So, I really, really thought I was done with this whole Gonzaga-Washington proposal deal. We had our fun with the story, the national media agreed that the series proposal was ridiculous in nature, and it seemed that the entire thing had died. Then, as I'm sitting watching the snow fall in Denver, I get an email from Google saying that an article related to Gonzaga University has been written and it may be of interest to me. The article I notice is from Washington's school paper, The Daily. Now typically I would delete anything from a school paper because 1. It's usually a week late on news and 2. It's usually insanely biased and shotty if it's about sports. I will give the author credit in this regard, however. Journalism 101 teaches students to try and "hook" the readers. So what was the hook that made me read this article, you ask? Look no further than the title: Mark Few: whiny, little girl who loves Bigfoot.
The author of this little number, Jacob Thorpe, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, begins his piece with a very mature little wisecrack about Mark Few's Bigfoot comment and him possibly doing weird things in the rain forests of the Pac-NW.
Then the Thorpedo really starts to zero in with this Pulitzer piece. FYI, this is going to be long because it must be broken down in pieces to get the full effect. Here's how he kicks this shindig off.
First off, the first thing Few should have done when he heard about the deal was call up UW athletic director Scott Woodward and thank him breathlessly and repeatedly. Washington doesn’t need this game. Gonzaga needs this game — badly.
Despite the level of success Gonzaga has achieved, it is still a mid-major school, and in this country, when you’re a mid-major, you act like one. You don’t see Pac-10 football teams scheduling home-and-home games with Boise State. Unless you’re Oregon, that is.
The 4000000 pound elephant in this article is the author's attempt to convince the reader that Gonzaga really does need this game and he breaks down why he feels that way later so we'll wait until later for that. The fun part of this particular segment is the mid-major talk and the football comparison. The mid-major talk is fine. I don't consider it an insult because the WCC is still a mid-major conference. However, every college basketball writer and knowledgeable mind agrees that calling Gonzaga a mid-major is ridiculous. Along with Xavier, Memphis, and Butler, Gonzaga has risen out of the mid-major ranks. Mid-majors are typically teams which are forced to constantly cater to big schools for games, are thought of as a no-win opponent, and don't pose a lasting threat in their respective sport. You've noted Gonzaga's great success and I believe Wake Forest, Michigan State, Stanford a few years back, Xavier, and to a smaller degree Memphis and Oklahoma are all proof that Gonzaga isn't a mid-major. They have or are set to come to Spokane, most of them on campus in the Kennel. Non-BCS? Yes. Mid-major? No shot.
This football argument is also laughable. If you asked any sane sports fan what football program Gonzaga compares to, I'd bet that you would hear programs like Boise, TCU, and Utah. Why? Because they are non-BCS and they have become the gold standard for small programs that have lasting power. Jacob, here's where I'll prove that good football programs do play smaller, non-BCS programs. For some reason you discount Oregon (arguably the best team in the Pac-10 right now) playing in Boise. Don't, it's a great game for Boise and a strong move by the Ducks even though they lost. The Broncos will also play Oregon State in coming years (also a better team that UW). TCU, another wildly successful non-BCS program, has had Texas come on campus and will have Baylor, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and LSU on campus in coming years. High profile non-BCS programs get quality home and homes. No matter what sport because they have earned the respect on the national landscape.
You must read after the jump. I promise it only gets better...
Thanks for fighting on after the jump. Now for my favorite part:
Gonzaga should consider itself lucky to have the opportunity to play a school like the UW. This game would give Gonzaga a recruiting boost in the basketball hotbed of western Washington, money from playing a big school on television, and most importantly, an RPI shot in the arm that Gonzaga desperately needs. For a team that plays a conference schedule as weak as Gonzaga’s, to have any chance at a favorable seed, they need to pad their strength of schedule. Furthermore, since Gonzaga has no natural rival, it would bring up the energy around the program considerably.
For all those same reasons, it would be foolish of the UW to play Gonzaga, particularly in the home-and-home situation Few wants. Scheduling Gonzaga only hurts Washington: It helps another Washington team with recruiting, gaining publicity and getting into the tournament. The UW would essentially be propping up Gonzaga’s program for them, at a cost to itself. The game has no benefit for the UW; if they win, it doesn’t matter because Gonzaga is a mid-major with a low RPI anyway. However, if they were to lose, in Gonzaga’s gym while playing against WCC refs, then the UW would lose to a mid-major team.
If you are still reading, and I don't blame you if you aren't, you can go ahead and mark this point in my life as the point where I stopped believing in printed journalism. The first sentence in this chunk of print literally pushed me towards the point of sickness. The RPI is not the BCS. NCAA seeding is dictated by a bunch of guys getting in a room, reviewing quality wins and bad losses and making a bracket. While they use RPI, many have called it a dated science. See: KenPom. Even if it was a major barometer for college basketball, Gonzaga was 26th at the end of the year, UW was 14th in RPI. Yes, I'll admit that Washinton is higher but to describe a 12 spot difference as a shot in the arm we desperately need is just insanity. Playing UW in comparison to our schedule last year would have had ZERO overall effect on our seed. Just to refresh your memory, Gonzaga plays Michigan State, three BCS maui teams, Washington State, Wake Forest, Duke, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Memphis this season. These are all opponents that, when the committee sits down to make a bracket, will be viewed as "quality games". Now, Washington may be better than some of these teams right now but the danger with Washington, and we saw this in 2005-06 is that they could be a top-10 team and completely fall off the face of the Earth. We don't need your RPI boost but thank you for attempting to save us from the doldrums of #26 of the RPI. God how have we ever survived.
As for your WCC refs, check your facts. Pac-10 and WCC commonly share referees. No advantage there.
Let's continue to the end...
The bottom line is: Gonzaga needs Washington. Washington doesn’t need Gonzaga. Therefore, let them accommodate the UW. The Huskies play in the Pac-10 Conference: the conference of champions. Their rivals are Washington State because they’re in-state, Arizona because Lorenzo Romar owned Lute Olson, and UCLA because the Bruins have 11 banners and can’t beat the UW in Hec Ed. Those are the UW’s rivals, and it doesn’t need another. That schedule alone is enough to get the UW’s RPI up there. This season, the Huskies also play Georgetown and Texas A&M, and next year they play in the Maui Invitational. So the UW doesn’t need Gonzaga then, either.
What Few and his hairy friend need to realize is that the status quo favors the Huskies right now, and they have no incentive to change it. Few should be begging for this game, and beggars can’t be choosers.
You have to admire the author's persistence. He uses power tactics and the term "the UW" like they are the Vatican. The bottom line, and this has been the bottom line since this story was settled many days ago, is that neither team NEEDS the game. It's fun for the state, would give both programs a little extra coin, and would be a match up of two solid programs. Gonzaga has no problem scheduling fantastic nonconference opponents and Washington has no problem doing whatever they do. We don't need a natural rival like we are some lost child looking for a role model, and we don't care about the slogan of the Pac-10. Your catchphrase may be the conference of champions, but besides a few women's programs, I'm pretty sure Washington isn't rushing to the print shop hoping to get a bunch of national title banners printed.
By the way, not even going to mention how the series came to end in the first place or the results of the last ten games played in this series? And they say journalism is dead!