The Gonzaga Bulldogs earned a No. 1 national ranking well before Selection Sunday got underway. The mid-major conference in which they play, the WCC, were on the cusp of having a whopping two teams be awarded a pair of NCAA Tournament dancing slippers. As Greg Gumbel did Greg Gumbel things, a nation found out that Gonzaga was going to be a No. 1 seed in the big dance.
Then, thanks to a slew of nonsensical nonsense, folks started talking about how Gonzaga was no longer a mid-major. Which, in a rare moment, made me think about what exactly are the requirements to no longer be considered a mid-major? Is there a separate, but secret selection committee full of media members who decide who gets propped up to the levels of the Duke Blue Devils program?
There has to be a checklist for such a thing, right? The nation can’t just go handing out power-team tags to anyone who makes the tournament on regularly. I mean, just because you make the big dance every year doesn’t really mean you are that good. The WCC was only a two-bid league, one of which was the Zags, so dominating their conference is not nearly the same as one running rampant in the ACC.
I think it would be safe to assume multiple long runs in the NCAA Tournament would also suffice as enough to be a card-carrying member of the nation’s elite, but I don’t see a slew of Final Four runs in the Gonzaga history books. Heck, I don’t think anyone actually believes the team could make it this year despite being a one seed in a (now) weak region.
It probably wouldn’t hurt to have a charismatic coach. Mark Few kind of sort of fits that bill, but he has yet to earn the levels of grouchyness as Jim Boeheim or snake-like charm of John Calipari has. Few doesn’t bring anything to the table that 300 other college basketball coaches already have personality-wise.
So what exactly is it that makes Gonzaga a national player and not a team like the Georgetown Hoyas? The Hoyas are very similar to the Zags as far as early exits go — with the exception of John Thompson III actually having a Final Four run in his resume.
This isn’t a knock on the Gonzaga program. Few and the boys do a terrific job of propping up their program to a level of power-team likeness. Yet, the program has never made it past the Sweet Sixteen. If this were the case of a program such as Georgetown, we would be killing their coach and calling them a disappointment. Somehow, because they play in a mid-major, Gonzaga is celebrated.
Until Few and the Zags start getting hit with all levels of unreasonable scrutiny, I am sorry, we need to pull your national power tag off of you. All you have to do to earn it back is win a few games you are supposed to, now that you are a “power” program.
Is that asking too much, or do you feel like that is a rhetorical question?
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone