BOZICH | Should basketball coaches earn bonuses for playing toug - WDRB 41 Louisville News

  • Should college basketball coaches be paid bonuses for playing more difficult non-conference schedules?

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BOZICH | Should basketball coaches earn bonuses for playing tougher schedules?

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Archie Miller can earn a yearly bonus at Indiana for playing a tougher non-league schedule. Archie Miller can earn a yearly bonus at Indiana for playing a tougher non-league schedule.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Chances are Denny Crum snickered at the scheduling bonus clause that Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass tucked in the eight-year contract Archie Miller signed to coach the Hoosiers.

Earn an extra $125,000 for playing the kind of non-conference schedule that a program that aspires to be one of the 10 best in the game should always play?

Where’s the punch line? Are they giving away money in college basketball these days?

Nobody had to stick a bonus in Crum’s contract to convince him to play UCLA, North Carolina, Virginia, Houston, UNLV, North Carolina State, Marquette, Indiana and the countless other Top-25 programs Crum routinely played.

That’s not the model any more.

Tom Izzo does it. Bill Self does it. A few others do it.

I believe that Miller will be inclined to do it, even without financial incentive. His final team at Dayton played Alabama, Saint Mary’s, Nebraska, New Mexico, Winthrop, East Tennessee State, Vanderbilt and Northwestern last season. Not shabby for an Atlantic 10 program. Miller was a pugnacious player. I’d expect him to be the same kind of scheduler.

But many coaches prefer not to do it.

They’ll argue that conference play is tough enough. Throw in preseason tournaments, conference challenge events and protected rivalries, and the scheduling thing can get out of control.

But at Indiana, the easing of the schedule had gone too far. That’s likely why Glass created a bonus clause that will pay Miller an extra $125,000 during any season the Hoosiers play no more than one non-conference opponent with a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) number of 300 or worse.

One quick aside: The RPI is far from the best computer power ranking to use as a measurement of a team’s opponents. In fact, many basketball insiders view it as one of the worst. The rankings created that Jeff Sagarin (which include margin of victory) and Ken Pomeroy (weighted toward points scored and allowed per possession) are considered better reflections of a team’s strength.

But RPI is an NCAA creation as well as a number considered by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

So RPI it is.

During the 2016-17 season, Indiana did not play two teams with RPIs of 300 or worse. The Hoosiers played four teams – UMass-Lowell (309); Delaware State (332); SIU-Edwardsville (333) and Mississippi Valley State (334).

Too many.

I wondered how that compared to the schedules Kentucky and Louisville played last season.

Not well.

Kentucky did not play any regular-season games against teams ranked 300 or worse.

Neither did Louisville.

According to the RPI, these were the three-worst teams that John Calipari's Wildcats played – Duquesne (266); Cleveland State (260) and Stephen F. Austin (203).

For Louisville, this is the list of the three-worst teams that Rick Pitino's Cardinals played: Eastern Kentucky (248); Long Beach State (213) and Evansville (188).

Playing teams with RPIs of 300 or worse is not good for a team’s postseason resume. It does not create a savory menu for the ticket-buying public.

My prediction is most players think the way Crum always thought. Play the best. Challenge yourself. Define strengths. Identify weaknesses. Polish the strengths. Eliminate the weaknesses. Bring it.

Early reports from Bloomington indicated that Miller will not realize the bonus during his first season. The Hoosiers will reportedly play Howard University (No. 339 last season) and South Florida (316) during Miller’s opening season at Indiana.

Look for that to change after year one. Fred Glass has seen enough of Mississippi Valley State and SIU-Edwardsville. Good for him.

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