INDIANAPOLIS -- We're all mature grownups. We can be totally honest here, right?
We've all waited seven months for college basketball to return. When it did come back, we got three days of pre-planned, pre-scheduled blowouts, all in the name of video games and cancer research. Sub-Red Line teams were brought in to act as scrimmage partners in made-for-television showcases for Top 25 teams. This has been no fun at all. It's like dreaming about Christmas, and getting Guy Fawkes Day instead.
Perhaps the worst part of the new Coaches vs. Cancer format is that all pretense of pure competition is gone. All four of the featured power-conference teams are already ticketed to New York City, and there's no chance of any small-college surprise storyline. (Remember five years ago, when Saint Mary's knocked off California
on the way to MSG and received a week of free national media?)
At least the tournament organizers are coming right out and admitting that the deck is stacked, and have already organized two "mid-major" pods for the eight designated palookas
in Albany in Miami on Nov. 20-23. At least they're being honest about all of this.
Bally and I have been on another continent for the past week, and I've only been virtually present here on TMM thanks to an auto-posting robot. We knew we weren't missing much on the basketball courts of the CvC, except for the brave 50 percent shooting performance by Murray State
which wouldn't have meant advancement if it were enough to overcome Cal's final five-point advantage.
We touched down at Indianapolis Airport at around 8 p.m. local time, and hopped on the shuttle to our national headquarters
. Our driver was Herschel, an old friend who remembered us; he gave me a bottled water.
Herschel was in a celebratory mood, and explained that it was a big day. The new Indianapolis airport turned one year old yesterday, having opened for business on Veterans' Day 2008. The facility had been ready to go for weeks, but the opening was timed so that the first plane that landed at the new IND was a plane full of soldiers returning from military operations in Iraq.
This was also the one-year anniversary of the day when the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Airport became a ghost town, and when the rooms at this old 3 1/2-star hotel were slashed to two-star prices. On the long shuttle ride to where the old terminal still stands, he pointed out how all the overhead lights along the 360-degree circular onramp that connects Interstate 465 with the hotel have all been removed. Since there's no airport anymore, drivers apparently don't have to see at night. For Herschel, who's into his 60's now, the total darkness means that he has to inch his shuttle along at 15 mph with his headlights pointed in the wrong direction.
But the hotel he takes such pride in, the building we at TMM proudly call our headquarters, is still standing and fully operational. The restaurants and lounge are all set up and ready for people who rarely come anymore. The marble floors still sparkle, the fountain still rushes and gurgles, and my hopeless and impossible crush on the young lady at the front desk remains intact. Everything's different now, but somehow same as it ever was
The season starts for real tomorrow, and we will be making an hour's drive east to Ball State for the Cardinals' opener against Valparaiso. In the meantime, Bally wants to share his favorite places in the CPIA. (These were taken back in September during the Season 6 Symposium, so for those of you who hang with us in the offseason, this is a repeat.)
"Chillin' by the pool!"
"Where are the bubbles?"
"Follow me to freedom!"
"The executive lounge makes me feel like an executive!"
"Guest laundry.... whooooa!"
"Sports bubble what?
I always try to save the important parts for the end, because only the important people have the big attention spans read this far. I promise not to bring this up too many times during Season 6, but in my experience of internet fundraising, I know that not much happens without reminders. That's why I know that because our thermometer is now less than half-full, we'll have difficulty filling it later on.
Our new financial model is very much an NPR-style one, but we realize the apparent hypocrisy inherent in public television -- interrupting a show for a pledge drive, then showing two minutes of commercials, seems kind of strange, doesn't it? But we don't have a John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation to underwrite us, and we're not brought to you by some financial services firm that believes that children are the future.
So if you can, please help us out
. If you have a site of your own, you can blind-bid to take over the top left corner of the screen for a week
. We have lots of different kinds of stuff to give you in return, so we'll try to make it worth your while. Thanks.