Another Conference Shake-Up…

They say that things happen in threes; perhaps we have an example of that right here in the world of intercollegiate athletics.  Last week, I mentioned two instances where college sports conferences made a significant change.  UConn left the AAC and Arkansas-Little Rock joined the PAC-12 as an “affiliate member” for wrestling.  Well, there is another conference shake-up in process, and I would never have known about it save for it being prominently reported by Gregg Drinnan in his Taking Note blog here.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) consists of 10 schools and 7 of them have announced that they are leaving the conference.  With that information, my antenna immediately picks up a signal that there is something fundamentally wrong with this conference and it turns out that the “problem” is not difficult to understand.  Here are the 7 schools that want out:

  1. Ferris State – – Big Rapids, Michigan
  2. Lake Superior State – – Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
  3. Michigan Tech – – Houghton, Michigan
  4. Northern Michigan – – Marquette, Michigan
  5. Minnesota State/Mankato – – Mankato, Minnesota (Duh!)
  6. Bemidji State – – Bemidji, Minnesota
  7. Bowling Green – – Bowling Green, Ohio

Those seven schools are geographically tight.  Now, consider the other three schools in the conference who would be abandoned by the defection of those seven schools:

  1. University of Alabama – Huntsville
  2. University of Alaska – Anchorage
  3. University of Alaska – Fairbanks

The seven geographically tight schools say they want to continue to compete in hockey and made no bones about the fact that they are tired of having to travel to Alabama and/or Alaska several times a year.  Here is part of their statement in announcing this move that will effectively dissolve the WCHA:

“[The 7 defecting schools] are like-minded in their goals and aspirations for the potential new league with a focus on improving regional alignment and the overall student-athlete experience while building natural rivalries within a more compact geographic footprint.”

In case you were wondering, the distance from Huntsville, AL to Fairbanks, AK via the Great Circle route is a mere 3237 miles meaning it would be a 6-hour flight if in fact there were such a flight offered.  If there were such a flight offered, I could not find it with a cursory search.

Bob Molinaro had this comment last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Picking a nit: It’s always the irritating things that never change. Like TV baseball analysts reacting to every pitch with a dissertation.”

I agree that much of the analytical commentary after every pitch in a baseball game drills down to the minutiae, but I would like to add two more things that broadcasters do that is as annoying or more annoying:

  1. Kiss Cam – and its offspring The Televised Marriage Proposal
  2. Celebrity-anointing

The networks made “Fireman Ed” into some sort of celebrity because he was able to spell “JETS” correctly; both of my sons could have done that at age 5.  The networks just conferred “fame” on a CFL fan who drinks beer from his shoe – as if that takes any special talent other than tolerating putting your foot back into a wet shoe.  And never forget “The Hogettes” whose claim to fame was that they attended NFL games dressed as pigs in drag.

The Onion always has great satirical content.  Sometimes, the headlines there summarize a situation so well that you are tempted not to read the story under the headline.  Here is such an example where the headline says it all:

  • Norfolk Tides third baseman sent down to Baltimore Orioles

Finally, as we approach July 4 later this week, Brad Dickson had this advice for everyone:

“Fireworks went on sale today. Stop complaining and go outside and stand by your roof with a hose!!”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “Another Conference Shake-Up…”

  1. That’s a shame about UAH losing the hockey conference. Huntsville is unlike any other city in Alabama due to the space center lab. I bet a lot of the UAH hockey players are Michigan kids.

    1. Doug:

      Too bad, indeed. However, putting Huntsville and Fairbanks in the same conference for anything makesno sense to me.

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