Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Premier Example of Delusion

I think if you know me or if you've read this piece of shit I call a blog long enough, you know that I can be fairly bitter at times. It probably stems from the world doing everything in its power to crush me and God surrounding me on Earth with enough idiots to give me something to light a fire under my ass at all times (except when I was in college, where I was too happy, or possibly too drunk, to get angry -- God I miss college), or possibly a chemical imbalance.

Anyway, so this morning I was reading a story about why Steve Alford left Iowa to become the head coach at New Mexico. His reasons made sense (mainly that basketball is second fiddle to football at Iowa and the basketball team's facilities and resources pale in comparison to the football team's), and I thought the article was the mediocre attempt at journalism I've come to expect from the Iowa City Press-Citizen. But then at the end of the article there was a quote by Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta, who was responding to Alford's statement that Iowa put football ahead of basketball. Here's what Barta had to say:

"This is one of the premier basketball programs in the country. I think we all know that when you take a look at our history, our tradition."
Sweet ghost of Lute Olsen's wife, one of the premier basketball programs in the country? Tradition? Are you kidding me? What fucking planet is this guy living on? It's not heaven, I know that much. Had he only substituted "wrestling" for "basketball" I would have wholeheartedly agreed, but basketball? Iowa isn't even one of the top five Big Ten basketball programs, let alone one of the premier basketball programs in the country. I cannot in good faith let his comment slide. Let's take a look at some statistics and facts that perhaps slipped Barta's mind when he was discussing his "premier" program:
  • NCAA Championships: 0
  • NCAA Championship Game appearances: 1 (1956)
  • Final Four appearances: 3
  • Final Four appearances since Reagan was elected President: 0 (last was in 1980)
  • Number of Big Ten teams who have been to a Final Four since 1980: 7 (Indiana (4), Michigan State (4), Michigan (3), Illinois (2), Ohio State (2), Wisconsin (1), Minnesota (1))
  • Number of times Iowa has been a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament: 0
  • Number of Elite Eight appearances: 4
  • Number of Elite Eight appearances since 1980: 1
  • Last Elite Eight appearance: 1987
  • Number of Sweet 16 appearances: 7
  • Number of Sweet 16 appearances since 1980: 4
  • Last Sweet 16 appearance: 1999
  • Last NCAA tournament victory: 2001
  • Total NCAA tournament appearances: 22 (4th in the Big Ten behind Indiana (34), Illinois (27), and Ohio State (24))
  • Number of NCAA tournament appearances in last 10 years (1998-2007): 4 (7th in Big Ten behind Michigan State (10), Illinois (9), Wisconsin (9), Indiana (8), Ohio State (6), and Purdue (5)). In addition, Iowa has gone to as many NCAA tournaments in the last 10 years as such other premier basketball programs as BYU, Cal, Davidson, Georgia Tech, Holy Cross, Iona, Miami (FL), Mississippi, Mississippi State, Murray State, Nevada, UNC-Wilmington, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas Tech, and Tulsa, and fewer NCAA tournaments than what I will deem "super-premier programs," such as Butler, Charlotte, Creighton, George Washington, Gonzaga, Kent State, Missouri, Penn, Pitt, Southern Illinois, Tennessee, Utah State, Wake Forest, Washington, Winthrop, and Xavier.
  • NCAA tournament record: 27-24, .529 (winning percentage is 9th in Big Ten behind Michigan (41-19, .683), Indiana (60-29, .674), Michigan State (41-20, .672), Ohio State (42-22, .656), Wisconsin (17-12, .586), Illinois (38-28, .576), Purdue (28-21, .571), and Minnesota (12-9, .571) (all records include games played to this point in this year's NCAA tournament)
  • NCAA tournament record since 1980: 17-17, .500 (winning percentage is tied for 9th in Big Ten with Penn State (3-3, .500) behind Michigan (26-11, .703), Michigan State (31-16, .660), Indiana (38-22, .633), Ohio State (20-12, .625), Minnesota (11-8, .579), Illinois (29-22, .569), Wisconsin (13-11, .542), and Purdue (20-18, .526) (all records include games played to this point in this year's NCAA tournament)
  • Big Ten regular season titles: 8 (tied for 8th with Minnesota behind Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State -- and only 2 more titles than the University of Chicago, who withdrew from the Big Ten in 1946)
  • Last Big Ten regular season title: 1979 (the only longer drought is Northwestern (1933), not including Penn State, who has not won a title since it joined the Big Ten in 1993, and not including the University of Chicago (1924))
  • Naismith, Wooden, Rupp, or Oscar Robertson Award winners: 0
  • Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball winners (MVP of Big Ten): 3 (tied with Wisconsin for 8th behind Indiana (15), Ohio State (10), Illinois (7), Michigan State (7), Michigan (6), Minnesota (4), and Purdue (4))
  • Last Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball winner: 1968 (the immortal Sam Williams)

In case you've been reading this, but for some reason not paying attention, here is a list of how many years its been since Iowa accomplished various premier tasks:

  • NCAA tournament victory: 6
  • Sweet 16: 8
  • Elite Eight: 20
  • Final Four: 27
  • Big Ten regular season title: 28
  • Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball winner: 39
  • Championship game appearance: 51

Clearly this is one of the premier college basketball programs, not only of the past 25 years, but of all-time. Alford had good reason to leave when his AD is so horribly deluded as to the state of his school's basketball program. That's like IU's AD denying head football coach Terry Hoeppner an upgraded practice facility because "Indiana is one of the traditional Big Ten powerhouse programs that can stand alone on its name, rather than having to rely on state-of-the-art facilities." Maybe "premier" has a different definition in Iowa than in the rest of the world, like "mediocre," "second-class," or "sub-par."

Thank you Gary Barta for making me ruin my lunch hour looking up stats to prove you wrong. I hate you. Luckily, I have one of the premier blogs on the World Wide Web, so you will no doubt read this.

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