Pauly's Point After

My five takeaways from the show

Wes McElroy
April 06, 2018 - 4:23 pm

Monday: The story of the 2018 NCAA Tournament will be Villanova. Until their improbable run ended with a loss to Michigan in the Final Four, Loyola-Chicago had been the talk of this NCAA tournament, but late Saturday night, it seemed as though the country as a whole realized what they were doing.

After hitting a blistering 18 three-pointers and dismantling Kansas 95-79, the Wildcats made everyone aware they were not just the team to beat, but were putting together one of the most dominant tournaments runs in recent history. Winning games by an average of 17.6 points, including against two of the best defensive teams in the country (West Virginia and Texas Tech), this incredibly balanced unit has blown away the competition. They’ve played the most lopsided tournament games since 2009, when eventual champion North Carolina averaged 20 points per victory. Even in the hard-fought contests, the Wildcats have proven they were clearly the better team, and after a record-setting season, they can make it two titles in three seasons. The Ramblers and Sister Jean may have stolen the spotlight for the majority of this tourney, but if the Cats can finish the job, history will not soon forget their run of dominance.

 

Tuesday: Jay Wright is a surefire Hall of Famer. You could argue he was already that before Monday night, but Jay Wright has left no doubt now. Winning his second title in three years at Villanova and doing so in such dominant fashion, he has now ascended to the top tier of the college basketball world. Aside from the fact that he doesn’t recruit one-and-done players and still has tremendous success with great players who run a remarkably efficient system, the sharp-dressed Wright has elevated his status by putting together the one the most successful four-year runs in college basketball history. A record 136 wins, two national championships, only the third active coach with multiple titles and the second coach in Division I history with four straight 30-win seasons (Bill Self, whose Jayhawks were manhandled by Wright’s Wildcats, is the other). For a guy who didn’t make the NCAA Tournament his first three seasons and had many people wondering if he was the right man for the job, his reward is a spot among the game’s elite coaches.  

Wright now owns more national championships than Self, Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim and John Calipari – all Hall of Famers. And his ability to recruit top-level talent and get them to stay multiple seasons (see Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, etc.) while having sustained success is a rare commodity in college basketball. Not to mention bringing Philadelphia a second championship parade in two months will make him a king in the Delaware Valley.

For years, Villanova has been viewed as the little underdog Catholic school from Philly that took down invincible Georgetown, but after Jay Wright’s latest act, the Villanova has established itself as one of the best (and possibly the best) programs in the country.

 

Wednesday: The Rams will be much better, but slow down on the super team talk. The defending champion Eagles have made moves to remain one of the best teams in the league, but as big splash signings go, the Los Angeles Rams have won in that department. After making trades for corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, then signing the dangerous Ndamukong Suh, the Rams kept their hectic offseason going by adding a weapon for third-year quarterback Jared Goff in Brandin Cooks via a trade with the Patriots. Now all the NFL is buzzing with talk of a “super team” in LA that will be the best in football and end up in the Super Bowl, but let’s pump the brakes on this bandwagon, shall we?

The Rams will certainly be better, and they are and should be the favorites to win the NFC West, but often times teams we think will be unstoppable rarely are when the lights come on in September. Just a season ago, after the Patriots added Stephon Gilmore and Cooks, the 19-0 chatter began, and it seemed as if Brady and company were on a collision course for ring number six. That is, until they surrendered 42 points to the Chiefs at home in Week 1 and lost 42-27. They also went on to lose in the Super Bowl to a backup quarterback who almost retired from football. And as for the team that beat them, let us not forget the fabled Eagles “dream team” of 2011, which finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs after numerous big-name signings in the offseason. To be fair, the “dream team” moniker was assigned by then-backup quarterback Vince Young, but it still serves as a cautionary tale for preseason hype.

The Rams have also added players who bring considerable baggage, and not the kind they stored in the overhead compartment on the flight to L.A. Talib, 32, has been a documented trouble-maker and has a tendency to initiate extracurricular activity after plays, just ask Michael Crabtree. Peters, while a true playmaker at his position, was the second-most penalized corner in football in 2017 and had many questioning his loyalty to his team after defending longtime friend Marshawn Lynch on the field against his Chiefs teammates. The 33-year-old Suh is a solid presence in the middle of the defensive line, but he is not what he once was and there is, of course, his own personal history of penalties and boneheaded plays that cost his team. There’s no shortage of talent, but also no shortage of ego on the defensive side of the ball, so Wade Phillips will have his hands full.

Cooks does provide a home run threat for Goff, and has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL in the last three seasons, but coming off a concussion suffered in the Super Bowl, there’s at least a hint of concern. By the time we reach the preseason, the Rams will likely already be given the Lombardi Trophy, but if the past has taught us anything, it’s that until the games are played, the hype means absolutely nothing.

 

Thursday: Dan Snyder is furious with Bruce Allen, and I can’t believe it took this long. I’m not sure what it could be. Could it be the 35-61 record during his time as Vice President of Football Operations? The bungling of the Kirk Cousins situation? Or perhaps the constant public relations fiascoes that have made the Redskins one of the laughing stocks of the NFL? Actually, it appears to be a combination of all three, particularly option No. 3.

After hearing Chris Russell’s report that Redskins owner Dan Snyder is “furious” with team president Bruce Allen, some might have been surprised, others curious, and some even a little thrilled. It’s certainly been a long time coming, particularly following the ousting of former general manager Scot McCloughan and Cousins’ recent exit to Minnesota, both situations in which Allen and Snyder apparently did not see eye to eye.

It has all added up for Snyder, and the constant embarrassments and media ridicule have taken their toll. I should think any owner would be furious, and quite frankly, would have felt that way for a long time with results such as these. He should be mad, and it’s not as if there is anyone else in Redskins Park that Snyder could look to for results. It’s not exactly a well-kept secret that Allen likes to be the man in charge, to the point where Russell added that Senior VP of Player Personnel Doug Williams is no more than a spectator when it comes to football decisions. All of this has led nowhere. Only to more mediocrity and disappointment come December.

Now, while Snyder may be furious, he is not angry enough to make any real shake ups in his front office, especially not this close to the Draft, and reports are that if this trend continues, Allen would be in line for a position change, not termination. And yes, most team presidents would be long gone after botching so many things, but there’s the small matter of a new stadium Snyder desperately wants, and Allen is his ticket to get it. Until that happens, Allen is not going anywhere.

However, if Snyder truly wants things to change and to take that big step towards restoring the Redskins to their former glory, it has to start in his front office. He must take responsibility as the owner of the team and make the changes necessary, and I think we all know what those are. Mr. Snyder, your move.

 

Chris Russell joined the show to discuss his report about Dan Snyder’s frustration with Bruce Allen.

Interview: Chris Russell (4-5-2018)

 

Friday: Conor McGregor has done some whacky things before, but he went way too far this time. UFC President Dana White has backed McGregor at just about every turn, no matter the circumstances, but even he was fed up with the former UFC star after what went down at the Barclay’s Center Thursday afternoon. After watching four different videos from four different angles, including one from inside the bus McGregor and his crew attacked, I’m still trying to get my head around it.

Whenever a notification pops up on your phone with the caption “Conor McGregor disrupts…” you are already resided to the fact that he’s done something outlandish, but not out of character, but throwing a hand dolly through the window of a bus carrying UFC fighters? A bit extreme, to say the least. McGregor’s actions will now not only cost him but will also cost UFC millions since it had to remove three fights from its pay-per-view event this weekend. Not to mention the physical harm caused to two fighters who caught the brunt of the glass shards caused by McGregor’s heave.

In prior situations, McGregor’s actions, while abrasive, have been calculated and measured to serve the ultimate purpose of selling the product. What happened Thursday was anything but. This little escapade has resulted in three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of felony criminal mischief, among many other things. This was no publicity stunt, this was a mindless act of revenge and anger that could have cost someone a lot more than their money, and McGregor has now shown that his temper, which once fascinated fans and sold tickets, is more a curse than a blessing. And if this problem is not addressed, he could become “Notorious” for all the wrong reasons.  

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