With school being out for the summer and commencement speeches (like this one from Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth) over, let’s take a quick look at possible pro sports franchise moves since all of the leagues have some potential realignment scenarios. I have a few key guidelines:
(1) Contraction is not a realistic option – Contraction is a popular proposal among columnists, bloggers and message board people since all of the leagues other than the NFL would probably be much more competitive top-to-bottom by dropping a franchise or 2 or 6. However, there’s a reason why no team has been eliminated in nearly 4 decades: when owners have been given the option of either (A) paying out hundreds of millions of dollars to dissolve a franchise or (B) collecting hundreds of millions dollars in franchise relocation fees and using those moves as examples of threats to get brand new stadiums for their own teams, they’ve logically chosen option B every single time. As a result, I will assume that any franchise that isn’t doing well would need to be moved as opposed to contracted.
(2) Favorable stadium deals trump markets – In a world where the NFL has a team in Jacksonville but not in Los Angeles, it’s clear that having the “right” stadium in place is more important than even market size to pro sports owners. As much as Seattle should never have lost the Sonics and deserves another NBA team, Key Arena has been deemed unacceptable due to its lack of revenue-generating suites (whether fairly or not) and, therefore, Seattle won’t be a viable market for the NBA or NHL until they get concrete new stadium plans into place. Outside of the NFL (where LA is still priority #1), I will only look at markets that have “acceptable” stadiums in place.
(3) Less is more – Much like college conference realignment, where our imaginations ran wild with various configurations and proposals but ultimately ended up with much more subdued changes, radical realignments to the pro sports leagues are very unlikely. The fewer teams switching leagues, conferences and/or divisions, the better.
With those guidelines in mind, here are my thoughts:
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
There’s been a lot of talk lately about MLB realignment ranging from a simple move of one National League team to the American League to scrapping divisions altogether. One of the issues with baseball is that the owners actually have veto power over whether their own teams move leagues or divisions, which means that no one can be forced to move against their will. Another issue is that no NL franchise is going to willingly move to the AL unless it gets placed in the AL East, where it would receive a bunch of seat-filling dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. The cornerstone franchises in the NL Central (Cubs and Cardinals) and, to a lesser extent, the NL West (Dodgers and Giants) are significantly greater attendance draws than their counterparts in the AL such as the White Sox, Angels and A’s (and I say this as a massive White Sox fan). That’s why the Brewers ran to the NL Central as quickly as possible when they received the opportunity – they get to enjoy sellout a dozen or more sellout crowds from traveling Cubs and Cards fans that never came when they were playing the White Sox and Twins.
This is where the prospect of the Astros moving to the AL West makes a lot of sense. They’re going through an ownership change that needs to be approved by MLB, which means that this is a rare opportunity to force realignment by making such approval conditioned upon a league switch. The Astros likely would never have agreed to switch leagues on their own, but a new owner that’s trying to get into the MLB club is going to have to acquiesce to the iron-fisted demands of Bud Selig. Look at what Selig just did to Frank McCourt and the Dodgers. Bud might as well be sporting a “Thug Life” tattoo.
NHL realignment is also on the radar with the impending move of the Thrashers franchise from Atlanta to Winnipeg. It appears that the Thrashers (or hopefully the Jets) will end up staying in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference for next season, which makes some sense as it gives the Phoenix Coyotes another year to figure out whether they’re staying in that market and the league wouldn’t want to realign two years in a row.
What I was a bit surprised about was seeing how much the Red Wings and their fans seem to be pushing for (AKA whining about) switching conferences because they were supposedly promised by Gary Bettman first dibs on a move to the East back in the 1990s. (Apologies to the generally level-headed Wings fans that read this blog. All of you guys are OK.) First of all, why anyone would believe a thing Gary Bettman says about anything (especially something from nearly 2 decades ago) is beyond me. Second, the Red Wings presumably don’t want to move to the Southeast Division (as it appears that their goal is to reunite with Toronto in the Northeast Division), which means that the NHL would have to switch around a whole number of teams in the Eastern divisions (including possibly marquee franchises like the Bruins and Penguins) in order to make that happen. Why would the Penguins agree to be separated from the Flyers or the Bruins from the Canadiens to accommodate the Wings? Detroit moving conferences is the most logistically messy option out there. Third, switching the Red Wings to the East would mean 5 of the Original Six franchises would be in that conference along with breaking up the team’s rivalry with the Blackhawks. I know that a lot of Wings fans seem to think that reviving the Maple Leafs rivalry is more important (maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder or, more likely, there’s a denial of this self-evident truth), but let’s look at it from an NHL business perspective. The East is already receives a disproportionate share of TV coverage because it has 4 of the Original Six franchises plus 2 other marquee franchises in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and currently another superstar in Washington (Alex Ovechkin). The NHL is almost solely dependent upon the Red Wings and Blackhawks for national TV drawing power in the West. Is the NHL seriously going to let the revitalized Chicago market sit out on an island when the Blackhawks franchise helped the league get the highest Stanley Cup Finals TV ratings in the last 4 decades? And forgetting about the Blackhawks (as one may argue that my status as a Hawks fan causes me to be biased), but why on Earth would the other franchises in the West let the Wings move? That would be like the Western Conference teams in the NBA allowing the Lakers to leave for the East in terms of attendance and TV ratings. It simply doesn’t make any business sense for any of them. Finally, there’s already one franchise located further east than Detroit in the Eastern Time Zone (Columbus) and another that’s much more geographically suited to be in the Southeast Division (Nashville), albeit in the Central Time Zone. There’s no reason why moving Detroit, which would cause a massive domino realignment of the entire Eastern Conference, makes more sense than simply plugging Columbus or Nashville in the Southeast without any other repercussions.
Therefore, going with the “less is more” mantra and assuming that the Coyotes work out some type of deal with Glendale where they don’t end up moving, I believe the best switch is simply slotting Nashville into the Southeast Division, putting Minnesota in the Central Division and sending Winnipeg to the Northwest Division. While Nashville is located in the Central Time Zone, the Predators are simply much more of a regional fit with the other Southeast teams (and geographic rivalries are arguably more important in hockey than any other sport). It also makes more sense from a regional rivalry standpoint to keep Columbus with the other Midwestern teams in the Central Division. I personally like the prospect of a semi-recreation of the old Norris Division with Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Minnesota. It would be nice if Toronto could switch back to the West so that there would be 3 Original Six teams in each conference again, but much like the desirability of the NL over the AL (outside of the AL East), none of the Eastern Conference teams would willingly move to the West barring an actual franchise move (like the Thrashers situation).
The Sacramento Kings are the current threat to move markets if they don’t end up with a new stadium deal to replace ARCO Arena. Sacramento mayor (and former NBA star) Kevin Johnson has a proposal on the table for a new arena for that market, but with the long track record of aggressive stadium plans falling apart in California over the past decade, I wouldn’t bet on any groundbreakings there. While I’m personally not a huge fan of the LA market getting a third NBA team if the Kings ultimately move to Anaheim, I can see how it could financially work since drawing from Orange County alone (not to mention the San Diego market directly adjacent to it to the south) is more than enough of a population base to support a franchise. Add in the more valuable suite situation at the Honda Center and MUCH higher potential TV rights and it looks like a strong financial deal for the Kings by heading to Anaheim. The only caveat is that this would bail out the Maloof brothers, who don’t deserve it.
I’m a firm believer than an NBA franchise would make a killing in Las Vegas with its high-roller culture, yet that’s another market that can’t ever seem to get a concrete arena deal into place. Kansas City, on the other hand, has a beautiful state-of-the-art arena (the Sprint Center) ready-to-go without a regular major pro sports league tenant. That market seems to make a lot of sense for a franchise like the Hornets to move to if they decide to leave New Orleans. The Hornets were already struggling financially prior to Hurricane Katrina, but David Stern was committed to staying in that market in the wake of that disaster. After witnessing terrible attendance even with a great superstar in Chris Paul playing there, it seems that the NBA simply is not going to work in New Orleans.
The NBA Western Conference divisions are probably the screwiest of any of the 4 major pro sports leagues at this point where a larger realignment would be justified, yet it’s tough since, as we’ve seen in other leagues, you’re not going to get a franchise like the Bulls to willingly move from the East to the West. Sacramento moving to Anaheim wouldn’t require any type of change to the Pacific Division. However, if the Hornets move to Kansas City, I’d put Oklahoma City into the Southwest Division and move the new KC Hornets to the Northwest. It’s not that pretty, but that at least continues to provide Minnesota with a Central Time Zone mate and OKC gets to be with its natural geographic counterparts in Texas.
The franchise that should move is the Jacksonville Jaguars. They’re in a small market that has to compete with 2 other NFL franchises in its home state (Buccaneers and Dolphins) and the fan base is apathetic. However, the Jags have a stadium lease deal that essentially handcuffs them to their market until 2029. There’s also been talk about the Vikings moving if they don’t a new stadium, but my feeling is that the political willpower will be there to push that through. The NFL letting them move would be almost Browns-like and I doubt the league lets that happen again. As a result, the Chargers and Raiders are much more likely candidates to move to the goldmine of Los Angeles (assuming that there’s a stadium deal, which is a dangerous assumption even though this latest downtown proposal next to the Staples Center looks perfect). There’s also a possibility of the return of the Rams, who can leave St. Louis in 2014 if the Edward Jones Dome isn’t renovated. Personally, I think the Raiders are best-suited for LA, as they have some history there (today was a good day, Ice Cube), the AFC would benefit more than the NFC in having an LA franchise (as the NFC already has the top team in the New York market plus Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, which results in Fox paying $90 million per year more for the NFC TV package compared to the CBS AFC TV package) and the San Francisco Bay Area might be the most overrated place to locate a pro franchise in the country. Don’t get me wrong – I think the Bay Area is fantastic and Napa Valley is on my retirement locale short-list. However, I’m continuously perplexed as to how many proposals that I’ve seen to move additional NBA and NHL teams to that market (Larry Ellison’s recent bid to bring the Hornets to San Jose, for example) when they’ve only proven to support the 49ers and Giants (and only after they built a ballpark that’s as much of an attraction as the team itself). A strong sports fan culture just doesn’t exist there and the Raiders should have never moved back to Oakland. Regardless, a Raiders, Chargers or Rams move to LA would be easy enough for the NFL and wouldn’t require any division switches (as they are all currently in one of the western divisions). The Vikings moving to LA would likely require the Rams to move into the NFC North, while a Jaguars relocation would kick the Chiefs to the AFC South (which would be sad considering the history that Kansas City has with the other AFC West teams, but ultimately necessary).
We’ve had a relatively long period of stability in the pro sports world with only the Sonics and Thrashers having moved within the past 5 years. The combination of a weak economy, a more cautious electorate regarding publicly-financed stadiums and a gaping NFL hole in LA is going to put that stability to the test in the near-future.
(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)
(Image from Nacho Donut)
952 thoughts on “Pro Sports Realignment Overview”
I don’t see the NL giving up the whole state of Texas. They would have to be desperate to get to 15/15. And the Astros have 50 years in the NL. I don’t think the fans would have any interest. There are no AL ties. Houston even hard a Card minor league franchise at one point before the Astros. Cardinal fans flood the place more than any other team when they are in town.
As for football, the two biggest disasters belong to Bud Adams-Jacksonville, who got an expansion franchise for helping to hold up Houston with Bud as lead cheerleader for their bid, (and Houston is still paying for improvements to the empty Astrodome), and Nashville, who got the Oilers. If LA had their act halfway together, Houston would still be without a team. I think you’re right, its likely the Raiders or Chargers. But in addition to Jacksonville and Nashville, New Orleans and Buffalo are shaky in the long run. Both are declining metro areas. Both would be as politically difficult as the Vikings, but would make more sense. I don’t think they let anyone move until they give LA every possible chance to get the team.
New Orleans is turning into Green Bay lite. Unlike the Hornets, I think they’re safe, though there will probably be several occasional attempts to move them to Baton Rouge, San Antonio, Oklahoma, or another SEC market in the future. The Bills are building the case to move to Toronto and Toronto alone.
Also, I suspect you’d have to live in Philly to understand the history of their rivalry with the other teams in their division, especially the Pens.
Delete this post, intended to be associated with the one below.
My feeling, though, is that conference alignment matters quite a bit more than divisional alignment. You play teams 6 times a year in division, 4 times a year in conference. Sure, the difference matters, but I don’t think it matters that much given that 8/15 teams make the playoffs.
Now, if the NHL changed its scheduling matrix to give more games against the opposite conference, that’s another ball of wax.
Bullet – the Saints aren’t going anywhere. The Superdome is undergoing $85 million in renovations, including more club seats. The Saints have a sweetheart deal with the state on the ‘Dome lease agreement through 2025.
Bettmam. What a goober.
Baseball is the most likely to contract. They are the most imbalanced as they have so much unshared local revenue. The franchises that are successful almost all are in metro areas of 3.0 million +. All but 3 are in metro areas of at least 2 million and those 3 are big baseball towns. Milwaukee with Madison and the Chicago burbs in WI probably really is over 2 million. And Cincy with Dayton only 50 miles away is really almost 3 million. KC had the advantage for many years of being the only team north of the Red River from the banks of the Mississippi to the Pacific coast.
The only options for teams are Montreal (been there, done that), Portland (marginal) and San Juan (no money).
Sacramento, Las Vegas and San Antonio are growing, but still aren’t at that 2 million level and are a long way from 3 million. Combined with Austin, San Antonio is over 3 million, but they would undoubtedly want the stadium in the downtown tourist area rather than up north to improve access to Austin (80 miles from downtown).
Unscientific guesses: NHL contracts. NBA expands to KC and Vegas. NFl stays at 32. Jags go to LA.
The Astros go the AL west. Inter league play is expanded where the leagues play their counterpart division every year and also alternate between the other two.
18 games against 4 divisional foes =72 games
6 games against 10 league foes= 60 games
3 games against 10 inter league foes= 30 games
Total=162 games. (idea from an ESPN columnist)
Hi Frank, like the post, but a few quibbles:
1. . . .except MLS (though you can argue that they’re not major league).
2. . . .except for MLB. Baseball does require a rather large metropolitan area to support a team. As it is, even Cardinals tickets to weekday games are at a significant discount to tickets to Friday & weekend Cardinals games.
Also, I have to echo Bullet (to a degree). While I don’t think Houston would be averse to moving (yes, they give up Cardinals games, but would gain a fierce rivalry with the Rangers), I just don’t see MLB (or rather, Selig) wanting 15 in each league and spreading out Selig’s baby, interleague play, throughout the season.
With the NHL, I’d go Columbus to the East, not Nashville, because of the time zone thing. But I’d also replace Atlanta with Philadelphia. Changing divisions within a conference in the NHL is not a big move. If Philadelphia moved to the Southeast Division (which, in that hypothetical, would probably need to be renamed; perhaps the Coastal Division or something), they would have a grand total of 8 games change. Sure, they’d be picking up 2 extra games against the Panthers and Hurricanes (yawn), but those are essentially the same as the 2 games a year they’d be dropping against the Islanders and Devils. Similarly, although they’d be dropping 2 games a year against the Penguins and Rangers, they’d be picking up 2 games a year against Ovechkin and the Capitals, and the Yzerman-led Lightning also seem kind of attractive to me. Philadelphia is already part of a greater megalopolis with Washington DC. Perhaps this makes sense only to me.
With the NBA, I’d rather see them add 4 games to the regular season and dump the divisions altogether. Right now, the season schedule is:
16 games against 4 teams in your division (4x)
36 games against 10 teams in your conference/outside your division (3.6x)
30 games against 15 teams in the opposite conference (2x)
If you added 4 games to that middle category, it’d be 16+40+30=86, and you could just drop the divisions altogether. This would have the additional benefit of ending the opportunity for seeding paradoxes like occurred in 2006 and almost in 2008.
“Philadelphia is already part of a greater megalopolis with Washington DC.”
Which also includes New York, significantly closer to home.
I take it your point is that Philadelphia should remain grouped with New York, then? I certainly understand that, and it’s not a good arrangement, but it seems like the least-bad to me. It doesn’t make sense of me to shift Columbus, a struggling team, into the Eastern Conference unless they’re in a division with Pittsburgh, which means that someone else is the one that goes into the Southeast-to-be-renamed Division. I would anticipate that Philadelphia will be basically a business success in whatever division it is placed, and the mix of “good” and “bad” games it would lose by leaving the Atlantic Division are mostly mirrored by the mix of “good” and “bad” games it would add by joining the “Southeast” Division. That’s my reasoning, anyway.
Frank, here’s a question for you: do you feel that there’s anything the NHL can do to help out Dallas? I have read persuasive arguments here that it is really rather unfair to put Dallas in the Pacific Division. If we could split up the Alberta teams, I would think that a division along the lines of Dallas, Phoenix, Colorado, Winnipeg, and one of the Alberta teams would be a pretty good arrangement, but people would scream bloody murder about separating them.
And, I should note, it is not totally implausible for the NHL to consider some kind of relief for Dallas at this juncture, since the new team in Winnipeg to some extent invites some thinking about how to rearrange things.
The Houston point is very interesting. Would really be willing to go as far as deny someone who was qualified but wanted to keep the Astros in the NL? My guess is that they wouldn’t, but the threat might be enough to convince potential owners to accept it for fear of rejection.
On ESPN a week or so ago, they said these talks were serious, but still less than 50-50. It is my hope that there is no movement between leagues as I like to think of them as a lot more separate than I do conferences/divisions/etc in other sports and don’t want to see interleague expanded either.
I don’t think the proposal is to expand interleague. It’s just that there would be 1 interleague series every weekend all year long, instead of all the interleague series bunched together in June and a weekend in May.
Probably true, but I’d rather not have those games in August and September. It’s something I’d rather see restricted to a couple times of year than throughout the year actually.
I’d like to see everybody travel to every other stadium, personally. You play 162 games, there’s plenty of room for everybody to play everybody.
I get that, but the American League and National League are supposed to be separate leagues to a greater degree than in other sports (even the rules are different). I think playing the whole other league each year devalues that.
Unrelated to my other remarks, I’m left wondering, Frank, whether you think there’s any fire behind the smoke in the NHL. The league has talked about waiting on realignment to allow more comprehensive alignment reform to be discussed. Does this have no legs? Personally, I think it would be absurd to split the league north/south in order to make the travel “fairer” (the league should group nearby teams together when it can to capture what regional rivalries and travel advantages it can, not give those away to be “fair”), but I get the impression that’s serious enough that it’ll be considered.
By the way: it is patently absurd that the league is allowing Atlanta to move to Winnipeg but not realign. There should be consequences to getting a deal done so late. The sky would not have fallen if the Winnipeg ownership group was forced to operate the team in Atlanta for a final season. It sets a bad precedent for the future that the Board of Governors can be bullied into this sort of thing.
Is the sky going to fall because they’re in Winnipeg this year?
They pay a price with all the travel for the team and not playing their preferred Canadian opponents as much.
It sets a bad precedent for the future and it should be beneath the dignity of the NHL to have a Winnipeg team in the “Southeast” Division.
What dignity? Winnipeg in the Southeast for 1 season is a huge problem? OK. I’m sure no other major pro sports leagues would ever have a team so far out of place (Braves in NL West, Cowboys in NFC East, etc).
I doubt there is much precedent to be set here. A few road trips are changed for eastern teams. So what?
Your examples are baseball and football, which have always maintained a loose geographic alignment. Here, by contrast, the NHL has a very strong geographic alignment with a very weird outlier. Moreover, that outlier was caused not by considered deliberation that this is a wise long-term outcome for the league, but instead due to the fact that it took so long to close the sale. It puts the league in a position of accommodating those who would own a team, instead of vice-versa (i.e., wanna-be owners accommodating the league).
There should be consequences to getting the deal done so late — consequences such as not getting to move your team as soon as you’d have liked. Don’t like it? Get a deal done sooner. If the Winnipeg group had just pursued the Atlanta franchise from the beginning, instead of dilly-dallying for the Coyotes, maybe we wouldn’t be in this position.
I apologize for using the two most popular leagues in US professional sports to find examples. Clearly the NHL is above the lowly NFL and MLB as shown by their relative business success. How about LA in the Norris while St. Louis was in the Smythe and Calgary was in the Patrick in 1980-1981? That was the result of Atlanta losing a team to Alberta and the league realigned after one year. Sound familiar?
It does sound familiar. The NHL (and pro sports generally) were less professionally run back then (e.g., the NBA Finals were shown on tape delay — unthinkable today). Not a good idea to repeat that.
The geographic looseness that MLB and the NFL have is due to the fact that they once consisted of wholly separate leagues which merged together; the NHL has never had this dynamic, and while the NBA could have when it was first organized after the BAA/NBL merger, it didn’t choose to do that.
In short, there’s a fairly good reason for the NFL and MLB’s geographic casualness. There isn’t for the NHL in this day and age.
@Adam – I think the North/South alignment in the NHL is in the same category as the proposal to eliminate divisions entirely in baseball – I’m sure there’s a faction of owners that would like to see it happen (particularly those that don’t get marquee opponents coming to their stadiums as often as other divisions or those that have the worst current travel burdens), but I don’t think there will be serious discussions about it. The current NHL divisions are pretty geographically logical, so I agree with you that it wouldn’t be a good idea to make travel “equally bad” for everyone.
While I generally agree with you about not shifting Detroit East, Frank, there is one slight contrary point I make. The general consensus seems to be that Quebec is going to get a team again, sooner or later. If so, I would anticipate that division being the 4 Canadian teams and Buffalo, which would mean Detroit would be in the Atlantic Division with the New York teams and Pittsburgh. But if the NHL anticipates that now, you could put Detroit in the Atlantic Division now, slide one team into the “Southeast” (probably needs to be renamed) and avoid “massive” realignment.
On the other hand, like I say, there are good reasons for Detroit not to be the team, at any rate.
Here’s a thought. The Atlanta team leaving for Winnipeg isn’t very good. Nashville has been a pretty good team, a consistent playoff team. Columbus hasn’t. Will there be any pressure to have the swap be of peer franchises? Columbus is a lot more similar to Atlanta than Nashville is. Would it be appropriate to swap Atlanta for Nashville, if only for competitiveness reasons? Certainly, if that were the only reasonable choice, I’d say they just have to grin and bear it, but with another option that basically preserves the status quo, I wonder.
As one of the “level-headed Wings fans who read this blog”, I felt I had to chime in on the Wings to the East debate. Sadly, I’m split right down the middle on this one.
For example, I want to see them play Toronto, Montreal, Boston, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Tampa Bay more frequently. But as a Denver resident, I don’t want to sacrifice the 1-3 times they visit the Pepsi Center each season. Nor would I want the rivalry with the Hawks to become what the Leafs rivalry has been for years,…a distant memory.
I recognize (as I just demonstrated above) that the Wings are a HUGE draw in the West and that would hurt the attendance figures for MANY of the West franchises. Not to mention the new Winnipeg franchise is going to need all the help it can get to keep that tiny arena filled to capacity.
But should that be the Wings problem? Revising the ridiculous scheduling formulas the NHL employs would go a long way to getting ALL of the East’s big draw teams to the West more frequently. Perhaps the Wings moving to the East would facilitate these changes. And perhaps not.
Quite frankly, if baseball and football can have their Leagues (MLB) and Conferences (NFL) span the continent, why do the NHL and NBA have to have their conferences geographically defined? I say bring back the Campbell and Wales conferences, with teams from each spread across both countries, then define the divisions geographically. Then you could incorporate some sort of NFL-type of scheduling formula and each team would see every other team on a more frequent basis.
Personally, I detest the MLB and NFL alignments, so I would resist that. At any rate, those alignments are based at least in part on the historical status of those leagues once operating as two separate and competing businesses. The NHL and NBA’s histories don’t match up enough to do that, and I see no principled way to go about making 2 continent-wide alignments now (do you draw names out of a hat or something? why? so that travel is “fair”?).
Welcome back Adam!
Gotta disagree with you. The wings’ travel burden is insane and watching games that start at 9 or 10 is bs. I’m sure the preds and bjs feel the same.
There’s a million ways to change this. But something needs to give. It sucks.
I have no doubt it sucks, but like I said below, it’s going to suck for someone. As between Columbus, Detroit, and Nashville, I’d say it ought to suck least for Columbus. Detroit and Nashville have claims that are harder for me to evaluate (Detroit is healthier than Nashville, but Nashville is on Central Time), but Columbus is for-sure the one who deserves the most sympathy, IMO.
By the way jj, your welcoming remarks were most gracious and appreciated, but it didn’t seem etiquette to respond. And then after a day or so it seemed equally cold and distant not to respond.
@Ron – I think the main issue with the Wings switching conferences is that it’s no longer the logical move geographically (even beyond the West’s attendance issues). If we were in a 1993 world where Columbus and Nashville didn’t have franchises, then it would’ve been a different story as Detroit would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb in West. As of now, though, Columbus is actually located further east than Detroit and Nashville has a natural geographic connection to the Southeast division. Unless Detroit moves directly to the Southeast (which probably kills much of the allure of moving to the East for Wings fans), then triggering a large-scale Eastern realignment simply to appease the Wings doesn’t make sense, either. You’re right that the attendance issues of Western teams shouldn’t be the Wings’ problem. However, it definitely is the NHL’s problem and, in turn, the league also shouldn’t be elevating Detroit’s realignment concerns over those of Columbus and Nashville (who each have more compelling claims to get a spot in the East and would cause less disruption to the league’s overall alignment if they move compared to Detroit).
And, I would add, Columbus and Nashville are on shaky footing and could use whatever advantages going to the East would give them far more than the Red Wings need it. I’m sure it sucks staying up for a game that starts anywhere from 9-10:30pm, but it sucks just as much in Columbus and Nashville as it does in Detroit, and Columbus and Nashville are struggling to hold things together in a way that Detroit isn’t.
@Frank – First and foremost, let me reiterate that I’m torn on whether I want the Wings to move to the East.
That said, the first few sentences of your reply are missing the point. As you pointed out so prudently last year , using geographic distance as a logical reason to eliminate a potential move of the University of Texas to the Big 10 is utter nonsense. So why should that be any different when discussing a potential move of the Wings to the Eastern Conference? Especially, when Columbus is only further east of Detroit by a mere 10.5 miles (as measured longitudinally (83.3 West (Det.) vs 83.1 West (Col.)) at 40 degrees north latitude – which is where Columbus sits). I don’t consider that to be a more complelling claim.
Like I said previously, blow it all up. Fire Bettman and bring back Cambell & Wales. Or how about modernizing it a little bit (relatively speaking) with (Toe) Blake & (Scotty) Bowman? Not to mention I would absolutely love a Central division of Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, Columbus and Pittsburgh.
I agree the attendance figures for the western franchises is indeed a NHL problem. When I asked yesterday whether it was the Wings problem, I tried to illustrate with the scheduling issue that it shouldn’t be SOLELY their problem. I suppose I should have added ‘solely’ to the original question to avert confusion.
Inevitably, the attendance issue is the reason I don’t think the move will happen. And selfishly, as I’ll still be able to see the Wings come to Denver 1-3 times a season, I’ll be fine with that.
I believe the Wings travel to Denver exactly twice per regular season. There’s no flex in the scheduling formula.
While I certainly understand your comparison to Texas and the Big Ten (a point that I think is more true in the just-a-business world of pro sports), I haven’t yet heard a refutation of the counter-argument from Wings fans. I mean, the Red Wings are financially healthy. The Blue Jackets and Predators are not financially healthy. I don’t understand why the Red Wings should be ahead of at least the Blue Jackets, if not the Predators, to move into the Eastern Conference.
It’s called triage. It’s better to sacrifice a dying CBJ franchise (let it move to Quebec in a few years) than hurt one of your best franchises while still potentially losing the CBJ.
Why should Detroit be the only prominent franchise that is asked to sacrifice for the good of the west? If having a major name coming west is what helps keep western teams going, then having more major teams come west should be the plan. Expecting one franchise to carry the burden is just dumb enough for Bettman to think of it.
It’s easy to blithely throw around “triage” as an explanation, but that seems totally inconsistent with the assumptions Frank made (the point of departure of this post, exactly my criticism of your position the last time you started blithely throwing around assumptions about the league’s ability to throw away franchises or relocate them willy-nilly).
@Brian – you aren’t speculating are you? Perhaps we should let the NHL decide who is moving to new cities and divisions before posting comments. 😉 LOL.
Also worth noting: if there were a group in Quebec that wanted to own the team, and if they could get an arena deal worked out, and if the Blue Jackets actually did relocate to Quebec . . . we’d be right back to square 1, because the Eastern Conference would have 15 teams and there’d be no room for Detroit. Assuming the 4 Canadian teams plus Buffalo were the new Northeast Division, and Boston slid down to be in the Atlantic Division with the New York teams (consistent with how they’re aligned in most sports), we’d be right back to choosing which poor sap of a franchise gets put in the “Southeast” Division; basically choosing between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
You said you hadn’t heard the reply to your argument. Triage is that reply. You don’t have to agree with it (that’s the point of debates), but others don’t have to agree with you that bending over backwards for a failing franchise in Columbus is right either.
As for Frank’s assumptions, none of them apply here. I didn’t call for contraction (#1) and made no judgement on stadium deals (#2). One team needs to move east and I’m just proposing it be a different team than you are, so less is more also is off point (#3).
I suggested letting Columbus sink or swim, and offered moving them to Quebec after they sink as a logical choice since Quebec is looking for a team and the rumor mill has them on the short list to get one. Having them survive or move elsewhere doesn’t change my argument, though. Your problem last time, and this time, is that you assume that trying to save the CBJ should be the NHL’s top priority and I don’t. I think they should worry about the NHL and let the individual owners worry about their teams. It’s better for the NHL, in my opinion, to please the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Red Wings fans that late start times are aggravating than to worry about the three CBJ fans. Hockey is much bigger in Michigan and the Red Wings have an international fan base. There are probably more DRW fans than CBJ fans in Columbus, let alone Ohio as a whole.
No, I’m really not speculating. My argument isn’t dependent on the CBJ failing or moving to Quebec. I threw that out as a plausible possibility, but my point is that there is an obvious counter argument to Adam’s view. It is not obvious that it is better for the NHL to help the CBJ than the DRW. It’s not like Columbus is an especially valuable market or a hockey hotbed. The NHL fought for Phoenix and let Atlanta go, two very different approaches to teams in trouble. Why shouldn’t views on the CBJ also be split?
Frank said that contraction is not a realistic option. You’re leaving Columbus out to dry (“letting Columbus sink or swim”), but if “contraction is not a realistic option,” then the league (by the very terms of this discussion) is committed to doing the best it can to avoid putting itself in a position where contraction is on the table. No other city has enough information to even reasonable speculate relocating Columbus to; they all lack either adequate facilities (Quebec) or apparent interest from ownership groups (Kansas City) or both, at least at this stage, so it is unreasonable to blithely assume that someone else will come along and pick the franchise up.
I maintain that, by the very terms of this discussion, a weak franchise like Nashville or Columbus must have its needs seen to before a strong franchise like Detroit, at least in circumstances like this, where (if all teams were succesful business enterprises) it would otherwise be a close question.
Contraction isn’t on the table because the NHL knows it could move a team. They have been actively turning down bids for Phoenix because they don’t want to move them. They could move the CBJ easily and you know it.
So, is there a reason Houston doesn’t have an NHL team? I mean, every other sunbelt city gets one except for the largest city in the southeast? Do the Rockets just not like to share facilities?
I honestly do not know that they could easily move Columbus. I have absolutely no idea which towns have ownership groups that would be interested in buying a team. It wasn’t like the world was beating down the doors of ASG to buy the Thrashers.
I had also never heard they were actively turning down bids with the Coyotes. The only impression I got was that there was Hulsizer and then a whole lot of nothing outside of the True North group that wanted a team in Winnipeg.
As a Pens fan, I can tell you it would cause uproar to not be in the same division as Philadelphia. I would like being in a division with the Blue Jackets as I think something could develop there over time. You’d have to toss out Toronto to make it work for us, and I think that defeats the purpose for you.
Almost any change is going to cause uproar; nobody else really wants to be in a division with the Southeast Division teams. At least for me, the legitimacy of the uproar is reduced if the decision that causes it is logical. Assuming Columbus stays where they are, it seems more important to me to put the struggling Columbus team with Pittsburgh than it does the successful Philadelphia team, the preferences of the Flyers and Penguins notwithstanding. Given that there is at least a thin reed upon which to base shifting Philadelphia into the “Southeast” Division (i.e., the fact that it is part of a megalopolis with Washington), the whole thing seems logical to me.
The way to duck the uproar is definitely to have Nashville be the team that you put into the Southeast Division, and this makes geographic sense, but it seems very foolish to me to put a Central Time team into that Division when you have two Eastern Time teams in the Western Conference.
The problem is that you lose Detroit to gain Pittsburgh.
To help the CBJ, you really need something like this (assuming the same basic NHL structure):
E1. Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Columbus
E2. Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, Buffalo
E3. NYR, NYI, NJ, Tampa Bay, Florida
W1. Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minnesota
W2. San Jose, LA, Anaheim, Phoenix, Colorado
W3. Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Carolina
Is Columbus worth that much change?
Personally, I don’t think Columbus is worth any change at all and wish the franchise would go away with another of the weak sister teams (say, Florida). But as long as the team is there, it feels rhetorically dishonest to me not to argue for league policy changes that would keep them going as best as possible until the stakeholders who are in a position to decide when it’s time to abandon ship make that choice.
I saw a study several years ago (sorry, can’t find it) that said pretty much all NHL teams’ best attended games were against their conference rivals. Sure, a traditional powerhouse or Original Six team may draw well pretty much everywhere they go, but for the most part Phoenix’s best attended games were against the Kings and Ducks. Same for Carolina, their best attended games were against other Southeastern foes. And that’s why the NHL has pushed such a conference-heavy schedule, playing division foes six times a year at the expense of fewer inter-conference matchups (I think 12 of 15 cross-conference opponents don’t make it to a city from the opposite conference even once in any given year.) This sucks for displaced fans who want to see their childhood team, but those aren’t the fans that will carry a franchise. A division-heavy conference creates drama in the race for playoff spots.
So, after all that rambling, I agree with Frank: move Nashville to the Southeast, put Winnipeg with the other western Canadien teams, and bring Minnesota into the old Norris Division.
MLB: Does anyone know how scheduling would work if the Astros switched leagues? There would be 15 teams in each league and right now interleague play is an “event”. Would teams have bye series? Would there be one interleague series every three days? I kind of like how the two leagues have their own identities right now, but I’d like it even more if the TV contracts were ever structured that way the way they are in the NFL (which appears to be only for historical reasons involving when the competing leagues merged). In an ideal world, the D-Backs or Rockies would switch leagues and the Astros would move to the NL West to mirror the Rangers in the AL West (rather than playing with them), or the Astros would move to the AL Central while the Royals moved to the West (mirroring how the Pirates are in the NL Central but the Phillies are in the East despite being in the same state). But in an ideal-ideal world, MLB would expand to even out the leagues, if not the divisions unless it went to an NFL-style eight-division setup. What MLB really needs is a salary cap to make the league not so dependent on a few franchises…
NHL: Similar deal here, only more so. I’m saddened to see the Thrashers go, or the Coyotes potentially go; as someone who stares at Nielsen market lists a lot, Nashville is the only real “WTF?” of the NHL’s southern push. There have been success stories – some of the highest rated non-NHL markets for the Stanley Cup Finals were in Florida – but the NHL hasn’t done enough to replicate them. And the NHL also hasn’t done enough to build audiences out West; I read at least one comment saying the NHL needed to do whatever it took to get doubleheaders on Versus. Why aren’t the Avs on that list of draws?
NBA: What I hated about the potential Kings move wasn’t the move itself, but that they would move to a market with two NBA teams already. Why not just move the Clippers to Anaheim? What SHOULD have happened after Katrina was that the Hornets should have stayed in OKC and the Sonics would never even be considered for a move. Hopefully this was Stern’s soul-selling alone and either Bettman or Stern’s successor will see past Bennett’s lies.
NFL: One attractive part of moving the Jags is how painfully generic their team name is that it can fit in any market (and would sound even more painfully generic in LA), but it would result in divisional bedlam – all the teams in the AFC West are original AFL teams who all have rivalries with each other, which is why moving the Raiders or Chargers, on some level, makes more sense than any other AFC team (the Raiders and Seahawks had a healthy rivalry back in the day, but in a five-team division), though I kinda hope the Chargers don’t move. The NFL in general went for rivalries rather than strict geographical alignments when it most recently realigned, which is why the Cowboys are in the NFC East, and why moving the Vikings would cause divisional bedlam even though it’s probably a straight swap with the Rams (especially since NFL schedules really stress divisions above all else). It’s sad that they feel the need to build a brand new stadium rather than renovate the Coliseum that’s right there, but I suppose USC would throw a fit for numerous reasons, and the downtown stadium is a far better option than building something out in City of Industry.
What’s wrong with the City of Industry proposal (other than the neighboring cities not wanting a stadium there?) It is at the junction of LA, Orange and the IE. Plus, it would actually have room to tailgate, unlike the downtown proposal.
But assume that a downtown stadium gets built. What are the chances that USC will finally get tired of the Coliseum Commission and play downtown? The Commission recently said it can’t keep a promise to spend $60million in renovations. My guess is that makes the downtown site more likely to get built.
I’ve been left wondering why LA couldn’t do both. If they can support multiple NHL, NBA, and MLB teams, I should think they could support more than one NFL team.
USC has been in off and on serious discussions about buying the Coliseum over the last year or so. They want to do it. The state keeps changing its mind. The Coliseum is almost adjacent to campus, so its effectively an on-campus stadium. They won’t want to move. Given the state’s financial difficulties, I suspect it will probably happen fairly soon.
But its not a good site for an NFL team. Downtown is much better. City of Industry has easier access.
City of Industry is in the middle of nowhere and would make LA’s infamous traffic problems exponentially worse on game days.
LA needs the economic boost – and would get more of it – than Industry.
@Morgan – I suspect that interleague play would become more prominent. To continue to do 162 games in 6 months, every team will still need to play 26-29 games per month. They’d have interleague play starting in April and finishing the last day or two of the season, and you might see more interleague games.
Network realignment? For marketing reasons, MSNBC has been positioned as the far left’s alternative to Fox, trying to squeeze CNN from the left. Apparently its slipping even into NBC’s sports coverage, editing the pledge of allegiance. I first saw this in the Atlanta paper. Ran across links slamming it from an atheist point of view and even this from Investor’s Business Daily:
I guess NBC will have to drop ND football with their Catholic identity.
@bullet – I think this concern is a bit overstated as large media companies have to appease lots of different audiences. I thought that the editing of the Pledge of Allegiance by NBC was wrong, but not on the basis of religious/political grounds, but rather I think it’s wrong for any network to censor anything other than the most graphic images and language that would cause an FCC fine (and frankly, I’d personally rather see those FCC rules eliminated entirely). As much as Fox News is a conservative bastion, remember that the over-the-air Fox network also probably did more to push the taste boundaries of previously prudish network TV than anyone over the past 25 years. As much as MSNBC has positioned itself as the new leftist network, it was CNBC’s editor (Rick Santelli) that’s credited with sparking the Tea Party movement in his on-the-air knockdown of government bailouts. It makes sense that cable networks cater to their own niches (as that’s how they create value), but the over-the-air networks generally take a different tact simply for business purposes (a la Michael Jordan saying that “Republicans buy shoes, too” when asked why he wasn’t active in politics like Muhammad Ali before him).
I have a real problem with editing for political correctness. The ND comment was facetious. Even far left liberals like money.
Editing the pledge is going really far. Reminds me of Red Skelton’s great classic on the pledge. He was talking about this very thing in the 60s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZBTyTWOZCM
Santelli is considered an outlier on the network though. The only thing I read more than sports message boards is market one (mostly conservative (although not Republican) dominated) and Santelli is considered about the only sane thing that CNBC produces (left or right leaning).
As for movement in the NFL to LA, Kronke (sp?), who recently bought the Rams, has said he plans on upgrading the stadium to meet the 2014 deadline. Since he lives in Columbia, MO, I think he’ll keep the Rams in STL if it’s economically viable to upgrade. But if the numbers don’t make sense to upgrade, and recent articles from area papers doubt the upgrade is doable, I think STL may lose yet another NFL tream and they’ll have a great big indoor airplane hanger downtown.
Regarding Kansas City, the problem is that that none of the local millionaires/billionaires seem willing to buy a team and move it to the Sprint Center. We don’t have a Clay Bennett. No local owners stepped up to buy the Royals after Ewing Kauffman died in 1993, the Royals and Chiefs are owned by men from Arkansas (David Glass) and Dallas (Clark Hunt). The rumors of NHL teams coming to KC involved the Penguins ownership moving to KC, which was never going to happen, or a California businessman named Boots Del Biaggio moving the Predators. He ended up buying a minority share in the franchise before going to jail for fraud. The MLS team, Sporting KC, does have a great local ownership group, but they seem focused on soccer and have not expressed any interest in basketball or hockey.
Frankly, I’m not sure the Anschutz group, which runs the Sprint Center, wants an NHL/NBA franchise. They told the city they would try to bring one in, which would have increased sales tax revenue in the downtown developments adjacent to the arena. But the Sprint Center itself is very profitable the way it is, by having a very open schedule for concerts and not having to share any revenue with a NHL/NBA tenant.
Seconded. I heard somewhere that the Sprint Center is the most profitable arena without a major sports team. It’d be interesting to see if it could even support a hockey team.
I know it isn’t always feasible, but I really like when all or most of a city’s teams share the same city rivalries across different sports (i.e. Boston and New York, Chicago and Detroit, etc.). I think it adds passion to the rivalries, and makes it feel more like college rivalries. I hate the Hawkeyes in everything because of the basketball situation with Bruce Pearl back in the 90’s; I’m sure Boston and New York fans hate each other a little more across all sports because of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
So I think it would be great to get the Minnesota franchises, Wild and T’wolves, in a division with Chicago and Detroit.
Good change of pace, Frank.
Whenever I contemplate realignment scenarios, the one “radical” idea I have, which really isn’t so radical when you get down to it, which I have never seen anyone else propose, is this:
Do away with conferences.
Why are conferences still a necessity in this day and age? (Note: I can see the need, partially from historical reasons but also from the realities of playing multi-day series with games practically no every day, for MLB to have its leagues, so I’ll conveniently ignore them for this argument.)
Divisions, I get. They allow teams with close geographic proximity to each other to play each other much more frequently during the regular season, and they do allow a way to permit some guidance into seeding for playoffs.
But conferences? Is there any logical reason why it’s important for the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks to be in the same conference? Or the Vancouver Canucks and the Nashville Predators?
Also, it seems practically every season, someone from the group of the NHL, NBA and NHL has the problem of an “imbalanced league: in which one conference is much stronger than the other, leaving better quality teams out of the playoffs in favor of weaker teams from the inferior conference.
I would advocate that the NFL move to a model (assuming the schedule remains at 16 games, which I think it will) in which a division plays two entire other divisions each year, with other two non-divisional games being determined by the previous year’s records, much as is done now. This would allow games like Dallas-Pittsburgh to be played much more frequently (though at the cost of a slightly less-frequent Dallas-Green Bay game).
I would advocate that the NBA and NFL move to a model with more divisional games and a more balanced number of games against each of the other divisions, with no greater number of games against non-divisional teams from the same conference. (To get to the right number of games, the NBA and NHL could rotate schedules annually, like the NFL, so that, say, the Pacific and Atlantic divisions match off three times instead of twice in a particular season.)
Yes, there might be more travel for the eastern teams in denser population centers if they’re playing more games, relatively speaking, against teams from the west, but welcome to the travel realities practically every team from the west has to face anyway. Besides, traveling nowadays is much easier for pro athletes than it was a generation ago, when travel-based concerns about keeping conferences made more sense.
Playoff structures would remain the same. Six seeded divisional champs receiving byes in the NFL, and the six best non-divisional champs receive wildcards. I think it’s a benefit that you could see a Giants-Jets wildcard game, or a Dallas-Pittsburgh game before the Super Bowl.
NBA and NHL keep their 16-team playoffs, with the top six seeds going to the divisional winners and the next 10 spots going to the next 10 best teams.
Other than nebulous concerns about “tradition,” why doesn’t this make all the sense in the world?
The best rivalries are built by playoff encounters. With no conferences, any given playoff matchup becomes that much less likely. That would be my biggest objection — conference playoff battles help provide the juice that fuels the regular season (over time). Would there have been a Red Wings/Avs rivalry if they weren’t both members of the Western Conference and were funneled toward each other? I say no. In fact, lots of people would like to see the NHL go back to the division-based playoff format (i.e., 4 divisions, top 4 teams in each division qualify, division champs in each conference play for the conference title), again because it would funnel teams together for repeat playoff encounters. I don’t think that works in a 30-team league, but I would absolutely endorse it in a 28-team league, and I think it’s something the NFL should consider for its 32-team league.
True, a non-conference alignment might have meant less Avs-Wings series. But who’s to say that they wouldn’t have met anyway, perhaps even with the Cup on the line? Also, without the artificiality of conferences,w ho knows if a great Avs-Devils rivalry could have formed if those two elite teams from the late 90s had opportunities to play in the playoffs each year in a round other than the Finals.
Also, the current structure often means that the greatest teams at a particular time can never meet on the biggest stage. Shouldn’t the Cowboys-Niners games of the 90s, or the Patriots-Colts games of the 00s, have had the opportunities to be Super Bowl matchups instead of mere conference championships?
I would rather have ensured that there was repeated Cowboys-Niners or Patriots-Colts games than ensure that they were as late in the playoffs as possible. I don’t think it is wise to make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Another, better football example. Between 1988 and 1994, seven seasons in all, either the Niners or the Bills made the Super Bowl each year, yet the two teams never met in the playoffs. Who knows what kind of rivalry could have been formed had the conference structure not limited their opportunities to meet in the playoffs.
It’s just a matter of cost-benefit. I’d rather be sure that the 49ers and Cowboys played regularly (or whatever other great rivalry you want to pick) than open up the playoff format in the hope that the 49ers and Bills played.
Tradition really matters in the NHL. Someone tell bettman.
Really? I think the top rivalries are in the same division in MLB and NFL. NBA rivalries are built in the playoffs because nobody cares about the regular season and only a few teams win regularly. NHL rivalries have developed both ways (long history and recent playoffs).
MLB – Yankees/Red Sox, Cardinals/Cubs, Dodgers/Giants
NFL – Cowboys/Redskins, Packers/Bears, Steelers/Ravens/Browns, Raiders/Broncos
I think your idea makes a lot of sense for the NHL and NBA.
It obviously doesn’t work in baseball with the history of different leagues.
Not sure about the NFL. There were different leagues, but it doesn’t matter as much now. You don’t play your own conference much more than the other. Six of the 32 teams are post merger expansion and Cincinnati was formed about the time the leagues agreed to merge. 3 of the old NFL clubs are in the AFC and the Colts aren’t in Baltimore and the Browns aren’t quite sure whether they are still in Cleveland or in the former home of the Colts. And the Steelers were awful when they left the NFL. Of the AFL, the old west is intact (for now), the east is intact so you keep the divisions, but the Oilers are Titans. So 8 would have their division rivalries and the rest wouldn’t matter. In the NFL you have the Black and Blue and the NFC East, so those 8 have their divisions, while the rest of the teams have moved divisions or cities so much, it really doesn’t matter.
You play your own conference a lot more than the other in the NFL. Of the 16 games, only 4 are against the opposite conference.
Outside your division you play 6 games against the other 12 teams vs. 4 games against the 16 in the other conference so its not a great difference outside your division. And with the scheduling, there’s no regularity to the non-division conference opponents you play. You could go indefinitely without playing a particular team in your conference.
If the 18 game schedule comes about, that would change. It also seems like a good time to review the structure.
Yes there is regularity. Of the 6 “conference” opponents every team plays, 4 are against one of the other 3 divisions on a rotating basis (i.e., play all 4 teams). The last 2 games are against the 2 teams that finished in the same ordinal position as you the prior season from the 2 divisions you aren’t playing. So, for example, in 2011 the NFC East is playing the NFC West, so every NFC East team will play every NFC West team. In addition, every NFC East team plays the team from the NFC South and NFC North that finished in the same ordinal position within the division as them in 2010. So the Eagles (2010 NFC East Champs) will play the Chicago Bears (2010 NFC North Champs) and Atlanta Falcons (2010 NFC South Champs). The Giants (2nd place in 2010 NFC East) will play the Packers (2nd place in 2010 NFC North) and Saints (2nd place in 2010 NFC South). But both the Giants and the Eagles will play everybody in the NFC West, because that’s the division the rotation puts them up against.
Since the NFL realigned to the 8-division format, everybody plays in everybody else’s stadium at least once every 8 years.
My mistake. I was thinking the schedule was still based totally on place.
The system is actually very simple, but I always find it very cumbersome to describe it. It takes a lot of words, and it’s easy to lose the attention of the person you’re trying to explain it to.
Home-and-home against teams in the same division
4 games against a rotating division in the same conference
4 games against a rotating division in the other conference
1 game against the team in each of the other two divisions in the same conference that finished in the same position last year (1st vs 1st, 2nd vs 2nd, 3rd vs 3rd, 4th vs 4th)
There you go, simple.
However, I do agree that the NFL/AFL juxtaposition is almost totally irrelevant for the current alignment, for all the reasons you mention. Many of the clubs substantially post-date the merger (or came about right at the time of the merger and thus have no relation to the AFL/NFL days), and several NFL clubs switched to the AFC at the time of the merger. At this point, the AFC/NFC split is, effectively, maintained because that’s the way it’s always been, without the same meaningful history that the AL and NL have (which, until fairly recently, still maintained separate governance structures and umpiring crews).
My crazy, everybody would hate it but me realignment of the NFL is as follows:
A1: Eagles, Jets, Giants, Patriots
A2: Browns, Steelers, Bills, Lions
A3: Falcons, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Jaguars
A4: Panthers, Bengals, Redskins, Ravens
B1: Bears, Colts, Packers, Vikings
B2: Saints, Rams, Titans, Chiefs
B3: Chargers, Raiders, 49ers, Seahawks
B4: Texans, Cowboys, Cardinals, Broncos
Top 2 teams in each division make the playoffs and play each other in the first round. In the 2nd round, the pairings are: A1 vs. A2, A3 vs. A4, B1 vs. B2, B3 vs. B4. Winners advance to the Conference Championship round (A vs. A, B vs. B), and then the Super Bowl as usual.
You want to put my Steelers in with the Browns, Lions, and Bills? I can’t thank you enough for the cake walk into the playoffs every year!
In reality, this would never work. The Steelers/Ravens rivalry is as good as any in the league and worthy of protection. Chiefs/Raiders too, and the Broncos are in this group. You’ve split Browns/Bengals too.
The NFL has a pretty good alignment right now in my opinion. I’m happy they don’t handle interleague play like baseball and force the Jets/Giants, Ravens/Redskins, Bucs/Dolphins, or Raiders/49ers to play every year because of some “natural rival” nonsense.
Except it’s not nonsense for many teams. The NFL could help themselves by playing these types of games more often, especially as more teams are struggling with blackouts.
Look at teams like the AFC South with multiple teams closer than their nearest division opponent, or Baltimore in the east.
Maybe they should lock the geographical counterpart divisions (East plays East, etc) every other year instead of an equal rotation as a compromise. That emphasizes the nearer teams but still brings all the teams around.
They could certainly lock the natural rivals for the preseason if they don’t now (I pay no attention). Those games need any help they can get.
And if they go to 18 games, locking in 2 or 4 games regionally make more sense since there will still be plenty of rotating games.
I like the idea of the Rust Belt towns forming a division. Pittsburgh won’t be good forever. The Lions are on the rise. I would think the biggest complaints would be separating the Lions from the Bears and Packers, but I suspect the Bears and Packers care more about facing each other than they do the Lions.
As for the preseason, I think the NFL teams each get to draw up their own preseason schedules. But, I’m not sure about that.
If they went to 18 games, that set of divisions reflected my notion of locking in some opponents. You’d play everybody in your own division twice (6 games); you’d play everybody in your permanent opposite division once (thus, everybody in A1 plays everybody in A2; A3 plays A4; B1 plays B2; B3 plays B4) for 4 more games; you’d alternate one of the other 2 divisions in your conference (4 games); and you’d play 1 division from the opposite league (4 games).
Anyway, it’s not going to happen.
For hockey, the most logical realignment, assuming Phoenix stays put, is:
Nashville to SE
Dallas to Central
Colorado to Pacific
Winnipeg to NW
Dallas (at least by time zones) is the most geographically isolated team in all of the four major leagues. All of its road divisional games are currently played two time zones later. That sucks.
This would put Colorado in a bit more geographically-concise division.
Minnesota stays in the NW with the four Canadian teams, but that feels right. Better than Colorado being with the four Canadian teams.
As a long time Houstonian (35 years!), let me chime in here. Even though we as a city have a lot of hate towards Dallas (we see them as a bunch of uppity a-holes), with the exception of the Cowboys, nobody here cares about any of the other Dallas pro teams.
Except for the time when Nolan Ryan left the Astros and landed with the Rangers, nobody here has ever cared about the Rangers. That even includes last season’s World Series run. Our baseball rivals were historically the Dodgers, Reds, Phillies, and Mets. The latter two because of the two epic NLCS in the 80s. More recently, our rivals have been the Braves, Cubs, Brewers, and the Cardinals. If the Astros were put in the same division as the Rangers, I’m sure a rivalry would eventually develop, but at this point there is no rivalry.
The exact same thing could be said about the Rockets and Mavericks. Our big basketball rivals have historically been the Lakers and the Spurs. The only reason anyone in Houston cared about this year’s NBA finals was because of LeBron James.
On a different subject, as far as L.A. and the NFL is concerned, IMO AEG would be better off buying the Dodgers and building them a baseball-only stadium in Downtown L.A. than building a football stadium and moving an NFL team. A baseball stadium would yield 81 home games vs the 10 home games for an NFL stadium. That way LA Live (another AEG property) would have action year-round and not just during basketball and hockey seasons.
I’ve worked in the L.A. area as well, so I’m pretty sure I can speak with some authority when I say no one in L.A. proper wants to go all the way out to the City of Industry to watch an NFL game. The bulk of the population (especially the well-to-do) in Los Angeles lives well west of downtown. City of Industry is well east of these folks. City of Industry only looks good on a map. Traffic would be a nightmare even for the most battle-hardened Angeleno.
On a related note, Frank, I love the blog, but I gotta disagree with you about anyone in San Diego making the trek to the Honda Center in Aneheim to watch the Kings (if they ever move there) play. It’s closer than driving to Staples Center in downtown L.A., but the commute to Aneheim from San Diego is still pretty bad.
There’s a “Houston”?!?
Touche, Hopkins Horn! Touche! Sadly, I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate observation of the way most Dallasites (is that the proper term?) view our humble city. Houston certainly has an inferiority complex when it comes to Dallas. With all due respect to Dallas, I don’t see why. I get that Dallas is richer and more prestigious. However, both cities are so much alike, with the exception of pro sports success, they’re practically twins of one another. Nonetheless, you hit the nail on the head. When it comes to sports, Dallas doesn’t think about Houston and vice versa.
What’s weird is that, when I think of cities which are most similar to Dallas (I mean generally, and not just in sports terms), I ‘ll usually think of Atlanta, and possibly Phoenix, before I think of Houston.
Fort Worth is “Where the West Begins”.
Dallas is “Where the East fizzles out and Dies”.
The only difference between Atlanta and Dallas is that Atlanta has hills.
Having lived in both cities, I really felt like Dallas had the inferiority complex to Houston (not that they would ever admit it).
I’ve often heard Atlanta compared to Dallas as being similar. There are certain southern attitudes that are comparable. But the cities and business mindset are different. And the winters are too! I was expecting Dallas winters when I moved to Atlanta, but I got southern Ohio winters.
While we’re talking about H-town, Vince Young’s and Moran Norriss’s old HS coach retired after 23 years (21 in playoffs) at the same school.
And a little trivia-what Chicago Bear player shared the same HS as Vince Young? (hint: he was before this coach and think Big Red)
Alright, Texas city smack talk. This is my kind of discussion. In basketball, it certainly seems like both the Mavs and Rockets hate the Spurs most, but that could be temporary. The Mavs and Rockets have never really been good at the same time (except for a brief bit about 8-10 years ago), so it’s hard to make a rivalry. If both teams were ever really competitive, you’d get something. I think what prevents the two cities from having good rivalries is that they don’t get to play each other often. Cowboys and Texans rarely play, same for ‘Gers and Stros. I don’t know about Houston, but Rangers fans sure turn out for the Silver Boot and would continue to do so for a division game. I have more fun with that “rivalry” than with any division opponent. I’m not sure I personally know a fan of any other AL West team.
Good Lord, do not move the Astros to the AL West. Swapping in the A’s and the Mariners for the Cardinals and Cubs would kill what little attendance we have for this awful team.
On an utterly unrelated note, a rumor surfaced that Missouri State is joining CUSA. Seems unlikely, but since we’re starved for CFB realignment rumors, I thought I should let you know.
I’m going to assume they are doing that to take their football team FBS.
I don’t believe the tweets. CUSA has no incentive to invite them.
Agreed. This seems like it would be a desperate move if the Big East or someone else was threatening to raid existing members, which they don’t currently seem to be. And even if C-USA needed members, why an FBS school instead of an established Sun Belt school? Or Louisiana Tech?
Desperate to have somebody other than Memphis qualify for the bb tourney? Of course, in basketball it would be a step down for Missouri State from the MVC.
Actually, they would be in my top 5 of logical move-ups. College size town, noone else near in the state and only one other fbs school. Successful in everything but football (hey-it worked for UConn).
But I don’t give this any credence either. I have seen internet chatter that they turned down the Sun Belt. I don’t think CUSA would invite them and I don’t really think they are interested.
I don’t know how old this proposal is, but what if West Virginia and Pittsburgh packaged themselves together to the ACC?
Are these two together worth it for the ACC?
Can the ACC use this to get a bump their TV Contract?
Would Pitt and WV do it?
Pitt and WV would do it (contracts are still going to be bigger in the ACC as is academic prestige). Not a chance it happens though. WV while a great fit otherwise is unlikely to meet the ACC’s academic criteria. The ACC also just signed a contract in the last year or so, so the notion of expansion this quick seems a little out of place.
While WV and Pitt would like it, I don’t see the upside for the ACC.
They add Pittsburgh and WV to the TV footprint, which won’t pay for much (I think PSU would still be the top draw in Pittsburgh). They aren’t huge FB draws, so where does the money come from to split 14 ways instead of 12? Would the old guard want even more games against ex-BE teams rather than each other in hoops?
The plan splits the NC schools with Duke in the north and the others in the south. Splitting UVA and Duke from UNC is an issue. How do they schedule for hoops and FB?
Here’s a WV blogger on the subject:
“The new ACC, while not quite as strong as the SEC in pigskin, would still be the second or third strongest conference in football (Big Ten has an argument for #2) and the strongest in basketball.”
How does adding Pitt and WV bump the ACC up to almost the level of the SEC in FB? It solidifies the middle but the ACC’s problem lately has been at the top and the bottom. The ACC has no old kings, and needs FSU and Miami to return to their glory days to gain status. Pitt and WV don’t help with that.
The B10 would be much stronger on paper with 4 kings (I’m not talking one particular season, just in general). The P12 and B12 will also enter the argument, as they’ve both been better than the ACC lately. Sure the B12 loses NE, but they still have 2 kings. The P12 gains a solid Utah team and a CCG which will help their reputation nationally, while UW is improving and OR has stopped it from being USC’s playground. The ACC+ should be equivalent to the B12 and P12 and well above the BE-, but the B10 and SEC should be above them (again, that’s on paper based on recent team success).
The B10 would be much stronger on paper with 4 kings
Well, the B1G does have “4 Kings” if you consider PSU, OSU, Michigan, and Nebraska. If you consider the B1G “middle” it’s pretty solid with Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.
I’m not sure that the BCS MNCG is the best yardstick, but if you look at the championships it’s been all-SEC since 2006, and the SEC has “spread the wealth” with no less than 4 different teams in 5 years. What’s interesting is that Florida has been the only team representing the SEC East, while Auburn, Alabama, and LSU have all represented the SEC West. At least in the SEC West that says “balance” to me.
In that same time frame, Ohio State has won the Big Ten, or a share of the title, every one of those years. Other than Ohio State, it’s been Penn State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin sharing titles.
I think the way I’d look at it is that “the B1G would be much stronger if the “4 Kings” (and one might argue, the conference at large) would be more balanced.” Over the past 6 years (and arguably longer if one dives into the record books), it’s pretty much been Ohio State and everybody else. Prior to OSU’s dominance, Michigan had good years but they essentially fell on their face trying to compete with OSU.
Is the SEC “lucky” with their balance, or have they done something to plan this? It seems to me that OSU’s dominance has done nothing to help the B1G be a stronger conference, and has quite possibly done much to make it appear weaker, at least in the MNCG arena, which seems to be the thing the average fan and sportswriter pay attention to the most.
Is oversigning a plan? Without that, I don’t think the SEC would have been as dominant lately. Their teams would still be good but they would feel the sting of injuries and attrition more like everyone else without it. I think the CCG has also helped them.
It’s not a good sign for a conference when one team dominates (FSU in the ACC for a while, Miami in the BE), but I think the B10 has been a little closer than it seems. PSU shared some titles with OSU and had the tiebreaker, and so did WI last year. MI is rebounding from being down. NE is also getting back to normal as they join the B10. With OSU probably sliding back for a few years, the top should be well contested for a while.
NE needs to find some offense, MI needs to find some defense and PSU needs to find a JoePa successor (eventually) and all of them will be able to compete for a NC.
Conference re-draft update:
5 of the 6 conferences have names now, with #4 still named by the commissioner’s blog. The top 26 have been picked
Round 4 is done:
1. Cult of Les Miles: Stanford (LSU, Michigan, UNC)
2. House of a Thousand Sanctions: Tennessee (USC, Notre Dame, Oregon)
3. Conference TMZ: Michigan State (Ohio State, Florida State, Louisville)
4. Team Speed Kills: Texas A&M (Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska)
5. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Miami-FL (Florida, Penn State, Virginia Tech)
6. The 12 Pack: Wisconsin (Texas, Georgia, UCLA)
Round 5 is underway:
1. The 12 Pack: Washington (Texas, Georgia, UCLA, Wisconsin)
2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Auburn (Florida, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Miami-FL)
Reading the various blogs you see some interesting logic to support the decisions.
I think Stanford is a huge reach in round 4 even if your priorities are academics and NC’s in non-revenue sports. Several blogs were showing interest in them, but I think last year’s FB team is tainting their judgement. They should have been around in round 6.
TMZ continues to befuddle me by taking MSU. They’re a little brother program with OK FB history and great MBB. They would have been around later, probably into round 6.
TN, TAMU, Miami and WI were solid picks, though. UW and AU are good too.
Best available at this point (IMO) – MD, GT, Duke, KY, MO, Pitt, IL
Likely reaches – KU, Cal, Syracuse, OkSU
With the third pick in the fifth round, Team Speed Kills selects Arizona.
The logic was – good in MBB, OK in FB, in the west, high director’s cup standings historically,
and having red and white as colors didn’t hurt (seriously)
I think AZ was a reach, and I think getting into the east would have been a wiser course. AZ would have been around for a little while.
The BE blog is next, but I think they are currently distracted by the NBA draft.
With the fourth pick in the fifth round, Conference TMZ selects WV.
This just keeps getting better and better. They get another midwestern team with balanced success in FB and MBB and expand their market all the way from MI to WV, plus FL. WV is a huge reach with their tiny market and geographic proximity to other teams (MI, OH, KY and WV in your top 5?). They would have been available much later.
Their rationale: 39th in Director’s Cup, high profit margins last year, a lot of FB and MBB success despite no NC
Apparently these guys don’t think TV value is meaningful for this draft.
With the fifth pick in the fifth round, The House of a Thousand Sanctions selects Syracuse. I’d say this a little early, but not a huge reach. They needed a MBB power and a true east coast team.
The Cult of Les Miles is now on the clock for the next 2 picks.
The fifth round of the re-draft is over (Overall picks #25-30):
1. The 12 Pack: Washington (Texas, Georgia, UCLA, Wisconsin)
2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Auburn (Florida, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL))
3. Team Speed Kills: Arizona (Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas A&M)
4. Conference TMZ: West Virginia (Ohio State, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan State)
5. House of a Thousand Sanctions: Syracuse (USC, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee)
6. Cult of Les Miles: Arkansas (LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Stanford)
I think Arkansas was a reach. At least they bring a rivalry with LSU, but they are a small market and adjacent to LSU. They’ve been down in MBB for a while, too.
CoLM is still on the clock as they have the first pick in the sixth round. Who they take then may change my opinion of the Arkansas pick.
yeah. that one was just plain weird.
Msu has a small pile of national championships, which is more than a lot of today’s top tier can say.
While I think MSU was a reach (they would have been around for round 5 and maybe 6), my bigger issue with the pick is that I don’t really understand their plan. OSU, FSU, UL and MSU? Do you want 3 of your top 4 from that small an area? Clearly they value MBB more than I do, but they don’t seem to value other sports that much. What about opening new markets and talent bases? MSU just doesn’t seem like a great pick for their conference when they could have taken TAMU, for example.
I don’t think of total NC’s as a major criterion, but you’re right. MSU has 21 by my count, which is a solid total (#46 overall, #23 D-IA), tied with NE. They trail PSU (41), MI (35), OSU (28), IA (25), WI (23) and IN (22) in the B10, though. I believe MSU was 41st in the Director’s Cup this year as a comparison.
Top 25 in order:
UCLA, Stanford, USC (98-108)
OkSU, LSU, TX, AR, PSU (41-47)
NC, MI (35-37)
Cal, OSU, GA, OU, IA, MD, FL, ASU, CO, ND, WI, IN, NE, UTEP and MSU (21-28)
That’s 8 B10, 6 P12, 4 SEC, 3 B12, 2 ACC, 1 Ind. and 1 non-AQ
The teams drafted before MSU that are missing:
OR, AL, TN, FSU, VT, UL
How many of those are top tier schools? Do they really constitute a lot of the top tier?
The SEC schools have smaller athletic departments generally, so it’s not a huge surprise to me (especially with the FB focus at AL and AU). The FSU, VT and OR have only been prominent for a relatively short period of time, but are bigger names in FB now than MSU is (obviously much smaller names in MBB). However, the ACC schools also open major markets and talent pools while OR brings Nike money. Nobody thought UL should have been picked yet.
Are you really surprised that any of those teams except UL went before MSU?
Cal, OkSU, AR, IA, MD, ASU, CO, IN, UTEP
Are you surprised MSU went before any of these teams?
Cal – major market, great all around athletics, west coast, great academics
OkSU – the little brother in a small state but has TBP money
MD – weaker history but has a market advantage
CO – big brother and brings a major western market
ASU – brings a major western market
What about other schools like TAMU, Miami, UW, AU, IL, MO, UK, Duke, KU, Pitt and Syracuse?
Just saying it’s not totally nuts.
I didn’t say it was, but don’t you think they probably went a little early (especially for that league)? It’s not a reach like Louisville by any means, but I don’t think that conference can even get maximum value out of MSU with OSU and UL (and now WV) on board.
A BE blogger is optimistic about BE FB. His argument is that all the previous good coaches have left, so the brain drain should stop for a while. Also, he thinks highly of the replacements claiming some of the best minds on O and D (he seems excited about 3-3-5 coaches). He also convinced of the benefits of expansion regardless of who the 10th team is (there are a lot of pluses, but the 10th team could brings some problems). He’s clearly got high hopes for the TV deal, too.
I think he’s spinning things the way he hopes it will turn out, but he’s right that they can’t help but get better than last year.
If you’ve got a coaching carousel, that situation is relatively permanent. BE has become stepping stone jobs, not much different than the MAC (except in money). Central Michigan to Cincinnati to Notre Dame, MAC to BE to B10 or SEC or Big 12 or assistant to BE to B10 or SEC or Big 12 may become a pattern.
Better to have a coach everybody wants than a coach nobody wants.
Sometimes the carousel stops. I despaired after Franchione left TCU for Bama, but Patterson’s stuck around and at this point I don’t think he’s going anywhere for awhile.
And yeah, there’s a lot of denial in the Big East. But the TV deal might turn out okay. Maybe.
The thing is, you want to have the coach everybody wants, not to have had the coach everybody wanted.
Schiano is the only coach with any tenure left in the BE, so the turnover almost has to stop for a while. Part of it is that all the new coaches need to prove their worth. If USF starts to win, though, how long until Holtz leaves? How about Holgorsen and Graham? SU and UConn are OK for now, and Strong sounds pretty loyal to UL although a big name could tempt him. UC needs to start winning again or they’ll be shopping for a new coach, too.
Well, obviously that’s ideal, but I’d rather lose my coach because he did a good job and went to a bigger program than because he was bad and got fired. And if you keep trying, you might find a Gary Patterson or a Chris Petersen who sticks around.
Bettman proposes NHL Realignment. Wings and BlueJackets may get their wish.
I do not like the sounds of divisions with unequal numbers of teams in them. The only sensible way to do a 30-team league is to have 6 divisions of 5 teams each. I agree with the sentiment, in that I think a 4-division league is the way to go, but first you need a number of teams that is evenly divisible by 4.
So you are proposing expansion to 32 for this, because as you said above we can’t mention the C word?
MLB has managed to do OK with a lack of balance. The NHL is so imbalanced geographically that this would potentially help them a lot. I’d put 14 in the west and 16 in the east (not that I think they will):
Pacific = Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Phoenix and the CA teams
Midwest = Winnipeg, CO, Dallas, St. L , Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville
South = FL teams, Carolina, DC, Philly, NY/NJ teams
East = Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Boston, eastern Canada teams
No, I’m not proposing expansion to 32. I’m proposing that a 30-team league needs to be 6 divisions of 5 teams each. I’m taking as a given the number of teams (30) and recommending a divisional alignment in light of that. I’ll leave it up to the league to balance the myriad competing concerns to decide whether to contract to 28 or expand to 32 (I am taking for granted they would go by twos henceforth, which may be unwarranted; at any rate, I’d think about how a league with an odd number of teams ought to align when it comes to it).
@Pat – I’m actually warming up to this idea (outside of Detroit moving to the East). I’ve stated before that I loved the old divisional playoff format. If Columbus and Nashville were to move to the East (and once again, I know that Nashville is in the Central Time Zone, but they are such a better geographic fit for the South than Detroit and I think that matters more), we could have the following 4 divisions:
With everyone only playing the teams outside of their division home-and-home (whether in-conference or out-of-conference), that would placate the Red Wings as only the Avalanche (who are a quasi-rival) would be more than one time zone away in the Midwest division and they’ll play each of the Pacific Time Zone teams the same amount as each of the Eastern Conference teams. I just don’t see how Detroit could be placed in a division with Toronto and Montreal without screwing up multiple other important Eastern rivalries, anyway, so I find it hard to believe that Wings fans would be so hell-bent on moving to the East that they’d rather be in the South Division with the Sun Belt teams compared to the proposed Midwest Division. The crossing time zone issue largely much goes away under this format and everyone’s primary rivalry is preserved. The Western Conference teams would play each of their division foes 6 times per year. In the Eastern Conference, the teams would play 3 of their division foes 6 times per year (who could be permanently assigned rivals such as the NY area teams all playing each other the max amount, Boston-Montreal, etc.) and the 4 others 5 times per year.
It’s not ideal to have 16 teams in one conference and 14 in the other, but it exists in baseball and my inclination is that the return of the divisional playoffs and alleviation of the time zone issues would be worth it. If the NHL goes down this road, though, the first two rounds ought to be pure divisional playoffs (as opposed to a re-seeding after the 1st round as reportedly proposed) since there would be such a huge emphasis on division play during the regular season.
How about HH’s idea of ending conferences and have 5 divisions of 6 each with no conferences. Play 6 against your division teams (30), 2 against everyone else (48), leaving 4 extra games to play against “rivals” in other divisions.
5 west coast teams + Colorado in the west
Edmonton, Calgary, Thrashers, Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis in the north
Dallas, Nashville, TB, FL, Washington and Carolina in the south
The 5 NE teams + the Islanders in the east
Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburg, Philly, Rangers and Devils in the Central.
Philly or the Devils could be traded for the Islanders in the east.
Take the top 2 in each division and 6 wildcards. Seed the playoffs based on overall record.
“It’s not ideal to have 16 teams in one conference and 14 in the other, but it exists in baseball and my inclination is that the return of the divisional playoffs and alleviation of the time zone issues would be worth it.”
I see two problems with this.
1. Baseball only does this because of hang-ups about interleague play (expressed elsewhere in this thread). If nobody cared about having interleague play all year long, you could do 15/15 and have an interleague series every weekend. But, lots of people are squeamish about that, and thus you have 16/14 and so on. The NHL doesn’t have a similar problem.
2. Although I personally would like to see a 4-division format with a divisional playoff, like in the ’80s, Hopkins Horn above expressed a strong contrary view that would need to be overcome: plenty of people think the format should be more open, not less. The last time I remember it being really seriously discussed in the NHL was in 2002, when you had the consensus 2 best teams in the league (Detroit and Colorado) playing in the West Finals, with the winner expected to make short work of the Eastern Champion; there was chatter at that time about using a conference-based playoff until you were down to 4 teams and then re-seeding 1-4. Can that sentiment be overcome? Perhaps, but it feels to me like you’re fighting an uphill battle if you want to have uneven divisions too. If they went down to 28 teams, that’s another ball of wax, but like you very reasonably said, contraction is out of bounds.
Actually, Adam, thinking about a reversion to a four-division format, I think I would be ok with making the playoffs more closed (i.e. the first two rounds are intradivisional, with a Final Four of the last four teams standing seeded based on regular season record). This would still allow what seems to be most important for you – increased likelihood of rivals meeting in the playoffs – and would still meet my goal of removing the artificiality of conferences from preventing the best two teams from meeting in the Finals.
How about this? I agree that the time zone advantage trumps having even numbers. To the extent it is harder to travel in the west, it is offset by having 1 more team in your division to compete with in the east. I’d go back to campbell and wales. Detroit kind of gets paid in this deal, but they give up a lot too. I really like getting away from 6 divisions, they are too small. A home and home with every team is an absolute must no matter what they do.
I just had an idear.
How about Toronto moves back home and Dallas moves into the new south?
You could have minny, winny, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, buffalo and columbus in one pairing. Keep it at 7 because when phoenix moves to Hamilton, you’ll need space for them.
Dallas and St louis might have to go south, which is a little weird. Pair them with Fla, tb, Nash & carolina. That seems ok.
I like Frank’s idea better. Dallas in with the SE bunch? Gross. The Stars picked a bad time to be bankrupt and essentially run by the league. Paging Mark Cuban, Mark Cuban to the white courtesy phone.
That was supposed to be below Pat’s post. Whatever.
@Frank, — Had a business meeting recently with some people from Illitch Enterprises, which owns the Red Wings and Tigers. The hallway scuttlebutt was the Wings are pushing hard to be in a Midwest Division with Toronto, Buffalo and Chicago. They would also like to include Pittsburgh, but the Pens are adamant about playing in the east with Philly. Depending on how Phoenix shakes out, we might be looking at something similar to this;
East Midwest South Pacific
Montreal Toronto Washington Vancouver
Boston Buffalo Nashville Edmonton
Ottawa Detroit Tampa Calgary
NY Rangers Chicago Florida Phoenix
NY Isles Winnipeg Carolina Colorado
New Jersey Minnesota Dallas San Jose
Philadelphia Columbus St. Louis Anaheim
Pittsburgh Los Angeles
Winnipeg and Minnesota do not want to be placed with the west coast teams.
By keeping the first round playoffs within each division you avoid the situation the Red Wings almost had to deal with this past season of “starting three consecutive playoff series on the west coast”. Television sponsors and fans both hate those 10:30pm start times. But, if the Wings had defeated San Jose, they would have played Vancouver in the conference final. They played Phoenix in the first round. Overtime games went til almost 2:00am. Just ridiculous!
Let’s try those divisions again. Sorry for the cluster fuck.
The pacific is pretty straightforward. Thanks for the scuttlebutt Pat. I suspect toronto might pitch a fit about going west, but it played this side for a long time and might jump at the opportunity to reunite with the wings and hawks. Putting ottawa with them instead of Columbus and letting Columbus go east might be done as well. I don’t know what columbus wants; does it feel tied to anyone?
As a Blues fan I can speak to how much St. Louis would HATE this idea. While some nice animosity has developed between Blues & Nashville, our traditional foes remain the Blackhawks and Red Wings. Can’t see Washington liking placement in the South either. Doesn’t seem to me like the NHL really needs alignment this drastic.
I agree that realignment this drastic is not needed. The current format is basically fine. Just grow a pair and pick a team to move from East to West, and reshuffle. I think it should be Columbus, I certainly understand the argument in favor of Nashville, and I resist having it be Detroit (at this time; if someone else does the East-to-West switcheroo, that’s another matter). But it just seems senseless to make this more complicated than that.
If some teams went out of business and they went to 28, awesome! Give me 4 divisions. Until then, no.
Let me preface this by saying I follow almost no hockey. That said, it kind of feels like to me that Columbus is better in a Midwestern division than an eastern one.
Ohio is a Midwestern state, we are already more used to Midwestern rivals from at least college football (Detroit and Chicago being good teams to be in division with in that regard, although Pittsburgh would admittedly be a good addition in the east)
@Frank – I meant to reply to this post when I first read it back in June, but obviously never did until now. What I was going to say at that point was that I like the division breakdown as you presented them above. I especially liked the suggested move to the old playoff format with the first two rounds within the division and that every team plays a home and home with every other team outside of it’s division. As the resident Wings fan, I felt you proposed a pretty good compromise for keeping the Wings out west.
Well, with this week’s realignment announcement, I thought it looked very similar to your breakdown and just had to come back and see how close you were. And it’s pretty damn close, so congrats.
While I would surely love Adrian Dater’s suggestion of the Original Six division, I believe this realignment is a very good solution. The only teams I think have a true complaint is the Florida teams. But from what I’m hearing, there are a lot snowbirds from Boston, Buffalo, and eastern Canada in the Sunshine state and this will obviously help with their attendance. And as I mentioned above, I LOVE the fact that the first two rounds within the division and that every team plays a home and home with every other team outside of it’s division. AND if the Phoenix franchise eventually relocates to Quebec, then they just move from the “West” Conference to the “NE/Florida” Conference.
Just look at that f’ing guy.
Actually, I think this idea has legs.
Frank’s midwestern division is pretty compelling.
There’s an interesting bit about the Brewers’ move on their wikipedia article. Supposedly, the Royals were given the first chance to move and they turned it down. Also, the Tigers apparently voluntarily moved from the AL East to the Central. I’m not sure what the general trend comes out of that, but it does seem to go against the “AL East-NL Central-everyone else” pecking order.
The Tigers wanted a better chance to make the playoffs, and the Yankees and Red Sox were keeping them out in the east. They have less travel now than traversing the east coast, too.
and look what that got them. they have never won the AL central.
Back in the 90’s, the Tigers wanted to get away from the “big budget” teams in the East, Yankees and Red Sox, plus Baltimore at that time. The Tigers felt it would be too difficult to make the playoffs competing in the East, even with the wild card format. They still play the teams in the East 6 games each year, three each home and away. Being competitive and playing “meaningful games, in September was more important than being in the same division as the big market teams.
This dynamic is why I support playoff expansion in MLB. Yeah yeah yeah, some “undeserving” teams will make it in, but giving more teams a shot at meaningful September baseball seems way more important and entertaining to me.
I get that logic, but on the flip side, I’d like games to matter in the 152 game regular season. The Reds making it last year was golden, but it wouldn’t have been as big a deal if 1/2 the league was doing it every year.
Man, I’m two days behind on this one. Didn’t read the other comments, so:
The 41,000 who showed up in Arlington on Monday night to watch the Rangers play the worst team in baseball say that Houston to the AL West isn’t a bad idea. The ‘Gers may never get out of the AL West (unless divisions are eliminated, which I don’t really care for), but we can at least improve the company.
As much as I’d love to see the Stars franchise get back into a division with Detroit and Chicago, my plan (Thrashers => NW Division, Canucks => Pacific, Stars => Central) is a little complicated, and with the current financial situation in Dallas, they don’t really have the clout to ask for favors. Going to just four divisions as Frank suggested above (I lied about not reading the comments) could be the trick. The long and short of it is that Stars fans don’t really care that much about Pacific Division rivals. Not in any way that wouldn’t be quickly forgotten when the Red Wings and Blackhawks came to town, anyway.
Do whatever you want in the NFL, so long as the NFC East, the greatest division in all of professional sports, stays the way it is. Although, if they build a new downtown stadium, what becomes of the Mausoleum? Do you really need three giant stadiums in the LA area?
Oh, and Frank – you forgot a sport. The Dynamo had better move to the Western Conference with FC Dallas when Montreal starts up, or there’ll be hell to pay. A south Florida team might be a good bet to even up the league, if they don’t go with a second NYC team.
Maybe move Coyotes to Houston (for the franchise’s sake, and just maybe so Dallas can have a rival all to itself). Move Nashville to Eastern Conference. Divisions:
Pacific: LA, Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado
Central: Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Columbus, Dallas, Houston
Northeast: Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, Buffalo, NYR, NYI, NJ
Atlantic: Philly, Pittsburgh, Washington, Nashville, Carolina, Florida, Tampa
Winnipeg could potentially be in the Pacific to be with their western Canadian brethren.
Increase division games to 28, play everyone else (regardless of conferences) at least twice for 44 or 46 games (depending on the size of your division) = 72 or 74. Other 8 or 10 games depending on previous year’s results – top finishers play each other, like the NFL. Detroit gets Toronto and Montreal home and road every year (along with everyone else), division titles become a little tougher to come by, and the conferences stay the same size. Columbus stays in the West, but their division is all ET and CT teams, and they’ll be playing fewer games against MT and PT teams. Also, Philly gets Pitt and Wash as division rivals.
And I’m not the only one who thinks the NHL in Skeeterville is worth looking into:
Also, there are the Houston people who think it would be “cool” if the Oilers relocated. They can’t understand why hockey fans react to the idea with open horror and disgust.
For the NFL, even if there’s movement, I don’t think there will be any realignment unless there’s expansion. They only made some drastic moves last time (Seattle from the AFC West and Arizona from the NFC East) because they were going to 4 team divisions and someone had to leave those divisions. Without that reason, I don’t think the Rams and 49ers get split up or anyone taken from the AFC West. If Atlanta and San Francisco can play in the same division for decades then the LA Vikings or LA Jaguars will do fine in their current divisions.
If the NFL expands somewhere down the line to 34 (a team in London and a 2nd team in LA?) or 36 you might then see a few teams switch around at that time.
Oh, and since I haven’t mentioned it yet, go Mavs. When’s the last time one metro area hosted a World Series, a Super Bowl and an NBA Finals all in the same year?
One more random idea on a four-division NHL format for consideration: how about putting all four Canadian teams in one division? I imagine travel would be a concern, but the schedules could be arranged for road trips to multiple cities. If playoffs reverted to the old divisional format, you could guarantee for the CBC that a Canadian team would always make the semis, while for NBC/Comcast you could guarantee that the nightmare of an all-Canadian final could never happen.
All “seven” Canadian teams…
Here it is! Your NHL Realignment Map from Google Maps.
I don’t totally understand why the eastern Canadian teams, which currently have a sweetheart arrangement, would say “You know what? I’d like to play 15-20 divisional games 2 and 3 time zones away.”
Granted, someone is going to have to give up something they’d rather not give up to achieve realignment — but that seems like the eastern Canadian teams giving up a lot.
yeah. this is not workable for many reasons.
I mean, granted, that’s basically Dallas’ current situation, but basically I’d say it sucks to be them (although I think the NHL should probably try to help them). Nobody else is going to be volunteering for that.
Knowing that time zone issues are the big problem with the current alignment, I don’t see this plan flying unless the idea is to make all the eastern teams share the pain of Detroit, Columbus and Dallas. I’d expect the divisions to be more N-S than E-W. What might help is to split into Coastal and Central conferences instead of East and West. This lets the northeastern teams play their eastern rivals, but at the cost of playing all the west coast teams too. The midwestern teams don’t get to play all the east coast teams, but they wouldn’t have to play the west coast either. This spreads the pain and the marquee franchises.
While that is certainly a compromise position, I am left wondering why there will be sufficient consensus to go to any 4-division format (unless it’s a 4-division format that keeps the current East/West alignment). I feel like this problem is being overthought to some extent. The simple, staring-us-in-the-face answer is to choose between Columbus, Nashville, and Detroit and slide one of them into the East.
Here’s a question: isn’t it odd that Bettman is already floating a realignment proposal? How can anybody honestly know what to do until the Phoenix situation is tied off one way or the other? For example, perhaps Winnipeg’s success in getting the Thrashers will catalyze an arena deal in Quebec and the Coyotes will be there in a year, which will kind of negate all of this. Or maybe the Florida Panthers will end up on the chopping block and move to Kansas City. It seems like there are too many maybes to really know how to move forward yet.
That Florida to Kansas City thing isn’t a rumor; I just made it up as a hypothetical example of something semi-plausible that could upset the whole apple cart.
I don’t know how much consensus is needed. Depending on other options presented, it may make consensus easier to reach.
We’ve already discussed the simple option. Nashville makes geographic sense but not time zone sense. Columbus and Detroit both make time zone sense but are not great geographic fits, perhaps leading to further realignment. Columbus is the most precarious financially, Detroit the most solid. Detroit has the most pull with the NHL. Barring new facts, what more is there to say about it?
I don’t think it’s odd that Bettman is floating a plan now. He knows it is a topic of discussion for the teams and their fans. I think he and the NHL consider Phoenix a done deal for the near future and is reinforcing that idea by doing this. If he moves Detroit and Columbus east, maybe that is planning for Columbus to potentially move to Quebec. The NHL realigns fairly often, so I don’t think it’s a big deal to do it in 2012 and then face doing it again afterwards.
I know I read somewhere that one reason that they didn’t realign for 2011-12 with the Winnipeg move was because the Phoenix situation is still uncertain and they didn’t want to realign twice in consecutive offseasons. That cuts against your argument (which is otherwise, on its face, reasonable) about the league trying to signal their confidence in Phoenix’s situation.
The reason that occurs to me is because, until only a few years ago, the NHL schedule was always released on the day after the MLB All-Star Game. For some reason, that’s been moved up to mid-/late- June. The “official” explanation for why they didn’t realign with the Winnipeg move was that there wasn’t time, and perhaps this is true, and yet it seems almost implausible to me. The sale was finalized on May 31, and according to Bettman (not necessarily a paragon of reliability) was only actually hammered out early that morning, and that there was a real risk of not falling through if it had not gotten finalized that morning. That would have given the league 6 weeks to start over working on a new schedule if it were simply released when it had been released for several years up until very recently, and that’s a minimum — if they waited another week or got started working on it beforehand (it seemed fairly clear the team was going to be sold to True North for at least a week or two before the sale actually went down), you’d think there would have been time to put together a new schedule. I mean, I know it’s a really complicated thing and I don’t mean to just assume you could throw something together . . . but I mean, how much more involved would it have been than what they already had to do, which was rearrange the whole sequence of games to account for new travel patterns (presumably, road trips that were going to pass through Atlanta are not now going to be routed through Winnipeg instead).
In short, I guess my point is that it almost seems to me that if the league really had wanted to realign for 2011-12, they could have. The fact that they didn’t tends to support what the media repeated, which was that the league wanted to wait and see what happens with the Phoenix situation. That brings me right back to being a little befuddled that Bettman is floating a realignment plan already.
Was it a quote from someone important that Phoenix uncertainty was a reason? There’s been a lot of speculation, maybe with inside sources, but unless it’s a quote from someone big who knows if it’s true? It could be, but it might not be.
To realign for next year, they need to reach consensus first. How long would that take?
Scheduling can be incredible involved. I’d guess they did replace Atlanta with Winnipeg as much as possible (certain blackout dates may have interfered with a complete swap). Any other changes require a lot of arenas to be available. Some of them have other contractual obligations by this time of year (concerts, other sports, etc) that may not be able to move and all of them are working to schedule future events. I’m guessing that redoing the schedule at this late date would actually be a problem for the league and the arenas. All these arenas need to schedule a bunch of other events to make money.
They probably could have totally reworked the schedule but it would cost them a lot of time, money and hassles that they don’t need.
No it definitely wasn’t a quote, it was more along the lines of a post on the ESPN Cross-Checks blog by Pierre LeBrun or another of their hockey writers. Not exactly canonical, but also not really offered in a circumstance where it triggered my “linkbait” antennae.
Interesting article on Bleacher Report. Yes, I know BR doesn’t have the status, integrity and cache of the NY Times, but I believe this article is spot on. The divisions are similar to those in my post from a few days ago about Red Wing scuttlebutt. However, this article explains things better and in more detail. I believe this is where the NHL is headed. The divisions might be tweaked a bit from those on the map, (Columbus, Washington, Ottawa) but I think it’s pretty close to what will happen in December at the NHL meetings.
Please Note: No conferences! Teams will be reseeded 1-8 after the first round of divisional playoffs. I like it! Plus, Detroit, Nashville and Columbus get their wish to play mostly in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. Phoenix can be relocated to the 7 team Eastern Division if they eventually move to Quebec City. Bettman might finally be getting his shit together. Thank God!
The South Division? Gross. Dallas just can’t win in this thing. If only someone would move to Houston to provide the Stars with a real rival.
I have to believe Houston is on the short list of markets that interest the NHL if another team needs to bail on its current location since Houston has a pretty new arena (which I assume is capable of handling ice hockey). If a team became available, probably the only thing between Houston and getting that team would be whether there’s an owner or owners available who want to make that happen.
The intent when the new arena was built was that the Rockets owner at the time would get a hockey team along with a bb team in the arena. However, the NHL decided other cities were better for them. If memory serves, those cities were Minneapolis (logically), Columbus and Nashville.
Look at the positives. They’d have a chance to become a marquee name by dominating the division and getting a long playoff streak. Dallas will struggle to become a big name if they always are the new guy in a division with several O6 teams.
There is ZERO chance of this alignment happening for one single reason. Moving all Canadian teams into one division eliminates the possibility of two Canadian teams meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals.
I agree that there is almost no chance of that alignment happening, but I do not see where the NHL is going to be holding out for the possibility of two Canadian teams meeting in the Cup Finals. That sounds like a ratings armageddon, frankly (no doubt it’d be a hit in Canada, but Canada only has 10% of the USA’s population). I don’t see where the league is using that as the sine qua non of whether an alignment is acceptable.
So, in keeping with the conference re-draft idea, I decided to try to narrow it down to a more manageable thing. How about doing a ranking within each conference based on the 2011-2012 alignment? Now you don’t have to think about how schools complement other members, just the value of each as a standalone. I’m guessing there will be a lot of disagreement outside of the very top and bottom schools, and maybe even there. I’m looking at athletics only for this and limiting Other to the top 10, just FYI. A brief summary of my thinking is included.
ACC – FSU, Miami, NC, VT, Duke, Clemson, GT, MD, VA, BC, NCSU, WF
FB powers in FL, then a hoops king with solid FB and market, a FB power, hoops king, FB power with good talent pool, good markets/talent pools with decent history, small private school with some hoops success
BE – Pitt, Syracuse, WV, UConn, UL, USF, UC, Rutgers
Good FB with great hoops and varying markets (Pitt FB > Syracuse market), great hoops with weak FB and OK markets, FL access, OH access, NYC/NJ access but no success
B10 – OSU, MI, PSU, NE, WI, IL, MSU, IN, IA, PU, MN, NW
FB kings with varying markets (MI tradition > PSU market/talent pool), balanced good FB/MBB, Chicago access and solid hoops, great MBB and solid FB, MBB king, good/great FB and great wrestling, great MBB, big city but no recent success, small school with limited success
B12 – TX, OU, TAMU, OkSU, KS, MO, TT, Baylor, KSU, ISU
FB kings by market, solid FB in TX, solid FB and MBB with TBP money, MBB king, solid sports and market, in TX, some FB and MBB success, wrestling
P12 – USC, OR, UCLA, UW, AZ, Stanford, ASU, Cal, CO, Utah, OSU, WSU
FB king, great FB and Nike money, hoops king with LA access, good FB with big market, great MBB with solid FB and decent market, non-revenue sports and SF access, solid sports and market, SF access with decent sports, good market, good sports with decent market, solid FB, ugh
SEC – FL, AL, GA, TN, LSU, KY, AU, SC, Ark, Vandy, MS, MSU
great sports and FL market/talent pool, FB king, good FB and market/talent, great FB history and good hoops, great FB and talent pool, MBB king, solid FB, solid sports with crazy fans and good talent pool, solid sports, good sports but FB, ugh, little brother of ugh
Other – ND, BYU, TCU, Boise, AF, Navy, Army, UCF, Houston, SMU
FB king, good sports and national fans, great FB and TX access, great FB, best military sports, more recent sports success, last of the academies, FL access, TX access with MBB history, TX access but death penalty
Brian – quick thoughts – calling UNC football “solid” might be a stretch, even taking the last three years into account. I don’t dispute their placement, though.
I might quibble about the middle of the Big 12. I’d take KU and Mizzou over OSU. KU is a national name in something, and Mizzou has better markets. The Cowboys don’t have anywhere near the Texas following that the Sooners enjoy. I might even put Tech over OSU. They can still be ahead of Baylor.
The TBP money definitely keeps OSU ahead of TT. I put OSU ahead of KU and MO because football is so much more valuable than MBB, but it was close. I wouldn’t strenuously argue against dropping OSU behind them.
Oh, and as for UNC – they’re 8-5 the last 3 years. That’s sort of the definition of solid, isn’t it? They’re not great, but sometimes their good and sometimes their OK. Much like IL, though, I give them a slight bump for potential.
I try to take a longer view of these things. Take away the last three years or so, and Okie Lite and UNC don’t look so great. T. Boone is just one guy, and Tech I think has a stronger fan base and better market presence than the Cowboys. Tech hasn’t had a losing season in almost 20 years (that’s more what I call solid), while OSU went 4-7 twice in the last decade and has 13 losing seasons in the last 25 or so. OSU even has a tough time filling up their shiny new stadium, and they had a pretty good team the last couple years. UNC has a few good seasons when they find a good coach (see Mack Brown), but it’s still a stepping stone. Most of the time they’re mediocre. But I’ll give you the potential. North Carolina should be a major player in college football.
B10 I’d be inclined to move IA up a couple spots because of their great fan support and the fact that they are U of, not State U.
B12 I’d swap Mizzou and OSU. Missouri has the state to themselves and Okie St. will always be the little sister. And there are a lot more people in Missouri. Missouri has both historically and recently had more success than OSU.
SEC is tough to rank. I would put Arkansas ahead of Auburn and S. Carolina though. They have won the division 3 times, have their 1 fb national championship and have a bb national championship.
P12 UCLA definitely #2. Oregon had a good year, but they are not ahead of UW. Cal is like A&M, someone who occassionally looks good but often underperforms. I think they have a lot of natural advantages and it will show more often. So I’d have Cal 4, CU 5 (they have the CA lack of enthusiasm, but they have had success and are the only AQ school in a growing state) ASU 6, OR 7, AZ 8, Utah 9, Stanford 10, OSU 11, WSU 12. #4-#9 are pretty close with each having strengths and weaknesses. Stanford’s academic standards make it tough to be consistently competitive in football and basketball, even though it may be an advantage in many other sports. OR and UT have more recent football success, but both are in relatively lightly populated states with little football or basketball talent. When the Pac split in the late 50s, Oregon, Ore. St. and WSU were originally left behind, along with Idaho. Phil hasn’t moved Oregon that far up.
First impression is that I would rank ACC and BE very differently, although #1 and #12 in the ACC are pretty obvious.
Many of these schools are similar. Ranking them isn’t an exact science and I can’t argue many of your changes.
B10 – I thought about moving IA up, but they have no MBB and MSU and IN are big time MBB schools. MSU is also solid in FB and has more population to pull from. IN sucks in FB so it was a tough call. How about we split the difference and swap IN and IA?
B12 – OSU and MO are about equal to me. OSU had more MBB success under Sutton and has a lot of NC (wrestling I think). MO has more people, but both big cities are on the border and are split with neighbors (KC with KU and NE, St. L with IL). TBP is only one guy, but he gave $100M. That changes things.
SEC – I put AU ahead of AR because they’ve been better at FB in the past 50 years (W% is 68% to 65%) and have a recent NC, no matter how tainted. AU has a better talent pool than AR does in my opinion, and brings a huge rivalry for TV purposes. SC has had very limited success in sports despite great fans and good talent available. All 3 are pretty close, though.
P12 – OR is second because of Nike and UCLA being down in FB for a while and being a decided little brother. Nike is a huge advantage for money and PR. UW is higher on tradition and market, but they don’t have that national presence anymore. I have Stanford much higher because of their all around success. All those titles count for something. There are a lot of similar schools here, too, that made it hard to pick an order.
The ACC and BE have a lot of similar schools. It’s almost picking names out of hat.
Oklahoma State has a large number of golf as well as wrestling championships. The also have basketball in the 40s.
Looking it up, they also have 1 in baseball and several in cross country.
It looks like this thread has turned into a NHL topic, but I have a couple observations about the NBA and the presumed death/relocation of my Hornets.
Frank – you stated that a favorable stadium deal trumps market. I agree. The Hornets, and the Saints both have sweetheart deals with their respective state-owned facilities, including state subsidies if the Hornets don’t reach attendance benchmarks.
You also described the Hornets attendance as “terrible”. For this past season, the Hornets rank 18th out of the 30 NBA teams in attendance as a percentage of arena capacity. Hornets fans outperformed fans in much bigger markets with only slightly larger arenas such as New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlanta, DC, and Detroit.
New Orleans was small before Katrina with a MSA of 1.32 million. Post-Katrina, the New Orleans MSA is only 1.17 million. That a 11% drop in population. Its amazing to me that New Orleans has supported the NBA as well as it has. New Orleans is an event town. Nobody does an event better than New Orleans, and 41 home games – including weeknights – are not events. That said, the Hornets are very close to their goal of selling 10,000 season tickets for the 2011-12 season.
The objective of the NBA’s purchase of the Hornets was more to get the previous owner George Shinn out of the way. He was a bad owner, but he is also very ill. Local billionaire Gary Chouest was a Hornets minority owner and he still plans to buy the Hornets from the NBA. He is assembling a team a minority owners. As Chouest is in the offshore oil business, the BP oil spill has distracted him though and is one of the reasons for the delay.
On the court, hings are actually looking up for the Hornets. Now, they just have to keep Chris Paul, get David West healthy, and pick up a big free agent.
I attended Game #4 of the Hornets/Lakers series and it was one of the most exciting sporting events I’ve attended, and I’ve been to a few big-time games. New Orleans may be a football town, but saving the Hornets has become a badge of civic pride. For a relatively small and poor city, New Orleans has done a good job supporting this team, and has done a better job supporting the Hornets than many other bigger cities have done supporting their own teams.
One reason that I think the thread has become mostly an NHL discussion is that in the NBA, the divisions are almost irrelevant. You play your division opponents 4x each, you play your non-division conference opponents 3.6x each. No doubt, divisional alignment can impact playoff seedings and whatnot, but with the changes to the seeding rules after 2006 and the NBA’s rule that home court goes to the team with the better record regardless of record, the stakes of NBA divisional alignment are just a lot lower. That is why I suggested they add 4 games to the season and just drop the divisions altogether. You’d play everybody in your conference 4 times (4*14=56 games) and 2 games against everybody in the opposite conference (2*15=30), for a total of 86 games (56+30). No divisions, just the two conferences.
On the NBA:
1. How about they rename the Western divisions to be more accurate (like Pacific, South and Mountain) if they don’t realign? Portland isn’t enough to keep the name Northwest, and Memphis and NO don’t count as Southwest (TX really doesn’t either, but whatever).
2. Suggested realignment with current structure:
Pacific – Portland, LAL, LAC, Sac, GS
Mountain – Phoenix, Utah, Denver, OKC, MN
South – SA, Dallas, Houston, NO, Memphis
Southeast – DC, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Charlotte
Central – Cleveland, Detroit, Indy, Chicago, Milwaukee
Atlantic – Boston, NY, NJ, Philly, Toronto
3. Even better:
Pacific – Portland, LAL, LAC, Sac, GS, Phoenix, Utah, Denver
South – SA, Dallas, Houston, NO, OKC, MN, Memphis
Central – DC, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Indy, Chicago, Milwaukee
Southeast – Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Charlotte, Philly, NY, NJ, Boston
As noted, I’d add 4 games and forget the divisions. Under the premise of your item 2 (“with current structure”), I like those Western divisions, although I’d like to entertain the notion of swapping San Antonio and Minnesota (i.e., putting San Antonio in that “Mountain” Division, and Minnesota in the other one — perhaps naming it the Midwest or something).
Those East Divisions are fine too, but I’ll throw this out there in only semi-serious fashion just to stir the pot:
North Division: Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Toronto
Atlantic Division: Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia
Southeast Division: DC, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Charlotte
I’m not a fan of unevenly sized divisions so I don’t care for 3, but it sounds like the NHL might be going there, so who knows.
The last thing the NBA or NHL need is a longer season, but otherwise I like your idea. Not that it would ever happen, but I’d rather they drop 10 games and play all OOC teams once with a second game against one locked rival (4*14 + 2*1 + 1*14 = 72). Otherwise they could lock 10 more rivals to maintain 82 games.
I considered putting several other teams in the Mountain, but didn’t want to split the TX teams either. OKC took the bullet for screwing over Seattle. For a while I had Milwaukee there to give MN a local rival with Memphis moving to the Southeast, DC to the Atlantic and Toronto to the Central.
I’m not a big fan of uneven divisions, but they work better for the West than 3 equal ones. I don’t think it matters much with such a long season, though, it’s mostly a way to lock playoff spots.
Subconsciously, I may have been aiming to split Dallas and San Antonio. That’s probably motivated by my expectations of relative competitiveness that have developed over the last 10-15 years, but it’s entirely possible both teams will be turning a page pretty soon.
Regardless of what the NBA does, they should definitely rename the Western divisions.
Frank tweeted it, but I didn’t see it posted for discussion:
Can’t wait for their first game (again) with the Sharks.
Being the Jets that came from Atlanta, doesn’t Delta pretty much have to be a major sponsor?
Unrelated to pro sports: has anybody heard how the MAC is going to (re)align when UMass joins? Or is that TBA? The MAC doesn’t get a lot more coverage than high school sports, so I might have missed it if it was announced.
Nothing official yet, but BGSU going back to the West for football is the easy answer. That puts them back with their main rival, Toledo. Otherwise, Miami would be the next best choice.
If they put both UMass and Temple in the East Division, there’s going to need to be 1 team that plays in the West in Football and the East in every other divisional sport. I’d have that team be Bowling Green. However, I’d also swap Toledo and Miami in the overall alignment. It seems senseless to me that Miami’s closest divisional opponent is over 3 hours away in Athens, and lengthy hikes just within Ohio to get to Kent and Akron, even while they’re only about an hour away from Muncie (by contrast, Toledo is close to both Kent and Akron).
So, I’d have Miami in the West for everything, Toledo in the East for everything, and BGSU be the “flex” team, playing in the West for Football and the East for other sports.
The MAC said that FB realignment will not change the alignment for everything else.
They should have moved Miami west when they split originally, but since Toledo is in the west it makes the most sense to reunite them with BGSU. It makes for a clean WNW/ESE split. BGSU is the team that’s bounced back and forth before so they might as well switch divisions every year.
“Steinbrecher did reveal that the MAC would have two seven-team divisions, as expected, with teams playing six divisional games and two crossover games each season.”
I wonder how they can do this. It seems like it is in blatant disregard of the NCAA Division I manual, which requires “regular season round-robin play” (or something like that; I know the term “round robin” is used).
Argh, I reacted too quickly. I was expecting it to be 7 and 1 but the league has 14 teams, not 16.
I’m surprised they aren’t considering going to 9 games. That would allow 5 home games plus 2 paychecks every year.
About the NHL. First look at the franchises are losing money that could be moved New York Islanders, Phoenix, Columbus, Florida. Here are the only logical options for what NHL relocation Toronto/GTA, Quebec City, Seattle, Houston, and Kansas City. Now Toronto would have the best case option but for the foreseeable future the Maple Leafs will not share Southern Ontario with them. As shown in the Jim Bassille saga a couple years ago. So for now we can rule them out. Quebec City would be small market team as Winnipeg would/will be. Now they need a privately paid for arena and an ownership group. In 2001 the Montreal Canadiens bought and paid their own money for the Bell Centre. The city of Montreal actually billed them for the loss of tolls for construction. Kansas City if prefer to have NBA team rather than a NHL franchise. Seattle needs an arena, which it could share with NBA franchise. So just for logical hockey markets there are more dysfunctional franchises than there are sustainable markets. Canada can only support a maximum of two more teams. Long term I would prefer to dissolve two/three teams them after carefully maxing out Canada with 9 teams.
About the New York Islander they are on the watch to move after Phoenix. New York Islanders have permission from the Rangers to move to Brooklyn. The idiotic thing about that is the new NBA arena doesn’t facilitate hockey. So what a waste of an opportunity on the Barclays Centre being filled like many cities have NBA and NHL share arenas.
Phoenix Coyotes for one more year will stay in Phoenix. This team has bled money and the city of Glendale has paid for the 25 million dollar losses. Frankly, I want them to move to Quebec.
Florida Panthers fans seem if they would win they would come to games I don’t know why they don’t play in Miami with the Heat and not Fort Lauderdale, which is same thing as Phoenix saga. Fans don’t want to see a bad team and an arena that’s out of their way.
As I said before there isn’t enough teams in Canada to support the NHL’s basement teams. They will have to look at dissolving teams once all markets have been tried.
As for the NHL 2012 realignment I think two divisions of 8 and 2 divisions of 7 is the way to go. My set up will be in the lines of Pacific: San Jose, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and for now Phoenix. Central: Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, Nashville, St Louis, Colorado, and Dallas. North East: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Boston, New Jersey, and Buffalo. East: Pittsburgh, Washington, Florida, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Columbus. So the west was easy to pick. The central those teams would be angry with not having Detroit in their division. The east rumours are saying New York teams have a lot of say because they could be a package or want to be separated. This set up fixes all time zones issues, but Washington still has to play southern teams now have to have Flyers, Pens, and Wings to help compete against. And for the people who don’t believe Red Wings should not play in eastern teams I think you’re wrong. The travel is terrible and they love hosting Maple Leafs and Montreal because Windsor has a strong fan from those two teams base helps the Wings to sell out even though they increased the sales compared to other opponents. Apparently Columbus wants to play with Pittsburgh and move east, hence why they have teamed up with Detroit Red Wings to move east.
Houston’s probably the only team that MLB has any leverage to switch leagues, so, if there is going to be any kind of realignment in baseball, I predict Houston will move to the AL West. (Personally, I’d rather see the D-Backs get moved since they’re the newest member of the NL. The idea of moving a team that’s been in the same league for 50 years should be considered way too radical to happen.)
Anyway, my way of balancing the schedule out would be fairly simple:
1) Each team would play its four division rivals twelve times each. (12 X 4 = 48)
2) Each team would play seven interleague opponents three times each. The same teams would be played in consecutive years, switching home fields for the second year. The following year, seven other interleague teams would be played. (3 X 7 = 21)
3) Each team would play one interleague opponent six times each, three home and three away. It would be an annual series. (1 X 6 = 6)
4) Each team would play seven non-division opponents nine times each (7 X 9 = 63), and the three other non-division opponents eight times each, (3 X 8 = 24).
48 + 21 + 6 + 63 + 24 = 162
I’ll use the White Sox as an example.
It’s not perfect, but it does balance the schedule out within the league a lot more. Also, every team would in the American League would have at least three interleague series in common with every other AL team. Ditto for the NL.
Oops… I started to make a sample White Sox schedule and then change my mind, and I forgot to take out “I’ll use the White Sox as an example.”
Anyway, while I’m at it, everyone would need an annual six-game series against some opponent from the opposite league, so here are the pairings:
NY Yankees-NY Mets
Tampa Bay-Miami (That’s right. Their new stadium makes “Florida” history.)
Chi. White Sox-Chi. Cubs
LA Angels-LA Dodgers
*As a concession to the Astros’ for its move to the AL, Houston gets St. Louis for its permanent home-and-home interleague series. Kansas City chooses Colorado over San Diego and Arizona as its consolation for losing the St. Louis series.
Rutgers Athletic Dept Needs Funds to Stay Afloat.
Four of the top six schools on the list that need institutional support are from the Big East. Interesting.
The most interesting part is that their allocated revenue is 84% higher than the next nearest school, UCONN. The remainder of the universities on the list are, at least, relatively close to each other.
But this list also points out how different schools account for things differently. Note that Tennessee is #5 on the list. Does anybody believe TN is hurting? UVA also seems surprising.
The rest are expected, BE schools, Pac 10 schools including California who was going to cut sports (but obviously Pac 12 schools will do better), Maryland, who has been known to be struggling financially.
MD doesn’t surprise you, but UVA coming off a disastrous period in both FB and MBB does?
UVA has still averaged around 52k a year in fb over the last 4 years. Maryland’s best attendance year, at least in the last 15 years, is only a little over 52k.
TN blames the number on accounting differences. They say TN is self-sustaining and gives back to the school.
Sounds like TN is simply trying to do proper accounting. Although if they are using $3.16 million in support from the Chancellor’s office….Well maybe with all their problems lately, the administration has had to spend a little more time than usual.
With a little time on my hands, I’ll include my MLB international realignment idea I came up with a few years ago talking to some friends.
For the best symmetry, it would involve 10 teams from Asia. Because baseball’s traditions are part of its appeal, it would be nice to use existing pro teams there. This would also make it politically easier. Of course, this would have problems in that MLB couldn’t charge much for entry fees with pre-existing teams, and the Asian teams would have to merge with or buy out their competitors. The bought out teams could then form an Asian AAA League.
Looking at population numbers, and existing teams, I’d suggest 6 Japan teams, 3 Korean teams, and 1 Taiwanese team. I would then realign all of major league baseball into 4 leagues:
National League (NL)
East: Philadelphia; Atlanta; Cincinnati; Pittsburgh; Florida
West: LA Dodgers; San Francisco; St. Louis; Chicago Cubs; Houston
American League (AL)
East: NY Yankees; Boston; Baltimore; Cleveland; Detroit
West: Oakland; Seattle; Chicago WS; Minnesota; Texas
Continental League (CL)
East: NY Mets; Washington; Toronto; Tampa Bay; Milwaukee
West: LA Angels; San Diego; Arizona; Colorado; Kansas City
Pacific League (PL)
Central: Japan 1 (Tokyo); Japan 2; Japan 3; Korea 1; Korea 2
Oceanic:Japan 4 (Tokyo); Japan 5; Japan 6; Korea 3; Taiwan
-Note each league is 2 teams bigger than the original AL and NL before expansion
-For the North American Leagues, I first kept the 8 original franchises in the AL and NL. I then put the Mets and Angels in the Continental League (without the history, it needs the markets the most). I didn’t want both of the Florida teams in the Continental League, so the Marlins stay in the NL. Then I picked the older expansion franchises to fill out the AL and NL.
-There might be more than 2 Tokyo teams, but they should be split evenly between divisions; If there are 2 teams in Seoul it should be split as well
-With 3 leagues in North America, there will be 1 more MVP and Cy Young award every year, and 1 more pennant for the 30 teams.
Scheduling: with this format, you can stick to only 3 game series.
Each team plays:
-3 home and 3 away series against every team in the division (24 series)
-2 home and 2 away series against the teams in the other division in the same league (20 series)
-10 series of interleague games
That adds up to 54 series of 3 games each= 162 games.
Each season 2 leagues will be paired up for interleague play. For instance, year 1 might see the AL matched up with the PL while the NL plays the CL. For the NL and CL, every team in a division will host every team in 1 division of the other league (5 series) while visiting every team in the other division (5 series). For example, every NL West team visits the teams in the CL East, and every CL East team visits the teams in the NL East.
The teams that cross the Pacific will play every team in a single division of the other league home and away. In the AL-PL example, there will be 3 weeks in June when the entire AL East will go to Asia and the PL Central will come to America. During this time, the AL East teams will play a series against each of the 5 PL Oceanic teams, and The PL Central teams will play all of the AL West teams. Thus, there will still be 5 games each day hosted by AL teams during this time and 5 games hosted by PL teams. This lets national broadcasters still air games at normal times. (Broadcasters following a single team will have unusual times when that team travels) Regular league play then resumes until 3 weeks in August, when the AL West will go to Asia and the PL Oceanic will come to America.
With this format:
-Every team in a division has the exact same schedule
-US teams only travel to Asia in the regular season 3 weeks every 3 years. It will be rare enough that following your team at odd hours will be fun. You’ll also have a 3 week home stand that same year.
-Asian teams travel to the US for one 3 week trip every year during the regular season.
-You see every team in another league home and away every 6 years
-Major League baseball being played in Asia gives TV networks live programming to air late at night and during the mornings. No, it’s not nearly as valuable as prime time programming, but MLB already has lots of games to air in prime time. TV networks will pay something to air the Pacific League games here, especially the 6 weeks each year where American teams will be there. It would also be an opportunity to spread the game globally, with better hours for kids to watch games in Europe and Africa.
For the playoffs, each league determines its own League champion (probably with 2 rounds of playoffs; 2 Division champs + 2 Wild cards) without crossing the oceans. This leaves 4 pennant winners. The Leagues that were paired up during the regular season have their Champions play in a 7 game series (in our example, AL champ vs. PL champ and NL champ vs. CL champ). The winners would then play in a true World Series. It will always have 1 North American team, and often 2. This will be the time when time zone issues truly become difficult, as TV networks will want people to see it on both sides of the Pacific.
This whole thing is less elegant, but still works if some leagues are slightly larger or smaller (for example, it would be a good time to add a 3rd team in New York or Los Angeles), but they need to be even. You would have a couple of teams making the cross-Pacific trip at a separate time during the season.
I thought it was a tragedy when the Tigers were moved out of a division with both the Yankees and the Red Sox. I’d like to see them back in a division with one of them. Personally, I think that having the Yankees and Red Sox in the same division produces fatigue in the non-Boston/New York sporting public and would actually be better for MLB, but I somehow doubt they’d ever buy that.
Not sure I’d actually want this, but it sure is interesting to read. Neat idea.
I love absolutely everything about this. I wish i lived in an alternate universe where this could happen. This post absolutely made my day, I’m going to spend the next few months in a fantasy world where I get to see the Dodgers and Angels play the Yomiuri Giants and the Chunichi Dragons; I’d stay up late at night to see the A’s play in Seoul against the LG Twins.
If anything were ever to happen like this in the distant and awesome future, there would probably have to be another league for Latin America as well.
The SEC wants to dial back recruiting regulations in a major way.
An interesting series where the blogger realigns the 11 I-A conferences based purely on geography. He started on the west coast, which is the easier part IMO. The guy’s a WY blogger.
1. The P12 becomes a Southwest conference (CA, AZ and HI schools)
2. The WAC becomes a Northwest conference (WA, OR, ID and UT schools)
3. The MWC becomes a Mountains conference mostly (WY, CO and NM schools plus UTEP and TT)
4. The B12 shifts a little to the east and north, losing TX but adding MN, IA, NE and AR
I saw that. Fun, but in his scenario I’m pretty sure Hawaii (along with a few other schools) would have just dropped football. Too bad he’s sticking with the current conference names – I’d love to see the SWC resurrected.
He is renaming some of them. He kept Pac 12, but the WAC became the Great Northwest Conference for example. MWC stays the same, but the B12 became the Big 11.
The sixth round of the draft is under way:
1. Cult of Les Miles: Iowa (LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Stanford, Arkansas)
2. House of a Thousand Sanctions: Kentucky (USC, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee, Syracuse)
3. Conference TMZ: Maryland (Ohio State, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan State, West Virginia)
Iowa brings another solid FB program, but no market or talent base, so it’s a safe 6th round pick.
Kentucky provides a MBB king to a conference sorely lacking any hoops, as well as an OK FB team and a strong rivalry.
Maryland was a steal in the 6th round. They are more valuable than some or all of UL, MSU and WV with the DC market, a big talent base, strong hoops, UnderArmour money/PR, solid academics and other sports. MD also brings a rivalry with WV.
And the 6th round is done (31-36):
4. Team Speed Kills: Cal (Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Arizona)
5. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Kansas (Florida, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), Auburn)
6. The 12 Pack: Duke (Texas, Georgia, UCLA, Wisconsin, Washington)
Clearly this was the round for MBB powers as UK, KU and Duke all went. I think everybody did well this round.
Top available picks IMO: GT, IL, MO, Pitt
The BC folks seem to think they need to pick BC now (1st pick of 7th round) because they won’t be around by the end of round 8. I think BC should be available.
Is Maryland-WV a rivalry? Huh. That’s actually the first really solid pick Conference TMZ has made since the first round. All of their other decisions have been at least a little iffy. That’s the Big East blogger, right?
Let’s see – 12 Pack picks next. GT would be a good rival for UGA, Illinois would be a good one for Wisconsin and would give you a big Chicago market, which appears to be a part of the gameplan. But he doesn’t have a northeastern school … so maybe BC, or perhaps UConn to create a real powerhouse hoops conference (and, hey, they made the Fiesta Bowl!). The Illini seem like the most likely pick.
MD doesn’t have any one great rivalry, especially in FB. Navy has Army, WV has Pitt and UVA has VT. However, WV is generally considered the strongest of the 3 rivalries. They have a long common border and the schools are fairly close together.
Yes, TMZ is the BE blog’s conference. And yes, this is their first solid pick since round 1 or 2.
The 12 Pack is based in a BC blog, and their blogger has vetoed UConn as a choice. The blog’s followers seem to think BC is a logical pick, but I think they are greatly over valuing BC. Pitt brings a smaller city, but it cares much more about CFB. Pitt is also more prominent in both MBB and FB. I agree GT would be a nice pick for the rivalry, but I think all of these bloggers have tended to prefer geographic diversity over rivalries.
Other schools I’ve seen mentioned a lot are Clemson and SC.
I’m thinking ASU, OkSU, UConn, IN, BYU and NCSU are also due to be picked soon.
Notre Dame and Tennessee are decent in hoops. ‘Cuse is probably just behind a ‘king’. They weren’t ‘lacking any hoops’, IMO.
FWIW, I meant to say “in” not “any.” I didn’t intend to knock SU, but the lack of other quality teams to play against them. ND is OK (the past few years have been above their norm), and TN is up in the air after Pearl.
A couple of other conferences are worse (CoLM, TSK, maybe SotTP) but now is when they seem to be getting hoops programs.
Temple coaches are telling recruits that they will be playing in the BE. They could be blowing smoke but that won’t help their recruiting in the long run.
But it would be announced by now if it was truly a done deal. At best it’s likely.
Hey Frank et al…..Is further B1G expansion in the future really not happening unless its Notre Dame? Or, will East Coast schools, Rutgers,Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, or UConn, or even Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, or Mizzou have a shot realistically?
The B10 is highly unlikely to start another round of realignment unless ND comes to the B10 and asks. If other conferences expand it might make the B10 feel it has to respond, but otherwise I don’t see it. Until a new financial model comes into play, nobody but a king like ND could make it worth while to expand. I don’t see any pair of non-king schools that could possibly bring enough value to make B10 expansion financially sound. Plus, conferences start to lose meaning when they get too large.
I know Bill Bradshaw, the Temple AD. He tells me that the Owls will be the part of a new football-only BE announced within the next 12 months. How soon the Owls can start in FB? 1-3 years.
@Vic C – Thanks for the input. When you say football-only BE, do you mean one or more football-only members added to the existing hybrid league or a split league?
Like I said above, there’s no way Temple can know this for sure. The BE presidents would have to vote on it and it would have been made public. At best, Temple has been told it’s likely. Remember, Nova was sure they were getting in for FB, too.
I should point out that Temple signed a 6 year deal with the MAC which runs through the 2012 season. I don’t know what that means for 2013 and beyond.
And the MAC can’t catch a break! They’ll be right back to 13 members.
Presumably UMass will move up to the BE in a few years anyway.
That’d be just as well anyway. Neither Temple nor UMass seems like a good fit with the MAC for me. It’s a marriage of convenience in both cases. Separate from the geographic aspect, neither school really seems to fit the MAC profile to me.
They are both tremendous cultural and geographical outliers, certainly. I’m guessing the MAC thinks the market access is worth the hassles of traveling so far, but it’s hard to believe the original 12 schools aren’t losing money by adding them. Maybe it’s helping them get eastern students?
My guess is that Temple and UMass each needed a football league (for different reasons) and the MAC decided to give it a whirl on the expectation that neither would be a long-term relationship and it had the potential to improve access to at least those 2 markets, if not “the east” generally. Perhaps something of a situation where, going into it, they said “Maybe we’ll lose money on this, but not so much money as not to at least see what happens.”
Even if Temple and UMass both end up bailing, I still think the MAC should swap Miami and Toledo in the alignment, though.
I have yet to figure out why they split this way to start with. There must have been a reason to not follow the obvious split.
Perhaps to take advantage of Toledo not being far from Ypsilanti? But that seems short-sighted — it also isn’t an extreme distance from Akron and Kent, while Oxford is a long ways away from both (I think it’s actually a longer drive from Oxford to Kent than it is from Oxford to Kalamazoo).
Granted, there’s no good way to do a geographic split in football in that Toledo and Bowling Green are a stone’s throw away from each other but a geographic split is almost certainly going to split them up on the FB side (assuming you keep the 3 Michigan schools together), and even in other sports (mostly basketball), Eastern Michigan is likely going to be on the opposite side of any alignment from its two closest schools. To my sensibilities, the benefits still seem worth it.
Toledo and WMU have long been rivals. WMU was the only Michigan school in the MAC for many years. It made sense for Toledo to be with them.
Temple, UMass, Buffalo, Akron, Kent make a reasonable mix of northeast rustbelt schools. Temple and Buffalo really are good matches for MAC schools with their commmuter profile and pro sports competition.
MAC gets 4 bb games a year from both Temple and UMass as part of the deal, so its not just football. It gives them a chance to raise their bb profile. Same thing with having them in football. It expands their geographic reach, raising their profile.
If (and I think this whole thing is a big if-its a huge shift from public comments, including Oliver Luck’s just a few weeks ago) this happens, MAC could probably easily get Western Kentucky or Illinois State, both of whom would help in bb (which the MAC needs).
That may have made sense when gas was cheap, but with the MAC mostly being a “bus league” and gasoline at $4/gal, it seems like an unnecessary luxury to accommodate a relatively obscure Toledo-WMU rivalry.
“Temple and Buffalo really are good matches for MAC schools with their commmuter profile and pro sports competition.”
Huh?? This seems to be exactly why I think they’re bad fits. Most MAC schools are in small college towns in their respective States’ hinterlands, not near the main metropolis. None of them are flagship schools (until UMass joins). This is why they seem like especially poor long-term fits. Short term, like I say, I can see saying, let’s give this a whirl and see what happens.
Adam, there are multiple ways to do a geographic split that don’t split Toledo and BGSU.
With all 14:
1. A NW/SE axis that puts them both in the West
2. Do a 6/6 split and then split the 2 FB only schools so everybody has an east coast division mate (this means the divisions would make sense for all sports)
3. OH and IN versus Other (proximity versus big city access)
4. NNW versus SSE (IL, MI x3, NY, Toledo & BGSU versus other)
1. A NNE/SSW axis that separates EMU and Miami (West) from Toledo and BGSU (East)
2. Ohio versus other
E. Michigan, N. Illinois, Miami, Kent & Akron are all in pro sports markets. Ball St. is one county removed from the Indianapolis metro area. Ohio, WMU and CMU are the only ones in “college towns.” Toledo and Bowling Green are kind of in the middle. Toledo is pretty good sized and is only 45 miles from Detroit and Bowling Green is just outside Toledo.
The alignment really is good geographically for everyone but Miami. The 7 western (more northwestern) schools are pretty well packed. Its very much a bus league for that division. And its not that bad for Miami. In a 12 team scenario, I’m sure 3 eastern Ohio schools, BG and Buffalo is preferable to 3 Michigan schools, NIU and Ball St.
Don’t be so sure! Here are the current Mapquest lengths from Oxford to the other East Division teams:
Bowling Green: 174
Avg: 256 miles
If you swapped Miami and Toledo in the alignment, Miami’s new trips would be:
Mt. Pleasant: 327
So they’re actually a bit closer to the West Division teams on average. The big gains come in with football — while it’s the same 246 miles for Oxford to travel to the West Division schools, when you add Philadelphia to the East Division, that’s 578 miles and the average distance balloons to 310. If they put Bowling Green back in the West when UMass joins, dropping the 174 to Bowling Green for the 892 to Foxboro makes an average 429 miles.
Of course, as long as the MAC is going to have teams that are major geographic outliers like Temple and UMass, the East Division is going to have major travel. In and of itself, I think that ought to mean that as long as it’s an unbalanced (13-team) league, they ought to make the West Division the “heavy” 7-team group.
A CT blogger wants the BE’s WBB tourney at Mohegan Sum at least once and believes ND is preventing it. He thinks the BE should override them and go there anyway because it is a better financial deal and ND will never join in FB anyway.
Interesting. What does Notre Dame being a member for football have to do with the women’s basketball tournament?
Well presumably the theory is that overriding ND’s preference not to have the tournament at a casino would alienate ND such that they would not consider joining in FB. But since joining in FB won’t happen anyway, what’s the harm in alienating them?
From the article:
“What football program in the Big East, even though it will not play football within the league, is among the most famous in the history of college football, so famous its has its own television contract even though it’s now just an average program.
What football program would the Big East love to add to its football roster, even though it should already be but chooses not to be, should it decide again to expand beyond Texas Christian University, which joins in 2012.
Which of the Catholic institutions with voting rights on conference matters would the Big East most likely defer – on matters like moving a women’s tournament to a gambling/entertainment facility that the majority of other members apparently strongly favor – because they don’t want to make them so angry they decide never to play football for them?
St. John’s, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence or DePaul?
More realistically, the BE might want to keep ND happy for regular season games and bowl tie-ins. I think all but the most blind BE fans know that ND will never join for FB.
I think this guy misses the point since apparently all the Catholic schools would likely oppose playing anywhere that allows gambling and they make up half the league.
Anyways, if the football schools do defer to Notre Dame it’s not because they think it would prevent ND from ever joining the football conference (they know that want happen) but because they don’t want to risk the Irish bolting and setting off a chain reaction ending with the Big East being picked apart by the ACC and Big Ten.
He says that not all of the Catholic presidents would automatically reject it out of hand. I don’t know if he has any sources to support that or not.
One commenter pointed out some interesting hypocrisy, though. Since the Catholic church does significant fundraising with bingo games, especially in the northeast, how do they justify their objection to playing WBB games at a casino complex? It’s not like anybody has to gamble to see the games.
Some interesting figures and comments on SEC’s success as of late and B10’s lack thereof. This is unusual for an article from SEC country. Its pretty balanced.
From the article:
Four NCAA sports are more prominent than others, the Big Four sports, if you will: football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. The SEC has won half of those sports’ national titles in the past six years.
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you’re absolutely…right!
If I had to pick one as different, I would go with baseball. It is clearly regionalized (like hockey or wrestling), not national like the other 3. WBB make a lot less and has fewer good programs, but it is a national sport that makes revenue in a few places.
Really, FB and MBB stand alone. All the other sports are regional or generally non-profit teams.
As for the article, I disagree with its premise. You don’t define a conference dynasty solely by conference National Championships. You have to look at the overall success of the whole league. It is also natural but very convenient to divide time into the chunk that maximizes the recent SEC success. As the article points out, the BE won 8 in the previous 6 year period (next best was 4) versus 2 for the SEC. Did they acknowledge that as a BE dynasty back then?
Everyone knows that the SEC has dominated the BCS title lately and nobody disputes that.
However, MBB has been a wasteland in the SEC west. WBB has been mostly UT and LSU. I think the ACC, BE and B10 folks would argue about declaring an SEC dynasty in MBB and WBB lately.
If you add hockey (the complement to baseball), the B10 and ACC both get 2 titles. Men’s track would add 3 B12 and 2 ACC titles. Wrestling would add 5 B10 and 1 B12 titles. Softball would add 6 P12 titles. The point is, the article conveniently chose criteria that make the SEC look better in comparison to other conferences. They do fine on their own, they don’t need the spin.
Don’t think its any spin at all. He pointed out that SEC did not do much in that previous period. There’s no dispute the two main sports are fb and men’s basketball. Baseball isn’t regional. Its just that the B10 does lousy in it. Big East has had more success lately with the same weather. In terms of national TV coverage and participation, women’s basketball is clearly the 3rd sport. Its arguable whether baseball is far enough ahead of the rest to be considered in the top group as far as colleges go. Women’s Volleyball and hockey are the only other sports anyone makes any money on, but hockey has very little participation.
It’s not just the B10, the north in general does much worse than it used to do. The CWS had several northern winners before they got rid of geographical regionals. Since then, not so much. The B10 could help itself some by changing recruiting rules to match the south, but they don’t believe in oversigning in baseball, either. I don’t think that changing the rules would suddenly make them competitive, either.
Northern teams in the CWS since 2000:
Nebraska x3, ND
That’s 4 of 44 teams.
Northern teams with CWS titles:
MN (’56, ’60, ’64), MI (’53, ’62), Holy Cross (’52), OSU (’66)
That’s 7 in 15 years, but none in 45 years.
Northernish teams with more than 2 CWS appearances before 2000 (last one in parentheses):
10 – Northern CO (’74)
7 – MI, Maine (’86)
6 – St. John’s, WMU (’80)
5 – MN, UConn, PSU, SIU (’79)
4 – Holy Cross, OSU, BC, Harvard, Lafayette, Seton Hall (’75)
Others in 80s and 90s:
Creighton ’91, IN St ’86, KS ’93
The point isn’t that northern baseball is great, but that the sport has become regionalized. Look at the location of successful teams versus the distribution of all DI teams. WI doesn’t even bother to field a team.
That’s why I included hockey, which is a geographically complementary sport to baseball as well as a potential revenue producer.
As for spin, picking those four sports and specifying the time period (6 years) slants the story. Calling it a dynasty because a couple of teams have won titles (outside of FB) is spin. The SEC has no dynasty in MBB or WBB. I don’t think they have one in baseball either, with the ACC, P12 and B12 being competitive. The SEC didn’t win the CWS from 2001-2008.
That’s 4 of 96 CWS teams from the north since 2000.
Doesn’t that seem like it’s been regionalized to you?
You could make the same comment about football. Outside of Ohio State, football has been dominated by Sun Belt teams over the last decade. And there’s some chance Ohio State’s finishes could go the way of USC’s. Based on the news (Scout said Oregon paid him for influence and only asked for scouting info when NCAA started investigating), Oregon’s break into the group could go away also.
Northern teams play baseball, they just haven’t won many championships lately.
The baseball World Series is the final 8 of baseball, so that should be roughly equivalent to the top 8 of the men’s outdoor track and field finals. Sadly, the results aren’t in one place, so it took awhile to go compile this list
Anyway, here’s the highest finishing Northern school (not counting Pac 10 territory as North) and the highest finsihing Big Ten school for each of the last 5 years:
2011: #12 (4 way tie): Illinois
2010: #7 Kansas; #20 Indiana
2009: #13 (tie) K State; #37 (3 way tie) Illinois, Minnesota, Villanova
2008: #11(tie)Northern Iowa; #21 (tie) Wisconsin
2007 # 7 (tie) Wisconsin
There are only 2 ‘Northern’ schools that made the final 8 the last 5 years, roughly the same proportion as your baseball numbers
Does that make Men’s Track and field a regional sport?
You could make that comment about football but you’d be obviously wrong. Northern teams have often earned BCS at large bids or won their conference against southern teams. The two aren’t even remotely equivalent and you know it.
Also, nobody said northern teams don’t play baseball. It’s a strawman argument against college baseball being regionalized.
It’s not that “they just haven’t won many championships lately,” it’s that they haven’t won any lately and rarely have even had a chance to compete. It’s pretty much the definition of regionalized. Why you are fighting that is beyond me.
Assuming that your numbers are right and that a similar pattern holds for the past 20 years or more, then yes I’d say outdoor track is also regionalized (and for the same reason – weather). To be fair, though, track is a very different beast as it’s really a bunch of individual sports grouped together rather than a singular sport like baseball. I’m guessing there are parts of track and field that northern teams are good at and other parts where they chronically lag, and only those latter parts are regionalized in my opinion (but that’s not the question you asked).
This raised the question about participation so-top sports in Division I in 2008-9:
Men’s-# of schools
cross country 302
track outdoor 269
track indoor 249
soccer 197 (higher than I would have thought-not many southern programs)
Ice hockey 58
Water polo 22
There are also 28 rowing teams which is not an NCAA championship sport (of course FBS football isn’t either)
Women’s-# of schools
cross country 327
track outdoor 307
track indoor 299
Field hockey 76
ice hockey 35
water polo 32
Equestrian with 18 teams was the highest non championship sport.
Thanks for that info Bullet, I didn’t know some of those and quite a few of them surprised me given Title IX and such. Interesting data there.
There are other non-NCAA sports, too, such as synchronized swimming (OSU has 25 national titles since 1977).
The SEC’s current run has been as a 12 team conference. Most of college sports history had smaller major conferences, making it more difficult for any one conference to dominate national titles. Still, I decided to look and see if other conferences ever had strong runs of titles. WBB only started in 1982, so older streaks can’t include it. The CWS started in 1947, so really old streaks can’t include that either.
The comparison streak:
SEC (2005/6-2010/1) – 5 FB (’06-’10), 3 CWS (’09-’11), 2 MBB (’06-’07), 2 WBB (’07-’08)
That’s 12 in 6 years (12/24 = 50%).
B10 (1939/40-1942/3) – 3 FB (’40-’42), 2 MBB (’40-’41)
That’s 5 in 4 years (5/8 = 63%) for a smaller conference.
B10 (1959/60-1961/2) – 1 FB (’60), 1 MBB (’53, ’60), 2 CWS (’60, ’62)
That’s 4 in 3 years (4/9 = 44%) for a smaller conference.
B10 (1952/3-1955/6) – 2 FB (’52, ’54), 1 MBB (’53), 2 CWS (’53, ’56)
That’s 5 in 4 years (5/12 = 42%) for a smaller conference.
BE (1999/2000-2004/5) – 5 WBB (’00-04), 2 MBB (’03-’04), 1 FB (’01)
That’s 8 in 5 years (8/20 = 40%).
P8 (1966/7-1974/5) – 3 FB (’67, ’72, ’74), 8 MBB (’67-’73, ’75), 6 CWS (’68, ’70-4)
That’s 17 in 9 years (17/27 = 63%) for a smaller conference.
B10(1952/3-1965/6) – 5 FB (’52, ’54, ’57, ’60, ’65), 2 MBB (’53, ’60), 6 CWS (’53, ’56, ’60, ’62, ’64, ’66)
That’s 13 in 14 years (13/42 = 31%) for a smaller conference.
So yes, conference streaks are rare as we all would expect. The current SEC streak is not historic, though. The conference of champions strikes again. The Pac-8 won 63% of the titles in 9 years with only 8 schools versus 50% over 6 years with 12 schools. That’s not even close.
having followed womens basketball since the 1970’s I would say it is more than just UT and LSU in the SEC. The SEC east has UGA and Vandy, and the west has Auburn and Arkansas. Even the bottom teams are competitive, while the other conferences drop off quickly after the top team or two. Now that the SEC has the ESPN contract I am guessing they will get more exposure at the expense of the ACC. Putting GT in tOSU’s bracket and shipping UK to the far west was not right. Aside from not getting to see lavender and dunlap go head to head (they used to play each other when they were younger), sending the #2 team in the SEC that far was poor seeding indeed.
I only said it was mostly UT and LSU, and that’s based on the criteria the author used of championships. TN is the only SEC team to win the WBB NC. I only added LSU because they recently had 5 final four’s in a row (’04-’08). Other SEC final four’s came before LSU’s run. TN has won the regular season and/or tournament title 20 of the past 22 years, so I think it’s safe to say they dominate the conference.
Since everything changes at midnight tonight, I made a list of who’s going where in college football. Correct me if I’m wrong:
Boise State WAC->MWC
BYU MWC->Independent(football only, WCC all others)
Fresno State WAC->MWC
Hawaii WAC->MWC (football only, BigWest all others))
Texas State D1AA->D1A(Ind)
Texas State Ind->WAC
All of the websites remain with the old configurations besides the WAC which has already removed Boise State. I’m glad they are waiting till it’s official, makes it a bit neater. The WCC has a countdown clock until BYU joins.
This includes the PAC-10 website. Today is the last day of the PAC-10/Pacific 10.
Utah is excited.
Just for completeness, here are all conference changes for 2006-2010:
2007 Temple Ind->MAC
Western Kentucky joined the Sun Belt for football in 2007.
My mistake. I was going off of the Wikipedia conference pages, which didn’t mention that.
The CAA is proposing that I-AA move to 5 years of eligibility with no more redshirting. The idea is that since the teams are much smaller than I-A, it will help provide depth for injuries without adding the cost of more scholarships. Also, studies have shown that freshmen do better academically when they are playing versus redshirting.
The proposal is one thing, but the logic makes no sense to me. The teams are NOT smaller than I-A unless they choose to be smaller. They can give 85 players scholarships, they just have to do partials to limit to 63 full scholarships (for example, 41 full and 44 half scholarships). I-A red-shirts and doesn’t complain about not having enough players.
The pros got by for many years with only 40 players on their rosters. Why can’t a college team get by with 48 on a single road trip (per his example).
On those studies, do they take into account the fact that some players get red-shirted because they are marginal academically and the coaches want them to get settled?
I’ve heard it proposed for I-A. Although I suspect it would be seriously abused at the I-A level (maybe not so much at FCS). If you have a good player who’s marginal as a pro keep him another year to see if he can improve his draft prospects. Net result is that some players play 5 full years. It would also lead to more running off players when there are others you get to use 5 years.
I also don’t see how it could be justified as only being for football. Would you get Title IX suits by women athletes who want to work on their graduate degree while still on a volleyball scholarship? Its a can of worms.
The teams really are smaller. I-A teams can generally travel with around 70 players, not the 56 of the CAA.
As for expecting I-AA players to take the abuse that NFL players did, that’s just pointless. The pros got paid to take the abuse. NFL players are better trained and physically ready for the punishment from the game, too. There are physical differences between 18 year-olds and 25 year-olds.
I assume their argument is that they already are providing 5 years of scholarship to these players, the only difference is letting them play in that fifth year. There’s no reason the policy couldn’t apply to women since it wouldn’t change costs. All it changes is who gets to play, not how many get a scholarship.
Traveling squads are a choice. At one time there was a 60 player limit for the major schools (not sure when that got repealed but it was a long time ago). 56 must be a CAA rule. And he was saying he couldn’t field 56 healthy players. Of course, that is part of what redshirts are about. You can take the redshirt off if you have unusual injuries that year.
I don’t think anyone is arguing any of that. I was just pointing out that his teams really are smaller than D-I teams. I’m sure the CAA limits them to 56 to cut costs on travel. Clearly he knows that’s what redshirts are for, but he feels they could better manage players without the redshirt. Burning a redshirt for 3 games while someone heals is a tough decision, especially with a limited number of players.
Why not limit them to 44 regular season games (or whatever the equivalent of 4 full seasons is) in 5 years? Then everybody can maximize their opportunities.
I like your idea of games better than his unlimited 5 year. But it would be a lot tougher to police.
I don’t know of a good reason why eligibility should be restricted to 4 years. Maybe back when people normally got a degree in that time it made sense, but the average degree takes more than 4 years anymore. Five years would be a better fit for a “normal” degree process.
Kansas State chronicles the final day of the Big 12 as we know it:
I would like to argue your number 1 rule in regards to the Pheonix Coyotes. First thing to note the NHL salary cap celing and floor are getting lifted by 5 million dollars. Pheonix lost around 25 million dollars last year. Now that matthew hulsizer has dropped out bid to get the team for practically for free, who is going to buy this team? The city of Glendale eventually will eventually have to give up on losing money. The city of Glendale has been bullish knowing that Winnipeg was the only fair option to move the team is now gone. Even if Quebec government pays for a new arena, its going to take a year to build the arena and that could affect 2 nhl seasons. The colosiee is not up to NHL standards. Maybe move to Toronto and if they could rent from the Air Canada Centre it would be a hard negoation for Maple Leafs to give up thier empire. So the only option might be contraction and have a dispersion draft.
I will argue even further that the rich teams in NHL are making so money that its causing the salary cap to rise. The exponential rising floor the will cause Pheonix, Columbus, Florida, and even to the Islanders to spend even more money on players. This may cause teams to leave town or fold.
Happy New Conference Day!
Here’s hoping Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Boise State and BYU enjoy their new conferences and that the Big 12, MWC and WAC enjoy their new lineups. May everybody flourish in their new environment.
In the conference redraft, the first 2 picks of the 7th round are:
Clemson and IL
You can find a table of the first 6 rounds at:
UConn went next.
Here is an interesting article about the beginning of the Big Ten Network.
Shapiro certainly comes off as a dick in that article.
I mean, I expect a hardball negotiating style, but pouring gift champagne down the drain and then call someone else juvenile? That’s classy.
Dan Patrick has told a story when he was at ESPN, he was negotiating a new contract with Shapiro. Shapiro told him he was over the hill and lowballed Patrick saying he wouldn’t be able to work anyplace else.
ESPN’s ‘lowball’ offer triggered Big Ten expansion
Failed negotiation also led to Big Ten Network
Actually the article actually supports the second (smaller) headline…the primary one is more speculative (and attention grabbing).
Oops, shoulda refreshed before posting…ninja’d by Craig.
Capitol One Cup final standings out:
Interesting to look at the conferences. Other than the Big 6, CUSA and MWC, only 5 schools (3 of them Ivies) cracked the top 75-Princeton #38, Denver #54, Penn #68, Cornell #70 and Kent #73. I think only WSU and Miss. St. from the Big 5 were outside the top 75.
BE did not do very well. Pitt, Cincinnati and Rutgers were all way down in the standings, along with all the basketball schools. Villanova and Georgetown, who do play football, even if not FBS, were top 75.
Seattle building new arena for NHL team?
Perhaps the Phoenix Coyotes will have a new home in a few years. Seattle would be much better than moving the Coyotes to Quebec City or Hamilton. The realigned NHL could still have a 7 team Pacific Division without having to move Colorado from the Midwest Division, which would be the case if Phoenix moved east. I’m sure Seattle could build a great rivalry with Vancouver which is about a three hour drive north.
NHL to play exhibition game in Kansas City.
Might be a good relocation city for Columbus, Florida or Phoenix.
Happy 4th folks!
Here is an observation on pro sports teams and the future, but I will go to the past to draw the inference. 100 years ago horse racing was the atop the sports heap and everyone thought this would continue. If history teaches anything, and physics is correct, it os my observation that all things grow, maintain, and then decline. In the 80’s I was sitting at a small kitchen table while my grandmother wrote out on a yellow legal pad the tracks she had been to in her lifetime (her list only included tracks in the americas – so tracks in mexico and canada were included – but tracks in europe, asia, and other places were not. By the time she was done there were probably 100 tracks on her list or more, and she was sure she had forgotten some. Fast forward to today, and try to name more than 10 or 20 tracks and only a handful like Churchill and Belmont that are names the average person on the street would actually recognize. While you may not see a correlation, I am older and I feel there is. Racing built itself up on live event to build its fan base. In the 20’s folks went to see the horses run in person, and even in the Great Depression only the movies and racing seemed to still draw patrons (Keeneland was actually founded right in the middle of the Great Depression). It was the “sport of kings” but it still depended on the 2 dollar bettor for it survival (and why they used to print a 2 dollar bill if you are old enough to remember them).
Today racing is near the bottom (I was surprised to see that the Derby only had 5 million in broadcast rights which is fast approaching 1 advertising spot for the Super Bowl. While you can argue many reasons for racings demise, I would put the loss of the “average” live fan as the number #1 reason. Tracks have closed left and right with the advent of TV (and simulcasting) so folks in Indiana can watch the biggest tracks in the country, and do not feel the need to support the local track (Hoosier Park – who filed for bankruptcy in 2010). Why you might ask do I bring up horse racing? They lost sight of the 2 dollar bettor and figured that they would keep them if all they did was watch racing on TV. I see a similar situation developing in pro sports today with the advent of “luxury” seating and price hikes that force the “average” sports fan to watching the game on TV and not attending the live event. Sure this will work for the current generation, but what happens when they die off? Baseball has historically survived on the live event and the live game as a time for father and son to share quality time. The NFL of today was built on a similar foundation in that many kids first “real” experience was a game shared with a father, uncle, or grandfather who were probably working class folks.
The NFL is probably the best at survival, but they have relied on sports betting and fantasy football to keep their demand high. When I see younger folks following players (because of fantasy football) and not teams I see less connection to a team or a place. Throw in that more folks now watch it on TV and never experience the event live would suggest less city / team loyalty going forward. While I am not suggesting contraction in the next few years, I would not be surprised at all to see contraction across the board for the “luxury” pro sports of today. I could be dead wrong, but 100 years ago who would have believed the contraction that has occurred in the sport of racing. I still feel that the long term health of any sport is the ability to draw live fans from the lower and middle class. This is still america, and our roots are deep in the ability for us to experience opportunity that is not shared in other countries with roots of kings or dictators. If we lose this, I think contraction of pro franchises are quite real indeed.
Sports is definitely an ever evolving industry. Coming from a family with horse background, it’s sad to see the sport the way it is, with Ohio racetracks with only a fraction of the support they had even 2 decades ago. I will comment that a lot of that isn’t directly on the tracks though. I think the internet and more things to do has hurt the tracks along with bowling alleys, miniature golf, adult softball, etc. The fact that gambling has expanded more places and more easily done online doesn’t help either.
I’ve wondered about weakening the foundations with high prices too. I’m an Ohio State grad, but I doubt I’ll be to another game anytime soon due to price. Even baseball can get very expensive. You can usually get fairly cheap tickets for bad seats (although taking a whole family it ads up), but if you want to buy any drinks, snacks, or souvenirs, the cost skyrockets.
I agree with yourpoint while I disagree about horse racing. Gambling alternatives hurt it more than anything else. Lotteries and casinos are all over.
I don’t think forgetting the $2 bettor really hurt the horse tracks, although I think you have a good point about baseball and football and the constant rising prices.
Society changes. Our rural slow paced society loved horse racing and baseball. Trends come and go-bridge, backgammon, now poker. So there’s no guarantee things will stay the same. Participation in high school football hasn’t declined, but with the large size of players and injuries, the lack of fitness of youth, does that continue? If participation declines, what happens to college and pro football?
One of my first jobs was walking hots “up the river” 🙂 and we have family with at least 3 generations of ohio bred racing. I have had long discussions with the current racing comish for Ohio for quite some time about the future of ohio racing and racing in general. The problem is we are older and actually have common sense. The younger crowd is enamored with slots but does not see the job loss and criminal issues it brings. In the old days having Coney Island and River Downs next door to each other was a true sense of marketing genius. They kids could play at Coney Island while the adults played next door! 😉 Both venues were good for the city and the state, but younger folks do not even realize the history.
I agree 100% about your point of lotteries and casinos, but had the industry remained strong the lottery and casino factions would never have gotten their foot in the door. The biggest point people miss in the debate is the numbers of jobs racing provides versus casinos or lotteries – slot machines are preferred because their is little to no labor cost, and lotteries tend to provide limited jobs (home office with about 10 – 15 staff (a local food joint probably provides more payroll and jobs than a state lottery). Horse racing is labor intensive in grooms, trainers, track labor, vets, feed suppliers, pari mutual folks, and a whole host of jobs most folks are unaware exist. In the sense of job creation, racing is probably the #1 form of gambling for job creation. That said, I was privy to track numbers pre and post lottery and can say first hand that one just robbed dollars from the other (not a real new revenue stream). I can also say firsthand that OTB bumped up gambling numbers, but also created lower on track attendance (fewer live bettors that also bought gifts, food, and other revenue streams on track.
My bigger point was that OTB forced contraction (similar to the dropping value of D1 football teams past 48 or 64 teams). This was a primary point I made if we had a “spin off” of 4 “16 team superconferences” in that they could cover 80 – 90 % of the college football dollar, while the “other” half of the teams left would have to fight for the 10 – 20% “scraps”. If OTB (a pure TV audience could force closure of local tracks – and by default kill off or limit future fan growth) what would prevent the same thing in other pro sports? I could easily see the NBA drop from 30 to 24 teams if margins are not good for the bottom teams. Fewer teams would cut payrolls and expenses resulting in more concentrated talent. The same could follow for MLB or the NHL in a drop to 24. OTB showed the big track owners that they could eliminate competition and strengthen their own tracks by letting the big tracks be the winners in OTB. I find it hard to believe the top pro sports franchises have not at least seen the effect of power concentration. Heck, the whole realignment in college football was driven by TV money more than feeding the local fan base!
Here’s an interesting article that looks at the B10’s “struggles” in bowl games in the BCS era. It examines whether the B10 gets a bad rap for bowl performance (answer – not really, especially not lately). Then it looks at who and what are the reasons for the B10’s bowl performance. The are some very reasonable comments as well.
1. The B10 does get a bad rap for BCS games. Because of OSU in the NCG and USC dominating in the Rose Bowl, people fail to recognize that OSU is 6-3 in BCS games and the B10 is 11-12 (better than the B12, BE and ACC and almost 50% more games than the P10). The B10’s overall bowl record has been weak, though.
2. The problem is NOT at the top, with OSU, WI, IA and PSU all at least 50% in BCS games and well over 50% overall.
3. The problem starts with MI (1-3 BCS, 5-6 overall, 1-5 in its last 6 bowl games, 0-3 in the Rose Bowl since 2003). Hopefully the new regime restores them to winning bowls.
4. The heart of the problem is the middle and bottom of the conference. The other 6 teams are 0-3 in the BCS and 10-26 overall (0.278), with IL the only team at 0.500 (0-2 BCS, 2-2 overall). NW is the biggest anchor at 0-6.
5. One cause is that the B10 faces the hardest bowl slate (higher % against AQs and Top 25 teams). This is topped by many opponents playing de facto home games (USC in the Rose Bowl, SEC in Florida x3, B12 in Texas x2).
6. One possible issue is playing up in bowls by having 2 BCS teams each year. This doesn’t seem to impact the top bowls so much, though, perhaps because the SEC is in the same boat.
7. Due to bowl pairings, the B10 has suffered more than anyone from recent trends in excellence by playing USC and the top of the SEC so often. The B10 would have an even better record in the top games without the rise of USC and the SEC.
From the comments:
As further proof that the top isn’t the problem, the B10 is 17-18 in bowls versus the SEC since 1998, 7-9 since 2005. That means the problem is the middle group of teams each year that go to the lower bowls.
Bowls vs SEC teams – 17-18 since 1998, 7-9 since 2005
BCS, Cap 1 and Outback – 24-25 since 1998, 11-13 since 2005
Other bowls – 17-23 since 1998, 5-15 since 2005
One possible explanation is that the middle of the B10 has been weaker than B10 fans realize.
Regardless, adding NE should help. First, it provides another quality team so the lower bowls should see better teams. Second, adding a CCG provides an extra week of practice and competition for the top teams (this is on top of the B10 extending the regular season past Thanksgiving, which it just started to do anyway). Third, the CCG may or may not reduce the number of BCS at large bids. If it reduces them, then every non-BCS bowl gets a one level better opponent.
Since the SEC is the best bowl winning conference lately, I thought a comparison could be helpful.
Bowl records since the BCS started:
AL – 5-5 (1-2)
AU – 7-3 (2-0)
ARK – 3-7 (0-1)
LSU – 8-3 (4-0)* all 4 were in New Orleans
MS – 6-1
MS St – 4-1
SEC West – 33-20 (7-3)
FL – 7-6 (5-1)
GA – 10-3 (2-1)
TN – 4-7 (1-1)
SC – 3-4
KY – 3-4
VU – 1-0
SEC East – 28-24 (8-3)
SEC – 61-44 (15-6)
So the teams with high winning percentages are GA, LSU, AU, MS and MSU. LSU is bolstered by playing 4 BCS bowl home games (4-3 otherwise). The big BCS winning percentage comes mostly from LSU and FL.
I think the difference from the B10 is clear. The B10 needs some mid-level teams to step up like MS, MS St and AU have for the SEC. It would also be nice to have top teams that can either go 10-3 overall or 5-1 in the BCS. The final difference would be LSU getting BCS home games. Based on their other bowls, they might well have gone 2-2 and lost a national title if they had to play neutral site BCS games.
Here’s a breakdown of B10 bowl performance in the BCS era. I see 5 tiers, and NE would be in tier 2 if it counted. * indicates a BCS-only record.
Major BCS winner and only NC
OSU – 7-5 (6-3); 1-0* BE, P10, ND; 3-1 (2-1) B12, 1-4 (1-2) SEC
0.500 or better overall and in BCS bowls
WI – 7-5 (2-1); 3-0 (2-0) P10, 1-0 B12, 1-1 ACC, 2-3 SEC, 0-1* non-AQ
IA – 6-3 (1-1); 1-0* ACC, 3-1 SEC, 2-1 B12, 0-1* P10
PSU – 6-3 (1-1); 1-0* ACC, 2-0 B12, 3-2 SEC, 0-1* P10
Below 0.500 overall with a lot of bowls, but at least 1 BCS win
MI – 5-6 (1-3); 5-2 (1-0) SEC, 0-2* P10, 0-2 (0-1) B12
Winless in BCS bowls
PU – 3-6 (0-1); 1-0 B12, non-AQ; 1-3 (0-1) P10, 0-1 ACC, 0-2 SEC
IL – 2-2 (0-2); 1-0 ACC, B12; 0-1* P10, SEC
Losing record and no BCS bowls
MN – 3-6; 2-0 SEC, 1-1 P10, 0-2 ACC, 0-3 B12
MSU – 2-5; 1-0 non-AQ, 1-2 SEC, 0-1 ACC, 0-2 B12
IN – 0-1; 0-1 B12
NW – 0-6; 0-3 B12, 0-1 non-AQ, P10, SEC
NE – 6-5 (1-1); 3-0 B10, 1-0 ACC, 1-2 (1-0) SEC, 1-2 P10, 0-1* BE
Top 5 teams: 31-22 (11-9)
ACC 3-1 (2-0), BE 1-0*, B12 8-4 (2-2), P10 4-4 (3-4), SEC 14-12 (2-2), ND 1-0*, non-AQ 0-1*
Bottom 6 teams: 10-26 (0-3)
ACC 1-4, B12 2-9, P10 2-6 (0-2), SEC 3-6 (0-1), non-AQ 2-1
These 6 teams are causing the bowl record problems and hurting the B10’s perception overall, perhaps as much as OSU (I can’t be objective on that point). The B12 really has given these teams problems.
BCS bright spots for the B10:
1. More at large bids, and thus total bids, than anyone else
2. 2nd most wins behind SEC
3. 7 of 11 schools have been to a BCS bowl (2nd highest % behind P10 at 7/10, BE has had 8 teams but 3 are gone)
4. OSU has been to more BCS bowls than anyone
5. OSU has more BCS bowl wins than anyone
Some of the bottom 6 surprised me with exactly how bad they’ve been in bowls:
NW (1-8) – lost 8 in a row (Fitz is 0-3, but all were close at the end)
MSU (7-14) – lost 5 in a row and 9 of 11 (Dantonio is 0-4, only 1 within single digits)
MN (3-9) – lost 4 in a row and 7 of 10 (hopefully Kill can fix this)
IN (3-6) – lost 2 in a row and 5 of 7
PU (8-7) – won 1 in a row, lost 6 of 8
IL (7-9) – won 1 in a row, lost 9 of 13 (Zook is 1-1)
Add to that some struggles in the top tier:
MI (19-21) – 2-6 since 2001 season (once lost 7 straight including 5 Rose Bowls)
WI (11-11) – 1-3 lately (started 0-4 including 3 Rose Bowls)
PSU (27-14-2) – 1-2 lately (never lost more than 2 in a row)
OSU (20-22) – won 2 in a row but lost 3 of 5 (has had 4 streaks of 4 bowls, 2 W and 2 L)
IA (14-10-1) – won 3 in a row (only bad streak was 0-3-1 around 1990)
NE (24-23) – lost 1 in a row (lost 7 in a row including 6 to Miami and FSU in ’87-’93)
I should point out some other bowl bright spots for the B10:
1. JoePa holds the records for most bowls (37), most bowl wins (24) and is the only coach to win all 5 major bowls
2. PSU has the second best bowl winning percentage (min. 20 games) at 0.651, behind USC at 0.660 (USC benefits from 33 Rose Bowls in their home town, going 24-9, but only 7-7 in other bowls)
3. PSU has the third most bowl wins at 27, behind AL (32) and USC (31)
4. PSU has the 8th most bowl games
5. MI has the second longest streak of consecutive bowls at 33 behind NE at 35
6. MI won the first ever bowl game (1/1/1902 Rose Bowl)
7. OSU is the only school with 3 separate consecutive bowl streaks of at least 10 years
8. MSU has the best Rose Bowl winning percentage at 3-1 (minimum 3 games, TX is 2-0)
9. MN was the first B10 team to play in consecutive Rose Bowls
10. I got nothing for IN, PU, IL, NW, WI and IA – fans of those schools help me out
For non-B10 fans or new fans, the B10 didn’t allow bowl games before 1946 and didn’t allow the same team to go in consecutive years until 1972 (except 1961, when OSU’s faculty turned down the bid so MN went again). The B10 didn’t allow multiple bowl teams until 1975. This is why other powers have played so many more bowl games than B10 teams.
With the proliferation of bowl games, some of these streaks and totals will become almost meaningless. Only recently has 6-6 or 7-5 earned a team a bowl game.
I think JoePa’s records are probably safe, though.
The Iowa-Illinois rivalry has been discussed here several times. One point of contention has been where IL fits into the list of IA rivalries. While it is not scientific, the article below is from an Iowa blogger and contains a poll of which team IA fans loathe the most. Choices include the other 11 B10 teams and ISU.
It certainly shows some recency bias (and like all online polls self-selects younger fans), but the results so far:
WI 247 (27%)
Iowa has a lot of rivals. Throw out OSU (which is on that list (IMHO) solely because it’s been top dog in the conference recently, and they still have 6-7 (depending on whether you count PSU-Iowa, which isn’t a naturally rivalry, but has had its share of bad blood). For comparison, a better poll would ask the fanbase of each school to list their most hated rivals, with no limit on number.
I agree with almost everything you said.
1. Yes, IA has a lot of rivals. That has never been in dispute as far as I know.
2. I’d say OSU is on there for recent success, success against IA (12-1 in past 13) and NCAA issues, not any actual “rivalry”
3. The most recent results have MI, MSU, PSU and IL all on the same level for what that is worth, with only PU and IN lower
4. I said the poll had problems from the start. First, any online poll is biased towards younger people which means the historical rivalries get undervalued. Second, the poll only allows you to pick one. Third, it asked which rival do you loathe, which might not be the same as which is the strongest rival. A better poll would allow the voter to rate each rivalry on a scale of intensity and require the voter to submit their age, allowing for demographic adjustments to properly average the results.
5. All that being said, this was a source of information from Iowa fans about how they view their rivalries. It isn’t scientific, it’s biased towards the younger fans and the form of the poll reduces its accuracy. Still, it is a better source of information than speculation or anecdotal results which is what we have had before.
Here’s an update of the results:
WI 808 (23.3%)
Nebraska is in second place and has not played Iowa in years. Add to this the fact that Wisconsin is in the other division, and UNL will be at the top of this list in short order.
Looks like Iowa fans are pretty stoked that Purdue is their crossover opponent from the other division.
They could have gotten IN, I suppose.
They weren’t going to get rid of OSU/MI or IL/NW, so that’s 2 down. They needed PSU/NE for TV and schedule balancing, so that’s 3 down. I’m sure there was a lot of discussion of WI/IA versus WI/MN, but MN needed to keep all their rivalries more than IA did, especially with IA getting NE to end the year. For competitive balance reasons, I wish they had kept WI/IA. Still, the tradition of WI/MN is tremendous and I wouldn’t want to lose it either. I can understand throwing MN a bone in this case.
Northwestern-Iowa is that big? Didn’t know they felt that way. I also thought Minnesota would be higher, but I guess having the sweetest rivalry trophy in college football only gets you so far. And taking away Iowa-Wisconsin as an annual rivalry … that’s still not sitting right. Could someone remind me why they didn’t just switch Northwestern and Wisconsin so the divisions would make more sense?
I think the wording of the article drove the responses. It asked “who do you want to beat” or “who do you loathe” rather than “biggest rival”. It may not seem like a big difference, but I think it had a big impact. NW has won 5 of 6 from Iowa, so everyone wants to beat them. PSU scored low since we’ve been kicking their arses (7 of 8), but I think a lot of people consider them a rival now. But that will likely go away with the divisions.
I think the MSU game is going to become a good rivalry. Lots of good games recently, two relatively even programs that will now play annually, and some bad blood the last couple years, including on the recruiting trail. (MSU supposedly told a DT recruit two days before signing day that Iowa was going to be firing multiple coaches due to the rhabdo incident, which obviously never came to be.)
NW has won 3 in a row and 5 of 6.
I think MN’s lack of success has dulled that rivalry. I think only picking one hurt MN because it isn’t the most hated rival, but is in the top 3 for most MN fans.
They didn’t switch WI and NW because they valued competitive balance between the divisions as the most important thing, and in their view (and most everyone else’s, too) NW and WI are not competitive equals. From 1993 – 2009, WI was #4/11 and NW #8/11 in conference winning percentage (0.592 – 0.434). The Northwest Division would have teams 2, 4, 5, 7, 10 + NE (equivalent to #1-3) while the SE Division would have 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11. I’m sure OSU and PSU would have been happy to play IN, PU, IL and NW every year.
Random questions for the Big 10ers here, now that it’s been announced that the Longhorn Network will broadcast UT’s season opener against Rice as well as a second conference game to be announced later:
(1) Within the Big 10 footprint, were there any major cable or satellite carriers who failed to sign an agreement to carry the network by the opening day of the first football season?
(2) For those carriers with whom an agreement had not been reached, whether within or outside the Big 10 footprint, were there ever any one-off distribution deals for broadcasting games before a longer agreement had been reached? (I’m almost certain the answer is “no” but just wanting to make sure.)
I’m sure we’re going to start getting lots of questions about this at BON, and my best guess is that ESPN will not have struck an agreement with everyone (especially nationally) by opening day and that those with a carrier without a signed agreement will be SOL if they want to watch the game (at least at home)….
Will this second (and a conference game) effect the Big 12 revenue sharing? or will it be treated as any other televised game not on the LHN?
I think a large number, probably most, cable carriers within the B10 footprint did not have an agreement by the opening day of the first season. There were many battles that took the entire first year to resolve. Our cable operator in Iowa, Mediacom, missed the entire first season, finally inking an agreement the next summer. The biggest hit was missing basically the entire basketball season. I think we missed one football game, but it was a home game so I was there and didn’t mind much. The missed hoops season was also the very first season under Coach Todd Lickliter (who won about 40 games in 3 seasons at Iowa, including the two worst Iowa teams ever), and the combination killed fan interest which is starting to finally return in year 2 of the Fran McCaffrey regime.
Conditions are much different in both the understanding of college networks and the level of Longhorn interest within the state of Texas, so you may see much quicker capitulation by the cable companies down there.
1. Yes, the BTN needed a full year in many places to get carriage on the dominant cable provider (Time Warner, Cox, Charter and Mediacom all held out for 1 year). However, it was on DirecTV, Dish Network and U-Verse from the start as well as many small cable companies. The BTN was still adding providers after 2 years for the edges of the footprint (N and E PA, St. Louis, S IL). The BTN is currently fighting with cable companies in NE.
2. Cable companies offered to do pay-per-views with all money going to the schools, but the offers were never accepted. http://www.cleveland.com/buckeyeblog/index.ssf/2008/08/ohio_state_football_time_warne.html The B10 is currently threatening the cable companies in NE with not getting to show the NE games if they don’t reach a deal.
The negotiations are all about leverage. The LHN is counting on demand for those games to force cable companies to give in, while the cable companies are holding out for a lower price. Rumor has it the LHN wants $0.40 compared to $0.70 for the BTN.
Comcast was another major holdout in the Big Ten region for the first year of the existence of the BTN.
Of course, an embarassing moment for the conference on the field ended up being gold for the BTN off-the-field. The first live event ever shown on the BTN was the Appalachian State upset of Michigan. That was a killer anecdote to use against the cable companies that were arguing that none of the games that people actually wanted to watch were on the network.
The dispute was *completely* about basic carriage. Anything that would’ve weakened that position (such as PPV games) was shot down by the Big Ten immediately. The biggest leverage that the BTN had was that DirecTV had complete national basic carriage from day one, so the network could point out to the cable companies specifically how many people they were losing to satellite in the Big Ten footprint. Once Comcast and others realized that paying the BTN was better than losing entire cable bills, they started to acquiese.
I think the Longhorn Network will learn from the BTN experience as well as using ESPN’s leverage to get basic carriage in at least the state of Texas, but don’t be surprised if it takes awhile.
“Of course, an embarassing moment for the conference on the field ended up being gold for the BTN off-the-field. The first live event ever shown on the BTN was the Appalachian State upset of Michigan. That was a killer anecdote to use against the cable companies that were arguing that none of the games that people actually wanted to watch were on the network.”
I still watch the youtube videos of that game once every couple of months. That moment in time for me as an App State alum is incomparable for sports fans. Teams win championships every year. Being the first 1-AA team to beat a top 25 team (and the #5 team in the country with the soon-to-be #1 NFL Draft pick, no less) happens, well, once. Ever.
So thanks, Frank, for reminding everyone of that glorious day. (And I don’t care how “infamous” that game was in the eyes of Big Ten or Michigan fans. The Big Ten has survived and thrived, and Michigan will back to its full glory in short order, and the game will be ultimately be a mere bump in the road for UM. For App State, on the other hand, you can’t put a dollar amount on what that game was worth.)
As for the topic at hand, let me just say this: Time Warner is a pain in the @$$ of a cable company compared to Comcast. They cost way more for fewer channels than what I got in Indianapolis. Don’t be surprised if TW holds out longer in Nebraska than Comcast did in the other Big Ten states.
In Columbus there are three major cable companies (Insight, WOW, and Time Warner). Insight was the only cable company to have an agreement in place before the first game. WOW (our cable company) finally agreed after we missed 2 games. They didn’t reach an agreement with Time Warner until sometime after the season.
Fox and ESPN are cooperating on the Longhorn network, which is the most interesting aspect to me.
It’s valuable to Fox to get B12 games to build their portfolio. Besides, they cooperated for the P12 so the precedent was already set.
Looks like the other schools must be cooperating also. Maybe its just me, but it looks like the other Big 12 members are now being to help (to a limited extent) the LHN. I am doubtful about a single school network having the quality inventory necessary to succeed without the help of others (hence the BTN, a conference network).
…now being recruited to help…
An edit function would help a crappy typists….
It depends how the contracts are written. This may not require approval from anybody else as long as it’s a TX home game. I’d like to think the other school would at least get some rights to broadcast locally, but who knows?
Here are some bright spots / bowl trivia for Iowa:
1. Only Big Ten team other than OSU to win a BCS game the last five years.
2. 3-game winning streak, including two wins over Top 12 teams.
3. 4-2 all-time vs. SEC, 3-1 in the last decade.
4. During a five year period, after the 2002-06 seasons, Iowa played the five national championship teams during the 2003-07 stretch (LSU, USC, Texas, Florida, LSU) in bowls. Iowa was 2-3 in those games.
More college hockey realignment news.
WCHA schools UND, Denver, MN-Duluth, CC and UNO and CCHA schools Notre Dame, Miami and maybe WMU may be forming a new conference. It would leave both the WCHA and CCHA with 5 schools (you need 6 for an NCAA autobid). The obvious response would be for the new conference to become the new WCHA and the remainders (Bemidji St, MN St, St. Cloud St, MT, UAA, UAF, BGSU, Ferris St, NMU, LS St) to join together and form the new CCHA.
Some other talk involves ND to Hockey East, as well as some Atlantic Hockey schools going to full scholarship levels and moving to the CCHA or WCHA.
That new conference would be good, but it could be a death blow to those left behind.
There will still be a ton of OOC games left to play those left behind. The real problem will be if UAA and UAF are both in a new conference with a bunch of small schools. They may have to go independent or just play Canadian teams instead.
Berry Tramel on the Longhorn Network.
Call it a can of worms. On both sides of the Platte, a million Nebraska fans are smiling, and this time, you can’t call them crazy.
Moving a Big 12 game to the Longhorn Network will cause quite the uproar this season. Depending on the opponent, it could be a firestorm. If it’s, say, Oklahoma State or Texas Tech, that means fans of the Cowboys or the Red Raiders possibly could have to subscribe to the Longhorn Network to see the game
Just what Nebraska warned could happen is happening. The Texas network is causing all kinds of problems. And here’s the kicker. It’s not even Texas’ doing.
The blame for this lies at the feet of ESPN and Fox Sports Net. ESPN hatched this idea, trying to build subscribers to the network and recoup its $300 million commitment.
The indignity of OSU or Tech or Baylor or whoever having to play a game on the Longhorn Network, with UT announcers, is not good for conference morale.
A couple weeks ago Trammel thought the Big 12 was now calm without Nebraska. Seems to have changed his tune. http://blog.newsok.com/berrytramel/2011/07/07/big-12-football-espn-fox-collusion-troubling/
Methinks there will be lots of mind changing in the BXII the next few years….:)
The Big 12 has put together a series detailing the conference realignment. Here is part one:
The most interesting part, to me, was in part two:
While the Big Ten’s December announcement was public knowledge, Beebe and his advisors were wary of a West Coast threat. The Pacific-10 Conference was under new management.
Scott, who had spent six years in charge of the World Tennis Association, floated his expansion proposal to Texas administrators while the Longhorns were in Los Angeles to play at the Rose Bowl for the BCS national championship.
Part 2 here:
With the retrospect of a year later, here are some of the factors that contributed to the Big 12 victory:
* The Texas Legislature. The possible end of the Big 12 – with Baylor left league-less, Texas A&M headed to the Southeastern Conference meaning the end of the UT-A&M rivalry – was untenable for the politicians in Austin. They made it clear there would be hell to pay if the Pac-10’s invitations were accepted.
* Texas A&M. Instead of going along as part of the “Texas package deal,” Texas A&M made it clear that it was comfortable being a leader and not a follower. Athletic director Bill Byrne, in particular, disliked the idea of Aggies teams trekking to the Pacific Northwest.
* Texas. At the end of the day, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds surveyed the landscape and was able to convince UT president William Powers that the Longhorns were better off staying put (when the school and ESPN agreed to a $300 million, 15-year deal to launch The Longhorn Network this August, that decision was justified.)
* Television. ABC/ESPN wanted the Big 12 – and its Central Time Zone homes – to survive. The decision to not reduce rights fees for the length of the current contract helped Beebe’s vision of a bright future for the Conference. And that future was further solidified when FOX made good on the promises it had made in Kansas City in June of 2010.
I enjoyed the articles. Thanks for posting them.
Round 7 of the re-draft is done. This round went:Clemson, IL, UConn, MO, Pitt, OkSU. The article has a table of all the teams gone so far.
ACC (5) — Boston College, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Virginia, Wake Forest
Big 12 (4) — Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech
Big East (4) — Cincinnati, Rutgers, South Florida, TCU
Big Ten (4) — Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue
Pac 12 (5) — Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah, Washington State
SEC (4) — Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt
Notable Non-AQs — Air Force, Army, BYU, Boise State, East Carolina, Memphis, Navy
The conference realignment by geography continues with CUSA. Renamed the Great Southern Conference, it is basically the SWC plus the LA schools and Southern Miss (no Arkansas).
New NCAA hockey conference.
UNO, North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, and Minnesota-Duluth will leave the WCHA, and Miami (Ohio) will depart the CCHA. That announcement reportedly will happen on Wednesday in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Atlantic Hockey commissioner Bob DeGregorio insisted last month that his league would remain intact, but things have a way of changing, and there’s a very real chance that schools like Niagara and Robert Morris will jump at the chance to play with 18 scholarships again in a re-constituted CCHA.
Meanwhile, is the ECAC immune to all of this? You never know. If Notre Dame goes to Hockey East, and Connecticut isn’t ready to upgrade its program and join too, that leaves Hockey East with 11 teams. Will it look for No. 12 in the ECAC, such as with Quinnipiac?
They say no, now, but — as should be abundantly clear by now — things have a way of changing.
New NHL Central Division per Minnesota owner.
It still seems mighty premature to be making bold plans like this. Nobody knows what Phoenix is going to be doing a year from now, and you’ve got numerous teams (Nashville, Florida, Columbus, the Islanders) in precarious financial situations. Winnipeg just got a team by gambling on a new arena first and hoping for one to come available, and that could conceivably catalyze a new arena deal in Quebec. Kansas City has a nice arena and is looking for a primary tenant, but then again nobody knows if there are owners willing to take on a team. There was just a report that Seattle might be in the market to build a proper hockey arena.
With all of that uncertainty, it does not seem unreasonable to conclude that something is going to happen. But how can you realign until you know exactly what happens? It really feels like they’re jumping the gun on this. And what about all the talk about wanting to take it slow and air as many competing perspectives as possible? All of the media reports act like the decisions were made a few days after the Atlanta team relocated.
The NHL realigns frequently. It wouldn’t be a big deal for them to do it again.
People say that a lot, but it seems like an oft-repeated, misleading myth (much like the perception that more NHL teams make the playoffs than any other sport, even though for a while it was 16/30 in the NHL and 16/29 in the NBA). The last team the league realigned was 1998. Before that it was 1993. Twice in 20 years isn’t all that often.
As compared to what? The NFL or MLB? Twice in 20 years (really twice in 6 years, or about to be 3 times in 20 years) is pretty frequent compared to most major sports leagues that I am familiar with. How many times in the history of the NHL has it realigned? How does that compare to MLB, NFL and NBA? If you say it’s a myth, please provide some facts to back up your assertion.
Much as in the Big Ten, all pro sports are run in a substantially more professional way in the last 20 years or so than in their previous history.
For what it’s worth, it’s hard to count the number of realignments precisely. For example, when the NHL went to the 6-division format in 1998, that was in anticipation of adding 4 more teams over the next 3 seasons; I would not say that each time one of those teams was added, it was a new realignment, because the overall plan had been put in place to accommodate each of those teams in advance.
The NHL underwent a general realignment in 1998 with the switch to 6 divisions. The NBA underwent a similar general realignment in 2004. The NFL underwent a similar general realignment in 2002. MLB did the same in 1994. By that measure, each league has had only 1 general realignment of the teams, where by “general realignment” I mean one team switching from one side to the other (East to West or American to National) or a change in the number of divisions.
How, exactly, are pro sports “run in a substantially more professional way in the last 20 years or so than in their previous history?” Society has changed and the law has changed, allowing leagues to do some things differently but that doesn’t mean they weren’t professional before. Was there some watershed moment of change you see that makes it “the last 20 years or so” as opposed to 10 or 30 or 40? Any chance that time period is related to your interest in sports?
Once upon a time, pro hockey players showed up to games drunk or hungover and this was laughed off; Jack Adams scheduled a Red Wings game against a prison team. Once upon a time, the NBA had the Finals broadcast on tape delay. World Series games were once played on weekday afternoons when relatively few people could actually listen to the game on the radio. The NFL drew names out of a hat to decide which NFL teams would play in the AFC after the merger.
Pro sports used to be run on a relatively small-scale, almost hobbyist basis. It’s now a multi-billion dollar industry. From top to bottom, the leagues are operated with a professional polish they lacked until roughly 20-25 years ago.
I mean, in 1972, there was a baseball strike and the Tigers won the AL East by a half-game over the Red Sox . . . because the Tigers played 1 more game than the Red Sox due to games lost to the strike. It is virtually inconceivable that something like that would happen today.
Several pro athletes have admitted to being drunk/high during games in recent years and I don’t remember much outcry.
The NBA Finals used to be on tape delay because they couldn’t get live coverage, not because they didn’t want it. That’s being more popular, not more professional. It also stopped after 1981 (soon after Magic and Bird joined the NBA and the Lakers/Celtics rivalry was renewed), which is 30 years ago.
World Series games in the afternoon were in part a way to keep young fans and because not all parks had lights. Many hardcore baseball fans think MLB made a mistake by losing young fans long term for more TV money short term. Every year they still argue about late start times for the east coast. For a sport losing the younger demographic, that’s a problem. By the way, the World Series started being held at night in 1971 (much more than 20 years ago).
The NFL did not draw names out of a hat to decide which NFL teams would play in the AFC after the merger. They drew the NFC divisional alignment from a hat containing several choices because nobody wanted to be with Dallas or Minnesota (1 of them won the NFC 8 of the first 9 years).
I think much of what you mention has more to do with the growing popularity of sports than with more professional management. These leagues couldn’t have done what they do now 30 years ago, it’s not that they ignored better business options. That makes them smaller, not less professional.
The increase in popularity has led to a commensurate increase in the level of necessary professionalism. The two go hand in hand. Billy Martin was known for drawing his batting order out of a hat to break his team out of a slump. Something that slapdash is basically unthinkable today.
Point taken on the correction about the NFL drawing names . . . but nowadays, again, such slapdash thinking would be unacceptable. You’d have a consulting firm give you an analysis of how you could profit-maximize.
I remember when Russ Granik retired from the NBA, he gave an interview talking about when he was new there with Stern and the casual nature of what they did. They had a shoestring staff. They did almost nothing to plan or coordinate their advertising; someone would approach them about being the official (whatever) of the NBA, they’d pay a fee and that was it, they could run with it.
I just don’t agree with your fundamental notion that bigger is more professional. When the leagues were smaller there were fewer major decisions to make, and fewer people making them. That doesn’t make them less professional to me.
They are more corporate now, but that doesn’t mean the same thing to me as more professional. I’m guessing that is what you mean, though.
Still, you didn’t answer why you claim it happened in the last 20 years or so. Was 1991 a major turning point for something? Several of your example were much older.
No there’s nothing special about 1991. It was just a rough sense of when the leagues started negotiating for real money from their broadcast partners, when they started having real marketing campaigns, when they started seriously investing in scouting before the draft (remember the Mel Kiper rant from 1994?). Roughly speaking, it’s when they started operating like businesses in the sports entertainment industry rather than sports clubs. I mean, once upon a time the extent of pre-draft scouting in the NFL was the GMs getting together in a hotel ballroom and leafing through a magazine profiling college prospects and calling out a name when their turn came up. Because the stakes are higher, they have to approach things more professionally now.
Pro sports teams certainly didn’t have any coordinated marketing or PR sense until around 1990. In Grantland today, there was a blurb about a NYC gallery having a showing of the Costacos Brothers posters of the late-1980s (sparked by a Jim McMahon poster):
All you need to do is take one look at this photo gallery of posters and you know that there was absolutely NO ONE with their respective leagues and teams with any marketing standards at all:
Jim McMahon, by the way, is *exactly* like how that Grantland article described. I actually partied with him a couple of years ago in connection with the wedding reception of my best friend from high school (long story about how that happened) and the guy still drinks like his ’85 self. It’s a wonder that he never got kicked out of BYU.
@Frank – Here may be an explanation
1. Professionally – I don’t think this word means what you think it does.
2. You seem to be implying that being more “professional” is better, but I don’t see evidence for that yet.
3. NFL scouting – they may spend more time and money now, but how much have they improved their results? Is the bust rate significantly down? Are they getting good ROI or just doing it because others do? Did they stop picking bad QBs way too early and I missed it? The whole workout warrior over-drafting started after your professed increase in professionalism. If things are so much better now, then why do the Mike Mamulas get drafted so high? Is that more professional decision making?
You are looking back at those posters from a 2011 perspective. Everything from the 80s looks horrible now, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t popular or effective at the time. Marketing in the A-Team and Miami Vice era is not the same as today.
If a lawyer went into court dressed in bluejeans and were t-shirt, we’d say he was acting unprofessionally, even if his argument and briefing were excellent. You conduct yourself in a certain fashion when you’re trying to communicate the seriousness and stakes of what it is you’re up to. Until roughly the last 20 years or so, pro sports didn’t feel near so much need to conduct themselves in that fashion (as a general matter). In the last 20 years, with the amount of money involved skyrocketing, now they must, because none of the stakeholders would tolerate anybody doing anything that suggests any degree of casualness.
I don’t see it. I see a steady trend of slowly becoming more corporate (like every business does as it goes), but no reason to draw a line at a particular point in time (at least not one so recent). As for your lawyer’s dress code issues, I’ll point out MLB managers and NFL coaches used to wear suits and now they put 80 year old men in baseball uniforms and head coaches can wear logo sweats. There are still oddball owners, off beat coaches and players and bad business decisions in the name of tradition.
The topic of Big East expansion hasn’t been tossed around in a while, so here I am to toss it.
I’m of the opinion that the Big East should stop at its current 9 football/17 overall membership alignment that will begin when TCU joins next summer. Nine members for football actually should work very well. Everyone would play 4 home games and 4 away, just as the ACC between 1992 and 2003 when it had nine members. A nine-membership alignment would not allow the reduce the number of non-conference games all the way down to three, but it’s not clear whether the Big East would want to have nine conference games, anyway.
I don’t even see Villanova as a viable option. Pitt, West Virginia, Louisville, and perhaps others are not going to all of a sudden like the idea of adding a school that doesn’t even crack the top 30 in FCS attendance despite being a premiere FCS program, especially when its potential new stadium is a long drive from campus and would MAX OUT at a capacity of 30,000.
Adding one member from C-USA to get to 10 football members, or three C-USA schools to get to 12 in football, would almost certainly require going to 18 or 20 members overall. Such a move would put the Catholic, non-FBS schools at a more decided minority. Worse, it would decrease the per-school basketball revenue for the FBS AND non-FBS schools. If the Big East wanted to add one or more C-USA schools for football only, it would be a logistical nightmare for the incoming schools. The NCAA does not allow schools to be in one FBS conference for football and in another FBS conference for everything else. Thus, UCF or whoever would have to hope for A-10 or CAA or SoCon or Big South membership for the rest of its sports if it joined the Big East for football only. Those conferences might not be interested, and UCF may not like the step down from C-USA.
Now, I do think the Big East’s BEST option would be to add BYU for football-only, but the problem is that the Big East is probably not BYU’s best option. Football independence is probably going to work out pretty well for them financially, most likely better than the Big East. I think that neither the Big East nor BYU would have much interest in the Cougars joining for all sports. For BYU, the increase in revenue from a Big East basketball contract may (just barely) cover the financial costs of flying volleyball and golf and whatever other teams to the east coast over and over–but even with the increase in exposure, I doubt it’s enough to justify the wear and tear it would put on non-revenue sports. Besides, BYU would still only be getting “Big East money.” It wouldn’t be the mega-money that OU, Texas, & co. would have gotten in Pac-16.
This leaves one interesting candidate for the Big East: Temple. If, for whatever reason, the Big East wants to grow to 10 in football instead of just nine, Temple can do that for the league without growing the overall membership past 17. They could just stay in the A-10, where they’ve been all along, and simply depart from the MAC in football. Again, I think the Big East should stop at 9/17, but if the league wants 10/17, Temple would make the most sense.
Has Temple fixed all its problems that got it origionally kicked out of the Big East?
That’s a good question. I think the answer to it is “sort of.” They’re winning now. Granted, it’s against MAC competition, and they lost their coach to Miami, but this program couldn’t beat anybody a few years ago. Second, their facilities have improved quite a bit, and their drastically subpar facilities were supposedly a reason that they were kicked out.. Steve Adazzio, the new coach, was on the ESPN college football podcast a few weeks back talking about how impressive their facilities were. Third, attendance has improved, although last year it still averaged under 21,000. It’s hard to say whether attendance would improve once again if the team returned to the Big East, especially since it’s now a Big East without Miami and Virginia Tech
Nine teams presents some problems. Every week some team can’t play a conference game, forcing the conference schedule to be at least 9 weeks (more if you don’t want really early and/or really late byes). That makes it harder to max out a TV deal as well since the fifth game is an unknown quantity (could be vs SEC, MAC or I-AA). That’s one of the reasons conferences tend to even numbers. The B10 kept 11 for a while, but there were always complaints about scheduling issues. That’s one of the reasons they wanted 12.
Timelines with even number of members:
ACC 1953-1971, 1978-1991, 2005-?
B10 1907-1912, 1916-1946, 1950-1992, 2011-?
B8 1911-1913, 1919-1921, 1925-1947, 1958-1996
SWC 1915-1916, 1918-1920, 1923-1925, 1956-1971, 1991-1996
P12 1915-1917, 1918-1924, 1928-1950, 1962-?
SEC 1940-1964, 1966-?
Late byes are much more of a problem for the Big Ten than with other conferences because Big Ten schools have no late-season non-conference rivals. When the ACC had nine teams, three of them (FSU, GT, and Clemson) played SEC rivals the last week of the season, and the other six played each other. The week before that, sure there may have been scheduling issues. Earlier than that, there were also non-conference games like FSU-Miami, which was often in October and November; September matchups were rare before Miami joined the league.
I just pointed out some of the issues an odd number of teams can bring. There are ways to deal with all of the issues, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
The BE doesn’t have any major OOC rivalries to add late in the year like the ACC did as far as I know, so that’s sort of apples and oranges to me.
Well, TCU-SMU could go back to being late in the season. And Notre Dame could help out a bit, if they were so inclined.
ND isn’t a rival of any BE football team.
No offense, but I don’t consider TCU/SMU a peer rivalry to FSU/FL, SC/Clemson and UGA/GT. In part, it’s because neither is AQ yet and only 1 will be in the near future. In part, it’s because they haven’t both been good at the same time for a long time. It’s also because that rivalry has never reached beyond Texas in my lifetime.
I just meant that it could help with scheduling. Most Big East games, even the rivalry ones, aren’t as interesting as the ones you mentioned. Of course, if we’re talking about the last week of the season, SMU will have to keep that open for the CUSA title game. But Notre Dame needs games late in the year when most schools are tied up with conference play. And TCU-SMU was kind of a big deal back in the ’30s.
You’re certainly right ND and SMU could provide some games. BYU and the academies, too. I just wanted to point out that finding OOC games for the BE is different than ACC teams playing historic, geographical AQ rivals.
Maybe SMU will come back to boost the rivalry. It will gain some national attention just for TCU being a BE favorite for the near future.
Didn’t someone post a link to a blog suggesting several Temple recruits are supposedly being told they will be in the BEast soon?
As to BYU, forget the financial aspect. It (the school and its sports programs) are a promotional arm if the LDS church. There are a significant faction of leaders that do not believe athletics (temptation to cheat to win, admiting a kid that probably is not BYU material to win, etc) should be a part off their school mission. They ended athletics at BYUIdaho (formerly Ricks college). The visibility if the Cougars, and their usefulness in getting BYU/LDS broad recognition recognition has been more than enough to keep them going strong. Money is not a primary factor. Getting away from the limitations the MWC and the Mtn. network placed on their ability to use the BYU network. The question should be could the BEast provide great enough visibility and not be to restrictive to BYUTV to overcome the gains they have made by going independent? Being BCS would be a definate gain in my mind, but in theirs…….
Next post Ohio St.’s penalties and its impact on B10? With Michigan in the dumps and JoePa retiring soon, does adding Nebraska save the B10 from a decade as the new Big East?
Just saw few sentence summary, I’m sure there will be more detailed articles later today-2 year probation, forfeiture of all of 2010. Interesting that Tressel is not resigning now, he is retiring and doesn’t face the 250k penalty. Not sure how that fits with self-assessing penalties. Kind of puzzling. I guess they expect the NCAA to come down very hard.
I have several problems with your position.
1. MI is in the dumps? They were in the dumps, but even RR got them back to a bowl. Now they have a new coach who believe in defense and even special teams. I’d say they are on their way back to at least 8-9 win seasons if not 10-12 win seasons (depends how good Hoke is).
2. Joe Pa will retire? Ever? And what evidence is there that this will be a huge problem for PSU? FSU didn’t fall apart when Bobby Bowden left after 87 years. The key will be hiring a good coach, but you shouldn’t assume a collapse.
3. Even if the B10 had a down period, why would they become the new BE instead of the new ACC? B10 teams have more money and more fans than BE teams. Going to 12 teams means there is one more candidate to fill the bowl slots, too.
4. Most importantly, I fail to see how you jump from OSU’s self-imposed penalties to OSU expecting the NCAA to come down hard. Probation is a given for any major violation, and even Tressel admits he broke the rules. Knowingly playing ineligible players also automatically meant the 2010 season would be vacated, with the possible exception of the Sugar Bowl since the NCAA gave those players the OK. The goal of self-imposed penalties is to guess the lightest punishment the NCAA will accept as sufficient (or close enough not to anger them). Note that OSU did not self-impose a bowl ban or scholarship reductions. To me, that indicates that OSU doesn’t expect the NCAA to come down all that hard.
MIchigan not in the dumps? Get serious. You’re just saying that because OSU fans can keep quoting XXXXX days since Michigan last won.
JoePa-maybe you’re right. He may coach until he’s 105! As for FSU, they haven’t won a division title. Bowden had his 15 or so year streak in the top 5 which is unlikely to be matched and they are a LONG way from where they were. The reality is that nearly every major school struggles with the 1st coach after a legend. Ohio St., Michigan, Alabama, Texas, OU, Nebraska, FSU, ND, USC, Florida have all had long down periods after losing legends. Only Miami has been able to reload, but their coaches never stayed long. Penn St. we don’t know. They’ve only had one coach since the middle ages. Same thing has applied in basketball-UCLA, UK, UNC, IU.
Forfeiting every game is a very serious penalty.
It’s unringing a bell…….
Totally. Tell Sparty nation it’s a real deal. We lost a rose bowl. Will OSU refund tickets for things that apparently never happened?
No, I’m really not. I think MI is recovering to above average. They aren’t back to king level play, but the dumps to me is losing seasons. If you consider anything below their historical average the dumps, then I agree with you (but not your definition of the dumps).
JoePa had his doldrums from 2000-2004 but has bounced back with 9+ wins in 5 of 6 years. A
solid coach can continue to win 9 games at PSU.
FSU won the Atlantic last year in year 1 under Fisher, but they lost the CCG. 10-4 is hardly a bad first year.
The thing is, even Bobby (on average) couldn’t match Bobby’s best years. That’s why they were his best years. That’s an impossible standard. There’s a huge gap between returning a team to its historical best and a long down period.
After Woody Hayes, OSU got Earle Bruce. EB went 81-26-1 with 4 B10 titles in 9 seasons. He was 9-3 or better every year but his last one (6-4-1). He got fired for losing 3 (or more) games every year but his first. Bruce was replaced by John Cooper. JC went 111-43-4 with 3 B10 titles in 13 seasons. On the field, his problems were going 2-10-1 against MI, 3-8 in bowls and losing 5 straight to IL (he never found a big game he could win). Still, he fielded highly ranked teams with tons of talent. None of that seems like a long down period to me, much like MI after Bo but before RichRod.
They didn’t forfeit games, they vacated wins (so they went from 12-1 to 0-1). A forfeit would give wins to the other teams. Still, I agree that’s a serious penalty. However, it’s been a known penalty since Tressel was found to know about the issues before the season. He played players he knew shouldn’t play. Everybody knew the regular season would be vacated, voluntarily or not. The NCAA coming down hard would be bowl bans and major scholarship reductions like USC got.
“U. T. Arlington: Approval of change in athletic conference
membership to join the Western Athletic Conference”
Typo, should be UT-San Antonio? Or something I’ve heard nothing about before?
Click to access 7-11ab.pdf
“Officials at the WAC contacted U. T. Arlington in mid-June to initiate a discussion about
the possibility of U. T. Arlington leaving the Southland Conference to join the WAC.
U. T. San Antonio is the only other U. T. System institution that is a member of the WAC
(U. T. El Paso was formerly a member of the WAC).
The Commissioner of the WAC, Mr. Karl Benson, visited U. T. Arlington’s campus on
June 29, 2011, to meet with President Spaniolo and U. T. Arlington Athletic Director,
Mr. Pete Carlon, to discuss the possible move. On July 5, 2011, Commissioner Benson
notified President Spaniolo that the Presidents of the nine universities comprising the
current WAC membership, including President Romo of U. T. San Antonio, had voted
unanimously to extend an invitation to U. T. Arlington to join the conference. The
effective date of the move would be July 1, 2012. (The nine current members of the
WAC are: University of Denver, University of Idaho, Louisiana Tech University, New
Mexico State University, San Jose State University, Seattle University, U. T. San
Antonio, Texas State University, and Utah State University.) Like U. T. Arlington, the
University of Denver and Seattle University are non-football playing members of the
WAC. The WAC is a bowl subdivision conference where football is important, but U. T.
Arlington’s invitation is not conditioned on U. T. Arlington starting a football program.
The invitation to join the WAC is a singular opportunity for U. T. Arlington to join a highly
regarded national athletic conference and is a significant recognition of U. T. Arlington
and its intercollegiate athletics program. The WAC has an excellent reputation and a
very strong competitive profile, both in athletics and academics. U. T. Arlington has
determined that a move to the WAC is consistent with the University’s strategic plan to
increase its national prominence in support of its goal to become a major national
Funny, I just drove by UTA this afternoon. I thought it smelled kind of Benson-y over there. Wow, UTA in the WAC. I can’t wait to see them start their football team up and play games in that high school stadium again. Well, good for them. The Pac-12 probably didn’t realize they would be causing so many problems for the Southland Conference when they invited Utah.
Benson, you still need football programs. SJSU, Idaho, Utah State, NMSU, UTSA, Texas State, and La. Tech… it’s still only seven football members. Half their games will be non-conference. BYU will help, but the Cougars won’t play all of them. Meanwhile, every other league will be playing only 4 and sometimes three non-conference opponents, many of which will be against 1-AA teams… can you say scheduling nightmare?
I had doubted the WAC would be around in 5 years. Looks like they will in some form. Don’t know how that will work if it ends up with non-fb playing (future projection) Seattle, Denver, UTA, San Jose, perhaps UCSB, Utah Valley and UT Pan American. Its going to be pretty spread out. But SJSU, Idaho and Utah St. really don’t have any options. WAC is turning into the MVC of the west. Everyone will have been in the conference at some time or other.
UTA was a bolt from the blue. The WAC fans were not speculating about them at all. The talk was Lamar, Utah Valley, UCSB as well as the Big Sky schools who had already said no.
Wac joined the levels of the Sun Belt and MAC as far as relevance. They will be great to serve as cupcakes to the Pac 10.
@wmtiger – kind of unfair to the Sunbelt and MAC, no?
I’d read any number of schools still being possible for the WAC. One university frequently mentioned is Lamar University in Texas. This addition seems to help set things up for Lamar to join, as there would be natural divisions for non-football sports:
New Mexico State
UT San Antonio
San Jose State
Even better if they could grab 3 schools (2 football) from California:
New Mexico State
UT San Antonio
San Jose State
This kind of structure might be easier to sell the new members. 10 football teams for 9 conference games. In basketball play division mates twice (12 games) + 6 or 7 games against the other division; meaning just one road trip to the other division (of 3 or 4 games).
No kidding. The MAC has 1 team in the top 25 of the all-time wins list (#24 Miami (OH)), another in the top 50 (#45 CMU), a third (#64 WMU) before and a fourth tied with (#66 Ohio) the WAC’s best (#66 LA Tech). #72 BGSU, #75 Akron and #76 N IL all come before the second WAC team of #77 UT State with #79 Toledo just behind.
There is a lot more history in the MAC, such as:
1. The Cradle of Coaches
2. 12-1 Miami in 2003 led by Big Ben to a top 15 ranking (#11 BCS)
3. Toledo going 35-0 from 1969-1971 (2nd longest streak ever), also undefeated in 1995, and ranked as high as #12 in 1970
4. Ball St 12-0 in the 2008 regular season
Most telling about the WAC is that Sun Belt teams turned them down, Big Sky schools turned them down (although moving to FBS does have costs) and they invited 3 schools from the Southland, one of the 4 worst basketball conferences in the country and a conference at best a distant 5th among FCS football conferences (CAA,MVC,Southern, Big Sky in no particular order).
It does ensure their survival, but as what? Fodder for the WCC, BW, Big Sky and MWC? The schools have potential, but that’s all right now. We really don’t need more bottom feeders in FBS. There are already plenty of teams for SEC schools to schedule and the MAC takes care of the B10. Texas State is the next E. Michigan, right in the shadow of one of the kings, only 30 miles from the UT campus. Texas State was one of the weakest football programs in the Southland. UTSA is the next Buffalo, moving to FBS before they are ready, hurting their long term viability. At least Buffalo had a team. I think La Tech and NMSU would have been better off moving to the Sun Belt.
There was also talk of Sam Houston State (Huntsville, TX) in addition to Lamar (Beaumont, TX). I can’t imagine either one in D1A. I visited Lamar about 18 months ago when my foster daughter was checking out schools. It’s relatively small (for a state school), feels poor, and yet they were building a football stadium after two decades without football. Almost everyone I know that went to SHSU is a teacher (including several relatives). None of them care about sports at all. Those that do are aTm fans.
@Bullet, RE: “I think La Tech and NMSU would have been better off moving to the Sun Belt.”
I don’t know about NMSU, but I think La. Tech’s reasoning for declining the Sun Belt is that it’s holding out (in vain) for a C-USA invitation, rather than an honest preference for the WAC over the Sun Belt. When Boise and the other three were in the league, it benefited from the WAC’s better ESPN TV contract compared to the Sun Belt’s (with promise for an even better one in the future, had everyone stayed in the league) and from somewhat dependable BCS income due to Boise and Hawaii’s trips to the BCS. With Boise’s departure, the promises of a huge TV contract improvement and income from BCS appearances are now gone. To me, it seems rather ridiculous to stick around in the WAC. For one, C-USA may not expand anytime soon, and even if it does, La. Tech isn’t necessarily at the top of its want list. For another, they’d save a ton on travel and their fans would be closer to a lot more opponents. But hey, they didn’t ask my opinion. 😉
LT is presumably waiting to see if BE expansion includes any CUSA teams. If it does (UCF, Houston), LT seems a likely candidate to fill the void.
@Brian – Big East expansion might give LT a shot, but I think it depends on which CUSA team the Big East takes (if any). If the BEast snags UCF, CUSA will probably want another Florida school as a replacement, just to maintain a presence in the state. If CUSA loses Houston, they might consider LT since they already have three other schools in Texas, including one in the Houston area. Or maybe CUSA decides they would rather expand their footprint and add Middle Tennessee or a rising Georgia State program.
@m(Ag) Something else worth mentioning – there are a lot of rumors about UTA possibly restarting its football program. They still have their (somewhat laughable) on-campus stadium, and they’ve been working a lot in recent years to become more residential and improve student life in order to shed the reputation as a commuter school. And if they ever played a really big home game, I believe there’s another football venue in Arlington that might accommodate them. Have to check into that one.
Anybody know about Seattle and Denver? Either of those looking to add football?
I certainly understand how San Antonio, and even Beaumont, could support a (small) program with no nearby football competition. But it would seem insane to add a 4th FBS school to the D/FW area.
That said, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised if it actually happens,
Article on the WAC from this weekend:
-WAC commissioner admits he’s looking for 2 more schools so they can have divisional play and reduce travel for non-football sports.
-Admits the interest in joining has been ‘tiny’
Seems like UT-Arlington was probably at the bottom of the list, but noone else was ready to say yes.
UTA football? Pres: Umm……no.
Even Texas must have a limit to how many I-A programs they can support, especially in one metro area.
Regarding MLB realignment, I see Houston being used as a stalking horse, just as Kansas City was in 1997. I fully expect Arizona to be the team switching leagues (though it won’t be announced until after the All-Star game in Phoenix), with the Astros then going to the NL West. This provides a more equitable “mirror” situation for both leagues’ West divisions — each would have three members on the Pacific Coast, one each in the “interior” (Rockies NL, D’backs AL) and one each in Texas (Astros NL, Rangers AL).
For scheduling, you have two possibilities, both involving 60 games (6 x 10) against the teams in your league outside your division.
In plan A, you play 72 games against division rivals (18 x 4), with 30 interleague games: six against your designated rival, three against the other four teams in your mirror division, and three against four of the five teams in one of the other two divisions, rotating pairings over a 10-year cycle. So, for example, in 2012 the Nationals would play home-and-home with Baltimore, be home to the Yanks and Rays while visiting the Bosox and Jays (the sites would switch in 2013) and play four of the five AL Central teams in ’12 (and four of the five in the AL West in ’13).
If the idea of 30 interleague games is too much, then limit it to 18 interleague games — six against your designated rival and 12 against four other teams, using a three-year division cycle. Those 12 games would become division games, meaning you would play the four teams in your division 21 times each. I’m not sure the Orioles and Jays would like seeing even more of the AL East evil empires (not to mention the resurgent Rays) than they do now, but that’s where the second wild-card would help. And the idea of 21 Cubs-Cards, Tigers-Indians and Dodgers-Giants games each year would be tantalizing (because the NL Central has six teams, I think there are currently no more than 15 or 16 division meetings a year).
One thing is certain — forget the oft-discussed “balanced schedule,” whether or not divisions would be eliminated; logistics make it impossible. Baseball scheduling works best when three-game series (and an occasional four-game set) predominate. A balanced schedule would result in a huge number of two-game series, leading to higher travel expenses.
I’m not sure of the original source, but Marty Brennaman on a Red game a couple weeks back said the Diamondbacks wouldn’t mind moving to the American League. Houston to the National League West would then make sense. I know it sucks for them to be in a division where no one is in the same time zone. You’re probably right about saying Houston to the American League is just a ploy. MLB can then say they will compromise and keep them in the NL, but they will then be moved to the West.
They do have a history with the Dodgers and Giants and Padres. The West was Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Astros, Reds, Braves from ’69 until the expansion from 24 teams.
Also, despite being in the same time zone as three of their five Central rivals, the Astros are a bit of a geographic outlier. Take them out of the division, and the NL Central is, for all intents and purposes, the western half of the NL from 1900 to 1952 (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis) plus Milwaukee, the city that replaced Pittsburgh in that equation from 1953 to ’57 (albeit with the Braves, not the Brewers).
More NCAA Hockey movement. CCHA dead?
With the supposed new super conference taking the best WCHA and CCHA teams (not including the B10 teams, obviously), this sounds more like the remnants of the CCHA and WCHA merging. It make geographical sense for NMU to join MT in the WCHA. Maybe the WCHA are aiming for just 6 teams to keep their NCAA bid.
Getting the 2 AK schools together is an odd choice for the small schools in the WCHA, unless they value the extra games a lot.
Someone has to pick up the CCHA leftovers, though, unless they want the teams to go away. Does UAB finally get in a conference? Does Atlantic Hockey expand?
I don’t see why the CCHA has to die. Even if they lose Northern Michigan, they still have 6 teams. Okay, Notre Dame is as good as gone, but I’m not convinced Western Michigan is going to be invited anywhere else which would leave 5 teams. Alabama-Huntsville would jump at a chance to join and there are ongoing rumors that some teams like Niagra and Robert Morris and maybe Mercyhurst want to leave Atlantic Hockey because of their scholarship limits.
Basically put, there’s enough teams around to fill both the CCHA and WCHA to 6+ team levels. And why wouldn’t they do that and keep two auto-bids to the NCAAs? For these remaining smaller schools, having a conference you can win and make the NCAA tourney is probably their best bet than merging and going to one auto bid between them all.
Well, the article assumes the rumors about WMU going are true. That leaves LSSU, FSU and BGSU.
To B10 – OSU, MI, MSU
To WCHA – NMU, UA
To New Super Conference – Miami, ND, WMU
I assume WMU would be for proximity to ND and Miami.
The CCHA might be able to keep some of these schools, and they could possibly expand by taking UAB and/or some Atlantic Hockey teams. The real question is would the WCHA and CCHA prefer to be 2 small conferences or merge into 1 bigger one?
I’ll believe Alaska going to the WCHA when it’s announced. While I can imagine UAA pushing for it, I see no reason for the other WCHA members to want to invite them. You only get the extra games for one trip to Alaska so making two trips a season would only be an added expense/hassle (yes, I know the Alaska schools help subsidize the trip costs) without any benefit. I think UA stays with the CCHA.
I’m also skeptical about Western Mich being invited to the new super conference unless Notre Dame makes it a pre-condition of them joining — but Notre Dame has come out and said they prefer a conference with only 7 teams so there are fewer conference games so they can play more/varied non conference teams. I think that WMU ends up staying in the CCHA.
It’s official. Play starts in 2013.
Presenting the National Collegiate Hockey Conference:
Colorado College, Denver, UNO, UND, MN-Duluth and Miami (OH)
They may choose to expand further, but are starting at 6 for now.
Here’s a discussion of college hockey realignment.
bcinterruption.com has some good posts, too
Here’s a discussion of college hockey realignment.
Also, bcinterruption.com has some good posts.
Here’s someone who agrees with you about UAF. I think they could combine both Alaska schools in one trip, though.
A&M Scout site has an article that the powers that be at A&M want out of the B12 and into the SEC after seeing what Bevo TV is becoming. And they are saying Clemson would be the east team to join.
An interesting quote from a source in the SEC office, saying that beyond Cam Newton/AU and the Willie Lyles/LSU issues:
“there are other allegations that will come out that will implicate 3-4 other SEC schools”
Usually when one goes down they start fingering the other schools.
A&M will almost certainly get less money if they go to the SEC. The B12 is close (15 vs. 17.1) without the ABC/ESPN contract renewal in 4 years.
You don’t think adding aTm and Clemson couldn’t get a revision (or as Slive calls it “a look in”) of the SEC contract to at least maintain, if not increase the per team amount? Also, I’m not completely convinced that the Big 12 tier 1 contract will have as big a bump as some believe seeing they just recieved effectively a 16% per team increase last june to hold the conference together. Depends how committed the media are to fending off super conferences, I guess.
No, I don’t think there would be any significant bump. When you already have a good 12, going to 14 doesn’t add much. And Clemson, despite a solid program, really adds little. SEC already has South Carolina (which isn’t a very big state anyway) and Clemson is a long way removed from their MNC.
Obviously the SEC wouldn’t do it unless it at least maintained. But I don’t see expansion happening because I don’t think the SEC wants to expand and I don’t think they want to rock the boat. It would take a significant bump, not just maintenance.
You raise a good question about the tier 1 contract. It will be interesting to see what the B10 and B12 do in the next round. It isn’t clear how much the under-valuing of college sports relates to the 2nd and 3rd tier. Everyone so far has had package deals. I suspect most of the increase is in the 2nd and 3rd tiers. But the Big 12 only has to go from 60 to 85 to exceed the SEC per school, so I think that’s pretty likely. They have to double to match the Pac 12. Were their tier 1 to increase as their other contract did, they would go from 60 to 270 and they would be at $36 million/yr/school. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.
Going from 12 to 14 doesn’t add much? Gaining the entry into Texas? Increasing quality inventory? reducing the value of competing a conference? If I was in the SEC I’d be willing to subsidize the move asap, even if I had to wait a number of years before seeing a media money redo. SEC getting into Texas might be a bigger deal long term than ND joining B1G, or a Pac 16, or both.
The SEC would get a bump for 2 main reasons. First, they’d be adding a huge market by getting TAMU. That’s a solid justification for ESPN giving them a raise. Second, the SEC already wants an increase since all the new deals have caught up with them. I promise the SEC doesn’t believe anyone should be their financial equal.
SEC has historically been behind both the B10 and the ACC. They have smaller slower growing markets. Its not in ESPN’s interest to re-open the bidding on the SEC and ACC.
In an interview, Deloss Dodds said he expects the Big 12 will match the P12 $ per school when the tier I contract is up.
He said that conferences were stable (I think the word he used was stagnant). He said the B10 and SEC don’t want to expand. He said the Pac 12 won’t without Texas and “that isn’t going to happen.”
Also said there was a lot of media talk about Texas going independent. He said UT had talked to Notre Dame and could do it if they HAD (emphasis on had) to. Said they had talked to about 20 peer institutions about dividing up into conferences. But the point was that UT had no interest. It was simply a fallback if the Big 12 ceased to be viable for some reason.
It was also mentioned that the goal for the Longhorn network was 7 million households at startup. They’ve already put $4 million in cable on campus connecting to their studio about a mile north of campus.
I promise you the SEC doesn’t care about where they used to be financially, they fully believe nobody should be their equal now. It is in ESPN’s interest to adjust the contract if the SEC expands because failure to do so means they will have zero chance of re-signing them at the end of the deal. The SEC will expect fair market value, and adding TAMU and Clemson increases that value.
I agree with Dodds on conferences expanding. I don’t think the ACC, B10 or SEC really want to expand. That said, anybody would take ND or TX if they became available. Unlike some Aggie fans, I’m not convinced there is a standing offer for TAMU to join the SEC. That’s why I’ve been using “if” in my replies. If this happens, though, then I think ESPN will renegotiate with the SEC.
I think the P12 may still be looking to expand. Excluding TX and OU, though, I’m not sure where they would go. BYU and TCU?
There is a far greater likelyhood of Idaho being asked back into the Pac than BYU. The 16 would have happened had Baylor been acceptable, and they are working on changing.
I agree BYU is unlikely, but BYU has advantages that Baylor doesn’t. LDS is very big in the Pacific and west coast, it brings a rivalry with Utah, and it’s a solid program in FB and MBB. Baylor was only considered for politics and geography.
I think any team seems unlikely, and yet I still think the P12 is looking.
From Dodds reply, it was clear that the Pac 12 wanted to expand more, but he said they can’t go west. Basically, I inferred he was saying the Pac 12 can’t financially justify expansion without Texas (or at least the state of Texas-and none of the Big 12 Texas 4 will go, A&M least of all).
The SEC has brains. They understand markets. They also know they aren’t that far behind the Pac 12 and Big 10 (at least not now). Their fans may think noone should earn more, but they don’t run the show. They aren’t upset with where they are at.