Mar 25 / Todd

GMU to A10, Music Has Stopped, JMU Left Standing

Throughout the day today, as I slowly recovered from an amazing 967 mile road trip to Dayton in 34 hours and put my life back in order for the week, I was really looking forward to sitting down and writing tonight.  After all, it’s been a great couple of weeks to be a JMU fan.

First, I was going to mention that Coach Brooks’ women’s team won their second round WNIT game at home and is really making a run again for the second consecutive year.  They’ll host Fordham Wednesday night with the pep band and the whole #cramtheconvo experience back up and running after a beautiful hiatus this week for the Ohio trip.  But you’ll have to check out the excellent JMU WBB blog for expanded coverage because a) they’re doing such a great job with that site and b) unfortunately we’ve got to move on to other news this evening.

Second, I was as excited as I’ve ever been to write about a road trip that ended with a Dukes loss. Never been more proud to be a part of the JMU community than I was on Friday, and maybe even moreso down the stretch of a lost game as a part of a still roaring, still proud, fanbase than we even were before the game.  But the Dayton Diary, and the goosebumps-inducing pregame Start Wearing Purple, the praise for JMU Nation’s turnout and passion that we received from other fans in the arena long after the Dukes’ game was over, the amazing gifs created even in a loss, and the great shout-out from Coach Brady late night during Iowa St./Notre Dame will have to wait another day.

This is becoming impossible.

But then the Washington Post’s Stephen Goff reported tonight that George Mason is joining the Atlantic 10 conference in all sports effective this July.  Even when I issued our List of Demands last week as a warning to Dukes fans that despite the unbridled joy provided by men’s hoops’ wonderful run we all  needed to be wary of rough times on the horizon, I never dreamed the panic button would need to be mashed with both hands so quickly.  As the great columnist for the Wilmington Star News and all-around expert on all CAA matters Brian Mull mentioned tonight, at this point while UNCW, JMU, and W&M are the only remaining founding members of the CAA, they really have nothing else in common beyond that fact.

Just think of it this way:  UR, VCU, ODU, and GMU are all gone and in their place we have non-football Charleston and football-only Albany and Stony Brook.  Despite the fact JMU is a better all-around institution than any of those former mates, there is simply no way that any rationale JMU fan can look at that and not feel like the leftover kid not even getting picked for kickball at recess.  UR, VCU, and GMU have all taken significant steps forward through basketball while JMU has suffered through Keener and Dillard and continues to languish in an outdated facility.  Hard not to wonder if all of this year’s march magic might have been too little, too late with JMU stuck in a crumbling conference facing years of play-in games and disjointed, half-hearted “rivalries” with schools that couldn’t be further from the “peer institutions” we’ve heard so much about from our own administration.  And ODU was willing to take the risk on FBS football when the opportunity presented itself while JMU simply continues to monitor the situation.  Probably best to just go back and reread last week’s list instead of rehashing it here because we’re not complete idiots about just how great of a risk that is, but it’s crystal clear that there is NO SALVAGING the CAA as a viable option for JMU athletics in the long-term.  The CAA is simply the low-major version of the Big East circa 2011, and schools like JMU are apparently the only ones who haven’t realized it yet.  A long line of play-in games in hoops and years of half-full 68 million dollar stadiums for St. Francis games awaits!  Once again, all we ask for is Jeff Bourne to be given the chance to make his own decisions for JMU athletics and at least announce to JMU Nation what the plan is moving forward, assuming they have one, and such an announcement better be made by May 15th.


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  1. 2004 Duke / Mar 25 2013

    GMU joing in “all sports”? “Basketball-only” schools aren’t even real colleges.

    Point taken, however. Really wish I knew what our administration is thinking. They better have some magical secret plan up their sleeve. Or they could just be totally incompetent. That’s always a possibility.

  2. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    The A-10 now has 13 teams. Bourne and the JMU administration better be burning up the phones of those 13 schools begging for them to make it 14. It is the only viable option for JMU athletics to grow and prosper. The CAA is dead on the vine. Just wait for Tom Yeager to try and convince everyone how great it is when the CAA tries to replace Mason with VMI.

  3. maddukes98 / Mar 25 2013

    Or Liberty….

  4. FormerDukeBlocker / Mar 25 2013

    No offense but trying to get into the A-10 is the worst idea that I have ever heard. The A-10 offers us nothing more than the CAA, a bunch of Basketball schools that do not share our interest. Football should be our focus, we have invested in it and we need to join a conference that sponsors football for all of its members which means we probably need to go to FBS. We should follow ODU into Conference USA (even if it is a temporary stopping point) so we can partner with schools that are more like us from an athletics point of view. Then when the final shake up happens and the non-BCS schools break up into regional conferences we are positioned to create a conference that includes schools that we are similar to: ODU, APP State, Delaware, ECU, Charlotte etc…

  5. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    Going to FBS for football would be a good idea, and finding a conference willing to take JMU would be even better. But it’s not going to happen because there aren’t any conferences or TV networks looking to add the Harrisonburg market. So, rather than continuing to look at situation and hope for the conference shake-ups be over, JMU needs to get the best possible situation for all sports. Which looks like a better conference than the CAA for basketball, et. al., and another affiliation for football. That model worked well for years before the CAA had football, and it would be better for JMU to try to be the best FCS program in the country than become sacrificial lamb for a second rate FBS conference (read that as ODU).

  6. FormerDukeBlocker / Mar 25 2013

    Don’t be so sure about ODU being a “sacrificial lamb” in FBS. With the right conference (which they have) and good scheduling they can win, so could we in the same circumstance. My guess is that we could sell ourselves now to Conference USA as a good regional piece to complement Marshall Charlotte and ODU and as a good basketball school (that is how we play the BB attention that we got this past week.) The other option could be an all-sports conference that plays FCS football but I don’t see how that could work. The fact is that we need to be in a conference with schools that share our goals completely not ones that can’t or won’t commit to the same level of football as us.

  7. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    I think the expense of travel, increased scholarships and the other incidentals of running a FBS football program are too great for JMU to overcome. JMU has already dumped sports due to Title IX, and there would be other cuts if football expenses are increased. Without a TV market to make up for those costs and without guaranteed bowl money, then JMU would be sacrificing other sports just for football. Just like ODU has done. ODU is already hammering alumni and donors for more and more money which is not coming in at the levels they hoped. Just wait, next they will be making cuts to men’s programs to comply with Title IX. JMU is better off staying FCS in football and joining a compatible league for all other sports, like the A-10. It worked before for years, and the JMU football program was successful under this scenario. We went to the playoffs many times before the CAA had football. When JMU was still in the A-10 for football. So JMU even has a history with that conference, even if some of the schools have changed.

  8. Shady_P / Mar 25 2013

    Those leading JMU athletics simply seem to be asleep at the wheel yet again. I have a hard time with the higher ups giving ultimatimes to coaches when they are not doing there job – which is to LEAD and give clear direction for JMU athletics. It seems like they are content to monitor the situation and hope someone has pity on JMU and throws us a scrap.

    Someone please take a chance…..When the BIG EAST began to splinter JMU should have read the writing on the wall and been working a deal to the A10 at that point.

    Here’s a demand for Charlie King/Jeff Bourne. Get JMU out of the CAA at a minimum in all sports but football before the fall our both of them can look for new jobs.

  9. Todd / Mar 25 2013

    Love that last demand Shady. What hurts the most is how great of a situation for all sports the A10 is now for all of neighbors. Seriously, the idea of VCU, UR, GMU, and GW all being in the same conference is painfully awesome. It does seem like we need to scuttle our football hopes and focus on everything else or go all-in on football like ODU. I just don’t see the middle ground, and it’s incredibly frustrating that most folks have seen this inevitable lack of middle ground coming for a few years, yet “most folks” doesn’t seem to have included our decision-makers.

  10. Coach Priz / Mar 25 2013

    JMU gambled on football and appear to have lost. It is a sunk cost at this point. JMU should do what it can to get in A-10 and enjoy all that brings. Finding an FCS conference that will have us in only football would be nice but needs to be secondary to getting into the A-10. Todd makes the correct point that regionally/academically those schools match up to JMU.

  11. Todd / Mar 25 2013

    A very good friend of mine, JMU grad, businessman, and season ticket holder for football like me, had been on the “FCS tradition and rivalry” side of the equation for a long time. He called last night to say he’s changed his mind. We talked for quite a while, so I’ll mix in some of his points with mine:
    -This quashes any chance of a CAA squad getting an at-large bid for several years. If the Patriots returned to success, perhaps a 20+ win team that beat them or lost closely and had some decent OOC wins might have thought about an at-large, but not any more. What seed would Northeastern have had if they won the tournament? 15? Or a 16 with no play-in? What does the CAA tournament winner get next year?
    – If you’re Matt Brady, and you’ve got another year or two before your freshman-heavy squad is competitive at the upper-echelon of the league, do you think twice about JMU’s offer? Do you call Siena, heavily rumored to be bound for the A10, and see if they’re interested in you? What happens to a JMU basketball program forced to reboot yet again?
    -I think we’d all agree the NBC Sports Network exposure this year was awesome. What do they feel about this? Certainly they went into the deal thinking tournament semi-regulars like ODU and Mason would be part of it.
    -All this being said, I don’t envy the responsible leadership. They seem entirely risk-averse, and considering what they are protecting, I can understand it. But at this point, to paraphrase Neil Peart, not choosing is a choice in itself.

  12. FormerDukeBlocker / Mar 25 2013

    I see that most of the posters on this site are as short-sighted as our administration. The only mens sports that JMU should sponsor are Football mens Basketball and Baseball. Cut the others and sponsor just enough women’s sports to keep us in compliance with Title IX. I hate that is how it has to be, but that is the environment that we find ourselves in. Joining the A-10 would leave Football in the wilderness and that would be a HUGE mistake. We need to find a conference that we can join for all sports with schools that sponsor the same sports as we do. We have not lost on our football gamble, we just need to make a bigger commitment to stay competitive. Football has coattails meaning it will help basketball and other sports, basketball has no coattails (can anyone say Indiana football with a straight face)

  13. Shady_P / Mar 25 2013

    What’s wrong with JMU pursuing the A-10 in all but football and trying to go FBS with the MAC. That is exactly the recipe that UMASS used. Then you get the best of both – FBS football, and more regionally focused in all other sports with less travel costs as a concern.

  14. Shady_P / Mar 25 2013

    AppState and GaSouthern both have press conference scheduled for Wednesday, presumedly to announce they are joining the SunBelt…..JMU where are you…..this should have been yet another angle being worked by King/Bourne.

  15. 89 Grad / Mar 25 2013

    Before we start to rip our purple sackcloth, we must remove the elephant in the room. As of 6:30pm on Friday, we don’t have a Men’s Basketball coach. So on the heels of a great run in the CAA tourney and a NCAA win, who can call recruits and sell JMU basketball right now? Every day that passes without Brady having a contract is one day our goodwill and excitement is fading. How can any conference take JMU seriously if we can’t keep our own house in order? Does the lack of progress mean that Brady is considering the Sienna offer? Does Bourne really believe that he can push Brady away and hire Deane as the HC, since Bourne gives all the credit this year to him?

    Considering the two aforementioned questions, how can we expect Bourne to have the foresight to be thinking ahead?

  16. White Hall / Mar 25 2013

    A-10 doesnt need JMU, it has got the state of Virginia covered with VCU and Mason. The question now is whether Charleston changes its mind and stay put. If it does, then the CAA is done. Even if it doesn’t, CAA is still on very shaky grounds. Our only realistic option is the MAC. And we better grab it before another school (Liberty) does.

  17. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    A-10, MAC, Conf. USA, or whatever. JMU better act quickly or we will be stuck forever in a conference with no real future in any sports. The CAA is dead right now, and unless the league has some secret plan to bring in some BCS schools (which isn’t likely) JMU will be relegated to insignificance in the sports arena. If there is some master plan that involved losing UR, VCU, ODU, GMU, etc., then we would all love to hear it because those of us who live outside of Tom Yeager’s office can’t figure out what this strategy is. Bourne needs to re-sign Brady and get JMU into a conference immediately!

  18. Shady_P / Mar 25 2013

    Totally agree:
    1. Sign Brady to a new deal.
    2. GET OUT OF CAA – surely JMU can afford a $1M exit fee. Anywhere is better than staying in the CAA and monitoring the situation.

    If it is anything like hiring an OC it will take till the mid-summer to get Brady a new contract and it is a 5 year think tank plan to make a conference move.

    I fully support the individual teams, players, and coaches in all sports but I have ZERO confidence in our athletic department leadership. That is to say I have ZERO confidence that the dynamic duo of King/Bourne can make a decision in a timely manner to chart a course and give direction to the JMU Athletic Programs in general.

  19. 89 Grad / Mar 25 2013


    Do you really think Brady will wait that long?

  20. FormerDukeBlocker / Mar 25 2013

    The problem with joining a conference for basketball only is that you are competing against teams that can put more money into their program than you can because you sponsor football. If we do that we will never be able to compete for championships on a regular basis and it will prevent what we are tying to accomplish (making the NCAA tournament). Our only hope is to join a conference that devotes the same amount of money as we do to both football and basketball. That way we can compete for championships and raise our chances of playing sports on a national stage, and that is what intercollegiate sports are all about. There is a reason that this was the first time in 20 years that we made the tourney… no VCU, No ODU, No UNCW.

  21. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    UMass and Villanova have done just fine playing for basketball championships and still having FCS football. So did UConn before they moved football to FBS. And Richmond is doing it now. At some point it may make since for JMU to jump football to the FBS, but not until JMU has something to offer that a FBS conference will want. Right now there is nothing JMU brings to the football marketplace. No big tv market (like tidewater for ODU) and no big name recognition (like VCU and Mason who made final four runs). The best course of action right now is to salvage whatever we can by finding a decent basketball league, and focus football on the FCS level.

  22. FormerDukeBlocker / Mar 25 2013

    I disagree. I don’t consider UMass doing “just fine” as a basketball or football school and Villanova and UConn are part of the Big East (UCONN as an all-sports member), UR does not have the same commitment to football as we do. If we worked at it, we could make a play for CUSA as another school that fits them geographically with a similar commitment to football in the east to ease travel for ODU, Charlotte and Marshall (Include Delaware and you have a nice eastern half of the conference). A much better model are the schools of the Mountain West, which is an all-sports conference and concluded the year with the highest RPI of any basketball conference. We need to build a Mountain West of the East.

  23. Shady_P / Mar 25 2013

    I was just joking about the Brady contract….just pointing out that the JMU Athletic Administration moves at a glacial pace.

  24. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    They do move at a glacial pace, or slower. That’s why this whole string of comments has been made today. Regardless of what we all think the administration should do, we all can agree that they need to do something NOW!!!!

  25. Shady_P / Mar 25 2013

    Totally agree…..just do something, make a statement about vision/direction….do something. I think we ALL AGREE the we need to get out of the CAA ASAP. We may disagree about where would be the best place to go, but we all agree that the CAA is not the place you want to be going forward.

  26. FormerDukeBlocker / Mar 25 2013

    Agreed. Odds that anything like that is actually done ?

  27. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    Totally agree with Shady P. As for the odds, Former Blocker, if past performance is a any indication, the guesses we commenters post on this blog are the only activity we will see. Until it’s too late that is. Obviously Bourne at JMU and Yeager at the CAA aren’t even paying attention.

  28. Todd / Mar 25 2013

    Odds we get another mealy-mouthed letter that really just finds another way to say we are still monitoring the situation: 75%
    Odds we get that letter before the may 15 ticket renewal deadline: 25%
    Odds we get anything beyond that: < 5%

  29. 89 Grad / Mar 25 2013

    It is reported on ESPN that it is costing GMU $2.65 million dollars to leave the CAA and it expects that the school will recoup in the A-10 “in as little as five years.” — We will not leave the CAA. Do we really expect JMU, which claims that it can not afford to fire coaches because of the payouts to actually leave money on the table?

    Also, three nuggets to think about to stay in the CAA
    1. We can win the league
    2. Does anyone know what the A-10 will look like next year
    3. Don’t the conferences call us first?

  30. A-Ron / Mar 25 2013

    I get that Harrisonburg isn’t a desirable television market, but doesn’t JMU’s alumni presence in NOVA account for anything? Charlottesville and Blacksburg aren’t huge markets. UVA and Tech simply have devoted alumni in large, desirable markets . . . just like us. (Tech’s a little different, I realize, in that they have turned Southwest Virginia into a de facto SEC-type football state.)

    The DC area is crawling with JMU grads. That’s money and eyeballs. I think our school’s brand is more valuable than people give it credit for.

  31. Mark McKinney / Mar 25 2013

    JMU alumni are all over, but that argument has not worked so far when selling us to bigger conferences. That argument didn’t work for a very long time for VT either until the Big East took the chance and then the ACC could look at their fan base to justify the school as a tv draw. It’s all about $$, and the JMU administration claims to have none, which has been an excuse to do nothing so far regarding conference realignment. But you’re right, A-Ron, the fan base is broad, and right now, with the good will and good recognition that has come from men’s basketball, is the time to act and parlay JMU’s value into a better conference than the CAA for all sports.

  32. White Hall / Mar 25 2013

    The problem is not that other conferences don’t want us, the problem is the administration is afraid to make a decision to move. Conf USA approached JMU, ODU and Delaware about moving up at the same time. The MAC has made its interest in JMU very clear. If Boone, NC and Statesboro, GA are big enough for the Sun Belt, then so is Harrisonburg. JMU has options to move.

    So what exactly is Bourne thinking? I wishfully hope that he is holding out for an invite to America 12 (or whatever the former Big East will call itself), but that is probably just a pipe dream.

  33. 2004 Duke / Mar 25 2013

    1. Joining the A-10 would be a HORRIBLE idea. It would slaughter the golden goose (Football) and send our fledgling basketball team to a huge conference where they would get embarassed week in and week out. I’m stoked about their success this season, but let’s be real, we had EVERYTHING fall in our favor (thank you: towson, VCU, UNC-W, ODU).

    2. Is anyone else really happy that Crappy Appy joined the slum belt? I am. It’s like your cheating ex-gf voluntarily infecting herself with an STD just to make a point. Go get ’em Appy!

    3. Jeff Bourne and the AD at Deleware need to go to dinner. UDee is in a similar position as us, except they don’t have to face up to the idiocy of building a multi-million dollar football stadium prior to crapping their pants (both on the field and in the office).

  34. 2004 Duke / Mar 25 2013

    I think it’s pretty clear that Bourne is holding out for the SEC.

  35. White Hall / Mar 25 2013

    2004 Duke – they should also invite the AD from Towson to that dinner. Towson has made a commitment to football and also has a new basketball arena opening up next season. JMU, Delaware and Towaon would make a nice Southern expansion for the MAC.

  36. Steve White / Mar 25 2013

    Bourne is a clueless dumbass who should be fired. Bring back Brady buy hire an AD who has vision and knows how to treat people right. Brady had done a goodjob and doesn’t deserve to be tagged along and report to a fool.

  37. maddukes98 / Mar 25 2013

    2004 Duke – I am hoping that was sarcasm, because I honestly hope that JMU/Bourne is NOT holding out for the SEC. That doesn’t make sense – we can’t compete with those teams, and plus, they wouldn’t want us. The MAC makes probably the most sense. Maybe if we go into Akron this season and beat them, it shows the rest of the conference that we are a viable option to join. Their basketball is also a step up (slight) from the CAA. Its not as good as A-10, but let’s not screw the football and other great JMU athletic programs such as soccer, women’s lax, and other by trying to join a basketball only conference.

  38. isatgrad / Mar 26 2013

    I am happy/jealous for app and odu. Why not us?

    The mac and c-usa would be a good fit for us if ud/towson/wm/liberty/other close schools to join us. If we play teams like the directional michigans or the teams really far down south, it would be hard for most alumni and fans to see our away games.

    If only the ACC or the new big east would take us……

  39. LD / Mar 26 2013

    I love that the sky is falling because Mason left. F them good riddance. I could care less about the nova commuter school. We should build on our success and then move when we want not because we feel we have to. The new schools are better than Mason. Beat them consistently and then move or get some more small powers to join…. Or just continue to spaz.
    Albany was 24-11 RPI 128
    Stoney Brook was 25-8 RPI 83
    C o C also 24-11 RPI 125

    Mason 20-24 RPI 159
    JMU RPI 185

    We will field a football and basketball teams next year they are going to play and if they play well they will make the playoffs and or tourney. If they don’t which they haven’t for 7+ years it will be status quo. D-hall will still be standing, the lake will still have a VW in it and tailing in the burg in the fall will still happen.

  40. Shady_P / Mar 26 2013

    Couple of things you might want to know:

    1. Albany and Stoney Brook are football only schools for the CAA – so there RPI means nothing to the CAA.
    2. As for away football games – do you realize how far Stoney Brook, Albany, Maine are; no one is going to those games anyway.
    3. Forget about the away games, JMU better first figure out how to get better attendance at home games.
    4. Football pays the bills for the entire athletic department it matters in a very big way and the solution needs to consider football.

    It is not spazzing it is a reaction to JMU sitting on the sidelines doing nothing.

    JMU passed on the A-10 when Richmond left.
    JMU has passed on the MAC before.
    JMU has passed on C-USA when ODU bolted.
    JMU seems to show no interest in the SunBelt.

    I personally don’t see JMU getting a better offer than one of the four above and they need to take a chance/risk and move on. It is like JMU has some misguided loyalty to Tom Yeager/CAA.

  41. LD / Mar 26 2013

    I believe the saying is always negotiate from a position of power. Which we don’t have. Move now you get what you get. I don’t argue mistakes haven’t been made I argue moving because mason did is a poor catalyst.

  42. isatgrad / Mar 26 2013

    If we win against decent teams or compete at a higher level, our stands will remain empty. It is really hard to get excited to see another alcorn state or st. francis blow out. We need to leave the caa now.

    School proximity, winning teams, and the ability for fans to travel helps build rivalries. Having rivals and close opponents will keep people interested and attend games.

  43. matt / Mar 26 2013

    As I see it, we do have a good TV market if we’re in the right conference. For the MAC or Conference USA that don’t have a true national presence, we are not much value, but for the new Big East (American 12 or whatever) we would bring the DC market, since they have a deal with ESPN, and we would be an alterntive to the UVA/VT ACC. Thursday night football did wonders for VT in the 1990s, I don’t see why not for us. Plus with Navy coming in a year or two the JMU – Navy games could be good for a rivalry.

    And best of all, as a fan, most teams would be in major metropolitan areas (Cincy, Houston, New Orleans) which would make for easily accessible and desireable road trips. Especially NOLA for Tulane games. It certainly wouldn’t be like going to Toledo and Akron (MAC) or Boone and Lafayette (Sun Belt) that’s for sure.

  44. matt / Mar 26 2013

    Well strike my last comment looks like the Big East added Tulsa so they’re full now (until UConn and Cincy leave)

  45. Bhagavan / Mar 26 2013

    JMU could have left way before Richmond or any of these other schools. When Lefty was here, the A-10 was interested in JMU. Lefty loved the idea but the JMU administration didn’t for a major reason: JMU takes great pride in the fact that Dean Ehlers and this university helped form the conference. The CAA even has a Dean Ehlers award. So JMU ain’t going anywhere. Time to stop resisting, and sit back and breath deeply of the nitrous oxide. Pretty soon the pain will subside.

  46. Mark McKinney / Mar 26 2013

    Bhagavan, you’re probably right about the administration’s loyalty to the CAA, but that doesn’take it right.

  47. Bhagavan / Mar 26 2013

    I agree, Mark. It’s totally blind behavior. Like Captain Ahab not noticing his ship is falling apart.

  48. 89 Grad / Mar 26 2013

    We can debate the merits of the CAA vis-à-vis other conferences all we want to, however, we are NOT leaving the CAA in the near future.
    • JMU is not going to pay to leave and leave money on the table.
    • We have a brand new President and his opinion on where sports fits into the ‘JMU experience’ has not been stated.
    • The costs of moving to a I-A football conference is too high for the Department, Title IX, and the ‘Olympic sports’.
    • The conference realignment wheel has not stopped spinning– we don’t know what the A-10 is going to look like next year.
    • We just one our first championship in 19 years! There is no reason we can’t be a perennial contender in the CAA (assuming we have Brady back and create some consistency in the program)
    Until these issues are sorted out, I don’t see us making any move

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