Some final thoughts on Cinderella’s latest dance

… There is no room for Cinderella in the tyrannical realm of the BCS big boys. In fact, if they had been around when the famous fairy tale was written, one of the big-footed wicked stepsisters would have won the heart of the Prince while Cinderella, dressed in rags, would have been hired to sweep up the royal luxury suite and VIP hospitality tent after the ball was over.

Butler, even though it came up two points and a few seconds short of winning a national championship, represents the beauty of what sports is supposed to be about. Correction: Butler represents the beauty of what America is supposed to be about. … Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, your Horizon League champs.

Mike Bianchi, April 6, 2010

In the end, for me at least, that’s really what this week’s college football postseason debate is about.  How much do we want to dilute the quality pool of playoff participants to indulge the popular sentiment for underdogs?

And there’s a helluva lot of that sentiment out there.  The TV ratings for this year’s tournament as a whole were the fourth lowest ever, but the final game itself enjoyed a robust number of television viewers.  I don’t think there’s any doubt that big, bad Duke versus Cindy Butler resonated with the public in a significant way.

To which I say:  big effing deal, man.

Look at Matt’s numbers.  This year’s BCS title game, warts and all, still wound up being more attractive from a viewing standpoint than Butler-Duke.  College basketball viewership is all about the walk-up fan; there’s not much of a regular season following these days.  Again, criticize college football all you want, but that’s not a shortcoming it shares.

And I think what it boils to for me is that I resent the suggestion that I should share the sport I’m so passionate about with the kind of people who are going to tune into a game like Butler-Duke simply because of the atmospherics – people who before the game couldn’t have named three of the starting players on the floor that night if their lives depended on it – because there’s something more “American” about that.  Something more “American Idol” is more like it.

This desire to inject a place in the postseason for the decided underdog comes across like fake juice to my admittedly jaded taste buds.  That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for a playoff for D-1 football.  (There is, Auburn fans.)  But it’s not this:

… Playoff opponents will no doubt point out that college football is already in another ballpark when it comes to regular season ratings, and for the university presidents and conference commissioners who call all of these shots, maintaining the existing pipelines — billion-dollar network contracts, or the network itself — still trumps adding any new revenue stream that might possibly (emphasis on these qualifiers) come at the current cash flow’s expense. This is why they say ludicrous things like “every game is a playoff,” a tacit admission in itself that fans obviously want to watch playoffs. If/when we finally get them, the numbers for the college football version of Butler-Duke (Boise State-Notre Dame?) at the end of a month-long slugfest will put all the ’06 Rose Bowl and every other offering from the current, awkward transition period to shame, and the power brokers will be too busy counting the proceeds to wonder why they ever changed it.

Matt’s trying to have it both ways here a little bit.  I don’t think the “every game is a playoff” gambit is about conceding the popular desire for a playoff as much as it is an awareness of the fan enthusiasm that the regular season enjoys and the reluctance on the part of the big boys to embark on a path that might screw that up.  So to accept on its face that a playoff would generate obscene amounts of new revenue while at the same time refusing to concede any more than that it “might” affect the regular season cash cow does little more than beg the question.

Back to Bianchi for a second.  The truly ironic part of his piece is this observation:

… Butler is no fluke, no one-hit wonder. The Bulldogs have been to 10 NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the Sweet 16 three times in the last eight years. By gaining access to the tournament and reaping the revenue and exposure that comes with it, Butler has systematically built itself into a basketball power.

In other words, Butler really wasn’t a Cinderella this year.  It was just sold as one – makes for good TV, right?

… It’s a circle of synergy; an evolutionary cycle of success: As Butler’s success level has increased so, too, has the revenue generated. And the more money you make, the more money you can invest. And the more money you can invest, the more success you can have. This is how Butler was built. This is how America was built.

… But the Bulldogs are living, breathing, hustling, hardworking proof that if you offer an incentive and a fair chance to attain that incentive, there is always some diligent, dedicated overachiever who will strive to become the best of the best.

How is that any different that what Bobby Bowden did at Florida State thirty years ago?  Or what coaches like Gary Patterson or Chris Petersen are doing today?

Here’s your final word, from a guy who thinks he knows what’s best.

“That’s why I think our tournament has captured America, because everybody can get in it,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski says. “Football is a completely different animal. They don’t have a system that would allow a smaller school to get into the spotlight with the BCS…”  [Emphasis added.]

Therein lies the rub.  (By the way, it sounds like Coach K forgot about private, small-enrollment Wake Forest University’s recent trip to the Orange Bowl.)  It sure ain’t a future I relish for college football.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs

43 responses to “Some final thoughts on Cinderella’s latest dance

  1. SCDawg

    “Something more “American Idol” is more like it.”

    Precisely. Why do you think there are 4 Law and Order shows, 43 CSI’s, and one billion reality shows with elimination ceremonies? Plus, is every movie going to be in 3D now, regardless of whether it was actually filmed in 3D, b/c Avatar made money and they can charge you 3x as much?

    The people who make decisions about such things are experts at killing the golden goose.


  2. Gob

    “I resent the suggestion that I should share the sport I’m so passionate about with the kind of people who are going to tune into a game like Butler-Duke simply because of the atmospherics – people who before the game couldn’t have named three of the starting players on the floor that night if their lives depended on it – because there’s something more ‘American’ about that. Something more ‘American Idol’ is more like it.”



  3. Dboy

    8 team playoff is the answer. Preserves the sanctity of the regular season by forcing most teams to have one or fewer losses to get in, doesn’t add more missed classtime except for a very select number of teams that go deep in tournament, will allow “Cinderella” types like Boise state / TCUs of the world a chance to prove their merit on the field. Why (except money, power, and inertia) hasn’t this happened yet? Even bowl system can be preserves with playoff games at the traditional bowl sites with a rotating site for the “real” NC game.


  4. Prov

    Here’s one thing I don’t understand: How many bona-fide “Cinderellas” have won the Nat. Title in basketball? The post season, in any sport, is about naming a champion. Why change the system in order to give more access to teams that history shows will not become the champion?


    • NM

      Yes. Yes yes yes. The answer is very few. The last champion from a non-Big Six conference? UNLV, 1990. America!

      Haven’t counted Final Four/Elite Eight participants, but I’d bet the new five-game BCS has allowed at least as many minor conference teams in over its lifetime as the Elite Eight over the same period of time — and the BCS provides far more exposure; a better comparison is the Final Four, but it has less than half as many teams so people might argue with the comparison.

      Apparently it’s better for the sport when the consensus #1 regular season team, Kansas, to lose to a team that the committee ranked between 33 and 36 in the nation (9 seed), and that did nothing afterward. And that’s why nobody cares about college basketball until brackets come out.


  5. Kevin

    “How is that any different that what Bobby Bowden did at Florida State thirty years ago? Or what coaches like Gary Patterson or Chris Petersen are doing today?”

    What’s wrong with making these conferences earn it like the classical powerhouse schools have. (Powerhouses because they’ve produced for decades, mind you). I get it that Boise St. has had a great run in the past few years and truthfully, if they go undefeated this year, they’ll probably be in the MNC game. So where’s the problem here? They’ve built themselves up in the public/media eye enough to afford themselves this chance.

    They did it pretty fast, too. In an age of instant gratification, everyone wants to see the TCUs and BYUs go to the MNC after a 14-0 season.

    I say make them earn it.

    Personally, I don’t believe Boise St. has. I don’t think they’ve played (and won) enough big games. But most other people do, so what the hell.. if they run it again and seem to be a viable option* for the MNC, let em take a crack at it.

    There’s no need for a playoff. Teams can earn a shot by years of production and I believe B.State is that case.

    Let it be said that if Boise State runs the table and goes to the MNC this year, that will be a huge help for anti-playoff proponents who can claim, ‘see, it’s possible, you just gotta earn it’

    THAT’s the American Way. Bootstraps


    • Phocion

      What, exactly, has Wake done over the years the football field to have earned them the that Orange Bowl bid? Should Vandy go undefeated this year what football history can they point to as defense of their BCS bid? Cincinnati was a middle of the pack Conference USA team before they joined the BigEast in 2005. Had Texas missed that field goal they would have played in the MNCG…did they earn that with a rich football history over the last 10 years?

      They are legitimate SOLEY because they were included in a conference years ago. Neither of those teams have a football pedigree over the last decade that can compare to BSU…so why should BSU be treated differently even though they bring a lot more to the table.

      (Hey, you guys love to bang on Notre Dame…what have they done over the past decade that would earn them the BCS bid they are guaranteed if they go undefeated?)


      • Kevin

        I think your argument proves a good point.

        The likes of Vandy would be considered because they play in the SEC, where multiple teams have proved themselves for decades and where Vandy has to play them week in and week out, each year.(remember what conf the last 4 MNCs went to)

        While BSU may be making runs the past 7 years they are only required to play one meaningful game a year… if that… and they don’t always win it.

        in 02 their sole loss was to Arkansas
        in 03 their sole loss – Pac10 Oregon st.
        04 – undefeated only to lose to Louisville
        05 – Lotttta hype after going 36-3.. told someone that they weren’t ready for an opening day WAC offensive explosion… UGA routs them.
        06 – Finally get over the hump, beat somebody in probably the most exciting game ever – OU
        07 – not so good
        08 – beat a good Oregon team
        09 – ran it, beat TCU

        so take a look back at the actual pelts they have. Going undefeated in the SEC/Big XII one season would put 10 years of work to shame

        What’s wrong with making them earn it? Schedule a few more big games. If they can’t do that, then I’d like to see a few more years of 14-0 since they really only need to go 1-0


  6. D.N. Nation

    Ugh. Stop it, stop it, STOP IT, national media, with your bungled representation of Butler.

    The Bulldogs were a preseason top-15 pick. (And only a couple spots down from national champion and apparent Juggernaut To End All Juggernauts Because We MUST Have This Narrative Duke) They didn’t lose all calendar year until the championship game. Look at the freakin Vegas lines- the Bulldogs were *favored* in the national semifinal over Michigan State. In the championship game, Butler had the best guy on the court (Hayward), not Duke.

    Cinderella this was not. Not even close. An unlikely Final Four participant, perhaps, but no miracle.
    The Butler players themselves have said they’re sick of the “Hoosiers II” stuff. Why not accept this?


    • Because that narrative doesn’t sell as well.


      • rbubp

        Yeah, and you both know that Butler is no powerhouse no matter who plays for them. What conference did they play in again, guys? What was their BB budget again, guys? What is their academic profile like, guys? How many wins did their football team have again, guys?

        A whole lotta reachin’ goin on. (Nothing new around these parts, though.)


        • We’re supposed to judge the strength of Butler’s basketball program on how strong their football team was?

          Jeez, by that standard, Duke was a Cinderella.


          • rbubp

            I think the fact that they they are Division II or something says oodles about their AD budget, Senator.

            Folks around this blog are astoundingly good at putting their heads waaaaaaayyyy down in the sand when it’s the right moment. But like many other things painfully obvious to the majority of the universe, that too will be spun.


            • Man, I’m not putting my head in the sand here. Some people honestly believe that introducing a Cinderella factor into the college football postseason would be an improvement. More power to those folks, I just happen to disagree.

              But, since we’re talking about heads in sand here, why don’t you tell me how likely it is that a mid-major school with obvious disadvantages in depth would win a multi-round football playoff.

              It’s not gonna happen. Which is why the best thing that D-1 could do would be to lop off at least a third of its current membership before coming up with a new postseason structure.

              I’m not holding my breath for that either.


              • rbubp

                See right there–THERE– that’s what I’m talking about. The thread was about whether Butler is a”cinderella” or if that is CBS/media-made hokum. Well, dammit, Butler is a true Cinderella by almost any measure you can come up with. For once CBS didn’t have to make that crap up.

                But the topic somehow changed to football and tournaments with that last post in the thread there. Huh. That’s what I mean by “spun.” Everything around here gets spun into the same damn argument. Doesn’t matter what is obvious or true, it’s all fodder for that one issue. Why don’t I tell you how a mid-major…Wha??? What in my posts on this thread have anything to do with that?

                People defined by the AMA as practicing deviant behavior are constantly on the hunt for other exemplars of the behavior, I once learned in a gen ed course way back when. It’s the search for self-legitimation. Here we have a constant search for “perspective legitimation,” I’ll call it.

                It’s a lot of noise in the system of an otherwise pretty amazing blog, IMO. I’m sure some people love the never-ending legitimation effort, but I’m having a hard time checking back.


                • Deviant behavior, eh? Methinks you’re trying a bit too hard.

                  Look, we have different definitions of what defines a Cinderella. You think the metric is about resources and that’s fine for you. I have a hard time labeling a team ranked in the top twenty all season, a team that landed in the top third of the tournament (and a team that at least one commenter in this thread argued was underseeded) as a Cinderella. Is Butler a mid-major? Sure. Does it lack the name recognition of a Kentucky or a Duke? Obviously. But I find the logical extension of your position a bit silly. Butler faced off against Michigan State in the semis. Both entered the tournament as five seeds and both made it to the same stage. Yet by your standards, Butler gets the label and Michigan State doesn’t.

                  Even better, tell me how your judgment system applies in the Big East, where half the schools are small and don’t field D-1 football teams. When Pitt and Villanova enter the tourney with equivalent seeds, is the latter a Cinderella, while the Panthers aren’t? (For that matter, was the ’85 title game presented as a battle of two Cinderellas?)


                  • rbubp

                    You folks have defined those who don’t deserve by their conference status. Well, we all have, ok, fine. What is a cinderella? It has little to do with one’s ranking all year. It has little to do with one’s seed.

                    It has a lot to do with recent history and a lot to do with resources and EVEN MORE to do with who your competition is. Villanova plays in one of basketball’s elite conferences, as do Duke and Michigan State. Sorry, those teams are pretty much disqualified UNLESS they are mediocre all year, barely get in and then are playing an overwhelming favorite.

                    But that will never be the opinion around here, because the entire project has been blurred by the need to see all teams as equals except when it is convenient…putting some teams in their place (Boise), elevating others (Butler), all so it can fit the worldview that UGA/the SEC are only sports royalty when it suits the argument (Yes, when it’s the BCS and everyone else can screw themselves, and this system we have rewards us more than others and that’s how we like it; No, when it’s a matter of facing public perceptions of hogging ESPN and other resources/denying the NCAA any administrative rights over the BCS/seeing a little school actually compete and almost win a title against a BB royalty power conference favorite.

                    We wouldn’t want to admit that the BB tournament spawned an actually interesting scenario that actually happen in football. THAT is the real problem here, not CBS.


                    • We wouldn’t want to admit that the BB tournament spawned an actually interesting scenario that actually happen in football.

                      Hunh? I’ve already admitted that’s the case for many folks.

                      Look, if you like Cinderellas, if you think they add something special to a postseason, then you love March Madness. I don’t happen to think it would translate well into a football playoff, but, obviously, your mileage may vary.


  7. Phocion

    “In the end, for me at least, that’s really what this week’s college football postseason debate is about. How much do we want to dilute the quality pool of playoff participants to indulge the popular sentiment for underdogs?”

    When using the baskeball comparisson one must remember that the NBA and courts have made much of this underdog stuff possible. with kids jumping from HS straight to the Association…or the One&Dones the opportunity to compete in any given year is much more widely disperesed in a sport that can be controlled by as few as one star athlete on the field.

    Look at Calipari. The man recruits One&Dones and problem kids like nobody’s business. He single handedly made Memphis a player and favourite to win it all. He’s gone, the kids are gone…and now Memphis is gone. He just stepped in and made Kentucky a favourite to win it all this year. Now virtually the entire team declared for the draft early. That will leave a void that someone else with a stud recruit or two can fill…unless Calipari fills it himself with his next recruiting class.

    In basketball, MVP’s and #1 draft picks can make their teams contenders all by themselves. Heisman Trophy winners and #1 NFL draft picks can’t do that in football.


    • Totally agree with you that there is far more parity in college basketball than there is in football… which is all the more reason that citing Butler as justification for a football playoff is inappropriate.


      • Phocion

        Maybe a football playoff that is that far reaching, but taking just 8-16 teams won’t do that. Get out your last rankings before the Bowl Games and see how many “Butler”s you can find in the Top 16. You’ll find BSU there year after year…Utah and TCU will be there a couple of times. Your anomolies will be Cincinnati and Hawaii…and one of them is an AQ team…and both were dispatched handlily by non-conference champ teams in their bowl games.


        • Kevin

          Although I know you posted on false info, I think this in an interesting take.

          Note that Hawaii and Cincy were not given a shot, neither were Utah or TCU. Now are you saying that this was right? because they aren’t in the top 8 for multiple years? I would agree.

          Boise St. is producing, and they are well on their way (some say this year) to see a MNC birth. They’ve been crushed by a few non-conf big boys in that time frame, and they’ve won a couple big games.

          So winning at a mediocre level, nay, dominating at a mediocre level and going 50/50 on the elite level for 10 years = change for MNC?

          Maybe, maybe not. I’d like to see them dominate a few more years on non-conf but hey, the rest of the world seems to be ready to give them a chance.


          • Phocion

            Ah…so you’re on for a station or two more…

            Hawaii is the true anomoly and were treated as such, meaning they were never really considered for the title game.

            Cincy, on the other hand, only need a field go to move an inch or two to the left and they were in. That a last second desparation field goal was good was the only reason they weren’t in Pasadena. My argument is that Boise State, given their body of work, should have been in that position and Cincinnati should have been treated like Hawaii…or BSU the first time they went to the Fiesta Bowl.


  8. Phocion

    Yikes…misread “Inappropriate” for “Appropriate” in the Senator’s remarks. Please consider my previous post as just the ramblings of some crazy homeless guy talking to himself on the subway. (Feel free to exit at the next station whether it is yours or not in the interest of your physical/mental/olfactory well being without any shame as you see fit.)


  9. JK

    First off, It would be a shame to allow a “mid major” into the BCS national championship game under the current structure. While it may silence the playoff proponents a little, it would also confirm to the rest of college football that you really only need to beat two B to B+ level teams per year (for example VaTech and Oregon State) and then a whole bunch of nobodies and you get to go to play for the championship.

    Is it fair to Boise, TCU, Utah, or some other flavor of the year for them to have no chance? No, but so what? They know as well as we do that they play a candy-ass schedule with C+ to B level talent… on a good year… and that while if they execute well they can catch a decent team on a bad day, they would not stand a chance if they had to play a full SEC, Big 12, or any other Big 6 conference schedule. Whats more unfair; leaving out Cinderella, or leaving out a more worthy competitor so Cinderella can dance?

    Furthermore, if you must have a playoff, there are plenty of viable playoff structures that make some sense, but I say “+1” is best. Each year rotate which 2 of the four BCS games are the semifinals. Put 1 v. 4 and 2 v. 3 and then play the championship the next week between the winners. That way, while there are only 8 BCS berths instead of ten, that leaves 2 at large bids so a non-big 6 can get into one of those top 4 spots if they’re REALLY worthy. I still don’t think just being undefeated is enough to warrant being top 4 in this system; they should have to look REALLY good; like they might actually be favored in Vegas against at least all but 3 other teams in the country. This way, they can get their chance, but they don’t go straight to the championship for having beaten, say, Va Tech, Oregon State and a bunch of nobodies (and lets face it, thats what those other teams are, nobodies). How hard could that plan possibly be to implement?

    This way the regular season suffers minimal dilution, which, frankly, should be the most important factor to consider. No other sport in the country has such an exciting and weekly relevant regular season as NCAA football. In an 8 team playoff, the SEC championship game could conceivably become somewhat irrelevant in a scenario where, like this past year, the loser is still going to get a BCS berth (i.e. a spot in the tournament). You can say, “all the coaches and players will be just as committed to doing whatever it takes to win the SEC even if they still get a shot at the title if they lose” all you want, but the fact is, the “we get a chance one way or another” thought will be in the back of the minds of the players, coaches, and fans. If you think NCAA football coaches are above protecting their best players in a game that doesn’t matter, well I disagree with you. Sure, most players play for pride every game, but if you think the self centered players out there who are only using college as a means of getting to the pros are going to be giving 100% in a game that doesn’t matter, I disagree with you there, too. With the plus 1 system, you can still lose your conference championship game and get to a BCS game, but you’re not getting into one of the two semifinals…. the conference championship remains important every year, and not just in terms of pride.

    Frankly, I don’t care one bit about a “mid-major” being left out of the championship. I care about an undefeated Auburn or a 2002 UGA (or maybe 07 UGA) being left out; great teams that have kicked ass against tough competition all year, but just didn’t have the dominoes fall their way at the end of the season.

    Ask yourself, at the end of how many football seasons have you thought that there were more than 3 or 4 teams who really deserved to play for the championship; who were truly dominant?



    • Kevin

      disagree with the lumping in of Boise St. to ‘flavors of the month’

      They are the only mid-major who can claim to have 10 years of a resume.. they are getting close to really deserving a shot.. 10 years of winning 1 big game, add another 2 years and you’ve got almost a full seasons worth. That coupled with the fact they don’t lose the ones they shouldn’t.. i think they get a chance soon enough


      • Phocion

        You beat me to the objection!

        But I think the time is now…

        If I were a voter and my choice came down to undefeated BSU or undefeated non-SEC AQ champ, unless the AQ team is spectacular in their victories, I give BSU the invite.


        • Kevin

          I think that’s the group sentiment based on everything I’ve read this off season. I think it was Hinton or Swindle that said BSU will now have a chance because we say they will. I agree that all the meme surrounding them as deserving will go a long way to convince some voters that maybe they should


  10. JK

    Granted, Boise St. has been a more consistent winner than the rest of the top level mid-majors, but they play the same weak schedules. There’s a big difference between beating the teams you’re supposed to beat when you’re in the WAC as opposed to even the Big east or ACC. They might as well play two big games and a bowl game with a bunch of bye weeks in between. Exageration? maybe. But when compared to any Big 6 conference, the “teams you’re supposed to beat” don’t even compare. I agree they could conceivably deserve a chance at some point, but it would be ridiculous in this current system, and frankly, while they’re usually better than most other mid-majors, they’re not even close to being in the same class as the top of the Big 6 schools, regardless of their AP rankings.

    I’ll hand it to you that Boise is consistently good, but does making it through their schedule unscathed make them automatically worthy of playing for the championship? I think not.

    I agree that its unfair to Boise St. and the rest of the mid-majors. But what gets me is the conception that when Boise State or TCU or Utah or whoever is left out of the championship, that the public isn’t getting to see the two best teams play. That is not the case, at all.


    • Kevin

      Which leads me back to my original point. I agree that they need to accomplish more to get that chance, while Phocion (and many others) think they’ve done enough.

      I feel they haven’t yet earned it and it seems like you would agree based on your statements.

      To you, JK, what would you need BSU to do?


  11. cantonfroggy

    1. As far as Butler vs. Duke goes … Hayward may have been the best player but Duke had 3 McDonald’s All-American’s on the court. They really should have mopped the floor with Butler. But Butler system nearly leveled the talent advantage that Duke had.

    2. Butler was considered a Cinderella because if this was football they never would have been considered for a NC game since they do not play in one of the BCS conferences.

    3. Since UNLV last won the Men’s Tourney in 1990, there have been 24 teams (15.6%) from non-Big 6 conferences who have made the Elite 8. 7 teams (8.75%) from non-Big 6 conferences have made the Final 4 and 3 teams (7.5%) have made the championship game.

    4. One could make the slight argument that “Cinderella” actually was more prominent from 1991 – 2000. In that decade, 14 teams (17.5%) from non-Big 6 conferences made the Elite 8. 4 teams (10%) made the Final Four and 1 team (5%) made the National Championship game.

    5. In the last decade (2001 – 2010), 11 teams (13.75%) made the Elite 8. 3 teams (7.5%) made the Final Four and 2 teams (10%) made the Championship game.

    6. History does not bode well for Butler as most of these Cinderella runs have been one-offs like Utah, Kent State, Rhode Island, Davidson, George Mason, St. Joseph’s, Tulsa.

    7. UNLV has not made an Elite 8 since 1991 when they lost in the Final 4 to Duke.

    8. Even Gonzaga has made just one Elite 8 in the last 20 years and that was way back in 1999.

    9. Only Temple, Xavier, Memphis, UMass and Cincinnati have made multiple Elite 8’s in the last 20 years.

    9. Temple has made 4 trips to the Elite 8 which is the most of any non-Big 6 conference team. But they never made the Final Four and their last trip to the Elite 8 was 2001.

    10. Xavier has made two trips to the Elite 8 since 2004.

    11. Cincinnati made three trips to the Elite 8 (’92, ’93, ’97) and one to the Final Four (’92) before they joined the Big East.

    12. Memphis has made three trips to the Elite 8 (
    ’92, ’07, ’08), one to the Final 4 and 1 Championship Game (’08) in the last 20 years.

    13. Which brings us to Coach Cal who took Memphis to their last two Elite 8’s plus the Final 4 and the Championship game. He also took UMass to 2 Elite 8’s (’95 &’96) and Final Four in ’96. But those trips eventually were vacated due to “irregularities”.

    What does this all mean? I would guess that even in a sport like basketball where the resources are more equitably divided amongst the 300+ members of Division 1, the Big 6 Conferences dominate the championships and those closest to the championship.

    Football has less teams in D-1 but the distribution of resources is probably greater than in basketball. Even if the smaller schools are admitted to a playoff, I would guess that their chances of breaking through to the Semis and/or the Championship game would be less than 10%. Given that no one outside the Big 6 has won a title in basketball in 20 years, I would guess that a Boise or a Utah or a TCU would have a less than 5% chance of winning a NC in football.


    • Phocion

      Nice work, cantonfroggy!

      only point to make…

      7b) UNLV was shortly thereafter dealt with by the NCAA. That and Tark’s departure can probably be better credited as cause for the demise of the Running Rebel program than simply the clock striking 12 on their turn as mid-major Cinderellas.


      • cantonfroggy

        Thanks Phocion. You are on point with the NCAA sanctions. They forced Tarkanian’s departure from UNLV that has hindered a non-Big 6 school from winning another title. He was at UNLV for 18 years and took them to 4 Final Fours. Plus they were banned from the 1992 tourney with a 26-2 record. They were so renegade that he must of have been stealing players from the Big 6 schools.

        If you look at those teams post-UNLV that have made the really deep runs the tourney – you could break them down into a couple of categories.

        1. The Lifers – Coaches who have been at their school forever and get that one team who makes a run for them. Bob McKillop, Jim Larrananga and Phil Martelli. But they were not able to parlay that run into a Big 6 job or long-term run of success at their school.

        2. The Near Legend- John Chaney and Bob Huggins. I say near because they had good long runs at those schools with multiple deep tourney runs. However, the last parts of their tenures were up and down. Plus Temple and Cincinnati have had glory days long before those coaches arrived on campus.

        3. The Up and Comers – The question is do they become a Thad Matta or Bill Self or do they go the route of Stan Heath or Dan Monson? If Stevens leaves Butler, which route will he follow?

        4. The Renegades – These are the guys that are pushing the limits of the NCAA rules or just out right breaking them. Calapari, Tarkanian, Harrick.

        Not sure where Majerus fits into this – I am thinking more renegade than anything else since he walked away when he had the chance to really establish Utah.

        I really am interested in whether Stevens opts to stay at Butler. Unless he leaves he does not really fit the other 3 profiles (provided Butler is not cheating) He should/could have nearly everyone back and he is really young. The Indiana Hoosiers are really down right now and he could start to build his recruiting to keep Butler consistent. If they make another Final Four in the near future, he could build the first true serious non-Big 6 contender since UNLV.

        Two other things that strike me in the comparisons between Butler basketball and Boise St. football. There is the implication that they are similar but Butler is 4500 students and private. While Boise is 19,000 students and public.

        Butler has more in common with Duke than Boise – it just so happens that Duke is in the ACC.


        • Phocion

          With far less Div1 schools in football the chance of a school nearly as small as Butler succeding, even within one of the lesser Div1 conferences, is next to nil.

          But, I think UNLV and what has happened since their rise and fall could be instructive. Football, of course, has its own UNLV in the Da U. Wild success as an upstart and outsider before Overland Park caught up with them and ultimately contributed widely to bringing them to heel. The difference is that before Miami took their great fall they managed to get into one of the big conferences. Now, after running through several coaches and forgetable seasons, they may finally be on the accent again (even if it is just in the ACC).

          Such a structure could aid a team/university like BSU that has the desire to compete and win on the ‘next’ level if they were ever offered the opportunity avail themselves of that structure.


          • cantonfroggy

            You are totally on point with the U. They were college football’s answer to UNLV. However, even though they had HEAVY NCAA sanctions and issues, after watching the ESPN documentary – I think their demise had more to do with the rise of Florida under Spurrier and Meyer plus the UM administration reigning in the renegade activities.


  12. Brad

    Coach K talking about the “smaller school” getting a chance isn’t about enrollment size (your Wake example is laughable), it’s about conference. The football champion of the Sun Belt doesn’t get the chance to play for the NCAA title – the hoops champion of the Horizon league does. How could you botch this comparison so bad?


    • You’re equating Troy and Butler? Really?

      One team was in the top twenty all season… and the other lost to Florida by 50 points.

      You might want to pose your question to yourself. 😉


      • Brad

        That’s a good point, Senator. But even if Troy was in the top 20 all year, would they get a chance to play for the title like Butler did?


        • No, but not because they’re Troy. No top 20 team (I assume we’re defining that as a team that ranks somewhere between 11-20 through the season, like Butler did) would, regardless of conference affiliation.


  13. Vious

    Butler was this year what Boise State is most years which is a ranked team in the pre-season that dominates it schedule

    But unlike football which eliminates 3/4th the teams NO MATTER WHAT they do on their schedule, Butler got a chance against the big boys and made the best of it

    The lack of a playoff is laughable


  14. DawgBiscuit

    Virginia Tech will (UGA style) wipe the floor with Boise St., this meme will die down, and Ari Fleischer will breathe a sigh of relief.