Monday, March 31, 2014

Remember We Get More Realignment This Summer

Louisville is the biggest name to switch
conferences this summer.
With the Final Four set and ready to roll on Saturday, let's remember how much of a business college sports is.

Meaning, while this last summer was filled with schools moving all over the place, there is still some big time moves going on in this coming July.  I'm more of a college hoops kinda guy so I'm taking this from that point of view mainly.

LOUISVILLE TO ACC:  The biggest move is the Cardinals to the ACC.  Not only does adding L'ville to the already big name league makes it bigger, but it is quite the cat-and-mouse game with the Big Ten.  Sure, the Big Ten took Maryland from the ACC which seems like the bigger move (more on that later), but the ACC continues to not only own the East coast but have moved into the Big Ten's midwestern territory with Notre Dame and Louisville.

Forget that for a moment, though.  You will have Krzyzewski, Boeheim, Williams and Pitino in one league?  Wow.  And Louisville has been a very good football school of late (they went 12-1 this past season) and joins the league that has the defending champion.

MARYLAND, RUTGERS TO BIG TEN:  Rutgers really steps up a notch.  The Scarlet Knights programs don't really warrant a Big Ten membership.  They've been mediocre at best and don't scream success like the additions of Nebraska or Penn State did.  Rutgers and Maryland is a money grab by both sides.  The Big Ten network now gets into the New York to Washington territory and the two schools get a financial windfall.

What will be interesting is Maryland's exit from the ACC.  There is a nasty battle waged between the league and school over the exit fee.  The league set a huge fee and then Maryland shocked everyone by bolting.  The league wants its money and Maryland thinks it is excessive.  How this goes will be huge.  For Maryland, it could really cost them a lot of the income they were set to receive from the Big Ten.  For the ACC, a loss could completely make their exit fee a joke and all the member schools won't fear it in case another league comes calling.

That is big since there is alleged poaching from each conference by the other.  Maryland alleges that the ACC attempted to lure Big Ten schools to join up (no specific schools were mentioned, but you had to feel Penn State was one of them and possibly Northwestern the other -- pure speculation by me).  The Big Ten had been trying to get some sort of combination of North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia or Georgia Tech, among others.  For now, everything seems calm on that front.  But as we just saw with the ACC and the Big East, it doesn't take long for these kinds of things to kick up again.

Sorry.  Competition wise this will be interesting.  Maryland is a good hoops program that can run with the rest of the Big Ten at times.  Rutgers could join Northwestern and Penn State as teams that routinely sit at the bottom of the standings.  As far as football goes, both programs have their moments but I don't see them making Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin or Nebraska sweat.

DAVIDSON TO ATLANTIC 10:  Davidson is that school that Steph Curry went to.  The Atlantic 10 is the 2nd best non-football conference.  For Davidson, this is an obvious step up from the SoCon.  As we saw, the A-10 sends multiple teams to the tournament and just watched Dayton make it to the Elite 8.  Davidson gets the A-10 back into Charlotte (where UNC-Charlotte left for Conference USA after nearly a decade) and further south.

EAST CAROLINA, TULANE, TULSA TO THE AMERICAN:  These three school must feel like those new kids in class that no one likes.  When the old Big East was trying to hold things together, they welcomed these three schools (East Carolina was originally for football only) and it caused a rift in the conference.  As you know, the old Big East spit into two and these schools will join The American Athletic Conference (ECU will now join as a full member).

Considering Louisville and Rutgers are leaving, this isn't a fair trade.  Tulsa did make the NCAA tournament this season by winning Conference USA and could be the one school that can compete on the basketball side of things.  All three have had their moments football-wise.

WESTERN KENTUCKY TO CONFERENCE USA:  When this whole realignment thing happened, the Conference USA has routinely been one of the conferences that has been hit the hardest.  The Big East and WAC, sure, but the C-USA about 10 years ago had Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, Saint Louis, Marquette, DePaul, South Florida, among others in it.  Now it is picking itself up with leftovers, old Sun Belt and WAC members and schools starting up Division I football programs.

Count Western Kentucky into that mix.  Oddly, this is a school that can compete in this league right away.  Plus this league has teams in Houston, Charlotte, San Antonio, Tulsa and Miami.  The bad thing is that this league has basically turned into a shadow of itself.

MERCER, EAST TENNESSEE STATE, VMI TO SOUTHERN CONFERENCE:  The SoCon loses Davidson, Elon, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern this summer.  Davidson is a big loss, but the others can be replaced.  VMI and ETSU were once members of the SoCon.  Mercer is the more known school at the moment, as they just beat Duke in the NCAA tournament.

The fact that ETSU (27 seasons) and VMI (79 seasons) are coming back is a good thing for the league.  Mercer is moving up the ladder from the Atlantic Sun and can hopefully build on this year's success.

APPALACHIAN STATE, GEORGIA SOUTHERN, NEW MEXICO STATE TO SUN BELT:  This matters mainly for the football side as both App State and Ga Southern are stepping up into DI.  New Mexico State is orphaned once the WAC folded up its football side of things and joins only in that sport.  In basketball, neither of the joining schools have mattered much at all.

IDAHO TO BIG SKY/SUN BELT:  Since the WAC is no more and Idaho is, I guess, a Sun Belt football school, they needed somewhere for their other sports.  The Big Sky is a good place.  It is geographically good and joins the Vandals with Idaho State.  Idaho was an original member of the league from 1963 to 1996.

ELON TO COLONIAL:  Sorry, but this is huge for Elon.  To go from ... well, who is Elon? ... to the CAA?  I know the CAA isn't what it was just a few years ago, but it still is a nice league for a school like Elon.


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