CHICAGO, Ill. — If you want to read something warm and fuzzy about Hampton, Indiana State and Utah State reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament, you should turn your eyes away from the next 631 words.
Words cannot express how much I detest “Mid-Major” and everything the term represents.
What is a Mid-Major, anyway? For many, it is like pornography-you know it when you see it. And like bad pornography, it and Billy Packer should be banned from public use.
Mid-Major? Ponder the term: occupying the middle position of something greater in dignity, rank, importance, or interest.
In simpler terms: Secondary.
Face it folks, there are only seven Major conferences out there: ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, SEC. And Conference USA-only because I’m feeling generous.
These teams succumb to the inferior schools as often as a chimp trumps Andy Katz in a tournament office pool.
And there are only eight conferences worthy of secondary distinction. They definitely are not completely inferior but are nothing of major proportions. Consider them the basketball equivalent of John Bardo.
The Secondaries are the Atlantic 10, MAC, Missouri Valley, Mid-Continent, Midwestern Collegiate, Mountain West, WAC, and West Coast.
These schools make a living by ousting the Indiana Hoosiers in the first round of the tournament. After that, they have the staying power of Budweiser foam-Gonzaga being the exception.
What’s left? Those diminutive schools who have no better chance of reaching the Final Four than five guys chosen from O’Malley’s Bar at 2 am.
These schools hail from the following conferences: America East, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial Athletic, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Sun Belt, Trans-American.
They are undeserving of the hyperbole that surrounds them every March when they face the hulks of the college hardwood. They don’t belong in the same breath with Duke, UNC, Kentucky, UCLA and Michigan State. They aren’t even as good as secondary schools such as Fresno State, BYU, St. Joseph’s or Xavier.
Question: Can you name the last diminutive school to reach the Final Four?
Answer: Pennsylvania in 1979. Oh, those mighty Quakers!
Yet, every year we have Grammath College or the University of Our Lady of the Sacred Phallus whining about how much they deserve a bid in the Big Dance just because they finished 24-5 but lost their conference tournament final by 20 points.
Like they really have a chance. On a good day they would have trouble holding, much less beating, Duke’s jock straps.
“But we’ve earned our spot in the tournament,” they scream.
These teams struggle to earn a 16-seed which gives them the right to get waxed by Stanford and Illinois. Some accomplishment, eh?
“Oh, but it helps recruiting.” Baloney.
Chattanooga and Valparaiso made it to the Sweet 16 in recent years and should be experiencing the recruiting windfall from those spectacular runs. Last weekend they were sitting at home eating Cheetos and watching the XFL-oops, my apology, nobody is watching the XFL.
And fewer people are watching the NCAA Tournament according to last weekend’s record-low ratings.
The solution: Give the diminutives their own tournament. It can be the Division I-AA of basketball. It works for football.
Instead of Monmouth, UNC Greensboro, Alabama State and Northwestern State getting creamed in the first round, imagine them meeting in the I-AA Final Four.
“Nobody will watch that.”
Just as nobody watches these teams play during the regular season or during their conference tournaments. The ratings for diminutive games on ESPN and Fox Sports rival those of collegiate cheerleading competitions.
Let’s face it, these games between the majors and diminutives are just that: cheerleading competitions with a high payout to the undeserving losers.
The rare upset is nice but means nothing in the grand scheme of the tournament. It is for Majors and Secondaries only.
Whatever we call them, Mid-Majors and Diminutives need not apply.