By the time you read this, the summer CAA meetings have begun. In reality the summer meetings have been going on since late April, but now everyone gets to sit in the same conference room at the same time. Coaches, ADs, and other administrators go to work this week; presidents meet next week.

On this Monday once again CAAHoops channels Tom Yeager. If I’m Yeager open the meetings with an atomic bomb.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I begin, “our situation has destabilized, mainly due to the shifting sands of football. This is not news. It’s going to change again in a few years, and it will be as impossible to predict then as it was this go-round. So here’s my main mission over the next two weeks:

“We’re getting out of football altogether.”

***

Oh yes, I went there.

VCU and Mason made basketball decisions, and a 1-1 ledger is a fair representation of life. The farther we get from their May decisions, the more I believe both schools made the right decision for their institution. But football pushed ODU and Georgia State out the door, and it has JMU and Delaware checking to see if that door is still unlocked. (I remain unconvinced those were smart moves.)

Clearly football–a tremendously expensive gamble if you don’t play BCS–is compelling institutions to make hasty and irrational decisions. It’s tearing apart the fabric of great basketball constructions. It will happen again and there’s nothing a conference can do about it.

Well, there is one thing. Stop the madness. Freeze it out like a dermatologist excises a wart. Yep, football and dreams. That’s the root of this problem so we need to eradicate that lethal mixture before it rips out our innards again.

It isn’t as if CAA football isn’t convoluted now anyway. The schools that comprise CAA football are spread out over four basketball conferences. CAAHoops has JMU, Delaware, William & Mary, and Towson. The America East has Maine and New Hampshire. Villanova is a Big East squad. Richmond in the A-10.

That’s a lot of undertow.

So if I’m Yeager, AE commish Amy Huchthausen has already been offered:

“Look, we did business 12 years ago. We’re obviously business partners. Take them, and you become the premier 1AA football conference in America. We took it from the A10 a few years back and it worked out. Take it from us and experience that success, and you even solve the gum-flapping issue at Stony Brook.”

Geography isn’t a problem. The teams will play essentially the same group of opponents, so travel and “a new conference” is somewhat irrelevant. The big change is the conference mailing address, whose name is at the top of checks, and someone new to call to complain about officiating.

This would amount to a balance sheet transaction.

Without football, the CAA becomes a much more nimble conference. The Davidson and CofC sales pitch becomes stronger–football is not going to impact our future. Not anymore. Bring Asheville with you.

The current CAA basketball schools feel more at ease. You don’t think it would please Mason and UNCW and Drexel and NU and Hofstra to have their organization clearly state basketball is its priority?

As for adding schools, who is out there that we are not discussing–basketball-centric schools–that becomes in play no that we are clarified? The Coastal Carolinas, Appalachian States, and Elons of the world suddenly take on a crisper view. The same can be said for the Belmonts, Wright States, and Cleveland States of the world. And when that decision comes for JMU or Delaware, the CAA has an extra 30 pounds on its basketball benchpress.

It’s about clarifying the conference’s identity and mission, and protecting against future risk. As we move forward into the realignment wasteland, we can do so with a clear picture as to who fits our total criteria.

Heck, if this whole Big East kablooie actually occurs the CAA would be well-positioned to play in that fracas. It’s about trying to protect from going through this same damn exercise four years from now, because you know it’s coming.

Life is easier without football. We all know it. So make it so.

***

Congratulations, Brian.

8 Responses to “When It Is Dark Enough, You Can See The Stars…”

  1. Steve Says:

    Excellent blog post Mike. I have always felt that football caused more uncertainty than basketball. I think your idea of splitting football and basketball is spot on so the CAA would have a basketball emphasis (like the A-10) and a clear identity. I hope Tom Yeager reads your blog.

  2. erikhernquist Says:

    Nice work. Completely agree. Unfortunately that NBC Sports TV deal ($$$) likely prevents this from happening. As a Mason fan, I’d love to see the CAA make basketball its main priority.

  3. Dave85 Says:

    Football being such a headache to the CAA, why would the AE take the headache off its hands? Also, wouldn’t that force Albany into the AE football conference per NCAA rules? That might generate a no vote.

  4. When It Is Dark Enough, You Can See The Stars… | CAAZone.com Says:

    [...] Click here to read the full article from CAA Hoops [...]

  5. Tom in Lazybrook Says:

    I, a fan of a A-10 school that does not play football, am very glad the CAA stole the football conference from us. It allowed us to focus on our core product, which is basketball. The A-10 teams that play football know that they aren’t going to see the conference make decisions to help their football product. We lost Temple over it and we may lose UMass eventually. But we’ll simply poach other schools that prioritize basketball in conferences that don’t if that’s the case moving forward (Creighton, George Mason would be on deck).

    As a fan of another school in the Sun Belt, also know that the Sun Belt had to utterly destroy its basketball product in order to keep football. I’m okay with that decision now, but it was a painful and heart wrenching decision. The last SBC school with no football plans (UALR – UTA has football dreams) is just along for the ride now. They know that football drives the conference and that they will either have to live with the decisions made to help football or leave. Its just the way it is in the Belt.

    With BOTH the Sun Belt and the A-10, the conferences had to prioritize its’ core sport in order to put both conferences into their relatively comfortable positions today (yes, the Sun Belt is in a comfortable position now – at least from our perspective).

    The CAA will continue to be unstable. I think the new Big East is unstable for the same reasons, but the Big East has a lot of basketball firepower at its’ football playing schools (Louisville, Cincy, Memphis, Uconn) as well as a lot of money so it has an inherent stability advantage over the CAA. The CAA doesn’t have that advantage. Right now the basketball schools don’t want expansion to focus on football schools with iffy basketball (Stony Brook, Coastal Carolina) and the football schools aren’t going to be impressed with a Davidson invite. Furthermore, the muddled goals of the CAA are going to give any school pause as far as joining.

    Its a mess. It makes me wonder why the CAA wanted to take football from the A-10 so badly in the first place.

  6. Alexander The Grapefruit Says:

    The CAA and AEC need to sit down and exchange their football and basketball schools. NBC Sports can also do a deal with the AEC, if that’s an issue, since the channel needs content anyway.

    CAA [12]
    BU (out of AEC)
    Northeastern
    Vermont (out of AEC)
    Hartford (out of AEC)
    Hofstra
    Drexel
    UMBC (out of AEC)
    George Mason
    UNC Greensboro (out of SoCon)
    Davidson (out of SoCon)
    UNC Wilmington
    Charleston (out of SoCon)

    AEC [10]
    Maine
    New Hampshire
    Central Connecticut (out of NEC)
    Binghamton (non-football) \ Villanova (football-only)
    Albany
    Stony Brook
    Delaware (out of CAA)
    Towson (out of CAA)
    James Madison (out of CAA)
    William & Mary (out of CAA)

    As a bonus, the CAA can take three non-football schools off the SoCon’s hands. Appy State and Georgia Southern are going to FBS eventually. Don’t even waste time. Focus on the Northeast.

  7. joe Says:

    Everyone seems to have forgotten what happened. When the ae 4 were looking to move to the CAA Delaware was only interested if moving allowed them to hvae all of their sports in 1 league. The CAA made a comment to get the a10 football league so this would happen.

  8. MDK - ODU Says:

    I think the CAA should focus first on CAA Basketball and then on those schools committed to FCS Football. If you are a school committed to FCS football – there is no better conference in the nation than the CAA. If you are a school with FBS aspirations – you should move or be asked to move by the conference. That’s what all of this is about. Schools need to do what’s best for them and conferences need to do what’s best for the conference. It depends on how you want to position yourself. This is the time of transition. Basketball schools (those without football) going one way and Football schools (those at or aspiring to the FBS level) going another way. The Big East is under the same “strain” and the results will probably end up the same. BBall one way – FBall another way. And that’s OK. Now is the time to act and to position for the future.

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