March 29, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - 1. Are you rooting for Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament? If you are a Saluki fan, you should be. The NCAA annually disburses shares (called units) of the money it makes from its multi-billion dollar TV contract with CBS and Turner Sports. Every Shocker win equals an extra $144,000 for each MVC school, spread out over six years. So far, the MVC has banked six NCAA Tournament units this March thanks to the success of Wichita State and Creighton.
2. Since 2000, five schools have accounted for 91 percent of the league's Tournament revenue, which is then evenly distributed to the members. Despite the national media's short-term memory, Southern Illinois has been the most prolific generator of NCAA Tournament revenue for the MVC in the past decade or so, generating a quarter of the units. Here's a list of total units earned by each school since 2000.
Southern Illinois: 11 Creighton: 9 Wichita State: 8 Northern Iowa: 7 Indiana State: 4 Bradley: 3 Drake: 1 Evansville: 0 Illinois State: 0 Missouri State: 0 3. Note that Creighton is second with nine units. That's why it's so important to find a strong basketball program to replace them in the league, so that the MVC not only survives but flourishes. Also note that Creighton's tournament units will remain in the Valley and not follow the Bluejays to the Big East.
4. Some have called the Bluejays the league's flagship program, and they have certainly been the most consistent since 2000. (They are the only school to finish with a winning record in the league every season in that timespan.) However, Creighton has never won more than one game in the NCAA Tournament in school history, and that is a significant threshold they must cross to be considered one of the nation's elite basketball programs. Remember that SIU, Bradley, Wichita State and UNI have all advanced to the Sweet 16 in recent years, while the Bluejays have not.
5. Wichita State and Indiana State will be the favorites to win the Valley next year, but the rest of the standings are going to be wide open. That's because only nine of the league's top 25 scorers return. Indiana State has three of them (Jake Odum, Manny Arop, R.J. Mahurin).
7. SIU dedicated the Lew Hartzog Track & Field Complex and Connie Price-Smith Throws Area today. That's a mouthful, but if you happen to be in the vicinity this weekend, stop by and check out the beautiful new facility. There are bleachers from which you can watch the track meet on Saturday.
8. Switching gears to spring football, although the pecking order at quarterback hasn't changed since the fall (Kory Faulkner, A.J. Hill, Matt Vincent, Ryan West), Coach Lennon said there is an open competition among the four returnees and someone could elevate their status with a strong spring. My guess is it will be hard to supplant Faulkner, who is a fifth-year senior with 18 starts under his belt.
9. The Salukis have three returning starters on the offensive line (C Tanner Crum, G Nate Haremza, T Ethan Wirth). Wirth will move from right tackle to left tackle this season. Penciled in as starters on the right side of the line are redshirt freshman Jake Notario and Oklahoma transfer Victor Craven, who made four starts at tackle last season. Lennon said they almost pulled the redshirt off Notario last season. He's 6-foot-4, 320 pounds and athletic for his enormous size. Another redshirt freshman in the offensive line mix is David Meyerhoff.
10. SIU actually has five QBs in camp, including walk-on Kyle Newquist. The Elgin, Ill. native joined the team last fall and ran the scout team. Lennon said he's an excellent athlete who could eventually move to wide receiver or safety.
11. The football team will have its first scrimmage of the spring on April 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the Stadium. Next week's blog will provide a rundown on the scrimmage and the latest notes and observations about Saluki Football.