If you recall, Miami played Saginaw Valley State on Monday night and won by 10 points. Big deal, blah blah blah. But this is cooler than the surface indicates, as Chuck noted yesterday.
The obvious anomaly in this game: Miami played at a Division II school. There's no reason why they can't; SVSU's arena seats nearly 4,000, which isn't much less than the smallest MAC arena, BGSU's Stroh Center (4,700). If this game was in Oxford, you can bet it'd draw somewhere in the 1,000-2,000 range. And that's not bad; that's just reality.
This morning I tweeted out a link to the Charlie Coles' presser. I shared it because it was outstanding. Others agreed — but they focused in on the part about Coles' grandchildren being with him while fielding reporters' questions, his grandson especially tinkering with the microphone. And that was excellent also. But that's not why I shared it.
It was this quote, which was in reference to a D-I school playing at a D-II arena, and why the Michigans and Ohio States will never travel to smaller schools:
But I think Saginaw Valley was spirited. And I was glad that we gave them this opportunity to play a Division I school. Very seldom does a team that's supposed to be higher than you comes to your court. And I don't like that about college basketball, that a Michigan won't go to Western Michigan. They'll sign a 5-year deal and say "we'll never come." I never did get that. ... Gene Keady and Bobby Knight used to come to Miami, but they don't make 'em like that no more.
The big boys want more than an advantage. They're like deer hunters. I have nothing against deer hunters, but you know when you hunt deer, there's not even a remote chance that the deer is going to get you. I want to see a guy go against lions and elephants and bears.
If Coles ever approaches me and says he wants to take over this blog, he can have it.
He then went onto discuss some of the SVSU coaches and opinions on some of their basketball players.
Here are the list of power conference basketball teams to go to MAC schools this year: Michigan State at EMU on November 17 and DePaul at NIU on December 14. There's your complete list. Two Final Four teams do travel to the MAC, however: VCU goes to Akron and Butler visits Ball State. Of course, these are small schools who yet (and presumably never will) have the pull to bring anybody into their arena and boast a long nonconference winning streak. That's because these teams are already resigned to playing anybody anywhere.
In football it's slightly understandable1 because the arenas just aren't big enough to justify the loss in ticket revenue — although it could somewhat be offset by the trademarked ass-whuppin' fee they give to teams.
(1) - Actually, come on just once prove you can swallow enough pride to make the bus trip, Michigan. Play at a MAC school. And none of these half-assed neutral NFL stadium copouts.2
(2) - AND NOT TEMPLE.3
(3) - OKAY, FINE, IT CAN BE TEMPLE.
Also, a loss like that could essentially blast out a serious BCS contender, because big schools care about nebulous playoff systems with goofy criteria. For basketball, it might seriously kind of affect your seeding in March by ... one? Two? Buck up and head out in the world to new places.
On the flipside, it'd be cool to see more MAC schools heed Miami's actions and play at some lesser colleges, be it in exhibitions or regular-season matches. Like Coles said, these schools are going to give you their best effort and the home crowd will be fired up for it. This may also help appreciate what kind of facilities some of these teams actually have today should they stroll into a 1,000-seat gymnasium.
But he gets it. Charlie Coles just absolutely gets it, still to this day, because he's lived it for almost 25 seasons. He'll discuss metaphors of deer hunters fighting elephants while his grandchildren meddle with live microphones to the dismay of beat writers. And it will all make sense. They don't make 'em like Gene Keady or Bob Knight anymore. Or Charlie Coles.