Mike Strange: Some schools do football and basketball right

Mike Strange

A basketball game will break out today in Tuscaloosa, just down the street from college football's Ground Zero, aka Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Will anyone notice Tennessee is in town to play hoops?

Or are Alabama fans still all queued up at sporting goods stores to buy the latest BCS national championship gear?

The prediction here is a modest but enthusiastic crowd inside Coleman Coliseum. If some football recruits show up, all the better. If word gets out Nick Saban is dropping by, it could be SRO.

But, as is the case on most SEC campuses, the energy level at Alabama turns down several notches once football yields the stage to basketball.

Which made me curious: Where in the wide, wide world of sports can you find football and men's basketball, the two marquee sports, simultaneously thriving?

Not at Duke, Kansas, Kentucky or Indiana. Football is mere prelude to the first jump ball.

Not at Georgia, South Carolina or LSU. Memorable football followed by forgettable basketball.

Alabama has a respectable hoops tradition, but the team that faces the Vols today appears destined to be an also-ran.

Lining up the final AP Top 25 football poll and the current Top 25 basketball poll side by side, here are the two-sport winners:

Florida: Finished ninth in football, sitting at No. 11 in basketball.

Louisville: No. 3 in basketball, following a Sugar Bowl upset of Florida that hiked the gridiron Cardinals to No. 13.

Notre Dame: No. 4 in football after getting steamrolled by Bama, recovering nicely in hoops at 14-1 and No. 17.

Ohio State: No. 3 after a 12-0 football season, No. 15 in basketball.

Kansas State: Props to AD John Currie. No. 12 in football, No. 18 in basketball.

Michigan: No. 24 in football, and an unbeaten No. 3 in basketball.

And there are a few surprises from beyond the Continental Divide:

Boise State, No. 18 in football, isn't ranked in hoops but the Broncos are 13-2 with a hefty RPI of 23.

Utah State isn't losing much either, finishing No. 16 in football and off to a 13-1 start in basketball.

Oregon, No. 2 in football, is 13-2 indoors and just knocked Arizona from the unbeaten ranks.

Tennessee, meanwhile, is not in this conversation.

The last time the Vols were dually relevant was the 2007-08 school year. Football finished No. 12 after an Outback Bowl win. Bruce Pearl's hoopsters won the SEC title and finished No. 5 in the polls.

UT fans yearn to get back on the map, to first enjoy a relevant autumn, then follow it with a meaningful winter.

But ask around, it's a tough club to join.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 14

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Bring Bruce back when NCAA jail is done.
Promote CCM out of the way.
"Show cause"? Sho, cuz we...yeah, you get it.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

I can easily remember LSU having very good men's and women's basketball and football.

Same for Georgia.

MSU used to be very good in men's basketball and football, as was Arkansas and of course Bama.

It's just hard to keep the consistency: schools get 'bored' with 20 win teams and fire the coach, or coach leaves thinking he's a guru and worth more somewhere else.

Than, there's UT where our finest coach ever in basketball could not handle his success.

wigmeister writes:


SevenT writes:

This writer missed the best school over long periods of time (Michigan State) for both basketball and football.

Razor784 writes:

UT's not winning much now but they are the only school in the country that's in the top 5 in attendance in Men's and Women's BB and football, so I think they have the best fans in the country.

eduardo writes:

Used to!

redskinvol1 writes:

Bring back winning.Bring back the fun.Bring back Bruce!!

crmcm44#321757 writes:

It's not just they aren't winning it's that they are painful to watch. Poor skills and poorly coached.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

UT's still better than most SEC teams. Even after Bruce's fiasco. Don't get me wrong I loved the Bruce Pearl era the first few seasons.
It's funny how some of the same Bruce haters are now Martin haters and were the same haters of Dooley, Green, ....welll it's a long list.

SummittsCourt writes:

I remember when all of UT's sports were good to a degree. Baseball, Football and even basketball all had winning seasons. Then they hired Mike Hamilton and now UT is struggling in all three of the big 3 sports.

It's a simple as that.

In the last 5 years UT has lost a Hall of Fame Football coach, a basketball coach who took the team to new heights of success, a baseball coach who consistently won, have gone on NCAA probation, hired badly to replace those mentioned above and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Bad hires: Kiffin, Dooley, Martin, Raleigh

Still to be determined: Serrano (though I believe he will win and was hired by Joan Cronan) & Butch Jones (seems like he will be a good hire for now).

Yes folks, I put all of the blame on Mike Hamilton and then Jimmy Cheek - two clueless individuals who care more about making money than anything else.

jkreis#632254 writes:

It's easy to say in hind site but it's more than just the coaches. Any good organization has strong leadership from the top that stays in touch with what's happening below - all the way below. That's what has hurt UT for the past 8 or more years. It remains to be seen if that is changing. Until it does UTAD will not recover. The administration needs to get on the same page and do what it takes to support a winning environment; and it's not just about money!

BigOrangeRock writes:

"The last time the Vols were dually relevant was the 2007-08 school year. Football finished No. 12 after an Outback Bowl win. Bruce Pearl's hoopsters won the SEC title and finished No. 5 in the polls."

Then we fired a legend 8 games later before homecoming.

brokebackvol writes:

I don't hate or even dislike Coach Martin. I just want to get BruceBall back in action at UT - watched the Vols for alot of years and the only real relevance was during Coach Pearl's tenure.

Pompey writes:

....UT is one of the sadest stories in college sports....Tennessee is a case study of what happens to a college athletic department that has no oversight....!

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