This has been a strange October for your boy, Mr. K. For the first time since I was 18 years old (which is farther in the past than I'd care to admit), I did not attend Marquette Madness. And for the first time since the birth of Anonymous Eagle, I didn't write a post about the event. Usually, I would have taken some time to pen a few words about how jacked up I am for the official start of the college hoops season. I'd delve into what I'm looking forward to seeing in that first glimpse of the team. Then, once it was over, I would scribble out a few more thoughts about what I'd seen, while continuing to express my excitement about the impending start of the season.
This year was different, though. It's not that I'm not excited for the start of the 2012-'13 season. I am. I always am. I still checked out what I could of Madness on the webcast. (Tip of the cap to the kids at MUTV for the good work.) But I didn't really spend a ton of time on the particulars of what I was excited to see this year, because, when you boil it down, there was really only one thing that I was looking forward to seeing: BASKETBALL.
This past offseason was one of the most bizarre experiences in my life as a Marquette fan. It all started with the gut-wrenching loss to the Florida Gators to end what had all the makings of a magical 2012 NCAA Tournament run. Shortly thereafter that, the inevitable "Buzz to......" rumors that follow every successful coach who isn't coaching at a blueblood school in his home state fired up anew.
Only this time things were different. It wasn't a big school, with deep pockets, and a rich basketball tradition that was rumored to be prying Buzz out of Milwaukee. No, this time it was SMU. Naturally, this fact caused things to take a turn towards the absurd. Why, on God's green earth, would a successful basketball coach, with a new-ish (and highly lucrative) contract, leave for a job like SMU??? The theories were as plentiful as they were ridiculous. Fueled by message board speculation and people trying to push page views, the whole thing spun into an incredibly unsightly "poop tornado" (Rubie's term). In the aftermath, nothing had really changed (except for possibly people's perception of Coach Buzz). But there was an uncomfortable sort of WTF feeling that was left in its wake.
And yet, before the dust had even settled on that whole debacle, the news came that incoming freshman Aaron Durley would not be attending Marquette this fall. No official reason/excuse was ever really conveyed, but we all knew it was to make room for the transfer of Trent Lockett from Arizona State. And while Lockett may be great for MU and this move may have been the best thing for Durley in the long run, the whole scene opened the program to a fair amount of criticism. That was followed shortly by the announcement that Jamail Jones would be leaving the program (not that anyone was surprised by that). And to round out the roster tumult, a few months later T.J. Taylor announced he would be leaving the team two weeks after arriving in Milwaukee. Sprinkle in the fact that Todd Mayo got sent to his room to think about ... whatever the hell it was he did, and that "what the hell is going on" feeling continued to pervade.
Then came the cherry on top of the "Christ, now what!?!!?" sundae. For the first time that I can recall, the words "Marquette" and "NCAA violations" were uttered in the same sentence. Yes: the program was being looked at for (what was reported to be) a relatively minor recruiting violation. But the other shoe dropped not long after that, when it was announced that assistant coach Scott Monarch would get the axe for perpetrating the easily avoidable offense and then foolishly trying to cover his tracks. And to ensure that the drama wouldn't end there, Buzz Williams also got dinged for the first game of the Big East season.
But finally, this weekend Madness came and all of this nonsense became water under the bridge. We can all get back to thinking about, talking about, writing about, and even bitching about (looking at you, Rubes) BASKETBALL.
Only 29 days until the season tips off... and thank the Lord for that!