Friday, March 12, 2010

Run Away Huskies

I'm not sure if I should be proud, or ashamed.

I have said that UConn's utter dominance of women's college hoops (71 in a row and counting... yawn) is utterly BAD for the game.

Now, Christine Brennan agrees.

Let it be said, I am fond of Christine personally, even though I find some of her knee-jerk feminist opinions on sports to be groan inducing and predictable.

Yet when Christine begins her USA Today column thusly: "I'm worried about women's basketball" I sit up and take notice.

I'm right, and she's right. What Geno Auriemma is doing in Storrs these days certainly can't be criticized - he's not cheating. At the same time, it merits only the smallest of golf claps.

And please don't start making the UCLA men's program comparison as they approach that consecutive wins number.

UConn has so much amassed firepower in terms of talent, they could theoretically keep winning like this for another 3 years before a hiccup.

And how do they get so many great players, many of which must sit on the bench for at least a year when they would be starters on another program?

In large part, I believe, because of television.

Yes, they show other teams than UConn on cable. But only the Lady Huskies seem to matter. Especially to the 800 pound TV gorilla nearby in Bristol: ESPN.

Connecticut being a very parochial state, proud of their own, has the World Wide Leader eager to pump up and hype UConn at any chance, while the rest of the women's hoop universe has to scrap for whatever is left.

When UConn broke their own consecutive wins mark, SportsCenter LEAD the show with an 11 minute package on it!

Eleven minutes!

I know the flip response to this would be: "Hey, when Texas Tech goes 71 straight, they'll get the same treatment."

Oh sure they will.

Great high school players decided to go to UConn and share minutes, because they are the Yankees of the NCAA. And mom and dad have a decent chance of seeing their highlights or reading about them in USA Today.

This advantage - undeniable - is one that Auriemma is right to leverage to the fullest.

That doesn't mean the NCAA should just turn a blind eye. I don't quite know what they can do, but it would be in their interest to give it some thought.

Few fans realize, but the NCAA has arcane restrictions on things like the number of full color pages allowed in a media guide. They have this, to ensure that Kentucky doesn't have a media guide that looks like a beautiful Time-Life hardback, while Bowling Green has a media guide that looks like it came from Kinko's.

Seems silly, but it's something the NCAA has kept an eye on.

Just like TV. I had forgotten, but my sports/anti-trust guru Skip Oliva reminds me of the struck-down 1984 NCAA "television plan" that would have radically curtailed TV appearance discrepancies among programs.

Writes Skip...

From the Court's decision in NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma (1984):

"The interest in maintaining a competitive balance among amateur athletic teams that the NCAA asserts as a further justification for its television plan is not related to any neutral standard or to any readily identifiable group of competitors. The television plan is not even arguably tailored to serve such an interest. It does not regulate the amount of money that any college may spend on its football program or the way the colleges may use their football program revenues, but simply imposes a restriction on one source of revenue that is more important to some colleges than to others. There is no evidence that such restriction produces any greater measure of equality throughout the NCAA than would a restriction on alumni donations, tuition rates, or any other revenue-producing activity. Moreover, the District Court's well-supported finding that many more games would be televised in a free market than under the NCAA plan, is a compelling demonstration that the plan's controls do not serve any legitimate procompetitive purpose."

Now, the "television plan" here was pretty draconian. The NCAA controlled all members' television rights and limited each school to six television appearances (and no more than four national television appearances) per season. Obviously, this was pre-ESPN.

So there's likely no reeling in UConn until Auriemma steps down, at the earliest. Sure does make you yearn for the days when Pat Summitt had the horses to run with Geno


  1. I know I should care..........but I don't.

  2. I don't and cannot give a crap about college basketball. It was the one time a year I wouldn't listen to your show either. You spent way too much of my commute time talking about it.

  3. It is of note that the only other team that rivals UConn women in media coverage, the Lady Vols of Tennessee, are not one ofthose 70+ victories.

  4. so Czabe, wtf do u want? The TITLE9 EQUIVALENT FOR TV?! Yeah that'd be awesome... requiring an equal number of hours of ladies sports to be broadcast in all future TV-deals... um, yeah, that's not gonna happen. DO NOTHING. Who cares if all the nags want to goto u.conn?! IT'S NOT LIKE THEY HAVE UNLIMITED ROSTERS OR SCHOLARSHIPS! Do nothing, eventually this "problem" will clank itself away just like the wnba is currently doing...

  5. Sports dynasty's always go away. 10 years ago it looked like the Duke mens team would win the national championship every year and look what happened. I think the best thing to do is nothing.