It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. This afternoon I’ll post a special Husker recruiting quiz — don’t miss it! But for now, we cover Husker scheduling and UNO pentathletes, John Calipari’s paranoia and Ralph Kiner’s wit, Signing Day 2013 and Signing Day 2005, Buzz Williams, a Tongan luger and why the NBA should overhaul its postseason.
Let’s start with CBS Sports’ Jeremy Fowler, who interviewed Bo Pelini this week. Fowler takes a coach-friendly view on the past few months in Husker Nation. Here’s a snippet from Bo himself:
“The way the media wants to portray you, the way they want to exaggerate things — let me tell you, I‘ve been coaching a long time and I’ve been around sports for a long time, anybody who walks onto the field when competition begins is different than they are off the field,” Pelini said.
“You’re not like that all the time. I think people in this community and mainly around the state recognize that. They understand who I am and what I stand for and I live it every day. I’m not somebody who’s going to go out there and put out a false front. That’s who I am. I am who I am. I think people who really know me respect me for that. That’s the way I believe it should be.”
>> Michigan will get $6 million for participating in the Cowboys Classic vs. Florida in 2017. $6 million!? Nebraska, how many times do I have to say it, get on board with neutral-site games! And to those of you who say NU can’t sacrifice the revenue from a home game, I say hogwash.
>> Last summer, I profiled UNO track and field phenom Sami Spenner, one of the nation’s best heptathletes who couldn’t compete for an NCAA title because of UNO’s transition to D-1.
Spenner’s story is even more compelling now that her pentathlon score ranks No. 3 in the world. Jay Bilas read Spenner’s recent blog and tweeted: “NCAA always there for student athletes? What an embarrassment. Let her compete.”
>> The fascinating psychological war John Calipari wages against the world.
>> Baseball lost a legend when Ralph Kiner died Thursday.
>> The story of Signing Day wasn’t Alabama or LSU or Texas A&M. In my opinion, it was Tennessee. Like Mississippi a year ago, the Vols sold the freshest vision (and basically signed half a roster). Andy Staples and Holly Anderson with dueling features.
>> Interesting look at where first-round NFL draft picks were rated by recruiting services coming out of high school. Quite a few 2-star prospects on this list.
>> Excellent, sad story of former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who had it all on Signing Day 2005. He’s still trying to get it back.
>> Wonderful story about Buzz Williams and his effort to help kids.
>> We have a frontrunner for strangest Olympic story. A Tongan luger changes his name to match a German underwear company.
>> Does anyone want to watch a first-round NBA playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards? Does anyone think the Charlotte Bobcats are better than the Memphis Grizzlies?
New NBA commissioner Adam Silver needs to do his fans a favor, starting next year. Abolish the conferences, at least for playoff seeding purposes. Why?
Because Toronto, at 26-23, is currently the No. 3 seed in the East. Do you know where 26-23 gets you in the West? Tenth! A late-April fishing trip, sponsored by Charles and Kenny.
The only Eastern teams with winning records against the West are Indiana and Miami. Chicago, the No. 7 seed, is 6-13 against the West. Detroit, in the ninth slot, is 2-15!
That’s almost as silly as New Orleans, which is 8-22 against the West and 13-5 against the East.
The Pelicans aren’t alone. Look at the West’s 11th-best team, Minnesota, which is 12-7 against the East. If you swapped the Timberwolves and Bucks, for instance (they’re only a few hours apart), Minnesota might win 50 games against an East schedule.*
*NBA teams play 54 conference games vs. 28 non-conference games.
So here’s the proposal (I’ve seen variations of it in recent years). Re-seed the playoffs, 1-16, without regard for conference.
1 — Indiana (E)
16 — Minnesota/Chicago
8 — Golden State (W)
9 — Phoenix (W)
5 — Portland (W)
12 — Toronto (E)
4 — San Antonio (W)
13 — Atlanta (E)
3 — Miami (E)
14 — Denver (W)
6 — Clippers (W)
11 — Memphis (W)
7 — Houston (W)
10 — Dallas (W)
2 — Oklahoma City (W)
15 — Washington (E)
How much fun would a second-round series between Indiana and Golden State be? Or Miami vs. the Clippers?
Travel concerns? With as many off days as the NBA builds into the playoff schedule, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Besides, what’s the difference between Portland flying to Toronto, an Eastern team, or New Orleans, a Western team? This isn’t the 60s, teams travel by charter plane, not bus.
I love the NBA, especially now in the heyday of LeBron and Durant. But this is a simple way to make the league even more fan-friendly.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend (and don’t forget to check the blog again this afternoon).