By Cameron Blair
I love being a college student on Sundays. I do absolutely nothing. I do zero homework, I don’t go the gym and, most Sundays, I don’t even put pants on. Sorry you had to hear that.What I do like to do on Sundays is watch movies. Whether it’s something funny like Superbad or more serious fare such as Apocalypse Now, I usually let my buddy S-Pizzle (don’t worry, I don’t really call him this) pick out the movie.
S-Pizzle knows his movies. He usually needs about 30 seconds to name the movie, the director and the guy that designed the sets when I switch the channel to AMC. He is basically the Schwab of the cinema world.
Last Sunday, we watched the great World War II black comedy Catch-22 starring Alan Arkin, Art Garfunkel, the great Bob Newhart and an obese Orson Welles. The premise is fairly simple: The main character (Arkin) is facing a “catch-22,” which is a dilemma that no real choice exists.
Arkin’s character wants to be excused from his dangerous flight missions. In order to do so, he has to prove he is insane. However, one has to be insane to fly these missions and proving his insanity will, in essence, keep him in his current state.
While watching the film, it struck me: Being a fan of a small or mid-major college basketball team is, in many cases, a catch-22 in itself.
Think about it.
If you are a fan of a team, it is understood you want the team to do well. For example, former Eastern Head Coach Travis Ford led the Colonels to an OVC Championship in 2005.
This was great, right?
Well, yes and no.
Shortly after taking the Colonels to the NCAA Tournament, Ford resigned as Eastern’s head coach in order to fill the head coaching position at the University of Massachusetts.
So, if you are a fan of a smaller college basketball team, you naturally want your team to do well. That’s what makes you a fan. However, if your team is really successful, there is a big chance some bigger college will try to lure your coach away with more money and increased prestige.
It’s a catch-22.
You do not even have to leave the great state of Kentucky to find a similar case.
Let me preface this by saying I am in no way trying to be sympathetic to Western. I am just a scientist in the land known as the college-coaching carousel. I’m cold and calculating, kind of like Scully from the X-Files.
The Hilltoppers made a strong run through the NCAA Tournament recently. They upset Drake in the first round and made it to the Sweet 16. One would think this might be the beginning of a basketball dynasty in Bowling Green, right?
Well, this may have been the case, but shortly after Western’s run through the NCAA Tournament, Western Head Coach Darrin Horn was out of town. Horn took the vacant head coaching position at South Carolina.
To recap, the team makes advances to the Sweet 16 of the tournament and appears to be on the cusp of something special. However, as a reward for doing so well, Horn is rewarded with a head coaching job at a larger school and Western fans are left wondering who is going to coach their team next season.
For Western fans, it’s a catch-22.
I am not simply bashing coaches here, either. It’s hard to blame them for moving on to bigger schools. First, they will be moving on to a job that pays more than the one they currently have, which is the objective of nearly every career: Do well at your job and move on to a higher paying one.
So, for the coaches, they move on to a higher paying job at larger and usually more prestigious institutions when they do well. However, leaving where they started and that carries with it some heartache for everyone.
For head coaches being lured away from their smaller schools, it’s a catch-22
What’s the answer? In the film version of Catch-22, Arkin faces the choice of returning home and lying about what happened to him during the war or staying and flying more dangerous missions.
What does he do? He jumps out of his hospital window and begins making a mad dash toward Sweden, which is roughly 1,000 miles from where he is stationed. Hope fuels his running.
And that’s all we can do as fans of a mid-major basketball team.
Hope that Head Coach Jeff Neubauer continues to build a successful program here at Eastern, while also hoping his success does not lead to another school offering him more money and prestige to lead their program.