Bradley University: The March Madness Villain We Need
I’ve got a confession to make: I’m not a huge basketball guy. I don’t have anything against the sport; it’s just that I didn’t really follow it growing up. Genuinely, you won’t find an opinion from me about “Lebron or MJ?” (I do know that there’s zero chance Lebron’s Space Jam will be better than MJ’s. That’s a fact.)
But even I get pretty fired up for March Madness. There’s something special about the tournament: potential Cinderella teams, the “win or go home” mentality, filling out brackets, etc. We’re really only missing one major thing: A villain.
And no, I don’t mean your rival team. Nobody else considers your rival a villain. I also don’t mean the favorites to win it all. Sure, we all root for the underdogs to upset the high seeds when convenient, but that doesn’t make them the antagonists of March Madness. We need a legitimate “holy crap, what an ass hat” villain.
Enter Brian Wardle and Bradley University.
You might be wondering “what could a 15 seeded team do to warrant such a title?” You might also be wondering what in the hell a Bradley University is. The aforementioned school is a small university that will be making its first tournament appearance in 13 years. Local beat reporter Dave Reynolds, of the Peoria Journal Star, set out to cover Bradley’s success as he has done for the last 29 years. Only this time he found himself shut out by Bradley athletics.
Head Coach Brian Wardle (who is definitely an honorary member of the Most Punchable Face List) informed Reynolds that he was no longer welcome around the Bradley basketball team. His media credentials were revoked due to some perceived slight toward the program. Wardle stated that Reynolds didn’t “promote the Bradley brand.” Want to know why this is so ludicrous? THAT’S LITERALLY THE OPPOSITE OF HIS JOB. Reynolds is solely responsible for covering the program accurately. This would include being critical of a team that started 0-5 in conference play this season.
The incredibly thin-skinned Wardle seemed to be against Reynolds from the beginning. After his first season, Wardle told Reynolds “we’re going to be good someday, and I’ll remember who my friends are.” Honestly, I don’t understand this one. There is absolutely no chance that this dude has friends. I guess zero is an easy number to remember.
After Wardle made an enormous ass of himself, the University was met with a firestorm of criticism from every major sports writer in the country as well as alumni from the university. Bradley was forced to backpedal, and I mean HARD. The PR department worked overtime putting out quotes about freedom of the press and other half-hearted bullshit. Reynolds had all of his credentials reinstated, along with a promise to full access to the team. Wardle, meanwhile, has the daunting task of coaching his team in the tournament while also being a giant man-baby throwing a temper tantrum.
I really feel bad for the players of Bradley. They didn’t do anything wrong. They just happen to have a coach that’s an overly sensitive child. For that, most people won’t be rooting for them. They’ll hope to see them sent packing in round one against Michigan State. And then someone will have to change Wardle’s diaper on the bus ride home.
And I look forward to reading David Reynolds’ coverage of it.
Poppa Bear is the Lead SEC Analyst for the SoBros Network, and serves as our resident expert on the human anatomy, fixin’ stuff, and tomatoes. Follow on Twitter:@SoBroPoppaBear