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Vol. 53, No. 1 • November 2015 • .pdf version
Taking back Mountain West all-conference teams
By ED GRANEY / Las Vegas Journal-Review
If it's true the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place, things appear much clearer now between those running the Mountain West and the media members that cover men's basketball within it.
Case in point: All-league selections.
Controversy found the league last season, when 11 head coaches eliminated — for the first time in 12 years — the media from voting on post-season awards.
"I wouldn't say it was very contentious, because we weren't even told about it until the very end and only after I asked about it," said Geoff Grammer, who covers New Mexico for the Albuquerque Journal. "We were made aware of the switch at the last minute. I believe things will be better this year and both teams will be publicized by the conference. Some conference teams chose not to publicize our selections last season. Hopefully, that will change this time."
I have nothing against multiple all-conference teams from the same league, for allowing players to be recognized by as many groups as possible for a job well done on the court over a season. It's a big deal to the kid and his family and his team.
But how it reached the point of Mountain West players being honored by both coaches and media last season depicted a larger issue within the framework of how some all-league teams are formed: It pointed directly to coaches who want things both ways.
It pointed directly to their hypocrisy.
Coaches often whine most about the need for transparency in all things, but only when it fits their specific agenda. They are scared to death to let anyone know which of their players they nominate for awards and for which across the conference they cast votes.
Mountain West writers make their ballots public. They put their names and choices out there for all to see.
The coaches, who aren't allowed to vote for their own players, refuse. Often, they believe voting for an obvious leading candidate might damage their player's chances at an individual award, so they cast support for a third and undeserving kid.
Coaches are an unambiguous lot.
There is no mystery to them.
"Where last year, the media did their poll secretly and released it on Sunday (before the conference tournament), we want them back involved this year," said Javan Hedlund, associate commissioner in charge of communications for the conference. "We will still release our team on Tuesday, but if they want to be first and come out with their all-conference team and awards on Sunday again, we will have it on our web site and publicize it through social media and it will be listed in our record books along with the other all-conference teams. All of that is perfectly fine with us. We will promote it as the team selected by the media in the same manner we do for the one chosen by our coaches.
"We always monitor how our coaches vote on these things. If we see something that appears to be a coach trying to game the system in favor of his players, we make his school aware of it and there are discussions in the future about it. If we see anyone deliberately trying to be a homer for his team, we will and have addressed it."
So there will again be separate all-conference men's teams in the Mountain West this season, and that's not a bad thing. The more recognition for kids, the better.
It also appears that a little communication between the media and conference office has gone a long way.
Nothing wrong with that, either.
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