Nov 28 / Todd

Turning the Page to Hoops, or not?

We’re back from our grieving period after another thoroughly underwhelming and maddeningly disappointing football season which led to all kinds of justifiably distraught, angry questions being asked about Coach Matthews’ future, Coach Durden’s future and the inept, misguided, antiquated offensive scheme as a whole, Jeff Bourne’s future, President Alger’s involvement in athletics, and the general malaise within the fanbase.  Thankfully we had an excellent post wrapping things up from our guest poster last week and felt confident we could step back, enjoy our Thanksgiving travels, and come back with a fresh outlook as we turned to hoops season this week.

We even heard yesterday that Tarik Hislop won the ESPNw Player of the Week award last week and were excited to share such good news.  And former Dukes cornerback Evan McCollough was a presence in the Toronto Argonauts Grey Cup win!

But then over the last few days the unstoppable, crazed, maniacal crack addict that is conference realignment in college sports started lurching around fiending desperately for any type of fix it could get its hands on.  First, it made big waves when founding ACC member Maryland announced they were packing for the B1G (along with Rutgers from the Big East).  While this made news nationally, it was today’s news, mocked by many in the power conferences and major networks but potentially landscaping-altering for the trickle-down schools and conferences like JMU and the CAA, that Tulane (all sports) and East Carolina (football only) were leaving CUSA for the Big East that drove us back to football and realignment despite our best efforts.

Wait, CAA game on national tv?! Couldn't be, could it?!

[By the way, PurpleOut for the home opener at the Convo tomorrow night against GW and extra good news is the game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network!]

In no particular order, here are some random thoughts about what this all may mean.  Whether or not it actually means something to JMU is a whole other matter.

– CUSA doesn’t look like such great shakes all of a sudden, does it?  This is not necessarily just trolling ODU, but now that almost all of what was CUSA is actually going to be in the Big East and ODU’s biggest hope for a regional rival (ECU) is gone, do you really think CUSA is quite so attractive if it’s this unstable?  ODU, UMass, and the like still have a huge leg up on JMU because there feet are already in the collective door, but not sure we’d want to be jumping from a fracturing iceberg (CAA with it’s football/bball split) to a rickety old ship (CUSA).

– The MAC looks like a downright bastion of stability these days!  Seriously, for any JMU fans that were bashing the MAC, and don’t get us wrong it has it’s warts (doesn’t sponsor all JMU sports, fairly far afield geographically with few if any potential true rivals), in all of this craziness, the MAC is really the only non-BCS conference that seems to have maintained both its shape and its integrity throughout the last few years.

– Is the ECU/UMass football-only move a possibility for JMU?  Who knows, but we certainly could get behind that idea.  Sounds like ECU may actually be returning to the CAA in all other sports which is actually good news for the CAA overall, but don’t get overexcited.  It’s still shitty news for the withering football playing (and paying) members who are now even two more votes to the bad side of conference decisions with non-hoops members CofC and EZU.

– Is the Big East actually any better than CUSA, MAC, etc. at this point?!  With Louisville, Cincy, and UConn basically begging anyone who will listen to throw them a liferaft out of the Big East, the essential lack of playoff access, and the same crummy voting considerations with so many hoops-only members just like in the CAA, really not sure what kind of future that road holds either?  Not to mention the fact Boise and SDSU will never play a down in the Big East most likely since really what’s the difference from the Mountain West except for not having to listen to all the hoops whining from places like Georgetown, Villanova, and company?

– One thing is for sure, things are finally trickling down and if you’re an AD/President in Boone, Statesboro, Lynchburg, or Harrisonburg, you better be working the phones like a pollster on election night right now.  Unfortunately, it has to be said, chances are we’re simply “monitoring the situation.”

– Is there more hope for an East Coast Conference that would actually be a great situation for JMU given all the instability in the Big East, CUSA, and to a lesser extent even the SoCon, MAC, and SunBelt?  Who knows, but this still seems unlikely if only because FBS doesn’t want more conferences competing for that single spot in the “access bowl.

One final thought that we’ve been preaching for two years.  1-AA/FCS is already dead, only no one has bothered to check for a pulse yet.  When you really stop to think about it, the four-team playoff was actually the death knell.  Any championship dreams an undefeated Boise St. type team may have had a couple years ago before the kicking debacle against Nevada are even less than dreams now if you’re not in one of the Big Five conferences (which really may be the Big Four if the ACC gets destroyed by the B1G and the SEC as appears to be at least somewhat likely).  It’s very clear that the non-BCS/playoff leagues in whatever form they end up (CUSA, MAC, MWC, SunBelt, and BigEast) are really just the new 1-AA.  The 1-AA we all sort of still love, the one with the actual playoffs controlled by the NCAA cartel JMU didn’t make – again – is really just the new D2 and on down the line.  Still not sure we care one way or the other if the JMU administration would just be more open and honest about their vision, assuming they have one, but two things seem clear: JMU has built enough in the last decade that they are, for the time being, out of place in this new D2.  Second, unless they make a move now, the fire of support and excitement lit in the last decade will be extinguished faster than you can say Albany Great Danes.

13 Comments

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  1. Lively98 / Nov 28 2012

    So, could someone explain to me what an ideal scenario would be for JMU? Because I honestly can’t think of one.

    According to Todd, and I’m not saying you’re wrong, but according to Todd staying where we are holds no future. But, what would truly be a good and realistic conference to move up to in FBS? I would not want to be where ODU is about to start its FBS future. They’re not going to be in a BCS conference and therefore have only a Bowl Game bid to hope for and they’re fellow conference schools include Houston, UCF, Southern Methodist and so forth.

    So, do we have a realistic shot at moving up to a BCS conference? I don’t think so. So, you say we have to lillypad our way to a BCS conference by joining a smaller one first. Ok, so maybe 5-7 years from the first move we can make our way to a BCS conference? What does that do for us? It has always been my contention that a move up to FBS will mean that JMU never again competes for a National Championship in Football.

    Do you really want getting a bid to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s bowl to be the pinnacle and highlight of JMU’s season?

  2. Luke / Nov 28 2012

    I’m not jealous of ODU, in fact I’m just more mad at them for leaving a great CAA rivalry for CUSA now. Louisville’s definitely getting in the ACC. I really don’t know what JMU should do. I think they could compete in the MAC within a few years, but which MAC team would you rather be than JMU? “Man, if we could just be more like Ball State!” is something I’ve never heard. I’m not so sure moving up is the path to glory it would appear.

  3. Richard78 / Nov 28 2012

    FBS being bowl driven with their large TV contracts $$$$$ , either CUSA , MAC, or SUNBELT if it even came to that are JMU’s only option to grow. Fact that FBS regional schools, VT, UVA, ODU, ECU, UNC etc need 6 wins vs FBS opponents to qualify for bowl games opens the door for great rivalries to develop, something these schools will stay away from vs JMU because of their past strength and being a FCS school, a win means nothing and a loss has huge implications. I agree CAA was a great fit to this point, but if the intention is to grow and continue to build support not only for football but the rest of their athlectics and the university itself they need to attempt to move now while the door is opening. Rumblings are that there is a thought that the NCAA might try to put a halt to schools jumping from FCS to FBS in the near future for an extended period of time. Otherwise sit back and watch a school like Liberty reap the rewards for god’s sake. I’d hate to see JMU become just another minor league franchise within the state which is where they are headed without attempting a move up. As much as I hate to admit it, down here in Hampton Roads, storyline for ODU and it’s fans is nothing but positive even with the ECU departure. Fact of the matter with ODU becoming FBS, the ECU rivarly will continue for years once it starts next year, yes they are playing each other, as well as with some of the ACC schools, JMU should be part of that. Those schools always play out of conference looking for other FBS opponents where the wins will count towards the total of six.

  4. LD / Nov 28 2012

    Lets just talk about JMU being ranked 320th in rebounding. I can say ok you can’t shoot.. what can you do to over come that. Rebound and D. They do neither. Just pick 10 walk-ons and send them out there at least we might see some effort. Being near dead last in rebounds is all about lazy. Which seems to be the trend for Brady coached teams.

  5. White Hall / Nov 28 2012

    I have been a big proponent of jumping to FBS and I still say we go asap. With Louisville going to the ACC today, we will see in the next 6 to 12 months five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big Twelve, PAC-12, and SEC) of 16 schools each and the Big East splitting up, leaving those football schools in a new conference on the same level as C-USA, MAC,etc. I also don’t think there is any chance that the FBS playoffs will stay at 4 teams and will quickly be increased to 8 and eventually to 16. By jumping now it would put JMU in a position for one of those spots (even if it would be a long shot).

  6. Steve J. / Nov 28 2012

    In some ways, my biggest fear is the fear of the unknown. I agree that I just wish our admin would give a little more specific indication on what they are currently thinking and their intent for the next 5-10 years.

    If the admin fails to do so, it may result in reduced contributions to an athletic program that alumni see as having no direction and a ceiling on our future potential.

  7. Rob / Nov 28 2012

    JMU isn’t able to bring a big media market to any league, so it’s harder to count on using a lower-tier FBS league as a stepping stone. In order to use a lower league as a stepping stone, JMU would have to develop a stronger national brand, i.e. win a ton of games like Boise State. That’s definitely not impossible, but it is hard. Therefore, I think if JMU were to move up it’d be wise to move to a league that the administration and fans would be comfortable playing in for years to come, in case a bigger league never comes calling. Jumping to a watered down version of CUSA with huge travel costs, tons of instability, and few regional rivals, only makes sense if you have build in advantages that would make your school an attractive grab for a better conference down the road. You know, something like being the only school playing FBS football in a relatively large metropolitan area devoid of professional sports. ODU has that advantage. JMU does not. Facts are facts. And please do not try to claim that the DMV is a “JMU market”. It is not and it’s not even close. It’s a hugely fragmented market with several local teams that each have a larger share than JMU.

    I’m not sure where JMU should go, but it definitely isn’t CUSA IMHO. A revamped MAC with some other new additions facing similar constraints (UD, App State) would make more sense because the other schools are lower flight risks and would probably matter more to fans than schools from all across the US. Just my opinion though.

  8. Steve J. / Nov 28 2012

    Watching the GW vs. JMU b-ball game on TV….it’s sad to see how empty the Convo is these days during home games. I know the product on the floor isn’t great, but the student interest is just non-existent, isn’t it?

  9. White Hall / Nov 28 2012

    Agreed that the DMV is not a JMU market. However, that doesn’t stop the administration from claiming it as a JMU market when pitching the school and the 20k+ alumni in the area doesn’t hurt that claim. After all, how many schools can bring 10k – 15k fans to a meaningless beatdown in DC like we did against WVU? No one believes that NYC is a Rutgers market but that has not stop them from leveraging that claim not once but twice in upgrading. And I think JMU has as much right to claim Richmond as a market as Tech or UVa. It’s all about marketing. . .

  10. 2004Duke / Nov 29 2012

    With all the schools jumping up to FBS, and the stregnth of schedule factor, I think that if JMU doesn’t make the jump, we are about to be effectively blacklisted by the “paycheck schools” we usually whore out to: UNC, VT, WVU, MD, etc. Why would VT pay to play FCS JMU when they can play FBS ODU for free, cream them, and get the FBS win on their record? That’s a $300-$500K hit to the budget right there.

    I also feel like the athletic department is just aimlessly wandering around with no direction at all. I don’t care what they decide to do, as long as they make an actual decision.

    Mickey’s repeated football season failures and the basketball program’s embarassing existance pretty much slam the door on us going anywhere right now, I think.

    If we DID move up, I think a move to the MAC or Slumbelt would be suicidal. If I was Jeff Bourne, I’d be inviting the AD’s at Crap State, Delaware, Furman and Liberty over to my house for dinner and a roundtable discussion. If one or two of them make the jump and we sit here with our hat in our hands, we’re screwed. I cannot believe I’m saying this, and it might make me throw up in my mouth, but I actually think the best thing to do right now is for the Virginia CAA teams to join the SOCON (…and Richmond can join the ODAC).

  11. Steve J. / Nov 29 2012

    ODU’s AD Wood Selig has a regularly scheduled weekly call/interview with the Hampton Roads sports talk radio stations to discuss what’s going on in the ODU athletic program.

    Is there any real communication coming from our athletic department? Am I just not seeing or hearing it because I’m down here at the beach?

    Just wondering.

  12. Rob / Nov 29 2012

    JMU gets zippy coverage up in here in NoVA, so if the athletic department is talking we wouldn’t hear about it. I think they keep things pretty tight lipped though. And while we as fans would love to know what’s going on, it might be smart strategy to play things close to the vest when it comes to conference realignment. If JMU starts popping off about wanting to move to FBS, that could push other CAA teams out or cause another team to more aggressively pursue future FBS slots that might become available, no? The last thing JMU needs is more instability in the CAA.

    I say all this with the assumption that they’re working things and doing their due diligence behind the scenes of course. Maybe that’s naive of me to believe that they are.

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