Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is Oregon A Mid-Major?

Among die-hard Oregon fans the topic of who should coach the basketball team is a hotly contested one. It seems half the group thinks the current regime is just the one for Oregon because even sporadic success is better than what it used to be. The other half realizes Oregon may have never been this good before but it's obvious the team needs to consistently win. I am obviously on the side that says the current coach doesn't have what it takes to make Oregon a consistent winner. Because of that one sentence many people may not continue reading but if you do you will be enlightened, I promise.

One of my good friends is a University of the Pacific alum so we went down to Stockton and watched them play a couple of weeks ago. It was my first non-Oregon college game in a long time. Needless to say, watching both teams run actual plays and appear as though they had an actual offensive game plan was not something I had grown accustomed to seeing. I then checked out the banners on the wall of the gym. The banners show that UOP has been a pretty good team over the last 10 to 15 years. A few NCAA berths, a year or two when the national media takes notice and some appearances in postseason tournaments that mean nothing. When all is said and done UOP is a pretty good mid-major program.

It was then that I realized in its current state Oregon is a mid-major. In the last ten years the team has made folks east of the Rockies take notice in two of those years. The current coach has made fans think he is a miracle worker for earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. There are even some fans that think NIT appearances are a big deal. As I took the 'Oregon is a mid-major' theory further it really seemed to fit. Many times a mid-major team makes noise because the roster is dominated by upperclassmen that have spent quite a few years playing together. Does that sound familiar?

On the flip side, when a mid-major has a young team they usually have no chance of competing for a league title because someone else in the league is senior dominated. The end result of not competing for the league title with a young roster is something an Oregon fan is all too familiar with. However, these days many BCS teams are young so my brain tells me the reason Oregon's success is dramatically cyclical is a direct result of having one of the two worst coaches in the Pac-10. Thankfully for Ernie Kent the jury is still out on Johnny Dawkins. Though having a winning record with a team that did not have the Lopez twins shouldn't be overlooked.

In the coming days Pat Kilkenny is going to make one final decision before stepping down as athletic director. To a lot of people his decision will be about who should coach the basketball team. In my eyes his decision is deeper than that: At this time it is clear Oregon basketball is a mid-major program. Is that acceptable?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Bracket Baby

My daughter was born on the second day of the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament (March Madness) and for that reason alone loves basketball. Early research shows that her affinity is for the men's version alone but only time will tell. Well, on Sunday my daughter filled out a bracket. My wife and I put the logos of the two teams for each game on the monitor and had her pick the winner. Sometimes she pointed at the logo, other times she stared at the logo and occasionally she would try to grab the keyboard. Needless to say it took a long while for us to put the bracket together.

We filmed the entire selection process and if my wife ever decided to get a PhD (I'd love to be a stay-at-home dad but she has no interest in going back to school) she should use it. There is likely a lot of rich data that some dork would love to see. Did she prefer logos on the left or right? What colors were chosen the most? Did she hate logos that had text in them? All I can figure out is that my daughter loves bears, no matter how scary they look.

My wife's family has a bracket set up on a website that shall remain nameless and I wasted no time posting my daughter's bracket on there. Since I have lost to my wife every year we have been married I had to guarantee myself not finishing last. Without further ado, here are the bright spots of my daughter's bracket:
  • East Tennessee State, Radford, CSU Northridge, Cornell, American and Mississippi State will at least win one game.
  • Mississippi State and Cornell will meet in the Elite Eight.
  • Western Kentucky and Siena will make it to the Elite Eight.
  • Kansas, Cornell, Clemson and UCLA will be in the Final Four. (I picked all four to lose in the first round.)
  • Kansas will defeat Clemson to repeat as champions.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Add To The List

There are a lot of really smart people out there trying to figure out just what has caused the mess America is in. I have heard a lot of explanations: rich people, poor people, Republicans, Democrats, white people, non-white people, gay people, straight people, banker people, home buyer people and on and on and on. Oh, and how could I forget the most mentioned reason, George W. Bush. I am not here to blame anyone but I do want to add a group to the list: crappy parents. Just today I came across two parents that clearly are contributing to the demise of humanity.

The first parent is an overzealous sports parent. A friend that I work with has taken on the unenviable task of coaching a freshman high school baseball team. He called me today to ask that I review an e-mail he was sending back to a parent that was complaining. For those people that live in Oregon that probably sounds impossible but trust that baseball season in California is already under way, but barely. My friend just coached the season's first game yesterday and already has a parent on his case.

The problem was that his son was playing in the outfield, made an error and another parent commented on the kid's blunder. Instead of telling the other dad to, "shut up," the two proceed to have a loud discussion behind the team dugout about how stupid the coach is. You see, the kid that made the error has played an infield position his entire life, not in the outfield. My friend doesn't think the kid has what it takes to play middle infield at this time but wants his bat in the lineup. Take it from me, it is to one's advantage to swing a good bat and be a suspect fielder. I was the exact opposite and my career peaked in 8th or 9th grade.

I will give my friend credit, his first draft at a response was very diplomatic, something I am terrible at when dealing with people of low intelligence. I did make some slight changes but was left wondering what in the world the dad was thinking? His son starts his first high school game because the coach wants his bat in the lineup and he's bent out of shape because an error was made. You have to figure that is probably going to be the only error made by the entire freshman team all season. It stinks that my friend has to deal with this parent all season but the person I really feel sorry for is the kid.

Not to be upstaged by the worst sports dad of 2009, I came across the laziest mom of the decade on my run today. Just when I think I have heard or seen the worst parenting in my life someone trumps it. There was a girl, maybe eight or nine, on her bicycle being followed by a small SUV around the neighborhood. From a distance I was confused/worried but as I got closer I realized I was witnessing very lazy parenting. Mom was in the car following the daughter around the neighborhood, barking orders at her if she was veering too far away from the far right-hand side of the road and using her phone to write e-mails. I know this because I was running very slow today (trying to avoid an injury from getting worse), was on the other side of the road for a good half mile and the mom was yelling out the driver side window even though her daughter was on the opposite side.

To top it off, it was clear from what can be seen from the driver side that mom should have asked Santa for a gym membership, running shoes or both. Maybe I'm being too mean but it seemed pathetic to me. I could never imagine having my daughter ask me to go on a bike ride and me responding by getting the car keys and hopping in the car.

I realize I have only been a parent for 11.5 months and that there is not one correct way to parent but these parents are terrible. Perhaps there are a lot of people out there that see nothing wrong with these two incidents. If that is the case it further proves my point that a primary reason for things falling apart is that too many parents are dropping the ball. Instead of blaming everyone else for our problems we might want to look at the branch hanging above us on the family tree and make sure our kids won't have to do the same thing. (I am speaking in general terms here, my parents allowed me to fail and weren't lazy.)