Rock M Roundtable!

1 - Okay, NOW who do you have in the Final Four?

2 - Time to touch on a taboo topic (great alliteration there!): on a scale of 1-10, rate Mike Alden's performance.  We all know about Quin, Paige Sports Arena, etc.  But within the last three years, Mizzou Football has been ranked #1, Wrestling #1, Baseball #2, Volleyball has been to the Elite Eight, Soccer has finished 2nd in conference, Gymnastics and Swimming/Diving have improved, track/cc has been at least steady...pretty much every program not involving a round, orange ball with "SPALDING" on it continues to get better and better.  But people still despise him.  Granted, he hasn't done himself any PR favors whatsoever, but with the majority of Mizzou programs enjoying almost unprecedented success, does that outweigh any PR issues?

3 - Why not...I don't really have any other questions to ask...this weekend on PowerMizzou, somebody set off a firestorm of posts by saying that he still wished we had hired Bob Huggins two years ago.  I was absolutely dumbfounded by this, but responses were actually about 50/50 for and against.  Am I missing something here?  Do others think this would have been a good idea?

4 - Finally, Spring Football is up and running...after a few practices, have you seen/read anything particularly encouraging or discouraging so far?

Click ‘Full Story’ for answers.  And for the record, I do not in fact have that much chest hair.

The Beef: 1 - Hmmm...I think my final four is the same as it was before...NC, Texas, UCLA and...um...kansas.  I still have NC winning the entire thing despite everyone’s best effort to make sure UCLA gets the job done.

2 - Alden’s performance...I will go with....7.  Gets a lot of credit for facilities, many of which were done by Joe C., but has done a lot since then in keeping up with the Mizzou Sports Park which he conversely does not get a lot of credit for with most people.  I don’t think anyone can realistically argue with the maturation of the department as a whole from a competitive and financial standpoint.  PR...yes...has just been awful and he/the department have often been their own worst enemy.  As for men’s basketball...eh...just plain ol’ snakebit.  Few would have believed that Snyder would turn out the way he did, and Anderson was thought to be a solid replacement when it came overcoming the Snyder issues.  As for women’s....Stein has done some things, but we are on a dangerous precipice with the program there.

3 - I don’t believe you are missing anything...the program would have been decently exciting last year, and Frank Martin would be our coach right now...and we would be out of the tournament all the same...and then next year...well...we don’t want to talk about next year.  Now, in the short term, a tournament berth or two would have certainly helped...but I still don’t like the cost involved.

4 - I guess encouraging is the amount of depth we are trying/having to develop since a lot of key people are out or missing practice for assorted reasons.  Building depth now will only make the transition we will experience after next season easier and hopefully as seemless as possible.

Michael Atchison: 1 - When I filled out my bracket, I had North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA and Stanford.  Can’t see a reason to change now, and I can’t imagine that I’ll get them all right.

2 - The truth is that – barring some major scandal – as long as football does well (and it’s doing pretty well), Mr. Alden will be fine.  People want to win a lot more than they want to like the athletic director personally.  I’m not sure that I can give him a fair rating because much of what he does (the management of people, for instance) happens outside the public eye.  I do think that they could do some things to generate more personal warmth within the fan base (addressing the basketball parking issues would be one; having their development people build better relationships – like all the programs within the University do – would be another).  From a distance, he gets a 7.

3 - I don’t think it would have been a good idea, but I see the point.  See my previous response: Winning covers up all sorts of problems.

4 - Honestly, I haven’t paid a lick of attention.  I’ll be at the Black and Gold game.  Isn’t that enough?

ZouDave: 1 - I've still only lost 1 Final Four team, so I'll just amend my picks to be North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA and kansas.  Yep, I now have picked all of the #1 seeds.

2 - I'll give Alden a 7.  I don't have a huge opinion of him either way, but I have no overall problem with anything he has done.  People seem to get upset with him when he makes a decision that seems to be financially beneficial to the University.  Sorry, but isn't that part of his job?  Maybe he is trying to get more out of us than some would like, but being primarily a football fan and seeing the results of his and Pinkel's work I can tell you that 10 years ago I would have committed to paying at least what I do now for tickets, parking, etc., if it meant this kind of success.  Alden isn't perfect, but I like him fine.

3 - Never underestimate the power of peoples' ability to lie to themselves.  A lot of that thread seemed to be focused on the idea that "Huggins wouldn't have left Missouri for West Virginia."  Idiots.  Huggins was gone as soon as West Virginia's job came open regardless of where he was.  Sure, we might have gotten Walker, Beasley and maybe some other future NBA draft picks, but we also would have gotten Frank Martin.  "Oh, but Frank Martin got his team to the NCAA Tournament in the first year!"  No.  Michael Beasley and Bill Walker got their team to the NCAA Tournament, almost despite Martin's best efforts.  Ron Prince went to a bowl game in his first year as coach at KSU, too.  There were people who honestly believed he was already a better coach than Pinkel.  Some fans are just retards with really short, imaginative memories.

4 - I think one of the most encouraging things I've read is that Danario Alexander is already running pretty fast (not nearly as fast as he will be, but fast) and is at least on schedule and possibly ahead of schedule for his rehab.  Other than that, I think Spring is going about I would have expected it to.  The discouraging thing was the Marquis Booker incident, but I believe that has been completely taken care of so there's not really anything to worry about anymore.

Doug: 1 - I'm going with Texas, UCLA, Kansas and Tennessee.  Yes, I know North Carolina put more than 200 points over the first weekend, but they also allowed more than 140 points against a 16 seed and a 9 seed, it reminds me greatly of some of Roy's KU tourney teams, eventually, it is going to bite them in the ass.

2 - Um... sure... how about a 7?  Any received problems with football (though not so much at the moment), basketball and in the PR department vastly outweigh improvements in Olympic sports.  But, football does help stunt the issues with basketball.

3 - Petro was debating that on his show this week.  Anderson was handed a mess in Columbia, he probably had more to deal with than Huggins did when he arrived at K-State.  Granted, MU probably would have been in the tournament this year with Beasley, but Frank Martin would also have been the head coach, if we assume that history plays out exactly the same.  And, given the amount of time the NCAA spent poking around in Columbia during Quin Snyder's final days, I think investigators probably would have bought a house once Huggins was hired.

4 - Surprisingly, the paper has not been flush with KU spring football practice info.  They appear to be saying the right things about working just as hard, not wanting to become complacent, etc.  And, so far the only major in-fighting is over who gets to wear number 3.  Both Dezmon Briscoe and Chris Harris want it, but I guess it hasn't been decided on yet.

Michael Atchison: I’m not going to tell you that Carolina is going to win it, but I wouldn’t be the least bit concerned that they allowed more than 140 points in those two games.  They won them by an average of 35 points per, and at the pace they played, there was an insane number of possessions in those games, which always equates to allowing more points.

rptgwb: 1 - Original Final Four was UNC, Kansas, Texas, and UCLA. I stand behind my original picks (regardless of how incorrect I was on how they'll get there...)

2 - If anything, Alden has benefitted from his patience with his coaches and the ability to tune out critics and big time boosters. We know he has his faults in PR, as the department seems to shell up anytime something controversial or negative starts to linger over the program. But as far as most results go, Alden has done a solid job of putting the right people in position with the peace of mind they need to build their programs without constantly looking over their shoulders. The national profile of the program (at least across the board, not just revenue sports) is exponentially better than 10 years ago. But as much as I love the national recognition, one thing needs to be rectified and QUICK. Mizzou needs to start bringing home some conference championships.

3 - Does anyone think he'd still be here? There probably weren't many jobs in the country he would have stayed at when the WVU job became available. I don't think Mizzou was one of those jobs.

4 - The slow growth and questionable depth of the offensive line is a rapidly growing concern of mine. It seems more and more apparent that   an injury on the O-Line could be devastating unless some strides are made by next fall. On the flip side, the defensive line, according to all reports, sounds dominant this spring. Sulak and Chavis are becoming extremely formidable, and Ziggy seems like he's ready to take that "next step" we've been waiting for from him for years. I'm thrilled to hear that 'Spoon is taking on a bigger leadership role, as well as hearing how well Castine Bridges is playing. One thing I really need to see though is how much we will be able to trust the winner of the Delstin Gaward Safety Sweepstakes.

Doug: Yeah, but the first question Bill Self said he asked KU players when he arrived in Lawrence, "What do you guys do on defense?"  The team responded by saying how they just take the ball out of the net and set off running down the floor.  Self responded, "Wouldn't it be easier if the ball never made it in the net in the first place?"

Eventually, North Carolina is going to meet a team that can score with them and defend against them.  Could be Washington State or Tennessee or in the Final Four.

Of course, playing at an insane pace allows for a lot of shots and a lot points, but in 2003 Syracuse was able to negate KU's running ability, and someone could easily do it to North Carolina this time around.

Michael Atchison: Would it be wrong for me to note that Roy holds the edge on Self in number of national titles won?

The Boy: ZING!

1 - If I recall, my Final Four was UNC, Georgetown, Texas, Xavier.  I could technically get 3 of 4, but as I said last week...once too many people started picking UCLA, I got antsy and changed mine.  If ATM had taken them out (or been allowed to take them out), I'd be in pretty good shape, but...yeah, things have set up pretty well for them.  And obviously it'll be a shock if anybody other than KU makes it from that region now.  So I guess my pick has turned boring: UNC, KU, Texas, UCLA.

2 - Quin Snyder handling aside, he gets about a 9.5 at this point.  His patience (Pinkel, Jamieson) has paid off more/bigger than it hasn't (Stein, Quin), and there's no question that the facilities and the overall product on the field/court are infinitely higher now than when he was hired.  But he obviously gets penalized for all that happened with Quin/Clemons/Paige. So to be different, I'll say 7.5.

3 - I was just so baffled by the conversation.  It's not like Huggins left K-State for Michigan or something.  Isn't WV his alma mater?  There was a 5% chance at BEST that he would have stayed here.  So not only would we have looked like the sleaziest program in the country, dumping Quin Snyder just to hire the guy that took one of the recruits Snyder DIDN'T take (Robert Whaley), but we'd also have been looking for a new coach a year later, at which point Alden would have had the same decision as KSU's AD had--hire Frank Martin (and therefore get Michael Beasley) or hire somebody else (and probably get fired because the new coach wouldn't end up with Beasley).  So he'd have probably had to hire Martin, therefore making us look even MORE sleazy, as the only way to look more sleazy after hiring Huggins would have been to hire a guy with so many sleazy AAU ties that he was forced out of coaching high school ball in Florida (or something like that).  And yet this is what some people want because we'd have won a few extra games this year.  I realize I'm possibly in the minority because I think long-term instead of short-term, but...ewww.  No thank you.

4 - Depth on the OL is indeed a concern, and the punter battle hasn't produced a clear winner yet.  Otherwise?  I'd say things are going swimmingly...there have been a ton of injuries, but none of them are problems for the fall, and in the meantime it's getting the younger guys tons of reps.  Sounds good to me.

ZouDave: I don't know about "easily" doing that to North Carolina.  They've lost twice all season.  Nobody easily does anything against UNC but loses.

Not saying they can't be beat or won't be beaten, just saying the theory is a helluva lot easier than the practice.

rptgwb: By the way - off the record - Chase Daniel+Brad Smith+blogwhoring = Victory.

Speaking of "victory," I'm not sure if anyone recalls the very first Good, Bad, and Indifferent, but we get no less than 5 hits a day from people on Google searching "Johnny Drama Victory." Hah - Any other random photos we can come up with to drive up traffic?

The Boy: I think all we have to do is say the words "paris" and "hilton", and we'll get 1000 hits a day.

Doug: Your ability to mathematically prove that one is greater than zero stuns me.  Well done, sir.  And, Roy was an idiot until he got that one title, right?

Look, it only takes one night of cold shooting versus a team that's on fire, 1996 ring a bell?, to drop a team.  Yes, Carolina's good, I'm not arguing that point.  But, they can be beaten, anybody in this tournament can be beaten, and I think, North Carolina ranks as the second most vulnerable number 1 seed after Memphis.  

The Beef: Oh I will disagree with that...I think UNC is the least vulnerable of the #1’s...if I had to rank them from most to least I would say UCLA, Memphis, kansas and UNC...and that does assume the team playing UCLA is not going to be screwed out of a win...again.  I think kU is playing extremely well, but I think UNC is too and the less they have to work in these coming games means Lawson will continue to improve health-wise.

Michael Atchison: I never said Roy was an idiot.  The guy’s a hall of famer, and anyone who doesn’t recognize it is under the influence of a prejudice or a chemical.

I’m not saying they can’t be beaten.  Of course, they can.  I just think pointing out their defensive "weaknesses" in games they win by 35 points is a stretch.  

ZouDave: I agree with that.  I definitely think the now likely Final Four game between UNC and kansas may end up being one of the top 10 basketball games of the past 20 years.  Those are the 2 teams playing the best right now out of anyone.

I just can't believe that I will have to cheer for Roy Williams.  No matter the result, that dude is going to bawl.

Doug: See, that's the question, who do MU fans root for in the event of a KU-UNC match-up?  I would say that MU fans' heads explode before they cheer for either side.

ZouDave: I will not even hesitate to cheer for UNC and Roy Williams.  It's not remotely close.  I mean not even a little bit.

The Beef: I have no HUGE problem rooting for UNC over kansas because I don’t have the deep-seeded hatred for Roy that some do...I appreciate how well he and Norm got a long as coaches in many instances and that is enough for me...I don’t LOVE him...but I don’t mind him either

Michael Atchison: Actually, I think I’d enjoy that game.  I have an inner mechanism that would almost certainly take over and have me root for Carolina, but it’s likely to have little effect on the outcome.  I don’t have an anti-Roy bias.

ZouDave: I have only a slight anti-Roy bias, but very little of it has anything to do with his success at kansas or his success over Mizzou.  I just think he's a schmuck, and his "aw, shucks" routine is exactly that:  a routine.  Can't question his ability as a college basketball coach, though.  Never could.  I even attended the Roy Williams Basketball Camp at ku back when I was 15.  Got personal coaching from Kevin Pritchard there, after he identified me as the single worst shooter he'd ever seen.  That's only a slight exaggeration, but Pritchard did spend over an hour with me one-on-one trying to help me correct my absolutely terrible form as a shooter.  He made only marginal improvements on me in doing so, but it cemented to me what a great guy Kevin Pritchard was to take that kind of time to help a kid who was obviously never going to be even a HS Varsity player.

Doug: No, you did say it, but that's the argument that was used against Roy for the years that he couldn't win the national championship: He was a choking idiot of a coach.

My point is, the number of national championship rings Roy owns versus Self is irrelevant.  Having one doesn't make you a good coach.  It can validate the work you've done, but it doesn't mean that Bill Self somehow knows less about basketball than Roy Williams does.

Michael Atchison: Having one championship doesn’t make you a good coach, but it does prove that your defensive style can win a championship.  That’s my sole point.

The Boy: I have nothing of value to add here, other than to say that if there's one thing I hate almost as much as Kansas basketball, it's Roy Williams.

Doug: So that's one vote for "head exploding"?

The Beef: Sounds like it to me.

ZouDave: and who didn't see this coming?

The Beef:

ZouDave:

Michael Atchison:

ZouDave: that has to be the worst tattoo ever on that dude's left arm.

Michael Atchison: The Beef said he could do the tattoo on the cheap, and The Boy learned you get what you pay for.

ZouDave: I can't imagine The Boy's chest has that much hair.  Not that I spend much time imagining The Boy's chest.

We just started getting hits from NAMBLA, thanks to this Roundtable.

Michael Atchison: Speaking of chest hair, I had my "welcome to middle age" physical yesterday, complete with treadmill stress test.  Ripping off the ten electrodes would’ve maimed a hairier man.

The Beef: Well then...I just crossed "welcome to middle age" physical off of my to-do list.

Doug: And, for something completely different, from Seth Davis' most recent SI.com column... because this story just won't die until after the season is over:

On another Kansas-related note, I am still hearing that Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder is considering jettisoning Sean Sutton so he can make a run at Bill Self, an OSU alum. And if Holder can't get Self, word is he's deeply interested in Kentucky's Billy Gillispie. Why would Holder think he could pry away coaches from two of the most storied programs in college basketball history? Because he has Boone Pickens, the billionaire alumnus who donated $165 million to the Oklahoma State athletic department two years ago. I've heard some crazy contract figures being tossed around -- anywhere from 10 years, $30 million to five years, $20 million, which is tip money for Pickens -- but at the end of the day I have a hard time envisioning either Self or Gillispie leaving their current gigs. It would be a shame if Oklahoma State fired Sutton, who did a very respectable job this season under trying circumstances, all in a careless effort to buy a big-name coach who ends up turning them down.

This is like that insanity coming out of Arkansas last year when they thought Self or Gillispie would go coach the Razorbacks.  Thankfully, KU has alumni with the ability to throw around crazy-fuck-you money just like Boone Pickens.

ZouDave: I'm not even sure it will be money that decides it.  If Self feels somehow obligated to OSU, he knows he's going to get paid well and he'll go.  I don't think money will tempt him away.  It'd be one thing if he was still at Illinois or had become Mizzou's coach instead of Quin Snyder.  But you don't leave kansas just for more money.

He may use the interest to leverage more pay out of ku, like Pinkel did this year, but in the end he's either going to stay at one of the Top 10 programs in basketball history or he's going to feel obligated to "go home".  I really don't see him leaving kansas for anything other than the NBA, and I have serious doubts he's headed there.

Michael Atchison: Kansas probably does have people with the ability to throw that kind of money around, but thus far, Pickens is the only one I’ve seen who is willing to do it.  And I really hope that we don’t see some crazy, booster-fueled salary war start to happen in college sports.  It puts ownership of the programs in unaccountable hands and bodes all kinds of ills for the future.

Doug: Well, it should be pointed out, Pickens is, seemingly, only throwing the money at the OSU Athletic Department in general.  Obviously, there was no public display trying to get Les Miles to stay instead of going to LSU, so we don't know what happened there, but thus far, no one has been targeted with a dump truck full of money.

And, for the record, I agree that Self probably doesn't feel any obligation to OSU.  I think there is a distinct difference between Self's relationship with OSU and Roy's relationship with North Carolina, both the university and the state.

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