Gene Smith is chairman of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Which makes him the most powerful man in college basketball 2011.
Fiery darts come the chairman's way every Selection Sunday. Why certain teams made it, why certain teams didn't. Why certain teams were seeded high; why certain teams were seeded low.
The first question hurled at Smith by CBS' Jim Nantz on Sunday was about Colorado. Why didn't the Buffaloes make the 68-team field?
Alas, powerful sportsmen are like powerful politicians. They never give you a straight answer.
“When we looked at them,” Smith said, “they just didn't quite get the votes to get in.”
Gee, thanks, Gene. Really insightful.
Let me say it for you. Colorado, your non-conference schedule stunk. CU's non-conference schedule ranked 325th out of 345 teams.
Let this be a lesson to OSU and OU, as they seek to return to March Madness next season. Just because the Big 12 schedule stiffens — two extra conference games next season, with traditional lightweights Nebraska and Colorado leaving the league — doesn't mean the Sooners and Cowboys should go soft in November and December.
The other day, Big 12 basketball director John Underwood mentioned that he wants his teams to play beefy schedules, and now we know why.
The committee will make you pay if you don't play a good schedule.
The Buffs loaded up on home games with Idaho State, Alcorn State, Texas-Pan American, The Citadel, Longwood, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Western New Mexico.
CU also played home games against Oregon State and Indiana. You don't get bonus points for playing Obama's brother-in-law or Bobby Knight's ghosts. The Buffs lost road games at Georgia, San Francisco and Harvard. They lost to New Mexico in Las Vegas and won at Cal State-Bakersfield.
For grins, I checked out Marquette, the 11th Big East team to make the field of 68. Marquette, like Colorado, finished .500 in conference. The Buffs were 21-13 overall, Marquette was 20-14.
Marquette's non-conference opponents included Duke and Gonzaga in Kansas City, Mo.; road games at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Vanderbilt; and a home game against Wisconsin. Marquette also played assorted automatic-win home games, but compared to Colorado, a much better schedule.
Another team left out of the NCAAs was Alabama, despite a 12-4 record in the SEC. The Crimson Tide was 21-11 overall, but its non-conference schedule ranked 284th.
Virginia Tech went 9-7 in the ACC and also went 21-11, but the Hokies' non-conference schedule ranked 157th.
I don't know if the selection committee got it all right, but I applaud not being fooled by non-conference wins that were merely exhibitions. In fact, I think it would be good if the committee used overall records minus the automatic wins — don't even consider Bama's games against the likes of Florida A&M, Alabama A&M, Troy and Toledo.
That's the challenge facing Travis Ford and, I assume, Jeff Capel. Don't be tempted to load up on easy games that pad your record but hurt you in the conference room.
This state needs you guys back in the NCAA Tournament, and playing rumdums doesn't cut it. Playing Houston and Auburn in the All-College, which are the expected foes next December, shouldn't be the highlight.
Schedule tough. It will help you at the box office before Christmas and in the NCAA committee room in March.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.