The Rant You All Requested

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The Rant You All Requested

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:13 pm

I apologize for the delay in getting this out. Work got in the way. I wrote this out in a fit of emotion at one point and then let it sit. Then, I didn't exactly like it anymore, but then felt that I was somewhat obligated to just share it anyway.

Before I begin this little rant, 3 things need to be addressed: 1) For the lurkers and especially Gonzaga lurkers, this post does not reflect a viewpoint shared by PilotNation, the basketball team, the University of Portland as a whole, or any of my current/previous institutions and employers. It is only the viewpoint of SouthCarolinaPilot as an individual and WCC basketball fan. 2) I am currently writing this while enjoying a fine glass of Catawba Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout, which I share because of the recent lack of good beer discussion on this forum. And, 3) while this is an argument I have put together, I do not fully believe in it and am merely offering it as a point of conversation. Feel free to poke holes, tear it apart, and disagree, because I will not take it personally. Alright... Here it goes!


How the Institution of Gonzaga Basketball Might Be Hurting WCC Basketball

First of all, what is "the institution of Gonzaga basketball?" What does that mean and why do I phrase it that way? I use this phrase to refer to all things related to Gonzaga basketball: the team, players, coaches, fans, university, media darling attention, success, monetary status, and all else which is conjured up from the image of hearing "Gonzaga basketball." I choose the word "institution" because it refers to something that is established and accepted as the norm. Institutionalization is the process whereby some phenomena (e.g., person, custom, organization, movement) becomes rationalized and accepted as just being what it is, which is considered to be a normal aspect of society. Shaking hands when you meet someone is an institution. Free speech is an institution. And, yes, Gonzaga basketball is an institution. We accept Gonzaga as this media darling, powerhouse program, that dominates the WCC and ultimately never wins the big one in the NCAA tournament.

Another definition I want to address: a positive feedback loop. A positive feedback loop is one which, through it's own process, encourages it's continuation and growth. Essentially, a positive feedback loop is a process that will keep going and growing as a result of it's own self. It moves from equilibrium and stability to potentially out of control, actually. This is an important point in my rant. A negative feedback loop is one that kills itself off through continuation of its process or moves towards stable equilibrium. I will use "feedback loop" and "reinforcement" in here to refer to this concept.

One last thing, I am using us, Portland, in this argument, but you could easily replace Portland with: Pacific, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Pepperdine, LMU, or San Diego.

More on point here with the rant. The Gonzaga problem can be viewed in a similar manner to the Celtic problem facing the Scottish Premiership. In Scotland, for a whole host of reasons I don't care to explain, the current league is totally and completely dominated by one team: Celtic. The history with Rangers aside (they are not the club they once were, but that Old Firm history between the two makes this an imperfect comparison for my soccer fans) Celtic win the league title every year. Celtic win the Cup almost every year. Celtic get the bid to the UEFA Champions League every single year. The problem this creates for the rest of the clubs in Scotland (i.e., Rangers, Hearts, Hibernian, Aberdeen, Motherwell, etc.) is that they are forever playing catch up to Celtic. Celtic have completely established themselves as the premier club in Scotland and because of that several other institutions and social mechanisms continue to keep them at the top. I hope that you can all see the similarities and why I chose to make this comparison

(Side note: soccer teams and spent unlimited and ungodly amounts of money, which Celtic have while other clubs with the exception of Rangers do not have. In theory, any old billionaire could buy Kilmarnock and just spend like crazy until they are a winner. Such a system does not exist in college sports, but just bear with me here.)

When Celtic plays in the Champions League, they earn a certain amount of money for themselves and for the Scottish Premiership. They are supposed to use this money to acquire players and resources necessary to remain competitive in the Champions League. Meanwhile, the other clubs in the league receive considerably less money as a consolation prize, but it pales in comparison to what Celtic earns. This gives Celtic a competitive edge when compared to their fellow Scottish clubs because they have more money to get better players. So, with this extra money and better players, they will ultimately continue to win the league and send themselves, but not other Scottish clubs, back to the Champions League where this positive feedback loop of money reinforces itself and reinforces Celtic as the top club. However, Celtic benefits from more than just this money, they benefit from the exposure, the attention from winning, and the impression that they are the kings of Scottish soccer. More people buy tickets and merchandise. More people follow the club. More money is paid by the media to just cover Celtic. Referees tend to give Celtic better calls because their players are often better, regardless of if they deserve those good calls. This all reinforces Celtic's place at the top of the league and leaves the other clubs left without the influx of Champions League money, the attention, the following, the benefit of having better players, etc. etc. etc. The competitive balance of Scottish soccer has been quite suspect for some time, but not it is almost nonexistent. Celtic fans would love to join the English Premier League since it is more competitive, by the way (sound familiar?).

It's a very similar problem to what is facing WCC basketball. Gonzaga basketball has become institutionalized in the last two decades as the kings of WCC basketball and they benefit in many of the same ways as Celtic does (even if the money does not work the same way). Gonzaga is accepted as the kings and as just being better than everyone else. They will go to the tournament every year, even if they do not win the conference title (thanks Saint Mary's), which brings all of the extra benefits earned from being viewed as the kings.

(Another side note: we have no way of knowing other than speculation how the WCC shares money from the tournament since it is a collection of private schools. Some conferences share all NCAA tournament money equally and some give the participant a slightly larger share than the rest of the members. We do benefit monetarily from Gonzaga going to the tournament and benefit even more when Gonzaga makes deep runs. However, we do not benefit monetarily as much as Gonzaga because of the extra benefits, which I will explain. For this reason, I choose not to address Tournament money, which I view as being somewhat akin to the Champions League money Celtic earns.)

The fact of the matter is that Gonzaga capitalized on their NCAA tournament run in the 90s and have not lost control since and we should all be jealous of that success. However, this success has throttled the rest of us from competing baring a miracle coaching hire or Phil Knight type donor. So, Tournament money aside, Gonzaga benefits from the tickets sold, the merchandise sold, the donations, the potential applicants to the school and potential alumni base, the media attention, the Nike deal, the bigger following, the increased exposure, which all leads to better and better players and perks for those players and preferred calls from referees and therefore wins and so on and so on and so on. All of this increases the separation of Gonzaga from the rest of us in the WCC, which further reinforces their comparative success. This means that they will keep being the WCC representative in the tournament, which (see the trend here) is a positive reinforcement of their success compared to the rest of us.

So, while we might be growing as a program here at UP, Gonzaga is growing much faster. This is an important point to understand, because itís not like we are regressing. It's like when you start saving for retirement at 20 versus at 25. No matter how much the 25-year-old puts into their retirement, the 20-year-old will always be ahead even if they stop saving money. Interest on large investments makes the investment larger, which slowly increases the interest payments. That process will just reinforce itself like a positive feedback loop. As long as Gonzaga is the institution of Gonzaga basketball they will be ahead of the rest of the WCC and will keep going to the tournament and will keep benefitting from all of the success associated with that dominance.

How does this hurt the rest of us? As long as Gonzaga is blocking the door to the NCAA tournament, we will not reap those extra benefits they do and will thus never have the chance to earn the jumpstart Gonzaga had from the tournament run and will thus always be lagging behind. We don't have the tickets, merchandise, donors, exposure, TV money, history of success, alumni base, etc. We therefore do not get the players they get. Which means we don't have the talent they do. Which means we will continue to lose more often than win against them and have the referee calls go against us because our players are just not as good. That reinforces Gonzaga's success and our mediocrity IN COMPARISON. So, the positive feedback loop goes both ways: it reinforces Gonzaga's success and our inability to succeed IN COMPARISON TO GONZAGA (needed to be emphasized as it's not our failure but our lack of success in comparison).

It's hard to compete against gold bricks when you are playing with monopoly money and itís hard to buy gold bricks when people will not accept monopoly money. Most other conferences have a rotating number of teams that make the tournament: sometimes team A, sometimes team B, sometimes team C, sometimes team D, sometimes teams E and F, sometimes team G... In the WCC, it's team A always. Saint Mary's has somehow managed to break through by their own coaching miracle, but I do not believe that Saint Mary's is at the same level as Gonzaga. They still miss the tournament frequently and cannot seem to break through to Gonzaga-level success. I am not convinced that Saint Mary's maintains that success once Randy Bennett leaves or retires. In the Big East, all of the teams are Gonzaga level, which makes it competitive and they all share the Tournament berths and spotlight.

Here is a TOO LONG; DIDN'T READ that really tries to summarize and emphasize what I am trying to say. Gonzaga's singularly dominant success reinforces extra perks that further reinforces their RELATIVE success and reinforces our RELATIVE inability to succeed by comparison. We will not make the Tournament and reap those benefits as long as Gonzaga blocks the door baring some coaching miracle where we suddenly become phenomenally good. Gonzaga is institutionalized and accepted as good while we are institutionalized and accepted as not good (even if you haven't heard of Portland basketball, that reinforces the notion that we are not good). Itís hard to break what is accepted as the norm. Try to make two-fingered high fives the accepted greeting instead of a handshake and see how you will get nowhere trying to do that.

THIS ALL SAID, I am not trying to complain about the institution of Gonzaga basketball. Iím merely trying to point out what the problem the WCC faces is, because I am tried of reading that itís because Mark Few thinks we donít prioritize basketball or that we just donít care. Who honestly believes this? I hope that Terry Porter is our answer and that this team will end up succeeding in a few years and that we will make the tournament and that if we do make the tournament that we will be ready to CAPITALIZE on that moment like Gonzaga. I do not wish for any ill to befall Gonzaga basketball. We should want to be like them. They absolutely did earn their success. But, understand that the road to Gonzaga-level institutionalization and success was easy when Gonzaga did it, but is immensely more difficult to accomplish now since Gonzaga is there to block the path. Itís going to take more than just complaining by Gonzaga fans that we suck in order to actually make us competitive with them.
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Stonehouse on Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:55 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write this all up! Definitely the WCC is in a pretty unique position when it comes to men's basketball. It's extremely rare for a mid-major team to stay as competitive for as long as they have like Gonzaga has.

The key to Gonzaga's success over the years is actually pretty simple: coaching. Gonzaga has had three coaches since 1985. Dan Fitzgerald (85-97), Dan Monson (97-99), Mark Few (99-18).

Dan Fitzgerland slowly but surely built Gonzaga into a consistently strong program. Dan Monson capitalized on that foundation, and took the Zags on a miracle run to the Elite Eight. Then - as is so often the story for mid-majors coaches that have success - Monson left for a bigger school and more pay. But amazingly, Mark Few (then an assistant) turned out to be a better coach than his predecessor. Even more amazingly, he STAYED. And he's STILL THERE.

And don't forget that Mark Few has been remarkably adaptable over the years. Their initial success was on the backs of PNW players. (Calvary, Santangelo, Frahm, Dickau, Stepp, Morrison, Raivio, etc.) Then they moved to lots of international players (Baptista, Turiaf, Harris, Olynyk, Pangos, Karnowski, Sabonis, etc.) Now they are taking great advantage of transfers (Williams-Goss, Matthews, Williams, Wiltjer, etc.) And lately they have broken through and pulled in some truly elite recruits like Zach Collins.

Take a look at their roster now, and you will see a mix of everything - local players, international players, transfers, elite recruits... all of it built by Mark Few.

Just imagine if Gonzaga would have had to hire a new coach every 4-5 years... there's no way they would be able to have built such a tremendous recruiting apparatus.

Is there a single mid-major coach in the history of college basketball that has won as many games, conference titles, and NCAA tournament games as Mark Few while staying at just one school? I very much doubt it.

Yes, of course there are all sorts of institutional reasons why Gonzaga has continued the success - building a new arena, activating donors, leveraging ESPN, funding international recruiting, etc etc - but the single biggest factor over the years has been Mark Few and a continuous coaching tree that has been in place since 1985.

Now to your point... Randy Bennett has done a remarkable job at Saint Mary's. (And truly it's remarkable that he is still there and not at a bigger school.) In any other mid-major conference, they would be the consistent champions with all the NCAA glory. But Gonzaga is in the way, which has certainly limited their exposure and success. They didn't get a new arena built. They still have terrible difficulties scheduling. They haven't gotten the same level of donations and community support.

So yes - I think you can make the argument that Gonzaga's Goliath has kept down the Davids of the WCC, even when one of the Davids looks like Michaelangelo's (SMC) and one of the Davids is a David in name only (BYU).

But it's also true that WCC teams can be solid and competitive, even if they aren't (and might never be) at Gonzaga's level. Portland proved that a few years ago... we just couldn't hang on to it. San Francisco has had some ups and downs, but they have been pretty solid for several years now. San Diego is looking like they are in pretty good shape now and in the future.

I'm a bit of a WCC elitist, but I honestly believe that even the worst teams in the WCC *should* be better than the top teams in the Big West, Big Sky, and WAC. We're certainly not there yet, but I really do think that's possible. And quite honestly, I think it's possible not in spite of Gonzaga but because of them. Gonzaga's presence makes the WCC that much more attractive for recruits - they are on TV more, there are opportunities to play against Top 25 teams and even future NBA players, they guarantee that at least a couple of games a year are sold-out and raucous... those are advantages that a school like LMU has over Long Beach State, and Portland has over Portland State.

Not to mention the fact that Gonzaga contributes a big chunk of money to the WCC coffers through their NCAA success.

Yes, they bring a lot of headaches too... I've written many words over the years about my frustrations with Gonzaga... but I do believe at the end of the day it's good for a conference to have a team like Gonzaga rather than not. But it t certainly sucks for the opposing head coaches, and it definitely makes it extremely difficult to win conference titles. Smile

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:34 am

Thanks for the response, Stoney! I loved reading your post. I have a few opinions I wanted to offer in return to keep the conversation going.

Re: Coaching. Without a doubt, Mark Few is one of the biggest reasons they have succeeded. He is a living legend, once-in-a-generation coach as far as I am concerned. It will be interesting to see if Gonzaga remains "Gonzaga" once he retires. I know GU fans would say that Few has been grooming his assistants and that there is some plan in place already for once he leaves, but none of that is a guarantee. We have seen many good programs across multiple sports fall from grace because of leadership after a legend leaves.

Re: Conferences. I'm struggling to find an NCAA basketball conference that is comparable to the current WCC landscape. I think Kansas in the Big 12 might the only comparison to one team just totally dominating the conference, but I have zero sympathy for the P5 struggles.

Re: WCC basketball. I COMPLETELY AGREE that the worst WCC teams *should* be better than the Big Sky, Big West, and WAC schools. I would go as far as to include MWC in the future to that list.

Re: Trickle Down. I understand the argument that Gonzaga's success might elevate us, give us more TV time, and all that. But that just sounds like trickle down economics to me. Are we, arguably, better off than we were 20 years ago? Definitely! But, the wealth gap has spread us farther apart than before. As you all might tell, I am a pretty firm believer that sport is an almost total reflection of society, despite our best efforts to idealize sport as this level playing field-highest standards of fairness-Olympic spirit-type thing.

Completely agree with your last point, too. It's a headache for sure, but I would rather have them than not. It will make beating them all the more enjoyable when their time in the spotlight inevitably ends (in an unknown number of years/decades). For a long time, Gonzaga fans could have absolutely made the same argument about us with soccer and cross country (those Zags are what are holding our XC program back, aren't they? I kid. I kid.).
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:50 pm

Stoney wrote:The key to Gonzaga's success over the years is actually pretty simple: coaching. Gonzaga has had three coaches since 1985. Dan Fitzgerald (85-97), Dan Monson (97-99), Mark Few (99-18).

The fact that they have consistently spent three times as much money on basketball ( and nearly four times what Portland spends) as the rest of the conference does t hurt either.


https://247sports.com/college/pepperdine/Board/102450/Contents/WCC-Athletics-Budgets-54490463
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Stonehouse on Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:47 pm

Geezaldinho wrote:
Stoney wrote:The key to Gonzaga's success over the years is actually pretty simple: coaching. Gonzaga has had three coaches since 1985. Dan Fitzgerald (85-97), Dan Monson (97-99), Mark Few (99-18).

The fact that they have consistently spent three times as much money on basketball ( and nearly four times what Portland spends) as the rest of the conference does t hurt either.


https://247sports.com/college/pepperdine/Board/102450/Contents/WCC-Athletics-Budgets-54490463

It doesn't indeed! Smile
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by pilotdad1 on Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:02 pm

I liked your thought process and length you went to make some good points. If I may offer some thoughts, and like you they do not represent anyone other than myself (minus some chocolate beer lol).
I have lived in Spokane since 1988 and played my college basketball in a time when Gonzaga wouldnt schedule Whitworth for fear of an upset. My time in Spokane as well as the circle of friends and acquaintainces I have gives me perhaps a different perspective to your "rant".

I dont think there is any way possible that a team who played in the national championship game last year could ever be hurting their conference. From the economic benefit that the other schools realize to the exposure to athletes that might not otherwise recognize the WCC as a conference that might propel them to the next level, there just arent any good arguments to lament about UP or any other school from achieving similar success. Its not an institution we are battling, just a team that started exactly in the same position UP is in.

Let me share some memories about the rise of GU basketball and how those same measures could very well happen to any other program in the league. With a bit of strategy and a touch of luck, what happened at GU could have happened to any handful of programs.

Fitz did a solid job of bringing in hard nosed, tough northwest kids. Before he was dismissed, Fitz was building a program at the school. When Monson took over there was ZERO budget for the basketball team. The assistants were more like grad asst's as they didnt get paid and when they hit the road to recruit often slept in their car because they didnt have the stipend to pay for a hotel. These two assistants who are still with the program are Few and Tommy. The Kennel was generally empty, I remember leaving practice and getting to GU about 10 minutes after tip and could almost sit courtside.
Insert Don Monson and a continued focus on recruiting local kids. Dickau, Nielson, Calvary, the list go on and on. They start winning and shock the world with an elite 8 entry.
Let me pause and say that as I type there is so much information I have to be more concise. Ok so fast forward to Few getting the nod when Monson left and some of that "luck" that i referred to. After is was becoming evident that GU would be able to win the conference tourney and play in the NCAA event Coach Few put the pressure on the University. The luck part is that the administration and the school president were in support of using the basketball program to catapult their enrollment and increase their capitol giving campaigns. It was a concerted effort that Mike Roth facilitated which ensured the program would grow and so would the university.

Now, does that sound so hard? Not in print but its execution never seems obtainable. We have a good idea of how GU got to where they are now but how have they maintained that level of success? From my perspective the answer was to branch out from recruiting the local kids to scouring the world for the next level of athlete. Maybe not the same player that Duke is in on but a few 3 and 4 star guys that before they werent able to get a sit with. Throw in some international guys like Turiaf and you have the next level of recruit with the same staff. Today they are able to get into even more doors having come off the championship game. Success is a great story, a lot of players want to be part of a tradition etc. So the term "rebuild" is replaced with "reload".

One point worth noting is that GU started where every other team starts at, the beginning. It happened and wasnt the result of a big donor or a ton of resources thrown at them from the administration. It was done by 3 guys that were in the right place at the right time. AND it can happen again. It can and it will, just a matter of time. It is for that exact reason I believe that stories like GU's are to be respected and used as a model for schools like UP.

Knowing that I sound biased trust me Im not. Truth be told Ryan, his mother and I targeted UP as the school for our son and to this day know we all made the right choice. GO PILOTS forever....

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:54 am

Thanks for the contribution. I definitely see and agree with everyone's points about how Gonzaga was able to do things and that we ought to be able to replicate that formula somehow. I guess, my point was really that it is just not as easy to do anymore with the good teams already being good, whereas in the 90s there was not one truly dominant force in WCC basketball (to my knowledge!).

Certainly an appropriate topic of discussion as we move from our confident road trip to the buzzsaw of Gonzaga and Saint Mary's back-to-back.
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by DoubleDipper on Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:22 am

SouthCarolinaPilot wrote:I guess, my point was really that it is just not as easy to do anymore with the good teams already being good, whereas in the 90s there was not one truly dominant force in WCC basketball (to my knowledge!).
Thanks, I was wondering when we'd get the "executive summary." †Razz
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 am

DoubleDipper wrote:
SouthCarolinaPilot wrote:I guess, my point was really that it is just not as easy to do anymore with the good teams already being good, whereas in the 90s there was not one truly dominant force in WCC basketball (to my knowledge!).
Thanks, I was wondering when we'd get the "executive summary." †Razz

Academics are not really known for their ability to be concise! Iím earning my elbow patches with each long, rambling lecture.
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by NoPoNeighbor on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:24 am

SouthCarolinaPilot wrote:Thanks for the contribution. I definitely see and agree with everyone's points about how Gonzaga was able to do things and that we ought to be able to replicate that formula somehow. I guess, my point was really that it is just not as easy to do anymore with the good teams already being good, whereas in the 90s there was not one truly dominant force in WCC basketball (to my knowledge!).

Certainly an appropriate topic of discussion as we move from our confident road trip to the buzzsaw of Gonzaga and Saint Mary's back-to-back.
I think the existence of Gonzaga as a national powerhouse in the WCC has done three main things for the conference as a whole:

  1. It has raised the national profile of the WCC as an entity, including TV exposure, tournament revenue, etc. However, I think this exposure is purely a function of Gonzaga being associated with the WCC as a conference, and has not done much to raise the profile of the other individual members of the conference (e.g. UP).
  2. It has given the other WCC schools a sell-out home game every year. This is positive, but at what cost?
  3. It has made it much less likely that any other WCC school will reach the NCAA tournament.

For me, this third one is the most consequential outcome of Gonzaga's dominance. My guess (pure speculation here) is that mid-major recruits have to weigh two competing Gonzaga-related factors when they are deciding whether or not to attend a non-Gonzaga WCC school:

  1. They will get the change to play Gonzaga twice every year, likely with national TV coverage; BUT...
  2. Going to a WCC school makes it highly unlikely that they will ever get to play in the NCAA tournament. I would imagine that the opportunity to play in March Madness is a major goal of just about every Division I college basketball player. The basic truth is that that goal is very unlikely to be attained by attending UP, Pacific, LMU, etc. It is much more likely that a college basketball player will reach the Big Dance by attending a school in the Big Sky, Big West, Mountain West, etc. I'd guess that the desire to have a shot at March Madness beats out the excitement of two regular-season games against Gonzaga (with a high probability of being blown out). This likely hurts the recruiting of all the non-GU schools in the conference.

SouthCarolinaPilot talked about a positive feedback loop. This is a negative feedback loop. Because it is unlikely that UP will reach the NCAA Tournament, fewer good recruits will want to come here, which makes it even less likely. This same logic applies to any school that has historically been absent from the NCAA Tournament. Failure begets failure. The difference in the WCC (as opposed to almost every other conference) is that the primary factor making it unlikely that a recruit will play in the Tournament is not the shortcomings of any of the individual schools, but rather the absolute dominance of Gonzaga.

The WCC usually has only 2 tickets to punch to March Madness. Every recruit knows that Gonzaga will get one of those tickets, every year. BYU and Saint Mary's fight for at-large bids, but those are no sure thing. The likelihood of any other WCC school getting to the Tournament in any given year is next to nothing, and recruits must know that. Or they could go to another mid-major conference and have a fighting chance.

# of different schools winning auto-bids 2008-2017
Big Sky: 6
Big West: 9 (incredible parity!)
WAC: 4 (NMSU has been pretty dominant)
MWC: 7
MVC: 5
Atlantic 10: 7
Big East: 7
WCC: 3

Bottom line: If you're a mid-major recruit and want a good chance at going to the Big Dance, go to a Big West school.

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:11 am

All extremely well-said, NoPo! I couldn't agree more.

The conference comparison really lets the argument shine. I while back, I got on this question of whether the WCC or the Big East is an all around better sports conference. So, I just took a look at which schools have won NCAA championships, which is a really, really rough estimate. There are far better metrics to use, but I just don't want to go all journal article on this. So, this comparison is by no means scientific, which is why I stashed it away and forgot about it. I chose the Big East since that is the one we all aspire to be basketball-wise.

Big East School - NCAA Titles (notes)
Villanova - 20 (2 basketball)
Providence - 3
Georgetown - 2 (1 basketball)
St. John's - 2
Marquette - 1 (1 basketball)
Butler - 0
Creighton - 0
DePaul - 0
Seton Hall - 0
Xavier - 0
The average Big East School has won 2.8 titles. But, if you remove the anomaly that is Villanova, that drops to 0.88 per school.

WCC School - NCAA Titles (notes)
Pepperdine - 9
San Francisco - 7 (2 basketball)
Pacific - 2
Portland - 2
Santa Clara - 2
Gonzaga - 1 (boxing title shared with Idaho, which I almost did not want to count since it is no longer an NCAA sport)
LMU - 0
Saint Mary's - 0
San Diego - 0
The average WCC school has won 2.6 NCAA titles. Not bad. All in all, both of the conferences are pretty competitive and even across all sports. Nothing to feel down about there.

But, if you want to compare basketball success, if you look at Final Fours it becomes 2.1 Final Fours for each Big East school and 0.6 Final Fours per WCC school (USF with 3, Gonzaga with 1 as of this year, and Santa Clara with 1). Ouch!
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by StudentPilot on Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:06 pm

Don't know if this is of interest, but it's being reported that Gonzaga could leave the WCC for the Mountain West as soon as 2019....but I imagine there have been similar rumors in the past.

The move would probably please many GU fans because the Mountain West has been the stronger conference in recent years. †KenPom currently ranks the Mountain West at #8 and the WCC (with Gonzaga) at #10.

Speaking as only a fan with no knowledge of the ramifications of a GU move, I'd much rather see BYU go to the Mountain West!

http://sports.mynorthwest.com/422768/gonzaga-join-mountain-west/
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Dean Murdoch on Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:09 pm

Conferences are supposed to group together schools with similar missions and resources. That's no longer the case with Gonzaga and the WCC. Tip your hat to them and let them go, BYU will soon follow, and I'd be just fine with the WCC becoming a "religious Big West" and the Pilots maybe having a chance to make the tournament before I expire.

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:00 am

I know rumors have abounded for years, and people have probably analyzed it all up and down, but that move would only end badly in the long run for Gonzaga in my opinion.

In the short term, I'm sure many of their fans would be pleased with the better quality basketball conference and what I would assume is a better television contract/exposure. However, assuming that the Mountain West brings in more than just Gonzaga (i.e., they bring in more than just BYU too, but try to bring in a bunch of other non-football schools with strong basketball teams like Saint Mary's or Grand Canyon), I would only see that conference turning into another Big East where the football schools and the basketball schools don't see eye-to-eye on revenue. Even if they only bring in Gonzaga, I'm pretty sure the Zags will be upset with whatever television contract and revenue sharing negotiations occur when they find out that Boise State football UNLV football is still worth more money than Gonzaga basketball.

But, that is just my educated guess.

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by PilotNut on Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:36 am

The other consideration here is that it would not just be basketball that would move--it would be ALL sports. †The WCC is pretty strong in all of the "other" sports, so I am not sure the move makes much sense for their whole athletic program, especially when the WCC is a grouping of like-minded private institutions.

GU has been more vocal about other teams in the conference stepping up and investing in their basketball programs, and I 100% agree with them. †The conference is improving, but at a snail's pace (but seems to be ramping up faster in the past 12-18 months).

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Dean Murdoch on Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:45 am

PilotNut wrote:GU has been more vocal about other teams in the conference stepping up and investing in their basketball programs, and I 100% agree with them.

So I'll ask the simple question that comes along with this.

HOW?

Great, Gonzaga's tournament success results in money shared throughout the conference. That's just fantastic. It's now been 20 years since Gonzaga turned the corner from obscurity to the top mid-major team in the country. We've had more head coaches (4) and ADs (3) in that time than winning WCC records (2). Iíll very much concede the argument that Gonzaga's success has at the very least partially contributed to some improvements in the Athletics department, but you won't convince me that their dominance is anything but a hindrance to improving our men's basketball team. Same goes for six other WCC teams, who were an all-too-predictable 4-38 this year against teams named Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, and BYU.

Even if you had Bill Gates kind of money laying around, how specifically would you improve the Pilots? Outbid Arizona for DeAndre Ayton?
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by DoubleDipper on Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:49 am

Not sure who at Gonzaga the Mountain West has been talking to, but it may not be any higher than Coach Few, who for years has asked for 1) a more competitive conference so that GU's RPI is better, and 2) more share of the NCAA Tournament money GU brings in....although I'm told they are now getting an even bigger slice of the pie than ever before.

I have no problem with GU leaving now that both Seattle U. and Denver have upgraded their facilities and their soccer and basketball programs. †If a change were made it would be "ideal" if GU and BYU both at the same time opening the way for those two schools to join the WCC. Previously, when Denver joined the WAC and then the Summit, they were passed over by the WCC in favor of UOP, in part because they were a "hockey school," and Seattle U. may never be able to rejoin the WCC (they left in 1980) as long as GU continues to block the idea.

Doubt there is anyone who believes BYU is a good fit for the WCC, and except for the disparity in men's and women's basketball, GU is still a good fit.....but Seattle U. as a travel partner could be really cool and would really open up the Northwest recruiting wars in all sports.
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:03 pm

My hunch is that Few's comments and these rumors are without merit other than to use as threats against the other WCC presidents and ADs for when it comes time to meet and discuss revenue sharing.
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by DoubleDipper on Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:20 pm

SouthCarolinaPilot wrote:My hunch is that Few's comments and these rumors are without merit other than to use as threats against the other WCC presidents and ADs for when it comes time to meet and discuss revenue sharing.
100% in agreement...my previous post was more of a musing of what would be nice, not a statement of what I believe will happen.

Too bad the WCC does not have a commissioner to lead the discussion of revenue-sharing. †But as we've seen in government negotiations, it's often better to leave it to those who are knowledgeable instead of counting on leaders who are not.
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by deprofundis on Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:20 am

DoubleDipper wrote:Not sure who at Gonzaga the Mountain West has been talking to, but it may not be any higher than Coach Few, who for years has asked for 1) a more competitive conference so that GU's RPI is better, and 2) more share of the NCAA Tournament money GU brings in....although I'm told they are now getting an even bigger slice of the pie than ever before. ...

According to Spokesman-Review article, AD Mike Roth has been involved in the talks.

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/feb/28/gonzaga-mountain-west-conference-discuss-possibili/#/0

Gonzaga has had discussions with the Mountain West Conference, athletic director Mike Roth confirmed.

ďWhat I do and have been doing for the last few years hasnít changed,Ē Roth said. ďYes, Iíve had discussions with the Mountain West, but Iíve also had discussions with other conference commissioners and A.D. around the country.

ďThatís what Iíve been doing to monitor what is our situation and where are things? Where do we stand?Ē

Article indicates nothing is imminent.

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Stonehouse on Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:25 am

Gonzaga's AD and leadership wouldn't be doing their jobs if they weren't hearing out offers. They'll ultimately make a decision that is best for their school.

I could see there being some concern from GU about going to a football conference, if only because the decisions the conference makes in terms of TV deals, realignment, etc. will always revolve around football first and everything else a distant second.

The Big East would be a more natural fit since it's not a football conference, but the travel for all the other sports would be a concern.

The WCC was a great home for Gonzaga for many years, and was a large part of their ability to build their program into what it is today. (There certainly were some years along the way where they would missed the tournament were it not for the WCC's auto-bid.)

If they end up deciding a different conference is better for them, so be it.
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by adoptedzag on Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:17 am

My only issue with your "rant" is that you keep mentioning the ability to get to the NCAA tournament as a 1 path avenue. It's not. Schedule OOC teams, beat those teams, then don't worry about Vegas. The autobid is nice, but having a better resume is better. That's what Coach Few is so upset about. AFAIK, the money from the NCAA tournament is split evenly among the conference. Re-investing that money into basketball is the goal. Some schools (pepperdine, LMU) do not. That's fine, it's their right. Don't expect the gravy train of NCAA shares to stick around thoguh if you aren't bringing anything to the table. If the schools in the WCC scheduled better and just got from 250 RPI into the 100-150 range, you would never hear a peep out of anyone in Spokane.

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Dean Murdoch on Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:24 pm

adoptedzag wrote:My only issue with your "rant" is that you keep mentioning the ability to get to the NCAA tournament as a 1 path avenue. †It's not. †Schedule OOC teams, beat those teams, then don't worry about Vegas. †The autobid is nice, but having a better resume is better. †That's what Coach Few is so upset about. †AFAIK, the money from the NCAA tournament is split evenly among the conference. †Re-investing that money into basketball is the goal. †Some schools (pepperdine, LMU) do not. †That's fine, it's their right. †Don't expect the gravy train of NCAA shares to stick around thoguh if you aren't bringing anything to the table. † If the schools in the WCC scheduled better and just got from 250 RPI into the 100-150 range, you would never hear a peep out of anyone in Spokane.

Iím not sure if I could have written a parody of ďclassic entitled Gonzaga fanĒ any better than this.

You have to be kidding me. ďSchedule OOC games, beat those teams, then donít worry about Vegas?Ē Wow, is it that easy? Why didnít we think of that!

Ultimately, for me itís simple -
ē What started Gonzagaís success? A tournament run
ē What is Gonzagaís success preventing? Tournament appearances
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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by adoptedzag on Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:48 pm

It really is that simple. Even gu has to step out into the world in the ooc. Or you can beat gu in the wcc tournament final. Complaining that you can't get somewhere when the paths are there is small-minded. No one is going to be the next Gonzaga and get there the same way. It was a serendipitous series of events that gu took advantage of to get where we are. To get the same success sometimes you have to think outside the box. When life closes a door sometimes you have to go through a window. Even SMC for as much guff as I give them for their scheduling is creatively finding their way into the tournament. Even if they don't win the auto bid. So don't give me some sob story about gu holding everyone back.

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Re: The Rant You All Requested

Post by Stonehouse on Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:31 pm

adoptedzag wrote:It really is that simple. Even gu has to step out into the world in the ooc.

The trouble is that scheduling decent OOC games is much more challenging in 2018 than it was in 1998 (around when GU's run started).

UP used to regularly play teams like Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, and Washington State in the Chiles Center. (And UP won a decent amount of those games too.) But those days are LONG gone... teams simply refuse to play mid-majors in true road games anymore.

And sure, you can try to get into tournaments to play at a neutral site, but those aren't always easy to get into and/or cost money.

So yes, in theory you can go out and beat a bunch of teams on the road, but that's a pretty tall order. Especially for good teams like St. Mary's, who can't even get bigger conference teams to agree to play them on their own courts, let alone in Moraga.

Fact of the matter is that for a school like UP in 2018, winning the WCC is probably the only route to the NCAA tournament. Just look around... how many at large bids are given to non-power conference teams? They are few and far between, even if those teams do have some decent wins over big programs.
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