San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher has said that his team’s success is proof that you don’t need “millions of dollars in NIL and you don’t have to get every kid in the portal to be successful.” With a focus on determination and a willingness to sacrifice, Dutcher’s Aztecs were able to make it to the national championship game of this year’s NCAA tournament. Though they eventually fell to the UConn Huskies, Dutcher stressed that the team’s success was not based on the kind of high-profile transfers and NIL dealings that have become increasingly commonplace in college basketball.
San Diego State’s success, however, was not entirely free of such dealings. Several of their key players, including Matt Bradley, Darrion Trammell, and Micah Parrish, were all transfers. Nonetheless, Dutcher noted that the parity of this year’s tournament, which saw no top seed reach the Elite Eight, suggests that such success is still possible. The coach was particularly effusive in his praise of Florida Atlantic, which made it to the Final Four despite never having won an NCAA tournament game before.
In his remarks, Dutcher also touched on the idea that the concept of “blue blood” programs may be becoming less relevant in the era of increased turnover and transfers. With only Monday’s victors UConn perhaps truly fitting the description, there is greater equality between programs than ever before. Looking ahead, Dutcher said that he believes his Aztecs have a strong team coming back next year, though he also observed that Florida Atlantic could be a significant obstacle.
Regardless of what the future holds, for the moment Dutcher and the Aztecs can be proud of their performance this season. Entering the tournament as a sixth seed, they managed to battle their way to the championship game, despite lacking the same name recognition as some of their competitors. For Dutcher, that success is a testament to the character of his players and the importance of values like hard work and teamwork. Whether such a model will continue to be viable in the rapidly shifting landscape of college basketball remains to be seen, but for now, it has led the Aztecs to great heights.