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View Full Version : Xavier rejects "Mid-Major" award



Matt700wlw
01-09-2008, 03:23 PM
http://collegebasketball.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=759725

traderumor
01-09-2008, 03:36 PM
geesh. Some circles speak of UC as a mid-major. Explain why this isn't an overreaction?

Chip R
01-09-2008, 03:40 PM
Good for them.

dabvu2498
01-09-2008, 03:49 PM
Good for them.

Agreed. Nothing mid-major about the top four teams in that conference, especially X since they do it year in year out.

Chip R
01-09-2008, 03:55 PM
Quite a condescending award.

Yachtzee
01-09-2008, 04:02 PM
Quite a condescending award.

It's not a condescending award if you're actually dealing with a "mid-major" conference, but I think it's time the NCAA started looking beyond the powerful football conferences in determining what constitutes a major conference in basketball. Conferences like the Atlantic 10 have enough strong teams to be considered a major basketball conference. The level of talent is much more widely distributed between basketball conferences.

bucksfan2
01-09-2008, 04:10 PM
It's not a condescending award if you're actually dealing with a "mid-major" conference, but I think it's time the NCAA started looking beyond the powerful football conferences in determining what constitutes a major conference in basketball. Conferences like the Atlantic 10 have enough strong teams to be considered a major basketball conference. The level of talent is much more widely distributed between basketball conferences.

Year in year out the A10 has basically been a mid major. This year they are looking very good but they haven't sustained that level of play. Over the past few years of play the A10 has basically consisted of two legit teams in XU and St. Joes. Until a team like Dayton can prove over a 5 year stretch that they are to be taken seriously I think the A10 will be held in the same view as MVC.

Yachtzee
01-09-2008, 04:13 PM
Year in year out the A10 has basically been a mid major. This year they are looking very good but they haven't sustained that level of play. Over the past few years of play the A10 has basically consisted of two legit teams in XU and St. Joes. Until a team like Dayton can prove over a 5 year stretch that they are to be taken seriously I think the A10 will be held in the same view as MVC.

The MVC isn't exactly a slouch of a conference either. Just like any other conference, the A10 has a couple of consistent winners and a bunch of others who have up years and down years.

Chip R
01-09-2008, 04:17 PM
It's not a condescending award if you're actually dealing with a "mid-major" conference, but I think it's time the NCAA started looking beyond the powerful football conferences in determining what constitutes a major conference in basketball. Conferences like the Atlantic 10 have enough strong teams to be considered a major basketball conference. The level of talent is much more widely distributed between basketball conferences.


It's condescending no matter what conference you are dealing with.

guttle11
01-09-2008, 04:26 PM
It's condescending no matter what conference you are dealing with.

Yep. It implies inferiority.

The "Mid-Major" label is one of the most ridiculous things about college sports. Not only is it condescending, but the way it's used is questionable at best.

As it stands now, the media uses "mid-major" to describe all conferences except the "bcs" leagues. But not Memphis. Or Gonzaga. Or Xavier half the time. Or Dayton, St Joes, UMass, Utah...et al...but only if those schools are good. If they have a down year, they're "mid-major" again.

Now, Northwestern is in the Big Ten, but has never gone to the NCAA tournament. Is Northwestern a "major" basketball program? If Dayton, Utah...aren't, how can Northwestern be considered? What about Penn State, Rutgers, South Florida, or Oregon St? Are they superior to A10 or MVC schools because they play in a league with top teams? No.

It's absurd, lazy work by the media (Billy Packer, I'm looking at you) that keeps the "mid-major" label truckin' along year after year.

M2
01-09-2008, 04:32 PM
It's not a condescending award if you're actually dealing with a "mid-major" conference, but I think it's time the NCAA started looking beyond the powerful football conferences in determining what constitutes a major conference in basketball. Conferences like the Atlantic 10 have enough strong teams to be considered a major basketball conference. The level of talent is much more widely distributed between basketball conferences.

Exactly. The A-10 has been playing quality basketball for a long time, Xavier in particular.

bucksfan2
01-09-2008, 04:45 PM
Exactly. The A-10 has been playing quality basketball for a long time, Xavier in particular.

I really wouldn't go that far. Xavier has been playing quality basketball for a long time. They are consistantly in consideration for an at large birth in the tournament. IMO outside of St. Joes the A10 has been weak over the past 5-10 years. Dayton has has some bright spots but have also had some bad bad years. Rhode Island is good this year but has been a door mat for quite a while. I have no disrespect for X and hope they do well. However i think pimping the A10 as a quality conference is a little out there.

traderumor
01-09-2008, 04:53 PM
What about the Rodney Dangerfield Award. Would they accept that?

From the outside of not being a Cincy schools fan, this looks like a chip-on-the-shoulder issue. Ok, let the Buckeye analogies rip.

guttle11
01-09-2008, 04:59 PM
I really wouldn't go that far. Xavier has been playing quality basketball for a long time. They are consistantly in consideration for an at large birth in the tournament. IMO outside of St. Joes the A10 has been weak over the past 5-10 years. Dayton has has some bright spots but have also had some bad bad years. Rhode Island is good this year but has been a door mat for quite a while. I have no disrespect for X and hope they do well. However i think pimping the A10 as a quality conference is a little out there.

Dayton hasn't had any "bad bad" years in the last decade. Their worst was a 14-17 season with a young squad that suffered a devastating transfer well after recruiting season ended. It's their only losing season over that span, I believe. During that season they beat UC at UC, so it's not like they were a terrible team.

They're better off for that rebuilding process, I think, because the talent level they have now and in upcoming recruits is as good as it's been at UD since the 70s. How many programs haven't had a rebuilding process over that span? 10-15 tops maybe?

UD has been to the NCAA 3 times (2 were at-large berths) and the NIT twice this decade. Not great, but far from bad. They're an NCAA tourney win from being fully back in the national scene.

As far as the A10 goes, it had three down years, but other than that has been a very successful league. In 2004 the league had 4 NCAA berths (SJU, X, UD, Richmond) and two elite 8 teams (SJU, X). In 2003 Dayton was a 4 seed, and X and SJU were also ranked at times and made the dance. Going back even further you had a great run for Temple under Chaney, and the great UMass teams of the 90s that brought a final four berth.

SunDeck
01-09-2008, 05:02 PM
What would that make Duke, I wonder?
And is Northwestern not a mid major? Or even that?
Georgetown, another Jesuit school of about the same size? Except that they have football, which I had to look up, even.

This is just stupid. But the fact that XU gets their underwear all kinked up about it makes them look like crybabies. Just go to the final four, then mention it with a little humor. That'd be classy.

terminator
01-09-2008, 05:17 PM
As a huge XU fan, I'm okay with the headlines:

"Mid-Major Xavier knocks off No. 8 Indiana by 15 on the road"

and

"Mid-Major Xavier pounds good Big 12, ACC and SEC teams consecutively"

and

"Mid-Major Xavier re-enters Top 25"

Yes, indeed. That sounds just fine.

GoReds33
01-09-2008, 05:26 PM
Listen, Xavier is mid-major. Until you can be consistantly the top team in your city... with few exemptions, you are mid-major. Until you prove that you can play year in, and year out with the big boys you are mid-major. Until you don't lose to teams like UC, that are depleated, and rebuilding, you are mid-major.

I understand that some Xavier fans will take offense to this. There is no rule stating that a mid-major team can't earn respect. As a UC fan, I expected them to kill us in the Crosstown Shootout. Last year I expected them to do well in the tournament. It's not that they are a bad team, they just aren't great. They don't have that extablished tradition of a major college program.

With the path that the Muskies are taking, hopefully it will be a battle of supremacy in the city of Cincinnati. Xavier is on an upward swing. For the sake of XU, UC, and the city of Cincinnati, if they are both great that would be awesome. Who hasn't watched a Duke-UNC game? They're awesome. Sadly, the Crosstown shootout is missing something... I don't know, like great teams. Hopefully we can be one of the few cities in America with two major college programs. Until then, just take the award.

M2
01-09-2008, 06:59 PM
I really wouldn't go that far. Xavier has been playing quality basketball for a long time. They are consistantly in consideration for an at large birth in the tournament. IMO outside of St. Joes the A10 has been weak over the past 5-10 years. Dayton has has some bright spots but have also had some bad bad years. Rhode Island is good this year but has been a door mat for quite a while. I have no disrespect for X and hope they do well. However i think pimping the A10 as a quality conference is a little out there.

It's had 12 bids in the past five years and 27 over the past decade, that's good for eighth overall in conference tournament bids. It's also had high seeds and multiple elite eight entrants. Granted, it's not the same as the decade before that during the UMass, Temple, Xavier, GW heyday when the A-10 was arguably better than the Big East, but it's still a quality basketball conference whose best teams are regularly better than the middle of the ACC and Big 10, which do so little with all those at-large bids they get.

Chip R
01-09-2008, 11:06 PM
I don't think it's necesaarily a chip on the shoulder thing or whining. They don't want to be classified as a mid-major. That's just basically saying that they aren't good enough to be considered with the best programs in the country. They feel that they are and accepting an award that puts that stigma on them would be hypocritical. You think Sean Miller and their AD say to them, "You're a darn good team but there's no way you can beat the BCS schools even though you gave national runner up tOSU all they could handle last year."

Boston Red
01-09-2008, 11:26 PM
I have no idea why people started calling the A-10, WAC, MWC and C-USA mid-majors. It's ludicrous. Those four, along with the "Big Six" have essentially always been considered the "major" conferences. Until the last couple of years, for whatever reason. It's baffling.

I know this goes back aways, but in the 1998 NCAA Tournament (just ten years ago), eight of the 14 teams currently in the A-10 were in the NCAA Tournament. To pretend that a conference like that is in the same category as the MAC or the Sun Belt is just crazy.

guttle11
01-10-2008, 12:28 AM
Anyone who watched the Dayton/Rhode Island game tonight knows what A10 ball is all about. What a fantastic basketball game. Brian Roberts had what many consider and "off" night because of 7 turnovers. But he had 23 points (7 of 11 shooting), and 7 assists. Dayton won with a total team effort, 92-83.

Rhode Island has two amazing players. Jimmy Baron is a SG, and just may be the best pure shooter in the country. The shots he hit tonight drew ooos and ahhs from the UD crowd. Will Daniels is a manbearpig. He scored 25 points and simply dominated.

Awesome game between 2 ranked teams. And to think, Xavier is probably better than both. A10 play will be fun.

Caveat Emperor
01-10-2008, 12:37 AM
Yes, indeed. That sounds just fine.

Until the headline is "Mid-Major Xavier loses top recruit to Ohio State."

BRM
01-10-2008, 09:07 AM
Anyone who watched the Dayton/Rhode Island game tonight knows what A10 ball is all about. What a fantastic basketball game. Brian Roberts had what many consider and "off" night because of 7 turnovers. But he had 23 points (7 of 11 shooting), and 7 assists. Dayton won with a total team effort, 92-83.

Rhode Island has two amazing players. Jimmy Baron is a SG, and just may be the best pure shooter in the country. The shots he hit tonight drew ooos and ahhs from the UD crowd. Will Daniels is a manbearpig. He scored 25 points and simply dominated.

Awesome game between 2 ranked teams. And to think, Xavier is probably better than both. A10 play will be fun.

I agree. That was a great game to watch. It was the first game I've seen this year for the A10 and I hope I get to see more. Very entertaining basketball.

Yachtzee
01-10-2008, 10:19 AM
Until the headline is "Mid-Major Xavier loses top recruit to Ohio State."

Aside from the pride issue, that may well be the big issue. That and "Mid-Major Xavier loses coach to (insert team here)." The problem with accepting your life as a mid-major is that you also accept your role as another rung on the ladder for coaches on their way up to the top. If you're looking to hold on to coaches who will build the program, you need to view yourself as a destination rather than a stop on the journey.

Danny Serafini
01-10-2008, 10:58 AM
Xavier is in no way, shape or form a mid-major, and good for them for rejecting the label. The Atlantic 10 is not a mid-major conference, it's merely labeled as such by lazy media types who associate everything with the BCS, which makes no sense in basketball.

That said, the A10 could help itself with its profile. It's become bloated. If they shed the dead weight (Fordham, LaSalle, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure) it would remove the boat anchors that drag down the conference's RPI. Those four programs are not at the same level as the rest of the league, they do nothing but harm the A10's profile. Plus dropping them would give you the bonus of having a conference name that made sense for the first time in ages. :laugh:

traderumor
01-10-2008, 11:31 AM
In this semantical battle that Xavier is engaged in, it has seemed to me that over the years, the term has evolved to define another tier of schools that are not household name programs from major, traditional, household name conferences and programs and has more to do with the size of the schools in the conference than it does the quality of their bball program. That is why it is puzzling to me that there is this feeling of being dissed.

On another note, all this posturing is very interesting because the schools involved act as if they have pulled up their bootstraps to become a powerhouse at the national level when their prosperity is primarily rooted in the animal called ESPN. Just like MTV brought the video star, ESPN has brought prosperity through recognition to the mid-majors.

terminator
01-10-2008, 12:16 PM
Until the headline is "Mid-Major Xavier loses top recruit to Ohio State."

Followed by "Recruit Mid-Major Xavier lost to OSU leaves early for NBA." ;)

Given their past NBA players, the current team and the recruited class coming in, I'd say the above is a non-issue.

I don't think XU is a mid-major. I'm glad Miller & Bobinski don't see XU as a mid-major. As a fan who has attended nearly all of their home games for the last twenty years, I don't care what others call the team. Or put another way, if this is mid-major, by all means, keep it up. The basketball team has brought national recognition to the school for many years and in the end that is its real purpose.

Chip R
01-10-2008, 12:58 PM
In this semantical battle that Xavier is engaged in, it has seemed to me that over the years, the term has evolved to define another tier of schools that are not household name programs from major, traditional, household name conferences and programs and has more to do with the size of the schools in the conference than it does the quality of their bball program. That is why it is puzzling to me that there is this feeling of being dissed.



The problem with labeling a program like XU and a cinference like the A-10 a mid major is that it automatically puts a stigma on them in the hearts and minds ot the powers that be - especially those doing the selection for the NCAA tournament. A conference like the Big East can get 7, 8 even 9 bids even though those 7th, 8th and 9th teams may not be better than the 2nd, 3rd or 4th place team in the A-10 or the MVC or the MAC. So when the selections are made, TPTB will ignore the so called "mid-major" schools in favor of the lesser schools from the "major" conferences. It's not always even intentional. You hear it so much that it is just ingrained in the subconscious where you start to automatically believe that any team in a power conference is better than any team from a "mid-major".

dsmith421
01-10-2008, 03:08 PM
Listen, Xavier is mid-major. Until you can be consistantly the top team in your city... with few exemptions, you are mid-major. Until you prove that you can play year in, and year out with the big boys you are mid-major. Until you don't lose to teams like UC, that are depleated, and rebuilding, you are mid-major.


Xavier's NCAA appearances, conference titles, facilities, investment in the program, and off-the-court achievements over the past 25 years have demonstrably proven they can "play with the big boys." Among non-BCS schools, XU is on a tier similar to Memphis, Gonzaga, UNLV, and maybe a couple others. It's stupid to put them in the same box with teams from the MAC and the WCC.

Just as it's stupid to classify Northwestern, Oregon State, et al. as "major" programs because they get to have their heads beat in by Ohio State or UCLA twice a year.

As for the "best team in the city" comments and your completely irrelevant reference to last year's shootout--what exactly is your point?

reds1869
01-10-2008, 04:57 PM
Listen, Xavier is mid-major. Until you can be consistantly the top team in your city... with few exemptions, you are mid-major.

The recent history of the Shootout looks pretty darn consistent to me.

1996-97 Xavier 71-69
1997-98 Xavier 88-68
1998-99 Cincinnati 87-77
1999-00 Xavier 66-64
2000-01 Xavier 69-67
2001-02 Cincinnati 75-55
2002-03 Xavier 50-44
2003-04 Xavier 71-69
2004-05 Cincinnati 65-54
2005-07 Xavier 73-71
2006-07 Cincinnati 67-57
2007-2008 Xavier 64-59

Unassisted
01-10-2008, 08:10 PM
Maybe this will be the beginning of the end of the term "mid-major?" Now that it's considered a pejorative, it won't be politically correct to apply it to any school.

"We're Division I and that's that."

LoganBuck
01-10-2008, 10:07 PM
Xavier=====Duke

terminator
01-10-2008, 10:20 PM
Xavier=====Duke

Duke plays Virginia on Sunday. I think it's safe to say that unless Duke beats them by 38 that XU is the better team. ;)

LoganBuck
01-11-2008, 06:39 AM
Duke plays Virginia on Sunday. I think it's safe to say that unless Duke beats them by 38 that XU is the better team. ;)

I stand corrected

Xavier > Ditka

Chip R
01-11-2008, 08:06 AM
I stand corrected

Xavier > Ditka


Regular sized Ditka or mini-Ditka?

BoxingRed
01-11-2008, 09:12 AM
Year in year out the A10 has basically been a mid major. This year they are looking very good but they haven't sustained that level of play. Over the past few years of play the A10 has basically consisted of two legit teams in XU and St. Joes.

George Washington and its 3 straight NCAA tourny appearances says, "Hello?" (And yes, I remember Vandy hammered them last year.)

LoganBuck
01-11-2008, 01:24 PM
Regular sized Ditka or mini-Ditka?

Does it matter?

In all seriousness, Xavier is a "major" college basketball team. Several other teams in the conference are close, the rest of the conference is "mid-major". If the best teams coaching jobs are stepping stones, you don't step sideways, you step up. The arguement about the bottom tier teams in the "power" conferences is irrelevant, those teams do not represent "major" college basketball. I think you classify basketball teams on their individual merit. Outside of the ACC and the Big East, every other conference is top heavy, with absolute dogs at the bottom.

dsmith421
01-11-2008, 03:55 PM
It's been said once before in this thread but bears repeating: if the A-10 expelled the four schools who have absolutely no financial or institutional interest in promoting competitive athletics (i.e., Duquesne, Fordham, La Salle, and St. Bonaventure) you would be left with a group of schools with similar priorities and interests in the athletic field, a much more stable conference, and a basketball league with the profile to shed the mid-major label for good.

Unfortunately, the league as constituted is a bloated mess, especially since, in the one-division format, certain teams end up with a huge competitive advantage based on (1) home/away scheduling, and (2) who a given school's home-and-home partners are.

M2
01-11-2008, 06:15 PM
It's been said once before in this thread but bears repeating: if the A-10 expelled the four schools who have absolutely no financial or institutional interest in promoting competitive athletics (i.e., Duquesne, Fordham, La Salle, and St. Bonaventure) you would be left with a group of schools with similar priorities and interests in the athletic field, a much more stable conference, and a basketball league with the profile to shed the mid-major label for good.

Duquesne is having a pretty good season so far (11-3). St. Bonnie's has a great basketball history, but has yet to rebound from a 2003 recruiting scandal. LaSalle also has a great basketball history and the school absolutely cares about fielding a competitive basketball team. It just hasn't done a very good job of it during the past decade. Yet it's a Big Five school, which is a HUGE deal in Philly and that creates a consistent impetus to strive for improvement.

Fordham's in the A-10 for the same reasons Northwestern is in the Big Ten. It brings a mega city into the conference (New York, just as Northwestern gives the Big Ten claim to Chicago) and it's a quality academic institution. These are academic institutions, mostly good ones. They want to be associated with a school like Fordham. FWIW, Fordham used to have quality facilities 20+ years ago.

The one thing the A-10 lacks is representation from Boston. I've always been surprised Northeastern, which is one seriously ambitious institution, hasn't joined that league. I've also long thought Delaware is a basketball hotbed waiting to erupt. It's a sizable school with a proud 1-AA football history, but basketball is where it can make a top tier splash. I'd think it would want games against the Philly schools and a better chance at national exposure.

dsmith421
01-11-2008, 11:56 PM
The one thing the A-10 lacks is representation from Boston. I've always been surprised Northeastern, which is one seriously ambitious institution, hasn't joined that league. I've also long thought Delaware is a basketball hotbed waiting to erupt. It's a sizable school with a proud 1-AA football history, but basketball is where it can make a top tier splash. I'd think it would want games against the Philly schools and a better chance at national exposure.

Then by all means, a basketball league founded around Delaware, Northeastern, LaSalle, Fordham, etc. could be a fine addition to the middle tier of Division I.

But the A-10 would be better off smaller, rather than larger. I gave up the hope that X and UD would be in the mix when the Big East fractures (UC allegedly blocked consideration of XU last time around) so I think a stable, competitive A-10 is the best solution.

guttle11
01-12-2008, 12:32 AM
Then by all means, a basketball league founded around Delaware, Northeastern, LaSalle, Fordham, etc. could be a fine addition to the middle tier of Division I.

But the A-10 would be better off smaller, rather than larger. I gave up the hope that X and UD would be in the mix when the Big East fractures (UC allegedly blocked consideration of XU last time around) so I think a stable, competitive A-10 is the best solution.

Ever since the expansion, there has been talk of a Big East demise. I just don't see it in the foreseeable future. They only possible way is if the catholic schools begin to struggle consistently, forcing the big state football playing schools to effectively kick them out. Why would Villanova, Marquette, DePaul, Notre Dame, or Georgetown go anywhere? They have a cushy, cash cow of a deal in the BE.

If the league does split at some point, I'm not sure a "Catholic League" would come about, either. On paper it makes sense to add Dayton, Xavier, and maybe a Creighton or Butler to the mix for a good league, but that's a pipe dream, IMO. It just won't happen. I'm not sure where or why that little rumor ever came about.

As far as the A10 goes, Linda Bruno will be resigning after the academic year (a few years overdue), and who they hire will be important. They have to find someone aggressive that will put pressure on every program to step up the effort. The level of commitment should be as high at La Salle and Fordham as it is at Dayton, Xavier, SLU, SJU...et al. Right now it doesn't appear as if the league as a whole is on the same page. The money obviously won't be the same, but the level of commitment can. If they can pry Doug Elgin from the MVC, the entire A10 should do a happy dance. If not, maybe go after Bobinski from X or Kissell from UD. Those guys know the A10, and know what it takes to keep a high profile under some restrictions.

They need to continue to have success and put pressure on CSTV to allow them more ESPN games. Once the CSTV deal ends after the 2010 season, provided the level of success is good, they need to get back in bed with ESPN and back on the ESPN FullCourt package.

One progressive thing that is coming out of the CSTV deal is internet streaming, but there is still a problem. Every team but Dayton charges a subscription fee of up to $9.00 a month. That's absurd. Thankfully Dayton has stepped up and cut a deal for its games to be streamed for free. Others should be doing the same. Get you name out there, by any means necessary. If the school can't afford it, the league needs to step up.

snowstorm
01-12-2008, 03:05 AM
Good for X for rejecting this award. Hopefully everyone else will follow. The whole mid-major labeling has gotten beyond stupid-- it doesn't even make any sense anymore. The term needs to be dropped-- period.

Unassisted
02-18-2008, 06:10 PM
http://sports.yahoo.com/top/news?slug=rivals-201781&prov=rivals&type=lgns


Fighting words: Battling the mid-major label
By Jason King, Yahoo! Sports – Rivals.com

Jason King
Rivals.com
MORAGA, Calif. – The autograph seekers and NBA scouts had been gone for an hour now, and the television trucks were packed and headed toward the highway.

Still, there was Ian O'Leary.

While the rest of his St. Mary's teammates hurried home to celebrate last week's 89-85 overtime victory against Gonzaga, O'Leary slouched against a wall in the McKeon Pavilion and reflected on one of the most entertaining games of the college basketball season.

"People can call us a mid-major if they want," O'Leary said. "But seriously, after watching us out there tonight, how can you say there was anything 'mid' about that?"

Indeed, Gonzaga and St. Mary's may have built Top 25-caliber teams, but that hasn't been enough to erase the "mid-major" tag that is so often used to describe a handful basketball programs and conferences throughout the country.

More and more these days, the mid-major label is becoming a nuisance to coaches and administrators.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few is so annoyed by the term that he refuses to give it credence by discussing it with reporters.

"Sorry, but he's not going to talk about that," Zags media relations director Oliver Pierce said. "Every time someone mentions it, he blows up."

Xavier has taken a stand, too.

Earlier this season, Rivals.com attempted to honor Musketeers' guard Drew Lavender as its "Mid-Major Player of the Week." But the school refused to accept the award.

"It created more of a stink than I thought it would," athletic director Mike Bobinski said. "But if it gets some reaction and if some of the media quit using that term, then I'll feel good about the way it turned out."

No matter whom you ask, it seems every coach and administrator has a different story about where they first heard the term "mid-major."

Some folks say it was coined by a recruiting service that classified high school seniors as high, mid or low-major prospects. Others say it was invented by television commentators, and others believe the term is used to describe any program that doesn't have a football team that competes in a BCS conference.

What's in a name?

"No one knows how it started and no one knows what it actually means," said Doug Elgin, the commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference. "My stance until recently has been, 'I don't care what they call us. Just give us the NCAA tournament bid and let us play.'"

Lately, though, the opinions of Elgin and many of his colleagues have begun to change.

The say the "mid-major" label devalues the accomplishments of teams such as Gonzaga, Southern Illinois, Drake, Butler and St. Mary's – that it makes their success seem like a fluke.

Those schools might not have the name recognition of those with BCS football teams, but their coaches and athletic directors say there is no reason they should be thought of as second tier.

"You've got powerhouse, BCS conferences that have basketball teams that aren't very good," Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. "There are teams in those conferences that would have trouble beating just about anyone.

"That term is an inaccurate descriptor – especially for a program such as ours."

Bobinski feels the same way about Xavier.

"Anyone that knows what our program has accomplished over the last 25 years would never, in their right mind, say that we're 'mid' in anything," Bobinski said. "I'd argue that anyone could come pick us apart and find that we're 'high' in every category. "There is no definition to 'mid-major.' It's a creation that didn't originate from fact. But folks started using it and all of a sudden it became the thing to do. It started to gather steam and started becoming more widespread."

That's becoming a source of concern for schools in conferences such as the Missouri Valley and the Horizon League.

One of the biggest fears is that recruits are being scared away by the term 'mid-major.' Elgin said he knows of one prospect who recently spurned an offer from one of the Missouri Valley's top teams to sign with a struggling program in a BCS conference.

"I just thought, 'If you want to go play for a school that never sees the NCAA tournament, go ahead,'" Elgin said.

"In this business, recruiting is the end-all, be-all," Bobinski said. "We don't think it's fair to put a label in front of us that might make someone say, 'Why would you go there?' or 'Why would you do this?'"

Most schools believe that their mid-major label stems from their league affiliation and not their own program. Gonzaga, for instance, has dominated the West Coast Conference for years. But schools such as Portland and Loyola Marymount continue to bring down the league's overall reputation.

"There are some schools in those leagues that don't take care of their business and support their programs like they should," one Division I athletic director said. "Some people like (Gonzaga's Mark) Few think that hurts their team, but it really doesn't. The people who know what's really going on – the people that do their research – can see how good their program is.

"Face it: The (mid-major) term is never going away. How is anyone going to put an end to it? Are they just going to instruct the media to stop using it?"

Elgin just hopes the term doesn't alter the thinking of the people on the NCAA tournament selection committee.

"That's the type of thing that gets into people's consciousness," Elgin said. "We can't embrace terminology that makes us different.We're not the JV, we're not the minor leagues and we're not mid-major. When it comes to winning games in the NCAA tournament, there's really no difference between Xavier and Ohio State.

"We can play with these people."

Major results

Elgin's point is tough to argue.

Two teams from his conference (Bradley and Wichita State) made the Sweet 16 in 2005. A year later, George Mason of the Colonial Athletic Association reached the Final Four.

Southern Illinois boasted one of the country's top teams last season, and this week No. 9 Butler, No 12 Xavier, No. 14 Drake and No. 25 St. Mary's are all ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Unlike some of his coaching counterparts, Randy Bennett said he isn't bothered by the mid-major tag. He said the current landscape in college basketball is such that any stigma the label presents can be overcome by conducting thorough evaluations during the recruiting process.

"There are very few teams from mid-major conferences that have the resources of a high-major program," Bennett said. "Football schools just have a different budget. But there are still enough good players out there to compete. You just have to go out and find them.

"Evaluations are important. It's important to figure out who really wants to be a player. Who wants to be in your program? Who has a really good attitude? Where are they in their development? How will they handle college pressures?"

Bennett even believes the so-called "mid-major" schools have an advantage in that their playing rotations are often dominated by juniors and seniors and not freshmen and sophomores who may jump to the NBA after a season or two.

Butler and Drake, for instance, each feature three seniors in their starting lineup.

"A lot of schools have to deal with (early departures) and that's a setback," Bennett said. "They're not prepared for that, unless you can stockpile guy after guy, which very few programs can do.

"There are only 10-15 recruits each year that are just a cut above the rest. After that, player No. 16 might not be that much better than player No. 70 – at least not when he's a freshman or sophomore in college. If you've got a good player that's a senior, there's a good chance he's going to be able to outplay a freshman or a sophomore."

Coaches said there are plenty of other factors that are evening the playing field between certain "mid-major" schools and ones from wealthier, football conferences.

The decision to reduce the number of scholarship players from 15 to 13 at each school made more prospects available during the recruiting process. Schools such as Gonzaga and Southern Illinois are also spending more money to upgrade facilities. They're paying coaches higher salaries and even allotting more money for game officials.

Conference commissioners such as Elgin are strongly discouraging teams from playing "guarantee games," which means playing a powerhouse school such as UCLA, North Carolina or Kentucky on the road without getting a home game in return.

Elgin also said that the NCAA's decision to let teams compete in exempt tournaments each year is giving "mid-major schools" the opportunity to play – and prove themselves – against top tier teams that they might not have been able to schedule otherwise.

Elgin said maintaining a solid RPI ranking is vital when it comes to Selection Sunday.

"When you're a program that doesn't have a lot of leverage," Elgin said, "you have to schedule strategically to get your team in the early season tournaments so they can go against someone good on a neutral floor. Then you just hope you do well.

"It's almost like losing weight. You cut out fatty food and your weight is going to go down. You cut out really bad RPI teams and your RPI is going to go up."

Even then, the "mid-major" label appears destined to stay the same.

"It's a shame," Bobinski said. "It's too bad that term is so sloppily applied. People always ask what defines a mid-major. To me, that's a question that doesn't even deserve an answer."