Last month I interviewed Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski, one of the ten people on the NCAA men’s selection committee, and what I’ve noticed since then is that anyone who truly takes the time to study up on the committee’s “policies and procedures,” and everyone who has participated in the NCAA’s mock bracket simulations, says that conferences, be it the number of teams per conference or the whole issue of big conference vs. little conference, almost never gets discussed. ESPN.com’s Pat Forde said it in 2007…
To my surprise, there really is NO consideration given to the number of bids per conference. I’ll be honest: I annually rolled my eyes when the selection committee chairman insisted that was the case.
… and since then, countless WWL writers and personalities have been through the same exercise and reported the same thing. And yet, this “issue” came up several dozen times over the course of Sunday’s coverage, though I don’t really expect Dick Vitale to know better.
Another trope that’s out there is the notion that more “basketball people” should be involved in the selection, rather than ADs and commissioners. Perhaps it was caffeine-induced hallucination, but I’m pretty sure I even heard Jay Bilas (or one of his cohorts) suggest it should be more like college football. Meaning, I guess, that all those coaches and Harris pollsters who “know the game” do such a bang-up job. Here’s Bilas to the Indianapolis Star’s Steve Ballard this morning:
“Let me put it this way: If you have to take your car in for service, would you like it to be looked at by 10 mechanics or four mechanics, two doctors, a lawyer, a plumber and grocery clerk?” said Bilas, a former Duke player.
“In a multibillion-dollar industry — and that’s what this is — I’ve never heard anybody make the case that more basketball experience wouldn’t be better. More experience is better in anything. In everything.”
Apparently, Bilas is unfamilar with this defunct blog.
So ok… I’ll make the case. Or rather, I’ll let Jay’s colleague Bobby Knight help make it for me. This is a direct quote from the Sunday broadcast:
“[B]oth Walter (Byers, the first NCAA executive director) and myself felt that the women are going to pay a lot more attention to the women’s tournament [and] the men are going to pay a lot more attention to the men’s tournament, and I don’t think one should be on the other’s selection committee. I think that would be something that should really be taken care of.”
It’s the sort of comment that demands a numbered list.
1. There’s only one woman on the men’s selection committee, and she’s just the second woman ever. UT-San Antonio athletic director Lynn Hickey works for a school that hosted its third men’s Final Four in just over a decade last year. After today, her biggest job is gonna be a brand new FCS football program (headed up by former Miami bench boss Larry Coker). Her men’s team was playing for a bid today (and lost to Stephen F. Austin). She’s an AD, she’s in charge of both men’s and women’s sports, and it’s 2009 – how can this even be an issue?
2. There are, on the other hand, three men on the women’s selection committee. Two are athletic directors and one is a commissioner. Of the seven women, four are associate or senior associate athletic directors, and two are associate commisioners. One, Marilyn A. McNeil of Monmouth University, is an AD. Five also carry the title “senior woman’s administrator.” Anybody want to tell me how this problem can be fixed to Bob Knight’s liking?
3. Everyone who serves on either committee has specific assignments and procedures they must follow, during the entire season and when they get in the room. This is why I’m thinking somebody who “knows the game” like Knight would not be suited for the job, because apparently, if he were on the women‘s selection committee, he’d be sitting on his couch, getting ready to watch a Tennessee-LSU game or something, and then he’d just say, “Fuck it. I’m a man! Let’s see how Stephen Curry’s doing against Georgetown!” From there it’s just a small step to, “Eh, I don’t really need to watch St. Mary’s against Eastern Washington. I already know they’re not as good as Arizona.”
The committee, of course, did pick Arizona over Patty Mills and company (much to Vitale’s chagrin), and having been in Spokane on the night Mills broke his wrist, I feel better knowing that the members of the selection committee assigned to the WCC at least watched every minute that St. Mary’s played, and it was not a gut decision.