What a great championship game! What a great Final Four! What a great prediction I made that Uconn would win based on the system that I revealed here last Friday. (Link: How to pick a final four winner)
But this column is not about my being right. Well, not completely. It's about what it was like to be in the Stadium for the games.
Except for the long shorts, everything that's great about college basketball has been great for generations. It's played by kids who sometimes are poised and sometimes make mistakes that kids make. Many fans actually know the players on the teams. Anyone who has even a remote connection with the school and team is allowed to go crazy for a little while. The cheerleaders do the same cheers they've always done in the same outfits they've always worn. The games are close. You can see the players shout with joy and cry with despair.
Unfortunately, a great many people who were at the games this weekend didn't get to see many of these things that are such an important part of college basketball. They were too far away. The place was just way too big. The AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboy Stadium) isn't a typical basketball gym. About 79,000 people were there for each of the three games. 79,000 for a basketball game! It's not exactly Hinkle Fieldhouse. Gene Hackman would have had a hell of a time convincing his team that it's no different from their gym at home.
In other words, every single resident of Storrs, Connecticut – the home of UConn – could have brought four friends along, and they all could have fit into the Stadium. And there still would have been room for Yukon Jack's Hilltop Grill and the Storrs Museum of Puppetry.
Do you like flat screen TVs? They've got one in the Stadium that is 160 by 72 feet. If you go to Best Buy to purchase one of these, remember that the size is measured diagonally.
They sold the seats at the very top of the arena. You didn't need an usher to help you to those seats. You needed a Sherpa. What could those fans possibly see from up there? They couldn't see the dunks, the blocks, or the steals. They couldn't see the expressions on the faces of the players and coaches. Furthermore, there should be an NCAA rule that states no seats may be sold that are so far away from the court that fans can't distinguish between the cheerleaders and the players. Presidents Bush and Clinton were there, but I doubt if those with bad seats could even see them on the Giant TV. So thousands of fans missed the very things that are great about college basketball.
If they hadn't read and believed my correct prediction, (which once again, you may verify: How to pick a final four winner), they might not have found out who won the game until they got home.
Before Wisconsin's semifinal (but after practicing at AT&T), Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky said, "It's an insane venue. It kind of feels like you're outside…"
Why do they hold these games in such a cavernous place with so many awful seats? For the same reason that they charge five bucks for a bottle of water. Greed.
There's an old saying that goes, "Everything is bigger in Texas." However, it would've been much bigger of the NCAA if they had played these games in a smaller place.
Just as a postscript, one of the times that they cut to the two former Presidents on the oversized screen, I'm pretty sure I read Bush's lips asking Clinton, "Where is Lloyd sitting?" I could be wrong about that. Then again, I could be right. It's happened before.