The hideous bearcat statue that stands tall outside the Events Center is fierce, intimidating, strong and packed with a pair of cojones. If Binghamton University athletics had even half the marbles of the well-endowed, anatomically suspect statue it is represented by, there would still be no escape from the abysmal year it forged, 10 years into its Division I tenure.
While men’s basketball was unequivocally the worst (and most publicized) squad BU fielded this year, the team’s misery certainly wasn’t without company. Our men’s soccer team, which is usually a perennial contender in the America East, finished dead last in the conference and finished 5-10-2 overall.
If the winter was going to provide any relief from a disappointing fall, the men’s basketball team didn’t get the memo. The notoriously bad Binghamton Bearcats finished 1-15 in the America East and 2-29 overall. At one point this season, Binghamton was the worst team in the country — the only winless squad out of 342 teams. If not for a victory in the America East tournament play-in game, BU would have tied the Towson Tigers for dead last in the nation.
Women’s basketball didn’t have much to hang their hats on either, posting a highly disappointing sixth-place finish in the America East despite a wealth of returning talent. Women’s soccer won one playoff game earlier in the year, but that team also had a losing record throughout its season.
Now that winter has (almost) turned to spring, our baseball and softball teams are competing, though not at a high level. Men’s tennis is having another solid year, but the squad is the exception that proves the rule.
Most of our few bright spots have been tempered by accompanying bad news. Wrestling was a top-20 team for most of the season and churned out two All-Americans, but coach Pat Popolizio, the architect of the program, jumped ship for North Carolina State. Track phenom Erik van Ingen was an All-American again, but he graduates in May.
And for some of our programs, it’s only bad news. As we reported last week, the men’s basketball team will watch at least two players transfer, most notably starting center and second-leading scorer Ben Dickinson.
We understand that Binghamton isn’t Penn State, and it never will be. Our expectations aren’t and never have been through the roof. But the overall struggles of the majority of the athletic programs have definitely been frustrating, and the future doesn’t seem to be any brighter.
We tasted greatness in 2009, a time when campus pride in BU athletics was at an unparalleled, but synthetic, high. Now, the student body couldn’t be more distant. Student conversations surrounding the department are riddled with more jokes than a joke book. The reality is that the only way to fuel the “Bearcat pride” this University loves to promote is to, well, win — and do it the right way.
In the meantime, there’s only so many ways to say ‘lost’ in a headline, but with the way things look, we better get busy thinking of new ones.