SI Vault
The Final Four
Phil Taylor
April 08, 1991
Summertime Blues
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April 08, 1991

The Final Four

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"This year's not as hectic as last year," Odjakjian said. "Last year I'd have three breakfast meetings and three lunches. I'd have orange juice with someone from the Big East, a grapefruit with a Metro Conference guy and eggs with the SEC. The waiters in the coffee shops were starting to think I was moving in.

"It's a constant juggling act," Odjakjian added. "It can get a little hairy at times, especially here where you see so many people. Say I tell [ Georgia Tech coach] Bobby Cremins this morning we want to televise a certain Georgia Tech game if he'll move it to a certain Thursday. He says he'll get back to me. Then this afternoon another game that's not as attractive comes along, but the school commits to playing it on that Thursday if we'll commit now to doing the game. Do we take that deal or hope Georgia Tech agrees to move its game and take the chance that we'll wind up with neither one? Those are the kinds of decisions that make it very challenging."

Then there are the nonconference games that ESPN tries to create. Last weekend Odjakjian asked Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, whose team is leaving the Southwest Conference for the Southeastern Conference, if he would be willing to play former SWC rival Texas on ESPN next year.

"He said he wouldn't go to their place, and he was sure Texas wouldn't go to Fayetteville," Odjakjian said. "I said, 'Would you play it in Dallas [a neutral site]?' He said maybe. Now I've got to find [ Texas coach] Tom Penders and see if I can turn a couple of maybes into a yes."

Odjakjian is also approached by schools, usually from smaller conferences, that try to convince him to televise one or more of their games. He tries to oblige when he can.

"I know how important it can be to some of those schools and conferences to get the exposure of ESPN," he said. "I don't look at my job as having a lot of power, I look at it as having a lot of responsibility."

As usual, rumors about coaching moves were abundant at the Final Four. The wildest had UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian leaving to coach the II Messaggero team in Italy and taking forwards Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon with him. Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs and the vacant Texas A&M job also turned up in the same sentence quite often, and Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps was rumored to be under consideration for the open Indiana athletic director post as well as an education post in the Bush administration.... You may have seen the sneaker commercial in which Indiana coach Bob Knight suggests that the media should pay to cover games. Knight wrote a " Bob Knight on the Final Four" feature for the Indianapolis News. Hey, doesn't that make Knight a member of the media, too?

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