A basketball-related expansion -- an anomaly during the entire conference realignment shuffle -- was supposed to culminate by making the Atlantic Coast Conference rise above other conferences. The league was supposed to be the biggest and baddest of the major conferences thanks to its first season with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame as league members. However, the only thing that increased was disappointment in the league’s overall showing.
In the most deliciously ironic coaching carousel ride in some time, the University of Tennessee, both fan base and athletic department, somehow managed to get what they no longer wanted and exactly what they deserved. Cuonzo Martin, the man they treated like a bad case of the flu for three years, essentially put his thumb to his nose, wiggled his fingers and said, "Stuff it." He is off to the greener, more welcoming pastures of Cal while Tennessee is left with a bare cupboard, no coach and, worst of all, the coach it longed for now working down the SEC road at Auburn.
Dayton president Dan Curran, like many university presidents, has an impressive rÃ©sumÃ©. "A sociologist by training, Dr. Curran spent 23 years in various administrative and faculty positions at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia," his extended biography on the university website reads. "He's a noted scholar in criminology, juvenile justice and social problems, with a deep interest in international issues." In 2002, he received the Eternal Flame award, an international honor given for "exceptional contribution to the field of Holocaust education.
As I exited the court in Arlington, Texas, on Monday night, confetti from Connecticut’s national championship celebration still stuck in my shoe, Tom Odjakjian walked up beside me. “What do you have planned for an encore?” I asked the American Athletic Conference senior associate commissioner. As rookie years go, the American’s inaugural season ranks right up there with the Beatles. A creation born solely out of conference realignment, the league that seemed little more than the safe landing pad for teams that didn’t quite fit anywhere else, put four teams in the NCAA tournament.