The college basketball calendar begins in November, but comes to its climactic end in March. The NCAA Tournament, which has been nicknamed “March Madness,” has given its title to the first month of the season this year, with money and television contracts setting “November Madness” in motion.
For those who do not follow college basketball, there have been several huge moves regarding conferences in recent weeks with founding members of conferences bolting for big-money television deals in moves that hardly have any regard for geography. Maryland, a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Rutgers, likewise with the Big East, will be members of the Midwest-driven Big Ten beginning in 2014.
The next domino to fall was Louisville. A recent addition to the Big East, the Cardinals have joined the ACC in a move that makes sense from both a competitive and geographic standpoint, and I truly take no issue with it.
It is Maryland that I find despicable.
Is there a more quintessentially Atlantic state than Maryland? Crab cakes and football, right?
While football is the driving force behind all of this, what is getting left behind is the tenant that the NCAA calls upon every time pundits call for a playoff system in football: academics. These kids, who already travel more than I have in my entire life, will be on the road consistently from November until early March, missing weeks at a time at some stretches.
If academics are really what the NCAA holds dear, why are they allowing a team like Syracuse to join the ACC where they will travel to Florida not once, but twice? Notre Dame and Maryland are essentially playing mirrored schedules of each other as Maryland travels to Indiana and the Irish will head to the Carolinas.
I am just barely old enough to remember a Big East that included Boston College, UConn, Providence and St. John’s, with Miami and Virginia Tech being the exceptions to the rule. Next fall, Boise State, Houston, Southern Methodist and San Diego State will be playing football in the “Big East,” with Tulane jumping in down the road as well.
At some point, common sense went so far out the window that if it could be quantified and put onto a piece of paper, the presidents who are responsible for these moves would look at it like it was in hieroglyphics. Like cave paintings, they would laugh at it, belittle it, and wonder how anyone could have been so stupid.
Playing close to home? Where’s the fun in that? Let’s play in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving and New York on Christmas.
I’m all for amateurism, but if the NCAA is going to wear these kids out like pros, they better start treating them like pros.