Sunday, March 13, 2016

For The Chance To Sway 'Neath This Serious Moonlight

Today is Selection Sunday.  By nightfall, all sixty-eight spots in the field for the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament shall be filled and the insanity that long ago justified its well-worn sobriquet ("March Madness") shall be underway. 

I am cautiously optimistic that my Alma mater will be one of the sixty-eight teams invited to participate in this year's tournament.  Coach Tad Boyle and the Buffaloes finished their regular season with a record of 22-11.  Coach Boyle has been the head coach in Boulder for six seasons now, during which time his Buffaloes have won twenty-plus games five times and have garnered three NCAA bids (with #4 to be announced - hopefully - later on today).   As someone whose four years as an undergrad saw the male hoopsters post win totals of 7, 9, 7, and 7, the manner in which Coach Boyle, his assistants, and the young men who have played for him (including of course this year's herd) have manufactured success out of whole cloth is nothing short of extraordinary.

Whether the rejuvenation of a once-moribund basketball program along Colorado's Front Range is of any solace to my oldest brother, Bill, and other Rutgers alumni I do not pretend to know.  These are pretty bleak days along the banks of the old Rar-i-tan for the Scarlet Knights.  This past week the three-year tenure of Head Coach Eddie Jordan came to an unceremonious and wholly predictable end.  Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs fired him.  In three years as the man in charge, Jordan coached his Knights to just twenty-nine victories (against sixty-nine losses) overall, including a Big Ten Conference record of 3-35.    

I reckon that the decision to fire Coach Jordan was a hard one for A.D. Hobbs and the RU administration, irrespective of his brutal won-loss record.  Eddie Jordan is a link to RU's glory days of college basketball, which occurred four decades ago.  Jordan was the lightning-quick point guard who ran Coach Tom Young's offense and who, along with Phil Sellers, Mike Dabney, Jammin' James Bailey, and Hollis Copeland, made it to the Final Four in 1976 with a 31-0 record.  The fact that once Rutgers reached the Final Four, it did not win another game has done little to nothing to detract from Jordan's legacy or the legacy of the '76 team.  

And Jordan is the favorite son who rode headlong into the Hell created by the kerfuffle former coach Mike Rice created with his abuse of his players, which deservedly cost Rice his job and cost then-Athletic Director Tim Pernetti his job too.  Rutgers hired Eddie Jordan, in significant part because of what he has meant to RU since he arrived on campus forty-plus years ago and because of what RU has meant to him as well.  It was a coupling that deserved a better fate.  

In the movies, happy endings can be crafted at the screenwriter's whim.  

In real-life, not so much.   


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