Al is right: All should get NCAA shot

Phil Jackman

April 07, 1993|By Phil Jackman

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As the NCAA tournament was wrapping up Monday night in typically exciting fashion, a conversation with Al McGuire, which took place a couple of years ago, came to mind.

The former Marquette coach and outspoken TV analyst said: "If I was in charge of the tourney, first thing I'd do is eliminate all postseason conference tournaments. Then make everyone eligible for the NCAAs, just like the high school tournament in Indiana.

"All you'd have to do is add one more weekend [which is now given over to repetitious but lucrative conference play]. Then you'd open up at 32 sites. That's eight teams at 32 sites. It would involve the whole country."

And, when you think about it, interest probably would be so overwhelming one network couldn't cover it. All in favor. . . .

* While it's true Nolan Ryan has had a storied 25-year career slinging the baseball for four teams (all post-1961 expansion clubs), it seems a bit much, the Texas Rangers giving over 27 pages of its media guide to every fastball Noley ever threw (Jose Canseco gets a conservative 4 1/2 pages).

There are some interesting tidbits in the deluge, though. Besides his seven no-hitters, Ryan lost five other no-nos in the ninth inning and, believe it or not, Frank Robinson is not among the 5,668 strikeouts he has rung up since 1966.

* For some reason, the fact that some media and fans took shots at Michigan coach Steve Fisher for not winning the national championship yet with the Fab Five became a personal thing with TV analysts Billy Packer and Dick Vitale.

Packer spent two weekends lauding Fisher for calling timeouts and Vitale constantly screams, "The guy is 17-3 in the NCAA tournament, what do people want?" The counter-argument is, Michigan has had the best talent the last two years and hasn't won either the Big Ten or the Big One.

* The Bowie Baysox have a great-looking logo, which should cause merchandise to literally fly off the shelves beginning April 16 when the club stages opening night on 33rd Street. Like the major leagues, the minors are doing terrific business pushing souvenirs since showing some imagination in the naming of their teams: Polecats, Crawdads, etc.

* Triple Crown fans, keep your eye on Dixieland Heat as the

Preakness approaches (May 15). The 3-year-old took a field of 13 in the Louisiana Derby and the victor there often wins or is in the picture here. Something about the track surfaces being similar.

* The expansion committee of the NFL might look upon Charlotte's bid for a team a little differently now that Denny's Restaurants has, in effect, admitted it was guilty of discriminatory practices and will rectify the situation. Denny's is a division of TW Holdings Inc., which is chaired by Jerry Richardson, the ex-Baltimore Colt and moving force behind Charlotte's bid to enter the NFL.

* George Foreman and Tommy Morrison are making a swing of the East Coast to dredge up interest in their June 7 HBO bout in Las Vegas and Big George will be regaling the media with cheeseburger stories in Washington tomorrow. Maybe he can hit McDonald's with you know whom.

* Yes, the Opening Day victory of the Florida Marlins was inspiring, especially in that nifty little baseball field carved out of a spacious football stadium (Joe Robbie). Before South Floridians become too euphoric, however, they are reminded that the average win-loss record of expansion teams in their first season has been 59-102. The best was the Los Angeles Angels of 1961 (70-91), a team that played in a racquetball court.

* With its semi-impressive run through the NIT field to the tourney final (a loss to Minnesota), Georgetown ended up No. 14 on the college hoops computer rankings. Evidently, all the regular-season losses and second-division finish in the Big East were mirages.

* The count has been lost, but it's a safe guess that Wes Unseld has said, "We don't have a go-to guy in the fourth quarter" 51 times this season. Which just so happens to correspond with the number of Washington Bullets losses.

* The Roy Jones-Bernard Hopkins bout for the vacant International Boxing Federation middleweight title figures to be the best bout on the Riddick Bowe vs. Jesse Ferguson heavyweight championship card at RFK Stadium May 22.

* Rest easy, Yokozuma fans, the big guy won't lose the WWF title he won from Bret "the Hitman" Hart in WrestleMania because that big showoff Hulk Hogan came out of the dressing room and pinned him. The WWF, a stickler on rules, figures to announce that the impromptu match was not properly sanctioned by that august body. However, the Hulkster and Yokozuma (no relation to Yoko Ono) might be matched in Summer Slam.

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