the season has truly begun now
basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich
Outside the Lines put together an excellent piece on John Calipari brooming five players from Kentucky's roster as soon as he arrived. (It's technically six but one guy was a potential fifth-year, not an underclassman; ESPN's stretching a bit to make their case.) They mention that other people playing this game are Nick Saban, Billy Donovan, and… John Beilein!?!
Yes, actually, they do. It comes deep into the piece and is a tiny aside but they bring up the guy freakin' heading NCAA basketball's new ethics committee for Michigan's roster turnover amongst the usual sea of sketchy guys with slick hair:
A quick glance at the six departures over two years cited:
Ekpe Udoh. Udoh just turned in a triple-double for Baylor; Beilein obviously didn't want to lose him. Udoh saw 65% of available minutes in Beilein's first year and every time he is brought up a little part of a Michigan basketball fan dies. (Sorry, Eldridge P. Murthel of Saline, but that toe is never going to feel again.)
Reed Baker. Baker was offered an explicitly one-year deal sight unseen by Tommy Amaker (who feared that Dion Harris may have ended up academically ineligible) and took it; Beilein did not renew it. Baker landed at Florida Gulf Coast, where he's playing about 30 minutes a game.
Jerrett Smith. Smith was Kelvin Grady before Kelvin Grady was Kelvin Grady, a point guard who got buried on the depth chart. I believe he didn't come close to meeting Beilein's newly-instituted physical requirements. He transferred to GVSU and played the final year of his career there.
K'Len Morris. Morris also transferred to GVSU. He''s a junior this year; last year he saw 12 games before an injury ended his season. This year he has eight minutes in one game. (Injury again?)
Kendrick Price. Price quit the team when Beilein came in and now plays for the Vermont Frost Heaves of the Premier Basketball League. He is listed as a rookie from Michigan, so I believe he finished his degree at M instead of transferring somewhere else.
Kelvin Grady. Grady ended up buried at the end of the bench behind two walk-ons and decided he wasn't a fit for Beilein's offense. He's still at Michigan, playing receiver for the football team.
Only four of the departures were unexpected or something other than a total disaster for the interior defense and only two of those saw the players actually leave school—this is about academics, after all. Even leaving aside that, Michigan spent last year with ten scholarship players and the year before that with nine. No one was removed from the team to make room for a hotshot freshman. Creating standards your players have to meet to find playing time and seeing them transfer or quit because they don't, as Smith, Morris, and Price did, is totally different than cutting players so you can sign John Wall.
I don't bring this up to be defensive; it's just that the most common defense of this stuff on the part of folk who should be defensive is to bring up normal, un-sketchy attrition and attempt to draw a comparison. John Beilein (of all people!) is nothing like John Calipari.
Other than that, though, the piece is excellent. Three former UK players are quoted on-camera saying that they were cut. Cut with weaselly plausible deniability, but cut. Predictably, the comments are a horde of UK fans talking about haterz seeing them rolling. Jemele Hill's claim that UK fans would root for Charles Manson if he won is the most accurate statement that's ever been apologized for.
Broken record time: the NCAA should do something about this. Kudos to ESPN for ratcheting up the pressure.
John Calipari, folks:
UK announced Tuesday that three scholarship players will not be back on the team next season.
The three were A.J. Stewart, Donald Williams and Jared Carter.
Each of them has been told to play nice or else and has quotes thanking everyone for the opportunities, but privately they must be seething. By the numbers this is vastly worse than the Alabama stuff, as Calipari signed the class in the full knowledge he'd have to boot almost a quarter of his team to do it, without the luxury of medical redshirts. And he's not even done: if Jodie Meeks comes back and there are no academic issues, two more guys will have to get show the door. It's indefensible. Kentucky should be ashamed they allowed it to happen.
Meanwhile, a walk-on was taking about a scholarship with Gillespie and then got the cold shoulder. This doesn't come close to the level of the departed above since the player didn't come to UK under the impression he could spend four years there and end up with a degree, but the manner in which it was handled is revealing. The JCCW on that:
Time for tweeting? Check. Time to give a good kid, a lifetime Kentucky fan and Kentucky native, the common courtesy of telling him he's not needed in person? Or even over the phone? No dice.
These guys got cut so Calipari could cram his five-member recruiting class, which will no doubt feature a number of one-and-dones, on campus, and the idea of the "student-athlete" dies a little more. Calipari's now two for two on abandoning schools just as they get nailed with major sanctions for activities that—like Steve Fisher—the headman didn't know about because he didn't want to. Add in his record as an assistant at Kansas and Pittsburgh and Calipari has been at four schools, all of which have been hit with major infractions stemming from his time there. (Here's the NCAA database for these things; unfortunately it's impervious to links.)
Yeah, John Calipari had no knowledge of (probably) Derrick Rose's fraudulent test score, but that's sort of the point: he didn't know. And he didn't know Marcus Camby and the agent blah blah blah. He's not an idiot and neither are the people at Kentucky. And neither is the public. We're all terribly cynical now.
I find this stuff hugely depressing. Calipari can't take his two recruits and coach the guys he's got and wait a single year to graduate some kids, he's got to boot upstanding players off the team now so he can win now because that's just what he does, and the Kentucky administration just watches. All Kentucky has to do is wait and they'll have their full compliment of NBA-focused players who regard school as a nuisance and Kentucky as a marginally preferable alternative to Europe. Not even that's good enough.
I wonder about people who don't care about anything past the final score, don't care how that stuff goes down. I'd hate to be the guy behind A Sea of Blue right now, as he's not one of these people:
What he has done is effectively turn UK into an NBA franchise, and while that might be good for wins and losses and national championships, it isn't going to be welcomed everywhere. Some people are going to be very upset with how this is going down, and they have every right to be. UK has historically honored its scholarships, and has only rarely (if ever) done what is going on right now -- forcing players to transfer in order to make room under the "scholarship cap."
He excuses this behavior in two ways: blaming the athletic director for letting it happen and citing the massive contract Calipari signed, which "demands immediate results."
Why? It doesn't, of course. It demands eventual results, or at least it would if anyone at Kentucky gave a tenth of a crap about the players currently on the team.
I look at the rest of that guy's post, which is filled with halfhearted defenses of Calipari's long and checkered past and just cringe. I'd hate to wake up and see my basketball team filled with mercenaries and the country's biggest asshole on the sideline, winning the hollow victories of the morally bankrupt. What's the point of pretending Kentucky's basketball team is wing of the university anymore?
I'd love to get all up on my high horse about this undeniably douchy move by Thad Matta…
When Cameron Wright got off the phone with Ohio State men's basketball coach Thad Matta on Tuesday night, the junior guard from Benedictine knew he was not going to fulfill his dream of playing basketball for the Buckeyes. …
While recruits in football and basketball backing out of non-binding oral commitments isn't unusual, this wasn't a case of a kid changing his mind. Ever since OSU assistant John Groce, the primary recruiter for Wright, left to become the head coach at Ohio last June, Wright said contact from the Buckeyes had been sparse, and the call from Matta on Tuesday led to the final parting.
"I was definitely going to stick with Ohio State," said Wright.
…except I'm pretty sure Michigan did something subtler but similar with DeWayne Peace and Jordan Barnes, football recruits of yesteryear who decommitted in a fashion something less than voluntary. Peace had a conversation like this at some point:
Michigan: We'd like you to play defensive back.
Peace: Didn't I tell you I wanted to be a receiver?
Peace: Excuse me, I have to call Kansas.
Barnes, meanwhile, cited a wholesale lack of contact from the Michigan staff when he decommitted.* (He would later end up at Oklahoma State.) In both these cases Michigan didn't actually call up and say "you can't come here anymore," which makes their actions fractionally less douchy than those of Matta, but it's basically the same thing: whoops, can I have that scholarship back?
This might not be a trend yet, but it will be one soon, and then it will just be a fact of life. It's inevitable what with recruiting schedules moving so far forward, especially in basketball. Wright committed a year and a half ago(!). In the interim he went from highly touted to anonymous three-star. If you're a Michigan basketball fan you're probably thinking "I sort of wish Amaker had the balls to do that with Jerrett Smith," which assumes that Amaker would actually have replaced Smith with someone better but whatever. I feel you.
What's inevitable is also totally unfortunate, though. Wright's depressed final quote isn't going to be showing up in any annoying commercials starring violin-playing Asian soccer virtuosos:
"At the end of the day, it's all a business."
I thought the entire point was that it wasn't, in fact, a business. Upon this rests the entire near-fiction, not to mention the NCAA's tax-exempt status: that, in the end, the best interests of the student-athlete are paramount. That once you tell this Wright kid he can play basketball at Ohio State, he gets to unless he fails social studies six times or gets so high he can touch the sun.
As a fan I'd meet this news with two different emotions. One: hurray, it's more likely the team will be good. Two: boo, it's going to be harder to cheer for them when the ghost of Cameron Wright is sitting next to the walk-ons in a Cleveland State jersey. Everyone has a different balance there; mine slants heavily towards #2.
So it's good to be a fan of a university that did not actually run Jerrett Smith off, at least not before he got to campus. Smith's now a bench player at Grand Valley State after being booted for failing to meet standards set by Beilein. This also happened to Kendrick Price. Their removal from the team was not voluntary, but that seems fine as long as the standards are uniform and don't include things like "be useful on the court." Given the continued presence of Anthony Wright (before the Oklahoma game, at least), it's safe to say this isn't one of the standards.
Rodriguez's dance with the decommits hews closer to a line I'm uncomfortable with but still ends up on the right side of the line. If you don't think a kid can contribute or doesn't fit in your offense, it's best to tell them and let them make up their own mind. It's better to find out Michigan thinks you're a defensive back before signing day, after all, and unless you're being dishonest about that—which we'll never have any way of knowing—that's probably a net benefit. Peace is now a receiver at a place he'd rather be.
Barnes' case is murkier but there, too, Michigan let the guy make up his own mind. They helped along by making him feel unwanted, and while I'd prefer it if Michigan waited long enough to make sure they really wanted everyone they offered that kind of scrupulousness would put them behind the eight-ball, and as long as you don't actually yank the offer the kid's making a choice.
Do I have a larger point here? This is where the larger point goes. I don't know. I was just going to turn this into a UV bit and then it ended up pushing 1000 words, so you've read to the end and I should have a point.
I guess it's this: I don't want Michigan to be the sort of program that can pull what Matta just did. While I'm fine up to a point with the occasional moral compromise required to stay atop the shifting sands of Lemming-era recruiting, Rodriguez's tendency to shotgun offers out and let God sort 'em out later seems like a strategy that will lead to more uncomfortable situations not unlike a middle school dance: one party is desperately trying to extricate themselves from a situation they didn't think through before they checked the box that said "yes I like you."
*(I can no longer find a link for this, unfortunately. I have referenced it before, though. At the time of the decommit there was an Indy Star article that was pretty blunt about it.)
In the aftermath of Michigan's first tourney bid in forever and the looming (as in 2010) departures of the two guys who were the engine behind that bid there's been a lot of discussion about what we can expect in the future when Beilein doesn't have the services of two stars who wanted to play for someone else. There was a mailbag. There has been talking in comments and on blogs and on message boards. A winding response to various opinions follows.
It Can Work
Excellent diary from Bronxblue on the Beilein thing and potential ceilings it may have:
[Beilein's] system was designed to compensate for the lack of the "big time" star. The heavy reliance on three pointers that is a hallmark of his offense is designed to compensate for the lack of a post threat and/or a dynamic finisher around the basket. Similarly, the 1-3-1 was designed to create turnovers as a way to compensate for little interior defense from a dominant inside presence. …
Unfortunately … this type of system has a finite level of potential success - something I'll refer to as the Mid-Major Ceiling (MMC). Look at teams like Gonzaga (though their recruiting has gotten better over the years), Xavier, Creighton, and throw WVU into that mix (though they come from a major conference, they would never have succeeded in the Big East simply trying to out-recruit other teams). While they all are/were consistent NCAA teams, none ever made it past the Elite 8 (except George Mason, which was the flukiest of fluky runs), and even getting past the Sweet 16 was a crapshoot. The reason for this, at least in my opinion, was due to the fact that they inevitably ran into a team whose talent was great enough to expose the deficiencies each of those systems was designed to hide.
I don't think that necessarily has to be the case. John Hollinger put out an article earlier this year noting that the percentage of three-pointers attempted in the NBA is rising relentlessly, and the teams that are playing better than expected are doing it with the longball. Check it:
In fact, few stats correlate better with winning than 3-point attempts. If you tell me only how many 3-pointers a team has chucked up this season and provide no other information, I can tell you whether it is a winning team and be right eight times out of 10.
Check this out: The teams in the top 10 in 3-point attempts per field goal attempt have a combined winning percentage of .593 … and those in the bottom 10 have a combined winning percentage of .400.
That's no accident. Three-point attempts have correlated highly with winning for the past several years.
Now, the NBA is a completely different animal where just about everyone can shoot and everyone has legitimate post players, but that's just attempts, not actually making them.
You can see the power of the three-pointer in Michigan's numbers this year, which are at right: though Michigan was well above average at making their twos and well below average at making their threes, the eFG numbers are almost identical. If Michigan was even a little less unbalanced, the torrent of threes they jacked up would be a net benefit even though the stats would say they're better at twos.
Okay, yes, this sort of analysis misses a ton of factors: drawing fouls (advantage twos), turning the ball over (advantage threes), offensive rebounds(?). Also you just can't shoot all threes. Some percentage of Michigan's threes are really good looks, and those have the best percentage. Some percentage of them are okay looks, and those have an okay percentage. And some of them are "Manny… no!" or "Stu… no!" shots that have a poor percentage. Threes Michigan didn't shoot were bad shots indeed.
But the raw data from a place where the talent is much more evenly distributed is that if you can put together a team that takes a ton of threes you will be pretty good. Jackin' it up doesn't concede defeat.
As to the 1-3-1, we have not yet seen the full annoying extent of its power, not with 5'9" point guards and 6'4" power forwards and so on and so forth. When there's one guy shorter than 6'6" on the court and they've all got long arms it becomes much more of an issue. And I disagree with Bronxblue's characterization of it. The 1-3-1 doesn't seem like a necessary response to deficient talent, it seems like a way for Beilein to run his perimeter-heavy, three-mad offense without getting crushed on the defensive end. Beilein didn't have a talent disadvantage at Cansisus or Richmond, at least not an insurmountable one, and that's where his system was developed.
Take Evan Smotrycz. He's 6'9" but a stick. He's a super tall small forward and will remain that way if Beilein has anything to do with it. If asked to check a post player in man-to-man he won't do well. He'll do better than Zach Novak, but not well. If stuck on the wing in the 1-3-1 he'll make the skip passes that are its achilles heel long, looping, fruitless things, and then Beilein gets to use a 6'9" three-point shooting small forward on the offensive end.
The 1-3-1 and the Beilein offense have synergy, which is a horrible corporate word that happens to be useful. I don't think they're responses to a lack of talent, I think they're a single way of having an unusual system that happens to be unusually efficient at basketball.
Put it this way: if Evan Smotrcyz turns out to be Dirk Nowitzki and Matt Vogrich turns out to be Kyle Korver Beilein's system isn't going to hold them back on their Final Four run.
Okay, Then, Why Did You Say This?
Michigan basically abdicated on being a powerhouse when they hired Beilein.
Because of Bob Huggins, basically. The year after Beilein left West Virginia, Huggins landed five-star Devin Ebanks, who originally committed to Indiana, seriously considered Memphis, and then ended up with Huggins. That's Kelvin Sampson, John Calipari, and a guy who had a 0.0% graduation rate at Cincinnati. He's a microcosm of why this blog has a tag called "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich."
Yes, it is possible to have a legit powerhouse without sketchy recruiting stuff going on but it takes time and tradition; Michigan isn't starting from square one on the latter but it's not far off after ten years of crap and scandal before that. Fair or not, the last thing anyone outside the Michigan fan community remembers as a positive for the program happened in 1989, which is 1) 20 years ago and 2) before anyone we're recruiting was born. So the only way to go from zero to powerhouse was to cut corners and hire a John Calipari. We did not do this.
I've read a lot of criticisms of this position that I'd like to address, and the best way is probably through a rare-but-deadly double reverse fisk. The WLA quibbled. Now comes the thunder:
-The question appears to be “can Beilein recruit like Izzo/Matta/whoever,” and the answer is very probably not.
Frankly, if this is the case, someone better inform Beilein. Brian waves off the 2010 targets Trey Zeigler, Casey Prather, and Will Regan, but, like, why? Prather, Ray McCallum, and Zeigler are respectively the #30, #56, and #75 recruits in the nation. Brian is appropriately skeptical of Michigan’s chances with Prather, but, as shown by Beilein’s near-steal of Nate Lubick from Duke, things can happen. Regardless, given Beilein’s snag of Darius Morris from across the country, the landing of highly-praised Matt Vogrich, and Michigan’s current lead for Zeigler - arguably the state’s best player - the evidence that Beilein can’t recruit on this level just doesn’t exist, unless you care to assume that Beilein’s recruiting won’t improve from Morgantown to Ann Arbor - a theory he’s already disproven.
Okay: I know we're all excited about Beilein's highest-rated recruits ever, but Morris is #77 on Rivals, #100 on ESPN, and an unranked three-star on Scout. Vogrich is #100 on Scout, #137 on Rivals, and unranked on ESPN. Those are the crown jewels of the class.
According to Rivals, the following Big Ten teams have two players rated higher than Michigan's two best in the 2009 class (ie: one higher than Morris, one higher than Vogrich): Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. At best Michigan has the fifth ranked class in the conference, with Wisconsin and Purdue not far off.
I didn't say Beilein can't "recruit on this level"; I said he can recruit like Izzo or Matta or anyone else who can expect to regularly assemble top 25 classes. Michigan's 2009 class does not dispel this idea. By the numbers Michigan will be operating at a talent deficit relative to the conference.
He is a guy who will bring guaranteed respectability, likeable teams, and a host of tourney bids with some fun runs to the Sweet 16 or whatever. Michigan basically abdicated on being a powerhouse when they hired Beilein.”
Look - a horrible Wisconsin team made the final four in the unwatchable Dick Bennett days. George Mason made it. Eighth-seeded Villanona and NC State won championships. Flukes? Definitely.
Again the talking is orthogonal to what I am saying. Sure, Michigan can get hot in a tourney and Pittsnogle their way to a final four at some point. It can happen. It nearly did for Beilein at West Virginia. But that doesn't mean it's likely to. "Not a powerhouse" does not mean "never makes Final Four." It means "is not likely to make Final Four."
Even if we move Brian’s argument out of the Tournament and into the realm of general regular-season success, the point seems to fizzle. As mentioned ad nauseum - Beilien started a walk-on point guard and two freshmen who would have been coming of Valparaiso’s bench barring Beilein’s desperation to bring in a few players upon his arrival in Ann Arbor. This Michigan team possibly had four players that had the talent to justify significant minutes in a major conference - Harris, Sims, Grady, and Lucas-Perry, and they still garnered a #10 seed and earned a second-round game in which they gave Oklahoma a tougher game than #3 seed Syracuse. With Michigan’s best recruiting class in years on the way and the probability of at least one additional top-100 player arriving the following year, is a #2 or #3 tournament seed that far out of the question?
You're just going to have to trust me on this: yes, it is that far out of the question. Michigan vastly exceeded expectations this year but on a possession-to-possession basis they finished 50th in the Kenpom rankings, which was sixth in the conference. They were three-point jacks away from losing to three different horrible teams and missing the tourney. One Big Ten team got a 2 or 3 seed and it was Michigan State, #8 in Kenpom. There is a huge gap between Michigan's team this year and the sort of seed expectation you just threw out, and more experience plus the 2009 recruiting class only gets you halfway there.
Why Am I Bothering With All This?
It really bothers me to see evidence of people going from "I hope we make the tourney before I die" to "Now we're Duke!" This WLA sentence is why this 2000 word post exists:
Comrades, now is a time for optimism.
How did we get to a spot where making the tourney most years with a few runs to the Sweet 16 (or beyond!) isn't optimistic? Am I crazy? If Beilein does nothing more than he did at West Virginia—mid-conference finishes with consistent tourney bids, no high seeds, lots of fun in the tourney—he'll be an absolute roaring success. If there's a time to complain about Morgan instead of Appling or a stunning lack of Final Fours, it's fifteen years from now, when someone else is the coach.
Bubblin'. Last night wasn't of huge import on the bubble. Events of note:
- Nebraska and Notre Dame died.
- Providence flirted with disaster before pulling it out against DePaul.
- Texas A&M gacked it up against Texas Tech.
- Oklahoma State did not against Iowa State.
A&M was only vaguely on the bubble before and isn't in trouble; Bracketology 101 has them a ten seed, and Lunardi has them a nine. So don't get your hopes up there. Oklahoma State has also clinched a bid now.
Today, there is one vastly important game—Michigan versus Iowa—that will either render all of the who-wins-who-loses a sideshow or make it life and death. That's at 2:30 on ESPN2.
Then there is a horde of other stuff as all the big conferences swing into action. Your new favorite team in bold:
- Providence takes on Louisville at noon (ESPN). Providence needs a win over UL or they're done.
- Northwestern vs Minnesota, noon (BTN). Northwestern's at-large hopes are very, very faint and a Minnesota loss would stick them behind Michigan permanently.
- Xavier vs St Louis, noon. The A-10 is in serious danger of coughing up an autobid to a team that wouldn't otherwise be in the field, so you're rooting for Dayton and Xavier whenever they play.
- Arizona State vs Arizona, 3PM (FSN). Arizona's resume is almost identical to Michigan's; if they lose they're probably behind M no matter what.
- Texas vs Kansas State, 3PM (ESPN360). Kansas State has vague at-large hopes that must be put to the sword.
- Indiana vs Penn State, 5PM (ESPN2). Penn State's chances for a bid would evaporate if Indiana managed to beat them.
- Utah State vs Fresno State, 5:30 PM. Utah State might have an at-large case if they don't pick up the WAC autobid.
- Duquense vs Rhode Island, 6:30 PM. Rhode Island needs to get to the A-10 final for an at-large, probably.
- NC State vs Maryland, 7PM (ESPN2). Maryland has fringe hopes with a run in the ACC tourney.
- Virginia vs Boston College, 9PM (ESPN360). BC would put itself in danger with a loss to the awful Cavs.
Miami and Virginia Tech square off, too, but the outcome of that game doesn't matter, you just want whoever wins to lose to UNC in the next round. San Diego State and UNLV also play; I can't figure out which one is preferable. There are a variety of other games like Memphis-Tulane and Utah-TCU where you want tourney locks to win.
As to Iowa. Michigan, of course, blew a four-point last-minute lead thanks to a couple of questionable calls. In overtime Manny Harris sat and Iowa was unconscious and that was that. And they were missing their point guard. And most of their big post guy.
Since then Iowa hung in but lost to MSU, lost to Northwestern, came up two points short of killing Ohio State's tourney bid and mortally wounded Penn State's with a 75-67 victory in double overtime. They finished the conference season 5-13 with three of those wins in overtime. This is not a good opponent we're going up against, but that didn't help much last time.
This time around Michigan has one big advantage: it's on a neutral court. Cyrus Tate, who missed both of Michigan's games against Iowa this year*, is back; starting point guard Jeff Petersen "might get some floor time" but is doubtful. With the way Jake Kelly has been playing of late Petersen's absence doesn't seem that important.
*(Tate did play a few minutes at the end of the game in Iowa City.)
I doubt this is applicable generally since newspapers generally do some investigative journalism in the news department as opposed to the virtually none that happens in sports*, but, man, are web-based properties murdering, burying, and putting up "do not disturb" signs when it comes to the in-depth stuff. Yahoo's latest is a fantastic story on the intersection of agents, AAU coaches, and Kevin Love that has a ton of interesting quotes from both sides of the aisle—former Duke PG and spectacular motorcycle crash victim Jay Williams features, as does love—none of which top this blunt assessment from Love:
“If I was going with an agent,” said Kevin Love, “why would I ever go with a guy who, no offense, but he crashed a motorcycle into a tree. I’m not going to go with a guy that’s reckless.”
Oh, snap. The rest of the article his highly recommended, with Love and Williams calling out Love's AAU coach and the cool quarter-million he banked for his "nonprofit" by setting up a meeting.
*(Except, of course, for the Ann Arbor News and their academics investigation. Of all the programs to get raked over the coals by their local paper, eh? Not, like, you know, Memphis or USC. Michigan. I would freakin' love for every program in the country to have their books gone over so minutely.)
BGSU goodbye? BGSU is facing a massive university-wide budget shortfall of between 6 to 10 million dollars, about $750,000 of which is the athletic department's fault. As a result, BGSU hockey has an uncertain future. The school president already killed Kent State's program at her last job and hockey is an expensive thing to run.
But the hockey team is BGSU's most prominent sport, and the only one in which they can claim a national title. Killing it because it's marginally more expensive would be a shame even if it was responsible for spawning Ron Mason's boring death hockey. It would also eliminate the easiest road trip in the CCHA for Michigan fans, and losing a school with a national title would be terribly embarrassing for the sport in general. About the only entity that might be happy with BGSU's demise is Alabama-Huntsville.