Head coach Seth Greenberg of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts during the second half of the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the first round of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 10, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg and Boston College's Steve Donahue speak out about their disappointment of being left out of the NCAA Tournament. The two coaches, however, have taken on very different tones in their messaging.
"Just disappointed. You almost wonder if someone in that room has their own agenda and that agenda doesn't include Virginia Tech. Just plain and simple. I totally wonder it, if someone in that room has an agenda. The explanation was so inconsistent with the result that it was almost mind-boggling."
"Probably another reason they need to open up that room, or at least give each and every school, ‘This is our criteria. This is what it's going to be every year, and this is how we're going to make choices.' Because in the end, it isn't that. There's a human element to it. And that's why you wonder, in that human element, if someone in that room has an agenda. Again, that's just a question." - Seth Greenberg
"I'd just say we're disappointed,'' he said. "We're not angry. I told the guys before practice today that we've accomplished a great deal and we have a huge opportunity to continue to make great strides this year and, in the short run, to get away from the feeling we have in our stomachs about how poorly we played our last game." - Steve Donahue
First, let me say I can understand both Greenberg and Donahue's frustration at being left out of the NCAA Tournament. This year's bubble was extremely weak, and the last dozen or so teams that made the Dance had resumes nearly indistinguishable from one another.
But at the same time, I feel like Donahue took more of the high road while Greenberg did not. Greenberg mouthing off about conspiracy theories and agendas does not reflect well on either the Virginia Tech program or the conference as a whole. Is this supposed to make things better for Virginia Tech or ACC bubble teams? Is the Selection Committee supposed to look more favorably on the Hokies next year?
If anything, this makes things worse. Much worse. The Selection Committee certainly won't look favorably on Virginia Tech going forward, and Greenberg's comments could also have an adverse effect on future ACC bubble teams. After all, the selection process, as Greenberg rightly points out, has a human element to it.
Further, let's set the context here. We aren't talking about a controversy that has the magnitude of a no. 1 vs. no. 2 BCS Championship Game decision. We are talking about no. 68 vs. no. 69-72. Sure, a trip to the NCAA Tournament is a great way to send off a very successful senior class, but let's not pretend like either BC or Virginia Tech were going to cut down the nets in Houston.
Is there some sort of anti-VT conspiracy theory and/or agenda here? Hardly. The committee just flat out got it wrong this year. Colorado, Virginia Tech and BC probably should have been in over USC, VCU and UAB. But those three teams could have also won an extra game here or a game there that would have taken the decision out of the committee's hands ... and they didn't.
As a head coach of a program that got snubbed, can you be disappointed? Frustrated? Sure, but you should probably measure what you have to say, as it reflects poorly on your program and the conference as a whole.
Donahue, for his part, went to bat a bit for the ACC as a whole, and when asked whether he was surprised the ACC only got four bids while the Big East got 11, replied:
"I am surprised at that. You think about it, and the fourth one is a play-in game for an at-large. To me, the hard part of it is there's a lot of media hype and scrutiny that goes on during the season and you just wonder, because they're human, how much [the committee] really let that influence their decision-making.
"I'm not saying my situation, personally, I'm saying we've watched and played against all these teams. I'll put our top two against anybody, and I'll put our middle pack against anybody's middle pack, yet there's 11 in one league and 3 1/2, basically, from another and I don't see the drastic difference.''
There's that word again -- human.
Donahue's words were a bit more measured, but he still had some criticisms of the selection process as a whole. Not sure how I feel about that, but I suppose going bat for the ACC as opposed to claiming that there's a conspiracy theory involving your program is taking more of the high road. Still, both these coaches need to temper their criticisms of the Selection process, lest they make things more difficult for ACC bubble teams in the future.