5-at-10: New NCAA leader (thank goodness), Disney Ant-sized struggles, Davis sets sights on Pistol

This photo from video shows NCAA president Charlie Baker. Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is starting his new job as president of the NCAA this week. Baker says the NCAA needs help from Congress in the form of a federal law to govern NIL. But Baker brings a different way of thinking about regulating NIL. He views the athletes as the consumers in a burgeoning market that lacks transparency and is littered with unqualified and even unscrupulous actors. (AP Photo/Ralph Russo)
This photo from video shows NCAA president Charlie Baker. Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is starting his new job as president of the NCAA this week. Baker says the NCAA needs help from Congress in the form of a federal law to govern NIL. But Baker brings a different way of thinking about regulating NIL. He views the athletes as the consumers in a burgeoning market that lacks transparency and is littered with unqualified and even unscrupulous actors. (AP Photo/Ralph Russo)

New day in Indy

So, four former UT football staffers have received show cause penalties, adding another page of all-time chowderheadedness to the Jeremy Pruitt chapter in Tennessee football history.

Is it fair to ask if Jeremy Pruitt is the worst hire in modern SEC football history?

Discuss that amongst yourselves for a moment, and while he may not be the worst -- we'll reach out to Paschall and see if we can get a ruling or even a top-five -- he's certainly in the team picture.

But this seems like the time to say welcome to the head of the NCAA table Charlie Baker, who starts as the new NCAA president today.

Now get to work fixing the catastrophic mess than Mark Emmert left.

Dear Lord, Mark Emmert was so bad, the folks that run FIFA make fun of him.

Mark Emmert was so inept, the NCAA could have decided not to name a replacement for him and still have been better off.

Name one thing about college sports that's better over the last decade-plus of Emmert's guidance -- a tenure so bereft of direction, Emmert would have lost a game of follow the leader even if he was the only one playing.

The money may have increased significantly, but since football drives that and the conferences direct football, can Emmert really even take credit for that?

Still, bigger money across the realms of the NCAA sporting world, bigger is not better.

At least not for the mid-majors and below or even recently for the highest-profile female sport -- women's college basketball -- which has been riddled with controversy about inequitable treatment compared to the men's tournament.

So now Baker, a former governor of Massachusetts and a one-time Harvard basketball player, takes the reins, and it's certainly a Ryan's-sized buffet of issues for the new NCAA chief to sink his teeth in.

There's the hot-button issue of transgender competition.

There's the striking divide between the haves and have-nots in college sports, a divide so egregious that in this fiscal year Auburn will pay more to coaches no longer on the payroll than UTC will spend on all of its athletics in 2022-23.

There's the growing specter of player empowerment, which has long been something that needed to happen, but is charging at light speed and growing at a break-neck speed.

There's a overhauling a rule book that was crafted in at least two generations ago and designed for an era when $100 handshakes were frowned upon, but only when they were reported.

Now, $10,000 appearance fees and an LSU gymnast charging $30,000 to endorse a product on social media are not only happening, they are legal and encouraged.

Heck, the violations under Pruitt in Knoxville likely wouldn't cause an eye to bat among those now charged with enforcing the ever-changing list of permissible acts under the NCAA codes.

Still, if the new NCAA honcho would allow a humble columnist -- or me -- to offer some suggestions about the pecking order, let's craft a Baker-do list, shall we?

First, use your political connections and figure out a way to get some of the NIL toothpaste back in the tube. Emmert's biggest failure -- and that's saying something, friends -- was his ostrich-like avoidance of the name, image and likeness freight train and now with different states offering different rules and conferences looking to enhance their advantages, this could really be the NIL in the coffin for all of college sports.

The athletes are going to get paid. That's never going to go back to the way it was.

But finding some balance and equity so there can at least be a pretense of fairness must be explored ASAP.

Second, fix the portal. I'm all for players transferring. Coaches leave all the time for better opportunities, too. And the people who say, "An athlete should pick a school for the school and not the coach," well, that's simply not realistic.

Maybe find a way that every athlete gets one free transfer, no questions asked. After that, incorporate some common-sense rules. And while we're at it, if schools still insist on one-year, renewable scholarships, well, those athletes can leave that school at any time, no questions asked.

As for the rest, well, good luck with that, but there is some good news.

Emmert has agreed to stay on as an advisor until June, so if anything pops up that gives you pause Mr. Baker, just go down the hall and ask Mark what he would do.

Then do the opposite.

Mouse trapped

Man, Disney is teetering.

Earlier this year, the company renowned for Mickey and his Disney World co-hosts and cohorts laid off 7,000 worldwide. The company also announced cutbacks in the neighborhood of $3 billion in content cuts.

Ouch-standing.

Now comes news that the third installment of "Ant Man and the Wasp" has had a historically bad drop in second-week earnings.

Gang, if the Marvel Universe dries up, Disney will really be in a pickle. Which is staggering to think about considering the cost of everything these days and the popularity of most of Disney's branches and stars.

And the tumbling week two interest does more than hit Mickey in the wallet.

The villain in this Ant Man film is the centerpiece bad guy for the next phase of Marvel movies, and if Kang does not have audience appeal, it could hurt the next several MCU films.

It also puts a ton of pressure on the May release of third "Guardians of the Galaxy" film.

Buckle up, Goofy. This may get bumpy.

Record-setter

So Antoine Davis and the Detroit Mercy Titans won their Horizon League tournament opener Tuesday night.

Davis scored 38 on 14-of-27 shooting. Davis and the Titans now face top-seeded Youngstown State on Thursday.

It was arguably the biggest first-round game in any conference tournament this season considering the stakes for Davis, who now is 26 points away from Pete Maravich's all-time college basketball scoring mark.

Davis is the nation's leading score at a smidge more than 28 points per night, but as his chase of the Pistol has heated up, so has Davis' scoring. He's averaging more than 34 points in his last nine games.

At 15-18, if Detroit Mercy had lost Tuesday, it would have been the end for Davis. Now he gets a chance against a YSU team that beat Davis and the Titans twice during the regular season. Davis scored 47 total points in those two defeats.

I feel this caveat is needed: Maravich scored 3,667 career points at LSU in three seasons. His record has stood since 1970, and he did that without a 3-point line of course.

Davis used the COVID-19 year and has played five college seasons and is already the career NCAA leader in 3s with 578.

Not exactly apples to apples, but with 26 more points, Davis will topple what a lot of us thought was an unbreakable mark.

This and that

-- Offered four picks last night, hit two, missed two. Was actually pretty fortunate just to split since NC State's cosmetic 3 with 1 second left allowed the Wolfpack to cover the 6.5 in a four-point loss. But the Gambling Gods know that we have suffered far more bad beats wink-wink wins and craptastic covers.

-- Speaking of picks, I have been quite flush over the long haul of college basketball. We're still more than 35 units on the plus side. (To explain, a unit is 1/10 of your bankroll and is the standard amount wagered in most systems. So if you followed all the Plays in all the Days and started with $100, you'd have $450 in your account.) That said, I am pretty sure I'm something like bagel and seven picking this Tennessee basketball.

-- Speaking of UT, Tuesday's runaway from Arkansas came with a steep price as Zakai Zeigler was injured and likely will be lost for the rest of the season. Here's more from Paschall.

-- Speaking of Paschall, here's some details and a rough timeline on the Lookouts new stadium, which Reds officials hope will be ready for the 2025 baseball season.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which task should Charlie Baker tackle first at the NCAA?

Which MCU character is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?

Which sized asterisk should Antoine Davis have next to his name considering he had five years to break the Pistol's mark?

Which would be tougher to break, Maravich's single-season scoring average of 44.5 points per game or Wilt's NBA record of more than 50 points per game for a season?

Answer some which ways, ask some which ways.

As for today, March 1, let's review.

"Dark Side of the Moon" was released on this day 50 years ago. Wow.

Justin Bieber is 29 today.

Let's celebrate the flipping of the calendar, shall we? Rushmore of march, and enjoy yourselves, friends.

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