“What Bilas and his kind don’t understand – - or don’t want to admit – - is that college basketball is no longer the top-flight sport it was even 10 years ago. It may still provide some thrilling moments in March, but the overall quality of play has dropped considerably. A variety of reasons can be cited, including the yearly exodus of top underclassmen to the NBA, a continued decaying of fundamentals at the high school level (thanks, AAU ball!) that forces coaches to use strategies that feature athleticism, rather than skill, and a moving away from team-first attitudes among better players aching to be playing professionally. As a result, it’s no longer wise to consider the name brands superior to everyone else. Purdue may have a great tradition that includes all-Americas like John Wooden, Rick Mount and Glenn Robinson, but none of those suited up for the Boilers Sunday, when they had their teeth knocked out by VCU, 94-76.
The problem with Bilas and his ilk is that their opinions are colored by their affiliations. As a front-line ESPN analyst, Bilas sees the big schools exclusively and is therefore influenced by their performances and the conversations he has with people in that circle. Further, since his network rarely gives big-time attention to conferences like the CAA, save a two-hour window it opens during “Championship Week,” it doesn’t behoove Bilas to talk up the mid-major crowd, since schools in that world don’t sign his paycheck. In the world of TV sports, where self-promotion is everything, it doesn’t make sense to denigrate your own product at the expense of lifting up a competitor.
Let’s not forget something else: Bilas played at Duke, so his ACC allegiance will be strong. And since he is an “analyst” and not a “journalist” (ESPN is trying to figure out the difference as we speak), Bilas doesn’t have to be completely objective. Of course he will be outraged when Virginia Tech doesn’t make the tournament. The Hokies are ACC members who defeated his beloved Blue Devils on a Saturday night made-for-ESPN broadcast. That should be enough to get any team an invitation to the Dance, right?”
The line about Bilas being an analyst and not a journalist is an important one. There’s a difference between the two, though most people lump all the talking heads into the journalist category.
If there’s any room left on the Florida State bandwagon, save Jay a seat.
[H/T Fang's Bites]
- NBC Sports Network Shaking Up 'The Crossover,' Dave Briggs Out
- SportsNewser: ESPN Betting Big On SportsCenter, As Fox Sports 1 Looms
- Jay Mohr On How Sports Journalism Compares To Comedy
- SportsNewser: March Madness To Cable, Underwood, Fox Sports Hires From Canada