4 years at UCLA; no more David Thompsons at NC State.

The NBA has been diminished as well. The highest rated NCAA Finals ever was the 1979 showdown between Magic Johnson of Michigan State and Larry Bird of the Indiana State Sycamores. All of those college fans would have followed them no matter what NBA team drafted them later.

Imagine if Kobe Bryant or LeBron James had gone to any college for 4 years and built a national fan base as the 'next' Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. The NCAA would have certainly benefited but so would have the NBA if the Magic/Bird example held true to form.

The sad thing about college sports in general is how much the value of a quality education has been diminished as a result of the lure of big contracts in the professional leagues nowadays. Many young people are completely deluded to believe that they will be the next Michael Jordan or the next Tom Brady who will parlay their talent and hard work into hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and endorsements.

The reality is that 98%+ of all college football and basketball players at the Division I level have a higher probability of becoming a brain surgeon than a professional athlete. Assuming they can read and write and take advanced biochemistry and work harder at studying than they will ever work at being an athlete.

College sports needs to return to its original mission of being a complement to a young person's education, maturation and development into a productive, successive American citizen. not as a way-station on the road to riches in the NBA or NFL.

Former Duke football coach Wallace Wade made his mark on college athletics at the University of Alabama in the 1920's when he took the Crimson Tide to 3 Rose Bowls and 3 national titles before coming to Duke in 1931 and taking the new Blue Devils football team to 2 Rose Bowls in 10 years.

Know what sealed the deal for him to come to Duke other than being given the head football coach job, the AD job and a substantial financial package that seemed to defy the Depression that was going on around him in all of America?

Wallace Wade wanted to be the director of intramural athletics in addition to being the football coach and athletic director. It was a way to satisfy his desire to be a 'molder of men' and teach not only the talented football player how to win on the field but how to win in the business of life for all students at Duke University at the time.

Must have been the toughest director of intramural sports in the history of the NCAA.

He kept sports in its proper perspective on college campuses. He recruited the very best around the nation and when he met with a superstar high school hotshot from Pennsylvania, North Carolina or Virginia, his pitch was always the same:

'Duke University will do more for you than you will ever do for Duke University on the football field.'

Think about that for a moment. Every college or university which offers a hotshot young player the opportunity to attend its classrooms and meet people from every walk of life who will be successful in every field outside of sports will be doing them an enormous favor that will last a lifetime.

There are several ways to rectify this imbalance right away.

  1. Let any high school phenom go to the NBA right from high school if they want to enter the draft. 
  2. If they are not drafted or signed as a free agent in the summer, they can enter the incoming class of freshman in the fall with the college of their choice who offered them a scholarship. 
  3. Once enrolled in college, they are not eligible to go to the pros until their class graduates from college
  4. If they wash out of the NBA within 2 years, they retain at least 2 years of eligibility to attend college and play at the collegiate level and hopefully earn a degree which will help them later on life.

The truth of the matter is that only a very, very, very tiny percentage of high school players will ever go straight to the pros and dominate as Lebron James or Kobe Bryant have at the pro level. These changes would just recognize the reality of the situation in high-stakes American professional sports and allow young phenoms the chance to see if they can play in the NBA without forfeiting their chance to get a quality education which is supposedly what every college coach is supposed to be offering their players in the first place.


One thing we would add to the qualification specs for the young player who wants to go right to the NBA or enter college:

'If you can't make 75%+ of your free throws, you have got to go to Andy Enfield's All-Net Shooting Camp for a summer before enrolling in college! Mandatory.'

That way, we college basketball fans won't have to cringe every time one of our players 'bricks', 'doinks' or 'clangs' one off the back of the rim or misses it altogether.

Has there ever been a worse season for collegiate free throw shooting since Wilt Chamberlain was at Kansas?

Couple bad free throw shooting with the seeming lack of education being offered and received by the majority of these players in college and this has been a long season indeed.

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