By Matt Norlander
About 90 words into Taylor Branch's 14,700-word behemoth of a takedown on the NCAA, "The Shame of College Sports," I knew I had to have him on the podcast. Getting him, though, I thought would be a high-wire act because "The Atlantic" was booking him on CNN, as well as other national television and radio programs.
The little old CBS Sports College Basketball Podcast? Well, getting a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer on turned out to be no sweat, and Branch was a delight. Serious credibility boost for the podcast, too! Branch has written about subjects with much more consequence than the world of sports (his Pulitzer came after he wrote on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.), so his perspective was, I felt, a fresh one. Frank Deford already called this, arguably, "the most important article ever written about college sports."
I wanted to get into why and how Branch wrote the story as much as the story itself and his new-founded opinions of the NCAA. So we cover about as much as I could squeeze into 35 minutes: his interview process; what the NCAA told him and why it's quoted so sparsely in the story; how unstable the institution really is; why the former North Carolina athletic director believes his school would fold all sports if college players got paid; how soon we could see major schools break away from the NCAA; and so much more.
If I could have, I would have made this podcast twice as long, because the topic deserves it. Point remains: it was my pleasure to have such an accomplished writer hop on. I think I need to chase these kinds of guys a bit more; who needs Goodman and Parrish on a regular basis, right?
And again, here's the link for iTunes subscription. The podcast goes up a few minutes after it's live here on the blog, so be sure to subscribe. Or, if you're just hanging out, click the player below and enjoy.