It’s only fitting that an academic–the oft-criticized mindset in this athletics conference game of Hungry, Hungry Hippo–sums up the athletics issue best. Drexel athletics director Dr. Eric Zillmer, to Mike Jensen at philly.com, said one of the smartest things I’ve heard in all of this mess:
“I think this success has created instability,” Zillmer added, talking about his own league. “You’d think it would have created stability. They were now in the position where they could say, how do we do this again? And how do we cash in on our success?”
It’s happened now–VCU for basketball and ODU and Georgia State for football–and we can move forward. The wake is quite messy. After the past week, I feel like the first thing we have to do is frame the issues in front of us.
Granted the issues are actually in front of the conference, presidents, and athletics directors the first week of June–hey Tom, did you mail my invitation?–but let’s get them into the open so we can all be prepared.
Situation Overview: The CAA has lost three schools in its membership and stands today with nine schools. VCU is going to the A10 on July 1, and Georgia State (Sun Belt) and Old Dominion (C-USA) will play lame duck 2012-13 seasons before heading to their new conference for the 2013-14 seasons.
These moves have created a full agenda for discussion, as they are all somewhat interrelated.
The 2012-13 CAA Schedule: The CAA must deal with 11 teams–two of which are, if you will, playing out the string. What is the construction of an 18-game CAA season?
Logically, we play eight teams twice and two teams once. Forget preferred partners and all that mess. Make it geographical for ease of travel or blind draw. They don’t need to over complicate this aspect. We have bigger fish to fry.
Remember, we have no Bracketbusters this year (yay!).
Voting on the No Play Rule: Old Dominion AD Wood Selig said today he would be stumping for votes to have this rule removed. Good for him, but I have four words: Ron Paul for President.
Voting on the Exit Fee Raise: At some point in the past six weeks, it was a very dramatic moment when Tom Yeager announced he was calling a vote to raise the CAAs archaic $250,000 exit fee. It was more dramatic when the vote never took place. Then we all forgot about it.
It should be back on the agenda. In fact, I thought Yeager’s most interesting statement from today’s presser was when he said he didn’t believe exit fee money mattered, that a huge number may not be a deterrent. We should test that theory.
Nonconference Scheduling: Yeager’s second-in-command, the lovable Ron Bertovich, talks to the coaches and ADs about smart scheduling every summer, showing them the model of what an at large team “looks like” in the eyes of the selection committee.
What is the impact on scheduling philosophies by not having VCU (immediate term) and Old Dominion (long term) and their top 100 RPI rankings? Those are gone, and through math, everyone’s RPI in the CAA gets deflated.
Money: How do we split up the gold mine of VCUs NCAA tournament money, silver mine of ODU money, and bronze mine of Georgia State money?
There’s the everybody gets an equal share method, and there’s the throw it into the pot and go 60/40 like every other NCAA tourney dollar method. I took a cursory glance at my excel spreadsheet that has the NCAA tournament dollar breakdown and excellence pool shares, and I know Tom O’Connor’s vote.
Note: I’ll dig into this probably over the weekend and report back.
The 2013 CAA Tournament: With UNCW and Towson ineligible due to low APR scores, VCU gone, and ODU and Georgia State ineligible due to the conference’s “you go, you don’t play for championships” bylaw, the 2013 CAA tournament is currently a seven-team affair.
As mentioned, fat chance the presidents vote to overturn the no play rule, to get us to nine teams. That would require seven of the nine presidents to agree. Otherwise, I assume the #1 seed gets a bye to Sunday’s semifinals and the others play on sortaquarterfinal Saturday.
Moving the CAA Tournament: There’s never been a better time to strike for those looking to move the tournament to a more central location. The two programs that generated the most attendance are no longer in the event, and the closest geographical school is William & Mary–’round about 45 miles.
Plus, the contract with Richmond is due a dusting off as it’s up in two years. Honestly, it’s hard to argue against Baltimore at this point, but I’d move it to Philly–I like that city better.
[FRI AM EDIT: Commenter Andy Minor with a very funny but very interesting point: why would we move it, now that it's actually neutral?]
The Boob Tube: Is there a net impact to the new television deal with NBCSports? Keep in mind the CAA is constructing a digital channel with NBCSports that has a lot of promise, too.
The Elephant in the Room: What of the other schools? JMU AD Jeff Bourne released a public statement that his school is very happy where they are. So did Jimmy Bass at UNCW, and I’m sure others that I haven’t seen in the whoosh of the past few days.
Let the tide roll back out, and let’s see where we are. But I’m betting we have a solid core and are doing nothing but moving forward.
Finally, what you really want, Getting Whole: The CAA is getting about its business of adding three universities. They’ve been mostly closed-mouthed about it, but Yeager let slip today that there is a storm brewing that could open up later this summer. We will see.
But who? When? Where? Look, we’ve all bandied about the obvious names and I don’t need to repeat them. Here’s the thing: everybody is going north and south. It’s legitimate–UNCW and the remaining Virginia schools could use a dance partner, as could Northeastern and Hofstra up north.
But why not go west? Cleveland State, Belmont, UNC Asheville? Be careful about getting hung up on brand and look to successfully building schools. It’s that trajectory thing.
And as we said: details on all these fronts are coming, and keep your mind open. The dumbest thing I’ve read over the past six is the “death of the CAA” meme. That’s idiotic.