WASHINGTON — New York sports radio legend Mike Francesa has had his finger on the fans’ pulse for years.
Which is why it’s no surprise that, as he was breaking down his NCAA Tournament bracket on the air this week, he astutely pointed out that Maryland, who could play Florida State if both teams advance to the Round of 32, has a fine enough understanding of its potential opponent to deliver a crushing dose of “one way or the other.”
Maryland-Florida State — should that game come to pass — represents a matchup “which you’ve already had this year,” Francesa noted, before unloading the boilerplate of all boilerplate bracket analysis on his listeners.
“You have, uh… Let’s see what happened. What happened in those Maryland-Florida State games this year? [10-second pause] Um… Let me see. Let me get to that. [10-second pause] Let’s see. Let me get to that. Uh. Hmm. Mmm… Mmm… Mm… Mm. Mm… Mm… Mmmm… Mm… Mmmm… I’m trying to get to one of those two teams, look up their schedule here quick. I don’t think it was a vintage Maryland year by any stretch, but I could see them… they didn’t play once this year? Oh, Maryland! I’m thinking… I’m forgetting Maryland’s… You know what? I’m forgetting now… I’m forgetting. Okay. You know what? I’m forgetting. You’re right. They wouldn’t play. So, um… umm… so… the bottom line is… umm… Maryland should have been better. They had some injuries. They’re hot and cold. Their best player is hot and cold. So, from that standpoint, you know, I could see them, I could see them winning this game. I could see them losing this game. One way or the other, I don’t think it’s that big a deal, one way or the… I don’t think it’s a shocking game one way or the other. I think big things were, pretty big things were expected from Maryland this year. They really kind of disappointed. Had kind of a hot and cold season. Good coach. Well-coached team. You know, obviously always a lot of expectations there. They expect good things there all the time. They have very high expectations for that program which, you know, you would expect. I think that’s reasonable from a standpoint of, you know, week in and week out what you would expect from that group. But I don’t think they had a great year, for them.”
During a Mike Florio appearance on The Sports Junkies Thursday morning, Francesa’s stellar analysis quickly became the topic of conversation, pushing aside a more general tournament malaise.
“This is the least I’ve ever been interested in it, the least I’ve ever paid any attention to it,” the Pro Football Talk founder said of March Madness. “But I did know that Maryland is no longer in the ACC, unlike Mike Francesa.”
“Did you listen to that clip? Oh my God,” Eric Bickel said. “And I don’t want to disrespect him. The guy is, as I said, the godfather of sports radio, but my God…”
“Oh, I’ll disrespect him,” Florio said. “It’s an embarrassment. He should be off the air. For all of us who actually work at what we do, it’s an embarrassment that he has a microphone. I’ll say it. I don’t care.”
“I mean, it was bad. That was as bad as I’ve ever heard,” Bickel said. “And I think that guy… here’s the thing, though. If you’re still pulling in the ratings — and my understanding is, from listening to some of the guys around here, he’s still killing it — they don’t care. You could do whatever you want on the air, Mike. You know that.”
“But it is embarrassing,” John Auville said. “It’s a bad look.”
“I guess we should all aspire to the point where we can get paid a lot of money to just show up and talk, maybe fall asleep from time to time, and maybe think that there’s no retractable roof, or no permanent roof, at the Cowboys stadium,” Florio remarked. “I mean, it’s ridiculous. It’s like once every three months there’s some comment that he makes that is just completely and totally asinine.”
“Now, here’s the thing, too,” he said. “It’s quite possible that the rest of us are doing the same thing, but we don’t have the same audience, so people don’t notice. So I guess I aspire to have an audience so big that every dumb little mistake I make is magnified, and every really stupid thing that I do is blown out of proportion.
“But I still think that, when I listen to those clips, I don’t get it. It is painful. It is horrible radio. We all want to have good radio. That is horrible radio.”
Fortunate for Florio, he may get his wish at the end of the year.