Pauly's Point After

Wes McElroy
March 09, 2018 - 10:34 pm

My five takeaways from the show this week:


Monday: Conference tournament champions shouldn’t have to play a play-in game. Picked to finish sixth in the Big South prior to the start of the season, Radford University surprised everyone by making a run in the conference tournament and winning the championship on a last-second three-pointer. Although it broke my heart as a Liberty alumnus, it was an incredible finish to a good game for a worthy team. The upside: they get to the tournament for the first time since 2009. The downside: they won’t really make it unless they win in Dayton.

Yes, I am one of those diehards who don’t count a play-in game as the actual NCAA Tournament. When teams are slated for a play-in game, their seed is pending, whether it be for an 11-seed or a 16-seed, and they do not actually earn it until they win that game. If they do, they are granted their official seeding. This should not be the fate of teams that survive the gauntlet of the conference tournament, regardless of the level of competition.

As of today, USA Today Bracketologist Shelby Mast has Radford locked into a 16-seed spot, while CBS’ Jerry Palm predicts them facing Hampton for a 16-seed. Joe Lunardi of ESPN has them locked in as a 16 as well. And if a team wins its conference tournament, there should be a reward of being a lock. Teams shouldn’t have to face off in another do-or-die game just to make the field of 64.

Strength of schedule does make a difference, and there is still the issue of regular season champions of mid-major conferences who falter in the conference tourney and have nothing but a less-than-adequate trophy and a few t-shirts and hats to show for it. But this is also why the regular season in college basketball means absolutely nothing, and because of that, teams that run the table when it matters most should be compensated for such an accomplishment. And whether you play in the ACC or the MAAC, winning multiple postseason games in succession on consecutive nights is no small achievement, and it’s time the NCAA let those teams truly have their time to dance.


Tuesday: The one-and-done rule has to go. This probably sounds like an exhausted topic, but with the developing story in the NCAA and now with what the NBA is attempting, it’s time to revisit it. The NBA wants to become more involved in high school basketball and to utilize its G-League more in developing young stars looking to make it to the next level. The plan consists of the league establishing relationships with high school seniors and ultimately giving them an alternate path to the NBA outside of college hoops that earns them a paycheck (a legal one, that is).

In and of itself, it’s not a bad plan. But it misses the mark in solving an overarching problem that is the one-and-done rule. David Stern accomplished what he had set out to do by removing NBA scouts from high school gymnasiums when he enacted the rule in 2005, but the rule has caused more problems than it has resolved.

College basketball is riddled with athletes with one goal in mind that barely make an impression on the game before catapulting to the NBA, and many of those players attempt to accelerate their payday at the collegiate level. College basketball has a grotesque lack of sustained star power and an influx of elite talent who pass through the game like tourists. The NBA stepping in at the high school level will not solve this and other problems, and the answer does not lie in the G-League. The average salary of a G-League layer is between $19,000 and $26,000, and even if that rises in years to come, it will still be scraps compared to what hotshot prospects could make off endorsement and advertising deals.

The solution here is simple. Eliminate the one-and-done rule and adopt the baseball format. If a player wants to go to the league out of high school, allow it, but if he commits to a school, he must attend that school for at least three years. This way, the NCAA gains more recognizable stars and kids that want to go straight to the league have the option. Adam Silver has the right idea, but the best way for the NBA to be involved in this transformation of talent-grooming is to first do away with one of the most damaging rules in sports.


Wednesday: The Kirk Cousins era is officially over in Washington, D.C.

And believe me, there is no happier group of people than the Redskins media. The saga that began three seasons ago when Cousins first stepped on the field for the injured Robert Griffin III has, at long last, come to a close. It was like the movie that could have and should have ended a half hour ago but for some reason kept dragging on, and though you wanted to turn it off you couldn’t because you had to see how it ended.

For the first time since 2015, the NFL Franchise Tag deadline came and went without one Kirk Daniel Cousins receiving a tag. After trading for former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, the Redskins made it clear they were done with Cousins, and now he is free to hit the open market and get that long-term deal Bruce Allen and company were unwilling to shell out. There will be no more wondering what each quarterback deal does for his leverage with the Redskins, no more leaning in close at the tag deadline to see what the team might do next; it ended Tuesday.

Cousins is still not worth the money he will likely get, but in a league driven by quarterback play, he will get his fair market value. There is also the fact that had the Redskins pulled the trigger on a deal that former General Manager Scot McCloughan had in place at the time, they could have secured him for much less than what the market now demands.

Now Cousins will field the best offers from teams and watch them do their best to woo him. The rumors will abound until pen meets paper, but guess what Redskins nation? That is no longer your concern.


Thursday: The Eagles window is wide open, and they’re going through it. In this salary cap age of the NFL, teams’ opportunities to have sustained success are sometimes rare and often fleeting, just ask anyone other than the New England Patriots. Every elite player at his position wants the big payday, and if you are fortunate enough to have a plethora of such players on your team, the money will eventually run out, especially if one of those positions is quarterback. It is never long before that player will come due for a big contract, and when it comes to the signal-caller, it’s the one position in today’s NFL you simply cannot afford to short-change. And if said quarterback happens to take it to the next level early, teams can then afford to spend money and build the team elsewhere. The Seahawks experienced this with Russell Wilson when he burst onto the scene in 2012 and proceeded to win a Super Bowl in his second year, so they built a nasty, albeit impenetrable defense around him. The result was a Super Bowl win, although it likely would have been back-to-back rings if not for one of the most inexplicable play calls of all time, and with the beginning of the fire sale in the Emerald City, it appears the run is over.

The Eagles have pounced on the Seahawks decline, adding three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett to an already lethal pass rush. The Eagles are over the cap, but this and other moves show Howie Roseman and the boys are not satisfied with one Super Bowl win. They want more and they understand the time is now. Nick Foles may have been the one to end the title drought in Philly, but there is no question that Carson Wentz is the future and that, going into just his third season, he is already the real deal. His rookie contract lasts through 2019, and before he requires a new deal, the Eagles are bolstering the team around him to maximize their chances of getting back to and winning the Super Bowl again.

The window does not stay open long, and with a rare talent like Wentz returning with unfinished business, the Eagles are aiming to becoming the NFL’s next dynasty, for however long.


Friday: Greg Gumbel isn’t one for lasting memories in March. Technically, this was from Wednesday, but we had the chance to talk to the award-winning CBS broadcaster about the Big Dance and he elaborated on why he doesn’t really clamp onto big moments that occur in the NCAA Tournament.


Interview: Greg Gumble (3-7-18)