Obviously, the coverage around these parts of Johns Hopkins joining with the five Big Ten lacrosse schools to form a conference in the sport has revolved around Michigan. They’re, like, in the league. I’ve even talked quite a bit about Big Ten member – and onetime Division-1 lacrosse program – Michigan State. Could the Spartans join down the road?
One item that I haven’t broached yet is how the move affects the program that will feel some indirect repercussions: Detroit. The Titans obviously aren’t in the Big Ten Lacrosse Conference, but they’ve regularly played two of the teams in the league, and a third team from the ECAC whose conference home is up in the air for the future.
I’ll take a look team-by-team and see how it affects Detroit, starting with those actually in the Big Ten, then following it with a few others affected by the moves.
I’ve heard rumblings from both sides of this game that it may take a couple-year hiatus in the near future, just to avoid developing into a nasty rivalry. A little local competition is good, but you don’t want things to be mean-spirited (and ultimately dirty) on the field, either. Not sure if the status has changed, but either way, Michigan to the Big Ten isn’t going to change whether or not the Wolverines play Detroit.
The Buckeyes have played Detroit every year of the Titans’ existence, always in Columbus. OSU is actually dropping conference games (going from an eight-team league to a six-team league) in the move, opening up more room for non-conference, so there’s no reason to expect they’d do anything but continue playing UDM.
Detroit has never played Penn State. The Nittany Lions are moving from a seven-team conference to a six-team league, theoretically opening up one non-conference game. PSU will be a regular traveler to the Great Lakes State for league matchups with Michigan, so it’s possible – though maybe not likely – that Detroit is eventually added to the schedule.
The Scarlet Knights are an interesting case in this exercise. They’ve never played Detroit, home or road, but have a couple connections to the state and program (assistant Byron Collins was the head coach at Detroit Country Day until this spring, and UDM defensive coordinator Chris Kolon is a former Scarlet Knight). It’s also a pretty long haul from New Jersey to Michigan, so if RU wants to make a trip worth their while, might it make sense to add Detroit to the itinerary? Rutgers will be going from a seven-team Big East to the six-team Big Ten, so an additional non-conference opening is possible. RU might also need extra non-conference games for the 2014 season with the implosion of the Big East.
This would be a great land for a non-conference game for Detroit, but I just don’t see it happening. The Terps will play their five conference games as a member of the Big Ten, then try to fit some of their traditional ACC and regional rivals onto the schedule. Their conference schedule is actually getting bigger (coming from the four-team ACC), so opportunities for non-conference game actually go down.
Not happening. The Blue Jays fans are already in hand-wringing mode about how they’re going to fit all their traditional rivals onto the schedule while joining a conference for the first time ever. Adding another non-conference game just doesn’t fit with that.
BU has played Detroit every year that the Titans’ program has existed, and even with the destruction of the ECAC – and possible Bellarmine entry to the Atlantic Sun? – I see that continuing.
Until we see where the Stags land, this is a major question mark. I would not be surprised to see them join the MAAC, which is their all-sports home anyway, for lacrosse. That would make them a conference opponent for Detroit. If they end up in another conference, I don’t see them playing UDM.
Hobart, Air Force
Depending on where these teams land long-term, they might be looking for significant additions to the non-conference schedules. Especially Air Force, which doesn’t have an obvious conference home, will be looking to fill a schedule unless they join a league.
The two expatriates from the MAAC, now members of the Atlantic Sun, have history with Detroit. Especially with Jacksonville, which has been a relatively strong program for the MAAC, I could see UDM wanting to continue the rivalry as a non-conference game. On the other hand, that’s basically a guaranteed flight, not always easy for smaller athletic departments.
At this point, we obviously are in the dark about how a lot of these things will shake out. Stay tuned for more definite news as it comes through.