C’mon man: ESPN with the first steal of the hoops year

22 Oct

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

For hardcore hoops fans, we met Ryan Marks for the first time this summer. Chances are you probably said to yourself “I’m going to root for this guy.”

You see, Ryan Marks is the head coach of University of Texas-Pan American men’s basketball team. You see, UTPA was 6-25 last year. You see, UTPA is one of the toughest jobs in America to recruit for. You see, this is the classic root-for-the-underdog story.

CBS Sports writer Jeff Goodman hitched his wagon to Marks this summer for a great look into Marks’ recruiting world in July. It was a fascinating look into the world that very few college hoops fans got a chance to see. Goodman and Marks tweeted the experience and it was a fun storyline to watch.

Now ESPN The Magazine is riding the same coat tails that CBS did this summer with Marks and his program.

Good for UTPA and Marks. Good for that program’s fan base. Good for us in college basketball.

Marks writes in his first ESPN The Magazine entry:

“I’m here to provide the minty freshness of an off-the-beaten-path college hoops season… When the season starts, you’ll recognize me as the pudgy guy pacing the sideline next to a stuffed penguin named P-Diddy. I adopted him as an unofficial mascot for my 2005-06 St. Edward’s team as part of my preseason theme. That year, the lesson was teamwork, and I showed my players March of the Penguins. P-Diddy has been with me ever since.”

Okay, I’m hooked. I’m a sucker for this kind of content. I’ll certainly be reading.

But…

C’mon man, ESPN. Ryan Marks and UTPA? Really?

That’s original. I get that we “borrow” story ideas from our competitors in the world of constant-journalism. I’m guilty of it, sure. But to rip off a storyline all together? C’mon man.

There are plenty of interesting teams to follow for this kind of story. How about North Carolina Central? The Historical Black College has a white kid that leads the team in scoring and is one of the best shooters in America. Oh, and they have a Ray Willis (Oklahoma) and Dominique Sutton (Kansas State) playing there this year. There’s a good behind-the-scenes to follow.

Or what about New Jersey Institute of Technology. Or Houston Baptist? Or Utah Valley University? All of those programs are underdogs and have interesting and compelling content that can be created from those teams. Or Southern, who went 4-24 last year?

Again, I’m happy for UTPA and Marks. I’ll read the story every month.

But ESPN, you can’t be serious. Can you?

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