Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Guru's College Report: Changing the Lingo -- Is The Women's Big East Now a Mid-Major?

By Mel Greenberg

As we approach the tipoff of another collegiate basketball season, the time has come to get some uniformity dispensed before the first shots are fired as a result of the great conference shuffle that occurred on July 1.

This has to do with lingo which took on a life of its own back in time in terms of how conferences are identified.

Bear in mind, the NCAA in terms of formal speak does not declare conferences as major or mid-major though certainly if one could bug the deliberations off the men's and women's tournament committees, the phrase might be heard more than a few times.

The Guru trots out this discussion now looking for input because the breakup of the old Big East into The American Athletic Conference and the new-look shape of the remainder which still bears the Big East name begs the question especially on the women' hoops side.

Once upon a time in the early days of the NCAA women's competition, the two terms did not exist in the lingo of conference speak.

In fact, coming out of AIAW terminology -- Regiona IA, 1B, 2, all the the way through 9 -- to conference identity in the NCAA world the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference were quickly identified as powerful leagues because most of their women's teams had been part of Region 2 and Region 3.

But everything was built first on the identities of focusing on schools that were basketball powers and then compare them to each other -- especially in the days before the coming of the Ratings Percentage Index formula known as the RPI.

Old Dominion and Louisiana Tech, for example, were judged on their domination not what conference they were in.

In a sense, UConn with a powerful nonconference schedule is tthat ssame program out of The Ameican conference.

Actually if a bunch of teams were ranked from the same conference in The Associated Press women's poll, that was worth something.

When the football bowl system became bigger business slowly media coverage let the lingo of pigskin competition take hold in naming women''s teams either major or mid-major.

Actually maybe the women's committee should be taken seriously this time around about what members have said in the past about looking at teams, not conferences, in selecting at-large teams and completing the field.

And if that is the case, then maybe since the BCS is about to go out the window with a national championship in Division IA on the horizon, maybe we should cut a deal and drop the lingo right now.

But we know unless they take the pledge to stay away from the terminology, the TV folks will keep it up, and then the print/internet crowd will follow suite.

So if that's the case, then the identity should be decided right now for the sake of consistency.

After talking to a few people, the Guru has a sense that on the women's side if we are going to use the two different designations for everyone then the Big East is now a mid-major.

Here's why.

There's no comparable big-time football classification at any of the schools.

With continuity of records from the old Big East carried over, in terms of current membership of the new Big East, there was a virtual wipeout in areas of the Guru's AP poll history database.

Yes, in terms of affiliations at the time of the ranking, the Big East still has those numbers, but among current members, for example, not one has ever been ranked No. 1 now that UConn is in the AAC and Notre Dame is in the ACC.

No Big East team is ranked in the AP preseason poll, though a few like conference favorite DePaul, have the potential.

Actually, if one wanted to compare DePaul to Atlantic-10 favorite Dayton, there is a lot of compatibility in both schools with their conference so if the A-10 is going to be called mid-major then why not the Big East?

Understand, this discussion does not mean that the new Big East women's operation won't be big time in approach under commissioner Val Ackerman and Amber Cox, the hire to be specifically in charge of the women's operation after a long stint with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury.

Perhaps, since the strength of the Big East men's teams can allow that side to still be identified the same, maybe that's enough for the Big East women but maybe not unless a bunch of teams get to the tournament.

As for the AAC a year from now after Rutgers and Louisville leave, what happens to that identity?

Well, because football will still be around, and because the UConn women will still be around, that could be enough unless ESPN is ready to declare UConn the top mid-major.

So what do you think? Feel free to weigh in either in the comment section down below or respond to the Guru's tweeter account @womhoopsguru.

The ball is now in your court.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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