May 14 / Rob

VCU Is Going and Mason Has a Spin Problem

Just when we started to believe that the CAA might somehow survive this summer intact, news broke that VCU is on its way to the Atlantic 10 in 2013.  That figures. We write a post about the CAA weathering the storm, and then the boat starts rocking almost immediately. In this latest report, CBS Sports’ Brett McMurphy states that the announcement that VCU is leaving will be made on Tuesday, May 15. We’ve been down this road before, only to have reported announcement dates come and pass without as much as a peep. For whatever reason people seem to be taking this latest report as truth. Maybe it’s because we haven’t had any half-hearted or rushed denials from the CAA or VCU since the report broke. And we still have yet to see how ODU’s flirtation with C-USA plays out. Never a dull moment in the CAA.

When the original VCU to the A10 rumors broke, it seemed like a no-brainer to us. However, the longer things dragged on without the Rams leaving, the more we thought they’d stay. With the addition of Butler and now VCU, the A10 could have dramatically improved  as a hoops league. Of course any conference is just one move away from being raided. With the rumor machine working over-drive on potential ACC and Big East changes, several A10 programs could be in the crosshairs in the near future. The CAA is anything but stable lately though, so apparently VCU believes the risk exceeds the reward. Financially, it’s certainly no sure thing. As Mike Litos explained, the financial upside to VCU’s leap to the A10 depends almost entirely on the Rams’ getting NCAA tournament bids.  And as countless others have pointed out already, VCU won’t have home court advantage in the A10 tourney like they’ve had for the CAA tourney.

That’s all well and good. However, the real tasty nugget in McMurphy’s report as far as we’re concerned, was this little bit about George Mason’s decision to stick with the CAA.

On Friday, George Mason, which along with VCU and Butler had discussions with the Atlantic 10, announced it was staying in the CAA. However, sources told CBSSports.com at the present time the Atlantic 10 was looking to add only one more school and VCU got the nod over Mason.

Well now. That’s certainly a different spin than the one that Mason put on the news last Friday. As fans of a JMU hoops program that can’t sniff CAA Saturday tourney play lately, let alone draw interest from other leagues, we’re in no position to mock Mason. If we were more petty however, we might point out that Mason’s “decision” to remain in the CAA was not a decision at all. When Mason AD Tom O’Connor said “We felt it was in our best interests to stay,” he really meant it. Because they had no offers to go anywhere else. It would be a little bit like the producers of the forthcoming cinematic travesty Battleship, announcing that they had “decided” to remove the picture from Oscar consideration. Or if I announced that I’d “decided” not to sleep with Kate Upton. Or if Nickleback “decided” not to headline Coachella. Of course since we’re not that petty, we won’t point that out. But maybe you will.


13 Comments

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  1. 2004 Duke / May 15 2012

    VCWho- Don’t care.
    Northern Virginia Community College- Mason Campus- don’t care.

    Seriously…. if we dropped basketball altogether I would not even notice. Even if we “upset” VCU or Mason, I couldn’t even get exited about it because…let’s face it… who really cares about a ghetto psuedo-university in Richmond (the one without football) and a giant suitcase community college that offers advanced degrees? Big deal… whatever. I’d be more exited over beating William & Gary in women’s soccer.

  2. Jason K. / May 17 2012

    Does anyone besides me feel more “anger” than “fear” that ODU is supposively going to the CUSA?? I mean I know its not all football for them as they do have a pretty well established bball program (mens and womens). But I think there is a serious ego problem with them that they think their football team after being in FCS for a few years and the CAA for only 1, can instantly go to a FBS conference just like that. I don’t care that they beat us and they also went to the playoffs in their first year. That doesn’t establish a legitimate program…yet. Not saying that they won’t eventually be that good, but seriously, what are ODU administration officials (and their fans) smoking? JMU and a variety of other well established programs in the FCS like Delaware, Villanova, App State, Montana, etc should really be offended at this potential situation. Having said that, is there some jealousy on my part, maybe. I just feel that ODU maybe needs to pay some dues in the FCS first. #earnthis

  3. Matt / May 17 2012

    Jason,

    Not sure if that is “anger” or “sour grapes” you’re feeling, but I’m feeling it too. This is definitely a big, big gamble for ODU. If they go to C-CUSA and start posting 2 and 3 win seasons for the foreseeable future, how long will the fan base stick behind a program that doesn’t have any tradition or long standing ties? A half full clam shell (half shell?) won’t do much to inspire recruiting or cover the extra expenses FBS will bring. That area is big population-wise, but it’s not a great sports town. Will be interesting to see.

    Our best bet is to stay put and try to poach some good FCS football teams. With ODU and VCU, CAA hoops is dead and gone for now – GMU just became Gonzaga with no conference foes to compete with consistently. Yeager should focus on the football side of things first and foremost and get us top-level FCS schools to replace ODU and Ga State. I’d be fine with that, as I frankly lost interest in CAA hoops when we fired Lefty.

  4. Rob / May 17 2012

    It’s not personal, it’s business. And this has much more (if not everything) to do with money and very little (if anything) to do with wins and losses. ODU is in a big market and JMU is not. ODU also is apparently willing to take on the financial risk of moving up. I really think it’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter to C-USA or anyone else how long ODU has been playing football or how successful they’ve been on the field.

    So, I’m somewhat worried about how this will impact the CAA and JMU, but I’m not angry. I respect the fact that you and others might feel that way though.

  5. Jason K. / May 17 2012

    I hear what you are saying, but you have to believe that on some level that ODU *thinks* they are good enough on the field to play at that level. The money in FBS is still concentrated at the top tier AQ BCS conferences and not in the CUSA at least as the system presently stands so they monetary rewards can’t be so much to say “screw winning”. Afterall, this isn’t the Washington Redskins where the fan base is so hard core that no matter the horrible product on the field, they are the 2nd most valuable franchise because they generate so much money based on 3 Super Bowls over 20 years ago.

    Who knows, maybe ODU is really clairvoyant and are sure that the FBS system is going to change so much that it will beneift them sooner than later (over staying in FCS). The point I am making is that regardless if it is a risk or not financially they believe they have the quality football team to compete at that level, which I guess is what irritates me so much. Not saying that I think their move is better (in fact I am actually sort of happy about it since I think they will suffer), but more angry at their cockiness to think they are at that level so soon after getting their football progam started (or restarted 70 years later if you want to be technical). I’ll get over it when the Dukes give ODU a fare-well beat down at Bridgeforth on November 17.

  6. Matt / May 17 2012

    Rob,

    It is business. But when you’re in the sports business, business suffers when you make a habit of losing. It just feels like a rush decision on ODU’s part. I admire that they’re taking the chance, but it’s a big risk for them at this stage in their football history. That’s all. They may soon be looking back at last year as the high point in their football history.

  7. Rob / May 17 2012

    I hear what you’re both saying and I agree with most of it. I’m just personally not angry about it. I think it’s a very risky move by ODU financially speaking. I also think VCU made a risky move to go to the A10. Clearly both schools believe they can make it work (or they’re just content to throw money away). They very well might both look back on these moves as the downfall of their programs. That would suck for their fans, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

  8. Rob / May 17 2012

    I might lose sleep over how this impacts the CAA and JMU though.

  9. Matt / May 17 2012

    Agreed, Rob.

    I just want to know that we have a plan (not a “maybe”, but real, concrete options) if the CCA continues to implode. I really don’t think we do.

    I stopped caring about mens hoops a long, long time ago (perfect case in point of the perils of making a habit out of losing), so if the CAA can salvage the football league and make it better through some good additions (I’m thinking App State good), then all will be well for so long as the FCS continues to exist.

    The real pisser is going to be losing every recruit in Tidewater to ODU now. With ODU in FBS, Rodney Landers and Scotty McGee don’t choose JMU any more. Whatever pipeline we had to that area is done.

  10. Jason K. / May 17 2012

    I feel the recruitment thing was actually more of an issue if they stayed in the conference. First of all, JMU is academically superior to ODU, so in general JMU will appeal to more students, including a wider range of student-atheletes. Secondly, ODU and JMU were really fighting for the recruits that weren’t skilled enough enough to go to Va Tech, UVA (ok that is a bit of a stretch) or close out of state schools(UNC,ECU etc). JMU nor ODU were going to get either of the Vicks etc. However, now I feel ODU is actually probably going to compete for recruits with those schools than with JMU. We are the big fish in the small pond.

  11. LD / May 17 2012

    ODU going to Conf-USA amusing… They are going to be irrelevant in and irrelevant league. ODU, Charlotte, Texas-San Antonio, North Texas, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Rice, UTEP, East Carolina, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, Marshall and Alabama-Birmingham. Who cares…

    North Texas, wasn’t that the school in that football movie with Scott Bacula.

    Congrats ODU.

  12. Matt / May 17 2012

    Jason,

    My point was that, when we were both FCS schools, the “JMU is the better school academically” carried more weight. If there is a kid that JMU and ODU are in on, the chance to play in FBS is going to win the argument in a kid’s mind 90% of the time.

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