Our Editor Gets Lazy And Has His Friend Write Some Crap About College Basketball

I get Bill Simmons appeal. He’s ingratiated himself with his ability to fill the role of your knowledgeable sports fan buddy, who can kill it at the sports bar by colorful talking points and derivative sexist humor. I even get Simmons’ shrine to his own ego: Grantland.com. (I’m not sure if it’s pyramid style like his NBA Hall of Fame, or whether or not he considers his pride in his knowledge of MTV reality dreck “pantheon level”, but I digress). What I don’t get is their latest series on college hoops. Grantland tasked several writers with fan-boying for their favorite teams in a series called “Here’s Why (Duke/UNC/Syracuse/Ohio State/Kentucky) Will Win the National Championship.” Not only did it turn out a series of articles so sub par that it became clear Grantland’s staff knew as little about college hoops as its chief editor, but when they were unable to find someone to fan-boy it up for UConn (the defending National Champion and #4 team in the preseason coaches poll), Simmons kicked that to his buddy Jack-O, a UConn hater for, “Here’s Why UConn Won’t Win the National Championship.”

JackO’s credentials are as follows: He grew up in Connecticut, did not go to UConn but dislikes UConn basketball, used to be a Hartford Whalers fan, and his friend runs Grantland.com. My credentials are similar:  I grew up in Connecticut, did not go to UConn but do like UConn basketball, used to be a Hartford Whalers fan, and my friend runs rantingesteban.com. So…I feel uniquely qualified to respond to Jack-O’s thought piece, and if you’ll allow me to borrow a page out of the FireJoeMorgan.com book, let’s get started….(Jack-O’s text is in italics because WordPress doesn’t support Crayon)

Let’s skip right to Jack-O’s Reasons Why UConn will not repeat:

REASON NO. 1: THE BANDWAGON EFFECT
When I was in high school, my buddies and I had a ticket package for all of UConn’s Big East games. These tickets were not difficult to acquire, as UConn was the perennial laughingstock of the conference. Empty seats were in abundance. Now, following three championships and two decades of success, every Nutmegger (the nickname for Connecticut residents) walks around in UConn hats and jackets, even if they attended other colleges or no college at all.

I don’t mean to interrupt FalloutboyFan12’s Livejournaling while he’s on a roll, but Jack-O realizes that much of the college sports fan population did not go to the school they root for, right? Has he ever read the comments section of an ESPN.com game story? Most college sports fans can’t read.

Tickets to any games (never mind Big East games) are impossible to get.

So…Let’s get this straight. UConn basketball used to be cool back when they weren’t good and no one went to the games and now they’re no longer cool because Jack-O can’t get tickets? Tragic. Does he know that Stubhub.com exists? In fact, if he wanted to knock UConn sports properly he would do it for LACK of fan support, not because tickets are unavailable. The team’s reported difficulty selling season tickets this year, and you can Stubhub or scalp seats at the XL center for marginally above face value to just about any game. So Jack-O’s “extreme dislike” is stuck permanently in 1997.

Every game is broken down by my coworkers the next day like the Zapruder film. The outcome of the UConn game is often the lead story on the local news. “HUSKIES TOP HOYAS” is written in a headline font previously reserved for “JAPANESE BOMB PEARL HARBOR.”

God I hate SPORTS FANS! Always talking about the game the day after. Amiright?? Is Jack-O serious? Has he read Grantland? Does it even seem possible he could have tolerated Simmons’ know-it-all sports douchery for 10 minutes? He must’ve been stoned out of his mind for all of college. Also the Courant prints headlines in Helvetica, because they print fucking EVERYTHING in Helvetica. DEAL WITH IT.

I realize that the state is starved for sports success, but the level of UConn saturation is more than anyone can handle. After their improbable run in the 1990 NCAA tournament, a book was produced, “UConn’s Dream Season: Road to the Final Eight”. A title so ridiculous that it should be listed in the comedy section of Barnes & Noble. No program that aspired to higher goals should ever have such a book written.

I don’t think the programs aspirations have anything to do with the publishing decisions. Other titles you can find on Amazon: Gonzaga Basketball: A Decade of Excellence, Underdawgs: How Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs Marched Their Way to the Brink of College Basketball’s National Championship and, speaking of the comedy section, A Farewell to Glory: The Rise and Fall of an Epic Football Rivalry: Boston College Vs. Holy Cross. Also, Milton Berle’s Private Joke File, but Jack-O’s probably familiar judging by his “comedy section of Barnes & Noble” section quip.

Yet, here in Connecticut people lapped it up. Now that the Huskies have managed to finish higher than the top eight, things have gotten exponentially worse, and for a non-UConn grad like me, it’s way, way, way too much to take.

REASON NO. 2: JIM CALHOUN

I’m skipping this hole section because it’s tired and played out. Reader’s Digest version: Calhoun’s an ass-hole and is mean to reporters. My response: BOO HOO. He’s won 3 national titles, is in the top 6 all time in wins and is revered and loved by his former players. So he out ass-holed an ass-hole blogger who tried to provoke him in a political stunt. I’m over it.

REASON NO. 3: ACADEMICS
The graduation rate for the UConn men’s basketball team in the most recent survey was 31 percent. It was one of only seven schools in the 2011 NCAA tournament to graduate fewer than 40 percent of its players.

We can talk until we’re blue in the face about how graduation rates are calculated, but this is an area I’m sure everyone at UConn wishes was improved upon. So I’ll give Jack-O this one, now let’s see which academically deficient player he brings up…

One of its recent graduates, superstar Kemba Walker, was allowed to graduate by taking several classes on the Internet and writing a paper about his internship with the NBA team that drafted him.

Right…why rag on someone who didn’t graduate when you can rag on someone who did? Never mind the fact that the majority of large schools offer web-based classes, or than having an internship in the career a student aspires to seems like quite a relevant work study opportunity, let’s get to the fact that Kemba graduated in three years! He didn’t have to do the extra work to graduate. He could have declared for the draft after three years of incomplete undergraduate study just like every other underclassmen who makes the move to the NBA but he chose to go out of his way to the EXTRA work to graduate early.

(Note: The arrival of his diploma must be delayed by the NBA lockout.)

ZINGER ALERT! Someone prepare the comedy section of Barnes & Noble!

Putting aside the ridiculousness of assuming that the ninth pick in the draft would be subjected to anything remotely resembling a normal corporate internship (“Kemba, Mr. Jordan is still waiting for those copies”),

Because the whole point of an internship is for it to be demeaning and stupid…

he also admitted that he had never read a book until his final year of college. And he will be counted as one of their graduates! At the commencement ceremony, he led the march of graduates! I’m not naïve enough to believe that major college athletics will ever be like the Ivy League or even my alma mater of Holy Cross,

AT HOLY CRAWSS OW-AH GRADUATES AHH THE SMAHTEST IN ALL OF WO-STAH! Don’t believe him? Take this guy’s word for it.

but even UConn partisans have to admit that 31 percent is ridiculously low and that to graduate college, one should have to read more than one book.

(Note: This may be the real source of my bitterness. Prior to 1999, I used to taunt my UConn friends with the fact that the only New England college to win an NCAA championship was Holy Cross: 1947 champs, Baby! Stupid, I know, and yet I’m still bitter. Even Bob Cousy has moved past this by now.)

I’m going to take a pass on that one. Too easy.

REASON NO. 4: SHADINESS
Although Calhoun and UConn are not exactly Jerry Tarkanian and the Runnin’ Rebels in terms of NCAA violations and shady characters, they have had more than their fair share.

Ahh, so the obligatory litany of recent “character” troubles. Which trumped up media maelstrom do you want to kick things off with Jackie-O? Laptops or Miles? Miles or laptops?

From the marijuana arrest of point guard Khalid El-Amin following the 1999 championship

Or….that. Because no one smokes weed in college. Certainly not buddies of intolerable sports columnists who apparently can’t stand people who talk about sports…

to the laptops stolen by point guard Marcus Williams in 2005 to the illegal recruitment process of Nate Miles, UConn has had some bad-character guys and some outright NCAA violations. The recruitment of Miles was the biggest scandal in recent years, and by now the facts are well known:

Are they now?

involvement with an agent with ties to the program, improper contacts, legal troubles.

Yeah…let’s not play it too fast and loose with the term “facts” there J-Woww.

The Miles affair had the whole enchilada of NCAA no-no’s.

Assuming that by “whole enchilada” he means “text messaging” then, yeah, he’s right. Calling Josh Nochimson “an agent” is like calling Jack-O “a sports writer”. Nochimson was a wannabe, a hanger-on, a no-talent-ass-clown who road the coattails of a talented friend to try and make himself seem important. He and Jack-O should start a Facebook group about it. UConn did not have an agent deliver a recruit as Jack-O insinuates. What they were guilty of was placing too many phone calls and text messages (which only became illegal in the middle of the players recruitment). You know, the same thing Jack-O’s beloved, pious Holy Cross was found guilty of in 1999. Except that some of the recruited players actually played for Holy Cross which Miles never did for UConn.

In response, Calhoun alternately denied everything, feigned ignorance, blamed others, took full responsibility, issued a carefully crafted apology, and filed an appeal. My head is still spinning, and yet he somehow walked away scot-free with his iconic image still intact. Even the addition of the Huskies’ prized new recruit Andre Drummond (the heir apparent to Walker in the superstar department)

If you had word 1,166 in the “When will ‘Why UConn Will Not Repeat As National Champions’ mention a player who will be on the floor during UConn’s attempt to repeat as National Champions” office pool…YOU WIN! Hopefully none of your douche-bag co-workers break it down like the Zapruder film.

has a funny smell to it. The announcement that he was going to attend UConn came so suddenly, and as such a surprise, that they didn’t even have a scholarship available for him. A backup player was made to give up his scholarship to accommodate Drummond. Coupled with Drummond’s appearance in a video hawking Adidas sneakers, there’s something that smells about the whole process.

Drummond was filmed in a viral Youtube video saying “I like them” about some Addidas shoes. This is  Jack-O’s silver bullet here? A viral video which Drummond (and most of the players involved) most likely didn’t know was being filmed at the time? Do we think that Jack-O can get past the headline font choice to actually read stories?

Maybe not violations per se, but definitely some shadiness.

After all why would a kid from Middletown, CT want to play basketball at UConn? It’s gotten pretty lame since people around the state started going to games and wearing UConn hats and jackets. Why would you want to be a part of that?

This is perhaps the price that has to be paid to be a player in major college athletics, but UConn fans can no longer pretend that they’re the paragon of virtue that they used to be.

Right because none of the other schools featured in this series–Duke (Myron Piggy/Corey Magette), UNC (their entire football program is on double secret probation), Kentucky (Calipari’s never met a Final Four he couldn’t vacate), Ohio State (yeah…)–have ever had any documented brushes with recruiting impropriety.

So there you have it, Huskies fans. Sorry. Call it karma, call it schadenfreude, call it old-fashioned dislike, but according to my airtight analysis, I’m afraid that the UConn men’s basketball team will not be repeating as champ. There will be no parade in Hartford come April this year … you know, unless the women’s team wins.

Well, Jack-O that was a hell of a pre-amble I now look forward to your discussion of why this years team can’t win a National Title. There are several worthy arguments you could make. Do you think Jeremy Lamb wont be able to fill the go-to scorer roll? Will Shabazz Napier try to do too much? Is Drummond over-hyped? Let’s see…

Oh…That’s it? So…the answer to the headline (printed in a font I’d peg as Times New Roman) or “Why UConn Will Not Repeat as National Champions” is…Jack-O doesn’t like them.

I can live with that.

2 comments

  1. […] love/hate relationship with Grantland.com. If you’d like to see the hate part of it, check out my Fire Joe Morgan style send-up of Bill Simmons’ buddy Jack-O’s skidmark on the underpants of the internet entitled: “Why […]

  2. […] order. I hadn’t been this incensed by an article since Bill Simmon’s crony “Jack-O” penned “Why UConn Will NOT Win the National Championship”, so I figured I’d respond in kind: with a  full on “Fire Joe Morgan” style send […]

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