BROOKLYN — The final of the Legends Classic was already scheduled to be a late tip on Tuesday night.
If all had gone according to plan, the game was supposed to begin at 10:00 p.m. ET and to be aired on ESPN2.
All did not go according to plan, however, as the football game between Ohio and Miami (OH) — two relatively irrelevant MAC programs — was running late. The start of No. 19 Michigan’s game with No. 12 Villanova was getting pushed back 15 minutes, and while that peeved some sportswriters working with tight deadlines and striving to get home before 2 a.m., it incensed Michigan head coach John Beilein.
“Was anybody else bothered today by us moving back 10 minutes to accommodate ESPN?” he asked, and it’s important to note that this wasn’t a question directed to him. He said this after the final question of his press conference had been asked, after the reporters covering the 60-55 Michigan loss had started planning what they were going to ask Villanova head coach Jay Wright.
His rant was completely and totally unsolicited.
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“I mean, I love ESPN, guys, I love it,” Beilein said, “but when they told me that the game was being moved back 15 minutes, something is wrong. We have a whole bunch of guys with 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. classes tomorrow morning and we move that game to 10:15 so that a football game could be finished.”
“Let us start our game but this is way out of whack when we move a game 15 minutes,” he said. “It’s already at the wrong time — 10 p.m. on the East Coast — and now move it more 15 minutes. I love ESPN — they’re so good for us — but they got that one wrong. We can’t do that to our student-athletes.Tell Spike Albrecht when he goes to his 9:00 class today that it was more important that we started that (at 10:15) than at 10:00. This is wrong and we’re going to fix it.”
Beilein has a point.
By the time Michigan was done discussing the game with the media, it was after 12:30 a.m. ET. It’s silly to have a college basketball game that tips in the eastern time zone run that late, especially when we’re calling these kids student-athletes and compensating them solely with an education.
But it’s important to note here: the Legends Classic is playing on the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week every year. Beilein knew that if he was going to be playing in the finals of this event, he would be playing in a game that tips off no earlier than 9:30 p.m. on a school night. How much of a difference would those 45 minutes actually make?
Michigan didn’t even get it as bad as some other programs across the country. I wrote a story last week on Wofford, who had two cross country trips, a midnight ET tip and a 7:00 a.m. ET tip all in the first five days of their season.
UPDATE: Beilein tweeted out the following when they landed back in Michigan: