Friday, April 23, 2010

NCAA Tournament Expansion: Should the Four Play-In Games Switch Lines?

The NCAA allowed all of its fans to breathe a sigh of relief this week, making plans to expand the men's basketball tournament to 68 teams, and featuring four play-in games, rather than a whole extra round of 32.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that these games will still be used to determine which small-conference team (think Patriot League, SWAC, or Big South) gets to have their tournament champion spit-roasted by the top-seeded likes of Duke and Kentucky. A fine reward for teams that know they have no particular chance to win the national championship anyway?

No, not really.

The NCAA is selling itself and its television partners short by clinging to this notion that the small conferences are the teams that need to jump through the additional hoop to say they got to play in the NCAA Tournament. Only the hardest of the hardcore set their DVRs to record the Winthrop v. Arkansas-Pine Bluff play-in game this season, since the winner was earning themselves nothing but a throttling by Duke.

I don't think we're venturing out on a very thin limb here to say that there are better matchups that could be had on the Tuesday before March Madness officially opens. Matchups like...North Carolina v. Florida?

Say what?

You read that right. NCAA Selection Committee chairman Dan Guerrero has indicated that the committee may decide to get a little "creative" with these four games. Placing the last four at-large teams in the play-in games and having them battle for 12 seeds is mentioned as an option.

Not just that, it looks like it's the best option for all concerned.

First, for the fans, there are better matchups to watch. Looking at Joe Lunardi's early Bracketology for next season, examine the Last Four In and First Four Out:

LFI: New Mexico, Richmond, Ole Miss, North Carolina
FFO: Arizona State, Mississippi State, Illinois, Florida

Wouldn't an evening of Ole Miss v. Illinois and North Carolina v. Florida make for much bigger ratings than the spectacle of APB and Winthrop being forced to duel to the death for the right to get hammered by a top seed?

These play-in games gain more intrigue on Selection Sunday, as the camera crews watching the bubble teams can capture an interesting blend of nervousness and relief when a team finds out that they have to play on Tuesday. The intrigue continues into the first round, when any one of these play-in teams could easily make life miserable for a fifth seed like Texas A&M or Maryland.

For CBS and the Turner networks, the financial benefit should be obvious. More fans will tune in, ratings are better, ad revenues increase.

For the NCAA, a public relations boon. The 96-team tournament was seen as little more than pandering to the six BCS conferences, allowing them to see if they could all get 10 teams into the Tournament. Making the play-in games for 12 seeds instead of 16 seeds allows the NCAA to temporarily earn some points from fans who are firmly convinced that the system exists to screw the little guys.

The coaches and players get a smaller dose of what they wanted in a 96-team Tournament: more opportunity. This opportunity will come without all of the extra pressure that would greet an extra 32 spots, however. Administrators who were concerned about their coach not being able to make the field of 65 would fire coaches left, right, and center if they could not make a 96-team field. Less radical expansion leads to less radical firings, which is exactly how the coaches need to look at this.

Players from small conference schools who put in the work to win their league's tournament get rewarded for that work by being completely able to say they were part of the Big Dance. Winthrop coach Randy Peele went on record as saying that the play-in game's loser never really feels like part of the Tournament. Why make four teams who secured automatic bids feel like their automatic bid is worth less than some SEC or Pac-10 team that squeaked in under the wire, merely because of the name on the jersey or the name of the league?

The NCAA has a chance to make the entire March Madness experience, from the first three days on, even more compelling, and soften its evil, make-the-rich-even-richer image in the same move. We just have to sit back and see if they make that move.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Official 4 Quarters Radio NFL Mock Draft

With the NFL Draft only three days away, you know that 4 Quarters will be all over the on-air discussion. Los Guys will be covering the draft in depth on tomorrow's edition of 4 Quarters, Noon to 2 PM Central time on The host's take on the first round is as follows.

1. St. Louis Rams--QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
We'd like to think Mike Holmgren's smarter than trying to mortgage half the draft to lunge the Browns up from seventh to first...but is he? Personally, I just don't see the Browns having enough firepower to convince St. Louis to part with the pick, and thereby Bradford. The Browns may be better off targeting Colt McCoy in the second and adding a defensive player at No. 7, anyway.

2. Detroit Lions--DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
It's either him or Gerald McCoy, but DT is the way for the Lions to go. Add Suh to newcomers Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch and the returning Cliff Avril (10.5 sacks in 2 years), and suddenly Detroit may have a dangerous defensive front.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers--DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma State
If I'm Tampa GM Mark Dominik, I'd be working the phones looking to trade down and collect a few bonus picks, maybe calling Seattle to see if they'd want to part with those two firsts and have their pick of top OT's before Washington dips into that pool. Then, they could target a guy like Brian Price in Round 2. Failing that, their best fit here is McCoy, because Dez Bryant would be a Raiders-like reach here, and no one seems to want to pay Eric Berry top money as a safety.

4. Washington Redskins--OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
Lots of the speculation has Trent Williams here, because he's supposed to be a better fit for Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. Okung's not exactly chopped liver, either, and Williams seemed to struggle a bit as a left tackle his senior season. It's hard to justify drafting a right tackle at 4, so let's slot Okung in here and see what Shanny can teach his new Hog.

5. Kansas City Chiefs--S Eric Berry, Tennessee
As much as the Chiefs would love to grab an OT here, they should probably hold out for Okung. If Washington takes Williams, Okung's a Chief in about 12 seconds. If Okung's gone, it's time for people to get over their discrimination against safeties and pay Berry some cash. Every scouting report talks about how great a playmaker the guy is, but then says teams don't like to take safeties in the top 5. Plays need to be made in football, no matter what position they're made from. The Chiefs should take Berry, do a couple of cartwheels, and send him to a dozen Pro Bowls or so.

6. Seattle Seahawks--OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma
The Hawks are likely anxious to see if Berry falls in their laps, and when he doesn't, the Walter Jones Replacement Search continues. Alex Gibbs is the new Seachicken O-line coach, and he's the guy who started the zone-blocking scheme in Denver. If Williams is a good fit for Washington, it's pretty likely he's a good fit for Seattle, if they think he can handle the LT position.

7. Cleveland Browns--DE/OLB Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
Mike Holmgren claims to have some bug up his ass about Jimmy Clausen, so one of the league's worst QB situations may not be remedied until Round 2 at the earliest. With Eric Berry gone, the Browns could try for CB Joe Haden here, but the pass rush already lacked a dominant force before Kamerion Wimbley got dealt. Morgan's not likely to fit on the end in a 3-4 setup, but could probably play OLB quite well.

8. Oakland Raiders--DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
Lots of wags want to cry Bruce Campbell here, but is Al Davis really crazy enough to reach 20 spots too high for a Maryland player twice in a row? Why not get the speed rusher who can fit Al's "The quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard" mantra? If JPP busts, oh well, it's just Al reaching 20 spots too high for a guy with a sexy 40 time again. If he becomes a Pro Bowler, Al gets to act like the smartest guy in the room again. Seriously, does Al watch the 40 runs at the Combine like others watch porn? I mean, with a bottle of lotion and some tissues handy?

9. Buffalo Bills--QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
The Bills were linked to nearly every QB trade rumor, free-agent possibility, and guy-walking-in-off-the-street story all offseason, so take that as a subtle hint that they're looking under a lot of rocks to find a quarterback. One of the better ones drops into their lap, and they should pounce. If not, we can officially ignore any and all commentary about how terrible the Bills' offense is this year.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars--S Earl Thomas, Texas
The Jags are supposed to be anxious for either Pierre-Paul or Morgan to fall to 10, but if they don't, then it's time for Plan B. If they can't remedy the defensive front, it may be time to help the back, unless they're concerned about Thomas being another Reggie Nelson. C.J. Spiller starts getting rumored here quite a bit, and with the Jags having no second-round pick, it's tremendously possible. But, second RB is a luxury. Safety may be a little more important of a need.

11. Denver Broncos (from Bears)--WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
I had no doubt that Brandon Marshall would be getting traded, but I expected that it would happen somewhere ON draft day, only when the Ponies were sure they'd be getting Bryant. Marshall going to Miami clears the way. If someone snags Bryant first, Joe Haden may fit here.

12. Miami Dolphins--DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
Personally, I could flip a coin here between Williams, Rolando McClain and Sergio Kindle. So, as soon as I find a three-sided coin, I'll get right on that. Jason Ferguson has a half-season suspension looming, Joey Porter's gone, and they need the depth at inside linebacker. Problem is, there aren't a ton of true 3-4 DT's in this draft, so grab Williams and hope for the best later.

13. San Francisco 49ers--RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Frank Gore and Glen Coffee are both battering-ram runners, and the Niners could use a little lightning to go with all the thunder. It's a great spot for him, since there are concerns about him being sturdy enough to be a featured back. Caddying for Gore can keep some extra tread on both guys' tires.

14. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)--DE/OLB Brandon Graham, Michigan
The Hawks may be painted into a corner here, with their hopes of getting Spiller dashed one pick before. They can get a solid pass rusher if they can't get that big-play RB they wanted, and they might have to wheel and deal if they want to get high enough to grab Jahvid Best or Jonathan Dwyer in the second round.

15. New York Giants--ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama
With Antonio Pierce put out to pasture, the Giants have a donut hole at MLB, and McClain might be able to step in and start Week 1. Some scouts think he has range issues, but with veterans Danny Clark and Mike Boley on either side, he should have some good support.

16. Tennessee Titans--CB Joe Haden, Florida
The Titans' two biggest needs appear to be defensive end and a corner to play opposite Cortland Finnegan. With Graham, Pierre-Paul, and Morgan all gone here, it's either reach or trade down for an Everson Griffen or Jerry Hughes...or fill the corner spot with the consensus #1 guy at that position. They'd have to get a tremendous offer to take the former.

17. San Francisco 49ers (from Panthers)--OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers
Whether the Niners end up able to get Jimmy Clausen, as some have pondered, or they can get Spiller (see above), tackle is still a trouble spot. The Bust Brothers, Alex Smith and David Carr, need protection, too. Besides, if anyone can keep a lineman in the weight room and out of the drive-thru, it's Mike Singletary.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers--CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama
The Steelers were firmly in the middle of the pack in pass defense last season, and with the Ravens and Bengals trying to upgrade their receivers, another CB (they drafted two last year, neither of whom accomplished much) might make more sense than we might think. Most everyone has either Mike Iupati or Maurkice Pouncey going here, and honestly, Pouncey might make them seriously think.

19. Atlanta Falcons--C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
The Dirty Birds get happy when the Steelers let Pouncey slide. The main need early on was a corner, but signing Dunta Robinson may have helped there. They have some front seven issues on defense, but their decidedly mediocre offense should have been better after adding Tony Gonzalez. Pouncey should help clear lanes for Michael Turner and buy time for Matt Ryan.

20. Houston Texans--CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State
Lots of mocks have Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews here, but the Texans' decision-makers come from the Denver organization, where RB's where interchangeable parts. Mike Iupati will make them think long and hard, but after losing Dunta Robinson to Atlanta, the secondary must be kept a priority, lest Peyton Manning tear the defense up for 300 yards two more times this season.

21. Cincinnati Bengals--S Taylor Mays, USC
The original Roy Williams is turning 30 and running out of whatever gas he ever had, so why not draft the next Roy Williams to replace him? Park him behind former Trojan teammate Rey Maualuga, and there's a pair of guys who can make receivers hear some footsteps.

22. New England Patriots--TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
Maybe it's just me, but it seems that the Patriots open every season with a different TE. This time, perhaps they find a good receiving option...without even having to forfeit any of their three second-rounders to deal up.

23. Green Bay Packers--G Mike Iupati, Idaho
Iupati may get his first snaps at tackle, which makes him a tremendous value pick sliding down this far. One more mauler to open holes for Ryan Grant may help the Pack get another year out of him. Doesn't mean they won't go fishing for Dwyer or Toby Gerhart in the second, though.

24. Philadelphia Eagles--CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
Trading Sheldon Brown to Cleveland created a bit of an opening at corner, and unless they want to roll with Ellis Hobbs starting (yes, Eagles fans, time to shudder), an infusion of talent is necessary. Whether Robinson will actually do anything with all that talent depends on who you ask. Eagles fans will either love him or demand he be shot on the courthouse square immediately.

25. Baltimore Ravens--WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech
Sure, the Ravens have done some retooling at WR, adding Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth to Derrick Mason...but Mason's 36 and seems to always be threatening retirement these days, Boldin's always nursing some kind of injury, and Stallworth is a total wild card. A long-term answer would greatly help Joe Flacco's peace of mind.

26. Arizona Cardinals--CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers
Just because they defeated the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, doesn't mean that the Cards didn't get righteously torched. No division champion has so many glaring needs on draft day (OT and pass rushing DE/LB are the most commonly discussed), but McCourty may be the last of the first-round CB's.

27. Dallas Cowboys--OT Charles Brown, USC
Brown's getting the "need bump," where a second-round prospect gets dragged into the first because a team has a glaring need. With Flozell Adams gone, the Cowboys need a young lineman to groom as a replacement.

28. San Diego Chargers--DT Terrence Cody, Alabama
Mount Cody will get a chance to plug the holes that the Jets kept ripping in the Chargers' defensive front in the playoffs. Trading up with Seattle to #40 in Round 2 will definitely give them a good chance to find the RB they're supposed to be looking for.

29. New York Jets--DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas
Hopefully, Kindle's not attending the draft, because he's got the Aaron Rodgers/Brady Quinn Green-Room Wait of Doom on this board. Him falling this far is excellent for the Jets, who play the 3-4 scheme that can allow Kindle room to rush off the edge. If he's half as good as his ex-Horns teammate Brian Orakpo, who needs Jason Taylor?

30. Minnesota Vikings--S Nate Allen, South Florida
As tempting as it is to speculate that the Vikings are the team that can afford to wait on Tim Tebow, the truth is that if Brett Favre decides to leave the Purple and Gold (why, Prince, why?) in the lurch, Tebow will struggle mightily (biblically?) to guide the offense. Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels aren't terribly appealing, either, but give them the chance and fill in one of the few holes on the D. Allen's a good fit for a Cover 2 system, and could probably start on day one.

31. Indianapolis Colts--G/T Rodger Saffold, Indiana
Bill Polian bitched out the offensive line following the Super Bowl loss, and a versatile guy like Saffold could help right away. The fact that he's a local product is an added bonus. An extra pass-rusher like Everson Griffen or Jerry Hughes will get serious talk here, as well.

32. New Orleans Saints--OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
A greater athlete at OLB than the departed Scott Fujita, Spoon could slide anywhere the Saints need him to play. If he's able to read the play quickly enough, he could be a force in coverage and shouldn't embarrass himself on the rush, either.

And there you go. In case I hit on a ton of these picks and the cynics among you think these are edited after the fact, remember that I'll be covering all of them on 4Q. The podcast will be linked from here as my proof. So there.

THE ONE EDIT I'LL ALLOW MYSELF: Yep, I completely spaced Bryan Bulaga. No, I don't think he'll dive to the second round. Yep, I'm senile. Yep, I owned it on the air. Fail: me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

4 Quarters Radio April 13 2nd Half

The second half of 4Q's April 13 episode starts with college basketball coach migration, and in the case of Butler's Brad Stevens, the prevention of said migration. The outrageous costs of forced coach migration gets Scott's hackles up a bit, and Joseph gets to dig into the Tennessee QB situation. MTSU's spring game gets a lookover before intermission, as well. Rampant identity theft continues in the 4th as Bobby prepares to sound off on UFC 112. Anderson Silva's "heel turn" could lead to big dollars for UFC, according to the MMA Authority. Joseph can't resist one last Conley/Thabeet dig in Epic Fails, and Scott wonders if J.R. Smith lost his damn mind. Excised music: "Here We Are Juggernaut" by Coheed & Cambria and "He Was a Jazzman" by the Flatliners.

4 Quarters Radio April 13 1st Half

The first half of the April 13 episode starts off with the final days of the NBA season. Scott, Joseph, and Bobby talk about the exclusive club that Tyreke Evans has joined, as well as the one that LeBron James is trying to start. The question "Why Don Nelson?" is discussed, and an emergency siren test sires a potential new segment called State of Emergency. In the 2nd, Ben Roethlisberger's potential suspension, his former receiver's new home, and overrated draft prospects highlight the NFL discussion. Plus, a young goalscoring ace and a UFC upset figure in the Whodaman? segment. Excised music: "Please Don't" by David Byrne & Fatboy Slim feat. Santigold and "When You Come Around" by Geist.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Breathe: What Boiler Nation Needs to Do As Johnson Declares

News of JaJuan Johnson declaring for the NBA Draft has reached the blogosphere, and the reaction is predictably hysterical.

Just when it seems that Purdue may have a realistic shot at a championship (at least Andy Katz seems to think so), along comes a story to make Boilermaker Nation cry in their, um, Boilermakers yet again.

Not to mention Gary Parrish coming along to twist the knife even further, but that's another story.

Before everyone indulges their "woe is us" impulse, however, let's examine JJ with a critical eye.

Why would the NBA take him?

He's 6'10" with an 18-foot jump shot. Long body, good shot-blocker, can make the finesse plays inside.  Sounds great, right?  So...

Why wouldn't the NBA take him?

On that 6'10" frame, there's only 215 pounds of flesh and bone. He's a fairly maligned rebounder, even in college. While he had 10 double-figure rebounding games this season, he had seven more with four boards or less, including a three-carom night against Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament, so there's a tendency to disappear.

Part of that can be due to his own forays to the perimeter, as other players below Johnson on the list linked above have been known to stroke the three.

However, also partially due to JJ operating on the perimeter, his field goal percentage stood at a mediocre-for-a-center 50.4 percent this season.

The other part of that rebounding malaise stems from that 215-pound frame. If his jumpshot and ballhandling were more consistent, we could possibly project him as a small forward. They're not, though, so right now, he's an undersized power forward who would get hammered mercilessly in the Association.

Is he on the NBA's radar?

Considering several teams like to dazzle the establishment by scraping up some Euroleague guys who will never see an NBA contract, of course they know about a two-time All-Big Ten center. But what do they think of him? That's the million-dollar question.

No team will tell you, so we must consult the websites that rank players for such purposes. They have a mock showing JJ as a high second-round 2011.  His profile? Bare. Hmmm. Same mock status as above.  At least he has a profile, even if it hasn't been updated in about 400 days or so. On their inaugural Top 100 list for this year's draft, we need to scroll all the way down to No. 78 before we get to Johnson's name.

Does any of this sound like the treatment of a highly touted 2010 prospect?

Not really. So, it begs the question:

WTF is JaJuan thinking?

He's likely thinking that he'll get a little feedback from actual, official NBA scouts rather than the armchair websites and bloggers. That way, he makes the most informed decision he possibly can.

If I was on Pardon the Interruption, playing a game of Odds Makers right now, and I was asked to give my odds on JJ staying in the draft, I'd come back with an answer in the neighborhood of five percent. If he's not a first-round pick, there's no guaranteed cash, so it's a gamble.

As more touted freshman and sophomore prospects declare, it pushes Johnson further down the big priority list for the scouts. He has until May 8 to decide officially, but I won't be surprised if he turns around and comes back sooner, once he gets the information he needs.

Only when JJ shows up to an early May press conference looking like Karl Malone will I become truly concerned. Something tells me that might be as likely as 50 Cent's next album being grounded in acoustic folk.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

96 Tears: The NCAA Wants to Make the Rich Richer

Some sources will tell you that the NCAA Tournament's expansion to 96 teams is as guaranteed as death and taxes. Others, including the NCAA itself, want to tell us to pump the brakes, nothing's set in stone yet.

And if you buy that, you're obviously shopping for some Arizona swampland.

I'm not here to cry fire and brimstone and claim that a 96-team tournament means that the apocalypse is nigh or the terrorists will win or whatever. What I am here to claim is that there is a fair, equitable way to do it without this basically becoming a care package for the BCS conferences.

The worst thing that can happen for the tournament is some 16-16 team from the ACC getting into the Big Dance ahead of, say, a 23-9 regular-season champion from the MAC who got poleaxed in the conference tournament.

If the regular season means something, then dominating your conference should mean something. Something more than making excuses like, "Oh, well, their record was terrible because they played dominant competition."

The one way the NCAA can make Greg Shaheen not sound like a total liar when he spouts off about "increased opportunities" in between bouts of ignoring John Feinstein's questions is in actually granting opportunities to those who truly need them: namely, the other 25 conferences (not including the Great West).

Offer automatic bids to the regular-season AND tournament champions of each conference, following the recommendation of that noted mid-major advocate Mike Krzyzewski, and the whole thing becomes much more palatable. Expand the tournament just so the Big East and ACC can challenge themselves to see if EVERY member can reach the Big Dance, and what are we left with?

Well, we're left with college football, in all honesty: a Mafioso system with 20 percent of the leagues drawing 70 percent of the party invitations.

Offering two bids for each non-BCS league gives us 50 spots filled, allowing 46 more for the BCS leagues and other assorted at-larges (which, let's face it, will be the endangered species in the Fat Bracket arrangement). Even if there are no other mid-major at-larges, the Cartel will still be fighting over seven bids per conference, or 14 more than they managed this season.

Also consider: only 41 of the 73 BCS schools managed winning records this season. Dan Guerrero, or whoever takes over the committee chair, will tie themselves in knots trying to defend the inclusion of a 15-17 Pac-10 team over a 22-6 team from the Big Sky.

Or, perhaps, the NCAA will continue with its current method of "we'll tell you what you want and you'll like it."


Funny enough, the people who are all about more NCAA spots are the power-conference coaches, who all like the idea of being rewarded for landing between the 20th and 30th percentiles, the schools who get left out now.

What does this do to alumni, administration, and trustee expectations, however? If a coach gets a three-year leash to reach the 20th percentile, does he get the same latitude to get into the 30th? If tournament places are given out like candy, is the window reduced to two years to reach one?

Coaches like the idea of an easier coat of resume polish, but diluting the pool cuts both ways. If a goal is easier to reach, but still not reached, a lot of coaches will find themselves with even less time to do so, losing their job security in the quest to gain more job security.

Not sure if that's irony, but it's gotta be close.


Finally, there's the argument that there will be no more "Cinderellas," depriving the tournament of its charm and drama.

What, like there are so many now?

Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News, linked above, couldn't even give any coherent reasons why the upsets would never happen. If Ohio University, for example, could beat Georgetown, why in the world could they not beat North Carolina (to continue beating this dead horse)? And did anyone honestly think that the Bobcats were launching a run to the Final Four after beating the Hoyas, anyway?

Not many outside of Athens, Ohio, I'm sure.

Butler qualified as a "Cinderella story," despite the fact that they ended the regular season ranked eighth in the nation. New Mexico was a three seed, ranked in the top 10, but would have also stunned everyone if they'd gotten to Indy. Why? Simply because the four semifinalists are only supposed to come from the same six leagues that can win the football championship, too. Outsiders are treated as interlopers and curiosities, sort of like a five-legged unicorn.

Let's not OVER-romanticize the tournament. The Bryce Drews and the Courtney Lees and the Mouse McFaddens and the Steve Nashes are great stories...for the first weekend.

The second weekend is all about the hoops factories. So it has always been, so it shall (probably) always be. Butler's path this season would have been no different in a 96-team bracket than it was in a 65.

The Tournament is still The Tournament. It's still a vastly superior system to the BCS football cartel. Most of us will adapt and survive, even Betty the receptionist, who'll have to pull out her reading glasses to read the smaller team names on the bracket sheet...most of which she knows nothing about anyway, but that still won't stop her from taking all of your money in the office pool.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On College Radio, No One Can Hear You Scream

After about three months of hosting and producing 4 Quarters, I've come to a difficult realization.

Doing radio is easy. Doing GOOD radio is hard. Very hard.

Maybe my own standards are too high, but it just seems that the last few episodes have gone downhill faster than Charlie Weis on a Crisco-covered waterslide.

While I flail around for something to say, my co-hosts do the best they can with what they know. Even with that, there's still minimum show prep going on, as they both wander into the studio about four minutes before showtime and disappear right around the time I put on the "postgame show" song.

Either I come in with topics that we get totally out of hand with and burn a whole quarter or I get shrugs and mumbles.

My own preparation continues to get more and more sketchy by the day, and I shudder to think what it'll be like next semester or even this summer, when I'm taking something resembling a full course load.

Of course, it's not like it'll matter one way or the other, since I'm having it proven repeatedly that no one pays a damn bit of attention to this blog, this radio show, and very few seem to take any notice of whether or not I live or die. Even some people that have the gall to call themselves "The Family" would surprise me greatly if they even knew that I had a radio show at all.

Promo efforts have repeatedly fallen flat, not helped by the fact that MTSU seems mostly apathetic to the fact that there is a student station in their midst.

Station meetings take place at 9 PM, primarily for the sake of one or two people who might take night classes, and screw all the people who live off-campus and might want to go home to see their spouse before said spouse retires for the night.

Station "management" can barely be bothered to spend any effort on helping their "staff" handle anything, whether it's recording a commercial for their shows or explaining why a position on the website has nothing to do with the station, and is therefore off limits to all of us pathetic scrubs.

Sometimes I wonder how much of this is actually similar to an honest-to-God professional radio station. Do the guys at the Zone have to deal with an apathetic management that can't respond to anything in a timely manner?

I know the hosts don't have to deal with pushing all the buttons and doing all the programming themselves because they have their own producers. Maybe that's the part that's most difficult. When I'm busy trying to pull something up on the computer to support our discussion, I'm also conducting said discussion, choosing the spots that will run at the next break, and preparing the music that will play at the intermissions. Dan Patrick and Mike Greenberg don't have to deal with all this.

And I'm quite sure the guys that do this for a living have very understanding wives who know that keeping up with sports is what pays the bills. I have no doubts that mine will be that way when that actually comes to pass for me. Until then, however, Tuesday night is Biggest Loser night, Thursday night is Survivor, and if I spend too many nights on the computer doing research, it might become a Relationship Issue.

And for all this, I can't get anyone to tell me if the show's any good or if it stinks like week-old milk. Only one podcast has had both halves reach 10 listens (and I think a couple of those were me doing troubleshooting). I can count the number of comments on this blog (all 10 months' worth) on one hand. People on Facebook are doing their damndest to ignore promotional efforts...oh, unless they're a call-in guest, and then they'll shout it from the rooftops. Sometimes. That's if they're not too fucking arrogant to admit that they're slumming on a college radio show in the first place.

I have no doubt that it'll all become much more fun once I learn how to do it right. Unfortunately, I can't find anyone willing or able to tell me exactly what it is I'm doing wrong.

But, enough whining. I've been germinating a post on the 96-team NCAA monstrosity for weeks now, and I should probably get around to finishing that instead of bitching to a room that's pretty empty already.

Monday, April 5, 2010

4 Quarters Radio Episode 11: 2nd Half

NBA Crimes and Punishment open the second half of March 30's show, with Big Z making a jailbreak back to Cleveland and Gilbert Arenas getting a return to Washington next season. A brief history of football players in pro wrestling follows, provoked by Bill Goldberg potentially bringing Shawne Merriman with him on a return to WWE. NFL trade speculation continues after that, primarily swirling around Brandon Marshall. UFC 111 results are discussed in the 4th, with a little extra ridicule for Jon Fitch making noise like he's ready to cross the boss. Monta Ellis's delusions of grandeur (spoiled by Scott for both of our listeners earlier) headline the Epic Fails. Excised music: "Cover Me" by Bruce Springsteen and "Let the Madness Begin" by Fozzy.

4 Quarters Radio Episode 11: 1st Half

March 30's first half starts off with a repeat appearance from Adam Biggers of the Flint (Mich.) Journal discussing Michigan State's Final Four prospects...and also being vaguely aware that there are three other teams there, too. From there, Scott steers the rapidly careening 4Q train from sporting philosophy (do you BIRG and CORF?) to tangentially sports-related pornography. Tall Russians and women get shouts out in Whodaman, as well. Excised music: "Yes" by LMFAO.