We often forget to appreciate the accomplishments of young men playing a game in College. New to adulthood and growing up on TV every three or four days. Practicing and working out hours a day while deciding what they would choose to study for the rest of their lives. Did I know what I wanted to be, or do, at ages 18-22? Probably not.
This basketball team both came together, and gave it what they had this year - in challenging situations. Men from different areas of the country (California, Texas, New Hampshire, Baltimore...) stuck together and did something that hasn’t happened in 30 years.
One of the best home court crowds in the country? Gone.
Cliff Omoruyi and Caleb McConnell starting the season out with injuries? Yep.
Geo Baker high ankle sprain and Ron Harper leg injuries against ranked teams? Yerrrp.
Don’t forget, this is a team that started the season with wins over Syracuse, Maryland, and Illinois. IN A ROW.
Followed it up with a 5 loss slide, and seesawed the rest of the year to finish 15-11 overall, and 10-10 in the B1G.
Finishing 6th in the B1G with a 10 Seed in the NCAAs?
I feel like this was all a dream - Salt n’ Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine.
I did write a small history earlier this year about the RUBB history since 2000, but I’m just so appreciative of where this University’s team has come in a relatively short time. In Eddie Jordan’s last year coaching (2016 - second year in the B1G), this team went 1-17 in conference. 1-17. In both Ortg and Drtg, the team was in the bottom 7% of the NCAA. Objectively a terrible place to be.
This season, the Scarlet Knights were a few coaching and playing decisions away from a Sweet Sixteen. In four years, Steve Pikiell caught a college basketball team in free fall and turned them around to be one of the best 32 in the country.
And my whole crew is loungin’ - celebrating every day, no more public housing.
But, I’ve buried the lede.
Everyone understands how athletic scholarships cover a student-athlete’s expenses. They get an education, living expenses, and a “stipend” in exchange for playing a sport for university exposure. It seems like a fair trade until you look at the NCAA side of the revenue equation, which is massively overbalanced. The Tournament alone generates north of $1.15B in advertising revenues. I’m going to go out on a limb a say that covers the 68 teams and their players’ scholarships.
P.S. - I did some math. Let’s call an athletic scholarship $40,000 a year. That seems fair. $40k x 13 NCAA D1 Mens Scholarships = $520,000 - let’s round it up to an even $550,000 per team, per year. $550,000 x 68 teams in the tournament = $37.4M. Scholarships are covered, schools are happy...wait. You’re telling me there’s $1.15B - $37.4M... $1.11B left over?
Geo Baker decided to speak up to attempt to balance that equation. Gaining his Name, Image, and Likeness rights would provide opportunities for players to earn the revenue they are entitled to by just existing. Fans of teams in the B1G should be proud as well - as Isaiah Livers and Jordan Bohannon from the Michigan Wolverines and Iowa Hawkeyes respectively also went with Geo to meet with NCAA President Mark Emmert on this issue. Unfortunately, the current answer is “we’ll get back to you”.
I’d hire Geo in a heartbeat. Doesn’t matter what the job role is. I can trust him to do the right thing and work smartly. I guess that’s probably what it’s all about, right?
I feel like this team achieved what they set out to do this year on the court and then some reform action for themselves. A number of RU players have entered the transfer portal, and Ron Harper has declared (without an agent) for the NBA Draft. NCAA Basketball will look different next year, but hopefully for the better with leaders from the Rutgers Basketball team stepping up.
At least the basketball side of the sleeping giant is up... now how high can this giant dunk?
I’m blowin’ up like you thought I would - Call the crib, same number, same hood, it’s all good.