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Friday, February 5, 2010
Big East coaches like expansion, too

By Eamonn Brennan

It doesn't really matter whether coaches like expansion or not -- the decision on whether the NCAA will turn its 64-team tournament into a 96-team affair will be up to the NCAA, its TV stakeholders, and a handful of conference commissioners. Coaches have little agency in the process. But still, it's interesting to see just how many coaches are in favor of something many fans and media types seem to consider a soulless money grab.

Take the Big East's coaches, for example. Like Billy Donovan before them, if it means their team has a better chance at making the NCAA tournament, they're -- duh -- totally for it:

"I love it, I think it's time has come," Wright said. "As we add Division I teams [now up to 347], look at college football, close to 50 percent go to bowl games. There are so many good teams that don't go to the [NCAA] tourney."

[Seton Hall coach Bobby] Gonzalez said until recently he didn't think the tournament needed to expand. But now he believes the tournament field should grow. "If you're in the middle of the pack in our league, you deserve to be in the NCAA [tournament]," Gonzalez said.


Jim Boeheim, who has been in favor of expansion for a while now, makes a few more trenchant points -- that the tournament has expanded when necessary many times before, and that there are many more good teams in the pool of 347 than there were in the past. That makes sense. Gonzalez's point is less believable. The Big East is a good league, but do you really deserve to get in if you're the eighth or ninth team at the end of the year? Quantity doesn't equal quality; it's possible for the Big East to be top-heavy and for other conferences to be more complete from top to bottom, yes?

Anyway. One obvious trend is emerging: Coaches love them some tournament expansion. It's easy to see why. More teams equals less competition to make the NCAA tournament equals fewer angry fans calling for your head when you miss the 64-team field. College coaches want their jobs to get easier. Wouldn't you?