The NCAA even arranged to play the Division II and Division II championship games here on Sunday afternoon to make the weekend a coming together of the entire college basketball world, from the power schools playing on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome — capacity 75,000 — to Amherst and Mary Hardin-Baylor, who will play the Division III championship game on Sunday.
Except that almost no one has been talking this week about the anniversary or Saturday night’s Final Four matchups: Louisville-Wichita State and Syracuse-Michigan.
They’re talking about the incompetence of everyone at Rutgers. They’re talking about former Pacific-12 supervisor of officials Ed Rush and his foot-dragging former boss, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. They’re talking about NCAA President Mark Emmert, and the USA Today story detailing his remarkable ability to dodge blame for mistakes and Emmert’s snarky, “I’m smarter than all of you because I say I’m smarter than all of you” news conference on Thursday. And they’re talking about a continuing story coming out of Auburn — the BCS champion in football two years ago — about payoffs and grade-fixing and hushed-up drug tests.
Wow, what a celebration! Cue the dogs and the ponies, please.
The coach that everyone here has been talking about all week isn’t Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, who will be formally announced as a Hall of Fame inductee on Monday, or even Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, his former boss, who is already in the Hall of Fame.
The honor — so to speak — as the coach-of-the-moment belongs to Mike Rice, who may never coach again after the video that was released earlier this week showing him verbally and physically abusing his players at Rutgers in a manner that shocked even coaches known for legendary intensity on the practice court.
“Don’t tell me that’s ‘old school,’ or ‘a lot of guys motivate that way,’ ” said Jim Calhoun, who won three national titles at Connecticut and was known to raise his voice on occasion. “I watched that tape for 30 seconds and I was shocked. I think we all were. That’s not coaching.”
Rice was fired on Wednesday — not because anyone at Rutgers had a sudden attack of conscience but because the public release of the tape made it impossible not to fire him. Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who has changed his version of the story more often than a golfer changes clubs in a high wind, said at the time that he had consulted with school President Robert L. Barchi back in December before deciding to only suspend Rice for three games for his actions.