Monday, April 11, 2011

Pollgate: I’d Do it Again!

By Mike Adras, Northern Arizona Men’s Basketball Coach

NAU Head Coach Mike Adras talks to ESPN.
On Tuesday, April 5, Northern Arizona Head Coach Mike Adras voted Ohio State the top team in the final USA Today/Coaches Poll, giving the Buckeyes the lone vote not cast for national champion Connecticut. The vote brought national attention to Adras and his basketball program and University. Adras was featured on ESPN SportsCenter, The Doug Gottlieb Show, ESPN's First Take, Mike and Mike in the Morning, The Steve Phillips Show (Sirius XM), The Robert Wuhl Show, and radio stations in Baltimore, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Columbus and Connecticut.

I would do it again! I felt like I voted with a good conscience and did what I felt was right. I still feel that way regardless of what others feel.

There have been people of both sides of the fence both positive and negative. I certainly agree with their view points, some of them made great points. Some of them are very juvenile with their comments and you disregard those. I look at it like I did what I thought was right.

I did not expect anything. From the moment my sports information director Steve Shaff came into my office, the only thing I thought was, ‘Did I do something that was going to offend USA Today’. I did not want to make them look bad in this whole thing. Whether I did or not, I deal with that all the time. I did not want to embarrass USA Today. After we spoke with them, I thought it was over. My SID thought it would be something else. By that evening it had become crazy and bizarre and wild.

A lot more people learned about Northern Arizona University whether they wanted to or not. I really believe over the course of the next three days and all the various media that we spoke to, including those that felt initially that they did not agree with what I did, by the end of doing interviews with them I think they warmed up to the idea. Maybe they did not fully agree but I think they understood much better where I was coming from than the initial release would have indicated.

I did not need all the emails I received. It was distracting from the job that I have because of the requests and what not. I am disappointed in some of the hatred that was shown for someone expressing their opinion. This is a democracy and everyone is entitled to their opinion.  You do not have to agree with everybody. It was the one thing that saddened me that people would write such evil things. They do not know who I am or anything about me. I cannot imagine that one person’s vote ruined so many people’s lives that very day. That is comical to me.

It was great to talk about our basketball program. It was great to talk about our University and I appreciate those that gave me the opportunity.

The consensus question was whether there should be a poll at the end of the tournament. Maybe not? Everybody saw who was crowned the National Champions the night before. I never felt like my vote was going to take away the national championship. I recognize UConn as the national champions.

The one good thing is that I have laughed at my self at this. I never take the negative or the positive too serious to be honest with you. It is over a poll for goodness sake. I still like doing it and have fun doing it. They are fun to have because we get to talk about teams that are doing well and on occasion we get to put in teams that not everyone is looking at because we are so fixated on the super conferences. VCU. Coastal Carolina. BYU. I feel good about the fact that we look at it very seriously. We look at how teams are doing and how they have fared. We truly consider every team in the country before we put a vote in. We have done it the right way.

There are a tremendous number of people who have sent positive messages. They support me in their mind for having the guts to do something like this. I told my players that standing up for your beliefs and your convictions are part of who you become as you become a man. Don’t let people talk you out of something just because it is not the norm. If you believe in something, don’t be afraid to take a stand. People will respect you more for standing up for your beliefs.

Mike Adras’ Final USA Today Coaches Poll…1. Ohio State; 2. Kansas; 3. Connecticut; 4. Butler; 5. Pittsburgh; 6. Duke; 7. Kentucky; 8. Arizona; 9. Florida; 10. North Carolina; 11. Notre Dame; 12. San Diego State; 13. BYU; 14. Purdue; 15. Texas; 16. Syracuse; 17. Wisconsin; 18. Louisville; 19. VCU; 20. Richmond; 21. Florida State; 22. Marquette; 23. Temple; 24. Kansas State; 25. Gonzaga.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Madness Has Been Awesome, Baby!

Head Swimming and Diving Coach Andy Johns gives his take on the NCAA Basketball Tournament and upcoming Final Four this weekend. Johns recently completed his 15th season at the helm of the program, leading the program to a third-place finish at the WAC Championships last month.

I love March.  My birthday is in March, Spring Break, the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, St Patrick's Day and the NCAA men's basketball tournament.  The Big Dance. The Show. March Madness.
I'm a big fan of college basketball. But the tournament is awesome, baby!  Upsets and underdogs are what really make it so exciting.  We've yet to see a 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed; but I can't wait until it happens.  And I think that what makes the first two rounds even more exciting is the sheer volume of games - 40 games over about a 40 hour period.  That's a lot of basketball.  By the time this past weekend came around, there were only 12 games in the same time period.  I'm already feelings the signs of withdrawal with, what, only two games on Saturday and one game on Monday left in the entire college basketball season? Do you realize that less than one week from now, we're going to have to wait until sometime in October for some Midnight Madness somewhere in the Midwest?  Are you kidding me?

It seems that this year is no exception to the Madness.  Everyone is talking about officiating.  I think we have such an advantage over the refs who have to make split-second calls, and most of the time they get it right, where as we sit in our living rooms and TiVo it and super-slow mo it and then we're still not sure what the right call is.  But it's interesting that for all the fans and media experts who say "let 'em play, let the players decide the game, oh, that should have been a no-call in that situation", they were all very quick to agree with officials and say "a foul is a foul" and you officiate and play the whole game the same way". 

Brad Stevens, the young stud of a coach at Butler, was certainly letting the ref know he disagreed with his call that put the Pitt player at the line with 2.2 seconds to go.  And then .8 seconds later he was telling the same ref what a great call he made. (You can guess what former NAU assistant Jamie Dixon thought of each call, too). 

Upon further review, it was pretty clear both calls had been correct - and both times the players did decide the outcome of the game while the referees called the games as they should.  I think what we all wanted, in that moment, and what I think no one really ever mentioned, was to just be able to watch 5 more minutes of basketball.  OT! A little free basketball for everyone.  And let it be settled by the players with good officiating, of course!

VCU and Butler have both made it to the Final Four. Wow! Nice April Fool's joke!  I got the VCU Rams over the Kentucky Wildcats for the National Championship.

See you on deck,
Coach Andy Johns