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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:05 pm 
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This is kind of a merger of the economic effect thread and the WAC realignment thread. I'm pretty sure it's not LIKELY to happen, but I do question if schools in the WAC and Big Sky can afford how they currently operate. This would require a lot of people to check their egos at the door. Some might consider this a nightmare scenario, in fact.

It came from a suggestion that the WAC could become a football-only conference. That dinged some bells in my head, as it seems to make some sense. I can see how Louisiana Tech could survive playing WAC football and traveling their other teams in a far more sane manner. Most WAC schools can name a superior situation for their non-revenue sports.

The Big Sky suffers its own sprawl, which has led to the concern at Northern Arizona over their athletic program. I can foresee similar improvements for them from a realignment, while keeping a possibly expanded Big Sky conference for football.

The odd part of this- I think this actually can be done in a way to incorporate the Big West schools, under the caveat that some of them will end up making Hawaii trips. Not many people remember that Hawaii kept their womens' sports in the Big West for a long time. That's one potential issue of many that would trip up this scenario.

Obviously, I'm incorporating schools stuck in eastern conferences or independent status. However, for the moment, I am NOT incorporating the WCC. I'm going to assume they're a happy family. That may also be a dangerous assumption.

So, as there's no need to change WAC football for purposes of starting this (still a dangerous assumption), shall we?

(NORTHWESTERN, or somesuch)
Boise State
Eastern Washington
Idaho
Montana
Montana State
Portland State
Seattle

First problem: only 7 schools here. We'd have to count on a school moving up, I think. Candidates: Alaska-Anchorage, Central Washington a distant second. UAA has sounded the bell on this, making them clear favorites. Central Washington would have to do this as a defensive move, and I don't know how they'd raise funds for it.

Second problem: Boise State is actually closer to Idaho State than anyone. They MAY identify more with Utah schools. Stay tuned.

(SIERRA PACIFIC or so)
CS Bakersfield
UC Davis
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
Pacific
Sacramento State
San Jose State

Enough big schools here to handle Hawaii trips. Bakersfield would probably rather be in the LA conference.

(GOLDEN SOUTH or thereabouts)
Cal Poly SLO
CS Fullerton
UC Irvine
CS Long Beach
Northern Arizona
CS Northridge
UC Riverside
UC Santa Barbara

Northern Arizona is just barely further from Los Angeles than Davis is, IIRC. Thing is, even they would be a culture shock to the LA area schools. BTW, Cal Poly ends up here because they're closer to Santa Barbara than anyone just north.

(INTERMOUNTAIN , give or take)
Denver
Idaho State
Northern Colorado
Southern Utah
Utah State
Utah Valley
Weber State

Utah State can't be happy with this, I'm sure. Yes, an 8th is needed here, and while nothing jumps out at me like Anchorage does in the Northwest, I can think of a couple possibilities. Mesa State seems like a combination of market strength, identity (Western Colorado), and fit for this, but is there money for an upgrade? Heck, they may be in an energy-rich area the way Anchorage isn't far from. Dixie State? Too far, too fast... but they may have passed up other Rocky Mountain schools in terms of ambition already. I don't know if they can coexist with Southern Utah. Oh, I have New Mexico State in a league with Texas schools for a reason... this would be more awkward, believe it or not.

Of course, the 8th could be Boise State (making Utah State happier). Then Alaska could probably join Anchorage in the Northwest. Maybe.

Now, conceivably, Big Sky football would either exist in a 12-team alignment or two 6-team leagues. I see it like this:

Eastern Washington
Idaho State
Montana
Montana State
Northern Colorado
Weber State

Cal Poly
UC Davis
Northern Arizona
Portland State
Sacramento State
Southern Utah

I will end this one here... but in the coming hours or days, expect a post about augmenting the WCC into the mix. Perhaps another one about how the football conference may be a MWC-WAC merger of sorts, which throws even more schools into the equation. I'm not done yet.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:51 pm 
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Every one of those conferences would lose their autobid for 5 years except the Big West schools. (Rule is you must have 6 of schools that have played in your conference together for 5 years. That kills it along with Boise St. never accepting being in a Big Skyish conf.

The 12 team Big Sky would work, problem is UC Davis, Cal Poly don't want to leave the BWC for the Sky because the Sky doesn't offer a lot of the sports they play. Also the short travel of the BWC. Only a WAC invite could sway them.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:20 pm 
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Fresno St. Alum wrote:
Every one of those conferences would lose their autobid for 5 years except the Big West schools. (Rule is you must have 6 of schools that have played in your conference together for 5 years. That kills it along with Boise St. never accepting being in a Big Skyish conf.

The 12 team Big Sky would work, problem is UC Davis, Cal Poly don't want to leave the BWC for the Sky because the Sky doesn't offer a lot of the sports they play. Also the short travel of the BWC. Only a WAC invite could sway them.


Current logic would agree with you, but if something happens where the Dakota schools get snatched up and there's no more Great West football, Cal Poly and UC-Davis may have to think long and hard what to do about their football programs. They may be forced to either let them head the way of the Dodo (or the other CSU and Cali private schools), or get into the BSC, then go Mountain Pacific in the sports the BSC doesn't offer. Time will tell on that one.

Another thought on the WAC is that Mountain West expansion may not even affect them if it's only to 10, there is a possibility UTEP gets picked up, and that leaves C-USA to either finally take Louisiana Tech or maybe hit up the Sun Belt for a school.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:27 am 
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What's the payout on the autobid, anyway?

Does it make up for increased travel costs? Does it completely offset what will probably happen with lost sponsorships and less fans attending?

I'm looking at scenarios out west that are a response to upset in the natural order, so to speak.

The BCS has money. This isn't the BCS.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:59 am 
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Pounder -

I have pondered much the same of how the Big Sky and WAC might some day need to contemplate a friendly merger of sorts.

Football - Leave the WAC Football alone as you state.
Assuming North Dakota and South Dakota eventually join MVFC or play teams in the midwest as an independent, we are left with 9 Big Sky + SUU + Cal Poly + UC Davis. So, yeah, create a 12-team football conference with those.

For other sports, lets take what you have done, but build them to 8 from the other direction.
Move NAU into your INTER-Mountain. Gets them out of SoCal and puts them near SUU.
Your SoCal "Golden" Conference needs a new 8th. Move Cal-Bakersfield into that.
Not sure what team is now an 8th for your Northern Cal / Sierra Conf.
Where is Idaho State ? Can't they be the 8th for the Northwest Conference ?

What is an auto-bid worth ?
IIRC, the NCAA Div. 1 Big Dance tourney money is divied up based on appearances in games.
not sure if you get anything, if you lose a play-in game.
64 schools get a "point" for Sub-Regional Semi appearance.
32 schools get a "point" for Sub-regional Final appearance.
"Sweet 16" schools get a "point' for Regional Semi appearance.
"Elite 8" schools get a "point" for Regional Final appearance.
"Final 4" schools get a "point" for National Semi appearance.
final 2 school get a "point" for National Championship game appearance.
1 school gets a "point" for winning National Championship (I think....)

So a "point" is worth about 1/127 of the portion of the Tourney Proceeds that get kicked back to the schools (after the NCAA office take their generaous cut). It is paid out over a six-year period after the tournament when the point(s) is/are earned. So an auto-bid guarantees at least one point per year (even assuming a first round loss). All conferences have an arrangement regarding the distribution of point money earned by conference teams. Sometimes the entire amount is shared equally. In other conferences, the specific school gets to keep a chunk of what they earn, while the remainder goes into a pool to be shared with the other schools. IIRC, back in 2003, this was heavily discussed in the context of the BE, and the split came to a screaching halt, when the football schools suddenly realized that by departing the BE, they would be leaving $42-$45 million in "points" behind with the BE (since that money was to be shared with the BB schools". This situation was later revised to make each schools share "portable", after 2010. I'm thinking that a point back then was worth between $1-2 million. That may have doubled in the new TV contract.
So the current value of one "point" per year is the approximate guaranteed value of an auto-bid (assuming the auto-bid team doesn't advance any further). That "point" value then needs to be split about 8 ways to get the value OF EACH SCHOOL'S SHARE of the auto-bid.

It's not enormous money, and you can earn points as an at-large team. When the MWC broke away from the 16-member WAC, it took a few years to comply with the 6/5 rule until they got their auto-bid. The big guys (ACC, BE, Big Ten, et. al. didn't want to award an more auto-bids AT THE EXPENSE OF AN AT-LARGE (which they had a pretty good shot at), so the MWC's auto-bid forced the 64-team tourney to go to 65 with a play-in game (so that the 34? at-large slots were preserved - 65 team bracket = 31 auto-bids + 34 at-large slots, IIRC).


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:35 pm 
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Given what the WAC is going through out west, there may be a movement for some relief in the autobid issue... and I could see that happening IF the number of proposed conferences equals the number of conferences rearranged.

Enter the WCC. This is based on another wall of the economy taking a hit... gas is expected to be $3.25 this summer, add in a well-placed Middle Eastern strike and it'll go up further and stay there a while. Airlines have to cut back further and charge more. Besides, Pepperdine has already supposedly searched for warmer waters, so to speak... so maybe the following becomes a consideration even without the economy going deeper:

NORTHWESTERN
Eastern Washington
Gonzaga
Idaho
Montana
Montana State
Portland
Portland State
Seattle

I've kept Gonzaga in an 8-team conference with far better regional travel costs... they can still challenge the world. Can they beat Portland State? ;)

SIERRA PACIFIC
UC Davis
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
Pacific
Sacramento State
Saint Mary's
San Francisco
San Jose State
Santa Clara

GOLDEN SOUTH
CS Bakersfield
Cal Poly
CS Fullerton
UC Irvine
Loyola Marymount
CS Long Beach
Northern Arizona
CS Northridge
Pepperdine
UC Riverside
San Diego
UC Santa Barbara

When I first wrote these in, I kept Bakersfield north, thinking a rivalry with Fresno was worth better value than their possible travel savings... but I think the LA schools don't have the budgets to handle Hawaii trips. After mulling that over for a while, I made the switch. HOWEVER, it may be smarter to have Hawaii in a 12-team conference, which could reduce the number of in-conference trips. Maybe I've made the wrong decision? I'll throw that out to the crowd.

BTW- People tend to look at maps of states and say that Arizona seems to belong with Rocky Mountain states. Flagstaff and Cedar City? If you drive from Cedar City to Las Vegas to fly to Phoenix to drive to Flagstaff, you may as well drive from Cedar City to Flagstaff. My contention is that Northern Arizona is more convenient to LA, and that bringing them with Intermountain teams doesn't actually help them. Well, maybe I'll relent on that... maybe, not yet.

INTERMOUNTAIN
Boise State
Denver
Idaho State
Northern Colorado
Southern Utah
Utah State
Utah Valley
Weber State

****************************************

I could bring up another alternate solution, too. Maintain the current conferences for football AND BASKETBALL (maybe a couple trades?). The remaining sports could align in the manner I propose... or even associate with the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which is already designed as a catch-all to group western schools in sports some conferences don't sponsor. As long as the NCAA is willing to issue autobids by grouping and not just issue one to MPSF per sport, there's something to that idea as well.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:54 pm 
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I think the logical path for the WAC is to add Sac State as an all-sports member. They have a sufficient stadium, large market, and no pro competition. It the WAC can get the NMSU and LA Tech into a Southland breakaway---even if it is only for non-football, the WAC footprint shrinks quickly to something sustainable.

I think a deal could possibly be worked out with the Big West where Cal Poly and UCDavis would be welcomed as Football only members when they are finally ready, if the BW allows Hawaii to play their non-cash sports in that conference. Hawaii could actually chip in some travel costs as the distances are shorter.

The WAC could consider adding PSU or NAU or even a relatively distant school like Denver if an 8th non-football school is required. UVU might actually work although it offers less market. They do offer a large alumni base in Utah, that would help Utah viewership, even though the DMA is nothing to write home about.

If NAU were to drop football the Big West would be a nice home---10th for BB. The GW again might be decent too as NAU is a core members.


1. Hawaii
2. Fresno St.
3. SJ St.
4. Idaho
5. Boise St.
6. Nevada
7. Utah St.
+ 8. Sac St.

-? NM St.
-? La Tech

travel partners: fs/sjs, ss/unr, ui/bsu, utah st and...Hawaii? lol.

Now if Hawaii could get (back?) into the BW for non-football sports, the options increase. The Wac can shuffle travel partners with PSU. WAC could use UVU as Utah St.'s travel partner. They aren't a bad basketball program at all --- 17-11 in 2008-9, 15-14 in 2007-8, 22-7 in 2006-2007. Travel between travel partners in conference could be almost exclusively by bus! (Fly to one travel partner, drive to the next, fly out.)

Denver is a bit further. They went 15-16 last year in the sunbelt and have a chance to develop into a decent program even though they are in the Nuggest's NCAA killzone.

The Sac St option leaves them in a much better situation if something like Boise and/or Fresno leave for the MWC in the next 5-10 years. In that scenario they are replacing a member in a travel friendly conference, not trying to hold a together a group of leftovers with no reason to stay together.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:33 pm 
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finiteman wrote:
I think the logical path for the WAC is to add Sac State as an all-sports member. They have a sufficient stadium, large market, and no pro competition. It the WAC can get the NMSU and LA Tech into a Southland breakaway---even if it is only for non-football, the WAC footprint shrinks quickly to something sustainable.

I think a deal could possibly be worked out with the Big West where Cal Poly and UCDavis would be welcomed as Football only members when they are finally ready, if the BW allows Hawaii to play their non-cash sports in that conference. Hawaii could actually chip in some travel costs as the distances are shorter.

The WAC could consider adding PSU or NAU or even a relatively distant school like Denver if an 8th non-football school is required. UVU might actually work although it offers less market. They do offer a large alumni base in Utah, that would help Utah viewership, even though the DMA is nothing to write home about.

If NAU were to drop football the Big West would be a nice home---10th for BB. The GW again might be decent too as NAU is a core members.


Agree with some of the earlier posts that the WAC may need to take in affiliate members for IA football and otherwise get real creative. At some point (not this year), an MWC raid seem inevitable (Boise St, Fresno, +Houston, LaTech to CUSA). Without Boise St, the WAC loses its focus/center, and the Pacific and Rocky Mtn schools get pulled in different directions. Potentially

WAC

Hawaii
San Jose
UC-Davis - football only
Sac St
Cal Poly - football only
Nevada
Seattle - no football

Idaho
Montana St
Montana
Utah State
N Mex St
N Dakota - football only
Denver - no football

These football divisions would create considerable fan interest (except at NMex St, and Hawaii) . UC-Davis, Cal Poly, and UND all would need stadium upgrades - but I believe all three have IA football in their sights. NDSU is tied into a long-term football commitment, with early departure penalties, with the Missouri Valley. SDSU has a totally dilapidated stadium - USD has a low enrollment and other needs. Montana and MSU would much prefer these rivals to those in the Big Sky.

The financial issues at most Big Sky schools could force it to lower its profile even further.

Weber St
Idaho St
E Wash
S Utah
N Colo
N Ariz
Portland St
Utah Valley
(with CSU-Pueblo* - very successfully reintroducing football at DII level, Dixie State*, and C Wash on deck)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:52 pm 
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I WAS going to throw Mountain West schools into a scenario...

...something their budgets don't currently have to worry about, but 5 years down the line, there are questions.

However, let's reiterate the last thing I put out on the table.

Take football and basketball out of the equation. Those conferences stay the same.

Everything else ends up under the MPSF banner. A deal needs to be reached with the NCAA due to western travel considerations where automatic bids in several sports are maintained. Past that, for each sport, keep the travel requirements as sane as humanly possible.

Even better if this can be done with basketball in the mix, but the non-revenue sports are where a lot of the issue resides.

Gas prices will go back up, and airlines will continue to have issues. This problem will not go away.


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