There is a FanShot by DC about the re-named and re-styled Wooden Legacy basketball tournament. This re-branding got me steamed. Here are my two cents.
“The creation of the Wooden Legacy and the new television partnership with ESPN means that there will be much-deserved increased national exposure for the event…”
I attended the inaugural Wooden Classic in 1994. This was an event that was intended to attract the best coaches, who would bring in order to meet Coach Wooden and to honor the best. The goal was to have the single best day of basketball outside the final 4.
That initial classic had 7th ranked Kansas (Roy Williams) vs. 1st ranked UMass (John Calipari). The second game had 5th ranked UCLA (Jim Harrick) vs. 3rd ranked Kentucky (Rick Pitino). That was J.R. Henderson’s coming out party. 4 teams all ranked in the top 7.
This was obviously before Doughnut’s time. There was no need then to tweak the format to get “much-deserved increased national exposure.”
The theory was simple. Center the event around Coach Wooden, and bring in the best.
Fast forward to 2002, with Doughnut now in command at Morgan Center. The first game of the doubleheader was scandal-ridden Georgia (Jim Harrick again) which did not compete in the SECtournament vs.Cal (Ben Braun, 3rd place in Pac10). The second game was Missouri (Quin Buckner, 5th place in Big12) vs. $C (Henry Bibby, losing season).
So we had 4 of the top 7 teams in the country, and coaches like Pitino and Williams, and then with Doughnut in the house, we have 4 teams which combined win 2 games in the NCAA tourney, and coaches like Buckner, Bibby and Braun.
By last season, with Doughnut apparently still involved, because he is proud to toot his horn in this press release, the Classic had devolved into a single game, between San Diego State (Steve Fisher, 4th placeMWC) and UCLA.
After basically soiling Coach’s legacy, by allowing the tourney with his name to spiral into oblivion, Doughnut now has a solution. Turn it over to ESPN, and let them figure it out. And by the way, let them re-brand the product as the Wooden Legacy. Another solution might have been to attract the best teams, but that would involve effort.
The actual Wooden Legacy is all the players who came through his teaching/coaching, with the pyramid imprinted in their post-college careers, in and out of basketball. It has nothing to do with Doughnut’s shabby attempt to attach himself to Coach’s glory.
I understand that Doughnut does not have all that much control over what actually happens in this tournament, since it is not directly controlled by UCLA. But either you acknowledge the lack of control, and keep yourself out of the press release announcing the revised format, or you go Doughnut’s route, and get quoted right and left in connection with the revised format. If you want the glory, then you have to take the responsibility for the slide into oblivion. But taking responsibility is not really Doughnut’s style, is it?