I try to keep my main sports opinions between just the people I know but it’s time to get something off my chest.
You know what’s a downer? Just hearing people complain about the Missouri Valley Conference over and over and over and over. Outside of a power BCS conference which let’s face it, the odds of WSU going to are very very very very very very (did I put enough very’s in there) slim, things are not always going to be gravy. All non BCS conferences have their ups and downs. It happens to the best of them.
There’s nothing wrong with dominating a conference which is happening this year. And let’s be real, this is not something Wichita State is accustomed to. In the past, 30 years we have won only three regular season titles and two conference tournaments. And note, the last time the Shockers won a conference tournament was back in 1987. Let’s take a look at Indiana State who went undefeated in the late 1978-79. The same team that went on to the title game. The same team that beat only ONE Top 50 team during the regular season. I wonder if their fans complained about how crappy the conference was back then because anything can happen to a team in just a year. I was looking it up and after that magical season for Indiana State, they had only one winning season in the next 19 seasons. 19 seasons!! I’m not saying that’s going to happen to Wichita State but any team can suddenly get better just as they can get worse; all it takes is a bad recruiting class, losing a once in a lifetime player, losing a head coach.
The Valley is the 11th best conference in basketball right now according to conference RPI. It’s tough but let’s not act as if that’s never happened before. The Valley has been 11th before and a major part of that was because of the lack of success WSU had. So before we get all high and mighty, realize we’ve been part of the problem.
A lot of people were clamoring for Wichita State to move to the Mountain West conference. Did you know the Mountain West is also having a down year? They are the tenth in conference RPI right now! This is the year right after they were number one in conference RPI in 2012-13 and five in 2011-12. What a difference a year makes.
Do you think Gonzaga fans are complaining about leaving the West Coast Conference? I honestly don’t know as I don’t look at their fan base message boards or read articles about them. Gonzaga seems to be doing fine in the WCC where they have made the tournament 12 of the past 13 years. Meanwhile the West Coast Conference has been up and down in conference RPI. The past six years they’ve been, 9 (2013-14), 10, 11, 14, 13, 15. They were able to make it to as a number one seed and the number one team in the nation in the 10th best conference in basketball. Unfortunately they just ran into a juggernaut of a team in the NCAA Tournament. But despite all that, Gonzaga has been able to sustain success and remain relevant beyond the support of a lackluster conference.
The Shockers are having a tremendous season. They are undefeated in a conference that’s having a down year. Just a few years ago the MVC was the 12th best conference and WSU couldn’t even make the NCAA Tournament, the Shockers had to settle for an NCAA Championship. Things change; it goes in ebbs and flows. The Valley will be better in a couple years, there are things you have to factor in such as newer coaches who still aren’t playing with their own players, so many young teams in the Valley this year, and many of the best players in the Valley are just freshmen and sophomores at this point. Some of the best Non-BCS schools excel when they have age and experience on their team, give the MVC a year or two for the best players to get better.
There are too many things to factor in to moving into a new conference that may never happen like traveling logistics, no football, revenue splits the other schools in a new conference may give up, even getting an invite, or just the almighty college sports dollar. It’s not as simple as packing the bags and moving on Wichita State’s own accord.
It’s hard to do but have some faith in the Valley. Not too long ago, they were sending four teams to the dance and made some magic happen. Creighton left this past season, yes it sucks, but you can’t expect to have the conference get better overnight. Things take time just like the road Wichita State took to get to this point.
Keep the faith. Enjoy this season for what it is. It’s magical, it’s memorable, and it’s amazing.
And as always, Go Shockers.