I mean, we're shocked that newspapers are declining? Livingston could've turned this exact column at any point over the last 20 years. Oh woe is me, BJ Mullens won't have any "all-night bull sessions," whatever the fuck that is.
It was also the beginning of the end for the coach as the big man on campus. It's a players game at the big programs now. The only name coach who resisted the trend was Bobby Knight, who was a marginal figure in the national title picture his last 15 seasons.
The 1979 title game came in Magic's sophomore year, his last at Michigan State. The rise of the NBA, which he and Bird fueled, made it irresistible to top collegians. High school coaches now will tell you most of their starters think they will play in the NBA. At least 80 percent of college scholarship players are convinced of it.
Many say college prepares one for a good job, and what's the big deal because Mullens will have a good one now. But it is about so much more -- all-night bull sessions, friendships, and the way the meaning of a great book spreads through your head and heart as a gifted professor loosens the knots of the language. Interests are created that last a lifetime.Players like Bill Walton and Jerry Lucas clearly paid attention in class at UCLA and OSU, respectively. We have lost that now, in the Rent-a-Player Era.
Look, personally, I have a hard time telling athletes not to cash that lottery ticket (and this is coming from a guy who wouldn't trade his college experience for anything). This goes for both college and pro players. As much as it pissed me off, I can't really blame Carlos Boozer for ditching the Cavs. The guy was a 2nd round pick (no guaranteed millions in his rookie deal) and he could get roughly double what the Cavs were offering. I'm sorry, if you can make an extra $30 million... (same with Thome, Sabathia and all the Tribe players). Yes, I know it's a lot of money (more than they could ever spend), but they didn't bolt for an extra $4-5 million. I can't blame a dude for taking extra tens of millions. I just can't.
Like, Larry Hughes the basketball player could've used another year or so at college to work on his game (I'll say!). But Larry Hughes the person had a brother with a heart condition and by Larry jumping to the NBA, the Hughes family could pay for treatment. But stay in school for those for the all night bull sessions.
(and speaking of grumpy old men, I recently saw Gran Torino. Quite excellent (and suprisingly funny). Clint Eastwood plays the best crochety old man ever. Livingston doesn't hold a candle to him).