Ok, ok, I know we said we’re done with realignment till JMU shits or falls back into the pit toilet that the CAA is rapidly becoming, but when news that a school we considered a whole lot more like Radford than JMU back when us old guys were applying is joining, you can’t just let that hang out without addressing it. Elon, yes the former Fightin’ Christians, now Phoenix, is leaving the SoCon for the CAA tomorrow. And word is new CAA Football member Albany will now be joining in all sports as well. Woo. frickin. hoo. Needless to say, good ole Tom Yeager isn’t letting that sweet, cushy, overstuffed conference commissioner paycheck fall by the wayside without a fight.
Look, we don’t mean to offend Elon, and word is its a much-improved school academically that we all know has a beautiful campus and actually fits fairly nicely in the CAA footprint, not to mention they had as many NFL draft picks this year as the Dukes (1) but to paraphrase @adesai30 today, thus completes the Atlantic Sun-ing of the CAA.
Seriously, the CAA is working hard to ensure it’s own survival. And if that maintains the AQ status for NCAA tourneys, we can’t begrudge them doing so even if it means splitting their soul into seven pieces and hiding the parts in magic trinkets tucked safely into Northeastern’s 1000 year old hoops facility. But again, this is no longer a group that even remotely resembles a group of peers for JMU. Elon is another smallish private with zippy realistic possibility for being anything else. Albany is, well, Albany.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to take off our lilac-shaded glasses every once in a while and realize that somewhere there’s a CUSA or MAC blogger probably getting ready to write this same piece if the JMU rumors pick up again. Only difference is that they are wrong but just don’t know it. JMU would be at or very near the very top of any of the three conferences that have realistically been discussed as options for athletic budget, academic reputation, facilities, attendance, and mascot badassness, so maybe I’ll put those spectacles back on!
Anyhow, the CAA is dead. or a pit toilet. Either way, it’s time to get a damn move on. June can’t come fast enough.
Jay Goodson, JMU Class of 2004, is competing on this season of the Golf Channel’s Big Break Mexico. The show pits 6 men and 6 women against each other for the chance to play a professional tour event. The competition takes place in IBEROSTAR Playa Paraiso Golf and Spa Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico where contestants face off in a number of weekly challenges and competitions. It airs Monday nights at 9:00 PM and two episodes are already in the books. So far, Jay has already earned the nickname “Mr. Perfect” for his JMU charm and looks. Standard.
Jay was a two time All CAA golfer while at JMU and holds the school record for lowest career stroke average. After graduation, he turned pro and struggled along below the PGA level. In 2011, the frustration got the best of him and he gave up on his dream of making the tour. He returned home and taught high school for a year, only to find that his students motivated him to give it another go. In 2012 he made his return to professional golf and won the Virginia State Open. With his passion for the game reignited, he’s hoping that he can capitalize on the opportunity Big Break provides and finally play on the PGA Tour.
A huge congrats goes out to JMU Softball. They fell in the Knoxville Regional to NC State yesterday, but not before finishing an historic season for the program. The team won a school-record 42 games and their first NCAA tournament game on Saturday! With almost every significant contributor still an underclassmen, it should be very exciting to see what’s in store from this group the next couple of years.
We figured whenever softball went down that would be the start of the offseason given the baseball team’s hideous early season, but somehow the Diamond Dukes have managed to work their way into the limited-field CAA Tourney, where they’ll begin play this week. Incredibly, even as the sixth seed you’ve gotta like their chances given that JMU is serving as the host for the tournament at the stunning new University Park facility. Good luck fellas!
We also have some good news to report for all of you that are sick of our constant conference realignment posting.
After a very satisfying chat with AD Jeff Bourne at last week’s DC/Nova Coaches Caravan, we’re going to completely lay off the conference realignment talk for at least a month unless there’s news. We’re no journalists and it’s not like we’ve got surprising or breaking hard facts to report, but we did get the following for sure: a) the admin is in touch with all of the potential conference destinations on a daily basis; b) full study from the consultants isn’t due till September, but the admin expects to have something they can work with in June; c) JMU realizes that the balance of where it’s “peer institutions” reside athletically has shifted; and d) the athletics administration now has an active voice in the overall University’s larger long-term plan, at least in part due to the support of President Alger. These items were VERY satisfying to hear. There were other smaller items that still worry us that JMU is a year or three late to the party and that we may not hear a publicly announced decision until after October’s Board meeting, but it can safely be said that heads are not buried in the sand and the period of tonedeafness has passed. While Rob and I have at times been as far apart on this issue as many other fans, we’ve both maintained that our biggest complaint was our perception that JMU was not actively dealing with the situation and was just hanging out and letting things “happen to them” instead of writing their own story. We still stand by the idea that we’ll learn to live with any decision, so long as JMU works hard to explore the options with an open mind, actively makes the decision, and then stands by it firmly.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t send out a huge thank you to Men’s Hoops Assistant Rob O’Driscoll, who spent a ton of time talking to us, making us laugh, and generally confirming all of our suspicions that Coach Brady’s group is rock solid!
In case you hadn’t heard, Arman Marks and Enoch Hood are leaving the JMU basketball program. As freshmen, both players got a lot of playing time during an injury plagued season for the Dukes. In 2011-2012 Hood and Marks averaged 19 and 16 minutes a game respectively. With a healthier roster and the arrival of Charles Cooke, Ron Curry, and Andre Nation, they struggled for playing time this past season. The official word is that the decision was mutual between the school and the players. Regardless of who initiated the move, JMU quickly used one of the open spots to sign 6’8″ power forward Yohanny Dalembert.
Dalembert joins a recruiting class that also includes 6’7″ guard/forward Jackson Kent, 6’6″ forward Tom Rivard, and 6’8″ Paulius Satkus. Kent had a number of quality mid-major teams and low level major conference programs show interest, but signed with JMU prior to his senior season. Rivard comes to JMU from Massachusetts and is said to be a mobile player who hits the glass, has a high basketball IQ, and a strong inside-out game. Satkus is from Lithuinia and played at Barking Abbey in the United Kingdom.
Dalembert can be described with one of my favorite hoops cliches, in that he is said to have plenty of upside. He wasn’t heavily recruited prior to his senior season, but that might be at least partially due to the fact that he didn’t begin playing AAU ball until this spring. His game began to catch up with his athleticism this past year, which resulted in his recruitment picking up steam the past month or so. He had offers from fellow CAA programs Drexel and Hofstra, and had Memphis and Villanova chasing him along with JMU. His Lower Merion High School team just won a state title in Pennsylvania and his big brother, Samuel Dalembert, plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Plus someone on Youtube said his nickname is the Haitian Sensation. I have no clue if it’s true, but let’s go with it.
As bloggers, we’re pretty sure we’re supposed to make fun of this and say something dismissive about this bro shotgunning a beer after totally crushing his last college final. And because we’re of a certain age, we’re pretty sure we’re also supposed to pound our fists and rant about how pictures like this will “live on the internet forever” or something like that. But we’re not going to. We think it’s pretty funny. Because, college!
First, let’s begin Friday with some actual sports news. Softball has made it to the championship round against Hofstra out on the Island today. Game 1 is at 1 p.m. and JMU has to win two to win it as they enter with a loss while Hofstra is undefeated in the double-elimination format. Now that they’ve made the finals against the top seed, there’s at least a reasonable chance that the second seeded Dukes, who have been on the fringes of the Top 25 all year, could earn an at-large bid to the women’s NCAA tourney, but I’m sure they’d agree punching their automatic ticket with a big (and last?) CAA trophy would be a lot better way to go. Good luck ladies!
But we also wanted to take this Friday in mid-May to throw another log on the conference realignment fire. We’ve tried to avoid this the last few weeks as this topic only incites riotous, baseless, and largely inappropriate behavior from the hardcore fans while simultaneously boring, confusing, and alienating many casual Dukes fans. I’m certainly guilty of some of this misguided anger, while Rob usually takes a more mature long view of the whole situation. That said, there are a couple of dates coming up that could be turning points for a decision that are worth mentioning no matter how much the administration says they are waiting for the full study from the consultants to be completed. We’re not experts on either of these and surely you all can fact check us in the comments, but this is our understanding:
June 1 – This seems to be the date that if you’re still in FCS on this date, you are eligible for the FCS Football playoffs the following fall even if you announce a move to FBS so long as any additional scholarship players you may add beyond the FCS limit do not play. This is what happened with ODU last year. Though the CAA made a conference decision to enforce their “not eligible for CAA titles while transitioning” rule, thus preventing ODU from claiming the official CAA football crown, the Monarchs were eligible from an NCAA standpoint for an at-large bid which they earned easily. Not sure how much sway this has in any decision JMU may make, but you can bet Mickey is rightfully lobbying hard for this scenario and it certainly would be nice to have at least one sport (and the most visible) that isn’t frozen out during any transition period.
July 1 – This seems to be the date that if you haven’t announced a move and transition, you are frozen out from making any move till the following year. In other words, June 30 is the end of the NCAA year so if no decision comes by then, JMU would not be making any moves till the 2015-16 year. That said, this also seems to be the date the CAA is scheduled to make a distribution of a good chunk of the money it’s been hoarding from the NCAA tourney runs the last few years (including that forfeited by VCU when they left) and the exit fees from those smarter schools that have already left. You can bet the coinciding dates are no accident and you certainly can’t blame the CAA for setting it up this way, but it obviously puts JMU in a quandary.
What it means? Who knows, but our guess is if nothing happens by July 1, nothing is going to happen till late spring 2014 and we’ll get back to monitoring the situation. That said, JMU’s been on there own at times apparently directionless course in this regard before, so we’ll just get our popcorn ready. And after all, this decision is about the long-term direction of JMU Athletics, and to at least some extent JMU as a whole, and making the best decision possible is the most important factor.
We’re definitely looking forward to hearing if there’s anything to be gleaned at next week’s Coaches Caravan event. (Though we doubt we’ll hear anything but “we don’t know” from Mickey and Brady and we’re just guessing there’s no Jeff Bourne w/in a hundred miles of these events this year)
During the Dukes’ run to the CAA Championship, we joked that if you ranked JMU’s Top 10 Dunks ever, A.J. Davis would have 12 of them. Consider this video our evidence. And thankfully it comes along during the long blogging dead season between the end of hoops and beginning of football. We’re only about 30 or 40 videos or random frivolous college “rankings” away from me achieving my goal of being able to provide fresh content all summer without actually thinking or writing.
In case you missed it, this “We Are the Change” video was released by JMU over the weekend. It’s a tribute to the Class of 2013. And it’s pretty great. It’s certainly far better then whatever low budget stop motion animation production they might have created back in the stone ages when I graduated. Hat’s off to the folks who produced it and a huge congratulations to the newest group of JMU alumni.
The 2012-13 JMU sports calendar is really winding down. This is usually the time of year we’re desperately hoping baseball keeps a good run going, but they’re an unmitigated disaster this year, so we’re pulling for one of JMU’s finest softball teams in program history to do big things at CAA’s this week. Whenever they finish up this year, we’ll really have to work hard to come up with something else to discuss to prevent us from melting down on the “new and improved” offense for football and conference realignment over and over all summer.
In other news, it’s Coaches Caravan time the next few weeks and we’ll definitely be at the DC/Nova Duke Club’s version on Thursday, May 16 at A-Town Bar and Grill in Arlington. This is always a fun event filled with Mickeyisms and populated by fellow fanatics.
Also want to give a special nod to sixth-year and program-transforming Women’s Lacrosse player Casey Ancarrow for repeating as CAA Player of the Year! While the team suffered a disappointing loss in the semis this weekend, Casey’s been the unquestioned leader of an incredible run of success for the program.
Lastly, a bit of fan news to pass along. At least in part, we started this project a few years ago to provide an outlet that didn’t involve the “constantly devolving into bashing” we often found on the CAA Zone message boards. But don’t get us wrong, the message boards have been a great resource for us and we’ve been thrilled to meet so many posters from there over the years. So we just wanted to pass along to those of you who may not be as obsessive but stop by the boards occasionally that the bulk of the posters have switched to a new message board. You can find it here: http://csnbbs.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=685
There is a virtually limitless supply of quality writing with plenty of thought provoking insight and intriguing analysis online today. There is also Buzzfeed. And after digesting the latest tidbit from The Economist or The Atlantic sometimes vegging out and clicking through a stupid list of “World’s Most Totally Extreme Food Trucks That You Absolutely Need To Visit Before You Die” hits the spot (and by sometimes I mean every single day). This week our fine friends over at Buzzfeed put together a matrix of the “Smartest, Sexiest Colleges in the Country”. Sabermetrics it is not. Whomever created the analytic methodology is not going to be confused for Nate Silver (I mean, sample size!). But JMU comes out in the top quadrant and it’s the offseason, so let’s go with it.