OPINION: Kent State’s basketball program should be appreciated

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Tanner Castora

Last week I was scanning the web in preparation for Kent State’s game against Toledo. I’m the color analyst on the ESPN3 broadcasts for the Kent State men’s basketball home games, and it’s my job during the game to bring the audience information that maybe they weren’t aware of and to add more life to the game. I’m adding “color,” if you will. With this, I’m always on the search for little tidbits about players or a program that isn’t common knowledge. It was during my hunt for information about Toledo that I stumbled upon one of the most unique and fascinating articles I’ve ever read.

Jeff Goodman of Watchstadium.com has started a series in which he polls the coaches from a conference to determine the best jobs in each league. His criteria consists of right categories: tradition, media exposure, game atmosphere, budget/resources, buy games, geographical recruiting base, facilities and selling pros. Goodman then averaged out each score and came up with a list for the Mid-American Conference, ranking the coaching jobs from most coveted to least coveted.

While the rankings didn’t surprise me, I was still extremely intrigued to study this data. This wasn’t the opinion of a writer, these are the opinion of the coaches in the conference, the people who know these schools better than anyone else, giving their unfiltered opinion and telling you what they really thought. The top five went as follows:

5. Ball State

4. Kent State

3. Akron

2. Toledo

1. Ohio

This is right around where I figured the Flashes would fall. Kent State’s location alone gives it such an advantage over some other MAC programs. If you were to draw a triangle on map that connected Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Columbus (three huge hot beds in which to pluck basketball talent from), Kent would be somewhere in between. Do you know the last time that the Kent State men’s basketball team had a losing record? 1998. That’s damn impressive.

The Flashes’ best category was “media exposure.” Why? Easy. Anyone reading this story has surely read something about the team in The Plain Dealer or The Akron Beacon Journal. Both are major news organizations that are within an hour radius of the campus and will cover the Flashes from time-to-time. (Plus I hear the student media outlets that cover the team are pretty good too).

The Flashes’ lowest category, however, was facilities. The Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, which was built is 1952, is getting old and isn’t in the best of shape. That said, I can tell you first-hand that the M.A.C. Center can be electric sometimes. The Flashes’ ranked fifth in the survey in game atmosphere.

The Flashes are currently 15-5, with a legitimate chance to make it back to the Big Dance for the second time this decade. There’s a lot to like about Kent State’s basketball program and we shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Tanner Castora is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]