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Reversal of Fortune
Reversal of Fortune
Christopher M Rieman
Published by Chris R
05-03-2012
Reversal of Fortune

DAYTON (OH) -- Every politician talks about it. David Bowie sang about it. Sooner or later ch- ch- ch- changes are gonna happen and the fallout always favors the most prepared. For A10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade, league fan bases are hoping she’s clinging to a road map to exploit those changes and position the conference as something better than the current product. It’s a map with a spider web of possible outcomes, but the recent addition of Butler suggests the A10 might be the perfect place to be when the smoke clears.

Could the Big East basketball schools – once considered in full control of the game board – suddenly find themselves leveraged out and isolated? There’s a chance the ongoing prostitution to football money could damage the Big East basketball schools as late-comers to the re-alignment party. Their greed might be their undoing, leaving each school withering on the vine as everyone around them wastes little time improving their negotiating power.

Temple’s departure to the Big East for football was expected for at least two years. Adding Butler was a suitable replacement and in some ways an even better fit for the league. Butler, like most A10 schools, has spent its adulthood playing the underdog role as a basketball power without the name brand of a BCS conference to back them up. Temple has always considered itself bigger than the A10 from a national perspective and FBS football made them unique among other conference members. The Bulldogs are a far better fit to the profile of a typical A10 school.

Charlotte is ready to announce a move to C-USA, once again for football reasons only. That opens up another slot to add a basketball-only institution to return the league to 14 members. Among the names mentioned: Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, and Creighton.

Let talk about what we know:

The Colonial Athletic Association is in trouble. Georgia State is headed to the Sun Belt for – drumroll – football reasons. Old Dominion is also reportedly “outtie” and will matriculate to C-USA like Charlotte. GMU and VCU are considering A10 membership. If one or both of these schools wind up in the A10, the CAA is curtains. These are the heavy hitters of the conference and the remaining players such as Drexel and Hoftsra won’t be able to carry the torch by themselves. Any replacements to the CAA will be strictly ornamental.

The Big East is in trouble. This was the league that held Notre Dame in contempt for nearly 20 years as a one-foot-in/one-foot-out league member gifted with special affiliation. Desperate to maintain automatic qualifier status in the BCS, the league is now an orgy of deranged relationships: some schools are football members only, some compete in all sports but football, and others still are knee-deep in all sports. The league reach is from New York City to San Diego. Travel is a nightmare, travel partners non-existent, scheduling is a train wreck, and general league continuity or camaraderie completely out of the window. There are no common threads to bind the arteries of the conference together – other than urge to fornicate the pigskin for a stack of benjamins.

There are greater problems however in the Big East. The BCS has taken the first steps toward a limited postseason playoff and if the cement hardens, automatic qualifying (AQ) bids to major bowl games could be a thing of the past. It’s worth noting that San Diego State and Boise State opted to traverse several time zones in order to protect their football programs by harboring them inside a league with an AQ bid. Without the assurance of an AQ bid, the move was pointless. How unreasonable is it to presume both institutions tendered league affiliation under a few sensible caveats that AQ status within the Big East remain unchanged? In other words, each school may have an “out” clause and could choose to exercise it in the next 12-24 months.

With Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia leaving the Big East for greener pastures, the Big East is a shell of its former football self anyway. Louisville wants out too. TCU thought the prospects were so bad they pulled their membership without unpacking the Mayflower truck. As many schools want out of the league as those trying to get in.

All of the recently-added football schools to the Big East were two things: invitations of desperation and pride-swallowing initiatives to court mediocre football schools that would otherwise never be asked to join a “prestigious” BCS conference. Things were so bad, Big East officials asked Memphis and Navy to join. How many TV sets watch either program?

All of this jockeying affects Big East basketball in a significant way. The football schools continue to steer the direction of the league and bring in new members that offer very little to Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, DePaul, Marquette, and Notre Dame.

Conventional wisdom suggested these basketball-only members of the Big East held all the cards in conference shakedowns that involved non-football institutions such as Dayton and Xavier. Considered the lynchpin schools that might break away from the Big East or reconstitute themselves as a new Big East of basketball-only private institutions, most people assumed they were the destination and other universities would bang on their conference door to get in.

Not so fast. If things continue to play out as some suggest, the Big East may be the last place a university wants to be.

The A10 is already the best basketball-only conference in the country, with the Missouri Valley and Colonial not far behind. Should the A10 cherrypick Creighton from the MVC and perhaps George Mason and VCU from the CAA, the A10’s superiority will be exponentially greater than every other basketball-only conference. Both the MVC and CAA would lose major cogs and as perviously discussed, the CAA might be dead completely with the other pending exits looming from their league.

Consider the A10 as it might stand two years from now with members including Dayton, Xavier, St. Louis, Richmond, Butler, Creighton, George Mason, VCU, and St. Joe. The remaining teams in the A10 round out the party and form a league that’s nearly as good as the leftover basketball institutions of the Big East.

No question, the bottom of the A10 is a lower bottom than the basement of the Big East. DePaul has far more to offer and far more upside than Fordham and LaSalle. Most of the basketball schools in the Big East are competitive. But there are only seven of them and Notre Dame may not align with a league that small; their Olympic sports are as important as basketball itself.

What the A10 would have going for it is size and stability. If the A10 continues to represent itself as a destination for quality schools from other basketball-only conferences, perception will count for an awful lot. And as the A10 improves, so too the likelihood that Dayton and Xavier prefer to stay put and enjoy the upgrades for the long haul over the uncertainty of a smaller league of private institutions.

Such a scenario is not impossible. If the Big East basketball schools continue to isolate themselves, few other institutions will find good reason to throw them a bone when the rubber meets the pavement. The end-game of all of this could be a permanent change in leverage from the Big East basketball schools to the A10. When it’s crunch time, Nova, Depaul, Marquette, and others might need the A10 far more than the A10 needs them.

Imagine such a storyline unfolding over the next year or two. It would measure up like the reversing of the magnetic poles and completely change the dynamic everyone has grown accustomed to over the last 15 years. The haves become the have-nots and the red-headed stepchildren become judge and jury.

A couple years ago I thought the A10 might not have enough leverage to affect much of anything. The more I analyze the conferences and read the underlying current, there is a lot to like about the A10’s position at the moment. The conference has been left mostly untouched in recent years by defections – and the defections on tap are not debilitating in any way. In some respects they are doing the A10 a monumental favor in allowing the league to underscore the common threads of the remaining schools and new admissions.

The A10 has some great options and most of them are on our time table. More schools want in than want out. There are only so many schools to pick from. If the A10 gets first dibs, there won’t be anyone left to join the Big East basketball members that could improve their league like the A10 improved theirs.

The Big East will be an orphan league: nobody wants to add them and nobody wants to join them. Schools like UD and Xavier will find too much risk for too little reward to exit a much stronger and stable A10 where all of the best non-BCS basketball schools already compete. The competitive differences will be far more marginalized among the two leagues, making existing A10 members far more satisfied to stay put and stand up with the brothers they grew up with.

Bernadette McGlade has a lot on her plate. When the dust settles, the A10 could be the conference where there are far more schools wanting in than invitations to dole out. Considering UD is already a league member, what fans once thought was a precarious position might end a giant blessing of good fortune and patience.
__________________

C. M. Rieman | Publisher | 937.361.4630 | Get the latest here:

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  #1  
By Medford on 05-03-2012, 05:05 PM
Good article, but not sure I'm buying what your selling, that the A-10 would be a better spot than joining up with the Villinova, G'Town, Providence, Seton Hall, Saint John's DePaul & marquette (I'll leave ND out of it as I doubt they'd stay in this configuration, 'Nova may finally push their pigskin chasing dreams as well, but we'll leave them in for now)

Villanova > Saint Joes & LaSalle (combined)
G'town > G'Washington
Providence > Rhody (though Rhody has a ton of recently untapped potential IMHO)
Saint Johns > Fordham

That covers Philly, DC & NYC on the East coast, plus Rhode Island and NJ, a group that is more high profile than its counterparts in the A-10.

throw in Marquette & DePaul and I think its more attractive to a Western Group including X, UD, SLU & Butler. All 4 of those schools recruit students for their general population from those east coast cities, all 4 would get a boost in profile playing Nova, G'Town & SJU over Fordham, St Joes & GW

If/when that group ever breaks off, I think they'll land on solid footing as a 12 team conference with the best of the West from the A-10 plus 1 more team from the East (unless ND decides to stay and remain indy in football) The TV money would be greater.

Couple things could change that, Nova making the jump in football. I think a Nova upgrade could greatly hinder schools like Providence & seton Hall's future hopes should the Big East fall apart. The A-10 going on a mid 90s revival and see a handful of teams ranked at or near the top of the polls, marching deep in march madness, etc...

At any rate, no matter what happens with the likes of UD, X, SLU and/or Butler, the A-10 should remain a strong BBall only conference going forward. The CAA appears to be deadman waiting, and the MWC could be close behind should Creighton find itself in the A10
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  #2  
By Flyer 86 on 05-03-2012, 05:14 PM
Good suumary Chris. Thank you
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  #3  
By UACFlyer on 05-03-2012, 05:47 PM
The keys might be Marquette and DePaul

If all seven of the BE BB schools stick together and go after a few A10 teams like UD and X, UD and X will jump...if ND is in the mix the decision will take five minutes.

But, if ND is out and MU and DU consider how far away they are from the coastal five, those two might find the A10 more attractive.

In my mind the solidarity of the BE Catholics is key. Those seven (eight) form a group that schools like UD and X want to be with. Split off MU and DU and the equation changes.

In my opinion, the A10 should not wait for the shake out. The time to pursue MU and DU is now.

UAC
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  #4  
By Chris R on 05-03-2012, 06:20 PM
The 7 BE schools are not going to split from one another. They will stay together because thats the only strength they have.

If the A10 continues expansion and gets the teams that have been talked about, the BE basketball schools will have zero leverage. There are NO more teams left for them to align with that dont exist in the A10. Except perhaps the likes of Rider and Siena and Monmouth.

They will have zero negotiating power. They are a group without a league -- and a league size that may not even keep its automatic NCAA tourney bid.

I wouldnt have any interest in bailing out these teams. If we were too "beneath them" to get on their schedule the last 10-15 years, that tells me all I need to know about what they think of Dayton. They have wanted nothing to do with us. When it comes time for them to crawl to us for help, they should get the same reception they gave us which is complete indifference.

I dont need these catholic programs in a league with Dayton to be perfectly happy. They already think their poop doesnt stink. Theyve already made it clear that money trumps everything else. Id much rather surround Dayton with schools that share the same common goals and understand the struggle of a non BCS institution trying to compete in a BCS world.

All I see from the BE is arrogance and apathy toward the A10. Theyve sat on their hands for years. If they continue to, I say too bad for them if they get left out of the party.

It could very well be a case where they need SLU, UD, and Xavier far more than we need them. And thats how I like it.
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  #5  
By bobber on 05-03-2012, 06:27 PM
Good article, Chris. Obviously, the next two or three years are going to see some amazing changes in conference alignment.

One thing you did not mention that the new Big East will have going for it is football. And as you have mentioned, the football teams in the new BE leave a bit to be desired. Will folks get excited about BE football? Willl the networks be willing to pay out big money for the rights to the games? Stay tunrd. TV money, or the lack of it, will play a big role in the new BE's future.

It will also be vital for the BE to stop the outflow of top teams. If Louisville, Cincy, UConn and Rutgers bail then I think the BE will pull apart. But only the ACC and the Big 12 know what is in store there.
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  #6  
By Bill McPeek on 05-03-2012, 06:39 PM
Chris, I couldn't have said it better myself! I agree 100% with your analysis!
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  #7  
By Viperstick on 05-03-2012, 07:05 PM
"Better to be in a house with a solid roof during a storm than to be trying to build a house with a bunch of homeless neighbors during that storm."

Agree completely with everything Chris. Bernadette needs to be working the phones now to cleave Marquette & DePaul away from the BE. Let G-Town, Providence, SHU, etc reconstitute the CAA.
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  #8  
By UACFlyer on 05-03-2012, 07:52 PM
Do not agree...

Originally Posted by Chris R View Post
The 7 BE schools are not going to split from one another. They will stay together because thats the only strength they have.

If the A10 continues expansion and gets the teams that have been talked about, the BE basketball schools will have zero leverage. There are NO more teams left for them to align with that dont exist in the A10. Except perhaps the likes of Rider and Siena and Monmouth.

They will have zero negotiating power. They are a group without a league -- and a league size that may not even keep its automatic NCAA tourney bid.

I wouldnt have any interest in bailing out these teams. If we were too "beneath them" to get on their schedule the last 10-15 years, that tells me all I need to know about what they think of Dayton. They have wanted nothing to do with us. When it comes time for them to crawl to us for help, they should get the same reception they gave us which is complete indifference.

I dont need these catholic programs in a league with Dayton to be perfectly happy. They already think their poop doesnt stink. Theyve already made it clear that money trumps everything else. Id much rather surround Dayton with schools that share the same common goals and understand the struggle of a non BCS institution trying to compete in a BCS world.

All I see from the BE is arrogance and apathy toward the A10. Theyve sat on their hands for years. If they continue to, I say too bad for them if they get left out of the party.

It could very well be a case where they need SLU, UD, and Xavier far more than we need them. And thats how I like it.
Chris, if the seven Big East Catholics and Notre Dame form a league and invite Dayton and perhaps Xavier....UD would accept in a heartbeat even if by that time the Indiana Pacers had joined the A10.
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  #9  
By Chris R on 05-06-2012, 01:23 AM
Im not sure thats a given. Dayton would be leaving a stable conference and joining a conference that has, for the better part of 15 years, been ransacked with instability. I dont think UD and XU would be in a position to "join" a new Big East. Rather, the Big East would be the ones being forced to ask for contrition.

The A10 may be in a great spot. They may be the prime destination conference where everyone seeks stability. That might mean a couple teams like LaSalle and Fordham eventually go to lesser leagues to make room. But I see the A10s long-standing stability and ability to grab schools from the Horizon, CAA, and MVC as a sign of that strength.

The BE schools will be on an island by themselves. Too small to exist on their own. Too large to separate. The only exception might be DePaul wanting out. They have struggled in the BE for most of their membership. Marquette has always looked down on Dayton. ND even more so.
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  #10  
By UD Sam on 05-06-2012, 02:17 AM
I agree with Chris about the arrogance of the Big E and their lack of respect for UD....especially Marquette. When UD played Marquette in the 2008 Chicago Invitational Tournament, there were comments from UD Priders who attended that game that Marquette fans showed total disrespect toward Dayton and knew they would win that championship game against podunk Dayton....which made it even more fun when we beat them 89-75. IMO if the A-10 approached Marquette or DePaul with an offer to join the A-10, they would flat out be rejected.
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  #11  
By ChrisSFlyer on 05-08-2012, 05:59 PM
Great article. This one and the one where you talked about the state of the program and where we wanted to go were good reads. Keep it up!
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