NCAA Playoff Observations

The Tar Heels' wins in Syracuse resulting in a trip to the Final Four has inspired me to write an extra article this week. There are several things I would like to mention, but not to the extent that they justify a separate article. This might be thought of as an Odds and Ends type article with simply a different title.

First, I would like to comment on the commercial aspects of the games. I can't remember the exact figure but it seems like CBS paid 6 billion dollars for the contract to televise the NCAA playoff games. Not sure how long the contract runs, but I think it is important to mention this before I complain about the amount of time spent showing commercials. One commercial, in particular, was hard to sit through but many of them were boring as all get out, particularly when they are shown over and over and over. I have to wonder if the advertisers have given any thought to the possibility that objectionable ads or ads repeated endlessly might have a reverse effect on viewers. I think advertising dollars could be better spent maybe in making a single flagship ad for each season and running reruns in the remaining slots. I'm sympathetic to the fact that that CBS has got to recoup their money and therein lies a weakness in the capitalistic system. Hold on before you get the pitchforks out and form a lynching party. Hear me out. CBS got the contract because they felt they had to bid the figure they did in order to get the contract. No problem so far. But in getting such an expensive contract, they have to do what it takes to make it profitable and therein lies the problem. It certainly seems to me that the amount of air time given to commercials ( excuse me, I think they are referred to as messages nowadays) has increased considerably over the years. A friend of mine said he has timed a few games and he now feels that 2 hours and 20 minutes is the standard rather than 2 hours which served as the standard in the old days. One would certainly think the INCA would have to approve extending the commercial air time but that doesn't make it right. The fans at home are the ones that suffer.

I like the little tricks they use like coming back from a commercial only to be told that action will be forthcoming "right after these messages." It's like breaking up the commercial time with some contact with the game announcers will make listening and viewing more palatable. Heavens knows what the situation will be when this contract with CBS expires.

Another problem is that one never knows when they are going to see the game that is advertised. CBS is so intent on having a game broadcast that is appealing to the non partisan fans that they will zap you in a heartbeat to go to another more competitive game. Maybe part of the problem is that I am a Tar Heel fan living outside the Tar Heel viewing area. I don't know this for a fact, but maybe they don't cut away in the Research Triangle area like they do in Richmond. It would make more sense to stick with a game in the conference geographical area, but that has now been expanded so that it reaches from Miami to Boston. I predict that, eventually, UNCLE will have it's own pay for view channel that will run UNCLE sports activities 24-7. A first step in this direction is the new ESPN channel that is devoted solely to collegiate sports and is headquartered in Charlotte. Technology will make this possible in the next few years.

I'm not going to write about the Coach K American Express ads at this time. I want to give the matter more thought before I attempt to discuss the subject.

Did anyone see the sign held up in Syracuse which read "No more Coach K ads?" The camera stayed on the sign only for a moment but it has generated a lot of comments on the message boards.

Another sign worthy of note at the ACC Tournament read, " Tickets...$150, Hot Dog and drink...$8.00, Not having to listen to Packer..priceless." It was slightly embarrassing to hear the boos when Packer got his Skeeter Francis Award. It was not surprising that Packer got the award. He and Francis were both Deacs and if there is one thing I can say about the Deacs, its that they stick together. I know Francis had nothing to do with selecting Billy and my wife says Skeeter was a very nice person She attended high school with him in Durham along with Roger Craig and John D. Loudermilk (composer of the song Abilene and recorded by former UNC student George Hamilton IV).

Did anyone other than me see an entire sequence of plays in the Carolina-Georgia Tech game played without the clock moving at all. The announcers didn't mention it and I haven't seen a word in print about it after the game. Of course, when the game ending like it did, it could have made a difference. No big deal. We deserved to lose against Tech. and I think we would have been ill-served if we had somehow managed to pull out a win.

Officiating in the playoffs has been better than we have experienced all year, but still short of perfection. I guess we are just going to have to accept the fact that the game has gotten so fast and so physical that human beings can't really call it at the same level as previously. I know one thing. A lot of ACC fans feel we have the worst officials in the country. I think we need a good housecleaning of officials but I don't think that is likely to happen. The problems began in earnest when the NBA went to three officials and took many of the good college officials. Does Scagliatta sill work the ACC? I noticed he was doing one of the games and I hadn't remembered seeing his name this year. We got Clougherty back in the ACC several years ago and I don't see his name anymore. He called playoff games also. I didn't see Paparo this year but he was there last year.

One question I would like to pose on officiating. Everyone seems to be in agreement that the worst thing about officiating is inconsistency. Well, if that is the case, why do officials oftentimes call games differently in the two halves. It seems like an impossible situation for players and coaches to adjust to officiating only to have it change completely at half time. Stated differently-- a poor level of officiating might could be tolerated if only the officials would be consistent within a game. Sometimes, it's like two entirely different games.

Another thing. There's entirely two much conversation going on between coaches and officials and between officials and players. Sometimes, you get the feeling that they're all trying to be buddies with each other. It's not necessary to un- approachable but why does an official plant himself right in front of a team bench where the coach can easily carry on a conversation with the Coach without anyone knowing what is being said? I have a proposed solution for the coaches' conversations with officials. Wire both officials and coaches up to the loudspeaker system so that fans can hear everything that is being said. If that were the case, I doubt that coaches would say, as one ACC coach said recently, "You owe me one." But then again maybe the coach wouldn't hesitate to say this publicly. At least it might reduce the salty language, but no loudspeakers are needed for that. We just need officials who will not tolerate it and it will cease. Are you listening Mr.. Swofford?