Realignment Link Roundup

I was originally going to put together some form of long-form piece on realignment, but I’ll split it up into smaller chunks. First, a few links that I find to be relevant (some are old, but anything that’s no longer applicable is not included):

Realignment Among Existing Programs

Maryland faces questions – Washington Post:

Michigan Coach John Paul said he has “a gut feeling” the Big Ten won’t alter its rules and add lacrosse without a sixth conference team. He added that he would like to schedule Maryland when it joins the Big Ten, even if his team remains in the Eastern College Athletic Conference and Maryland is in another conference or an independent.

The Rutgers move could have Big East teams such as Georgetown scrambling. For one, the Big East will have five members in 2014-15, one short of the NCAA minimum for an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

The Big East could add a school with men’s lacrosse or an associate member such as Johns Hopkins, currently an independent. Pietramala did not rule out joining a conference.

“We’re an independent right at this second,” he said. “But we have to do our due diligence and see what’s out there.”

Relevant bits: Big Ten Lacrosse conference won’t exist without six teams (I would say JP’s “gut feeling” is cold hard truth – there’s no incentive for the B1G teams that aren’t traditional powers to leave autobid conferences). Rutgers has screwed over the Big East for the time being, which we knew. Johns Hopkins is considering entering a conference.

Coaches Talk Big Ten - Lax Magazine:

What’s the possibility of a Big Ten women’s lacrosse conference?
[Penn State women's coach Missy Doherty]: To be honest, we’re obviously going to be expecting that. The Big Ten is a tremendously supportive conference. Having six teams and the automatic bid is huge, and we’re hoping for and expecting the Big Ten to make lacrosse another Big Ten sport. As far as we know, as of the 2014-2015 season Maryland will be a part of the Big Ten, and my hope is we’ll be planning for that to be the first season of a Big Ten women’s lacrosse conference.

What’s the potential for a five-team Big Ten men’s conference?
[Penn State men's coach Jeff Tambroni]: There’s potential, but the bottom line is I haven’t even talked to our athletic director yet… I’m not sure any of us — Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State — would be in favor of that yet. If you ask them, they’re comfortable in they’re league and I know Penn State is comfortable in the CAA. If there were talks about a potential of a league with six teams and we could think a little more futuristic about what that would mean for Penn State, the Big Ten, and lacrosse, there’s a lot of exciting possibilities with that.

Do you think Maryland and reportedly Rutgers joining the Big Ten will lead to a Big Ten men’s lacrosse conference?
[John Paul]: …If we did get to six, we wouldn’t decide that; the Big Ten would decide that. It’s the same thing that happened with hockey with Penn State finally adding. For us, it’s exciting. I love to see the Big Ten continuing to reach out into new markets, and continuing to grow.

Relevant bits: Women’s lacrosse is happening (Northwestern is the sixth team, filling that last slot that the men need). Tambroni confirms that the Big Ten schools aren’t interested in forming a conference with fewer than six teams. Adding a team from within, a la Penn State hockey, seems like the best option.

Notre Dame staying put - Chicago Tribune:

“This doesn’t have any impact,” the Irish athletic director said Saturday. “It has absolutely zero impact. It wouldn’t change anything about our decision-making process. If we were going to engage in (an ACC move) again today, it wouldn’t change it at all.”

Relevant bits: Even though Jim Delany is pretty transparently making some of his moves to screw over Notre Dame, they aren’t going to be strongarmed as long as the ACC is a thing that exists.

Lacrosse landscape - Inside Lacrosse:

Michigan State is millions of dollars away from rekindling their men’s lacrosse program. A month ago I was in East Lansing, and spoke to a person involved in the lacrosse movement at Michigan State. Preliminary fundraising fell short of the $8 million needed to endow a men’s and women’s program, but they are trying and getting closer. But they are millions of dollars short.

Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague is from VCU. He graduated from UNC and worked at Uva. He understands the pull of the sport. I spoke with him when he was at VCU about adding men’s varsity lacrosse and he seemed to be on that path prior to leaving for the Gophers. He is a progressive thinker and a future ally of the sport. If Teague were to add men’s and women’s lacrosse, perhaps the tipping point would be reached and others would follow suit.

Maryland and Rutgers were round one; I expect more significant moves during the next six months. You could see Florida State leave the ACC. In lacrosse terms, so what. Maybe Furman will try to get into the ACC as a lacrosse-only member, giving the ACC an AQ.

Relevant bits: Quint is skeptical that Michigan State will be in position to add lacrosse any time soon. He is more confident that Minnesota might be an option. He believes more conference realignment is coming in the large-scale that will affect the lacrosse landscape.

Maryland move makes for awkwardness – College Crosse:

It’s a little murky to see how the ACC is going to operate without the Terps on the membership roster, but Maryland’s potential defection from the league does create some interesting consequences. The most notable result from the Terps’ move is the league’s lost opportunity to earn an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament, but even that is only a potential short term aftereffect.

Relevant bits: The ACC programs have been totally content to date operating without an autobid, so going from six back down to five won’t be an issue. The existence of a league one program short of an autobid could encourage other ACC non-lacrosse schools to make the plunge.

Big East is Boned – College Crosse:

Relevant bits: No blockquote necessary. The title kind of says it all there.

Further Big East Implosion - ESPN.com:

The seven Big East Catholic, non-FBS schools met with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco on Sunday to express their concerns for the direction of the conference, multiple Big East sources confirmed to ESPN.com on Monday.

Relevant bits: Seriously, this league is toast. The dissent was about adding the wrong teams, but any story like that seems like it can only end with a radical change in membership or all-out dissolution.

Big East will be Aggressive – Inside Lacrosse:

[Big East Associate Commissioner Jim] Siedliski said that the conference’s constitution allows for them to bring in associate members if they are in jeopardy of losing their automatic qualifier. “We will begin to do our due diligence when the time is right, relative to what’s going to protect our membership and our position of receiving an automatic bid. Once you get something,” he said, referring to the AQ. “You don’t want to lose it.”

Relevant bits: In contrast to other views, the Big East maintains that it will seek to retain that AQ (this article does predate the ESPN story, to be fair). Deck chairs on Titanic still haven’t reached optimal arrangement.

Richmond excited to join lacrosse community – College Crosse:

I’m not sure that Richmond is looking — right now — to forge ahead a new “southern conference.” Outside of the CAA and ECAC, I can’t see the Spiders legitimately talking to any other conference right now, but crazier things have happened

Relevant bits: Obviously that’s an older article, but Richmond’s conference situation is still not resolved (as far as I remember), so it does give a little bit of insight about longer-term futures of a couple conferences.

Boston College and Minnesota possible expansion – College Crosse.

Relevant bits: Boston College doesn’t necessarily seem likely to add the sport, Minnesota actually seems a little more likely (as mentioned above). A Gopher program would obviously be a possible tipping point for B1GLAX.

The Future of Big Ten Lacrosse – Inside Lacrosse:

In a similar example, college hockey fans waited for years for a sixth team to join up and allow Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State to leave the CCHA and Minnesota and Wisconsin to leave the WCHA in favor of their home conference. When Penn State announced the addition of men’s hockey in 2010 and moved to its inaugural season this fall, plans for Big Ten hockey began in earnest and will take effect next season.

As for other interesting bits of the story, Tambroni said members of the three staffs were together when the rumors first broke last weekend and shared some comments about the excitement of the growth of the game.

Relevant bits: The line of thinking “five teams in a conference mean someone will be convinced to add a sixth program soon!” (I’m frequently guilty of falling into this) is premature. The sixth team and Big Ten-sponsored league is probably the preference long-term. Regardless of how or with whom it happens, we’re not done with expansion.

Coaches’ Reaction – Inside Lacrosse:

Gene Corrigan, ex-ACC commissioner and former Virginia lacrosse coach
“It’s historic, all right. It’s shocking to me. … I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all. It just blows me away. They’re a charter member of the ACC — they’re not just a member. Virginia wasn’t even an original member.

Relevant bits: Programs are looking out for their best interests, potentially at the cost of tradition. Maryland’s eagerness to jump could indicate that the long-term future of the ACC is pretty weak (though Corrigan doesn’t seem to be aware that Georgia Tech, for example, is a founding member of the SEC).

Maryland coach John Tillman Speaks – Inside Lacrosse:

To that end Tillman expressed a positive interest in the potential geographic reach of the Big Ten and the Big Ten Network, which could potentially expose the sport, and Maryland, to a much broader audience as the network catches on nationally.

“It’s my understand that the Big Ten is excited about getting more involved in lacrosse,” Tillman said.

Relevant bits: The Big Ten is getting excited about lacrosse. That can manifest itself with more TV (the network is crazy if they don’t broadcast more games) and long-term, more programs.

A Five-team Big Ten – College Crosse:

As the ECAC and THUNDERDOME! aren’t showing as particularly stronger than a hypothetical five team Big Ten lacrosse league, would that be enough for Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State to abandon their leagues and try to make the NCAA Tournament on an at-large basis with the expectation of a potentially higher strength of schedule?

Relevant bits: I can answer that question succinctly: no. The ACC works not because a team can make the tournament without an autobid, but because almost every year, all of them will make the tournament without an autobid (as they have every year since 2007).

Analysis, predictions, etc. on how realignment could/should/will play out coming soon (for a given definition of “soon”).

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2 Responses to Realignment Link Roundup

  1. Clark Bell says:

    Wow, thanks for putting all that together Tim. I read it pretty fast so maybe I missed it. But the Big Ten actually does a little more than pay lip service to academics. Delaney has done a good job finding schools that have good reputations in that regard. The reason I mention that is that two teams stand out in the ACC and either one could be a sixth team. Either North Carolina and Virginia would fit the mold of a Big Ten school and could be that sixth team. Any reason that isn’t possible?

    • Tim says:

      There have been rumblings of North Carolina and Virginia (and other schools, like Georgia Tech) that have come and gone. The schools refute it, but then again they always refute it until the announcement is made. The Big Ten snagging any other existing lacrosse school – especially an elite one like UVa or UNC or Notre Dame, however unlikely any of those might be – would probably be more than enough to form a Big Ten lacrosse conference.

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