From Mark Schmidt to Mike Rice and, now, to Andy Toole, it's been no secret in college basketball circles that Robert Morris has been able to build a consistenly successful program over the last six to seven years.
Just how successful, exactly? Enough to put the Colonials among some of the mid-majors that regularly come to mind when thinking about strong programs beyond the so-called power conferences.
Beginning with the 2007-08 season, Robert Morris has amassed a 141-67 record (a winning percentage of .678), with the number of wins placing them in a tie with Davidson for eighth place among mid-major programs in that span.
Below is a list of the top 10 teams in this statistical summary:
1. Gonzaga: 163-41 (.799)
2. Saint Mary's: 161-41 (.797)
3. Utah State: 153-54 (.739)
4. Belmont: 147-54 (.731)
Creighton: 147-65 (.693)
6. Murray State: 143-51 (.737)
7. Akron: 142-67 (.679)
8. Davidson: 141-61 (.698)
Robert Morris: 141-67 (.678)
10. Wichita State: 139-70 (.665)
Just for the sake of noting it, teams like Butler, Xavier, Virginia Commonwealth, Memphis and New Mexico were not included because those schools are in conferences like the Atlantic 10, Conference USA and the Mountain West that have jumped the shark in terms of being considered a mid-major.
Robert Morris has made a priority to become a more recognizable school, partially through its basketball team, and the numbers show that the work is being done. Being one spot ahead of a program coming off a Final Four appearance, where it nearly upset the eventual national champions, is a pretty nice result.
Among the schools that made the top 50 but did not make the list above (for the sake of time on my part) are George Mason (135 wins), Northern Iowa (132), Ohio (129) and Morehead State (117). The next-closest NEC team was LIU Brooklyn with 117 victories.
The biggest difference between Robert Morris and some of these others schools directly above and below it is that the Colonials don't really have a defining NCAA moment that helps build more name/brand recognition. George Mason had a Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2006, Northern Iowa shocked Kansas a few years ago with Ali Farokhmanesh's shot standing as a seminal play, Ohio was an overtime away from making the Elite Eight in 2012, etc. Though it didn't come in the NCAA tournament, perhaps RMU's win over Kentucky in the NIT can do the same for it.
For the time being, the program's current standing among similar programs isn't too shabby.