Neutral floor needed in WAC Tournament |

Neutral floor needed in WAC Tournament

Darrell Moody
Nevada Appeal Sports Editor

With basketball season around the corner, I’d like to get on my soapbox and implore the Western Athletic Conference executive council to consider a neutral-court conference basketball championship starting with the 2010-11 season.

On the WAC Web site there is a link where you can ask commissioner Karl Benson questions, and one fan did exactly that.

Benson said that the conference will be looking at this issue seriously after Reno finishes its two-year stint as host of the tournament. Benson said that Las Vegas, Salt Lake and Sacramento are being considered. Salt Lake lost out to Reno by a 5-4 vote for the 2009 and 2010 tournaments.

No doubt the decision was driven by money like everything is in this day and age. I’ll be the first to admit that playing at a neutral site wouldn’t give the member schools or conference as much money as it would if the tournament were hosted by a member school, which would have the financial backing of local business groups, or in Reno’s case, the visitor’s and convention bureau.

Coaches are striving for a competitive balance, and certainly a neutral site would accomplish that. I think of the three sites that Benson mentioned, Las Vegas (The Orleans Arena) should be the top pick followed by Salt Lake and Sacramento.

Who doesn’t want to go to Las Vegas? It’s a destination city with plenty to do ” golf, gambling, musicals, comedy shows and sightseeing, Certainly the tournament would be going head-to-head with the Mountain West Conference Tournament at UNLV. The WAC Tournament wouldn’t be a huge draw for locals. It would depend on fans from the member schools showing up.

The West Coast Conference took the leap this past year by playing its three-day event at The Orleans. In previous years, the WCC event was played at campus sites.

According to WAC personnel, the executive council has a problem with playing a tournament at a casino. To me, that’s being very short-sighted on the part of these educators.

Where do all the WAC teams stay when they come to Reno? At hotels with casinos. Why don’t schools put a stop to that if they are that concerned. There are several nice hotels without casinos in Reno.

Should the conference champion host the tournament? That idea has some merit, but often the teams go down to the wire before a winner is determined. It doesn’t leave the host school enough time to get enough hotels rooms for the teams or the fans.

If the WAC does go neutral, I’d love to see a five-year contract signed. Let people get used to going to the same place. Who knows, the event might catch on with local people who have no ties to any of the teams.

– As a voter in the Harris Poll, I half expected to get riled-up football fans calling to complain about how their team gets shafted on a weekly basis.

That didn’t happen until this past week when a passionate Texas fan e-mailed me, bemoaning the fact that his team was ranked sixth by the Harris voters. I have to respect this guy. He didn’t think the once-beaten Longhorns deserved to be ahead of Texas Tech, Alabama or Penn State. He just felt they should be at the top of the list for once-beaten teams.

His gripe has some merit because Texas did beat Oklahoma , yet the Harris poll had the Sooners ahead of the Longhorns. In most cases, head-to-head match-ups should take some priority. He was also unhappy because Florida was ranked ahead of Texas.

One thing I’ve found difficult is how far a team drops after a loss. Doing this poll the past five years has been difficult. It’s not as easy as people think.

– Pitcher C.C. Sabathia is starting to entertain offers, and the Brewers made the first pitch to him. Honestly, I can’t see the Brewers paying that kind of money.

Behind Manny Ramirez, Sabathia is arguably the hottest free-agent prospect on the market.

I would love to see the Giants or A’s take a run at either Ramirez or Sabathia. I think the A’s are a little closer to a postseason run than the Giants, and the addition of either player would be a huge help for Oakland.

– Contact Darrell Moody at or (775) 881-1281