I’ve decided to proclaim today, May 12, 2011, as VCU’s official “Mid-Major Emancipation Day”. Years ago, I read that Xavier had turned down a weekly mid-major award from some website because the Musketeers, as an institution, refuse to acquaint themselves with the term “mid-major”. Xavier’s position was, essentially, we’re major, “we’re not mid-major, sub-major, minor or anything else. We’ll play and beat anybody. We’re on their level.”
At the time, I recognized the validity of the position, but also sort of scoffed at it. I looked at the term mid-major as sort of like a club. I graduated from Ohio University and during my four-plus years as a Bobcat, I probably said, “I go to Ohio University, not to be confused with Ohio State,” 1,714 times. From there, I worked at Monmouth University in New Jersey before trekking down I-95 to VCU. Those three schools didn’t exactly register on a national scale, at least until this March. I enjoyed having some distance between the Davids and the Goliaths.
Some people choose to embrace it. Heck, Kyle Whelliston at MidMajority.com has made a career out of it. I did as well, but as the years went on, I started to see the term as something else, an artificial designation of second tier. It raises the question, if you start referring to yourself as second-best, aren’t you resigning yourself to that very fate?
VCU’s Final Four run should signal an end of the days that we refer to ourselves as “mid-major”. Sure, it won’t stop the media from using it, but that’s okay.
Shaka Smart is featured on the front page of USA Today Thursday (VCU coach Shaka Smart still riding wave from Final Four run). A topic central to the feature and accompanying video is Smart’s decision to stay with VCU despite overtures from N.C. State and potentially others.
There’s been this unspoken understanding in college basketball for some time that coaches at non-BCS schools (artists formerly known as mid-majors), once they achieve a level of success, MUST immediately pull up the tent stakes and grab a job at some job in the Big 12, SEC, ACC or wherever. Although fans often believe otherwise, the reasons are rarely prestige-driven. Normally, it’s about dollars and cents. More money for the coach and more resources with which to attain success.
But VCU’s Final Four appearance, as well as Smart’s subsequent contract extension, should dispel any notion of VCU as a mid-major. We’re not anybody’s caddie. We’re no red-headed stepchild of Virginia Polytechnic or Wahoo? U. We’re major. We’re here to stay. Start saying it. Starting thinking it. Start believing it.