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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 9:28 am 
I was about to post that very same article. I realized that the announcement took place on September 11, but I never noticed anything until last night when I was at the Atlantic Sun webpage, and strangely enough, the ETSU invitation was seemingly "buried" at the bottom of the page. The only questions I have for the A-Sun are: (1) is UCF definitely gone, and if so, when? (2) is Gardner-Webb the front-runner to replace ETSU in the Southern Conference?

At inception (1978), the A-Sun, then known as the Trans-America Athletic Conference, featured 6 of its 8 members in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, and the only charter member still remaining is Mercer (Georgia). When Troy State joins the Sun Belt, the A-Sun will feature all of its members in either Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, or Tennessee, with multiple former members in the Southern, Southland, and Sun Belt Conferences. I am curious as to how a conference with membership as fluid as this has been able to survive 25 years and retain a membership of 10+ members. Also, if anyone has information as to the circumstances regarding Centenary's departure from the conference, it would be much appreciated.


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 9:30 am 
Also, how ironic is that the A-Sun webpage more or less downplays the admission of a school with the (relative) basketball pedigree of ETSU? The only other current/future A-Sun member to have an NCAA Tournament victory (to my knowledge) is Georgia State, and that just happend two years ago...


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 9:40 am 
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Quote:
I was about to post that very same article. I realized that the announcement took place on September 11, but I never noticed anything until last night when I was at the Atlantic Sun webpage, and strangely enough, the ETSU invitation was seemingly "buried" at the bottom of the page. The only questions I have for the A-Sun are: (1) is UCF definitely gone, and if so, when? (2) is Gardner-Webb the front-runner to replace ETSU in the Southern Conference?

At inception (1978), the A-Sun, then known as the Trans-America Athletic Conference, featured 6 of its 8 members in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, and the only charter member still remaining is Mercer (Georgia). When Troy State joins the Sun Belt, the A-Sun will feature all of its members in either Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, or Tennessee, with multiple former members in the Southern, Southland, and Sun Belt Conferences. I am curious as to how a conference with membership as fluid as this has been able to survive 25 years and retain a membership of 10+ members. Also, if anyone has information as to the circumstances regarding Centenary's departure from the conference, it would be much appreciated.


Two words...
Automatic bid. ;D

The A-Sun appears to be the classic springboard conference. If you are a southern based school looking for a move into D-1 basketball this is the conference to target. Most of the losses here have been to more highly regarded conferences. However, there appears to be no dearth of "new blood" ready to step in and fill up the slots from the ranks of D-1 independants in basketball.
ETSU is the first school to actually "step-down" to the A-Sun. They should dominate this conference, unless they have a corresponding loss of talent over their move out of the SoCon.

8-)


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 9:42 am 
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centenary moved to the mid con conf. so maybe they moved for geographical reasons? i really have no idea.


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:31 am 
First, of all East Tennessee State is not the first school to "step down" to the Atlantic Sun. It might just be stated that they are the first to do so involuntarily (well to a certain extent). Central Florida, Georgia State, and Jacksonville all voluntarily left the Sun Belt Conference to join the Atlantic Sun, each for reasons other than that their membership was being rescinded. Also, the notion that the Southern Conference features a quality of play in basketball over and above that of the Atlantic Sun is not wholly accurate. I'm not saying that ETSU has made a lateral move, I am just saying not to expect ETSU to become the perennial power of A-Sun basketball and to be nationally recognized as such.

Also, the notion that Centenary (Shreveport, LA) would join the Mid-Continent Conference because of geography is farcical, and in fact, they were independent for a few years prior to acquiring Mid-Con membership, so it's not like A-Sun departure and Mid-Con admission are directly related. Centenary's nearest Mid-Con rival is Oral Roberts in Tulsa. After that perhaps Missouri-Kansas City. Trips to Florida and Georgia would be much more preferable for Centenary than trips to Utah and Michigan, which makes me wonder what exactly transpired prior to Centenary exiting the Atlantic Sun Conference. Did Centenary think that they would be assured membership in the Southland Conference and/or what compelled them to leave the A-Sun?


Conference basketball is at such a quality level th


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:59 am 
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First, of all East Tennessee State is not the first school to "step down" to the Atlantic Sun. It might just be stated that they are the first to do so involuntarily (well to a certain extent). Central Florida, Georgia State, and Jacksonville all voluntarily left the Sun Belt Conference to join the Atlantic Sun, each for reasons other than that their membership was being rescinded. Also, the notion that the Southern Conference features a quality of play in basketball over and above that of the Atlantic Sun is not wholly accurate. I'm not saying that ETSU has made a lateral move, I am just saying not to expect ETSU to become the perennial power of A-Sun basketball and to be nationally recognized as such.

Also, the notion that Centenary (Shreveport, LA) would join the Mid-Continent Conference because of geography is farcical, and in fact, they were independent for a few years prior to acquiring Mid-Con membership, so it's not like A-Sun departure and Mid-Con admission are directly related. Centenary's nearest Mid-Con rival is Oral Roberts in Tulsa. After that perhaps Missouri-Kansas City. Trips to Florida and Georgia would be much more preferable for Centenary than trips to Utah and Michigan, which makes me wonder what exactly transpired prior to Centenary exiting the Atlantic Sun Conference. Did Centenary think that they would be assured membership in the Southland Conference and/or what compelled them to leave the A-Sun?


Looking at the Sagarins for the past 5 years. The SoCon has been rated higher in basketball every year than the A-Sun/TAAC. In the last couple of years Troy St. (headed to Belt), and UCF (headed out somewhere?) have been the top players in the A-Sun. What happened more than 5 years ago to send a few of these teams into the then TAAC is unclear, but the conference has clearly lost power and prestige to some degree in recent years. The addition of ETSU has to help them.
The moves of Jax St. and Samford out of A-Sun to the OVC may appear to be lateral, but I doubt it is in the minds of these schools. They get a football home in the OVC.
Bottom line...the A-Sun is not the TAAC any more. My previous assessments are accurate. This is a step down for ETSU which will strengthen the A-Sun (one losing season in the last 5 years, and NCAA berths out of the SoCon).
Once the A-Sun loses UCF and Troy St, ETSU will have a "chance" to dominate "unless" they suffer a corresponding loss in recruiting power with this move.
I don't see Belmont, Lipscomb, and Gardner-Webb on par with ETSU relative to basketball power as new entries.
:D 8-)

As for Centenary... ???
I'm with you on this one. I'd like to know what went on for them to leave the TAAC. Along with Texas-PanAm they appear to be natural fits for the Southland. Why aren't they there? Lack of football perhaps? Centenary has joined the Mid-Con because it's the place where all leftovers end up. This is the "catfish" conference of the NCAA...Bottom feeder, will eat anything. 8-)


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 12:36 pm 
The A-Sun is not the TAAC anymore? What exactly does that mean? Anyway, Virginia Commonwealth entered the CAA about a decade ago after the Metro Conference dissolved, made it to the NCAAs their first year, and have done little since--in fact, "their" bid to the A-10 was swooped up by cross-town rival Richmond. I am not sure if the VCU example will serve as pretext for the future of ETSU basketball, but I am sure that recruiting will become more difficult, simply because of opponents' name recognition and the lack of membership in a conference with a strong historical tradition. That being said, I will concede that the SoCon has produced higher Sagarin ratings, but in real terms, how much more likely are its teams to appear in post-season play than those of the A-Sun?

The A-Sun and the Southern are both "one-bid" leagues although the SoCon might have a slight edge in name recognition (College of Charleston, Davidson, NC-Greensboro) that might result in a greater frequency of NIT bids than would be accorded A-Sun teams. The point that needs to be made is that once you slip beyond a certain point in the Sagarin conference ratings, everything becomes relative.

Jacksonville was a member of a once-prestigious Sun Belt Conference (UAB, UNCC, ODU, VCU, etc.) but eventually realized that the benefits of a higher conference rating were somewhat overshadowed by the fact that the conference was expanding beyond its geographic base with an eye towards establishing football as a championship sport. Rather than needlessly rack up travel costs to play slightly higher-ranked opponents in one "one-bid" conference, Jacksonville chose to reduce its travel costs and likely improve its chances of receiving an NCAA bid. Similarly, American left a higher-ranked CAA for the Patriot League as its ease of acquiring an NCAA bid became greater, especially as it was only one of a handful of PL schools to provide athletic scholarships.

The TAAC never had "power and prestige" to lose really. Sure, Arkansas-Little Rock had an appearance in the NIT Final Four (1987) and a first-round upset of Notre Dame in the NCAAs (1986), but such events were spurious, and in the early 90s the conference lost its automatic NCAA bid for a few seasons. If anything, the name change to the Atlantic Sun is reflective of a new identity as a more southeastern-oriented conference whose core membership is smaller private schools, with a few outliers (ETSU, UCF, FAU, Georgia State). Also, I realized that I made an error when I said that Georgia State is the only current A-Sun member to have won an NCAA Tournament game. For what it's worth, Jacksonville made a Final Four appearance in the early 70s and may have won a game or two (Tates Locke?) while still a member of the "original" Sun Belt Conference (1976-1991).

I am not sure that on its face the quality of basketball in the Southern Conference is that much better than that in the A-Sun on a consistent basis (well, to be relevant) but much can be said for the fact the SoCon membership is more stable (read:offers football) and there is a greater historical tradition. College of Charleston left the TAAC because of location and the greater sense of tradition; Georgia Southern left the TAAC because it did not offer football.


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 3:00 pm 
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The A-Sun is not the TAAC anymore? What exactly does that mean?

Figurative not literal statement...that's all...

Otherwise, I fully agree...
Excellent points, actually...when you are all a bunch of one-bidders, it matters little that you have a Sagarin of 21 or 28 in conference rank, you still only get the one bid. Although C of C has been "close" a couple of times to getting that second bid for the SoCon when they got beat in conference tourney.
Time will tell with ETSU.

Still don't know the answer on Centenary though.
???
8-)


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 4:27 pm 
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although it is easy to look at one bid conferences as all the same, the type of seeding you get from being a particular one bid conference can make a big difference. for example my uncw seahawks were in a fairly competitve caa conference, won the reg. season and tournament in convincing fashion, and was rewarded with an 11 seed. had they been in the big south, asun, or or mcc and had a similar season, then they probably could have only expected a 14 at the highest. the southern conference usually gets a 13-14 seed, while the asun gets about 14-16. while it may not appear that big of a difference, as you all know it is alot easier for a 14 to beat 13 to beat a 4 then a 15 to beat a 2.


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 5:15 pm 
You're putting far too much stock into the NCAA seedings, which have become more skewed than ever now that the "pod" concept has been applied, and oftentimes without regard for literal rankings. Was San Diego really worthy of being a #13 last year...well, apparently so to be paired against Stanford in the West Region. Was Utah State really a #15 last year, well, apparently so since the Big West conference championship game usually concludes in the early hours of Selection Sunday in Indianapolis. If Drexel won the CAA last year, they would not have been an #11, and neither would have NC-Wilmington if they hadn't upset USC the year before. If I recall, the 2003 Tournament Bracket was one of the most incomprehensible in recent memory...and trust me, that is saying alot when discussing matters in which the NCAA is involved. The Arizona-Kansas-Duke region; Arizona and Kentucky being on the same side of the bracket; the BYU fiasco. Need I say more. Note that in 2001 Georgia State was a #11. I can't ever remember a SoCon school being any higher than a #14, at least not while competing in the SoCon. Trust me, the "stature" of the mid-majors is more predicated on NIT bids, and to a lesser extent, the ability to host NIT games, unless of course, there is a possibility of attaining multiple NCAA bids (e.g. Horizon, Missouri Valley, West Coast).


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 8:38 pm 
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i completely agree with you publius on the bracket of last year being a little crazy, and even that uncw was rewarded with a higher seed based on their previous years preformance. however, you cannot convince me that a big south or asun school will ever on a regular basis get higher than a socon or caa school. since the ncaa is something all the schools in d1 basketball strive to get to, then the seeding on which a midmajor conference normally gets has a great affect on how it is perceived by the public and the universities themselves.


Last edited by accseahawk on Mon Oct 13, 2003 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 8:53 pm 
I've lurked on this board for the last several months, but this is my first time to post.

As has been mentioned earlier, the original TAAC was comprised primarily of schools in the south central states, and was also made up of private schools such as Houston Baptist (now NAIA), Hardin-Simmons (Baptist, now D-III), Oklahoma City University (Methodist, now NAIA...left the TAAC after a year to become a charter member of the Midwestern City/Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon before becoming an NAIA power), and Centenary (Methodist, going to the Mid-Con). Mercer and Samford (among others), being historically Baptist schools, had a lot in common with these schools, so they joined in forming this conference of southern and south central private schools. I know I'm missing at least a couple of the original members-there may have been state schools involved at the beginning, as well...but Trans America truly fit the original description of the conference.

If I remember right, Centenary left the then-TAAC after it was left as the lone school west of the Mississippi river, and attempted to join the Southland conference. I do not know if they were promised an invitation, but there must have been some sort of deal, or else they wouldn't have pulled out of the TAAC. In the meantime, the Southland conference is made up entirely of state schools in Texas and Louisiana, and some did not look too kindly on allowing a private school into the conference. In the 1990's, they declined to offer membership to both Centenary and Oral Roberts, thus, both schools are now in the Mid-Con.

For whatever it is worth, UT-Pan American, after being kicked out of the Sun Belt, also has attempted to join the Southland, but has been denied, at this point.


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:38 pm 
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Looks as though there is going to be a big shift in the SoCon in the near future. Chattanooga has been openly coveted by the Ohio Valley and Charleston has been openly coveted by the Colonial. The other team mentioned for the Colonial was Northeastern (my alma mater) so that they could start football. There is probably still some bad blood between NU and the 4 AE defectors (UDel, Drexel, Hosftra and Towson) so that is out. If the Colonial wants football, they should add Appalachian State (very similar to James Madison). The only problem with that is that is you add App State, you need to take Western Carolina and that isn't nescessarily good.


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 11:50 am 
College Fan: thanks for the info. Your theory on Centenary is about as good as anything I've heard, and proposed "Southland scenario" sounds frighteningly similar to the events whereby Morris Brown entered D-I athletics expecting to receive a SWAC invitation. I can't see the A-Sun/TAAC having forced out Centenary involuntarily, but what I don't understand is why the Gentleman couldn't have waited until that invite was signed, sealed, and delivered. Southland is predominantly a football conference, although some members have been permitted to enter (UTSA) or re-enter (UTA, Lamar) even without football programs (UTA, Lamar are both charter members who discontinued football in the 1980s) or impending programs (e.g. reinstatement of football at Sotuheast Louisiana) If I remember correctly they, play a 20-game conference schedule for basketball, although Centenary would have fit nicely into a 6-team "eastern" (Louisiana) division. As for the private school issue, ironically enough, two of the charter members of Southland were private schools that have long since departed (Abiliene Christian and Trinity) although I believe Southland started as NAIA conference.

As for the A-Sun/TAAC itself, other charter members included Louisiana-Monroe and T'PAU (aka Texas-Pan American), but both were gone within the first five years of the conference. All of the current Louisiana schools in the Southland were members of the TAAC at one point with the exception of McNeese State. So Texas-Pan American literally was expelled from the Sun Belt Conference? The only documentation I could locate on the matter was that they departed (voluntarily) in light of heavy NCAA sanctions, but obviously such information is scarce.

Also, do you have any idea what precipitated the formation of the short-lived (1987-1991) American South Conference, which later merged into the Sun Belt? As far as I can tell, Southwest Louisiana left the Southland in 1982 after being the only SLC football program downgraded to I-AA, was an independent for a few years, and then reunited with SLC members then-aspiring for I-A membership (Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech), another SLC member (Lamar--football discontinued 1989) and others (ex-Sun Belt New Orleans, erstwhile UTPA, and later, D-I newcomer Central Florida). The Southland more or less countered the formation of the American South by importing the core of the (D-II?) Gulf Star Conference (Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, Texas State-San Marcos, Northwestern State, later, Nicholls State, and even later former Gulf Star member Southeast Louisiana). If you have any information on the background of the formation of the American South Conference, it would be much appreciated.


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 Post subject: East Tennessee State
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 7:20 pm 
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((Also, do you have any idea what precipitated the formation of the short-lived (1987-1991) American South Conference, which later merged into the Sun Belt? As far as I can tell, Southwest Louisiana left the Southland in 1982 after being the only SLC football program downgraded to I-AA, was an independent for a few years, and then reunited with SLC members then-aspiring for I-A membership (Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech), another SLC member (Lamar--football discontinued 1989) and others (ex-Sun Belt New Orleans, erstwhile UTPA, and later, D-I newcomer Central Florida). The Southland more or less countered the formation of the American South by importing the core of the (D-II?) Gulf Star Conference (Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, Texas State-San Marcos, Northwestern State, later, Nicholls State, and even later former Gulf Star member Southeast Louisiana). If you have any information on the background of the formation of the American South Conference, it would be much appreciated. ))

I remember when this happened, and I had to dig back into some old basketball magazines to find anything resembling details.

The American South was formed as an attempt to have a higher-level basketball league than was offered in the Southland. Louisiana Tech had recently been to the Sweet 16 with Karl Malone, Lamar had a couple of tournament runs in the early 80s with Billy Tubbs, Arkansas State was above average, New Orleans was pretty good in the 80s, USL (now UL-L) was above average, and Pan-American had some good runs in the 70s. Also, La Tech, La-Lafayette, and Ark St were playing I-A football as independents, while the SLC was a I-AA league. Lamar was in the process of running their football program into extinction. All of those schools had proud basketball programs at the time.

This version of the Gulf Star was only in existence for a couple of years in the 80's, and included Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, and SW Texas State (now Texas State), in addition to Northwestern State (La), SE Louisiana, and Nicholls State. The Texas schools had just moved up from Division II, where, ironically, they had been in the Lone Star Conference.

The Southland, down to NE Louisiana (now UL-M), North Texas State (now simply North Texas), UT-Arlington and McNeese State, raided the Gulf Star of the Texas schools and NW State, and eventually added SE La and Nicholls State, as well.

The American South played without an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, but had some success with New Orleans and Louisiana Tech, if I remember right. They merged with the Sun Belt after the Sun Belt had lost some members to other conferences, and were in danger of losing their automatic bid.




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