"Rants and Raves" is an open forum for coaches to discuss topics, ranging from issues to observations on the state of college basketball and beyond.
It's Here to Stay
By Brad Holland, San Diego

Since it’s inception, the Mid-Major Top 25 has been a work in progress. Like with any ranking system there are always going to be detractors, but unlike other ranking systems coaches are actively involved in making necessary adjustments to improve the process. Such facts are lost when detractors attempt to question its credibility.

One of the great things about being a part of the Mid-Major Top 25 voting panel is the constant communication among voters. Coaches continuously share information and make suggestions on how the Top 25 can be improved. This season, Belmont’s Rick Byrd is the catalyst behind this effort.

As the chairman of the Mid-Major Top 25, Rick periodically communicates with the voting panel and last week he corresponded with the panel in regards to some stories that have been written -- Stories that have called into the question the validity of the Top 25.

Writers get paid to write stories, which includes constructive criticism. Nobody will fault that, but one thing lacking, in many of these recent articles, is a point of reference from an actual voter.

One of the critical points is that the Mid-Major Top 25 includes all teams not included in the higher-profile conferences. Some believe that you cannot group two-thirds of college basketball together. Why not?

A label is a label, good or bad. It doesn’t necessarily accurately define what it is, but let’s not be tripped up on semantics. The Mid-Major Top is the voice of all the schools that wouldn’t otherwise get national attention. It really isn’t a big deal that there are programs, included in that group, which are labeled high-majors.

I would think a program like Gonzaga would be proud to carry the banner of “Mid-Major.” It means they're getting it done with less. They have become a national program that can play with anyone, one that is often ranked and receives the highest consideration for the NCAA Tournament if they don't win their conference tournament. What wrong with that?

It's much more unfair that the NCAA Tournament pigeonholes conferences for their selections than it is to be called a mid-major.

Six years ago, I was one of those consulted about defining the teams/conferences that would be included in the Top 25. I was in agreement with coaches like Seth Greenberg (then at Long Beach State), Dave Magarity (then at Marist), Bob Marlin (Sam Houston State) and others. Everyone believed that separation between programs was based on the size of schools, budgets and resources.

The criteria to determine a Mid-Major was not the only point that we all agreed on. The most important thing was that there was a consensus that this would be great for so many programs. After all, two-thirds of the college basketball landscape consists of “non-major” programs.

It’s a simple fact that we don’t have the same resources that teams in the Pac-10 or ACC have to work with. And the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 polls are predominately made up of programs, which are from the higher-profile leagues. The Mid-Major Top 25 includes those programs that are not part of that first group and it recognizes those programs that are getting it done with less.

So I ask again -- What is wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong it and furthermore it makes no sense to be critical of something that provides much deserved attention. Currently there are six voting members, which have programs ranked in the top fifteen in the Mid-Major Top 25. Ask Pacific’s Bob Thomason or St. Mary’s Randy Bennett if they believe the Top 25 isn’t credible.

Thirty-one coaches can’t all be wrong.

The label “Mid-Major” is here to stay and the Mid-Major Top 25 is credible and is as much a part of the college basketball vernacular as March Madness.