Friday, April 5, 2013
Brennan: Setting the Final Four scene
By Eamonn Brennan
ATLANTA -- Are you ready for some basketball?!
Allow me to explain. If you were to fly to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, take a cab into the heart of The A, walk up Decatur as it winds into Marietta, politely push through the thousands of (likewise polite) fans assembled outside, and make your way into the cavernous steel-and-concrete bowels of the Georgia Dome, well, that's when it's official: You are as close the 2013 Final Four as is humanly possible. Look! Jim Boeheim's on that podium just over there, answering reporters' questions and looking like he'd rather be anywhere else. Final Four! Yes!
Yet, if you did that Friday, you would have been struck by one thing: Of all the stories at the Final Four, a school that hasn't been here since 1976 -- and hasn't even been to the NCAA tournament since 1991 -- was unquestionably the biggest.
Yes, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and their ball-chucking, slur-spitting abusive former coach Mike Rice remained not only a story, but the story Friday, as athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned -- but not without insisting he wanted to fire Rice when he first saw said player-pelting, only to be overruled by his superiors. A questionably handled press conference held by Rutgers president Robert L. Barchi dominated the backstage televisions all day, and each of the four head coaches spent at least part of their Thursday and Friday media time answering questions about Rice and Rutgers and What It All Means.