The fallout from the scandal at Louisville and the ongoing FBI investigation into the underworld of recruiting has touched every corner of the college basketball world.
To Wichita State and coach Gregg Marshall, it’s a little more personal.
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The 72-68 loss to Louisville in 2013 national semifinals has weighed on the coach heavily since leaving the Georgia Dome. Four years later, he’s now wondering what could have happened if the playing field was leveled as Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s program has been identified as being under investigation in a pay-to-play scheme.
Could that Wichita State team, with future NBA players Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker, and Fred Van Vleet, have won a national championship? Marshall lamented the what-ifs on Monday morning in Philadelphia at AAC media day.
“Our lives are altered by that,” Marshall said. “That negatively affected my life, Ron Baker’s life, Carl Hall’s life, Fred Van Vleet’s life. It affects lives.”
There will be no restitution to the Shockers, unless Marshall gets his way. What does he want to see after Louisville was forced to vacate its win over WSU and Michigan in the title game?
“Maybe I need to contact (Michigan) coach (John) Beilein and we can get together,” Marshall said. “Maybe we need to have a 2013 national championship game next year. See if we can bring back Trey Burke and Cleanthony Early and Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker.”
And where would the game be played?
“It’s got to be a neutral site,” Marshall said. “Maybe we’ll go back to Atlanta. Maybe they’ll let us have the Georgia Dome for a game.”
Half-kidding aside, Marshall was encouraged by the effort to clean up recruiting in college basketball.
“I’d like to see the playing field evened and hopefully this is what we’re trying do,” Marshall said. “Hopefully we’re establishing that the things that have been going on at certain places are no longer acceptable. We’re not going to turn a blind eye and continue to let it negatively affect the state of college basketball.”
Marshall has read about the lengths other coaches have gone to entice blue-chip prospects to come to their program.
He has a difficult time imagining a player like that working out for the Shockers. He doesn’t know how to operate like that and he points out that WSU has attained all of its success without a single five-star recruit.
“I don’t have to recruit and deal with a lot of stuff you have read about now on the national level,” Marshall said. “I get to find the undervalued guys, the diamonds in the rough, so to speak. We generally don’t recruit the five-star guy, not to say I wouldn’t take a five-star guy. But I’m not going to get involved in the world that we’ve read about and heard about recently.
“We call it coaching with integrity and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to keep coaching them hard. We’re going to tell them what to do, they’re not going to tell us what to do. In the end, they get better. They develop in our program and have a chance to play professionally.”