USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Why ratings fell in NCAA Tournament

John Rooke
April 12, 2019 - 1:46 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering what Johnny Football’s next move might be?

  • Late night hoops weren’t what I was looking for when it comes to college basketball’s national championship game.  A 9:20 start?  No desire to try and attract a younger – or perhaps only moderately interested crowd, NCAA and CBS?  It was the latest tip time in tournament history this past Monday night.

 

  • It also resulted in a 14 percent decline in viewership from two years ago when CBS last aired the final.  Sorry, but there’s no East Coast bias here…it’s just fact.  Adjusting the time for the benefit of the left coast – or for whatever dumb reason – is disastrous for the rest of us. Stupid is as stupid does.

 

  • Despite the late hour – and the lower TV ratings – Virginia’s win is a great story.  Redemption at its’ best?  The Cavaliers go from national embarrassment to national champion in the span of a year.

 

  • Not sure being the first 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed a year ago (remember UMBC?) could have been handled any better than the way Tony Bennett and his UVa players handled it throughout the past season.  Class, grace, dignity, then butt-kicking.  Sweet. 

 

  • Talk about making the most of your opportunity.  Turning a negative into a huge positive.  It is a movie script that will probably end up in a Disney studio someday soon. 

 

  • In all, Virginia proved defense can be a beautiful thing.  They also had shooters from multiple positions, and while they were streaky as shooters can be, the defense was lock-down-tight most of the time.  It was impressive, and it carried the Wahoos to the end.

 

  • For anyone who might have thought the NCAA tourney overall was a snoozer – I won’t disagree with you.  For the opening round, that is.  Once this tournament progressed to the Sweet 16, it was pretty much down-to-the-end, nail-bite-city in every game. 

 

  • Not for nuthin,’ but for as much as we used to like ragging on Gene Steratore at one time, he pretty much nailed it on TV as the officials’ analyst.  His analysis of the close and controversial calls made by the ref crews were spot-on, explained with just the right amount of detail without getting too technical. 

 

  • When the Friars played in Cancun back in 2010, while waiting for transportation to the airport Steratore and I spent some time together talking shop.  It started with football, naturally, because we were still in-season and he and I both had to get back for an NFL game that weekend.

 

  • I primarily recall two things about our conversation – one, he was confident.  Detailed and exact in his reasoning and explanations for the rules we discussed, both football and basketball.  Two, his girlfriend was a smoke-show. 

 

  • He asked me if I would mind staying with her at the airport, since she and I were on the same flight home, while he caught an earlier one to his football destination.  His self-confidence was off the charts.

 

  • He must have sensed I was either harmless…or a simpleton.  And for the record, I was the perfect gentleman, thank you very much.

 

  • ICYMI, there was a heavy Big East presence on those crews as the tournament progressed – with Providence’s Michael Stephens participating in his 3rd national title game as well.  So if we really have it that bad with some of these guys, can you imagine what it’s like in other leagues?

 

  • Chris Mullin’s departure at St. John’s after only four seasons is and isn’t surprising, all at the same time.  Did he underachieve as a coach?  Perhaps.  Did he not realize the work it takes to create a consistent winner in a high-major conference?  I don’t believe he did, especially with the added pressure of being a head coach at your alma mater.  And that, as much as anything else, figures into why he’s stepped away.

 

  • Whoever replaces him will have his hands full – both the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Justin Simon (NBA Draft) and 6th/7th man Bryan Trimble (transfer) have indicated they will depart, with Shamorie Ponds already leaving for the draft.  Three additional transfers will become eligible next season, but to play for whom?

 

  • It would be a surprise if the new coach isn’t someone with Duke ties, as AD Mike Cragg is a long-time Duke guy.  Bobby Hurley, however, says he’s staying at Arizona State, pending a contract extension there.  Several reports this week have also had Iona’s Tim Cluess as a strong possibility.

 

  • Kevin Willard doesn’t want to leave Seton Hall, staying on with the Pirates after turning down a shot at moving to Virginia Tech.  That bodes well for the Pirates, and the Big East, especially if Myles Powell returns to campus after dipping his toes into the draft process.

 

  • Two PC opponents next year, Texas and (potentially) UCF, may be losing big names to the draft process. 6-11 Jaxson Hayes departs UT after one year, while UCF’s Aubrey Dawkins is also headed that way.  And according to several sources, Penn will visit the Dunk to play the Friars – with the Quakers also in the Wooden Legacy bracket next season in Anaheim.

 

  • Looking ahead to 2019-2020 – as of right now: 1) Marquette – Markus Howard tweeted Friday he is coming back next season.  2) Georgetown 3) Seton Hall 4) Villanova 5) Creighton 6) Providence 7) Xavier 8) Butler 9) St. John’s 10) DePaul.  Things can, and certainly should, change.  So, any arguments?

 

  • URI heads to Jamaica mon, next fall for the Jamaica Classic.  Georgetown lost in the finals this past year to Loyola Marymount – which beat Brown in the CBI last month.  The next couple of years will be fun in the sun travelling with the local teams!

 

  • No school, no matter the size or the sport involved, is immune to bad behavior from their athletes.  Ask those at Bryant right now, as the Bulldogs suspended two football players and one basketball player from their squads this past week. 

 

  • Student-athletes are held to a higher standard than other students, because they represent their school (as well as themselves) in the public eye.  And rightfully so.  Poor choices made should never be a direct reflection on their coaches, or the higher-ups at the school…unless, those coaches and higher-ups enabled the behavior to begin with.

 

  • Whoa.  Former Friar coach Rick Barnes rebuffed overtures from UCLA to stay at Tennessee.  Mo’ money had a lot to do with that, probably.  But it’s also a clue into how far a once-mighty brand – and program – has fallen.

 

  • And hey Texas? How you feelin’ right now about sending Barnes away?  Just sayin’.

 

  • Mick Cronin steps into the breach, however, to take the UCLA job Barnes declined.  Cincinnati may be a better basketball job right now than UCLA.  Think about that for a sec.  But the potential for so much more is in Los Angeles, of course.  Including Power 5 football money.

 

  • Congrats to PC grad Richard Pitino, who received a two-year contract extension for leading Minnesota into the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. 

 

  • The Basketball Hall of Fame inductees in Springfield this year include a few notable names – ex-Celtics’ coach Bill Fitch, one-time Celtics’ guard Paul Westphal and Joe Hassett’s old Seattle teammate Jack Sikma.  Sikma was a seven-time NBA all-star, who began his career at Illinois Wesleyan – a Division III school with 1800 students.

 

  • Remember Tommy Tuberville?  Bouncing around recently from college football job to college football job…Ole Miss to Auburn to Texas Tech to Cincinnati.  Now he’s running for the US Senate in Alabama, and former Presidential spokesperson Sean Spicer (from Barrington, RI) has joined his campaign.

 

  • I kid you, not.

 

  • I also kid you not when I say Providence, not Boston, is really Hockeytown around here.  NBC PR says Providence (7th overall, 4th on NBC!) out-rated Boston (tied for 10th) in season-long viewership for NHL games played on their TV networks.  The top six were Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Tampa.

 

  • Speaking of Providence and hockey…a superb run by Nate Leaman’s Friars ended up on the short side of a 4-1 defeat to defending national champ Minnesota-Duluth Thursday night at the Frozen Four in Buffalo.  But the program expectations are such that Providence should be a post-season contender every year.

 

  • And isn’t that where every program really wants to be?

 

  • As for UMass, the Minutemen have the opportunity to play for a natty Saturday night.  Two years removed from program irrelevancy UMass is still playing with house money.  But if they win, watch those expectations begin to rise like fresh bread baking in an oven.

 

  • Bruins?  Let’s reconvene on this in another week.  Pencil me in for “not worried right now.”

 

  • A little surprised the Patriots will open their preseason schedule with two road games, at Detroit and at Tennessee.  But considering the head coaches (Matt Patricia, Mike Vrabel), I won’t be surprised if both games are preceded by joint workouts this August. 

 

  • As you stifle that YAWN over Stephen Gostkowski’s new, two-year deal to return to the Patriots…a reminder that he is 3rd all-time in NFL history for field goal accuracy.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled baseball season.

 

  • Which may, or may not, be a good thing.  Yes, the Red Sox are at home, finally.  And yes, the Red Sox are still awful.  Looking clueless in the field, throwing cluelessly on the mound.  How long will it take for cluelessness in the dugout to realize this ain’t last year?

 

  • Did I, or did I not, say that spring training usually sets the tone for early-season Red Sox results?  I believe I did.  That’s the problem, as much as any right now, as I see it.  These guys were not ready to play.  And that falls upon one man’s shoulders.

 

  • The one thing that should keep coming back for the entire season – how can this team be SO good one season, and SO bad the next?  Overachievement has no staying power.

 

  • It is as clear as the sky on a mid-summer day – the pitching staff was ill-prepared for the start of the regular season.  In an effort to stretch these guys out for the long haul, they simply were not ready to throw competitively at the start.  Don’t games in April count just as much as those in September?

 

  • First to Worst!  There, I said it.  Will I need to repeat it?  It’ll ruin our summah. 

 

  • Happened to catch Manny Ramirez’ return to Fenway on the radio broadcast this week with Joe Castiglione and Lou Merloni.  And while I really like each of them individually – even Manny – the interview between the three was painful to endure. 

 

  • Remember when there was innuendo a few months ago about making the WEEI radio broadcast a ‘talk show’ during games?  This was so bad, I found myself yelling at the radio (must’ve been fun for the cars who passed by me on I-495) and wondering what the count was, who was at the plate and what-the-heck was the score?!? 

 

  • Can’t put any lipstick whatsoever on that pig.

 

  • While the Yankees are also struggling record-wise and with injuries, you may recall they were around .500 until late April last year.  And then won 100 games.  Bottom line with both Sox and Yanks – if they’re still struggling by Memorial Day, then I’d worry.

 

  • Speaking of Memorial Day, think Baltimore’s Chris Davis will get a hit by then? 

 

  • I consider my lady buddy Bobbie a good friend.  My buddy “Big E” is also a good friend.  “Big E” sez the difference between male friendship and female friendship is simple.  Friendship between women – a woman doesn’t come home one night.  The next day, she tells her husband that she slept over at her friend’s house.  The man calls his wife’s 10 best friends, and none of them knows anything about it.

 

  • Friendship between men – a man doesn’t come home one night.  The next day, he tells his wife he slept over at a friend’s house.  The wife calls her husband’s 10 best friends, and eight of them confirmed that he had slept over.  The other two claim he’s still there.

 

  • Marcus Smart, out.  Kyrie Irving, the playoffs have arrived.  If this is the time you’ve been waiting for, give us a reason to want you to stick around?

 

  • Magic Johnson?  Bolting on the Lakers this week after two years of running the show?  Somehow, this sounds strangely like the predicament Chris Mullin found himself in at St. John’s.  The job is simply more than he bargained for.

 

  • Saw this week where New Bedford, St. Andrews and Notre Dame-ex Bonzie Colson hit for a career-high 21 points in a Milwaukee Bucks win over Billy Donovan’s Oklahoma City Thunder.  Somehow, it always comes back to New England. 

 

  • A brief word here to honor Ralph Lawler, who after an extraordinary 60-year broadcast career steps down following the LA Clippers’ final game this season.  I met Ralph as a 23-year-old broadcaster in San Antonio, and he was already a 24-year veteran to look up to at that time.  He’s had a longer career than eight current NBA teams have existed. 

 

  • More than 30 AAF players have now signed on with NFL teams.  Who says spring football isn’t any good?  Or productive, at the least?

 

  • Call me John?  Speaking of productive, if you think we’re done with Johnny Football, think again.  With the AAF folding, Manziel made an appearance this past week on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio program, and after he was greeted by a “Good morning, Johnny!” from Dan, Manziel replied “I got a little update for you.  I actually go by John these days.”

 

  • Patrick responded with, “So you’re all grown up?”  To which Manziel answered, “Getting there, I guess.”  With so few uber-talented, marketable QB’s in the NFL these days, the somewhat likeable ‘bad boy’ is going to find his way into an NFL camp again.  The only question is – who takes the shot?  And the blame?

 

  • @LemeryATC in Huntsville, Alabama tweeted at me this week, on the issue of Bill Parcells and the Patriots’ Hall: “Consistently at odds with ownership, ditched a potential dynasty for the JETS. That alone excludes him…”

 

  • Joseph – as I have said previously, I understand why there are some fans who hold a grudge over Bill Parcells.  But mercy – this was 23 years ago.  Let go.  Free yourself.  You can’t see the forest for the trees.  No one is arguing he left badly.  He did.  But he’s sorry for it.  And his arrival changed our mindset, our expectations, forever.  You can’t deny that.  The Pro Football Hall of Fame knows it.  Time for everyone around here to grow up, forgive (but not forget) and move on.  And acknowledge that without his presence, the St. Louis Stallions could be the defending SB champs next season.   

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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