Before we get to this week's links — and before we make it to tonight's NCAA Final between Kentucky and Kansas — there is something I feel the need to discuss, just for a moment. Because it's impossible to simply enjoy college basketball for what it is, and because John Calipari's Kentucky is the shimmering symbol for all that is wrong with the current basketball climate, any number of talking heads will spend today (or spent the weekend) decrying "college basketball's one-and-done rule."
This drives me insane, for one really important reason: there is no "one-and-done rule."
What people are referring to, they think, is a ubiquitous agreement between the NCAA and the National Basketball Association that forces every basketball prospect to sign a letter of intent to play in college for a year, before entering the professional draft. Such a thing does not exist. The NBA, during the last decade, instituted a 19-year-old age limit for draft entries. That, ladies and gentlemen, is "the one-and-done rule." There is no requirement to go to college; in fact, a number of draft entries the past few years actually spent a year after high school playing in Europe.
Furthermore, these analysts have an appallingly short memory. The whole reason the NBA instituted the age limit was to keep high-schoolers from jumping to the pros, which they were doing in droves (and were flaming out at least as often as those who became stars). In reality, the NBA higher-ups would probably prefer an age limit of 20 or 21, only there's no way the Players' Association would agree to it, so they've left the issue alone.
Look, the hypocrisy of "student athletes" is nowhere more evident than it is in college basketball. I would be a fool to argue otherwise. In an ideal world, every 18-year-old would a) fall in love with a university, play 4 years and care about representing the best interests of that university on and off the court; b) care more about education than sport, and understand that his basketball career is a limited engagement that could end at any moment. But, as I have learned many times from my mother (a public school teacher for 30 years), we don't live in an ideal world. We live in this world.
(Note: What's really missing, to me, is a partnership between the professional leagues and the NCAA, which would allow more common-sense approaches to these issues. But the NCAA, because it is so desperate to cling to the notion of "amateur athletics," won't do that as long as university presidents are in charge. Which basically means this is a large amount of wasted words on my part. You're welcome.)
— There's a developing story out of Arkansas: Bobby Petrino was involved in an apparent motorcycle accident. Hope he's OK.
— So the national champs held their first big scrimmage of the spring Saturday, and no one really knows what happened because the scrimmages are closed to the public. But, based on the stats the university released — which might be completely made up — we threw the ball a lot, and with success.
As this feature story notes, our offensive line coming back this year should be fierce. In a way, it's a lot like 2010 — a potentially great offense opposite a talented but inexperienced D. Cross your fingers.
— Less impressive: Alabama's baseball team, which was swept at Tennessee over the weekend. To put that into proper perspective, that means the squad is now 1-8 in the SEC, and the 1 win was on a walkoff home run. Not an impressive showing for Mitch Gaspard thus far, midway through his second season.
— Miscellaneous: Cecil dreams of a football Final Four; Al Muskewitz tabs Tiger as the favorite for Augusta; and UAB's new basketball coach is settling in to his new digs.