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Hoops at OSU and elsewhere a hard sell

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The man without a last name couldn't make it through his last season. My goodness, what a shock.

Jay John should have been fired after his fifth season, but Oregon State couldn't bear the financial obligation of dumping its men's basketball coach with three years left on his deal.

By the time the Beavers finally went about the business of firing him, they still owed him a million bucks - and the program is in an even deeper hole.

Friends tell me that whatever attendance has been announced at OSU basketball games this season, the real number was smaller. I wouldn't personally know, because I can't imagine wasting a nice evening by driving to Corvallis to watch a college basketball game.

But let me come clean about the whole issue of college basketball. I can't understand anyone clinging to the notion that it remains a big-time spectator attraction anywhere outside of the top 15 programs in the country.

Without being able to keep players chained to college for three or four seasons, it has lost its cachet. If anything, it's now a TV-only sport - thanks to its overexposure.

The policy of televising just about every game in the country involving the best teams is killing college basketball as a local gate attraction.

Let's say you're a big college hoops fan -and I wouldn't understand that, given the quality of coaching and play compared with the pros, but whatever. Why would you head out to watch a local game when you can sit at home and watch North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, UCLA or any of the best teams play almost any night of the week?

You live in Portland, and say you're going to regularly drive to Eugene to watch the Ducks in their new arena? Sorry, but I won't. They better be ranked in the top 10 every year or a lot of people won't bother.

Let's get serious - the Ducks were a pretty hot commodity last season. This year, still with a better than average team, they've managed to sell out ancient Mac Court for just one game. The novelty of a new facility will help ticket sales for a season or two, but long term the Ducks better be a big-time program or those seats will not be filled.

Personally, I can't get into the college game anymore. I've spent too many years watching the NBA, where the talent is. In the NBA, coaches actually have to coach and not spend time schmoozing recruits and donors.

Just standing on the sideline and posing like a coach won't get you very far in the NBA, as so many college coaches have found out. And in the NBA, you have to learn other ways to motivate your players other than just screaming at them.

People think the pros don't play hard? Give me a break. It takes the average NBA draft pick a full season to understand how hard he needs to play just to get on the court for an NBA game. The defensive intensity and physical nature of the game is nothing like the floating around they do in college.

But I digress. Oregon State wasted a lot of money on the man with two first names. By letting him come back for this season, the school was chasing good money after bad and losing fans with each defeat.

John - does anyone really want to feel sorry for this man? - walks away a millionaire, while the school shops around for an affordable replacement.

Meanwhile, I'll continue my search for someone who cares.

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