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Realism Has No Place In Sports

It’s a lesson I hope Sean Frazier learns next season

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Auburn v Central Florida Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Everyone’s favorite MAC athletic director is at it a bit prematurely this year. Always the generator of fun topics in the off-season, we are a week out from the MAC Tournament. And to clarify for those of us that cover college sports, the off-season is the abyss between the end of basketball season and the start of football season. While we at Hustle Belt love covering the spring sports, (I had a great time in Lexington watching OU baseball) nothing quite generates the buzz of those two cash cows known as football and basketball.

Back on topic.

So what did Mr. Frazier do this time? He got upset that UCF has proclaimed themselves national champions. You can read his comments in this story from Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports. Well as you may know, we also proclaimed UCF national champs. Why? Because we can. Also, because we love the underdog. Most importantly, because we know that their run directly correlates to our own unreasonable expectations about our favorite teams.

We all follow a team or teams in the MAC. We all hope to make a bowl game first, followed by a MAC championship. Even the followers of Kent State follow this line of thinking. That’s what normal, ordinary people do. What makes us fanatics, or the long form of fans, is that we then have crazy fantasies of our team doing extra-ordinary things. In the case of college football teams, that means going undefeated and then playing in a New Year’s 6 bowl game. Crazier still, a win, which Western Michigan almost pulled off against Wisconsin. Most of us don’t stop until we reach the pinnacle, a national championship. Not a faux G5 national championship, not even a self claimed UCF undefeated season national championship, but a real live, mostly real, playoff committee driven national championship.

Sean Frazier slammed that door in UCF’s face when he said, “...If you want to put a banner up that says ‘national championship,’ God bless you. You can do that. I’ve got no problem with [White] doing that. But to say they should have been in the final four is an unrealistic expectation.”

What he doesn’t understand is that unrealistic expectation IS SPORTS. It’s unrealistic to think you can make millions playing a game. Some people do. It’s unrealistic to think you can be born in Austria, lift a few weights, and then become governor of California. Someone did. We can go on an on.

However, Sean Frazier deals in the real world of sports. He played football at Alabama. He coached football and then he became a distinguished administrator for decades. The pedigree is there, however, he deals with the reality of sports. Right now, he is probably trying to figure out how to pay for a softball road trip in a few weeks. When he looks ahead to the Northern Illinois football season, he is counting the wins, and the bowl game that will come with. He knows more than any of us the windfall that would happen if the Huskies somehow manage to make a New Year’s Six Bowl game. The money isn’t going into his pocket directly, so that is not why he is hoping it happens. The money keeps programs alive that might not otherwise make it, and not just at his school, as that money is split with the conference.

For lack of a better word, he is adulting.

So where am I going with this and what do I want to happen next college football season? Obviously first and foremost, I am going to be rooting for my favorite teams to win every game. Next on the list I will be rooting for the teams that I think will make great stories and thus enhance the game. Near, if not at the top of that list, is the Northern Illinois Huskies. Why? Well, multiple reasons. I think they have a decent amount of national street cred to really make a push for the playoffs if they are undefeated in any season. Next season, they play Utah, Florida State, Iowa, and BYU in their non-conference schedule. If things fall into place, all 4 of those teams could be ranked, even with a loss to NIU.

See what I am doing here? I am taking a bunch of ifs. If NIU is undefeated, and IF those non-conference teams take care of business, the committee just might include the Huskies. If that happens...

That’s what fans do, we take it to the next level with our what ifs. There is no doubt in my mind that if NIU is in the mix, Sean Frazier will suspend adulting for a while, and join the call for a G5 in the playoffs. See, when Frazier attacked UCF this time, it was from the angle that the AAU is no better than the MAC and they don’t deserve a title if an undefeated MAC team doesn’t get one. Which he rightfully believes will probably happen. When he proposed a G5 playoffs, it was the athlete in him desiring to be the best and needing a championship. See, deep down inside, Sean Frazier is one of us. He is a fan.

“Do you believe in miracles!” Al Michaels once screamed as the US men’s team beat Russia in Hockey. That’s the glory of life, believing in miracles. My goal in life is to make everyone believe in miracles. For Sean Frazier to believe in miracles, it might come with a NIU undefeated regular season and then an invite to the playoffs. For Sean Frazier to advocate for miracles, it would come with an NIU undefeated regular season.

If my teams aren’t in it, I’ll settle for either.