Boise and Butler Close the Mid-major Gap
by Andrew Pliner, age 13
In professional sports it is large vs. small market. College has major vs. mid-major. The college gap is beginning to narrow.
In the 2010 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament, Butler, a No. 5 seed proved that college sports can be unpredictable.
Many predicted the Butler Bulldogs to lose in the opening round game of the NCAA tournament, but much to the disbelief and delight of the American public, the Bulldogs made it all the way to the National Championship game. Butler gave the Duke Blue Devils a tremendous fight in the final, losing by only two points.
Even with the loss, the Butler story gives hope to all the small, underrated mad-major teams who dream of playing in a championship game. The Boise State football team is much like Butler, helping to close the major vs. mid-major gap. It’s hard to keep Boise in the shadows. They beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and they continue to field excellent teams.
In fact, Boise State was at the center of the mid-major controversy last season. Some experts felt they were good enough to play for the National Championship. The team again had an undefeated record. The Bowl Championship Series computers instead matched Boise against another mid-major. Texas Christian University (TCU) played Boise in the Fiesta Bowl. Texas and Alabama faced off n the National Title game.
With a combination of talent and experience returning this year, Boise St. should again be a major contender in the hunt for a national title. And just like Butler, and inspiration to underdogs everywhere.
The Wisconsin Badger basketball team’s off-season has been eventful to say the least.
Devon Hodges, a 6-foot-7 220-pound, forward decommitted from the Badger program. His father, Dwan Friend said, “Devon was only 15 years old when he committed. We talked it over and want to make sure that he made the commitment for himself and not for me because I was a Badger fan. I want him to live life for him and not live life for me. We just have to make sure.” He also added, “There’s no bad blood at all.”
On the other hand, the Badgers may have come away with a major recruiting steal. Ben Brust signed a national letter of intent to play for Iowa last spring. Yet, after Iowa unexpectedly fired coach Todd Lickliter in March, Brust exercised his option and opted out of the scholarship. Brust, a high scoring 6-foot-2 guard, from Mundelein, Illinois instantly received attention from coaches around the country.
Big Ten bylaws prevent any player that signs a national letter of intent for one Big Ten team and then opts out to aquire a scholarship from another Big Ten school.
The University of Wisconsin and Ben Brust filed an appeal with the Big Ten, for Ben to compete in the Big Ten next season. After the first appeal failed, UW and Northwestern followed up with a second, this time successful, appeal.
A couple of days after the Big Ten ruling, Ben Brust signed scholarship papers and officially became part of the University of Wisconsin Badger’s 2010 basketball recruiting class. Brust joins center Evan Anderson and guards Duje Dukan and Josh Gasser, in Madison this fall.
Rumor has it the Badgers are close to signing some blue chip recruits for a four-player 2011 recruiting class.
[Sources: Yahoo Sports, Jsonline.com, Madison.com, Gazettextra.com; Badgernation.com]