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Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012

Time to Play Some Catch-Up

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So many topics and only so much space. The Observers gab so well that they often find themselves with a backlog of blather. So Frank's latest trip Back East provided an opportunity to work off some surplus comments from recent weeks.

A Good Step, Sort Of

Frank: It gets tiring, taking credit when a sport makes a change we've pushed for. But it's happened again with college football's new playoff system.

Artie
: Except that it won't start until 2014. And everything I've read is saying it'll be just as bad as the BCS mess, or even worse.

Frank
: In terms of who'll be chosen for the four-team setup?

Artie
: Right. No matter who's on the "expert" committee doing the selections, it'll be the same arbitrary stuff that favors the big conferences, especially the SEC, and doesn't do anything for the “lesser” teams. Part of the excitement of a playoff should be that Boise State or whoever actually has a chance, but it won't be that way. They still won't even be considered.

Frank
: Only if Boise were undefeated and every major team had at least one loss.

Artie
: And even then they wouldn't get in.

Frank
: I guess we can say it's a start, but it won't be a true opportunity for the non-giants until the playoff goes to eight or even 16 teams.

Artie
: In other words, more like the system used in every other NCAA division and every other team sport.

Frank
: CBS News had a piece the night the change was announced. Scott Pelley asked the reporter, Armen Keteyian, “What's driving this?” Keteyian said, “One word...” And what do you suppose the word was?

Artie
: What it always is. Money, ain'a?

Frank
: Absolutely. Forget about such notions as “competitive fairness” or “popular opinion.” Keteyian said money “has been driving the massive realignment in college football”...

Artie
: The one where, for instance, Boise State is going to the Big East to raise its profile.

Frank
: And now the football powers see their chance to cash in again with the four-team system. It won't start until after the BCS' broadcasting contract expires, and Keteyian said a new TV deal starting in 2014 could run $350 million to $400 million per year for the title game alone. “The timing is right and more than ever the money is right,” he said.

Artie
: What a coincidence.

Frank
: Pelley, in a marvelous exchange, asked Keteyian about “concerns” that this new system would extend the season, produce more injuries, result in less study time for the players.

Artie
: Is he 100 years old and is this 1962?

Frank
: Keteyian, doing well to keep a straight face, said, “The money has gotten so big that it overwhelmed” anything else.

Artie
: It always does.

On a Roll in Vegas

Artie: There's light at the end of the tunnel, Bucks fans!

Frank:
You know this how?

Artie
: I watched several of the team's games in the Las Vegas summer league, and they were encouraging.

Frank
: It's not like the real teams were playing, right? Weren't the squads filled with draft choices and other youngsters?

Artie
: Right, but the games were great to watch, real fast-paced. But not crazy like the All-Star Game; there was coaching and team play.

Frank
: And I guess there was really high effort because these guys are fighting for recognition and jobs.

Artie
: Anyway, the Bucks won four of their five games, and the first-round draft choice, John Henson, was a revelation. He looks like the real deal.

Frank
: Wasn't the knock on him at draft time that he needs to seriously bulk up for the pro game?

Artie
: Yeah, and I bought into that from seeing him at North Carolina. But in Vegas, he looked normal, well-proportioned, not in any way a string bean. And he showed a complete game: solid rebounding and defense, a nice little jump shot, a jump-hook with either hand.

Frank
: Sounds like Andrew Bogut when he could stay in one piece.

Artie
: Henson made the Vegas league all-star team, and so did Tobias Harris, last year's top Bucks draftee. And this year's second-round pick, Doron Lamb, looked good too.

Frank
: Of course they were playing against other rookies and second-tier guys.

Artie
: But still, there are reasons for hope.

Home Sweet Home Again

Frank: What do you make of UW-Milwaukee's decision to bring men's basketball back to campus, leaving the U.S. Cellular Arena for the cozy Klotsche Center?

Artie
: It's a step toward a new campus arena.

Frank
: Which, I assume, is part of an effort to raise the level of the program. But it's an odd way to ramp up, going from a capacity of 11,000…

Artie
: At a great old building that's always been a great place to watch hoops.

Frank
: …back to a capacity of 3,400, which is smaller than the Al McGuire Center on Marquette's campus.

Artie
: UWM had to get a waiver from the Horizon League because the Klotsche is so small.

Frank
: So if they're planning a new campus arena and a higher-profile program, the building will have to be a lot bigger than the Klotsche. But is there the money, and the fan support, to do that?

Artie
: Especially now that the Horizon League's most prominent member, Butler, is going to the Atlantic 10 after next season? Without the Bulldogs, the Horizon might well become like the Muni League of college hoops.

Frank
: UWM chancellor Mike Lovell, in a TV interview with Dennis Krause, said the new building would also serve as a place to hold graduations, other ceremonies and concerts.

Artie
: That would make sense, a multipurpose kind of place. Hey, maybe college needs an arena football league too! Then UWM could play, like, Minnesota-Duluth in the “50-yard war” in its own building.

Frank
: But we digress… I still wonder whether, in the case of basketball, the students agree that “college games belong on campus,” as Athletic Director Andy Geiger said.

Artie
: I know UWM isn't as much of a commuter school as it was in the '70s and '80s, but still I think it leans toward that. So is the idea that the commuters will just stay on campus until game times?

Frank
: And is being on campus that much of an attraction? For convenience, yes, but I'd think a lot of students would want to be downtown, with the Water Street watering holes nearby after the game. Plus, wasn't the Arena a rockin' place a couple of years ago when UWM was beating Butler in the regular season, then playing the Bulldogs for the league title and a trip to the NCAA?

Artie
: If you're on campus I guess the school gets all the revenue from games instead of whatever split they had with the Arena. But if you're not filling a building, what's the difference where it is?

Frank
: I go back to the uncertain future of the Horizon League—maybe not its literal existence, but its stature minus Butler.

Artie
: Good question. And if UWM went looking for a new league, where would it go with a reasonable chance of success?

Frank
: And again, the good ol' Arena is a great venue for hoops. When Al McGuire and the Warriors were winning 81 straight home games during my college years, it was one of the most famous "snake pits" in the country. And it's been refurbished very nicely in recent years.

Artie
: I look back fondly on the days when you could still smoke in there. Think of it! It almost seems like it couldn't ever have happened, but you could smoke at games, in movie theaters, on planes...

Frank
: In just about any office, like the old Journal newsroom.

Artie
: Even in a doctor's waiting room! Outside every elevator there was that metal bowl kind of ashtray. I would have been just the guy to buy stock in the company that made them just when everything started to change for smokers.

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