You want to know how March Madness became what it is today, a multi-billion dollar success story. Or why the Final Four often is played at huge stadiums built for football and baseball? Or why you now can watch 10 to 20 college basketball games across the country on any night of the week?
Just look at the photo above and you have the answer to all those questions. College basketball is what it is today because of a game that just celebrated its 50-year anniversary.
It was billed, “The Game of the Century” and it lived up to the hype. Over 52,000 fans filled the cavernous Astrodome, the first time a college hoops was played in a stadium that size and the first national telecast of a regular season game. It also was the first national telecast for legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, who passed away last month.
The University of Houston defeated UCLA 71-69 in a battle of unbeaten teams, which ended the Bruins 47-game winning streak. UH center Elvin Hayes had the game of his life, scoring 39 points against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor).
The real importance of the game was what it proved, showing college basketball could thrive on a national scale at major stadiums.
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The Lombardi Award was the most prestigious honor for college linemen and the one they all hoped to win. Now that the award is open to all positions, it has lost its importance, no matter who wins it.
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Kris Richard, let go by the Seahawks last week from his duties as the defensive coordinator, is the new defensive passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.
And he didn’t have to run to the Dallas locker room after a game and say, “Come get me’’ to get hired.
Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas is still waiting after making that ridiculous request to Dallas coach Jason Garrett after the Seattle victory on Christmas Eve.
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During the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte this week, Kyle Busch said this when asked his opinion on NASCAR promoting young drivers over veterans: “I think it’s stupid,” … Says the man who became a full-time Cup driver at age 19.
Busch feels the circumstances are different. He advanced on merit and feels some young drivers now are promoted because they are more marketable for sponsors than older drivers.
This is nothing new in motorsports and it’s more prevalent today than ever. You could be the greatest driver on the planet, but if won’t be enough to get a top-tier car and team if you’re Bluto Blutarsky from Animal House.
And you can be less than a title contender and earn a top ride if sponsors believe you can help sell their products. Hello Danica Patrick.
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I’m all for safety with the increased emphasis on potential head injuries. I get it, but it’s just impossible for defensive backs to play football anymore in the NFL on downfield passes.
That was evident again in the NFC Championship when Jacksonville safety Barry Church was flagged for a hit on New England tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Church was running full speed toward Gronk and trying to make initial contact with his shoulder. Gronk ducked slightly as he made the catch and the two players made contact with helmets. There was no intent by Church to spear Gronk with the helmet.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who was watching at home, sent out this tweet about the hit:
“The hit on Gronk is the only way Church could have done his job without just obliterating Gronk’s knee. If he would have just hit him low, most people would call him dirty. So there is nothing he can do to make everyone happy and do his job. Unless you think he should let him catch it.”
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Comeback comment of the week goes to Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
On NFL GameDay Morning on the NFL Network, Terrell Davis said this to Bennett about the Patriots and Tom Brady: “You guys played them in the Super Bowl, were up on them and he came back on you.”
Bennett: “We threw the ball on the 1-yard line! And we had Marshawn Lynch!”
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Want to know why the Philadelphia Eagles won in a 38-7 blowout over the Minnesota Vikings?
Nick Foles? A great defense? Well, sure. But the biggest reason is the wrong team won a week earlier. The Minnesota Miracle was a great moment in sports history, but no way the New Orleans Saints would have gone to Philly and lost by 31 points with Drew Brees calling signals.
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In a year of fun and whacky end-zone shows, a curling impression wouldn’t have made my top 10 guesses for the first TD celebration by the Eagles in the NFC Championship. Bonus points for creativity and nod to our Canadian neighbors.
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Just wondering, what is a Jag Wire? Is that a rusty steel cable? Both announcers, you know who they are, kept saying that during the AFC Championship.
But I do know the word 99 percent of America said when that game ended. It starts with an F.
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A non-sports mention. Happy to see Gary Oldman win the SAG Award Sunday night. His performance as Winston Churchill was extraordinary, like a look back in time. Hopefully he takes the Oscar, too.