First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton on the latest sports news

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Eric Prisbell,Steve Yanda
Friday, January 7, 2011; 9:30 AM

Every morning, Post columnist Tracee Hamilton discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

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college for college athletes: I know this is a naive question, but if I was a very good athlete in basketball, but knew I couldn't make it as a professional, would the big conference schools actually let me go to enough classes to do well in school? It just seems that whenever I see all the weeknight basketball games on ESPN, I just can't imagine how many classes they are missing during the season. I'm not talking about basket weaving classes, but if I wanted to graduate with a difficult major, would it be possible? Thanks.

Eric Prisbell: It is possible but not easy. We can get into a long discussion about this.But let me welcome everyone to the chat. Steve and I always enjoy doing these. I miss these. Feel free to ask about anything: coverage, college football, college basketball, whatever. I am very excited that basketball season is here. I also want to thank all the readers that kept up with out blogs and coverage throughout college football season. I truly enjoyed conversing with readers through email; one of the things I most enjoy about my job. So thank you very much.Let's start.

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Prisbell- Where's the expose?: In a March 1, 2009 blog post, you stated the following:"As I have said before, I plan to do extensive coverage of AAU-related issues this spring and summer (as soon as the Final Four is over). There is nothing more I would like to do than examine the recruiting practices and AAU-shoe company ties at several other top college programs in the country."Can you provide the status on this report or a link if I missed it? I'm interested in reading about the underbelly of college recruiting and the shady dealings of college coaches.

Eric Prisbell: Thanks for the question and the interest. I could have written that any day over the past 12 years or so. That is the area of college sports that most interests me, and that's the area I have the most experience in dealing with. I have truly enjoyed sinking my teeth into all related topics last decade, from uncovering a player-agent scandal in 2002, academic fraud in 2003, Renardo Sidney and AAU non-profits in 2006. This past year I took a little different turn and I have enjoyed doing lengthy profiles of John Wall and Torrey Smith. But, yes, my plans are definitely to finish up some meaty projects regarding college basketball in the near future. I am very much looking forward to having the time to complete these now that the endless football season has reached a conclusion. Thanks again for the interest.

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Renardo Sidney?: Eric I know you wrote about Sidney when he was in high school. A lot of rumors out there that he received a lot of benefits illegally, so did you ever think he would be eligible for the NCAA? Secondly, are you surprised the way his career has turned out? Suspensions for poor behavior and fighting a teammate on national TV.

Eric Prisbell: Thanks for the question. I have thought a lot about Sidney lately. I was around Sidney when he was in 8th and 9th grade and I hung out with the family in LA when they were trying to move out there. He has been through a lot. Some of it, I know, is not his fault. I was never sure whether he would be eligible for NCAA hoops. I was quite sure there would be an investigation because there were numerous allegations. I remember one time the California high school federation wanted to to talk to me about my story. But a prominent shoe company executive told me they told him I was stonewalling them -- which was false. I never got a call from them and I could not cooperate with the investigation anyway. Long story. Anyway, I can't say I am too surprised with how his career has turned out so far. But it's early. He is a good kid, from my experiences with him, and I wish him the best.

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Randy Edsall?: If Edsall doesn't match Friedgen's 9 win season next year with so many returning players, what will it do to his and Anderson's reputation among fans?

Eric Prisbell: Fans can judge that one. Personally, I am surprised Anderson set the bar so high. As if 9 wins aren't good enough. As if the schedule isn't tough enough.Well, Maryland is talented next season, but the schedule gets tougher, so the record may not be as good. Randy Edsall is a quality coach who can win games, but I am not sure if people realize how good of a job Ralph did here when you consider his entire body of work.

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Barno, MD: The Terps are going to win in Durham on Sunday night. That is all, carry on.

Eric Prisbell: Barno, what, did your pal Wise tell you that?I am not saying Maryland won't beat Duke once this season. It may in fact happen. But Duke is clearly the best team in a very subpar ACC. The ACC may only get four teams into the NCAAs, although it's a bit too early to get a true feel for it. The Big East, Big Ten are very strong, but many leagues are watered down this season.I have a San Diego State-Ohio State national title game.

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Recruiting?: What happened to the national level recruiting stories you guys used to have at the Post? They used to be fascinating but now I find that other papers like the NY Times with Thamel are doing these investigative pieces on guys like Eric Bledsoe and Enes Kanter. Any stories in the pipeline or have you guys moved on from this topic?

Eric Prisbell: Thanks for the question. Yes, Pete Thamel has been a friend of mine for many years and he has done tremendous work on such issues (though I still liked his dance team story from the hoops world championships this past summer). We had a good run here with some in-depth recruiting stories between, say, 2005 and 2007. I think the readers are very interested in the so-called underbelly of the sport, and, again, there is nothing more that I enjoy covering than that. I plan to do more of this in the future. But I must say, in all honesty, I don't know of any newspapers other than the Times that still regularly goes after these national recruiting stories. The industry has taken a hit and the number of reporters willing to do it is limited. That said, there remains the commitment to pursue targeted national stories here on occasion and that is what I hope to do in the future.

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MD Fanbase?: Which part of the fanbase is more angry? The part that wanted Mike Leach badly or the part that felt a loyal alum should never have been fired after 9 wins, ACC COY, and many returning players?

Steve Yanda: From the folks I've talked to, it seems the segment of the fan base that wanted Mike Leach is more angry. A lot of peope disagreed with how Friedgen's firing was handled, but most have come to at the very least understand why it was done.Most now seem to have adopted the view that, whether they wanted him or not, Edsall is Maryland's coach and that it's time to give him a chance.

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Recruiting: Eric, How are you coming along on your recruting expose? I remember you mentioned you were going to get into how AAU circuit, shoe companies and others played a role in determining the final landing spot for many heralded recruits. Can we still expect this report??

Eric Prisbell: You can still expect stories about the underbelly of the sport, yes. But the specific topics you mentioned are so 2007 or even earlier. The people on the front lines of the recruiting game advance quickly and change their tactics. Now it's all about donations, churches, debit cards, parents back in the fold, 1-800 numbers and ties between summer-league teams and agents and agents and college coaches.I am always working on multiple long-term projects at once, and now that football season has ended I plan to dedicate more time to them.

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This session: Has the session with Steve Yanda and Eric Prisbell started?

Eric Prisbell: I believe it has.

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Terrence Ross: Did you guys see your old pal Terrence Ross scored 25 points last night for Washington? How much better would Maryland be if he was on the roster right now?

Steve Yanda: Having seen Washington/Ross and Oregon (Washington's opponent last night) play live this season, I can say that Ross has a lot of potential and Oregon is, well, not very good right now. So I would be hesitant to get too caught up in Ross's performance in a single game. That said, he possesses a ton of athleticism. Would Maryland be better if he were on the Terps' roster. Sure. But markedly better? I'm not so sure. He's still got some growing up to do.

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Alright, gentlemen. Be honest:: 1) Cheers or Seinfeld?2) Scarlett Johannsen or Jessica Alba?3) Road trip with B-Svrl or a cat?

Steve Yanda: 1) Seinfeld 2) Alba 3) Svrluga. Any day. But to be fair, I'm not a cat fan at all.

Eric Prisbell: Steve and I are polar opposites:1) Cheers (really, neither)2) Scarlett (really, either)3) Feline. I'm a cat guy, I have to admit. I once drove from Colorado to Las Vegas to Fresno with a buddy now at the NY Times and two cats crawling all over us in his car. Memorable.

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Recruiting: Eric, you are obviously very interestd and plugged in to the recruiting world. Yet in a separate piece you calimed "Calipari is great for college basketball". You dont really think he is clean do you?

Eric Prisbell: Calipari is one of the main reasons why I still love to cover college sports. Seriously. I get so ill from hearing from the NCAA about the importance of the "student-athlete" when everything is designed to benefit coaches, some of whom can't even say goodbye in person on their way out the door. I get so tired of alleged selective enforcement. I get very tired of the BCS -- may not even watch the title game this season. I get tired of chancellors and presidents and athletic directors. I get tired of the suits.Calipari has always been real. He's a blast to cover. And college sports would not be the same without him. Younger coaches are becoming more cookie-cutter types, if that makes sense.

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Basketball Recruiting?: How's that basketball recruiting expose coming along? Been waiting a couple of years for that now.

Eric Prisbell: Dude, try some hobbies to kill the time while you wait. You missed a great election in 2008, you didn't even look out your window last winter to catch that blizzard. I appreciate the interest and welcome it. But no need to be on the edge of your seat. I will continue to write stories big and small -- recruiting and non-recruiting stories -- but I am not going to provide a blueprint for my next couple months right here and a timeline for when stories will run. No need. But I thank you for the interest.

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Kevin Anderson: How do you feel Kevin Anderson has performed in his first 3 months on the job? Have you seen transformative excellence yet?

Steve Yanda: I think Kevin Anderson is going through an adjustment period, as would be expected. We all knew when he was hired that he would be forced to make several significant decisions in a fairly short time span. Time will tell whether those decisions were beneficial for the athletic department. What has surprised most people -- including myself -- is the manner in which Anderson has gone about executing some of his plans. Have I seen transformative excellence yet? No. But it's only been three months. We've gotten clues as to how Anderson will run the ship moving forward, but it's too early to draw any definitive conclusions about whether he's made the proper choices.

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Guest host: Now that Stevens is working there I need a Stevens/Prisbell/Yanda chat once bracket projections start coming out.

Steve Yanda: Great idea.

Eric Prisbell: That would very cool. I would like that very much.Patrick and I finished among the top 5 in the country last season in bracketology. I tied for first and he may have finished fourth. This is a great college basketball area and we'd have plenty to talk about.

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3 Part Story: Eric, have you spoken with Gary Williams after your 3 part story ran? Has it changed your relationship with him?

Eric Prisbell: Absolutely I have, on many, many occasions. I enjoyed the one-hour sitdown interview I had with Gary for our series. Gary was candid and blunt. We tried very hard to be as fair as possible. He is a top 5 coach in the country, a guy who has lost players because he has refused to cheat. I do not believe our relationship has changed. And I respect him a great deal and enjoy covering him and his teams.

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Leach: Do you have any inside info as to how close Leach was to getting hired? Did any single person in the administration turn that down?

Steve Yanda: The fascinating thing about Leach-Maryland is that there appear to be two competing versions as to how it was he fell out of contention. On the one hand, I've had several knowledgeable sources say higher-ups in the Maryland administration nixed his hiring. And I've also had sources say he never was the favorite, as many media outlets -- including the Post -- reported. Where does the truth lie? We're still trying to figure that part out. Kevin Anderson said on the day Edsall was hired that the decision was his and his alone. For now, I guess we have to take him at his word.

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It Ain't Over 'til it's Over: Per your comment above, the "endless football season" hasn't come to a conclusion yet. Apparently there are still 3 or 4 bowl games to be played.

Eric Prisbell: I know. I, seriously, have watched one half of a bowl game this entire bowl season -- the second and third quarters of the Military Bowl. That was a crazy day with the Leach stuff, so I didn't get a chance to watch more of it as I covered that and made calls. I have not watched another bowl game and don't feel I have missed much.

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National Recruiting StorieS? How about local?: You said the industry is struggling so instead of traveling to Cali to see Sidney, why not just cover recruitment of prominent local athletes? Josh Selby was profiled by the NY Times for driving a Mercedes to school and having Carmelo's agent be his advisor. Every year there is a case like this locally

Eric Prisbell: Yes, I definitely agree with you. With the time to pursue the stories, I am all for it.

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But to be fair, I'm not a cat fan at all.: They probably do not like YOU.

Eric Prisbell: That's pretty funny.

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Wake Forest Basketball: Does this team have potential to be the worst ACC team in the last 20 years? In a down year for the ACC they've distinguished themselves as by far the worst team.

Eric Prisbell: Wake could be in the converation for that distinction. We'll have a better idea in about a month, I would think.

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Just how many WAPO writers are frightened of Tracee?: Hello Gents. Kilgore recently disclosed his fear of Tracee. This got me to thinking: are there other WAPO writers who are frightened of this great Lady-of-the-Plaines? If so, why?

Eric Prisbell: Huh? I assumed that fear was common knowledge, as well as the reasons behind it. I'll let Steve dig into that one.

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Small school sleepers: Which non-BCS conference teams have caught your eye(s) so far this basketball season? Not including the ranked ones like BYU, San Diego St., etc.

Steve Yanda: I saw Wichita State play in Maui, and that squad looked pretty solid. It's a well-rounded and deep roster that could make a decent run come March.

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Thanks for the Great Reporting: Eric and Steve - It's about time someone thanked you,for being first on Maryland going to the Military Bowl and for being all over what happened to Ralph, and I would love some investigative journalism into the process whereby Leach was not hired. I don't believe for a minute that this was Kevin Anderson's choice. Leach had everything TerpNation needed to fill Byrd stadium. Someone put Anderson in his place - the choice smacks of administrative interference, and I'd love to know your thoughts.

Eric Prisbell: Thanks a lot. We're continuing to look into this, so I am going to hold off on this question for now -- but it is a very good one.

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Message Boards: Do you read fan sites like The Sabre, Insidemdsports and others to get a pulse of the fanbase? What are your favorite college fan sites to read locally other than both of your blogs?

Eric Prisbell: I read the NY Times, Yahoo, SI and Patrick's blog. That's about it.

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Edsall: All we hear about edsall is that he is a program builder. Look what he did at UCONN etc. Is a program builder what the Terps needed to take the next step and compete for ACC championships?

Steve Yanda:

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Without having done the investigation...: ...what do you make of the idea that Leach wasn't hired because UMD is afraid of ESPN? Hard to believe Craig James has any influence at all after it turned out that his kid really can't play, but the rumor is out there...

Steve Yanda: Here is what we know: Mike Leach is tied to the incident with Adam James. When you think of Mike Leach, you think high-flying offense, Texas Tech, pirates and allegedly ordering a kid to stand in a shed. The first three things might not be deterrents for schools looking to hire Leach as their next head coach, but the fourth most certainly would at least give schools pause. Add in the fact that Leach is suing his former employer, as well as the most recognizable sports media outlet in the world, and you've got a bunch of reasons to think long and hard before pulling the trigger on making him your guy. Was MD scared of ESPN? Who knows? But I'm confident MD at the very least considered the ramifications of hiring Leach, when it comes to the effect such a move would have on relationships with partners such as the worldwide leader.

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Retractments?: How come you guys never issued a retractment after your claim of Malzahn to Vandy was found to be incorrect? Same with your claim that UConn's RB coach would come to UMD and UConn's OC would come because neither has happened and the RB coach is going to Miami.P. Stevens had a mistake recently about Brattan and he issues an apology on his blog. You guys make numerous mistakes and we never hear a correction or retraction.

Steve Yanda:

Eric Prisbell: I am unaware of any "mistake" Patrick made. He is a fine reporter.I reported in mid-December that a source told me Malzahn had verbally accepted the job, that the contract had not yet been signed that that he was expected to become the school's coach barring an unforeseen development. As it turned out, Auburn more than doubled his salary and he remained at Auburn. People change, plans change before contracts are signed. My source had been dead on with many, many details of the search and continues to be.That said, I do regret writing the story as strongly as I did. I not only pride myself on accuracy, but I pride myself on being exact, precise. And I regret not wording some aspects differently. I know better when it comes to coaching searches. I also pride myself on transparency, which is why I am more than willing to offer insight into the reporting process -- if at all possible -- at all times.

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Edsall IS williams: Randy Edsall is similar to Gary Williams, in that he's as honest as the day is long as far as the rules go, and not likely to embarrass the school. He kicked our temporary starting QB off the team in the middle of the season, so he's not exactly Bobby Bowden. Safe choice for Anderson, and it could work out.

Steve Yanda: That's high praise for Edsall. And if you're Anderson, you'd be thrilled if Edsall turned out even half as well for Maryland as Williams has.

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God the ACC is bad: You mentioned the ACC only getting 4 teams possibly. Isn't 3 possible as well? VT got left out at 10-6 last year because it had no good non-conference wins and no team besides Duke really has any good ones this year either. So unless like 4 teams finish with 11+ wins, isn't 3 a decent possibility?

Eric Prisbell: Sure, three is possible. So is five. We'll know more in about a month. I think I had five in as of today.

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re: SMALL SCHOOL SLEEPERS: I inexplicably watched the first half of St. Mary's-LMU last night, and I really like the way the Gaels (?) played. Not enough ink on their arms and necks to make a deep run in the tourney, though.

Eric Prisbell: I was near the front of the San Diego State bandwagon before the season and I remain on it now. In terms of non-BCS conference teams that could make a run, think San Diego State.

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Prisbell doesn't read ESPN?!: You boycotting the worldwide leader with good college reporters like Andy Katz, Bruce Feldman, and Joe Schad?

Eric Prisbell: I know all three personally and they are all great reporters. No question about that. And many others at ESPN do tremendous work on college sports.But as for what I read on a regular basis, NY Times, Yahoo, SI.

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Kevin Plank: Do you have any insight on how much of a hand Plank had on Ralph's removal? Someone had to pick up the tab, right? I heard Kevin Sheehan say yesterday that Plank was OK with the Edsall selection, though he preferred Leach. Thoughts?

Steve Yanda: Maryland said no public funds were used to fire Friedgen, so yes, someone had to pick up the tab. Was it Plank? Can't say for certain. I have heard from several knowledgeable sources that Plank very much wanted Leach to be Maryland's next head coach. Like most other Maryland supporters, Plank likely has come to grips with the fact that Edsall is the Terps new coach, whether he likes it or not, and that all he can do now is support the cause and hope for the best.

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"ERIC PRISBELL : I read ... Yahoo": Jim Calhoun is not impressed by your reading material.

Eric Prisbell: Not a dime back! Not a dime!

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ACC has 5 in?: Have to ask - is Maryland one of them?

Eric Prisbell: No, no, no. Maryland could very well make it. You never count out Gary, and Maryland can beat most ACC teams.Maryland does not have a bad loss right now. Maryland also does not have a signature win. If Maryland cannot beat Duke this season, the ACC does not offer too many chances for top 50 wins. Could be an issue. I think Maryland will be right there in the mix, though.

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Steve: Steve Yanda- is that your real picture?

Steve Yanda: Can't see the picture right now, but ... um ... sure.

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B Deegan: Eric, you received a gread deal of publicity (both positive and negative) on your 3 part story. Do you have any regrets about writing it? Would you have done anything differently?

Eric Prisbell: Steve and I wrote a three-part series on Maryland's recruiting in 2009. I have not thought about this for, well, almost two years, but ... no major regrets. After the fact, I always think about how we could have made a story better. There was a portion of part II that I very much wanted to include -- i know Gary wanted me to include -- but we needed another source on it, so we weren't able to report it. Long story there. Oh, and maybe a little more on Herb Pope. Other than that, I can't think of anything.(Steve has signed off. He has had major technical difficulties and wanted to apologize. I think it all stems from the fact that he hates cats.)

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Paint drying: Do you believe it is possible to make this Q/A less interesting?

Eric Prisbell: Really? I said you can ask whatever you want and I'll answer pretty much anything, regardless of how off the wall it is. It's Friday morning, I just filed a long story and this is somewhat relaxing for me... If there is a way to make it more lively, let me know. I'm all for it.

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Bracketology-Schmacketology: Never understood the season-long obsession with trying to figure out who'll be in what position 2 or 3 months from now. Like to watch games, and the tourney is great, but what made this whole prediction thing such a big deal?

Eric Prisbell: People are into it. I got an email from someone asking me to project the tournament for the 2012 field because he had some bet going with his friend about the top seeds in 2012.

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Eric...: On a scale from 1 to 10, where would you rate your credibility? Also, if you give a number other than one, would you be responsible for anyone that died from laughter?

Eric Prisbell: Well, I certainly pride myself on being comprehensive, fair and accurate, and I believe my body of work supports that. I am sorry that you don't agree. And if there are ways I could improve my coverage of college sports, please let me know.Funny question, though.

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Long story filed?: What is the topic?

Eric Prisbell: The rating system for my credibility.

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Sidney Lowe: Is this his last season at NC State? They have been extremely mediocre under his watch and Yow can prove to be rather meddlesome with men's bball coaches.

Eric Prisbell: You'd have to ask Lowe's athletic director.

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Re: College for College Athletes: I know that a number of Duke graduates (including Quin Snyder) have graduated from law school. I believe they must take a challenging academic schedule. I know that Georgetown used to have a tutor who traveled with the team to help them keep their grades up.

Eric Prisbell: Thanks. Anytime we can get a Quin Snyder reference in here is a plus. College hoops ain't the same without him.

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BCS: Do you think the BCS and its elongated schedule are penny wise, but pound foolish? I used to look forward to the slate of New Year's bowl games and even accepted that some games would be played on the 3rd or 4th. But now, I don't even remember to tune in to the games. I suspect the BCS is making good money right now, but I would think over the next 10 years these games are going to become less and less relevant to the average fan. I noticed the Orange Bowl had huge swaths of empty seats in the 5 minutes I watched, so I imagine viewership was down as well.

Eric Prisbell: It was best when all the top games were played on Jan. 1.

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€™s hair. You're better than that, or at least the Post sports section I grew up reading is.

Eric Prisbell: Gary doesn't cheat. He has lost players because of it. It's all there in the three parts. Many people tell me that some Maryland fans are sensitve and some have an inferiority complex and all that. Maybe, maybe not. But I thoroughly enjoy the Maryland fans, regardless of what anyone says about them from the outside. They are passionate. They care. And they want in-dept coverage. I like that. I not only welcome any criticism of my coverage, but I encourage it. I'm not from around here and have no ties to Maryland or this area. My only agenda is to make our coverage as strong as possible. Sometimes it is very strong. Sometimes it falls short. But I welcome any thoughts on how to make it stronger. Sir, I return every email that readers send to me, whether they are positive, negative or neither. I am not offering any excuses for not writing a major recruiting expose since 2009. I am simply saying that I am continuing to work on lengthy projects: profiles, enterprise stories and investigative pieces. But I thank you for your interest.I was asked about Calipari and gave an honest take. I have been consistent in that take. John is one of the best things about covering college sports. I have never said otherwise. If you disagree with me fine, but I would hope that you don't take it personally just because I disagree with you.I was hoping for juicier questions today, like the one this gentleman has posed. So thank you.

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Terp in NC: Is UNC any good this year? I watch them and they have some horses, but they seem disjointed. I love telling people down here that Gary is the best Williams in the ACC. They get pissed but for the 40 minutes on the court would you support that claim?

Eric Prisbell: You know, I was never as high on UNC this year as some people who ranked them in the top 10. I thought Barnes was very good, from watching him in the camps, but I personally liked Kyrie and Sullinger and Selby better.That said, I thought Michigan State would win the national title. They may, but the Spartans have stumbled a bit so far.

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Tourney predictions: Okay, if we're making predictions about the Big Dance, who is coming out of the CAA?

Eric Prisbell: As of today, I have ODU and have Mason sneaking in. But the margin for error for Mason is small.

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Kids' shows: Eric, if you're a dad to a toddler, are you a "Fresh Beat Band" guy, or "Team Umi Zoomi?"

Eric Prisbell: Well, he is still too young for those shows.But I will keep them in mind.

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Your Credibility is in question?: I didn't know Calipari knew how to use a computer for anything besides gambling.

Eric Prisbell: I will let this comment stand on its own.

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Terp in NC: What about Gary vs Roy?

Eric Prisbell: Roy's fine.But in a one-game situation, you've got to take Gary.

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V-Tech: In the tourney or not? Will Greenberg be calling everyone certifiably insane for not putting them in?

Eric Prisbell: VT is in right now. But Tech really missed some opportunities in non-conference play to get some quality wins. The softness of the non-league sked is not the issue this season. But Tech is in a precarious position, at least right now, because it did not earn more victories in non-league play against strong teams.

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Verizon: Do you like Duke for Round 2 here at Verizon or will they likely end up closer to home in Charlotte?Thanks.

Eric Prisbell: I'm thinking Charlotte.

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Gary vs. Roy: Roy is not good at coaching half court sets, unless his team is supremely talented(see their two NC teams). Otherwise he's just a good recruiter. You can always sense the big games Roy will fail in.

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What's your take on that "Man Versus Food" Show?: Funny, or a celebration of gluttany?

Eric Prisbell: This is one of the best questions of the day. I will only watch if I have been to the place where the dude is at. So I've tuned in a few times. I'd lean toward a celebration of gluttany. But I like the hot dog eating contest on July 4.

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Credibility: I took it to mean, 1 is most credible, and we'd all be suspicious if you didn't think yourself credible....

Eric Prisbell: So now the credibility of the original question is in question?

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Talent level: Is it me, or has the overall talent level really dropped off in the last several years. That somebody as mediocre as Jacob Pullen could make a first-team preseason All-America team tells me something. Is it possible that the talent is way down or is it just more spread out?

Eric Prisbell: I totally agree. And there are many well-chronicled reasons for this.But you compare college basketball in the mid-1990s to the game today. It's silly. It's more watered down now, for sure.

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Terps: Thanks for staying so long, especially with some of the vitriol you've received. Let me say, I'm a big Terp/Gary fan and I did not like your 3-piece article. I did consider it a "hit" job. But that's your job as a reporter. It seems like Gary dealt with it fine, and fans need to do the same and not whine about it for years.

Eric Prisbell: Thanks. The backlash doesn't bother me, never has. I try to engage readers --- and critics -- as much as possible through chats and emails. I listen to their concerns and take it into account. But I don't take it personally. This is a job. We're all adults (No, I'm not going to say, "I'm a man! I'm 40!" You do the best you can, respect the opinion of critics and continue to try to improve. I've got a thick skin.That said, I am somewhat surprised Maryland fans are still bring up the three-part series. That was two years ago.

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Calipari: I think from what you are saying, Calipari is good for covering college basketball as a reporter...a different question from whether or not he is good for the sport itself.

Eric Prisbell: Sure. That's my vantage point. He's engaging and great to cover. I felt that way since he was at UMass. He is a personality. We don't have enough of them anymore. Lefty was one, as well.

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BCS football playoff and College Basketball (they're linked in my question, i promise): Wow, is this really still live? Thanks for the extended time. My question has to do with BCS football playoff and college basketball. I've seen a few op-eds or letters to the editor written by the BCS chief executive (can't remember his name) that basically say "A playoff would be bad for college football because of what it would do to the regular season. Just look at what's become of college basketball's regular season." But he gives no supporting detail. What is he referring to about college bball? Sure the tournament is exciting, but I still love the regular season. maybe it's apples and oranges because there's no way the college football reg season could include more games. your thoughts?

Eric Prisbell: I read the same letter and the same thing jumped out to me. Great question.My take: college basketball's regular season is somewhat watered down for anybody except diehards. And you know what? That's fine. Because at the end of it all, we have a three-week tournament that settles things. So if you're at a tiny school called Butler, you know that if you are good enough you'll be able to attempt a halfcourt shot against Duke to win the national title.In college football, we get a superb Boise team playing in a no-name bowl because a kid missed an $8 million extra point and we get GoDaddy.com Bowl. Yawn.

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Terp in NC: Is this Nick Faust kid any good?

Eric Prisbell: Yes, I am told he is quite good. But I have not seen him play.

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College to NBA Hoops Translation: I would think you might have some special insight into the NBA from having covered most/all of these guys in college and high school. Looking at a young and struggling team like the Wiz -- how do you see their individual and collective narratives as continuous with their college careers? Does any of that auger well for players like McGee, Blatche, Wall, others? (BTW, thanks for doing this chat -- and taking on some pretty aggressive questions.)

Eric Prisbell: Well, thanks. I think the questions have been pretty tamed. I've asked everyone to fire away, and some have retreated.Great question. I'll do my best in a very short time here (like 30 seconds). McGee I remember well from Nevada. Blatche I watched play in HS. Wall I have watched since HS and obviously spent some time with for the June profile. I knew Blatche was talented but I am surprised he has matured into this level of a player. He's not stud, granted, but I was just unsure which direction he would take. McGee is a guy I knew could play and play well. And I thought he would be quite good. And for Wall, a very high quality individual who is mature beyond his years. Don't bet against him.

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Gary Williams: Is he more active in recruiting since you wrote the 3 part series? Now that Yow is gone people said he is re-energized and out on the trail but I have not heard of him being at big local high school games this year.

Eric Prisbell: Well, the Yow-Gary dynamic deserves a three-part series on its own, so I'll stay away from it for now rather than mess it up in a short answer.But I do think Gary, and Maryland, has recruited better. Faust was a great get.Look, Gary has struggled at times in Baltimore. Do I fault Gary for that? No. You're going to go into Baltimore and sign a Selby or a Barton? I never expected him to do that. Not a reasonable expectation in my mind. And I don't fault Gary for that.

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Sir, as was said in a movie:: You can't handle the truth! You ask for someone's opinion and you don't like it. You ask a question and you don't like the response. Obvioulsy you have an agenda and can't or won't believe anyone who doesn't spit out what YOU believe or what you want to be said. Why spend time reading this on-line chat?

Eric Prisbell: It's not that I don't like the response. I respect the response. But I'm all for a polite debate, as well -- and anyone who has emailed me over the years would agree with me on that. It's okay if we disagree. I'm fine with that. My only goal is to give readers some idea of where I am coming from and why I make some of the reporting decisions I do. But I've said before: Sometimes we have strong coverage. Sometimes we fall short. But I am comfortable with the entire body of work and continue to strive to improve and take into account reader feedback.If I wasn't interested, why would I return emails or stay an hour extra on this chat. I don't shy away from criticism, I welcome it for the purpose of improving coverage.

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re: "Duke for Round 2": At Nantz's request, they've moved the regional to Durham. Something about convenience and a sleepover at Koach K's house.

Eric Prisbell: Pretty funny.

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Curtis Malone: You reported that Gary met with Curtis Malone after your story on recruiting. Gary still has yet to get a player from Malone's summer team. Do you feel that the comments in the article hurt any chance of them ever cooperating?

Eric Prisbell: Great question.At the time, the comments did not help. But, if I remember, they may have moving toward meeting before the story even came out. Can't quite remember. I know Curtis does not have anything against Gary and would like nothing more than to have a powerhouse in this area filled with kids from his program. That would be great for everyone. I'm unable to characterize the relationship in the past six months because I have been up to my neck in football.

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Questions on Redskins: Eric/Steve, I asked two questions on the Skins and you did not answer either of them. You said chatters can ask anything, If you didn't have an opinion on either, can you let me know that somehow?

Eric Prisbell: Well, thanks. Tracee does such a great job with this chat, covering all sorts of topics. I tried to handle some of the silly questions as well as many that dealt with our coverage -- because I think those issues are important -- and college sports. But, to be honest, it's college basketball season and that's kind of been overlooked a little locally and nationally, so I am inclined to answer as many college basketball questions as possible.I stayed way, way long here, folks. I thank everyone for the questions. You guys have been great. It's been fun. Have a great weekend and email me anytime: prisbelle@washpost.com.

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Landscape of College Basketball: You mention the waterdowned talent of CBB. What do you see for the future of the sport. More and more watered down talent or a resurgance at some point?

Eric Prisbell: My long-term fear is that it could move toward becoming like college baseball -- but I hope not.


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