Any school stuck with the "mid-major" label hates the label, and rightly so. It's the defacto way to refer to any non-BCS school – yes, a football term applies to basketball references – and becomes a catchall term for people in the media and the blogosphere.
Is it nice? Probably not. (Ask Lefty Driesell if he ever coached at a mid-major.) Is it here to stay? Yeah.
(Note: Not everyone agrees on which conferences apply as mid-majors. The Mid-Majority categorizes them like this, which includes the MWC and C-USA. I'll stick with the casual definition for the purposes of this post.)
|Dayton's Charles Little goes up for a shot against West Virginia last March.
But the bigger problem isn't the term mid-major. It's the money those schools don't receive because of the BCS. Gary Parrish wrote a story on the gap between BCS schools and mid-majors last month that spelled out a lot of the problems, but The Blackburn Review (a Dayton hoops blog), did an in-depth Q&A with Parrish that covers the same ground and is more frank – and depressing if you're a mid-major fan – about the situation.
-- The gap for exposure, resources, finances etc is wide now, but in 5-10 years, it'll only get worse. Some schools (Gonzaga, Xavier) will always be able to compete, but most would finish dead last in BCS conferences.
-- Crappy basketball programs have the dough to hire good coaches. VCU's had its last two coaches (Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant) hired by Oklahoma and Alabama, two football schools. The money and the facilities that money pays for stems from the BCS.
For proof, consider that Memphis and Xavier (perhaps the two best non-BCS programs) both lost their coaches this season, and they replaced them with assistants. Memphis -- coming off four Sweet 16s and with a $250 million arena that is sold out every game -- couldn't get Baylor's coach, Tennessee's coach, USC's coach or Florida State's coach to leave the BCS. That should tell you something.
-- Stability at a mid-major is nice (For example, Mark Few's been at Gonzaga since '99), but it doesn't matter when talking about talent. Experience will result in wins, but not NCAA tournament wins.
You show me a senior-laden team, and I'll show you a team that's not very talented, a team that'll get run off the court by John Calipari's freshmen. The Butlers and Sienas and George Masons can have good records, upset some people and maybe -- once every 20 years -- get to a Final Four. But it's rare. And I can't imagine one of them ever winning a national title again. Sadly, that's the truth. I don't like it. But that's the truth.
It's not that any of this is new or different. It's just striking to read the sheer disappointment/hopelessness for the mid-majors in Parrish's voice.
In short, the message is: Enjoy those mid-major conference titles, 'cause a national title ain't happening. Ever.
To Blackburn Review's credit, it disagrees with some of Parrish's points, notably the quality of basketball at most football schools (Georgia and Nebraska, among others, stink), which raises the possibility of fewer BCS schools dominating the hoops landscape.
But even BR acknowledges that sometimes life ain't fair. And when you're talking about mid-majors, that's probably true.
(H/T: A Sea of Blue)