You will become more realistic

You will become more realistic

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SDSU’s Brian Dutcher: “The realignment is here”

Brian Dutcher explains his thoughts on the ongoing realignment in the NCAA.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – with San Diego State Playing in the school’s first-ever Elite Eight NCAA Tournament game on Sunday vs CreightonCoach Brian Dutcher said an opportunity looms for the school’s basketball program and athletic department with both USC and UCLA heading to the Big Ten next season.

“Realign here,” said Dutcher. “So everybody’s waiting for the next shoe to drop. Whether it’s the Big Ten or the Pac-12 or the Big 12 or the ACC. There’s going to be more realignment.”

With UCLA and USC leaving the Pac-12 and soon to play the vast majority of their conference games thousands of miles away, San Diego State plans to establish itself in Southern California as a sensible regional choice. The Aztecs played the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament more than 2,000 miles away in Orlando, Florida, and Dutcher said that trip gave him a window into the travel challenges new Big Ten basketball schools would face.

“despite of [our flight] It was a charter, I thought, Oh my God, these guys have to do this every other week to play a basketball game? He said, β€œIt’s going to be stressful. It’s going to be a real challenge to be at her best with this kind of travel. I wish them all the best, but this is more travel than I could wish for anyone.”

With the Pac-12 expected to receive clarity on its upcoming television deal in the coming weeks, the possibility of the conference adding programming upon completion of that deal looms for months. San Diego State remains at the forefront of that conversation, thanks to the school’s location, strong streak of success in both football and men’s basketball and outstanding academics.

San Diego State athletic director John David Wicker said the program, regardless of whether it’s in the Mountain West or the Pac-12, will be able to sell regional travel to recruits. He sees the amount of travel USC and UCLA have to do for league play as a potential recruiting advantage. When the Aztecs were traveling to Orlando for opening weekend, he said he mentioned two and a half hours into their trip that they would only be halfway to several Big Ten schools.

β€œI think that would be huge for us,” Wicker said. “Maybe it doesn’t affect football because football isn’t a lot of travel, but everything else, that’s a lot of travel. I think it helps.”

Dutcher added, “I just feel like you should play regional. It’s better for the kids. It’s easier to be a student-athlete than just an athlete.”

Dutcher has served as the head coach at San Diego State for six seasons and has been a member of the school’s staff since 1999. During that time, he has seen the program grow into a professional basketball team in a city that ranks eighth in population. in the country.

The turning point for the city’s attention came in 2010-11, when Kawhi Leonard was a sophomore on a team that went 34-3. Before this season, the school’s best chance to reach the Final Four may have come in 2019-20, when it finished 30-2 and appeared in line for a top seed before the pandemic canceled the NCAA Tournament.

The school’s football program has posted a 7-4 record against Pac-12 schools since 2016 and has made football games the last 12 full seasons. In five of the past seven full seasons, San Diego State has won double-digit football games. Since 2010, San Diego State has the highest combined winning percentage of any Division I school in football and men’s basketball at 73.8%, ahead of Ohio State (72.9%) and Oregon (71.1%).

“I always thought the Pac-12 wouldn’t ask us to go to UCLA and USC because they would put us on equal footing, and we’d be too great a competitor to get in,” said Dutcher. “Now that they’re gone and Southern California has a really good team sitting in San Diego, I think we’ll be desirable to the Pac-12, the Big 12, and a lot of conferences.”

San Diego State was leading at this moment. The school opened the Snapdragon Football Field this fall, which cost $310 million and is echoing as a hallmark of its facility projects. The environment at Viejas Arena basketball on campus has long been considered one of the most intense and dynamic in the country. The combination of market, success, and uncertainty about the landscape made San Diego State’s leap to conference power inevitable, with time as the looming variable.

“We’d be ready to go in for the Power 5 conference if we got that chance,” Wicker said. “I think basketball comes in without any problem. Maybe football takes a little depth and things like that. But I’m not worried about us not being competitive.”

Both No. 6 Creighton and No. 5 San Diego State teams are aiming for their first Final Four appearance on Sunday afternoon.

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