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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:12 am 
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There is a very important consideration here that is being ignored.

In 2004, the NCAA's new Division I-A requirements for football will take effect. To summarize, a Division I-A school must average 15,000 home attendance over the course of the season, and schedule at least 5 home contests (barring cancellations, emergencies, etc.) to remain in I-A.

This will wreak havoc on the mid-major conferences. The following schools were not up to snuff this year, and if continuing down the slippery slope, will be contending as I-AA independents in '04:

Sun Belt
Arkansas St. (13200)
Middle Tenn. St. (11200)
Idaho (10900)
UL-Monroe (8700)

C-USA
Houston (15000)

Mtn West
Wyoming (13700)

WAC
San Jose St. (10400, 4 home games)

Independents
Troy St. (13400, 4 home games)

MAC
Ball St. (12800)
Akron (11600)
Buffalo (11200)
Eastern Michigan (10800)
Kent St. (10100)

The next 10 teams on the brink (highest 18200) include 5 from the MAC, UAB, all but New Mexico St. from the Sun Belt, La Tech and Connecticut, the only team of all these threatened that is anywhere close to a BCS conference berth. (The next closest BCS team is Temple at 19100 per game.)

THIS is the Armageddon for I-A. The BCS conferences will be intact. Everyone else, though, will have problems.

Say bye-bye to that MAC Championship game; they'll be down to 9 teams (and 4 if more schools slack in attendance). The only programs not sweating are Marshall, Western Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois.

C-USA will remain as a football conference, but there will be serious difficulty in getting up to 12. There are more issues, but all other sports notwithstanding, C-USA may be able to grab up on leftovers to get up to 12. A worst-case scenario would be a 9-team conference without a rising UAB and in absence of a traditionally included (and former football champion) Houston school.

The WAC will still have 8 teams at worst.

The Mountain West would be in an interesting position with 7 (assuming Wyoming must join the surrounding I-AA schools in the Dakotas and Montana). Do you as commissioner try to improve the conference with orphans or admit defeat and hand off morsels like Air Force and Colorado State to other conferences? This is a difficult and complex question, and I am not an expert on the inner workings of the Mountain West (plus there's a whole thread for that somewhere).

To keep track, there would only be Notre Dame, Navy, and Connecticut (if not counting their Big East foray AND assuming they can float the hull of attendance) among the Independents.

The Sun Belt would be rocked by the rule change. North Texas and UL-Lafayette are on the razor edge, barely topping 15,000; rather pitiful for a defending champ, but this IS the Sun Belt. (Side note: Pitiful is also defined as losing to said team... Cincinnati fans... but UofL lost to you all at home, so I've no room to talk.) I'm sure New Mexico State and Utah State would have some great games, but you can hardly have a conference season at one place on one day. The Sun Belt would probably have a good series of games in I-AA, and get WKU to join too, guys! (Go Toppers!)

I have thus estimated that the Sun Belt will be scrapped, the Mountain West will be a small conference (probably adding NM St. and/or Utah St. due to geography), C-USA and the WAC will be afloat but without the dreams of Championship Games dancing in their heads, the MAC may be resigned to even lesser glory than before, and the Independents would shrink (but nothing's new about that).

This is a very rough estimation, of course, based upon 2002 season numbers.

This is also a mess. I can't even begin to speculate on the fate of any but my school's home conference.

In the following analysis, I make the assumption that C-USA will do whatever possible to ensure that rivalries are continued, and that free agent schools will do the same.

My analysis hinges upon one case: the pessimistic view of mid-major cataclysm. Keep in mind the approximate nature of these lines of reason, due to attendance fluctuation from year to year. We are also taking a broad leap over possible sanctions or probation instead of the future boot for marginal teams as I assume here.

In this case, the MAC has only 4 teams left of strong caliber. With 10 in I-AA after the cutoff, the MAC may be tempted to allow the 4 remaining teams to compete on a free agent basis in I-A. They may sell themselves to a conference or become independents. Alternatively, the MAC may disallow the teams from joining other conferences. Although I don't know for certain if the teams would be able to join conferences, the availability of MAC teams to C-USA is the only question at hand, and has as a prerequisite a release by the MAC to its marquee schools in football.



Last edited by birdistheword on Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:14 am 
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Marshall would be an extremely good fit in C-USA for football. The longest rivalry for Marshall outside of iits current MAC opponents is Louisville, by far. East Carolina and Virginia Tech are the only other non-MAC opponents of note.

Western Michigan has no real out-of-conference rival. They'd fit best into the Big 10, but if choosing a mid-major, they have played Louisville 4 times, an extremely weak "rivalry". This school is probably looking at independence and playing their 4 main cross-state rivals on an annual basis.

Northern Illinois is even less indebted to another conference than Western Michigan. They would probably choose to join the Big 10 based solely on all-time series, but would the Big 10 choose to add N. Illinois? Probably not; another independent school results.

Toledo has little to do with other conferences, spreading out its non-con schedule. Wherever Marshall goes, though, so should Toledo. The two strongest teams in the pre-gutted MAC have played each other hard of late.

In reality, the ideal situation for these 4 schools is to stay together. They each have a 20-30+ game series between each other. Could they go to C-USA in a block? Possibly. Can they go anywhere else? Probably not. They are probably all independents if the guillotine falls.

The remains of the Sun Belt are, interestingly, the 2 Southwest teams.

Utah State would fit well in the Mountain West, with almost century-mark rivalries with BYU and Utah, and an extremely strong series with Colorado State.

New Mexico State would probably jump to the WAC to continue a UTEP series, then use the Rivalry Week game to play its non-stop combat with New Mexico.

Neither would be made available for C-USA.

No other conference in this scenario gets bashed in the fashion of the MAC or SBC, and will probably remain intact with current membership. I ignore cyclic turnover that is the subject of so many other replies on this thread, and make the simplification that no team is going to change conferences in the near term if that conference can still compete at the I-A level.

So now, to stay on topic: What does Conference USA need to do in football to maximize its national prestige and get enough gullible fans to buy overpriced tickets so my tuition doesn't go up even more?

Current members in C-USA major sports for 2003, as a reminder:
South Florida
Louisville
Southern Miss
East Carolina
Cincinnati
Memphis
TCU
Tulane
Army (football only)
UAB (in doubt)
Houston (in serious doubt)
St. Louis (non-football)
Marquette (non-football)
DePaul (non-football)
UNC-Charlotte (non-football)

C-USA has some thorny questions -- absent in other conferences -- due to the varying participation of member schools. For example, can you grow the conference in basketball (and every other major sport, since the basketball membership is roughly the same as in all the other major C-USA sponsored sports) just to grow it in football? Can you legally ditch a chunk of the conference to replace them with football-playing members? Should C-USA simply regard its non-football (I will not say "basketball only") members as I-AA football schools and throw them out with the rest of the trash?

C-USA cannot realign without taking its composition into consideration. In light of the new I-A membership requirements taking effect for 2004, any speculation about whether or not a school may be yanked from another conference may be moot. There might be enough leftovers to pull together a championship game conference.

I slate no new members for C-USA because of the new I-A requirements. I also see a shrinking of the conference in football because of the loss of Houston and possibly UAB to I-AA. To gain back members in football, the conference must undergo many changes.


Last edited by birdistheword on Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 1:02 am 
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BirdistheWord:

Two comments:

First, please place a link to the 2002 attendance number (at minimum) on the "New NCAA Standards" thread and any other place that is relevant.

Second, Connecticut's attendance was only 16k because that was their stadium's capacity. They move into a 40k stadium in East Hartford next year. UConn will have no problem meeting NCAA attendance standards.

Other comments to come later after some digestion and seeing all the attendance numbers.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:22 pm 
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Birdistheword,
I have to disagree with your belief that the MAC conference has only 4 teams that will survive the new NCAA standards. First, all MAC schools meet every standard except a handful are below the 15,000 attendence requirement. Ohio, UCF, Miami, Central Michigan and Bowling Green should not have problems meeting 15,000. Add to that your afformentioned Toledo, Marshall, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois and you have a 9 team conference. Conference USA may only be a 9 team conference if Houston and UAB drop down to 1AA. The MAC has much more tradition then CUSA and doesn't have issues such as basketball only schools controlling conference decision making. Don't be surprised to see any available 1A independents join the MAC instead of CUSA because of this. Navy, Temple, SMU, etc. The MAC has already kept Marshall and added UCF even though CUSA would have liked to add a 12 team to get a championship game. I think the MAC is on more stable footing then CUSA as far as remaining a 1A football conference


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 1:56 pm 
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Comments for BirdIsTheWord

Quote:
There is a very important consideration here that is being ignored.

In 2004, the NCAA's new Division I-A requirements for football will take effect. To summarize, a Division I-A school must average 15,000 home attendance over the course of the season, and schedule at least 5 home contests (barring cancellations, emergencies, etc.) to remain in I-A.

agreed.


Quote:

This will wreak havoc on the mid-major conferences. The following schools were not up to snuff this year, and if continuing down the slippery slope, will be contending as I-AA independents in '04:

Sun Belt
Arkansas St. (13200)
Middle Tenn. St. (11200)
Idaho (10900)
UL-Monroe (8700)

Of those teams, I'd say the only ones in any real danger are UL-Monroe (they'll probably be back in the Southland by 2007), and Idaho. Middle Tennessee is borderline as is ASU. I'm guessing that they'll probably make it. Idaho is a big question mark to me right now.

Quote:

C-USA
Houston (15000)

Something tells me, they might make it, especially if their new coach works out.

Quote:

Mtn West
Wyoming (13700)

Not too bad, but definitely room for improvement.

Quote:

WAC
San Jose St. (10400, 4 home games)

Considering that SJSU's prez is decidely anti-football, I'm guessing that he'll probably drop the program soon, and will join the Big West.

Quote:

ndependents
Troy St. (13400, 4 home games)

TSU will be staying alive. Iowa State will be coming to play Troy State at Troy State. That will be huge. Also, there's a rumor that Nebraska is thinking about playing at Troy State also. However, a conference is desperately needed to continue to stay alive.

Quote:

MAC
Ball St. (12800)
Akron (11600)
Buffalo (11200)
Eastern Michigan (10800)
Kent St. (10100)

From the looks of things, I'd say EMU is probably out as is Akron. However, I think the MAC will work with Kent State to keep them IA because of their great basketball program. That is Kent's one saving grace right now. The rest need to either put up, or shut up.

Quote:

The next 10 teams on the brink (highest 18200) include 5 from the MAC, UAB, all but New Mexico St. from the Sun Belt, La Tech and Connecticut, the only team of all these threatened that is anywhere close to a BCS conference berth. (The next closest BCS team is Temple at 19100 per game.)

UAB is teetering right now. Their situation is not as bad as some schools (like ULM), but it is definitely alarming. La Tech is coming up with some very innovative ways to attract more fans in that they are playing many games in Shreveport/Bossier City. Having been to S'port before, I can tell you it is pretty big.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 8:36 pm 
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birdistheword:

i agree with your assessment of the sun belt, if only because additional ncaa standards require 8 all-sports teams -- all of whom meet the attendance and scholarship criteria cited -- to be considered a conference. louisiana monroe is on its way out, if there is a sure thing in football. so even if the idaho state board agrees to allow idaho into the sun belt in all sports, they still have only seven teams. i think it is reasonable to expect middle tennessee's numbers to improve, and perhaps arkansas state gets a boost as well. but idaho is in trouble. their stadium is ridiculous.

what does this mean? probably another six teams flooding the independent market, including utah state, which may join either the mwc (preference) or the wac (more likely) and new mexico state, which seems to me to be a shoe-in for the wac. i have NO idea what happens to n texas, ul-lafayette, mid tenn or ark state. add troy state, and to-be 1-a teams florida international and florida atlantic, and maybe they try again.

san jose state may also drop football, as i understand (a trend in california, i might add). but this will have little impact on the wac by itself.

wyoming will meet the requirements, no matter what it takes. the cowboys mean too much to the league in basketball to be lost to the mwc.

and i think there is no impact on the mac or usa.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 8:38 pm 
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and why do you think houston is very much in doubt?


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 10:40 pm 
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I don't think we'll see a dramatic loss of 1-A teams due to the attendance requirements.

The most likely:

1) San Jose State. Horrible attendance, despite a pretty decent team this year. Financial problems. Likely will drop football altogether.

2) Louisiana - Monroe. Left out of full Sun Belt membership so far. Worst attendance in 1-A. Bad financial situation. Likely headed to 1-A.

3) UAB. VERY VERY shaky economic woes. Poor attendance, lack of fan interest. More likely to drop football than to drop to 1-A, and more likely because of economic concerns than attendance (they should be able to meet the minimum).

4) Kent, Akron, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan. These 4 could all be in 1-AA soon. Ball State should make the grade. If the MAC loses 4 or 5, they could replace them w/ possibly Troy State (to help regionally w/ UCF), or Temple, if for some reason Temple doesn't get into C-USA... which I'm fairly certain they will.


Attendance has risen from a year ago for nearly all the Sun Belt teams, and all the "borderline" teams are very aware of the 15k requirement. There's too much $$$ tied up in being 1-A for them to go down easy. There are alot of incentives and plans to boost attendance in these schools. I think most of them will survive, except the ones named above.

No MWC or BSC teams are in real trouble. Wyoming will be fine. Troy State will be okay if they can get into the Sun Belt (by no means a certainty). UCONN will be fine w/ their new stadium.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 11:02 pm 
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The Sun Belt may try to strenghtenfrom within as well. Western Kentucky has a large group of boosters who want the Hilltoppers Div 1-A, especially after winning the Div 1-AA title in 2002.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 11:43 pm 
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To clarify my earlier post(s): They spell out a nightmare scenario. Truly threatened teams are not nearly as numerous. The MAC would much more likely than not survive. UAB and Houston, with a good season next year, will be fine. The Sun Belt, though, still needs to worry a bit, not so much for all their teams but for their current conference alignment.


About that link, from a ncaa.org report on 14 Jan 2003:

http://ncaa.org/stats/division1%20football/attendance/IA_AVGATTENDANCE.pdf

This link will also be posted in the "new requirements" section.


Last edited by birdistheword on Thu Jan 23, 2003 6:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 9:29 am 
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BirdIsTheWord,

Thanks for great info.

I think the Mac is in a unique position. It has the most teams in danger, theoretically, but there is a ton of support in the midwest for keeping these teams afloat, and I think there will probably be an increasing number of neutral site match-ups with Big 10 teams counting towards Mac home attendance numbers to help out the weaker programs. I'm not sure if all the Mac schools enjoy that sort of support, but it's a very different climate from here in the south. There's some cooperation here, but in most states the dominant teams flex enough muscle that the up and coming schools are left to fend for themselves. Anyway, I think the Mac might lose one or two teams, and they are still in danger long-term, but for the moment, particularly in Michigan, they have tremendous support in state government and there will be tons of pressure on the Big 10 schools to throw the struggling Mac schools a bone.

The Wyoming question is interesting. I always assumed they were a healthy program. I think eventually the MWC (if they are smart, and they may not be) and C-USA will shop for teams that travel well and which have rabid fan bases. That's why I think sooner or later they'll snag Marshall, even though Marshall isn't necessarily a large metropolitan market team. I wonder what that will mean for UCF down the road? If their are changes in college football which make propping up the Mac impractical for the Big 10, we might see a mass exodus of those teams able to survive on their own (Toledo, etc.) joining C-USA, though size is going to be a real problem with that conference if none of its programs drop off.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2003 10:08 am 
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Any news on CUSA? I heard Temple may get full membership.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2003 12:39 pm 
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no news. but the fan boards are all abuzz about temple to c-usa, dropping to 1-aa or dropping football entirely. one or two posts even suggested temple join the mac.

administrators insist they want to keep the football program in 1-a -- i would be very surprised if they dropped to 1-aa or dropped football altogether. that said, there look to be four possibilities:

1) remain in the big east. unlikely, although stranger things gave happened. this would result in the coveted (by me, at least) 9-team league, but the league would be bottom-heavy, with perennial losers connecticut and rutgers vying for last place. you'd end up with a 6th place big east team with 3 easy conference wins, and a soft non-conference schedule against, say, eastern michigan, louisiana-lafayette and navy would make for the cheapest bowl-eligible team you've ever seen. nobody wants that except maybe the 6th place big east team.

2) become independent. well, it gives them a shot at navy every year...but without traditional rivals, the impact on attendance would be devastating. and there would be no bowl money to share.

3) join the mac. should the mac lose one or more teams to realignment (marshall/central florida) or programs dropping football, there would be an opening in 2006. now that temple basketball is also down, i guess this is a possibility, but just doesn't seem to fit.

4) join conference usa. we all know the benefits here: a 12th team for cusa; 5 bowls to play for; a competitive basketball conference with perennially strong teams like cincinnati, charlotte and louisville; and a home to stave off dropping the football program entirely.

and yet, i have seen no official word even mentioning this as a possibility.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2003 2:45 pm 
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Quote:
and yet, i have seen no official word even mentioning this as a possibility.


Nor have I.


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 Post subject: CUSA Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:21 am 
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I can see why C-USA would want Temple (a chunk, though it seems to me very small, of the Philly market), but as football only? Wow. I still think they'd be better off bringing in Marshall.


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