Buffett And Bracket Bragging Rights

Chances are extraordinarily good that, as you read this, Warren Buffett’s billion-dollar offer to anyone who has all 67 games correct in the NCAA tournament is already safe. After all, you’d have had to pick 52 games perfectly by now, and perfection in any human endeavor is hard to come by. That doesn’t stop millions of us from filling out brackets and participating in contests and pools at work or with friends.

I fill out one bracket and use it to compete only for bragging rights – with one exception. I play against the same friend every year with dinner on the line. She doesn’t know as much about college basketball as I do, but she used to beat me fairly often.

She is, in gamblers’ parlance, a chalk bettor, which is to say she picks the favorites.

My weakness is a love of upsets. In the past, I couldn’t resist that 14 vs. 3 shocker. For the most part, I’ve stopped that and now try to exploit her weakness, which is the Big Ten and, more particularly, Ohio State. The problem with picking upsets is, while they make the tournament a lot of fun, statistically they rarely happen. And yet there almost definitely will be a couple, if you define an upset as a 12 seed or lower beating a 5 seed or higher. And Buffett is nobody’s fool. He well knows that a person is much more likely to win a huge lottery than construct the perfect bracket. So Buffett will sleep easily these two weeks, while I will be thrilled to win dinner.

* The outrage on the part of some local politicians that UH-Manoa chancellor Tom Apple and athletics director Ben Jay put out an RFQ (request for quotation) on a 30,000-seat football stadium struck me as a little over the top. The RFQ was paid for with private funds.

Isn’t part of the reason these men were hired was to find long-term solutions to some of the financial issues facing the university (in Apple’s case) and athletics (Jay’s area)? I applaud the efforts to find a way forward for the athletic department that is sustainable. I do understand that some are only opposed because of the moratorium on new construction until the maintenance backlog is caught up. Those folks say that project could be 10 years down the road, making any quote obtained now irrelevant. While they have a point, I would like the chancellor and athletics director to continue to think out of the box to attempt to make both the university at large and the athletic department in particular able to pay their bills.

It seems like recent problems, such as the issues at the cancer center and the Wonder Blunder, have made UH an easy target and have invited a dangerous level of interference from outside the university.

It seems like UH might be better served if, after hiring good people, it gives them the chance to be successful without requiring explanation and rationale for every decision they make.