Brad Brownell in favor of tourney tweak

July, 27, 2011
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Clemson coach Brad Brownell welcomed the NCAA selection committee's decision to tweak the First Four format, which implores CBS/Turner to ensure the future winners of the games in Dayton don't get slotted into the first TV game time on Thursday, the first day of the tournament.

This past season, Clemson beat UAB 70-52 in one of the four inaugural First Four games. Less than 40 hours later, Clemson lost to West Virginia, 84-76, in a game that tipped off at noon in Tampa, Fla.

"If we could have played a night session game it would have been much better,'' said Brownell, reflecting on the First Four experience. "We got in at 5 a.m. after leaving Dayton. We played two games in the tournament before many teams had played one. It made it very hard.''

Brownell had no issues with the First Four format or the games being played in Dayton, which is going to be its home for the foreseeable future.

"But we needed more time to catch up on our sleep and get prepared,'' he said. "We needed a full day to get ourselves ready. We wore down a bit. I'm not taking anything away from West Virginia. They were a good team. But we got a little tired. It would have been nice to have a bit more rest. We were up by 7 a.m. after getting in at 5 a.m. the day before. There needs to be more equity for the teams participating. The night session would have been fine.''

The experience was cheapened a bit for Clemson, too, playing in the noon game when the arena is rarely full on the first Thursday of the tournament.

The committee made a point of telling its television partners at a meeting this spring that the winners must play in later sessions. One other caveat for the First Four this year is the good chance that the winners won't have to travel as far, with Pittsburgh, Louisville, Columbus, Greensboro and Nashville among the eight second- and third-round sites.

"The First Four is done well and I'm fine with the high-majors playing some of the early games,'' Brownell said. "I'd rather not be in it, but if you win a game in the tournament like we did last year you feel like you have good momentum going into the next round. Our team was playing well. We just felt like we ran out of gas.''

• Meanwhile, the selection committee may have an intriguing decision to make if Connecticut athletic director Jeff Hathaway gets run out of his position, as first reported by the New London (Conn.) Day this weekend. New UConn president Susan Herbst is reviewing Hathaway's job performance. If a buyout happens, then Hathaway would be in a precarious position. He's on the doorstep of becoming the new chair of the prestigious and high-profile men's basketball selection committee in September, but what if he's unemployed? Hathaway is in the final year of a five-year term on the committee with the 2012 NCAA tournament his to chair.

If Hathaway were to assume some sort of position within the university other than athletic director to ride out his contract, then he could still maintain his position on the committee. Having him on the committee would be the preferred outcome for the Big East Conference, according to sources.

If Hathaway had been hired for the Maryland athletic director's job last year, he would have had to relinquish his position since Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman is already on the committee out of the ACC. But Hathaway, a Maryland alumnus, stayed with UConn, and the Terrapins hired former Army athletic director Kevin Anderson. It would have been unprecedented for two members of the same conference to be represented on the committee, even though the split among the 10 members of the committee wouldn't change since it has to be six football bowl subdivision members and four football championship subdivision/Division I members.

But if Hathaway doesn't have a job, what would the committee do? That's unclear at this point. NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen, who runs the NCAA tournament and is the liaison between the committee and the membership/television partners, said it's too hypothetical a scenario to respond to with a solution.

The breakdown for the 2012 tournament committee is: Hathaway, Wellman, Scott Barnes (Utah State AD), Dan Beebe (Big 12 commissioner), Steve Orsini (SMU AD), new member Joe Alleva (LSU AD), Mike Bobinski (Xavier AD), Lynn Hickey (UTSA AD), Doug Fullerton (Big Sky commissioner) and new member Jamie Zaninovich (WCC commissioner).

If the Big East had to replace Hathaway, the most likely representative would be Doug Woolard, the South Florida athletic director who has a strong basketball background and would likely jump at the chance to be on the committee. Two football-centric ADs, Tom Jurich of Louisville and Steve Pederson of Pitt, likely wouldn't want to participate in such a time-consuming committee, and Big East commissioner John Marinatto is overwhelmed with figuring out a 17-team conference in 2013, possible expansion with another football member and a Big East television contract upcoming in two years. Non-football ADs would likely not come from the Big East due to the 6-4 balance.

And although Dan Gavitt -- the associate commissioner in the Big East who has basketball in his blood from his father Dave and who's been the lead on a number of basketball issues for the conference -- would be an outstanding choice, the committee doesn't dip below the level of AD or conference commissioner.

As far as the chair position is concerned, sources say the committee would have no issue bumping up Bobinski's term as 2013 chair to replace Hathaway if needed.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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