Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Aaron McFarling: Coach Greenberg’s exit a low point for Radford

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by Radford University: looking forward to football season, now more than ever.

Q: You do realize RU has no football team, right?

A: I do realize that, and it makes what's happened with the men's basketball team even tougher to take. I was at the Dedmon Center that day in March 2007 when the Highlanders introduced Brad Greenberg as their coach. That wasn't so much a news conference as a pep rally. And somehow, it all seemed appropriate. RU fans were looking for hope. Many saw it in Greenberg, a man the seven-person search committee had unanimously recommended.

Q: Was the hope justified?

A: It was. Sure enough, the new coach had the program soaring a mere two years after that day. That same arena was rocking again as the Highlanders won the Big South tournament and clinched an NCAA tournament bid.

Q: Amazing how fast it all can turn back the other way, huh?

A: Definitely. Until this week, I thought the last season of the Byron Samuels era was the low point for this program. It's gone lower now. Couple Greenberg's departure amid NCAA infractions with the 5-24 record, it's gone lower.

Q: What can be done about it?

A: You've got to hope you get lucky with the next hire. This job is no great beacon at the moment. You'll have to discover some young guy on his way up, much like a baseball scout plucks that raw-but-projectable shortstop off the sandlots of Santo Domingo. In the meantime, though, I'm disappointed in what RU officials haven't been doing.

Q: Which is ... ?

A: Talking. Reassuring. Spinning. Athletic director Robert Lineburg -- much like his father, Norman -- is one of the most gregarious, vibrant, positive people I know. While there are some things I'm sure he can't address publicly about this mess, he would be well-served to step in front of the cameras and start explaining to RU's fan base how this mess is going to be fixed. They need a lift.

Q: Let's move on. This week, two networks that televise NASCAR announced they will show some commercials in a split-screen format alongside the racing action instead of cutting away from the track completely. Like this?

A: Love it. As a television sport, auto racing is much more akin to soccer -- which does not interrupt its games -- than it is to football, basketball or baseball, which have designated breaks in the action. Think of it like a whitewater rafting trip in the New River Gorge. You get brief moments of drama and excitement thrown in among long stretches where not a whole lot happens. In NASCAR's case, you never know when those best moments will be, so you risk cheating the viewers by cutting away.

Q: Do you actually watch soccer?

A: I watch it all, baby.

Q: Then who's going to win the Preakness today?

A: The No. 11 horse, Animal Kingdom. I know, I know. He's the morning-line favorite. See, we always want to pick a long shot -- particularly if some little-known bomb just came in at the Kentucky Derby -- but that's not the approach to take at Pimlico. In the past 10 Preakness races, only once has a horse prevailed at odds of greater than 7-to-2. That's chalk city.

Q: Didn't you pick 30-to-1 shot Isn't He Perfect on Friday's blog?

A: I did. And after further review, I realized he is neither perfect nor the pick.

Q: Best comment on the blog this week?

A: Lots of good ones. Here's a strong take from abdnva, a Virginia Tech fan, during a discussion about seating at Lane Stadium being tied to donations. "It's all about 'What have you given me lately ... ' and my philosophy is bending strongly in the same direction towards the teams. You blow the Boise game, get humiliated by James Madison of all teams, then get punked by Jim Harbaugh's Stanford team? What have you done for me lately, that I should pay $2,500 to attend games in Lane this fall?"

Q: Hey, wait. Don't I ask the questions around here?

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