It's hard to keep quiet about the upsets in college sports
Appalachian State rolls into the Big House, and beats Michigan. Wow.
Two different college basketball powerhouses, Ohio State and Michigan State, lose exhibition games to Division II opponents. Say what?
Kentucky, gets housed in a wire-to-wire beat-down at their own gym to Atlantic Sun also-ran Gardner-Webb. Get outta here!
Mega-hyped college freshman O.J. Mayo makes a splash in his USC debut with 32 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
His team lost. Going away.
Tiny Mercer College whipped Mayo and the Trojans in Los Angeles, 96-81. Mercer shot 60 percent from the field, which is unacceptable for any defense. USC shot an embarrassing 18-of-32 from the free throw line.
I'm sorry. This is not parity. This is apathy.
"Coach told us, 'Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard,'" Mercer's Calvin Henry said.
"That was our quote of the week," Mercer coach Mark Slonaker said.
And apparently, there's more of this on the way in college sports. The prevailing thought is that teams are closer in talent than ever before. Pundits say that advances in video analysis, scouting, recruiting and the increased exposure of television have leveled the playing field in both football and basketball.
Maybe so. But not to this degree. This is something else.
I think I've got a working theory, but I'll admit it's not a complete, logical thesis just yet. I may need your help fitting some pieces of the puzzle together.
Let's start by clearly defining my idea of "parity" today in college sports.
In football ...
Parity is Illinois being able to go to Ohio State and win.
Parity is Kansas being good in football for the first time in decades.
Parity is the SEC East possibly ending in a six-way tie.
In basketball ...
Parity is a good small conference team being able to knock off a power opponent at a neutral site in March.
Parity is most definitely NOT a team picked to finish eighth in its conference, fresh off three years of probation, going into storied Rupp Arena and blasting the doors off a Kentucky team from start to finish.
In that game, Gardner-Webb came out with a 14-0 blitz to start and led at halftime, 26-10. They never trailed. When it was over, Kentucky sat in its own puzzled mess before a stunned home crowd.
Final score: 84-68.
That's an abomination, folks. That is not the "new era" in college sports where programs are supposedly "closer" in talent and skill than ever.
If there were true parity as some are insisting, then Kentucky would have also had a fight the night before against another second-tier team, Arkansas State. They did not. They won easily, 67-40.
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I think you make some valid points about a lack of teamwork and distractions with our curent media.I feel it more related to the increase of population.It's the same percentage of true athletes and the same number of scholorships and players in big schools. The leftover athletes still play ball but do for the Div.II and Div.III schools. The drop off at II and III schools is not as dramatic as it was 25 years ago.
I agree with you comments, and I would add that the 'team' element seems to be eroding. Maybe because there are fewer 4-year players these days? Maybe the superstars are only focused on thinking about their life as a pro and not on the task at hand? Maybe it is all of the gadgets that consume their life - how often do you see basketball players taking layups before the game with their iPods on, instead of interacting with their teammates? It all adds to the larger equation....
Jeff, Your comments are perfect. Well done. The only thing I would add is an overwhelming arrogance and sense of self importance that these players have. Because they play for a "Power House" they don't think they have to prepare for the small time schools- a win should be automatic, they think.
Czabe: I love your show on Fox Sports Radio. Every weekday morning I listen to the First Team, especially 80's Rewind ("You caaaan put it on the board!!!!") and your fantasy football talk on Thursdays. I switched to XM Radio because of your show. Great column too!
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