Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Greater Expectations

Passion. That's why I prefer college sports over the pros. I see it in the stands. I see passion and intensity in the players and coaches. They are playing to win, for pride, for their future. They have fewer ties to big money than the pros. And the expectations are tempered by the fact that we cheer for college kids who have to attend class, study, write papers and take finals between practices, weight training and games.

But that is changing. Program expectations are off the charts. Apparently consistent 20-win seasons are no longer enough to secure a job. And losing just one key game can draw comparisons like this one to former San Diego Chargers Coach Marty Schottenheimer. [Side note: I still remember what it feels like to lose an Elite Eight game, but apparently Bill didn't...]

College fans in power conferences, from Kentucky to California to Arkansas to Kansas, expect their team to win a national championship every year. And if that doesn't happen, the program is apparently in shambles (see message board chatter).

The 2007 NCAA tournament has highlighted the parity in college basketball. Many games have been decided by just a few points and last-second plays. And this fact makes fan expectations of perennial dominance unreasonable. After all, even this guy didn't make it out of the first round this year. And this hall-of-fame coach cut down the nets just a few years ago, but missed the NCAA tournament this year, and bowed out of the 2007 NIT without visiting Madison Square Gardens. However, I'm confident that both programs will be stronger in the near future -- and their schools won't give up on the coaches.

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