Mark Gottfried's boss usually is Mal Moore. But soon, he will call Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice "boss" as he travels to Kuwait as part of Operation Hardwood-Hoops for the Troops. Gottfried, along with other college coaches such as Kelvin Sampson of Oklahoma, Dave Odom of South Carolina and Tom Izzo of Michigan State will coach eight-man teams of troops in a tournament-style atmosphere.
"It's an opportunity for us to show the military just how important they are," Gottfried told Stewart. "We can boost their morale and just give them a break from the daily grind by playing basketball."
As great of an opportunity as this is for the troops, many times trips like these are even more rewarding for the people making the trip. Personal emotions aside, the University of Alabama basketball program will be showcased as well.
ESPN is sending a crew that will capture the entire experience, giving the program that all-important national exposure.
"It's not why I'm doing this," Gottfried said. "But the program is a beneficiary as is the University as a whole. We're going to get great exposure and that's important."
Gottfried lamented the possibility that JC All-American Ray George may not qualify academically, leaving the Tide still talented, but very thin in the backcourt. The bad news on George was made official on Monday.
"It leaves us really with no natural guard in the program that's played any," Gottfried said.
It also drops the overall number of scholarship players from 11 to 10 and only about half of those have significant playing experience.
"We're going to play hard no matter what, but we're not going to be nearly as deep as we could have been," Gottfried told Stewart.
Finally, Coach Gottfried broke some national news on Sports Radio 1420 The Tusk.
Roughly eight hours before it hit the wires, Gottfried told Tuscaloosa that the NCAA had bought the NIT. Stewart's natural question was whether or not that was a good thing. Gottfried was at best non-committal in his answer.
"It's too early to tell and we'll just have to see how it plays out," Gottfried said. "If I had to guess I'd say that the NCAA will hire people like the ones who put on the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic to make decisions, but as of right now who plays who and where is all in the NCAA's hands."
Giving the NCAA control over anything is never a good thing. This should put to rest any misconceptions that the NCAA is all about the student-athlete and not about money. I believe they will squeeze any profit they can out of it and then shut it down.
Tom Canterbury is the producer of Chris Stewart in the Morning, weekdays from 7-9 a.m. and The Sports Breakdown with Vince Ferrara, weekday afternoons from 3-6 on Sports Radio 1420 The Tusk in Tuscaloosa. Visit www.1420thetusk.com for station information. He can be reached at ThomasCanterbury@clearchannel.com.