Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Preseason Q-and-A Series: Jay Bilas

Over the next month, we will be unloading a plethora of preseason college basketball content. From top-25 rankings, to conference previews, All-American teams, player profiles, and even the vaunted "B.I.A.H All-Name Team" selections. We will also be providing a handful of Q-and-A sessions with some of the biggest names in college hoops.

Our second installment of our Q-and-A series features Jay Bilas.

Yes, that Jay Bilas.

He's the best analyst in college basketball. He's the smartest person in college basketball. And he's arguably the funniest person in college basketball. Don't believe me? follow him on twitter.

You won't be disappointed.

Jay Bilas Q&A Session

If you'd rather just read what Jay Bilas had to say, we've provided a transcript of some of his best answers after the jump

On what he does to prepare for a gamecast or studio show:

"It's kind of a year-round thing now. If I have a game coming up, there will specific preparation I do for that game based upon the two teams playing, and I tend to prepare for that they way you would if you were coaching a game.

One of the things I thought, years ago when I started, Say I'm doing North Carolina at Georgia Tech, I don't usually spend a lot of time talking to Roy Williams about his team, strategically, like what their running and stuff like that. I tend to talk to them more about their opponent. But I'll also call their last couple opponents and ask them what ways they hurt them, what they tried to do against them, what was successful and what wasn't, what were some areas of attack that they felt they (UNC) were vulnerable.

It's interesting, I think coaches end up being a lot more candid about other people's teams than they are about their own. When I was an assistant at Duke, we didn't call the opposing coach and ask what was going on. We studied it ourselves. Maybe we talked to some of their opponents, guys that we knew, in order to try to find out as much information as we could to prepare for the game, and that's kind of what I do when I'm preparing for a broadcast."

On Bill Raftery's mystique and game preparation:

"Oh, Raftery watches a ton of film. Bill is so well prepared, and that's what makes it kinda funny, because he's so self-deprecating and so humble.

I don't know that there is a broadcaster out there today that is as well prepared as Bill Raftery is. He's old-school. When he watches film and has coaches send him DVDs, he will sit down and watch the tapes with his glasses on the tip of his nose, and diagrams all the plays on an old yellow pad. He will keep all his diagrams with him, and prepare all the stats for the game. but when the game begins, he has all that material, the reservoir of data that he has prepared, he just lets the game tell him what to do.

I've never been around anybody who enjoys the process and the people that he's around more than Bill does. I think it shows during the games, but it also shows in how much fun those around him are having. I just can't imagine anything more fun than doing a game with Bill."

On his ESPN teammates:

"There are so many great ones. Working with Sean (McDonough), just doesn't get any better than that. The same with Dan Schulman and Dave O'Brien. You name it, there are just so many great guys to work with. I'm lucky that when I do games, I get to work with those guys.

When I step in to the studio, There are so many great ones, Chris Fowler is unbelievable, but I don't know if I've ever had a better teammate in anything I've done than Rece Davis. Working with Rece, Hubert Davis, and Digger Phelps in the studio, to be a member of those type of teams is hard to beat. And Rece, not only is he super-talented, but he's so selfless. he gets up in the morning wondering how he can help his analysts do their jobs. You can have fire start in the studio and it wouldn't bother Rece, he could handle it.

"...We are lucky that we're all friends. That's what, to me, sports are about. We do have a job to do and everything, but it doesn't seem like work. It seems like we're all watching a game, we get to go to all these tremendous venues for GameDay. I hate to say this, but we'd all probably pay to do this. We're pretty lucky."

On the amateurism model:

" I just don't believe that amateurism as a principle is such a valuable thing. I heard Taylor Branch say this recently, and I think it's a great way to put it, 'If one wishes to be an amateur, that's great, but to impose amateurism across the board doesn't seem right to me'.

It didn't seem right to me in college and doesn't seem right to me now. Especially when you have so much money that's being made off of college athletics, to deny an adult, which a college athlete is, the right to benefit from endorsements, his name or likeness, just seems to be fundamentally wrong. I don't think players need to paid a salary, or made employees, anything like that. I do think that "cost of attendance" is the least we could do and we're not even going to get to that. They're going to punt on "cost of attendance", and it will probably end up being $2,025 as the maximum, which will fall way short for a lot of athletes.

I just feel like there is nothing in the principle of amateurism that's of great benefit to the athlete. It's not like you say 'if you're an amateur, it will enhance you education, it's a wonderful virtue that you get great benefit from'. It's just not true, there's nothing like that. People just don't want to do it.

We've got athletes right now, that are professionals in other sports, you know, quarterbacks at some schools playing right now are professional baseball players. That doesn't separate them from their teammates or effect their education negatively. It doesn't detract from their love of the game. There's nothing like that. And nobody is up in arms about that. In fact, most people don't even know it because they don't care. It's legal, so it doesn't bother them.

I don't think it would bother people if we had the Olympic model. People used to say, 'If Olympic athletes got paid, and benefit from their name and likeness, that it would ruin the Olympics, and the Olympics would cease to exist.' Well, that's not the case. It doesn't bother anybody. The Olympics are as strong now as they've ever been, if not stronger, and I think college athletics would see the same thing.

It's not just revenue-producing athletes. It would be for tennis players and swimmers. If they had value outside of the university, they could realize that value. It's fair, there would not be Title-XI issues to be concerned with, and the universities would not have to find a way to compensate all of these players. They like to argue that they can't do it even though they are making billions of dollars."

On Expansionocalypse:

"I think the ACC has put itself in a commanding position. So has the SEC and the Big-Ten, and the Pac-12 has solidified it's position. I do see all of those leagues expanding. "

"...I see conference expansion as being inevitable. I don't think replacing Syracuse and Pittsburgh with Service Academies, Central Florida and East Carolina will do the trick. There aren't many good options right now for the Big East. I think the Big East got out-maneuvered in this thing. There aren't a lot of moves right now that make sense that are going to get the Big East back to the prominent position it was. I don't think the Big East is well-positioned to sit at the biggest table with the heaviest-hitters like the Pac-12, ACC, SEC and Big-Ten."

"...Those media rights deals coming, instead of being about ratings and the number of eyeballs, it will be about subscriptions and the number of people who have a television. That's where we're headed and everybody is trying to position themselves the best way possible to maximize revenues. That's really what this is about. I don't agree with those who say college athletics isn't a business. I think it's a really big business. But that doesn't mean that you can't make money and have a really good business model and educate students. Of course you can. That's like saying you can't have a great business model for a hospital and still give great patient care. Those two things aren't mutually exclusive in either example.

I'm not opposed to super-conferences. I don't think it will be a problem. I think it may lead us to a playoff in college football, and I think super-conferences are the best way for us to ultimately arrive at that. I do think that basketball is always going to be fine. Whether it's the NCAA tournament or if they start something new, I think the little guys, the 'Cinderellas' will always be invited to the tournament. I'm not concerned about that at all. "

On the Big East Tournament:

"In the past five or six years, the Big East Tournament has surpassed all other tournaments and has been the best post-season conference tournament. In fact I don't even think it's been close, the Big East Tournament has been the best by far."

On the potential death of the Big East Tournament:

"It would be really sad in a way. But there's a part of me, while I would be sadden by it, and I would be wistful that we're losing something that wonderful, I'm not naive. I mean, there's change all the time. We've been talking about the Big East and changes coming for quite some time now."

On the potential death of the NCAA Tournament:

"The idea that, like, Moses walked down from Mount Sinai with the plans for the Big East Tournament, and all that stuff. That's not the case. It's only been a league since 1979. Sure it's tradition, but this league hasn't been forever now. When i was a little kid, the N.I.T. was the biggest thing in the game, and now it's reduced to a secondary post-season tournament. And I do think that if there's not some significant change with the way the NCAA operates, I could see the kind of thing happen to the NCAA Tournament in the future."

On being a "Duke-homer":

"Well, you get called both. It's funny. Duke people think I bend over backwards to go against them. I hear 'You bend over backwards to try and be objective' I always kind of laugh at that. Like, I'm bending over backwards, just to TRY and be objective? We're just talking about basketball here. We're not transporting explosives or selling medical devices, things like that. It's just basketball.

"...It's funny. If somebody asks me "Well, who's the best point guard?" and I say, it's Kendall Marshall at North Carolina. If I were to say that, the people at UNC would say 'Of course he would say that because our guy is the best', and what everybody else hears 'He just said our point guard sucks'. "

On Twitter:

"My wife encouraged me to use it, and I resisted it because I kinda assumed Twitter was all just one big bathroom wall. Turns out I was right, it is one big bathroom wall, but with a lot of funny and entertaining stuff on it."

"...I've just really enjoyed myself with it. One of my favorite parts is when somebody un-follows me. I kinda have a good time with that. I don't claim to understand Twitter at all, I just use it for fun more than everything"

His Top Five Rappers of all-time:

"I listen to a lot of (Young) Jeezy right now, so I'd put him in the top-five. Then I'd go old-school. I'd have to put The Sugar Hill Gang in there because that was the first rap group I listened to back in the late-70s, early-80s in high school. Then in college It was Run-DMC was pretty strong. I'd probably put TuPac in there, and maybe, maybe Biggie to round it out."

Click here to read the first Q-and-A with Jason King of Yahoo Sports

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