It's time to relax and enjoy the parity
College lacrosse can be amusing, especially when some of the traditional powers lose. It's like the world ended. When UMBC upset Maryland last weekend, it didn't take long for his critics to cry out that the sky was falling and Maryland coach Dave Cottle should be fired. And there were critics who also took shots at coach John Desko because Syracuse didn't make the 2007 Division I tournament. Wow, two major catastrophes in a year. Hmmm, I think we should cancel Christmas.
But I have a suggestion for all of those folks pointing fingers: Wake up and shut up. College lacrosse is changing. We've been hearing about parity in the sport for years. Parity doesn't mean the less traditional schools like Albany and Delaware replace Virginia and Hopkins as powers, but it allows those schools to step up and bite them every once in a while.
To slap around Cottle is to cheapen what UMBC has done, and the Retrievers have a pretty good team. Their offense is as high powered as any in the country when their attackmen are playing well. Delaware upset Virginia in Virginia last weekend because the Blue Hens have some great athletes, and they got more confidence as the game went on. "By the third quarter, they were tossing the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters, and I was wondering, 'who in the hell were these guys?'" said Virginia coach Dom Starsia.
You get the point. College lacrosse has become like the NFL, "on any given Sunday...."
I'm not going to mention Cottle's overall record at Maryland because it speaks for itself. He has been just as efficient and productive at Maryland as his predecessor, Dick Edell, who never won a national title in his 18 years at the school. People mention Maryland in the same breath with Hopkins, Syracuse, Princeton and Virginia, but the Terps haven't won a national championship since 1975.
As for Desko at Syracuse, the man has won three national championships since replacing the legendary Roy Simmons Jr. in 1999. If he has one bad year, or two or three in a row, it's no big deal because he has earned a grace period.
Before people start asking for the heads of lacrosse coaches, take a deep breath, count to five and then be quiet. It's great for the game to see other teams pop up. It's exciting to watch a UMBC or Delaware make it to the final four. It's good that coach Scott Marr can go up north and put Albany in the playoffs.
It's only a matter of time before Syracuse is back in the hunt again. Maryland is always there, and Cottle may have had his best recruiting season since he became the coach in 2002. It has been a long time since Maryland, Virginia and Syracuse weren't in a final four, and if Hopkins loses to Georgetown this weekend, this will be a strange final four field.
But that's college lacrosse. Parity is here to stay, and the traditional powers are still strong -- just not as dominant as they used to be.