Lots of thoughts on the NEC reportedly being set to lose Quinnipiac and Monmouth

Yes, I know, it's been a while. There's a collection of things from CCSU I have saved up I wanted to touch on, and was actually going to do it all Friday but got quite sick and couldn't.

Anyway, enough about me, let's talk NEC for a minute. This is going to shake out over time and we can't do too much speculating right now, especially with the news so fresh. Lots of people I respect in the media and outside are just finding out about this. Since I know Mr. Paxton, however, let's consider this report as fact, particularly for the point of this blog.

UPDATE AS I WAS TYPING THIS: The league sent me this statement from commissioner Noreen Morris:

"The issue of conference realignment continues to garner much speculation and rumor from both traditional media and social media sources. The Northeast Conference is not immune from such speculation. However, at this point in time I have received no information from our members schools or the MAAC to corroborate the latest rumors."

A few random thoughts in no particular order.

1) No I don't think CCSU is going to another league anytime soon.

2) Since the MAAC is losing one member (Loyola) in a couple of years and gaining two (QU and MU), the league will have 11 for basketball. That would suggest the potential for another admission down the line. This isn't over.

3) Since the NEC doesn't have to worry about a football championship game, it could just stay at 10. Since they'd have to add 2 and I can't think of any obvious replacements, it might just do that. It's just funny, I always thought the Pennsylvania schools would be the ones to leave, or maybe the Mount.

4) Obviously not surprised Quinnipiac made a move, it hasn't been a secret they've been trying. I am surprised about Monmouth. Not that the program couldn't, they have a great new hoops arena and are good at several other sports, but to the MAAC was a surprise because I'm not sure where the Hawks play football now. Perhaps they even stay in the NEC for football, though that probably wouldn't be anyone's first choice at this point.

5) If this is true, there's no way to spin it as a positive for the NEC. For basketball you lose two programs with nice buildings and an up-and-coming program on the court in Quinnipiac. For football it's a bigger hit with Monmouth leaving and Albany already gone, you lose some big names, though Monmouth hasn't won the league since 2006. That's part of why Duquesne was a nice get for the league. The NEC has done a lot of changing in recent years in football, so more wouldn't be a surprise.

6) I remain fascinated to see what happens with the CAA, which continues to not make a lot of sense geographically, which is a bigger deal at lower levels than it is for the big boys who don't care about travel budgets and things. 

7) I mention that to mention this. Eventually, I still believe there's going to be a big shakeup among the smaller (and non-big football) schools in the Northeast. I don't see the Big East lasting long term as a mishmash.

Those Big East teams and perhaps the northern CAA teams are going to need leagues. Other than my ongoing efforts to remarry those teams and the AE, I'm not sure how that's all going to play out. My best guess is there will eventually be a couple of new leagues, or leagues which currently exist but will look nothing like they do now. 

8) This is the least important, but since it involves something I was blogging about forever before it started and something I think is a great thing for the state, it's worth mentioning. I wonder if the CT 6 can keep going. I think playing at campus sites is a fine way to go with it, but the schedule will obviously have to be tweaked. CCSU and SHU can't play in it, and now QU and Fairfield can't play. 

For scheduling sake I think you could put Hartford on the "NEC" side" and have CCSU, SHU and Hartford rotate against Yale, Fairfield and Quinnipiac. 

Or, as Hartford coach John Gallagher mentioned after CCSU lost to Hartford last month, a Big 5 type of schedule could be created. There's no reason all the teams can't play in basketball. There's certainly enough dates. 

9) From a basketball standpoint, the schedule would be a lot more fair with 10 teams for the NEC. You play everyone twice for 18 games. No one can say, well they played this team twice. It just works better. The problem is you a lose a good program in Quinnipiac and a historic member in Monmouth, which by the way, hosted the first NEC football game. 

The southern NEC schools can still schedule Monmouth and the CT schools can get games with Quinnipiac, but it won't feel the same. 

10) This whole thing, at all levels, is just sad. I get the point, to make more money. I don't begrudge anyone for doing that. Quinnipiac has made big, big investments in its programs and deserves to go up. Tom Moore, who I've grown to have a ton of respect for during long conversations over the last few years, has done a great job building his team on the court (ask UConn). Monmouth is doing what is best for it and moving up. The Hawks also built a nice new building. 

In the Big East, teams got out to make sure they didn't get left out (again, ask UConn). Other big leagues went to 12 so it could have a championship football game and some teams moved from league to league for better TV deals. It all makes sense. 

That doesn't mean it isn't sad. I grew up when leagues were based on historic and geographic rivalries. Now they're based on money and or survival. 

1 comment:

  1. Matt,

    I hope you're wrong about #1. I think CCSU is (or should be) a target of America East for expansion right now. Can we get any response from CCSU on these rumors?

    America East is sitting at just 8 schools after Boston U. leaves for the Patriot next year.

    Common sense says the AE needs to add at least 2 school, possibly 4.

    Of course, the AE could wait and see if any CAA schools shake free (such as NU or Hofstra), but they have a greater risk losing existing schools (Stony Brook and Albany) to the CAA.

    So yes, the AE can hold out for potential returning schools, but they have to shore up their base (especially in sports like baseball and MLax) where I think CCSU and Bryant could help them.