It appears as if the men's basketball team of Oakland University, my alma mater, headed off to something called the College Insider Tournament (CIT) for postseason play. In the face of some that doubted their worthiness, long-time head coach Greg Kampe fired back. Let's take an objective look.
The OU mens' hoops program has come a long way under Kampe's tutelage. Not all that many years ago, they weren't even a blip on the radar screen. That was likely due to other factors. With in-state mega-schools like UM and MSU, and out-of-state perennial powerhouses scouring the state for the best prep prospects -- it should have came as no surprise that Oakland wasn't going to get any "blue-chippers". More like green, or yellow, or however those rankings go. And good luck with recruiting when they couldn't even offer a talented kid a decent venue to play in. But somewhere along the line, the powers that be at OU managed to build, and further along the line, upgrade the O-rena. No, it's not exactly Crisler or Breslin, but it ain't too shabby. The in-coming talent started getting better. So much so, that OU somehow eventually clawed and scratched their way to becoming a Division 1 basketball program. They even made it into the field of the prestigious NCAA tournament. No, they had zero chance of winning it, but just getting there was quite an accomplishment, considering where they started from. Hats off to coach Kampe, the administration, and all the kids that worked so hard to make that happen.
Now for the bad news.
As mentioned above, the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland went on to post-season play this year. This, despite the fact they had a 16-16 record while hailing from something called the Summit League. It might be fair to say that particular league could be likened to Class AA baseball in the whole scheme of things. Guys come and guys go, and some are pretty good, but it's a couple steps removed from the major leagues, and not much attention is paid to them outside of their local area.
Coach Kampe has proclaimed that not only should his team be rewarded for their performances in past years, but also that they will be much better next year. Also, that he is the one that "decided" whether or not his squad would participate in the College Insider Tournament.
There are so many things wrong with this.
First, what happened before doesn't matter. Look no further than Kentucky. They were national champs last year, couldn't even make the field for the "big dance" this year, and just got bounced by some little school named Robert Morris in the opening round of the second-tier NIT tourney this year. It happened, and the world goes on. Nobody cares about last year.
Second, would any objective person ever agree that a college team should be rewarded THIS year, because they might be better NEXT year? That's absurd.
Third, coach Kampe can say he "decided" all he wants regarding his team going on to post-season play, but unless he's willing to pay for it out of his own pocket, yours truly strongly suspects his superiors at OU would have the final say on any such matters -- especially when travel costs and the like are involved. Hey, there's another coach K at a school about the same size named Duke that might have that sort of pull, and Greg K has been getting some TV air time lately to further boost his image -- but c'mon -- let's try and keep things in perspective here.
And finally, the ultimate irony. While coach Kampe was busy fiercely defending his team's "right" to be in the College Insider Tournament, it appears he, and perhaps Grizzlie fans overlooked the obvious.
If a team's not good enough to be selected in the NCAA "brackets", which accommodates 68 teams, nor the second-tier NIT, which fields yet another 32, then the post-season format to which Kampe and his troops headed was apparently misnamed.
It is decidedly the College OUTSIDER Tournament. Or in this age of acronyms for everything -- COT. Perhaps a cot would be a good thing for Kampe. A place to lay his weary head after so many valiant struggles over all these years.
And that's just his hair. Basketball probably took its toll too.