With the Catholic 7 poised to break off from the Big East at any moment, and reports surfacing that the group will both take the conference name with it and add a non-Catholic to the mix, it seems as good a time as to toss in my two cents – or an Our Father and Hail Mary – before the proceedings officially commence.
For starters, and enders, adding a non-Catholic such as Butler makes no sense to me. It defeats the whole purpose of Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and DePaul leaving the Big East and creating a league of their own. Their main cache – and draw for future fans – is sharing one singular symbolic display of athletic oddity: Catholic schools bucking the norm of large, state-funded schools playing big-time college basketball.
OK, so the final four schools mentioned above haven't exactly been top 25 relevant for close to two decades, but the theory holds ... and they've all played against the big-timers throughout that time.
Sound the alarm. Mid-major haters and blinders-wearing BCS-only-matters proponents, beware, the apocalypse is near.
Gonzaga as college basketball’s No. 1 now exists as a very, very real possibility, if not probability – as early as the start of next week.
With Indiana dropping its third game in the absolute meat grinder of a Big Ten schedule, the Bulldogs continuing to cruise through West Coast Conference softies and no one else really stepping up and staying up, the line between haves and have-nots may be blurred beyond recognition.
Oh, the horror …
Ever since Gonzaga crashed the big boys party with an Elite Eight run back in 1999, the higher ups in the Division I image pecking order have been dreading this. Oh sure, they’ll endure the Bulldogs getting a little national pub and maybe even smile when Gonzaga knocks off another ranked opponent, confident all the while that those upstarts from Spokane, Wash., will get what’s coming to them at some point – either in the polls, the NCAA seeding process or the NCAA Tournament itself.
It’s been an enlightening season in college basketball. The blinders appear to have come off a vast majority and respect is being shown to some lesser lights that deserve it, from major schools to smaller ones.
Still, it seems a little extra insight might be in order … or at least a tweaking of respective grading systems such as the RPI and BPI – when it comes to conferences.
Sure, a mid-major circuit seems worthy of top-five acclaim – but the Mountain West, at No. 2, right behind the Big Ten?
No offense, but it doesn’t really compute, not when you compare the MWC to the Atlantic 10. Neither outfit needs to bow down to the big boys anymore. They’ve proven to be worthy opposition for any level. But if you stack up the resumes thus far in 2012-13, how does the A-10 stand behind the MWC at all, never mind five spots?
At this point, you pretty much have to throw your hands in the air with trying to make sense of this college basketball season.
Oh sure, we got Indiana atop the AP poll once again … less than a week after it lost as the No. 1 team on a last-second shot at Big Ten middling Illinois. That kinda stopped the craziness in voting circles, for awhile at least.
But it hasn’t stopped elsewhere in 2012-13.
–Miami leads the ACC by two full games over Duke, plastered the Blue Devils by 27 points recently, and still can’t climb above them in either the writers’ or coaches’ polls.
–The Hurricanes actually lost to Indiana State by two points in overtime back in December.
–The Sycamores, making like they haven’t since the Larry Bird days of three decades ago, also beat MVC rivals Wichita State and Creighton while the two were ranked. Then they lost to 8-18 Missouri State.
With Michael Vick back in the fold, all safe and signed Monday to a one-year contract, Eagles fans can sit back, cross their fingers and hope that new coach Chip Kelly’s next personnel move creates as much hullabaloo as his first.
Perhaps Leon Sandcastle falls to the Birds with the No. 4 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Kidding aside, for all the concern about Vick’s age and mounting aches, he remains a remarkable talent whose skill set intrigues Kelly. Neophyte to pro circles notwithstanding, Kelly is entitled to his opinion and value assessment as it pertains to his team and the quarterback he wants to run it.
That kind of comes with the territory. Whether Eagles fans want it or not, that’s what the organization agreed to with bringing in him and his read-option mindset from the college ranks. Kelly will have his imprint over every aspect of the on-field product from this point on, and with his decision to bring back an injury-prone lightning rod to run the show, he made an unwavering statement.
He is not afraid of controversy, and that he doesn’t sweat what others think of him and what he chooses to do.