Tuesday, March 06, 2012

03/06 (Bounty & Basketball) Quickie

This on-air name-check from "Around the Horn" yesterday nicely sums up my take on the Saints/Bounty scandal:

I'd point you to the Quickish "Saints Bounty" stream for a great collection of takes, but the conventional wisdom is that the Saints are going to get crushed -- and Gregg Williams is going to get REALLY crushed -- even if GM Mickey Loomis astonishingly keeps his job (it is assumed Sean Payton will not be fired, even if he gets suspended for, say, half a season).

The CW is also that the league would prefer to contain and isolate the situation -- the worst thing that can happen is a string of "But it happens everywhere!" comments (and, from players, "We're fine with it!") This is partly why I think they'll obliterate Williams. Again: It's not that I think they'll give him a lifetime ban, explicitly -- I think they will, in addition to levying a suspension, make him unemployable.

The other big point is that this story isn't going away -- we've got weeks until the suspensions are laid down, then months of "how will that impact the team." And that's not even counting any new revelations that pop up, now that reporters know that fans can't get enough of hearing if their team participated in bounties. (Let's remember: What appears to set this Saints/Williams one apart was how institutionalized it was. This isn't a loosey-goosey, everyone-throw-$100-in-a-hat thing; this was part of a coach's strategic plan.)


*VCU is back! No Bubble drama for Shaka Smart and the Rams this year -- they will return to the NCAA Tournament to follow up last year's Final Four run by winning their conference tournament. It is Drexel's turn to sweat it out; I think Drexel is in.

*Loyola (Maryland) is in the Tournament! It's been a long time for the school, which has gone from bottom-feeding to brackets under longtime Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos, who is as big of a character as you'll find in college basketball.

*Syracuse is in trouble! (Kind of! But not really!) "College athletes smoke pot" has to be one of the flimsiest bits of sensationalism you'll find this year in sportswriting. Pay close attention to Dan Wetzel's column that frames the story by putting the emphasis where it belongs: On the NCAA's broken system.

*Drew Brees is pissed! As if the Saints didn't have enough to think about (although I'm sure they love that there is a football story to talk about, rather than a national scandal). Can't imagine the team doesn't eventually give him a long-term deal.

*Matt Flynn is on the market! The Packers didn't tag him, so any team can sign him without worrying they would need to give Green Bay a high draft pick. The Dolphins are presumptive front-runners for him (although they really want a splashy import like Peyton Manning or RG3). Surprisingly, the Browns were reportedly in the mix to try to make a deal with the Packers for him. If the Browns drop out of the RG3 race -- and with their current mix of picks, they could give Flynn hot new rookie receivers like Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery from Day 1 -- then the Redskins become the clear leader to trade for the rights to draft Griffin.

*The Big East Tournament starts today! The grandaddy of 'em all, so big that the top 4 teams in the league get to sit out TWO rounds before playing, leaving the rest of them in a scrum that starts today. The team to watch, of course, is UConn -- sitting on the right side of the Bubble, but if they lose today, could be out. If they win, their inclusion in the field is mostly presumed, even if they can't get past West Virginia in the league's "pre-quarterfinals" tomorrow. (Yes, it's that big.)

Give Quickish a look today. Great stuff being tipped all day long.

-- D.S.

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