Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Basketball, Basketball, Basketball"---New MAC Commissioners drops a bomb

Elton Alexander of the PD sat down with the new MAC Commissioner (Jon Steinbrecher, in case you forgot, and don't pretend like you didn't)

It was one of these thumbsucker Q&A deals that doesn't really yield any interesting info until the bottom, where the commish says something that is sure to make waves...

PD: What needs to be addressed quickly with respect to basketball?

JS: "Hey, the sky is not falling and the roof is not falling in. I want to address what we're doing with our football scheduling. We need to focus in on basketball and spend a lot of time on it. What I want to make sure we're doing, at virtually every meeting, basketball is the topic of conversation. What makes basketball important is when it is in front of you all the time.

"So I want to make sure that stays on our front burner, day-in and day-out, year-in and year-out."

PD: You will make a lot of friends with that answer.

JS: "It's the truth. We had varying degrees of success in the OVC. But one thing we started a couple of years ago was every meeting we started talking about basketball, basketball, basketball. I think they'll see some end results in a few years that have already started coming around.

"At the end of the day you need the right coaches and the right athletes for any of our sports. But if it's going to be important, you better talk about it."

Did you see that? "Basketball, basketball, basketball."

I think that's pretty significant. I have blogged until I am blue in the face about the MAC's commitment to FBS football and the resulting decline in our basketball programs, and how the MAC used to be sort of a "thinking man's" basketball conference but now has a pretty signficant losing streak in the Big Dance, a lousy record against comparable conferences and a visible decline in the quality of play.

And, in the past few years, it has been "football, football, football" in the MAC.

So, it is news that the new Commish is saying this.

I think it goes a little deeper too. The MAC decided to hire a Commissioner who did not come from a conference with football (OVC) and who has, by his own admission, spent his time previous to this improving basketball. I can't imagine this is an accident.

So, perhaps dangerously, I am going to surmise that the hiring and these statements are a signal that the MAC is going to start to put more emphasis on basketball again. If so, I applaud it, and I am a huge football fan. I just think that in our conference not having strong basketball is a lost opportunity.

When it is competitive, MAC Basketball is an absolute delight. You know you only have one bid, so it is an absolute dogfight the entire way. Any team is dangerous on their home floor, so there are almost no gimmees, and the tension continues, twice a week, for January and February. It'd be great to see that again.

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