Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Which team would you rather be based upon the past 12 years?

Team 1:

1 National Title
Made tournament every year (Average seed: 4.8)
Overall record: 309-109 (73.9 winning percentage)
5 Double-digit loss seasons
5 Conference Titles
Taking out worst season (7th place), finished as low as 6th in conference
5 Players on current NBA rosters
Less time spent as #1 overall ranked team in nation

Team 2:

1 National Title
Made Tournament Every Year (Average Seed: 3.2)
Overall Record of 338-82 (80.5 winning percentage)
2 Double-digit loss seasons
8 Conference Titles
Taking out worst season (5th place), finished as low as 2nd in conference
9 players on current NBA rosters
More time spent as #1 overall ranked team in nation

OK, now what if I told you that Team #1 went to the Final Four 6 times the past 12 years and Team #2 went 3 times? Would that change your opinion? I guess it depends on how much you buy into conventional wisdom.

If it isn't obvious by now, Team #1 is Michigan State and Team #2 is Kansas.

Tom Izzo clearly has a better tournament record in terms of wins and losses than Bill Self/Roy Williams, but his success has produced the same number of titles, though he has a chance this weekend to add another.

Over the course of the next week, you will a constant refrain: 6 Final Fours in 12 years is an astounding feat and Tom Izzo is the greatest coach in the game. Both of which are arguably true but both need to be qualified.

Six Final Fours is an astounding feat considering how hard it is to string together wins in the tournament while avoiding bad games and bad luck. And Tom Izzo is great at winning games...to a point*. The question is what value do Final Fours really have. Fans enjoy the experience, potential recruits will see the game on TV, and the universities get to pat themselves on the back and add another few stitches to the Final Four banner. For some schools like George Mason, it might be the greatest athletic accomplishment that the school ever achieves.

But if you went to a Final Four, did you really win anything? Michigan State has also had to endure four (and a possible 5th) crushing defeat. Yes, they can look back at their seasons and be proud for a season well played, but why couldn't a team that lost in the Elite Eight be as proud--or even more proud--if they had an as good or better regular season? Why is the tournament success the only success that matters these days? Why is a Final Four so much better than an Elite 8 or Sweet 16 but reaching the championship game and losing is rarely regarded as much better than reaching the Final Four?

The tournament is important but it's not the end-all, be-all of a season. If Michigan State loses on Saturday or Monday, I will have no problem saying that their season wasn't any more successful than Kansas's, Kentucky's or Syracuse's. Many will say that Final Fours are great for recruiting. If that's true, then I hope Michigan State will use this second consecutive Final Four and sixth in 12 years to recruit some better players than they have in the past.

And, yes, I'm biased and bitter as hell.

*It's sort of like how you heard all year how Syracuse was SOOOO hard to match up to because of their zone. Yes, the zone is good but if it was such a weapon as the media makes it out to be, they never would have lost a game.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Food Democracy Now

Take a stand for organics, tell the USDA to reject Monsanto's GMO alfalfa

Dear Kendall,

Everything you thought you knew about organics is about to change. If the USDA and Monsanto get their way, organic integrity is about to go the way of the dinosaur.

Once again, the organic industry is under assault. This time the USDA is determined to let Monsanto ride roughshod over common sense environmental rules that would protect organic farmers from having their crops contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds.

Tell Secretary Vilsack that Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa cannot be allowed to undermine the organic industry. Comments are due by close of business on Wednesday, March 3rd. So please ACT TODAY:


During the Bush administration, Monsanto illegally won USDA approval for its GMO alfalfa by convincing USDA regulators to bypass a mandatory environmental review.1 In 2007, a court reversed this decision, ordering the USDA to complete the legally required environmental impact statement (EIS).

Shockingly, the Obama Administration’s recent review would approve Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa.

The draft USDA EIS was issued in December 2009 and is poised to allow Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa on the market, despite the fact that the USDA admits that these seeds will contaminate organic feed that organic dairy farmers rely on to produce organic milk.2

According to the CEO of the largest farmer-owned organic dairy coop in the U.S., GMO alfalfa “threatens the very fabric of the organic industry.”3 We can’t allow this to happen.

Despite massive public outcry in the past, the USDA's environmental review went so far as to say that U.S. organic consumers don’t care about GMO contamination.

Tell Secretary Vilsack that you care about organic contamination and that you want him to stand up for the organic industry and organic consumers.


Thanks for all you do,

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Help support our work: If you'd like to see Food Democracy Now!'s grassroots work continue, please consider donating what you can, whether it's $5 or $50. Every bit helps!. We appreciate your support!


1. Farmers Sue USDA Over Modified Alfalfa Crop, The New Standard, March 3, 2006

2. Roundup Ready® Alfalfa Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website

3. USDA stance on GM alfalfa threatens “fabric of organic industry”, The Organic & Non-GMO Report, February, 2010