The inside story
Posted: Thursday March 8, 2007 10:50AM; Updated: Thursday March 8, 2007 11:52AM
For example, Drexel, which is squarely on the bubble, has played the 95th strongest schedule in the country. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has played the 34th toughest schedule. Advantage, Mississippi State. But Mississippi State's nonc-onference SOS ranking is 124, while Drexel's is five. Also keep in mind that for a team such as Drexel, upgrading your schedule means hitting the road, whereas BCS teams like Mississippi State have the financial wherewithal to pay mid- and low-majors to come to their place to play. So now if you were choosing between Drexel and Mississippi State for the final at-large spot, which would you pick?
I have heard some very intelligent experts (specifically one whose self-proclaimed handle rhymes with "Schmilastrator") argue that the RPI needs to be junked in favor of a more precise tool. I'm all for improving the formula (which is calculated based 25 percent on a team's record, 50 percent on its opponents' record and and 25 percent on its opponents' opponents' record). But the reality is, no matter what mathematical rubric we come up with, it's going to be imprecise. The final decision is going to be made subjectively, which is as it should be. This isn't college football, thank goodness.
The bottom line is, by spending a lot of time talking about ways to improve the RPI, we are giving it more value than it warrants. The only function the RPI serves is to give the committee a device for putting all the info on one sheet. It's up to actual human beings to decide from there what it all means.
Thoughts on Giacoletti's "Resignation"
I realize we are all engaged in bubble madness right now, but I wanted to weigh in on Utah's regrettable decision to fire Ray Giacoletti last week.
I am taking some liberty in describing this as a firing, because Giacoletti and Utah athletic director Chris Hill did their best to present the move as a resignation. That might be technically true, but it insults our intelligence to suggest Giacoletti would have walked out if he didn't feel pressured by his boss.
After calling Giacoletti into his office last Wednesday, Hill presented the coach with a buyout option if he would be willing to leave quietly. (The sweetener was ensuring Giacoletti's assistants would get paid through the spring.) We don't know what would have happened if Giacoletti had resisted the offer, but why would a coach want to work for an athletic director who has just told him he thinks it's best that they part ways?
All this is especially unfortunate because Giacoletti was only in his third year at Utah and is two years removed from an appearance in the Sweet 16. He deserved the chance to move forward with the full support of the AD who hired him, even in the face of fan discontent. To be sure, the Utes were terrible this year (11-18 in the regular season) and attendance was the lowest it had been in decades, but this was a team that counted five freshmen and one senior among its top 10 scorers. Utah also has a promising young talent in 7-foot-1 sophomore center Luke Nevill, an Aussie who was Utah's leading scorer (16.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.6 rpg).
Giacoletti earned the right to see if his youngsters were going to pan out. Even more than his team's poor play, he was the victim of impatience and unreasonable expectations of the team's fans.
Giacoletti's biggest mistake was trying to build his program with high school players as opposed to junior college transfers, which might have prevented the bottom from falling out. But it's a good strategy for long-term success. Hill may have had his reasons for letting his coach go, but he should be honest and make clear that he pushed Giacoletti out the door.
Meanwhile, some reports have indicated the school is hoping to lure a big-name coach such as Mike Montgomery. After this episode, it's going to be hard convincing anyone, let alone a coach of Montgomery's stature, that this is a job worth taking.