Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ranking the CAA contenders

This conference realignment has trickled down even to the smaller conferences. The CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) is looking for more teams in their league after losing VCU to the Atlantic 10, Old Dominion to C-USA, and Georgia State to the Sun Belt.

Update (6/21 6:30pm), from Adam Smith of Burlington Times-News:  Realignment rumor mill: Davidson has pushed / is pushing for Furman and Elon to be included in CAA expansion consideration.

6/22 at 3:45pm, from Mr. Smith: Davidson, College of Charleston and App State – yes, App State – formally have been contacted by the

They are looking for replacements for those schools. There are many schools in the running to move in for those spots. I will give pros and cons for each. There have been rumors that Stony Brook, Elon, College of Charleston, Davidson, and Furman may be going the CAA's way. I'll also add Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State.

By the way, I am a College of Charleston student (for conflict of interest reasons). From north to south, I will talk about each one. I will also talk about other schools that may have a chance.

Stony Brook: Pros- are in the very rich Long Island market. The main school for Suffolk County, a county of 1.5 million. Has tailor-made rival in Hofstra, only 45 miles away. Would combine football and the Olympic sports in same conference. Now, the closest football trip is VMI. Would give CAA a little more footprint in the NY market. Has good basketball and baseball which would help league.

Cons- Over 60 miles from Manhattan, tough to get interest unless something major happens. Only has a big amount of alumni in New York area (mostly the NY side) and have only been D1 for about 15 years. Do not have the legacy that some of the other programs of their stature have (but growing). Many of the schools in America East are closer.

I feel like they would be a great candidate for the CAA.

Elon: Pros- would get the CAA into the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point market. Elon is also only 40 miles from Chapel Hill and Durham, giving them a footprint in that market. Have a rich base of alumni all over the East Coast (here in Charleston, they always bring a fan contingent). Are adding women's lacrosse, and are competitive in almost all sports in the SoCon. A very good school which would fit in the CAA for academics.

Cons- Small gym (Alumni Hall), only seats 2,100, one of smallest in SoCon. Does not have a big following outside of the Piedmont of NC (only people that follow them are alumni outside the area). Campus hard to expand. Only has one radio station on its network.

Elon would be a tougher reach for this league but it is doable.

Davidson: Pros- Fills the Charlotte market, a large market that has no presence in league. Great school, would definitely fit in with schools like William & Mary. Has lots of tradition with its basketball program. Actually has a following in the market. Name recognition from its NCAA tournament appearances and Stephen Curry. Has following all around the country. Soccer program is good.

Cons- Poor in most other sports (baseball hasn't made 8-team conference tourney since 2009), football in non-scholarship league, needs to add a sport or two. Women's sports could be better. Other than that, not much to complain about.

The CAA is coveting Davidson. A Davidson grab would get them into another major market which would be big for the league, but would they leave the SoCon without their rival (CofC)?

Appalachian State: Pros- Great football tradition, already has an almost 30,000 seat football stadium. Has following all over the Carolinas, with radio affiliates as far E as Raleigh plus alumni all over the East Coast. Getting there as a school, improving each year. Baseball program growing.

Cons- has FBS aspirations. Wants to go to the Sunbelt or C-USA, but the ship may have sailed with Charlotte going to C-USA. Many people think Boone is in a out of the way location. CAA football wouldn't be a big difference from the SoCon.

I do not think App State would want to go to the CAA unless the rest of the SoCon collapsed. They want to be in a FBS conference.

Furman: Pros- gives conference presence in Greenville market. Has following all over South Carolina. Some following up and down the East Coast. Adding men's and women's lacrosse in 2014 will give them more of a following. Great football following, and baseball would fare well in CAA. Great school with a large endowment.

Cons- Would lose their huge rivals The Citadel and Wofford, which they have played for decades. Basketball needs to improve. Play better games and need to get more people in their arena. Travel expenses would increase heavily.

Furman has been a member of the SoCon since 1936, and it would take something major (like all of the SoCon schools I mentioned) for them to leave.

Coastal Carolina: Pros- Serves a fast growing market, Myrtle Beach, and is the only game in town. Heavily covered in all the local media. Many students want different opponents from the "boring" Big South schools. Has a very good football and baseball program, plus basketball is getting there. New convocation center will help that program a lot. Room to grow.

Cons- The school is often considered as a "safety school" (75% admission rate) giving a bad reputation to some people. Other schools may frown on that. Only has been an independent school since 1993, meaning it has a small alumni base. Many of the older alums pledge their allegiance to South Carolina. For football, would be kind of "out there" compared to the rest of the league. Big South basketball tournament will be held there next 3 years.

I feel like they would be great for the league. Would please UNC-Wilmington, which would immediately become the school's biggest rival.

College of Charleston: Pros- They are the lead school in Charleston, with 11,000 students. They have more alumni in the Charleston area than any other school. Have lots of new buildings. A good percentage of their students are from the Northeast and Midwest, and the school is becoming more national. Quickly becoming very selective. Very good basketball and baseball programs, and have been strong in women's sports.

Cons- School is 2/3 female. Has trouble getting some female students because of the ratio. Needs to add some athletic or academic programs in order to tighten the ratio. Basically a private university in public clothes (about 10-15% of their money given from state). Has to grow up instead of out, which is tough to do with Charleston's building regulations. If they moved, would lose all their in-state conference rivals, including The Citadel a bus ride away.

The College of Charleston has been trying to grow their national appeal in the past few years, and a move to the CAA may be a fit. But do they need a partner?

Georgia Southern: Pros- are the #2 school behind UGA in GA south of I-16 and has sizable alumni bases in all the major GA cities, including metro Atlanta. Have great football and baseball legacy. Have newer alumni base which is only going to grow. Statesboro, the town they are in, is basically their town.

Cons- Far away from the rest of the schools in the conference. Even if App State joined with Charleston, that would be their closest football rival at nearly 6 hours. Travel would be brutal for the rest of the league. They already spend less than many of their Southern Conference rivals. Need to renovate their basketball arena. If they move, more likely would be to a 1-A conference.

My ranking on the schools most likely to move to the CAA:

1) Stony Brook
2) Coastal Carolina
3) College of Charleston
4) Elon
5) Davidson
6) Appalachian State
7) Furman
8) Georgia Southern

This will be very interesting to see if it happens. Any or all of these universities could switch conferences. It will be very chaotic if it occurs. What would the Southern Conference, Big South and America East do?

1 comment:

  1. CAA is not interested in Coastal because of its academic reputation. Almost every school in the CAA is academically prestigious, and there has actually been addition by subtraction with VCU, ODU and Georgia State leaving.