Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dominos of Conference Change Coming Soon

Well it was bound to happen eventually. Up until now, all of these shifts in conference alignment have happened with the big conferences only. But recently things are moving towards the mid-major conferences.

Before we get into the opinion portion of this post, let's first look at what has happened to cause us to get here ...

- In September of 2011, Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced they were leaving the Big East to join the ACC.

- In October, West Virginia left the Big East to join the Big XII Conference.

- In December of 2011, Houston, SMU and Central Florida departed Conference USA to join the Big East. Boise State and San Diego State also joined for football only. The Naval Academy was also added for football only.

- In February, Memphis left Conference USA for the Big East too.

- Earlier this month, Conference USA announced they were adding North Texas and Florida International from the Sun Belt Conference. They added A-10 member Charlotte as well. Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio left the WAC to join too.

- Eventually, Old Dominion chose to leave the CAA to become the 14th member of the new Conference USA.

- Also this month Bulter (from Horizon) and VCU (from the CAA) have left their conferences to join the Atlantic-10.

- Georgia State has announced they are leaving the CAA to join the Sun Belt Conference.

So, those are all of the actual moves that have been made up to this point. Still trying to figure out how this effects the SoCon? Well currently it doesn't and it may never effect it. But it seems very likely that there are big changes coming.

First, there's the report that the CAA is definitely interested in Charleston and Davidson. Davidson fields sports such as lacrosse and field hockey which currently don't have a true conference home. The CAA would give them that. It's also alluring that the CAA has been a multiple bid NCAA conference quite a few times lately. The Wildcats seem to have found themselves on the "gotta win the conference tourney" side of things several times in recent years. I'm sure they would like to have a better chance at the at-large. Will this watered down CAA really give them that chance is a completely different story.

The CAA would also like to pair up at least one southern school with UNC-Wilmington. College of Charleston would fit perfectly in that role. Plus, they would be a destination city for the rest of the conference. With their solid Olympic sports programs, baseball and basketball it seems like Charleston would be a great fit in the CAA.

Then there's the whole FBS football moves that other conference teams are looking to make. App State's AD Charlie Cobb has been all over the radio trying to convince the new look Conference USA to look at his Mountaineers. It seems likely his only move will be the Sun Belt Conference. App State may even be interested in starting it's own new regional conference. However based on NCAA restrictions, that seems like a pipe dream.

Also, Georgia Southern appears ready to make a move to new conference to play FBS football. Their choices appear to be on par the App State and it's likely they will go to the Sun Belt with the Mountaineers.

These are two very dominant FCS (1-AA) football powers that seem to be extremely likely to leave the SoCon very soon. With a looming new NCAA moratorium in FCS-FBS that appears to be coming soon, all of these programs that have higher aspirations are going to move quickly.

So, I guess the easiest way to sum this all up is there will be a conference shake up this coming summer. I just don't know how big. I do not believe that UNCG is on the short list of schools that the CAA is considering. I haven't received any confirmation of that, though. I will take a pure guess and say App State, Davidson and Georgia Southern all leave at some point soon.

I'll post some thoughts on new conference member possibilities over the coming weeks. Until then, keep an eye on the league meetings over the next two weeks.


Anonymous said...

Georgia Southern recently announced they are not going to move up in football for at least 8 years-The Southern is a great conference because they are natural rivalries

Dash said...

I didn't know that about GSU, butI have to wonder will they still think this if the NCAA announces a 10+ yr moratorium on FBS movement next year.

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing and reading rumors that Davidson; Charleston; and Elon are considering invites to the CAA. Elon and UNCG are permenant travel partners last time I checked so I guess that makes Greensboro a CAA expansion candidate also. We do have a forward thinking chancellor and a new progressive minded athletic director so the G nation wouldn't know anything until a deal is inked in black. Do I have any diggers out there?