By Vin Parise
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Here are 10 tidbits to think about as we head into the college basketball offseason….
* No Changing of the Guard – As good as the Derrick Williams and Jared Sullingers of the world are, it was the Brandon Knights, Shelvin Macks and Kemba Walkers of the world that were standing in the end. College hoops will always be a guard oriented game.
* Does the Big East = The Bermuda Triangle? – A big debate next year before the season and on Selection Sunday will be the Big East yet again. How many teams should get in and how strong is the league from top to bottom?
The elite teams in this monster league will always be Top 10 in the country. But after this year’s March Sadness, will the 7th, 8th and 9th place teams be sitting on a Top 25 ranking?
* Mid Major School but Hi Major Pay – Whether it’s great players, a little luck or a combination of both – it does not matter. The loyalty and stability of Butler’s Athletic Department may become a standard for successful mid major programs.
And maybe we should just scrap the mid major label and just use non BCS. Schools used to lose coaches to the big time leagues immediately following tournament success. But schools like VCU and Butler paying their head coaches Big East salaries may change the norm.
* Historic Houston – We may see another star single handedly carry his team the way Kemba Walker did this year – but c’mon now, will we ever see another Final Four where the Colonial and Horizon Leagues are both represented? We’ll remember this 2011 Final Four for a long, long time.
* Does Cinderella Hurt Job Security? – As great as it is when mid majors advance deep into March, it sometimes causes unrealistic expectations for the rest of the schools and AD’s in the respective leagues.
Since Mark Few began excellence at Gonzaga a little over a decade ago, every other school in his league has fired a coach. And since George Mason’s miracle 2006 run, 7 of the 12 schools in their league have turned over coaches. Success raises the bar and expectations – sometimes a little too much.
* Recycled Head Coaches Hurting Assistants – More and more schools are not taking chances on young assistants and opting to hire proven head coaches that are on the market or broadcasting with a microphone. The MAAC has gone to head coaches on 3 of their last 4 hires. The MAAC used to pride themselves on hot Big East assistants. And look at St. John’s who plucked their head coach from ESPN.
Part of the reason is so many more coaches are on the market than ever before because of shorter life spans. Gone are the days of getting 5-10 years of patience and then riding off into the sunset at 55 or 60 years old. Now schools have 3-5 years of patience and more and more coaches are getting fired in their 30’s and 40’s.
* Top 25, now? – It has always, and will always amaze me that people have the clear head, patience and logic to put together Pre-Season Top 25 rankings in April. Way too many coaching moves, staff changes and recruiting still left in the school year. Oh yeah, and something called the NBA Draft in June.
* Talent or Experience? – John Calipari has repeatedly stated that he’d take talent over experience. What would you take? Remember, part of the reason we’re seeing so many upsets is because the teams with 3 to 4 year starters are beating the teams that have dynamic freshmen and sophomores. However, it did work out this year for Calipari and Kentucky.
As long as guys keep leaving early for the draft, this factor is always going to impact college basketball. 140 out of the 300 guys drafted in the last 5 years have been underclassmen. So would you rather be the 2 seed with young bucks or the 5 seed with seasoned vets?
* Fresh Zebras – There has been way too much controversy the past two seasons with officials who are on the older side of the age chart. Look for an influx of younger officials the next few years. If you’re in your late 20’s or early 30’s, this is a great time to get into college basketball officiating.
* No Pay Checks – The NCAA will never and should never agree to pay college kids a salary. It opens too many cans of worms. How much do you pay them? Do starters get more than walk-ons? Do hoops players get more than cross country runners? Where does is start and end?
The NCAA takes 3 weeks to decide if a kid has the right GPA to be eligible – it could never handle a system like that! A college scholarship is worth a lot more than college graduates today earn their first few years out of school. Adjust the financial aid and pell grant system if the kids need more spending money but paying kids will never happen.
– Vin Parise
Do you agree that the NCAA shouldn’t pay their college athletes? Sound off in the comments below!