Mar 18, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Ohio Bobcats guard D.J. Cooper (5) looks for an open man against the South Florida Bulls during the second half in the third round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Bridgestone Arena.The Bobcats beat the Bulls 62-56.
I don't think many of us expected this site to be continually active writing about a team still alive in the NCAA tournament. When something doesn't happen in 10 years, optimism may run high but it seems more likely that "we're done" rather than "we're due" when it comes to advancing past the first weekend of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Had OHIO lost to Michigan, which I actually said would probably happen on Athens radio last week, I would not have though any less about that program. I knew they were dynamite. Lots of teams lose in the first round and many are strong teams with bright futures.
And I was pretty certain that if they DID make it this far that John Groce would be probably leaving for another job because that's what you do when you win somewhere else. At the time I was speaking in hypotheticals, because that's what a blogger does: make statements in a vaccuum that cannot be disproven! Now ... [tugs own collar]
Maybe he stays. In fact, looking what Shaka Smart did at VCU and turn down big money at Illinois to possibly turn them into a middling program, he's got something better going on in Virginia. Groce seems to be in a similar situation but while there's never a good time for a coach to leave, maybe in a couple years when the program has a "down" 18-11 year, he'll be a hot item.
OHIO is not going to win the NCAA tournament. Hate to splash more cold water in your face, but it's not happening. The team is awesome but they're no different than Butler, VCU, George Mason, Gonzaga, Davidson, Kent State, Miami, or any other team that made a great run. A combination of skill, execution and good fortune got them here. But here's the payoff: people are not only discussing them, but stories are being told about them.
I really liked this little anecdotal feature by Michael Arace about Charlie Gill, the ex-OHIO player who helped the team reach the Elite Eight in 1964, beating powerhouse Kentucky at the time. And I think that's the power of these runs. The stories are out there, but it's hard to fight for column inches.
Although you don't really need a reason to dig into the archives of a MAC school beyond curiosity. The Ravenna Record-Courier wrote a feature on ex-Bowling Green quarterback Brian McClure last year, just because. That's the stuff we love. And now we're getting all sorts of angles about this quaint little community tucked into Southeast Ohio, and all the people who once went there. Matt Lauer! Peter King!
Jay Mariot Joe Eszterhaz!
The interest from the national media will not last. It cannot. Nor should it. Not when Kentucky and Syracuse and Ohio State are still playing. These runs are meant to be short and finite so that in 20 years, when OHIO is in the Sweet 16 again, all of us can start retelling the oral history of DJ Cooper, Walter Offutt, Ivo Baltic, John Groce (before he was somebody), those awful black uniforms and how we all felt as MAC fans.