Coach Brian Dutcher, and before him Steve Fisher, created a selfless environment where players were taught that they would win if they sacrificed and played as a team and they have, having had plus twenty win seasons of twenty of their last twenty one seasons. It has become one of the most successful programs in America by the metric of winning percentage.
A funny thing has happened. See Mark Ziegler's Aztecs still need bigs after hoops transfer target goes elsewhere. They have lost key members to graduation and can't find any big men willing to join the team after their amazing season. You would think kids would jump at the chance of joining a winner. But no.
Money. Kids are now being paid to play college sports. Big money.
The NIL has ruined the game. Name image and likeness is a total scam and one that is destined to further split the haves and have nots.
Josiah Allick is going to Nebraska where he will make upwards of $300,000. Warren Washington may have been promised a half a million. In college. And this is not abnormal. But there is no longer a level playing field.
SDSU is an old school throwback without that sort of money in its coffers. The players receive $2000 per month from the MESA Foundation for a stipend. They can no longer compete in what is obviously no longer an amateur game.
Kids will go where the money is. Allick says it was not about the money. Don't believe him, it is always about the money.
And it is quite possible that my Aztecs were the last true amateur team in the country. We will probably never see their kind again in a championship and it is, in my way of thinking, a travesty what the NCAA has turned into.
How is the new paradigm any different than the pros?
I am an Aztec through and through. I will back the team as it stands if they can't get replacements. I look forward to seeing Heide, Johnson, Saunders, LeDee and Alger carry the front court load. It will be fun, even, or especially without, the high priced prima donnas.