With all due respect to the fine folks at ESPN who have set up some pretty cool Q&A opportunities with Jay Bilas and Fran Fraschilla over the past few weeks (two of the most knowledgeable guys in the business, by the way), I've got to call out one of their own.
I don't know what Gottlieb's deal is - hard to tell. There was, of course, his legendary refusal to rank Pitt first (Insider article) when they vaulted to the top of the rankings in the 2008-09 season, even though the numbers were in Pitt's favor.
Then there was the time he didn't list DeJuan Blair in his top 30 players after Blair declared for the NBA Draft (also Insider article).
The somewhat ironic part is that you could even say that Gottlieb got things partially right. North Carolina, who he pegged as the best team, did go on to win the title. But the only problem with his assessment was that he voted based on what he thought about each team - not how they actually had performed lately. Using that assessment, it would be perfectly fine to rank a team with a losing record as the No. 1 overall team simply because you think they are the best team. I don't want to go into too many details, but Pitt, at the time, was undefeated and had the #1 RPI in the country. UNC had just been defeated and had an RPI of 12th. Not a clear cut case of bias, but the beginning of a long line of disrespect.
And Blair was not taken in the first 30 picks so others believed as Gottlieb did. But we all know how that turned out - Blair has the makings of a good pro, and many teams that passed on him made huge mistakes.
But I digress.
Now, I'm not here to tell you that Gottlieb hates Pitt. I don't think that's true and I can't think of a good reason why he would. Plus, there are times when he's publicly given props to Pitt. Gottlieb's issue, I think, anyway, is with the Big East. So even in years such as this one when the Big East is the country's best conference, Gottlieb still has a hard time acknowledging that fact.
On ESPN's page today was more proof of that.
Gottlieb put together a harmless little segment where he separated the contenders for the NCAA Championship from the pretenders.
His usual biases came out once again and it was the same old story. Pitt, predictably, fell in the pretenders category. Perhaps even funnier was the fact that Notre Dame was also in that category, while Texas, a desperately-fading team was deemed a contender.
Yes, that Texas. The same Texas now with six losses including three in their past four games to pedestrian Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas State teams.
In the video, Gottlieb, hilariously even announces something to the effect that he's still drinking orange Kool-Aid.
Look, I get the whole 'Pitt hasn't gotten to a Final Four' thing and eventually, they'll need to do that. But you don't even think they're a contender for the national championship. They have four losses and are leading the toughest conference in the country. I don't know of anyone who would say Pitt can't contend for a championship, and several analysts have even said Pitt is the best team - overall.
Ramblings of a mad man.