Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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Apparently there’s another out there who’s cynical and forthright about how things are done, and why.  He’s UC basketball coach Mick Cronin, and it’s hard to disagree with his words last week on what the NCAA tourney committee did, and their bottom line for doing it.

When I read the headlines in Monday’s Cincinnati Enquirer it brought a smile to my face.

For there it was, plain as day – UC basketball coach Mick Cronin’s statement last week about why some teams, including his Bearcats, get first-round NCAA tourney games that are contrary to record, RPI, reasonable competitive parity.  Go to www.enquirer.com if you’d like to read more.

Said Cronin to reporter Tom Groeschen:  “You may get moved a seed line if, and it may not be us, but teams could get moved around from a 4 to a 5, or an 8-9 out of that to a 7-10, to get that pod to sell more tickets,” Cronin said. “Now, nobody will admit that because it’s all about the student-athlete, supposedly.”

What?  Some governing body in sports manipulated a bracket, or a tournament, for the sake of selling more tickets and making more money?  Who would possibly say such a thing?  And who would believe it?

Well apparently I’ve found a cynical blood brother in the diminutive coach of the Bearcats because any rational-thinking person with a heart that’s pumping blood would figure it out, based on what we know about the age-old axioms about money and the pursuit thereof.  That’s one half of the irony, the other is Cronin lifting the lid on another “please believe”.  “It’s all about the student-athlete, supposedly.”

Yeah, I write things like this all the time:  Tournaments are about more games, more tickets sold, and more money.  If you can cloud that logic with moving a few seeds (or games) around to pair better teams, or more compelling teams, against each other to create greater demand – and say you’re doing it for the sake of the student-athlete – who’s going to question?

Well, of course, the governing bodies, themselves.  Dave Gavitt, the senior vice president of the NCAA men’s tournament immediately straightened his tie, adjusted his cuff links, and said Monday, “Mick’s assertion that this was a fact is not true,” Gavitt said. “When it happened in the past, it was for separating conference opponents, not ticket sales.”

Sonny_inset0211Good comeback, Dave, but a study of past brackets makes your argument sound more like the Marx Brothers, and not Brooks Brothers.  Please watch that you don’t get ketchup on your French cuffs.  Eh?

And by the way, if you’re Phi Beta Kappa in cynicism, you’ll note that Monday’s headlines illustrated that the squeaky wheel (Cronin, in this case) does not always gets the grease.  No, sometimes, it just gets ‘screwed’ on a little tighter.  Cincinnai, a #6 seed with a 29-5 record, got sent to Sacramento for their first round game, the third time in four years they’ve been shipped out west.

“I wasn’t complaining,”  said Cronin over his statements last week.  “But the NCAA tournament is about business, period. Let’s not kid ourselves. That’s it. Period. And everyone knows it.”

For you haters out there, who bang on those who dare to mention mission and motives in the same breath, can you at least have a warm thought for the sake of family members who find each other in the great unquestionable kingdom of ‘kum ba yah’.

My brother has spoken up…and I recognized his voice.

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