Ten Nagging Questions

by Eric Gilmore

First of all, who ever unscrewed my car antenna on Saturday night, I want it back. Do you see me laughing now that my coveted AM dial has been erased, limiting me to two garbage FM choices? No. If it gets returned in its proper place, no questions will be asked.


Luckily, these digital/wireless technological advances allowed me to still stay informed during a busy sports week. Just think if Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet. I’d spend all week positioning the aluminum foil-covered bunny ears amid plumes of static. Instead, I took a two-hour nap and didn’t miss a lick of the Daytona 500. Hallelujah DVR.


So, during a weekend chock-full of Olympic, NASCAR and men’s basketball coverage, I found myself perplexed by ten questions meant for a higher power. Not as in God, but just a reasonable fellow smarter than  I.


Five to Ponder


What are the chances that the ECU ice hockey team is a varsity sport in 10 years?


Hey, never say never. However, never might be the closest right answer. The days of ECU facing Maine in the Frozen Four are somewhere this side of an eastern North Carolina glacier. I’m on the bandwagon as much as the next 700 fans that packed Bladez on Ice on Friday, but too many logistical hurdles loom for the upstart squad beginning with the athletic administration.


Athletic director Terry Holland said in an interview with TEC released on Dec. 8 that “since ECU has 19 sports, that means we support more sports than other C-USA schools and more than many of our competitors from BCS conferences with much larger budgets.”   When asked about adding an additional sport, Holland added that “unless someone knows something that I don't know, I believe that until ECU's athletic budget is comparable to those of schools with 20 or more sports playing Division I-A football, that ECU will not add a sport.”


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Consider the financial ramifications of an already drowning financial budget. Supplying equipment, possibly converting Minges into an ice rink, and adding women’s sports or contracting another men’s sport to comply with Title IX would be the tip of the iceberg. I know, bad pun.


If any sports will be added, why not lacrosse or crew? At least lacrosse with its increasing popularity would draw more fans than a men’s or women’s tennis match. Tennis channel watchers, the truth hurts.


As the sectionals began on Tuesday, are the high school basketball playoffs still relevant?


The national media drooled over the top ranked Oak Hill Academy’s 88-74 Saturday win over then-No. 2 North College Hill. Both schools may hand out high school diplomas, but these basketball factories put education a distant second. The premier high school teams recruit from AAU summer squads making public high school basketball almost obsolete.


I’m tired of newspapers being saturated about prep athletes being groomed to make qualifying scores on the SAT. In this me-first sports world we live in, how about some team oriented stories from the state playoffs? Less than 10 people probably caught wind of the first round barnburner when a Washington Pam Pack player sank two free throws with 0.05 seconds left to edge Nash Central on Tuesday. That’s at least newsworthy.


Call me stupid, but does anyone know where Andorra, Liechtenstein or Moldova is?


I don’t claim myself to be a geographical buff, but I’m no slouch either. I could name my state capitals by the third grade. But watching the theatrical waste of millions that was the Olympic opening ceremonies, I realized I needed to touch up on my map skills. Certainly none of these countries have a chance to medal, but shouldn’t it be a prerequisite that American fans have been taught of the country’s existence? By the way, what is the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia? And NBC wonders why they can’t garner ratings. Either Americans need to dust off their globes or the IOC needs to provide more extensive entrance requirements.


Is crazy naming UNC among the Top Ten College Basketball Student Sections?


David Letterman and I love top ten lists. I don’t love his, mainly because that dweeby sunglassed fool always spazzes out. Nevertheless, in order of the most raucous crowd to the sedate ones SI listed were Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan State and Florida in the top five. No arguments there. Rounding out the top ten was Kansas, Rutgers, Washington, Gonzaga and UNC. Cue the funny accented cowboy in disbelief that Pace Picante Sauce was from New York City. Only exchange the New York City with UNC.


How on earth has Sam Cassell’s proclaimed “wine and cheese crowd” emerged to become a top ten-student section? It must be a Stuart Scott conspiracy. Apparently the writers from Sports Illustrated didn’t go ‘on campus’ very often because this ranking is downright laughable.


What about Michigan’s Crisler Arena or Iowa State’s sea of red at Hilton Coliseum? How can the U.C. Santa Barbara Guacos’ Thunderdome or even the Pit at New Mexico be omitted? Heck, Clemson, N.C. State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and for sure Maryland all have better student environments than the Tar Heels. Packing a small faction of students on two risers tucked neatly in one corner doesn’t exactly constitute a rabid distraction. Apparently SI didn’t have to sit in the Dean Dome rafters where even Tyler Hansbrough looks like an ant.


Does SMU need to be spanked again by the NCAA after possibly committing more NCAA violations?


The only team to ever suffer the Death Penalty from the NCAA could be in trouble again for committing violations. The only comfort is that this time the basketball team is in trouble instead of the fledging football team. According to the Dallas Morning News, the NCAA is investigating whether men’s head coach Jimmy Tubbs committed an NCAA rules violation by accepting money from a relative of one of his players. The paper went on to report that Tubbs is alleged of accepting money to pay for meals of several players.


Conveniently, SMU athletic director Jim Copeland announced on Feb. 2 that he will retire at the end of May. In the meantime, Copeland is taking a medical leave of absence to undergo kidney surgery that will keep from the office for four to six weeks. He let his colleagues know about his surgery via e-mail.


Wasn’t the Death Penalty incentive enough to walk the straight and narrow? Welcome to C-USA. Forgive us if it makes us wonder whether the recent men’s soccer Final Four team was cheating too.


Rapid Fire


Would I wet myself if Bob Knight yelled at me had he filmed his ESPN reality show, Knight School at ECU?


Thankfully for myself, my lack of basketball talent would leave me still watching Knight School at home. But if for some reason, I started throwing around a flaming ball a la NBA Jam causing me not to miss, I’d bring another pair of britches just in case. I’d cower like a submissive puppy.


When will the SEC overturn this stupid rule of charging a university $5,000 every time students rush the court?


The real question is when the SEC will be good again in basketball. Just think that if C-USA had this rule, maybe ECU would save money by not having to pay the yellow coated foot soldiers (Event Staff) to guard Minges Coliseum like it’s the last stand at the Alamo. What’s next, equipping them with riot gear in case anyone goes bonkers and shoots an imaginary 3?


Is a California cult going to perceive the Missouri Valley getting more NCAA tournament bids than the ACC as some sort of sign?


I thought analysts were just kidding saying that the ACC is down this year. But having a conference with teams’ mascots that include the Bluejays, Shockers and Salukis get more tournament bids than the ACC is just downright embarrassing. I laugh at you ACC.


If 2008’s college baseball opening date (Feb. 22) was in effect this year, would I still have froze to death watching ECU baseball in February?


Baseball in early February is like curling in mid-May. Playing a spring sport in mid-winter is silly and vice versa. Just think if the players acted on an impulse to lick their aluminum bats. What is the chance that their tongues would be stuck? How awkward would an Adam Witter at-bat be with his mouth frozen to a bat?


Since Al Davis and Ricky Williams are both bad at following directions, would an SI marriage dress spread solve their troubles?


Oakland Raider head coach Art Shell needs a running game. Williams now needs a place to run. Why not form the perfect marriage? Ha. Seriously, a Williams/Randy Moss duo would be a delightful concoction. To complete the triumvirate, what about signing ex-Cowboy and Jet quarterback Quincy Carter? Talk about a potent offense or at the very least, one heckuva hotbox in the huddle.

Eric Gilmore