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So, I dug a little deeper into both Wichita State and Gonzaga. Well, let's start with the Mountain West. They currently have 11 full time members:

Air Force
Boise State
Colorado State
Fresno State
Nevada
UNLV
New Mexico
San Diego State
San Jose State
Utah State
Wyoming

Honestly, that's a conference that seems pretty cohesive from top to bottom and makes sense from a geographical standpoint as well. They have 2 affiliate members: Hawai'i for football (gives them 12 football members) and Colorado College for women's soccer (gives them 12 members).

Anyway, I had suggested that if I were the Mountain West, I would go after both Wichita State and Gonzaga to really solidify the basketball depth of the league. It's pretty obvious what the MW would gain: 2 very good basketball programs. There are already a few very good mid-majors in that conference and if you could add the Zags and the Shockers, you would bump that conference up near the very top of college basketball. Both are close enough in geography to make it work even though they do stretch the boundaries both north and east.

In addition, I know that these decisions certainly aren't made based on the "olympic" sports (basically anything other than football and a touch men's basketball), but these schools would also help them in that regard as well. Currently, the MW has 7 men's tennis programs, 8 baseball and 8 indoor/outdoor track programs. Both schools bring all to the table thus bumping their numbers up fairly significantly (I think Wichita State's baseball program is among the elite as well). For the women, both bring golf and would bump the conference up to 11 while Wichita State brings softball and elevates the conference to 10 playing members from the 9 current. Yes, I know...those really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. No conference is adding teams based on men's tennis or women's golf. But, those 2 schools would add additional value if that's what they were looking for.

If the conference wanted to go crazy, I would also look to add North Dakota State. That would bring them to 14 full time members and would bump the football playing full time membership to 12. In addition, it would give them a team that would compete immediately at their level of football. That FCS team would probably finish in the top 2 or 3 of the Mountain West right now. That would be an interesting scenario if the MW did go after NDSU. I know the 4 ND/SD schools are all pretty happy with the current situation, but I can't help but wonder if the Bison are thinking it might be time to separate from the herd (pun intended).

Just some thoughts as I've got "too much time on my hands" as well.
 

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I was reading an article from a reporter that covers the Nevada Wolf Pack. He was advocating for the immediate "acquisition" of Gonzaga and Wichita State for basketball as well as SMU & Memphis for football (and hoops in Memphis' case). He wasn't sure about going that far east, but felt like the MW needed to be aggressive and try to really gut the AAC so they don't try and poach them. In addition, he said that the Big XII is considering Boise State and that the MW needed to be proactive so that they could either prevent that (doubtful if the Big XII was serious) or at least be in a position to maintain good numbers in terms of membership.

When looking at the map of the new Big XII, the MW might as well go for Memphis lol.

Map Ecoregion World Font Slope


I have to say, when I look at that map, it really feels like a bunch of hodge podge schools thrown together. I mean, what on earth do BYU and Central Florida have in common? Have to think the big Midwestern state schools are wondering what the hell has happened.

* Also, heard an interesting thing that is possibly being discussed, which would be akin to just a re-organization amongst the Sun Belt, C-USA, AAC, etc. There appears to have been at least an informal discussion about the creation of a new conference that would include mid-Atlantic schools including Charlotte, Old Dominion, Marshall, App State, Liberty, James Madison, Coastal Carolina and possibly Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, East Carolina, Georgia Southern and Georgia State. Of course this will never happen because it would make too much sense.
 

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From the article:

- Notes that the remaining 8 AAC football schools still have higher SP+ numbers (this is some metric, I have no idea what it calculates) over the Mountain West, so in theory that could continue.

- Among Group of 5 schools, the AAC is still the destination, and it's been talked about as the place to go among many other G5 schools

- Expansion isn't done by ADs, it's done by presidents, so there will have to be that "institutional fit" plus the AAC commish said he only wanted a new member that would increase media rights when UConn left...he might not be in the same position now, but that's probably still a goal.

- Larger athletic budgets are preferred (most AAC schools in the $40-60 mil range; though being committed to football can offset, especially if facilities, coach salaries (pay over $1 million annually), and academics are in line.

- Market size is valued less with streaming and teams with a dedicated fanbase that will watch will factor in over a large urban media market

- It then goes through and lists off a bunch of schools without saying whether any are actually serious or there's any legs to rumors. This are: Louisiana-Lafayette, App State, UAB, Liberty, James Madison, Marshall, Charlotte, UT-San Antonio, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, Rice, North Texas, and FAU

- Mentions that Mountain West schools might be enticed but, things like travel and what the TV money will look like might make it a challenge, and most schools not as interested. Still, it's all going to hinge on whether the Big 12 keeps expanding and does decide to go westward for Boise and San Diego State. Basically, MWC is in a holding pattern.

- The Sun Belt and Conference USA merger/swap won't happen. Even if some ADs and presidents feel they should redraw the map, there's schools that flat out don't want to be associated with one another (cites Louisiana Tech and UL Monroe). The Sun Belt probably is the destination for those who get passed up by the AAC, should the Sun Belt lose members. Mentions Charlotte, Marshall, Liberty and Southern Miss. Says UT-Arlington and Little Rock leaving is pretty imminent, and probably figured out within the next year.

- Conference USA basically gets shit on; it's TV deal sucks, members are frustrated, etc. Says it's likely they're going to have to make a play for James Madison and Liberty, despite turning down Liberty before. Sun Belt schools aren't looking to jump to Conference USA.

- The MAC is fine, per usual.
 

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From the article:

- Notes that the remaining 8 AAC football schools still have higher SP+ numbers (this is some metric, I have no idea what it calculates) over the Mountain West, so in theory that could continue.

- Among Group of 5 schools, the AAC is still the destination, and it's been talked about as the place to go among many other G5 schools

- Expansion isn't done by ADs, it's done by presidents, so there will have to be that "institutional fit" plus the AAC commish said he only wanted a new member that would increase media rights when UConn left...he might not be in the same position now, but that's probably still a goal.

- Larger athletic budgets are preferred (most AAC schools in the $40-60 mil range; though being committed to football can offset, especially if facilities, coach salaries (pay over $1 million annually), and academics are in line.

- It then goes through and lists off a bunch of schools without saying whether any are actually serious or there's any legs to rumors. This are: Louisiana-Lafayette, App State, UAB, Liberty, James Madison, Marshall, Charlotte, UT-San Antonio, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, Rice, North Texas, and FAU

- Mentions that Mountain West schools might be enticed but, things like travel and what the TV money will look like might make it a challenge, and most schools not as interested. Still, it's all going to hinge on whether the Big 12 keeps expanding and does decide to go westward for Boise and San Diego State. Basically, MWC is in a holding pattern.

- The Sun Belt and Conference USA merger/swap won't happen. Even if some ADs and presidents feel they should redraw the map, there's schools that flat out don't want to be associated with one another (cites Louisiana Tech and UL Monroe). The Sun Belt probably is the destination for those who get passed up by the AAC, should the Sun Belt lose members. Mentions Charlotte, Marshall, Liberty and Southern Miss. Says UT-Arlington and Little Rock leaving is pretty imminent, and probably figured out within the next year.

- Conference USA basically gets shit on; it's TV deal sucks, members are frustrated, etc. Says it's likely they're going to have to make a play for James Madison and Liberty, despite turning down Liberty before. Sun Belt schools aren't looking to jump to Conference USA.

- The MAC is fine, per usual.
Remaining members of the AAC: East Carolina, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa with Navy as a football-only member. Man, there just really isn't all that much to be excited about with those remaining schools. I mean, some decent football programs and traditions, but nothing that just screams, "man, I want to be a part of that awesomeness.". I'm sure there are some schools, particularly in C-USA, that would jump at the chance to go there but I can't see anyone from the Mountain West jumping ship. Sun Belt maybe, but even then, their league has been on an upward trajectory lately.

Can you imagine the Big XII with San Diego State and Boise State? They would literally span the entire length of our huge country...San Diego, CA to Orlando, FL. I mean, they would be in states that border the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Canada and Mexico. I honestly can't see all these schools being very happy with the membership, location, academics, etc of all the others. Would this survive?
 

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I thought the most interesting part of the Athletic article was the various athletic department budgets. The non-UConn public school outside the AAC and MWC with the largest athletic budget? James Madison.
 

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So I guess that we can at least entertain the thought of a CAA without JMU.

Some Delaware fans think that Monmouth would be a target for all-sports membership. That seems pretty viable. The biggest question for me would be Charleston and UNCW....and to a lesser extent (due to their football ties), Elon and W&M. A Monmouth addition may add more fuel to the fire that the CAA is "heading North".
 

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If JMU were to leave for FBS, there are a few options for the CAA:

1) Do Nothing - Stay 9 members for basketball and 11 for football.

2) Add a member with football to get back to status quo (10 basketball / 12 football):
  • Campbell (Big South) - private, North Carolina; or
  • Monmouth (MAAC/Big South) - private, New Jersey

3) Add a member without football (10 basketball / 11 football):
  • Winthrop (Big South) - private, South Carolina; or
  • UNC Greensboro (SoCon) - public, North Carolina

4) "Convert" an AE football associate to full membership (10 basketball / 11 football)
  • Stony Brook; or
  • Albany
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IMO - the CAA needs to look to basketball first. Dropping to 9 members is a 16-game schedule - not good! The league could "upgrade" from losing JMU on that side of the ledger. The league is way down from the days of GMU and VCU in the Final Four.

OTOH, 11 members for football isn't really an issue and absolutely no one can replace JMU. The AE has no interest in administering the football operations, so there is no need to prioritize football.
 

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If JMU were to leave for FBS, there are a few options for the CAA:

1) Do Nothing - Stay 9 members for basketball and 11 for football.

2) Add a member with football to get back to status quo (10 basketball / 12 football):
  • Campbell (Big South) - private, North Carolina; or
  • Monmouth (MAAC/Big South) - private, New Jersey

3) Add a member without football (10 basketball / 11 football):
  • Winthrop (Big South) - private, South Carolina; or
  • UNC Greensboro (SoCon) - public, North Carolina

4) "Convert" an AE football associate to full membership (10 basketball / 11 football)
  • Stony Brook; or
  • Albany
---
IMO - the CAA needs to look to basketball first. Dropping to 9 members is a 16-game schedule - not good! The league could "upgrade" from losing JMU on that side of the ledger. The league is way down from the days of GMU and VCU in the Final Four.

OTOH, 11 members for football isn't really an issue and absolutely no one can replace JMU. The AE has no interest in administering the football operations, so there is no need to prioritize football.
Excellent breakdown.

Or, could the CAA decide they want/need to really boost their membership so they don't have to worry about further conference expansion issues down the road? Might they look to add 3 schools? And with Hartford set to drop down to D-III, is the AE a little more susceptible to being poached? Are some of the members a little more open to switching conferences than they may have been a few months ago? Is UMBC suddenly more of an option due to their history-making victory in the NCAA's, proximity to the rest of the league, their investment in basketball, etc?
 

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Excellent breakdown.

Or, could the CAA decide they want/need to really boost their membership so they don't have to worry about further conference expansion issues down the road? Might they look to add 3 schools? And with Hartford set to drop down to D-III, is the AE a little more susceptible to being poached? Are some of the members a little more open to switching conferences than they may have been a few months ago? Is UMBC suddenly more of an option due to their history-making victory in the NCAA's, proximity to the rest of the league, their investment in basketball, etc?
I don't think the AE is in danger. It rode with 9 schools for a long time, and at this level, you can keep doing that when you don't sponsor football. Anything can happen, obviously, but I think AE presidents are pretty happy with their league configuration. Sure, we'll get our usual Stony Brook fans thinking they need to leave the league because the AAC or CUSA will come calling for them or what have you, but I'd say all AE schools have no appeal to any CAA schools at this point. Furthermore, the AE has a better streaming deal than the CAA does, and I'd argue is better at sports many league schools care about (soccer and lax). We'll see.

I think Ace's suggestions are 1 through 3 are likely. I don't think the CAA at 9 schools is under any imminent demise, either. And with 11 football schools, they'll be fine. There's a lot more that seems like it could be happening within the OVC, SoCon, Big South, ASun, etc and it's entirely possible those leagues go through some shifts in memberships because they have to shore up (or in the ASun's case are committed to creating) their FCS football. The CAA can be patient and don't have to rush into picking a school just to have 10 or 12 schools.
 

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Excellent breakdown.

Or, could the CAA decide they want/need to really boost their membership so they don't have to worry about further conference expansion issues down the road? Might they look to add 3 schools? And with Hartford set to drop down to D-III, is the AE a little more susceptible to being poached? Are some of the members a little more open to switching conferences than they may have been a few months ago? Is UMBC suddenly more of an option due to their history-making victory in the NCAA's, proximity to the rest of the league, their investment in basketball, etc?
The last round of realignment trickled down and ended at the AE when Albany rejected an invite to the CAA. There was a reason for that. Simply put, I don’t see how they are more stable than the America East today; they were 20 years ago, but since then, 2 of the 5 schools that made that jump cut the key sport that caused them to make the move, and that’s before you look at a map and see the distance between Charleston and Boston. But even with Hartford leaving, the AE schools are similar and like-minded as institutions, something I don’t see the CAA being. Many facilities have been upgraded in our schools, the parity of basketball is closer than I’ve seen since UMBC joined, and in reading CAA forums, they still think it’s the late 2000’s.
 

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For the record, I agree with both of you (I also think the AE might be about as stable as a conference at this level can possibly be). I was basically playing devil's advocate because, well, it's conference realignment and much of it over the years hasn't made a great deal of sense. This covic pandemic thingamabob may help in keeping it reined in to a certain extent this time around.
 

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Yes, I think the AE is pretty stable and is certainly a cohesive group of like-minded and resourced schools (for the most part).

I just don't think a 9-meber league is good for hoops. I know the AE played with that number for a few years, but IMO it didn't help the league SOS at all. The 16-game league schedule requires finding 15 non-conference opponents each year. That likely leads to at least 2 or 3 lower-division home games. That could also put some sports close the the minimum number of teams (6) for the AQ. Unless you are the Ivy league, less than 10 members is not a good place to be.

That is why I think the CAA needs to get back to 10 (if JMU left), but doubt it adds 3 to get to 12. The CAA has greatly lost its appeal for AE or SoCon teams. Despite their facilities and budget, I'm still not sure JMU to FBS is going to happen. The program is heavily subsidized by student fees and would need to find a home with some significant revenue to make the numbers work. If JMU does leave, the CAA has to get the best basketball program available to them.

I also think the AE should get back to 10 when Hartford leaves after this season. Obviously, I think CCSU is the most logical replacement, based on a number of factors, but we would need a place to park football. Even though many here agree that adding Central makes a lot of sense, I have a feeling the AE will sit at 9 members. The AE is not getting any CAA teams back just by waiting, but I think they are perfectly fine without replacing Hartford. They are also happy to keep Central Connecticut as a "preferred" non-conference partner status. :(
 

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Hot off the presses, Austin Peay to the ASun. The move gives the ASun 6 scholarship football schools in its league (Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Kennesaw State, Jacksonville State, North Alabama). The OVC now down to 6 scholarship football schools (Eastern Illinois, Murray State, SE Missouri, Tennesse State, Tennessee Tech, Tennesse-Martin)

If I were a guessing man, Belmont is probably out the door somewhere too (Missouri Valley?). I could see the OVC trying to lure Western Illinois from the Summit League as well. Murray State could also be looking toward greener pastures.
 

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So...this got me looking into the ASUN a little bit. Man, their football situation has been interesting to say the least. They had a deal with the Big South that their members could play Big South football. Then, they invited those 3 new members last year but they have a deal with the WAC, which relaunched its' football sponsorship. In 2022, the ASUN will sponsor football now that they have the 6th member in Austin Peay.

Might that be a landing spot for Central Connecticut State football with the rest of the sports going into the America East?

Or would maybe the Big South be a better landing spot as they are going to be losing the 2 teams that are current members of the ASUN?
 

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So...this got me looking into the ASUN a little bit. Man, their football situation has been interesting to say the least. They had a deal with the Big South that their members could play Big South football. Then, they invited those 3 new members last year but they have a deal with the WAC, which relaunched its' football sponsorship. In 2022, the ASUN will sponsor football now that they have the 6th member in Austin Peay.

Might that be a landing spot for Central Connecticut State football with the rest of the sports going into the America East?

Or would maybe the Big South be a better landing spot as they are going to be losing the 2 teams that are current members of the ASUN?
I am totally confused on the ASUN, Big South, WAC football situation. How will these 3 leagues look membership wise for football and other sports? Will all three be eligible for the AQ or are they cannibalizing each other?
 

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I am totally confused on the ASUN, Big South, WAC football situation. How will these 3 leagues look membership wise for football and other sports? Will all three be eligible for the AQ or are they cannibalizing each other?
I'm right there with you. I have no idea how this is going to shake itself out. Looks like the ASUN will add football in 2022. The WAC has their "Texas Four", have Southern Utah joining at the end of the school year plus have 2 schools transitioning in Dixie State and Tarleton so they will have 7 members. As for the Big South, they currently have 5 members that sponsor football (Campbell, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, Hampton, North Carolina A&T) and 4 associate members (Kennesaw State, Monmouth, North Alabama, Robert Morris). I guess they will lose Kennesaw to the ASUN and be left with 8 teams.

I feel like CCSU could go to any of those leagues lol.
 
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Just did a quick map of all current members of the ASun (13 with Austin Peay, in blue), with just the football schools of the OVC (maroon), Big South (yellow), and Southland (purple). I didn't include the SoCon because I think they're relatively stable as a football league/conference. But...we all can agree the ASun is looking to get to 14 and adding a football playing member. And, they might need to get to 14 by adding two, because it's still possible that Liberty could get an all-sports invite to CUSA or something if there are FBS defections.

Central Arkansas is pretty alone out there...does that put McNeese State on the radar, who is also on an island, but would gladly jump from the Southland's sinking ship? Another OVC team? Is a Big South team willing to leap in on the assumption it'll be stronger football?

(Kennesaw State, Monmouth, North Alabama, Robert Morris). I guess they will lose Kennesaw to the ASUN and be left with 8 teams.
North Alabama is an ASun member too, so it'd be 7.
 
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