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Henry's Highlights
Wednesday, March 17, 2004

By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner of Greenville Cable 7

Football chiefs hide from method in the 'Madness'

AUDIO: Midweek Tip-Off with Henry Hinton, Mike Steele, Kevin Miller & guests Jerry Wainwright (Richmond coach), Joe Cravens (Butler coach) and Todd Lickliter (Weber State coach): Select clip...


If the great crooner Andy Williams will forgive me, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Ides of March have come and gone, conference tournaments have all finished and spring is in the air (kinda).

Yes, it’s March Madness.

For all that is wrong with college sports — scandal and murder at Baylor, incessant cheating and recruiting scandals, drug use by student athletes, schools willing to cheat or otherwise take the low road to win at all costs… the list goes on and on — the NCAA basketball tournament is the BEST thing about college sports.

Think about it. The end of the season has come, and while there might be a few raised eyebrows that a certain team here or there didn’t make the field and Billy Packer can complain that St. Joe’s should not be a number one seed, the controversy is minuscule compared to that associated with the elitist-controlled system in football.

Instead of following the gridiron model which reserves the opportunities for big postseason dreams to a self-anointed class of privileged schools, the NCAA Tournament is an uplifting affair for the big and small.

And that's the way it should be. The nation's collegiate basketball championship is about to be decided…. ON the court. Not IN the courtroom. Or by a computer system.

That the powers in college football don’t get it continues to be an amazing thing. Of course the truth is that they do understand that an all-inclusive tournament to determine the best in the land is the way to go. They just can’t find it in their hearts to level the financial field by eliminating or adjusting the bowl system in football.

When the balls are tossed up to start the games on Thursday there will be some teams, like Illinois-Chicago and Air Force, who have the same mathematical odds of becoming national champion as Duke and Kentucky.

Monmouth, Texas-San Antonio and Vermont will get the same amount of television coverage as Kansas, North Carolina and Syracuse, as long as they win.

Of course they have to win the same number of games as those powerhouse programs to get to the national championship game, but they wouldn’t have the added handicap of having to beat the computer or the slanted system to make it there.

And perhaps their chances aren’t very good. But that is just the point. They do have a chance, no matter how slim, to prove their merits on the court.

Who will be this year’s “Cinderella?” What traditional powerhouse will fall in round one? What will be the biggest upset? All of these things make March Madness the best show in town for the next few weeks.

It is such great drama for the sports fan. And more importantly, it draws in those who aren’t normally inclined to sit and watch a sporting event. The story lines that develop are worth the effort to watch and enjoy.

The personalities and the cast of characters that will emerge as household names remind one of the affinity America develops for Olympians.

Office pools are hopping all over the country. Friends are phoning and emailing friends from across the country to offer the challenge. Radio and television talk shows are full of chatter about who will make the “Final Four.”

And when the smoke clears there will be no controversy about who the champion should be.

It’s all decided face to face, man to man (or perhaps an occasional zone).

It’s madness alright. The most wonderful time of the year.

Andy, himself, might even agree. In fact, he probably already has his brackets filled out.

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02/23/2007 10:13:18 AM

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