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Apr
05
2016

Villanova’s national title was good for college athletics.

Villanova

I wouldn’t have had a problem with North Carolina winning national title Monday night. In fact I was really rooting for them because I picked them to win it all in my office pool. A Tar Heel win would have resulted in a nice 2nd place finish and decent payday for me. I ended up 3rd. My wife wrapped the bracket on Saturday because she had Villanova beating Kansas. Maybe she she should have the sports blog not me, anyways…

UNC played well and Marcus Paige was brilliant in the final minutes. Villanova turned out to be a little bit better as Kris Jenkins hit the shot of a lifetime to lift the Wildcats to the title. It was great a game, and one of the best national title games in history. Villanova winning was good for college athletics.

I’ve had a frustration for while with the Power 5 conferences. They have tried to create an environment where they effectively isolate themselves from the rest of the country. There have been rumors of them breaking away from the NCAA, having their own playoffs and basketball tournaments, etc etc. The Power 5 effectively pulled this off with the College Football Playoff. It is virtually impossible now for a non-Power 5 school to reach the 4-team playoff. They took the large majority of the playoff money, and formed exclusive contracts with each other in the biggest contract bowls.

Yes, there is no question the Power 5 drive the economics of major college sports, but their apparent aim to exclude non-power 5 schools is disappointing. Boise State and Houston have won Big 6 Bowl games the last two years. We knew that excellent basketball was being played outside the Power 5, but Villanova’s national title validated that.

The Big East, where Villanova plays, was ravaged by the realignment era, internal mis-management and conflict. What remained was a conference that wasn’t among the Power 5. Jay Wright proved that even in this era, a national championship team could be built at the non-Power 5 level. Sure it is easier to do this in basketball that football, but the Power 5 cannot make the claim that the best teams only reside in their conferences.

To me sports is not better when there is utter dominance, and certainly when the dominance is manufactured it is even worse. How about proving it on the field? Connecticut women’s basketball has made that sport’s champion a forgone conclusion, but they are proving it on the field. For that matter, the UCONN women aren’t in a Power 5 conference, and they are heads, shoulders, torso, waist, and legs better than anyone else in the country. What if they were somehow excluded from a chance at the national title? We would be denied seeing one of the great dynasties in sports.

Try as they might, the Power 5 with all the resources they have just can’t separate from the rest of the country. If they did separate, it would invalidate their champion in my opinion. I already question whether a Boise State, Houston, TCU  and Utah before those last 2 joined could the Power 5 in football could have won a national title. I don’t know because the Power 5 locked them out and continues to do so. If you read this blog, you know I favor the 8 team playoff format with one spot going to a non-Power 5 team.

In other sports though non-Power 5 schools are winning championships, and I believe there would be a public outcry if the Power 5 tried to claim their teams were the best. Afterall isn’t that the point of sport to identify the best player or team? Most might come from power 5 conferences, but not all of them.

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