Sunday, June 13, 2010

We all fall toy soilders....

Well Spot fans...there only seems too be two things on people's minds this weekend in the world of sports: How England's goalkeeper can have hands of clay (or jelly, or any other unflattering adjective) and whats up with the big boys of college sports and conference realignment?  As for the's England, when DON"T they choke in the World Cup? (see Beckham, David)  As for the the second, well, to quote that one hit wonder from the 80's, Martika...."Step by step, heart to heart, left right left, we all fall toy soldiers"....and yes, the domino effect will be felt even here with our valley D-I schools.  How so you may ask the Spot? Well, let me explain....(and yes, you will be quizzed afterwards, so pay attention!)

Domino #1: Already happened...the Big 10 (+1) is now the Big 10 (+2) with the addition of Nebraska, and Pac-10 is now the Pac-11 with Colorado and the Mountain West Conference now has an even number at 10 by adding Boise St.

Domino #2: Will most likely happen this week...and it all hinges around the school everyone outside of Austin, Texas loves to hate, the Texas Longhorns.  Texas has three options:

  •  Accept the coming invite from the Pac-10 (err...11)...if this occurs, then Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State follow suit, giving the Pac-10 15 members.
  • Accept an expected invite from the SEC, in which case it would bring Oklahoma along with it to the SEC.
  • Stay where it is, keep the current 10 schools in the Big 12 together and keep it at a 10 team league.

As you'll notice, each of the three options leaves the Pac-10 needing one more team to even things out, bringing us closer to just how this all affects Pacific, Fresno State and UC without further adieu....

  • Domino #3: The Pac-10, needing another school to give it an even number, invites the University of Utah from the Mountain West, which puts the MWC back at 9 schools.  What the MWC does next depends on what, you guessed it, Texas does.... 

  • If Texas bolts to the Pac-10 and leaves Kansas, Kansas St. and Missouri Behind, the MWC could extend an invite to those three, giving it a 12 member league.
  •  If Texas stays in it's current conference, that leaves the MWC with the need to add one more school to make it 10 team league....and can we say HELLOOOOO FRESNO STATE.....

Domino #4: Fresno State bolts to the MWC.  If the MWC were to pick up just one more school from the WAC, the two obvious choices are Fresno State and the Univ. of Nevada.  In a battle between the two, Fresno State has the clear edge.  Football is driving realignment, and Fresno State's football pedigree brings more to the BCS table for the Mountain West than does Nevada's.  Plus, such a move allows the Mountain West to tap into a California TV market (lets face it, does anyone in San Diego pay attention to San Diego State?...NOOO...they're too busy either getting a tan or going over to party in tj....) which can only help with dollars and recruiting.  Plus the massive "Red Wave" fan army of Fresno can be mighty appealing to the local economies of Ft. Collins, San Diego, Las get the picture...all of which leads us to....

Domino #5: With Fresno State and Boise State gone, the WAC now needs to replace two football playing schools.  Sorry the Montana's and Northern Arizona's of the world, but you need more than 3 people in your TV market to make such a move.  The good money on who the WAC would go to for their two replacements would be on either UC-Davis, Sacramento State and Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.  Of those three, UC-Davis would be the most obvious, as their inclusion gets the WAC into the Sacramento TV market and the athletic facilities at UC-Davis would be at the very least on par with those of other WAC Schools.  That leaves a choice between Sacramento State and Cal-Poly.  Now if I'm WAC commissioner Karl Benson, do you clog the Sacramento market with a school that while it has a pretty nice football stadium....has a high school quality basketball gym to play in, and gets very minimal fan support...or do you go with a school in Cal Poly that a) it's the Central Coast, who wouldn't want to take a trip out to the beach! b) has substantial more fan support than Sac State and c) would make you the only player in their TV market....yep...Cal Poly it is....and the conference realignment shuffle is complete (at least for those of us in California...) or is it?....

Domino #6:  Football may have started this realignment Armageddon, but Basketball will end it.  The West Coast Conference has established itself as one of the premier basketball conferences this side of the Mississippi, on par with the MWC for sure and even some years (like this past year) with the PAC-10 when it comes to berths to the Big Dance.  With the MWC poised to add perennial Final Four contenders Kansas and Kansas St. as well as NCAA tourney regular Missouri, the WCC will feel the need to keep up with the Joneses.  And just who would they add...well when looking for schools that fit their conference profile they need to look no further than California's Central Coast and our very own Central Valley.  One possible pick up would be the UCSB Gauchos...who would bring strength to the WCCSpanos Center on a nightly basis.  The WCC gets a very, very solid basketball program (5 post season appearances in the last 7 years) with access to the Sacramento TV market and with facilities that would actually rank ahead of most teams in the WCC (Spanos Center, Klein Family Field, Bill Simoni Softball Field...etc. etc.).  It's a perfect marriage...and one that Pacific has been wanting for a while now.  While the addition of Pacific and UCSB to the WCC wouldn't keep it on par with a MWC containing Kansas, Kansas St. and would help to keep it above the WACs, the Conference USAs and Missouri Valley Conferences of the world.

So there you have it...confused as I am?  You should be...because the Spot doesn't think even those who are driving the realignment bus know exactly what they're doing....and after all the dust settles it'll be anyone's guess as to what the college sports landscape will actually look

'Till next time...stay classy Central Valley!

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