St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com
Back
Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

Rant, Rave

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 23, 2003

RANT

Memo to the NCAA: crumple the pods into wads and launch them into the crowded dustbin of well-intentioned ideas that failed.

Two years ago, in an attempt to allow more teams to play closer to home in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, especially higher-seeded teams, the pod system was instituted. The smaller four-team pod units give the selection committee increased bracket flexibility.

It has succeeded moderately at reducing travel, which is important. It also has failed in some instances, such as last season when No. 3 seed Mississippi State played lower-seeded Texas in Dallas. Thus, the benefits have not outweighed the failings (e.g. the diminished excitement at the subregion sites because the teams are not all in the same region).

Also, the pods cause confusion among bracket-filling fans -- the lifeblood of the tournament -- and even the selection committee, which made two pod-induced mistakes. It placed BYU in a pod that would have had the Cougars playing in a region final on Sunday, which is forbidden by the school. It also placed the nation's top two teams, Kentucky and Arizona, in pods aligned with regions that match up in the Final Four instead of the championship game.

There is no foolproof system when assigning 64 teams to eight subregions, but the old one worked better. Bring it back.

RAVE

Sunday at Darlington was NASCAR at its finest -- bumpin' and grindin', rubbin' and racin', a mad dash to the finish.

One of NASCAR's allures is the closed-wheel cars can touch, tap, rub, bump and bang, unlike their open-wheel brethren. Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch showcased all of that, plus skill and gumption, in a riveting duel Craven captured in a photo finish.

Craven called Darlington, in backwoods South Carolina, the Fenway Park of NASCAR. Busch, the loser, called the race "awesome." Darrell Waltrip suggested they do it again tomorrow. (They did. In the Busch series event Monday, Todd Bodine and Jamie McMurray staged another thriller.)

So, why is NASCAR considering dropping the event? Money. Luxurious new tracks from Chicago to California are thirsting for NASCAR races. Their revenue potential dwarfs tiny Darlington, which also hosts the historic Southern 500 each fall.

One problem: The races at the sanitized, cookie-cutter new tracks are snoozers. NASCAR needs to recognize quirky, exciting Darlington as a loss leader. Fans are drawn to NASCAR by Darlington's action-packed races. Newspapers across America splashed giant photos of the Craven-Busch finish on the front of the sports page. That's priceless.

Eliminate a date at Darlington? NASCAR should be thinking about adding a third race.

Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
 

From the Times sports desk
  • John Romano: Gators counter with speed, skill
  • Gary Shelton: Spartans are bruisers, and proud of it
  • Hubert Mizell: Hall of Fame for Rose? Yes. In the dugout? No way

  • College basketball
  • Eek, eek, eke for Arizona
  • Hokies avoid upset in final second
  • Hot-shooting Irish take care of Illini
  • Force with young Eagle
  • Big two take over for Huskies
  • Newcomers take stage for Sooners

  • Tampa subregional
  • UF's small center comes up big
  • Prosser provides higher education
  • Versatility is this Spartan's game
  • Affection only, not acrimony
  • Sense of deja vu for UF seniors in tonight's match
  • State ties, rivalry bind two guards
  • Deacons seeing double as they watch Daniels
  • Post players come up big for Auburn
  • Strengths balance out in this tossup
  • Florida: 5 keys to victory
  • Michigan State: 5 keys to victory
  • Another win would prove Tigers' point
  • Wake Forest: 5 keys to victory
  • Auburn: 5 keys to victory
  • Mix of royals, dancers, lawyers
  • Vitale gets the last word on Auburn coach
  • Seasons change for Florida's fans
  • Hoopla!
  • What's a wager between family members?

  • Guest Analyst
  • UF's playmakers vs. MSU's physicality
  • Wake Forest-Auburn: This game will be won on the boards

  • Kickin' back with Marquis Daniels
  • Daniels is down with T-Mac, but not Marines

  • Golf
  • Mano-a-mano third round falls short
  • Sorenstam breaks out of logjam
  • Eagle moves Huston up leaderboard

  • NFL
  • Changes to OT likely to be nixed
  • Rant, Rave

  • Baseball
  • Myers solidifies spot in rotation
  • Neagle has pain-free workout

  • Equestrian
  • Jumping for a World Cup chance

  • NHL
  • Slapshots
  • Wings cement Central hold

  • In brief
  • 31st wrestling title for Oklahoma State

  • Horses
  • Lane's End Stakes to New York Hero

  • Arena
  • Lucas makes tough decision pay

  • Internet
  • Indirect insights offered

  • TV/Radio
  • Two like Spartans' chances

  • NBA
  • Hawks' Ratliff blocks Indiana's shot at win

  • Motorsports
  • Harvick puts trouble behind him with win
  • Bristol supplies moving action

  • Preps
  • Panthers' four-run rally sends Lions to 6-5 loss
  • Saladino at Gaither
  • Dragons ride ace against Indians
  • Jesuit gets help in wins
  • Falcons get back on track
  • Warhawks' leadership right on time
  • Impressive loss for Knights
  • Your turn

  • Rays
  • Curtain closes on Rays' Hit Show
  • Release clears up lineup questions
  • Rays sing a familiar refrain: low payroll

  • Lightning
  • Just one more point
  • Team ending Springfield affiliation


  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts