Last year around this time, Rock Chalk Talk was able to bring you an interview with Rece Davis, of ESPN College Gameday fame. Once again, I was able to get to spend about 15 minutes with Mr. Davis.
The transcription is below or you can stream the audio.
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RCT: Hey Rece!
Rece: Hello Mike! How are you?
RCT: Hey, thanks for the time today, we really appreciate it.
Rece: Oh, my pleasure, my pleasure.
RCT: I'm doing good, how are you doing?
RCT: When we spoke with you about this time last year, you told us about your work with the Capital One Cup. And we've also spoken to Clark Kellogg recently, so we're kind of aware of what the whole deal with the Cup is. Can you tell us more about your role as a member of the advisory board and what you do?
Rece: I think the number one thing that we do, now that we've established a really good framework for the competition, is that we want to get the word out; we want the fans to get as involved as possible. We provide a lot of different avenues for them to follow along with their favorite teams or the teams they hate the most or their favorite conference or whatever it might be in order to establish bragging rights. They can do it online, CapitalOneCup.com, they can do it on Facebook or Twitter, Facebook just as you would expect facebook.com/capitalone, and follow it along on Twitter @capitalone as well. We try to make it as interactive with guys like Clark or Doug Flutie or me or Jenny Finch or Lisa Leslie or whoever it might be. We want it to be interactive; we want the fans to be involved. But the biggest thing is, we want the word out that this is more than just a competition for administrators to be able to put another trophy in - and it's a great trophy - but, it's more than just winning the trophy. It's also about winning scholarship money. I mean, $400,000 combined for the men's and women's winners of the Capital One Cup going toward student-athlete scholarships, and we want to make people aware that the competition is fun, we want them involved and follow along, but when their team wins, their team really wins. And, and they get this money which provides opportunity both in the competitive arena and out of it for the young men and women who are playing sports. So, that's my primary role with the advisory board right now, and I think it's a cool framework, and we hope people enjoy following along over the course of, you know, with the Capital One Cup.
RCT: That does sound like an incredible opportunity, that's a neat deal you guys got going there. Let's go ahead and talk a little bit about the Tournament, let's get right into it. Kansas has a pretty interesting draw in the Midwest Region. Can you maybe talk a little bit about what you've seen from the Jayhawks overall this year and how well you think they might do here in the upcoming tournament?
Rece: Look, I've been amazed, I really have, with the job that Bill has done, and I really shouldn't be amazed because the guy is gonna be a Hall-of-Famer. He is as good a coach as there is in the game right now. And, I always hesitate to put that "Best" label or "Top 5" or whatever it is, but, whatever the upper echelon, whatever the pantheon of great coaches in our game right now is, Bill Self is in it. And, year in and year out, he proves that. With the 11th straight Big 12 regular season championship coming a year after you lose two of the top three players in the NBA draft, when you have the suspension to Alexander - and candidly, though Cliff is a fine young player, I don't know that he had the type of freshman year that many anticipated when Kansas signed him. A good year, for sure, impactful one and good moments, but I don't know that he was the dominant force that many expected. So, he didn't consistently control the game. So, you don't get that, and then although he was making a valuable contribution, then you lose that with the suspension. Then you have Perry's injury that held him out a little bit, but he still came back and played very well I thought in the Big 12 Tournament. And it's really a remarkable thing that Bill has accomplished this year. I do wonder if he has overachieved with this group to the point that it put them vulnerable in terms of the seeding. Now, then comes the potential matchup with Wichita State. That weekend that we did Gameday, as I was walking out of Wichita to get in the car and head toward Lawrence to do the afternoon show, somebody yelled at me, "Hey Rece, when you get to Lawrence, give Bill Self directions back here to Wichita!" Because they desperately want the game, and that would be quite a passion play should the Jayhawks and the Shockers meet in the Round of 32.
RCT: Does anyone outside of the state of Kansas want to see Kansas-Wichita State in the second round?
Rece: Oh, I think people always - I think people on the outside that don't really have a vested interest in it would like to see that game in the Tournament simply because of the backstory and the "little guy" in-state that's getting a shot at slaying the behemoth and all of that kind of thing and I think that it makes for compelling theater. I'm probably gonna anger some Wichita State fans - I wouldn't blame Kansas if they did play the game, I mean, Wichita State's got a great program, they're a worthy opponent and all of that, Greg has done a phenomenal job, they have terrific players, great administration - but I do understand Kansas' viewpoint of not running down I-35 and begging them to play. Because here's the reality of the situation: Let's say they play in December, and Kansas wins, nobody notices. They're Kansas; they're supposed to win. If they lose, Kansas hears about it all year. So I understand the reluctance to play the game, especially when you're Kansas and you can play Kentucky and Michigan State and Florida and Ohio State and anybody else that they choose to play that they've played over the years. You get something out of winning those games and you avoid the stigma of losing. You know, if you lose a game - although I know some Kansas fans would argue that I've brought up the Kentucky game more times than they would like - but generally speaking, nobody kills Kansas if they lose a high-profile non-conference game to somebody. So I get it, but I think in the NCAA Tournament setting that the stage and the theater would be great, and that people who don't live in the Sunflower State would enjoy seeing that as well.
RCT: Ok. Who are your Final Four picks this year, and who do you got between Kentucky and the rest of the field?
Rece: I'll take Kentucky over the rest of the field. Obviously then I have Kentucky in the Final Four and winning the championship since I said that. I also have Arizona, Gonzaga, and Michigan State making it into the Final Four. And it's not because I think Michigan State is that great, they have certainly found perplexing ways to either lose or create the possibility of losing games at the end this year, which is very uncharacteristic of a Michigan State team. But, recent history has shown us that the 1s and 2s don't all get through and I was kind of looking for a bracket that I thought maybe had the most potential for chaos, and I think the East does because you've got teams like Oklahoma and Michigan State in there, you have a right now wounded Virginia team, and a Villanova team that I think is very good, and could be a Final Four team for sure, but I didn't want to pick all the 1s and 2 seeds, so, that was sort of why. I had no other reason for picking Michigan State other than I think they are capable of doing it, and the determining factor between whether they would actually fulfill that was basically I felt more certain about the other 1s and 2s than I did Villanova and Virginia.
RCT: I gotcha. At what point do you have the Jayhawks bowing out?
Rece: Do you really have to ask me that question on a Kansas blog?
RCT: I've gotta ask you that question, Rece.
Rece: Round of 32 to Wichita State.
RCT: Understood, Understood.
Rece: They (Kansas) can beat them (WSU) and nobody's gonna be surprised if they do. But, I think that - I get the feeling, and maybe I'll be dead wrong, cuz Oubre's really starting to play great, but I get the feeling that maybe this is one of those Kansas, one of those teams, not Kansas teams, but one of those teams that has had every ounce of potential squeezed out of it during the regular season, and they had a great accomplishment. And with being a little nicked up and with losing some depth with Alexander, and just by the fact that I think you could make an argument that this group, while certainly not untalented, I'm not suggesting that for a second, but it's probably at worst maximized its talent, and at best probably overachieved a little bit. And so because of that, I went with the 7 over 2 upset in the second round against Wichita State. Sorry.
RCT: I understand.
Rece: Don't let ‘em... you, well, they can bomb my Twitter if they want to, that's OK. Because that's part of it. Everybody who - I'll just send back to them, I guess I missed all the Thank-You notes for saying that if I could only go to one more basketball game I would go to Phog Allen Fieldhouse. So, I'll want them to balance that when they realize I'm picking them to go out in the Round of 32.
RCT: There you go. Well, Kansas Basketball, obviously, it's a national brand and we're proud Jayhawk fans.
Rece: Sure, yeah.
RCT: Sometimes, maybe KU fans get a little hung up on the shortcomings of our teams versus enjoying just how consistently good the program has been over the last 20 or so years. What's the perception of the program on a national scene? Do you think KU gets the respect it deserves nationally from pundits and other basketball fans?
Rece: I think - I can only speak for - I don't know about other fans or all of that, but I can speak for the regard which and the esteem which Kansas is held with the guys I work with most closely on my show. And we think it's an elite program. I don't get into this whole ranking - sort of like I was talking about the coaches earlier, I don't get into this whole thing "this is the number one, this is number two," because if you just do that you're just counting number of wins and anybody can look in the record book and do that. But I think that if you're creating an elite group that would include North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, UCLA historically though certainly maybe not right at the moment, that Kansas is in that ultra-elite group. And I think all of us believe that Bill is a brilliant coach who - consistency is sometimes something you don't appreciate until you don't have it, does that make any sense?
RCT: Oh sure it does.
Rece: Human nature - what you referenced earlier - it's human nature for Kansas fans to get caught up on Davidson or Bucknell or Northern Iowa or whatever it might be - their own shortcomings. That's easy to do, sort of human nature, because you always want more. But it's a mistake if you don't appreciate the championship, both the Big 12 and National Championship and Final Four trips and trip to the Championship Game in '12 and all of those things are big stinkin' deals and hard to do. And Kansas does it with a remarkable degree of regularity. And it's - I think it speaks very well. It sort of reminds me of what a football coach told me one time, he said, "If you don't think this is a big game coming up, just try to lose it, see what happens." And it's sort of that way, I think, with a program that is at the level that Kansas is. When you win a game, and I mentioned this in relation to Wichita State, but it's not just that, it's anything. You know, you win a Sweet 16 game, a lot of programs would be delighted, it would be like Kansas, "Well, you better win the next one because we're Kansas and we should go to the Final Four," and if you don't then that's all you remember. And that's unfortunate, but it's also part of the deal. It's human nature. And it's a by-product of the unbelievable success and the remarkable excellence that Kansas has enjoyed throughout its history and certainly most recently since Bill has been in charge.
RCT: Yeah. Well, Rece, I think I'm about out of time with ya, but we'll see if we can get one more in here real quick. Probably the last thing you're expecting is a football question from a Jayhawk, but...
RCT: Maybe you can tell me, what it's gonna take to get the football version College Gameday to Lawrence sometime.
Rece: Win! Our football version, we tend to go with the big games and the big winners, win some games and we'll come and see ya, that's kinda the way it works.
RCT: There ya go. We're feeling a little ripped off from, what was it, 2007 when you guys came to Arrowhead, it should have been our home game.
RCT: But, they had the Arrowhead series going with Missouri and so that was the closest that we've come.
Rece: Well, you've gotta keep the faith, maybe it'll happen soon. ::Laughter::
RCT: Well Rece, we really appreciate your time, thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with us today.
Rece: You bet, nice talking to ya.
RCT: Yep, thanks, bye.