Today Butler will play Michigan State in the NCAA Final Four basketball game. Butler is a university with an enrollment of less than 4,200 students! I love it when a little school makes it to the Final Four.
I thought I had better write about Butler today because, generally, these magical rides do not make it to the Championship game. Tomorrow Butler might be out and we won’t hear much about them again for a while. However, that does not mean Butler is a fluke. Butler has a history that says this is no accident. They have made it to the NCAA tournament six times. That is more than many major universities.
It helps that Butler is in Indiana. Indiana is one of the smartest basketball states. Hoosiers love their basketball and know the game. Plus Butler plays in the gym where the movie Hoosiers was filmed. For those who don’t know the movie, it’s about a small high school basketball team taking on the giants and winning it all. I love that Butler has been soaking up that anything is possible energy every time they walk into the gym.
The other reason I am writing about Butler is because I’ve been reading so much about big college athletic programs. The money that goes into some of these programs is amazing. Too often the programs are not about academics at all, but about advancing the prestige of a school through star players who generally leave early to go to the NBA. I believe the last time North Carolina won a championship, four of their five starters (only one a senior) left to go pro. Something is just not right for me about that. It’s more about going pro than being part of a team or school. So it’s fun when some little school comes along, proving that power and money doesn’t buy the championship.
Of course even if little Butler wins the NCAA tournament this year, it’s not going to stop the insane way we throw money at college programs and athletes in an attempt to win and gain recognition. Maybe Butler will remind us that it’s not all about being big or living on the front page. Sometimes the small and unheralded, wins.
I am rooting for Butler!