Realignment Snubs? The Griping Needs to End

Creighton is hoping to move into that next level of elite mid-major teams. There is a lot of work to do to get there.

Maybe it is the poll that is running over at GMUHoops.com, one that saw 74 percent of respondents disagree with George Mason's decision to stay in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Or maybe it was the series of articles that the Omaha World-Herald is running on its Creighton blog.

But man, it sure feels like there is a lot of sour grapes out there because some teams' fans believe -- correctly or wrongly -- that their team was snubbed by not being asked to bolt for another conference. Or for that matter, taking matters into their own hands and doing something proactive.

Don't get me wrong; it is nice to be wanted. But there are teams that are deserving of being asked to jump, and some that just need to look a little harder at the data that everyone seems to see but them.

Perhaps the most telling example of why the Bluejays shouldn't be looking for possibly greener (as in $$$) pastures is in this infographic addressing Creighton's place in the mid-major landscape. It is reasonably honest overall, correctly putting Creighton in the third tier of mid-major teams (although it also includes Atlantic-10 and Mountain West teams, which we leave out here).

The devil is in the detail of a chart comparing Creighton's record, and NCAA Tournament performance to that of some of the top tier teams.

Here is the table, recreated (emphasis mine) :

Team Record NCAA Wins S16 E8 FF NC
Creighton 325-139 8 3 0 0 0 0
Gonzaga 370-97 14 13 5 1 0 0
Butler 361-142 8 16 4 2 2 2
Xavier 337-121 11 15 5 2 0 0
Memphis 355-129 8 12 4 3 1 1

Comparing Creighton's record over the past several years to that of Gonzaga, or Butler, is just asking to be disappointed. The Bluejays aren't there yet.

And while I am sure that the Omaha paper's staff didn't intend this to look like whining, it sort of does. It is asking to be compared with the best of the rest. It is asking to take that leap and believe that Creighton can be in this elite group.

Yet there is nothing there to prove that is the case. Last season was nice, and the Blue Jays finished at No. 28 in the MRI. That is again, impressive, but at least a few wins away from a season that you can really hang your hat on.

Recently there was a time when Creighton was the next big thing. But in my memory, every time the Bluejays performed well, there was always someone better. And the disappointments in the NCAA Tournament are clear.

I agree that the Bluejays should look to schedule better, and bring on the challenges. Yes, they should think about having one and done games. That is how Fresno State briefly rose to prominence. That is how Gonzaga kept the momentum of several Sweet 16 appearances going.

But it is only one part of the equation. The results still have to be there on the court, in addition to just a nice schedule. And without the wins in the NCAA Tournament, especially the one that gets a team to the second weekend, you are just an also-ran to the other programs out there.

There is still work to do, and one player does not make a program, no matter how great Doug McDermott is. Ask Davidson how one player worked out for them (one player that got the results in the Tournament). Ask Drexel what Malik Rose meant for the team once he was gone. You need consistent team building to occur to make your program a go-to location for basketball.

And right now, as soon as McDermott leaves, the Bluejays go back to being just another speed bump on some major team's road to the field of 68.

That isnt to say that Creighton can't turn it around over the next two years. But it requires building on the success that the team has had by nature of better and better recruits. It requires winning and continuing to schedule better as a conference, not just as a single entity in that group.

At the end of the day, success comes not from one season's performance on the court, but from sustained excellence. If you want to compare yourself to the Gonzagas of the world, first be like Gonzaga in multiple ways -- not just regular season wins -- and then ring the phone lines.

Until then, be content that the Missouri Valley affords your school a better chance than the average college basketball program to make the NCAA Tournament. When you crack that glass ceiling that you imagine you are stuck behind, know that it was quality of performance that got you there.

Mid-Major Madness will wish you well when you hit the really big time.

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