Archive for January 14th, 2010

The Double Bonus: Is the Big East’s Size Detrimental to Its Teams?

The Double Bonus brings together two of our great traditions here at NPI: The intrepid sports analysis of Tim’s Unabated to the Quarterback joins forces with the weekly Thursday slot of John’s Real World/Road Rules Ruins Rankings posts. Luckily for you, both writers are on board. Tim’s comments are in black while John’s are in a condemnatory red.

On Monday, DePaul fired head coach Jerry Wainwright, a likable basketball lifer who generally seems to have been in over his head in Chicago and in the Big East. As of Wainwright’s firing, DePaul had lost 22 consecutive Big East regular-season games (the Blue Demons did snag one as the 16-seed in the conference Tourney last season) and remained mired at the bottom of the bloated conference. In the wake of the coaching move, the Chicago Tribune asked whether or not the University was truly committed to the basketball program, and whether long-term success in the Big East were really a sustainable goal:

Finances and resources “are not a deterrent to DePaul’s success” according to Ponsetto — and yet swaths of seats go unfilled at Allstate Arena while data shows that men’s basketball expenditures lag behind even fellow urban Catholic schools.

Then there’s the matter of competing in a Big East that’s deeper than an ocean trench and bewilderingly competitive, with six teams ranked in the top 16 in the latest Associated Press poll. Resuscitating the program is not necessarily mission impossible, but that also depends on the definition of the mission.

The decline of DePaul Basketball—a decades-proud institution under Ray Meyer that twice seemed on the verge of rejuvenation in the last decade as a member of Conference-USA—isn’t an isolated phenomenon, even among big-city schools in the Big East. In the New York area, St. John’s and Seton Hall—one a perennial power in the ‘80s, the other a one-time Finalist and many-time contender—have been dormant for much of the decade. They’ve combined for three Tournament berths and one win since 2000—the year the second-seeded Johnnies were upset by Gonzaga and Tommy Amaker and No. 7 Seton Hall rode reserve Ty Shine to the Sweet Sixteen.

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What Lane Kiffin Wishes He Said

New USC head football coach Lane Kiffin has taken a lot of abuse over his departure from Tennessee. In an NPI exclusive, Kiffin told us he was really torn up about the criticism, and that he wishes he could have done the noble thing and told the Trojans’ brass the following (verbatim):

Look, I’m honored, USC. You guys gave me my first legit job in football, and it’s on the strength of my work with you that I was hired not only for the Raiders’ job but also at Tennessee (because, I mean, who would hire me based on what happened in Oakland? Did you SEE that professionally presented Powerpoint? Or what Art Shell did before me and Tom Cable after me? Al Davis was right: I was the disgrace.). It’s here that I should apologize for my woeful lack of credentials; I was pretty surprised you’re even considering me after I went 5-15 with the Raiders and 7-6 at Tennessee. It’s not like I’ve proven I can recruit or anything, and I certainly don’t have the sparkling resume Pete Carroll brought in here, particularly on the college level. I know that most 34-year-olds have accomplished more than me, and quite frankly, you probably shouldn’t have even offered me the job.

I know that Southern California is one of the few schools that has a better football tradition than Tennessee. You guys have won several national titles, even in the last decade, and you’ve got like a boatload of Heisman winners, not to mention the Song Girls. Plus, you’re in Los Angeles, which I know from experience is even nicer than Knoxville, which is so nice I even named my son after it. I even know that you’re gonna offer me more money in this better location to have a better job. That’s really cool of you.

But here’s the thing: I like gave my word. Continue reading