Was Jay Bilas Suddenly Billy Packer II?

The big dogs will still bark. Many of college basketball’s best teams, the ones that will surely crowd into everyone’s Final Four, are still my favorites despite losing in their conference tournaments, some of the early in the week. In fact, they might even be better off than teams that survived the annual pre-postseason gauntlets.

Of course, that view makes me irrelevant and, well, stupid, according to ESPN analyst Jay Bilas. In an article in Sunday’s New York Times, Bilas, who holds the contrary view on the value of winning conference tournaments, dismissed anyone who disagreed with him on this as if they were not worthy of breathing the same air.

“The people who say these things are not important,” he said, “and that losing early is a good thing are idiots.”

Well, there you have it. Agree with me or whither away, scum.

C’mon, Jay. As your ESPN colleague Mark Jackson would certainly say: You’re better than that.

Or you should be.

Right now, it seems Bilas has stepped square into the void left by the departure of Billy Packer, the opinionated, ascerbic and dismissive analyst who resorts to putdowns in debates rather than reasoned arguments.

Saying someone is “not important” or an “idiot” just because they disagree with you, especially over something as subjective as the value of conference tournaments,  smacks of desperation, the type of language used when you don’t have anything smart to say.

And Jay Bilas is a very smart guy.

The reason few mourned Packer’s departure is that he’d worn on us. His constant putdown of mid-majors found less and less support with each “upset” that came to mark March Madness. By the time he was replaced by Greg Anthony, who’s more reasoned and analytical (now there’s a radical approach for an analyst), Packer was about the only college hoops fan in the nation who didn’t appreciate the Little Programs That Could (and Often Did).

Now here comes Bilas on blast. Or Packer, the Remix? Billy Deux?

Bilas can offer asute perspectives, but only if we hear them. When they’re not overwhelmed by bombast and bravado, which can happen when any of us covers the same sport, breathes the same air, season after season.

In the same article, Bilas said: “I’m not sure that aside from North Carolina we have a super great team this year.”

In a season when there was a different No. 1 at every commercial break, was there really any “super great team?”

On Sunday’s post-selection show, Bilas pummelled Dick Vitale as if he was Larry Holmes and Dickie V was an aging Ali. You’d have thought they were debating the AIG bonus plan, not whether Arizona deserved a spot in the Dance.

Bilas said they did; Vitale said they did not.

By the way, the Wildcats didn’t deserve a bid. Of course, my idiot opinion is just not important.

Photos: ESPN/New York Daily News

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One thought on “Was Jay Bilas Suddenly Billy Packer II?

  1. Bob says:

    I take exception to two things here:

    1. The headline. Jay Bilas did not “suddenly” become a Billy Packer clone. He’s been spewing the same power conference nonsense as Packer ever since he stepped in front of a camera.

    2. “And Jay Bilas is a very smart guy.” Please see comment No. 1.

    And you’re correct. Arizona had no business in the NCAA tournament. I could name a half dozen teams that were more deserving, including some from other major conferences.

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