As a graduating member of the 2003 Taravella Trojans down in Coral Springs, Florida, allow me to puff my chest out and proclaim – SOUTH FLORIDA OWNS COLLEGE BASKETBALL! Miami and FAU in completely different sections of South Florida but still a part of a similar community, a community that up until probably yesterday, did not care about college basketball. In fact, college hoops, while I lived down there, was probably the least talked about and bantered about sport of all the sports we deem to be top of mind in our culture.
Yet, here we are, in a region where it means less, having 2 representatives in the Final Four of a tournament that housed 68 from all corners of this country. Many corners where college basketball is literally everything. I give you, Indiana.
So, how did they do it? NIL money, cohesiveness, good coaching, we can probably check those major boxes. The State of Florida produces some incredible athletes, and if you know where to look, you can fill up one hell of a roster. I think in today’s world of everyone moving around every couple years, having a team stay together, like FAU, is highly valuable. And in the case of Miami, paying a kid and convincing him to play for you is a whole lot easier when you have those palm trees and sunny beaches looking over your shoulder.
I think the success of these schools are, for the most part, the opposite ends of the transfer portal/NIL era that’s been created.
Either way you slice it, good for South Florida. Not sure we’re a basketball state just yet, but they’re definitely trending that way 3 hours South of us.