If you can get boring for the most dynamic college basketball fan on the planet north of Dick Vitale, you’ve accomplished something. But that’s what my harangue did to Bill Raftery.
It was 30 years ago this fall and I had cornered the beloved Seton Hall former coach turned ESPN analyst (at the time) to one side of a banquet table on media day. Big East basketball court. Somewhere outside of the smoked salmon and pecan pie, I had embarked on a rant about the 6 foul rule, seeking its support.
Raff was smarter than that. Knowing who ultimately stamped his checks, even if he didn’t sign them, the old coach wasn’t about to bite a hand that was feeding him either a regular allowance or a sumptuous buffet. Especially just to appease a 34-year-old columnist.
I had to jam for a good 90 seconds about disregarding the 6 foul rule, an experiment NCAA executives were attempting at the time at three conferences that agreed to test it. After two years of covering rugby in basketball disguise in a once big league that had grown ugly and boring, I had seen enough. It had to stop!
Somehow remembering my first name after my non-stop verbal assault, Raftery just smiled and replied, “But in the final analysis, David, as long as the beer is cold … Ai- am I right? “
And with that, he escaped to converse with someone more stimulating.
Look, I couldn’t help myself. I remember being so excited to cover the Big East when I first arrived from Ohio. And in my first three seasons of going to the Spectrum to see Villanova and the Capital Center to watch Georgetown, I was served this bastard version of WWE.
It was that simple: because the NCAA decided to allow the Big East and what was then called the Trans America Conference (now the Atlantic Sun) to give six fouls before disqualification, the players used this freedom with impunity. They played with more physical abandonment. They made more mistakes. It was the “Jordan Rules” except for everyone, every night.
And in the NCAA tournament, the proud conference, which was only five years previously placed three of its members in the Final Four, failed to advance anyone there during the three seasons the rule of the 6 faults was in effect, but three more after. . I think it distorted the style of basketball so much that it plagued the conference for years later. He imposed a professional rule designed for 48-minute games on those of just 40.
It was not an attractive style either. With the help of the Free Defenders to hammer anyone and anything that got in the lane and annoyed drivers with armbands on the perimeter, the game deteriorated into a turgid mess of static attacking and headed for the free throw line.
Why am I digging through all of this now? Because the NCAA, in all its wisdom, will be reconsidering the 6 foul rule – except nationally in all conferences.
Why? Why would he do it after what was, by all accounts, a scorching NCAA tournament with points, excitement through the roof and a Final Four that exceeded all expectations?
I think maybe that’s because, in a time of tectonic change in his business model, he irrationally fears an exodus of teenagers to professional alternatives, not just the NBA’s G-League, but something called Overtime Elite. OTE is offering top junior and senior high school players a substantial payout (> $ 100,000 at Top 30 Prospects) to play against each other and against international competition at an age the NBA has abandoned them and the NCAA has refused to pay them. I admire the initiative, although I am not sure of the viability of the business model.
Either way, why does the NCAA feel it has to compete by adopting professional rules? The problems of college basketball have nothing to do with the rules inside the lines, but with the false economic model it imposes beyond them – perhaps soon ruled illegal by the State Supreme Court. -United.
What is broken in college basketball is not the game, but the ruse perpetuated by its archaic business organization – it is an amateur business. The game itself never needed fixing, not now or three decades ago.
This time, the proposition of 6 faults comes with a condition – if more than three faults are committed in either half, disqualification occurs. Why this should matter, I can’t figure out. Should the distribution of faults over time make a difference?
In 1992, after three years of the 6-foul rule, the secretary of the NCAA Rules Committee and its men’s basketball officials coordinator, Hank Nichols, waved the white flag over the failed idea:
“We’re going to give him a rest. After recovering the data, we did not find it necessary to experiment with it again. “
Plus, the Big East coaches and players didn’t like it either, and they’ve told their friends about it in every other conference. Nichols admitted it then:
“Across the country, the 6 foul rule has no real support. There was no tidal wave, no reason to continue. So we ended it.
Why would anyone want to resurrect a proposal that has already been so categorically rejected? Maybe because no one around is old enough to remember his story. If they ignore it, they are doomed to repeat a very bad idea at a very pivotal moment.
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