Column: Win or Lose, NKU winners no matter what

Monday evening during the daily showing of Pardon the Interruption, one of ESPN’s most popular talk shows, hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon were discussing John Calipari’s comments about the University of Kentucky’s seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

At the beginning of the conversation, Wilbon uttered this sentence in the introduction to the debate.

“The Wildcats open with a bunch of local kids from Northern Kentucky who are just dying to get at them,” Wilbon said.

Later on in the debate, Kornheiser and Wilbon bring up the Norse again.

“Every single kid who goes to Northern Kentucky is angry they weren’t recruited by Kentucky,” Kornheiser said.

Wilbon and Kornheiser failed to mention any Norse players and couldn’t manage to find head coach John Brannen’s name in their memory banks, but that’s okay.

Northern Kentucky’s name has been mentioned on national television and that’s the best thing that could possibly happen to the Norse.

No matter if they win or lose this game with the Wildcats, NKU is getting their name out to people who have no idea what a Norse even is. Whether it is a Kevin Connors shout out on SportsCenter, an afterthought mention on PTI or having Victor E. Viking ranked as the coolest mascot in the tournament (which the students deserve all the credit for), more people will become familiar with NKU.

Despite his frustration with the actual seeding the Norse received, Athletic Director Ken Bothof said in his press conference in an open media session Wednesday that this was probably the best seeding and opponent the Norse could have received.

“Having the opportunity to play the University of Kentucky on a national stage in the NCAA Tournament certainly allows us to be in most of the households in the state of Kentucky Friday night,” Bothof said. “As an athletic department that’s what we hope for.”

You don’t need to even look on the national stage, however, to see the affect the Norse has had on the area. For the entirety of last season and the majority of this season, very few local news stations showed up to cover NKU games. The Northerner, whether it was Matt Sexton or myself, sat alone during press conferences.

In November, there was only one media outlet in BB&T to cover preseason media day for the Norse, Yep, you guessed correctly, it was The Northerner.

As the team began to succeed this season, more media members began to join us in the press conferences. By the time Selection Sunday rolled around, every news station in Cincinnati was there to cover the NKU selection show party.

During Wednesday’s media session, there were eight video cameras, three photographers and four individual reporters covering the session.  

The days of sitting alone during NKU men’s basketball press conferences are over for me.


That of course depends on the success of the team in the coming years. But for now, the bandwagon and the newsworthiness of the Norse are here to stay.  

That’s just what this university needs. The attention brought on by local and national media makes people who have never seen the Norse play want to come to BB&T Arena to see what the hype is all about. If nothing else, it forces them to tune in to CBS for the tournament game and ESPN3 for future regular season games.

More importantly, talented athletes are going to want to come to NKU to join a fast growing program. Kids will want to play for Brannen because he can get them to an NCAA Tournament. Athletes will at least give NKU a second look before deciding on a school.

The Norse have the attention of the area, but now they have to sustain it. The only way to do that is to win the next few seasons. The university will explode if they do win this game against Kentucky, but they don’t have to win.

For now they can just enjoy the moment.