Monday, October 29, 2007

Basketball Big Ten media day and other thoughts.

Not surprisingly, lots of media coverage today of the Big Ten's basketball media extravaganza in Chicago yesterday, much of which is noted in Mike Pegram's Hoosier Newsstand. As numerous sources report, the prognosticators expect Michigan State to win the Big Ten and IU to finish second. Also not surprisingly, much of the IU coverage focuses on the additional improper phone calls. According to the Daily Herald, Sampson's friend Tom Izzo is supportive:

"Not to make fun of anything, but to follow all the rules right now you almost need a personal secretary riding around with you," Izzo said. "I don't know all the situation, so I'm not going to try to be judge and jury. From what I've heard and what I've read, it seems like pretty tough punishment when I've seen other schools maybe not punished as strongly for things I think are a lot worse."

Frankly, I don't think it's that hard. My profession requires me to write down everything I do and it becomes surprisingly routine. I think Izzo's last sentence should be the most encouraging to IU fans. Not surprisingly, bosom buddies Matt Painter and Bruce Weber are not supportive. Perhaps the biggest surprise in that article was Bruce Weber's admission that he is not perfect, which should have been the headline. Much as it pains me, however, I have to agree with Painter and Weber on this one. It's understandable that impermissible phone calls will occur occasionally, but given IU's circumstances, slavish adherence to the phone call rules simply had to be a top priority. At the very least, it wasn't a priority to one particular assistant, Rob Senderoff, and the athletic department staff and the head coach failed to effectively instill this priority in the staff. Speaking of Senderoff, when this news broke, I wondered how, presuming that IU effectively communicated the interpretation on three way calls to the assistant coaches, Senderoff could still have a job. Today, it appears likely that he doesn't have a job. According to Hoosier Scoop, IU spokesman Larry McIntyre could not confirm that Senderoff remains employed by IU. It would seem a safe bet that "I don't know" means that the answer will be "no" in the near future.

I certainly don't want anyone to think that my silence on the issue of the last couple of weeks has anything to do with an effort to avoid or bury the issue. First of all, it's really depressing. If IU wins the NCAA championship next spring, "Phonegate" will be in the first paragraph of every news article. That sickens me, and it was an unforced error by IU and the coaching staff. Second, it would be premature for me to write 2000 words about what IU should do regarding Sampson when the information released by IU has been so sketchy. Hoosier Scoop also reports that IU soon will release the Ice Miller report on the new violations. Based on what I have read so far, while I might be willing to hop in the time machine and stop IU from hiring Sampson back in April 2006, I haven't seen anything that makes me think he should be fired. But I'm not going to firmly state a position until I have read the Ice Miller report and the NCAA's ultimate conclusions. IU's first exhibition game is Sunday at noon, so I hope to discuss some real live basketball stuff this week.

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