This country must shoulder the blame for some of the worst inventions in history. Fraternity members include pop-up ads, three-ply toilet paper and Falstaff. Another is the concept of movie sequels. Porky's II should have taught us that.
Which brings us to College GameDay, which ESPN swats weekly tape-measure home runs with during football season. GameDay is the 21st-century version of what the Goodyear Blimp used to be — verification that that particular game is among the biggest of the big that weekend. Millions watch, hundreds if not thousands gather in person to form a noisy backdrop. Onetime Indiana University coach Lee Corso is DeNiro-esque in his ability to play the role of lovable buffoon.
Then a few years ago some network suit raised his or her hand in a meeting to suggest trying the GameDay format for basketball.
Bad idea. Really, really bad. But the network did it anyway.
The entire thing is so staged. Honestly, it looks like every week a few hundred fans from the campus of choice have been dragged to the gym kicking and screaming so that it resembles what's done in the fall. Who are these students, the sub-2.0 GPA crowd told extra credit awaited them if they spent some time seated a few rows behind Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps?
Perhaps they are trained professionals. You know, traveling fans. Look close. It might be the same 500-1,000 faces at Gonzaga one week that you spotted three weeks earlier at, say, Connecticut or Kentucky.
That would make for some interesting catching-up-with dialouge, that's for sure.
"Hey, Jim, great to see you. Are you still working in advertising?"
"Nope. Switched careers. The wife and I are professional fans for the basketball College GameDay set. Even have a stack of 8x10s in the car if you want me to autograph one for you. I'll be that little face on the far left in the fifth row. Even got to talk to Bilas once during a commercial break. How many people will be able to tell their grandchildren a story like that?"
It will be interesting to see how long the network continues to embrace this idea. The ratings have to be abysmal, though it did get one thing right: using Phelps, the former Notre Dame coach, as the dorky fall guy in commercials. Must be an Indiana thing.
In both cases, it's quality casting.
PARTING SHOT: Purdue's men's basketball program has once again let me down, and it's not even March.
Last week's long-awaited unveiling of new home and road uniforms didn't come close to matching the hype that had preceded it. There are changes, sure, but they are subtle.
Just once I would like to see the Boilers shake things up and roll out some cutting-edge unis that would have fans throughout the country sitting up and taking notice. Instead, it's another chapter in the book of conservative sure to last three or four seasons before Purdue tries another look.
Equally conservative, of course.