Douchebracket Banks Regional

By Paul M. Banks

It’s that time of year again! The 2nd annual douchebracket; which is exactly what it sounds like, a tournament of douchitude. In last year’s inaugural event, my regional finalist, “Notre Dame fans with no genuine school affiliation” routed Rachel Nichols in the title game. The earlier rounds were much more exciting as Alex Rodriguez out-lasted his agent, Scott Boras in the finals of Peter’s regional and then had the ND fans on the ropes until A-Rod choked away the national semi-final.  The Notre Dame fans were aided by 1.) this tourney coincides with St. Patrick’s Day 2.) Chicago’s Southside Irish parade got so unruly last year that the event was indefinitely terminated. In the other semifinal, Rachel Nichols routed Ronnie Woo Woo.

#1 Tim Tebow Media Coverage vs. #16 Joe Francis

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Jim Jackson on the Big Ten’s Strengths & Weaknesses

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By Paul M. Banks

At Big Ten Media Day, Ohio State alum Jim Jackson was just like the rest of us journalists, he participated in the college hoops version of speed dating that is Media Day, as he went from table to table interviewing players and coaches. At the same time, the NBA veteran of 14 seasons, 1992 #4 overall draft pick and current Big Ten Network analyst was utterly NOT like the rest of us journalists, as reporters and bloggers gathered around Jackson to ask him his thoughts on the 2009-10 season, a year in which most national pundits deem the Big Ten the strongest or second strongest in the country. I was one of those writers, and this is what JJ, the only player ever to win the Big 10 conference player of the year award twice, told me during our exclusive chat.

Obviously, Jackson had a lot to say about the Big Ten’s junior class, finding some natural comparisons between this class and the state of the league at the beginning of the last decade.jim_jackson

“I take a look back at the early 90s, at some of the classes that came to Indiana, even our class at Ohio State, Michigan State had a great class at the time. I think it kind of recycles a little bit, you go through those periods where it’s a down a little bit then it builds back up. And it’s a reflection of the coaches in this league, the resumes and pedigrees they have. Now the talent is going to catch back up with the coaches.

You got Manny, Talor, Evan, Kalin, guys that I think are going to take it up another level this year. Evan had his first year of being the go-to-guy. Now that he has that under his belt, he’ll be more comfortable in that role. So how much better will he be? Kalin didn’t have the expectation of being Big Ten player of the year but he got it, so now he has that confidence.”

Jackson continued: “I love Talor’s game. His quickness separates him because he can get from point A. to point B. at the drop of a dime, but he can shoot the basketball- stick that open jump shot. And still finish at the rim, it’s a combination that’s a tough assignment for any point guard to have. Talor may not be the most vocal leader, but this year he’ll be more vocal, and also more of a lead-by- example guy with his play.”

And then there’s Purdue’s famed junior class. These days so many players leave early for the NBA draft, so it’s exceedingly difficult for one highly heralded class to stay together for multiple years, but Purdue is one place where they’ve been able to retain their nucleus.

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“In Purdue’s instance, as talented as those guys are, I don’t think any of them were ready to take the next step which is a good thing for the University. Because now you have a core group of guys coming into their junior year that are very experienced in playing together. It’s a catch-22 when you look at it that way. The talent is there, but maybe not at that level. JaJuan (Johnson) established himself last year, as a go-to player. He really worked on his inside game, his post moves. You look at what Robbie (Hummel) brings to the table, a little bit of everything; rebounds, shoots, he’s a leader. Coming off the injury, he had a great summer with the USA team. He’s probably their best all around player,” said Jackson, co-holder of the NBA record for most teams played for (12).

The 2009-10 Big Ten will of course be known for it’s junior class. However, year-in, year-out, the conversation starts and ends with the collective group of league coaches.

“Name a bad coach in this league. You can’t do it. Carmody is great at what he does offensively. Ed DeChellis may not have the name recognition, but he can do it. Crean has recognition. Thad Matta has established himself. Beilien got it done at West Virginia. Of course, Izzo, Bo Ryan and now Matt Painter is establishing himself. jimjackson

Tubby is a kind of coach that is going to go get the players he wants, recruit the players that are smart, and get up and down the court, understand the game, shoot the ball and play aggressive defense. And it’s great for Minnesota, because that arena is already tough to play in. Now you put a product on the floor that makes it an even tougher place to play again,” he said.

So where does the Big Ten Network analyst put the conference nationally? (Not that he’s biased or anything, of course not, no bias from this BTN analyst here)

“Top to bottom, it’s got to be one or two, this league could go nine teams deep, and that’s good and bad for the NCAAs. They’re going to beat up on each other. But at the same time they’ll get quality wins. And look at the Big East last year, you had 16 teams, and they took eight to the tournament, four in the Sweet 16, two in the Final Four, and it could be very similar here in the Big Ten, because you have quality teams and depth,” Jackson said.

I concur 100%. Visit this site tomorrow for part two of this interview, and to see JJ’s picks for this season.

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Big Ten Network Playing Erin Andrews Card in Talent Selection

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By Paul M. Banks

Everyone knows “sex sells” and the “news business is actually show business,” but there are still instances when a network overwhelmingly panders to the frat house demographic. Like hiring a bikini model to be a journalist, as the Big Ten Network just did with Melanie Collins. Sure, she did have a stint at NBA TV, but I still just can’t take her seriously as a college football reporter.

For the same reasons, I never took former Playboy Playmate Lisa Dergan seriously as an anchor for Fox Sports West. You can call me sexist, narrow-minded, chauvinistic, socially backwards etc. for what I believe, but I don’t care.thompson

If a woman rises to fame and her position by holding a job which is essentially little more showing T&A and being an inspiration to male self-gratification, how seriously can you view her authority to inform the general public?

When a political leader comes to power through illegal or criminal means, how legitimate do you take the individual’s ruling capabilities?

It’s not that I think Collins or Dergan are/were awful at their jobs, I just don’t think they are/were very good. I think Erin Andrews is ok at her job, but nowhere near deserving of the publicity she receives. I think EA is a very attractive woman, but again, nowhere near deserving of the publicity she receives. So much so that the practice of “hottie tokenism” in sports media has become synonymous with her. I don’t think she consciously sought that title, but she certainly doesn’t do anything to shy away from it either.

I probably watch more Big Ten Network that any human being reasonably should. It’s unhealthy, I admit it. I can recite, line for line, all their annoying programming promos- they do run the exact same spots during EVERY commercial break. But I just can’t, and never will, take Melanie Collins seriously. Because I know there are hundreds, maybe thousands of female and male applicants that could/should easily taken her place.

It may be unfair to compare Collins to fellow network denizen Charissa Thompson, because Thompson is a much more accomplished journalist with better credentials. And you won’t find raunchy pictures of her kissing another girl online, like you would in Collins’ case. But Thompson, like Collins is so attractive that they are distracting. There’s eye candy all around the Big Ten Network talent pool, but these two reporters just jump out at you because they distract you from the content. If you held a poll between who was “hotter,” Collins or Thompson, it’s a toss-up. Now BTN’s hottie tokenism has one-upped that of every other network.

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Both of them, whether they want to be or not, have become the story instead of reporting it. And that’s a very bad personnel decision on the Big Ten Network’s part, because now people are talking about the rail-thin blonde delivering the information, instead of the information. Or maybe it’s not a bad decision, as it gets people talking about the network. They did get me.

But I’d still probably watch that network, even if something as visually disgusting as Charlie Weiss hosted every show. Ultimately though, it’s about timing and development. I can take reporters like Jill Arrington and Jillian Barberie seriously because they did the racy photo spread in a raunchy lad-mag AFTER they had already established themselves, not BEFORE.