Hope you are well. I said last week after the blog post about my interview with CAA commissioner Tom Yeager that I’d get to the rest of what I wanted to get to, so here it is.
I don’t think Georgia State is going anywhere but the CAA, and that’s coming from athletic director Cheryl Levick. She said that one of the conditions for joining the league for football was a six-year commitment.
“We’ve made a firm commitment with the CAA when we joined the conference that FCS is where we need to go and I believe that,” she said. “We need to walk before we can run.”
Yeager also said that there was a clear understanding between Georgia State and the CAA that the conference would not be, in his words, “a way station” on the road to FBS.
“We are very focused and very happy with what we’re doing with FCS,” Levick said. “We know what we want to do and everything we do is to try to get as good as we can get in the FCS. We know the conference we’re walking into – it’s the toughest conference. I’m so excited we’re in that (league) because we need to put together a program. That’s what I’m trying to do here.”
Bill Curry sounded a similar note, saying he is “thrilled and challenged beyond measure to be in the CAA.”
A couple things to consider. It certainly appears that Rhode Island is out the door, which renders the 12-team, two-division format moot. Second, it could well be that the other New England schools – New Hampshire and Maine could well follow suit in the next few years. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, just that it makes a certain amount of sense.
Cost is a concern in particular for the New England schools and tacking on flights to Atlanta and Norfolk, Va., isn’t going to make things any easier. I’d wonder if New Hampshire and Maine, who play in stadiums seating 8,000 and 10,000, respectively, would look around and think that the league looks less and less like them.
Further, the Northeast Conference is ramping up – it started as a non-scholarship league and is now at 40 scholarships. (The FCS limit is 63.) This year, it will have its first automatic bid into the FCS playoffs. Also, in a Boston Globe article I linked earlier in the week, UMass may be considering following the path to FBS set by UConn.
“We have to realize our potential as the state’s flagship campus, and a part of that has to be improving athletics — be like what Ohio State is for Ohio and what the Madison campus is for Wisconsin,’’ UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub said. “If we act more like a flagship, then the funding will come.’’
So potentially, the league could eventually be GSU, the four Virginia schools, Towson, Delaware and Villanova, which might also leave the conference for the Big East. There’s the possibility that Charlotte could join after it starts in 2013. (Though that would presumably mean the 49ers would start conference play in 2015, which would be Georgia State’s fourth season out of its six-year commitment.)
A lot of things have to happen to get there, but if they did, the league would obviously look a lot different than it does now. One remaining flaw is that none of the schools are drivable for all but the most diehard fans, but I imagine this scenario is more palatable for many of you than the current one.
The other thing is, I don’t think the Southern Conference is an alternative. For one, Georgia State has committed itself to the CAA. Two, I think the fact that there are 12 teams in the Southern Conference (except for football, in which there are nine) makes it a non-starter. Someone would have to leave for it to be an option. Jason Yaman, a spokesman for the league, said there haven’t been any discussions about expansion/contraction since Elon joined in 2006.
Are there ways that it would make a lot of sense for Georgia State to be in the SoCon and not the CAA? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.