College Hoops "Roundtable": Thoughts on Conference Realignment

    
November 2nd, 2011
With the beginning of games that will count towards win/loss records on the horizon (first games are Monday), these final days before the start of the college basketball season seem to be a good time to discuss some of the off-season's hot topics. With that in mind I caught up with some bloggers and writers to see what their thoughts are on topics such as conference realignment, the new rules regarding recruiting and the scholarship model, and some preseason picks as well. First up: conference realignment, a topic that has ruffled feathers throughout the country in addition to putting college basketball "in its place" so to speak.

Question: What are your thoughts on conference realignment, and what solution do you have for the issue?

Peter Robert Casey (Five-Star Basketball)
I'm not an avid proponent of this trend. If realignment is genuinely intended to improve the academic image of an institution or put a struggling school on more stable financial ground, fine. It has merit. But if the motive's purely driven by chasing more television revenue dollars, then it sends the wrong message to kids - er, student-athletes.

From a fan's perspective, it disrupts age-old rivalries and traditions. I'm looking specifically at the Syracuse to the A.C.C. situation. I grew up following the Big East and have a hard time embracing this change. Pitt, fine. But, the ‘Cuse, a Garden staple? It just doesn't feel right.

Then again, this has nothing to do with hoops.

Rob Dauster (Ballin' is a Habit)
I don't like conference realignment. I don't like losing rivalries like Syracuse-Georgetown or Kansas-Missouri or West Virginia-Pitt. I absolutely despise the fact that the Big East will be a shell of its former self, both in basketball and believe it or not, football. But I've accepted it. Changes like this happen fairly often. In less than a decade, we're all going to be talking about how great the ACC is and every writer in the country is going to try their hand at comparing the league to the Big East in its basketball prime.

For a solution? Go back in time and hire smarter administrators. Can we do that?

Brian Ewart (VUHoops.com)
Conference realignment has really blown up the landscape in college sports. I really loved the Big East basketball product and that is sadly going to be forever changed by recent moved. It changes the way we all watch the game.

There is no solution though. Not unless the NCAA or some reincarnation of the College Football Association takes over all television rights for all of college football once again. Taking TV money out of conference hands would make that revenue source independent of conference affiliation and most schools would probably tend to stay where they were.

That won't happen, so the best answer is to hope that it all works out and grows back into something that we all still want to watch.

Troy Machir (Ballin' is a Habit)
On paper, the notion of conference realignment kinda makes sense I guess. But if you have ever studied European History or Government or anything like that at all, then you know that on paper, Communism kinda made sense too. Unfortunately, in practice, both Communism and conference expansion was/is absolutely atrocious.

The only way I would approve of conference realignment is if it was done from a geographical standpoint. Get Marquette and Cincinnati out of the Big East. I dare you to try and convince me that Milwaukee, WI is somehow in the eastern part of the United States. The same goes for Louisiana Tech being in the Western Athletic Conference. If you want to realign conferences, that's fine, but realign them so each conference makes sense from a geographical standpoint. Do you know how difficult it is for the average to below-average fan to process why a school from Tampa, FL is in the same conference as a school from Providence, RI?

Ray Mernagh (NBE Sports)
Conference realignment... has that been a big topic lately? I don't see a solution to the actual realigning but I do know what's worked for me personally as a solution: I've stopped worrying about it. Sorry if that's simplistic and intelligently flawed reasoning, but I just don't give a damn anymore. Let's watch games and let all the cough cough cough academics figure out what's best for the cough cough cough amateur athletes that they employ.

Jon Pence (SCACCHoops.com)
In general, I hate change. I believe in round robin conference play, every team participating in their conference tourney, the traditional 3-point play, and long slow, wet kisses. Sorry, I had a flashback to Kevin Costner's line in Bull Durham. In all seriousness, basketball was an afterthought in conference realignment and we all know it. That said, the solution is to change with the times or get passed by. Look at the Big East, or what's left of it, to see what happens when you sit on your hands. Conferences like the ACC and Big 12 were proactive with realignment and were strengthened by new their new additions.

Jon Teitel (CollegeHoops.net)
I think it has gotten totally out of control and unfortunately I do not see it getting resolved anytime soon. One of the main factors in originally organizing teams by conference was geography, so the concept of a team from Texas or Idaho in the same conference as an East Coast school just does not make a lot of logistical sense. However, I can understand the financial motivation: it is hard to blame a school for trying to seeking out "greener" pastures if it uses that money for the betterment of its entire student body. I think the actual solution is that the marketplace will dictate who goes where. My own solution would be to have kept things the way they were, but that ship has sailed. I would like to see several geographic power conferences spread throughout the country with 8-12 teams each (16 seems a bit excessive) who play each other twice in the regular season, have a conference tournament, and stay put for at least a decade so that some rivalries can develop and continue.

Ben Weixlmann (Heard This Blog)
If I were to describe this situation in one word, I would chose "headache". Rumors continue to fly left and right. Aside from that, as a proponent of mid-majors and smaller schools having the ability to compete for national supremacy, I don't like it in the least. Creating "super conferences" would inevitably create an imbalance in funding for the affiliated programs and leave those on the outside with little chance to keep up.

My Thoughts
I hate realignment. Period. It would be one thing if this "evolution" seemed to be in the best interest of the student-athletes at large, but how much good does this all do for the young men and women who don't play a revenue sport? They surely can't fly charters to every road game, which could ultimately result in more missed class time. "King Football" calls the shots, as the increased inventory that comes with larger leagues allows athletic departments to spend more money on facilities, shinier weights and things of that effect.

Remember the uproar about there being just one Georgetown/Syracuse matchup on this season's Big East slate? How about there not being a meeting, or if they do it gets relegated to December? That's just one example; one could ponder the effects of pending moves (Boise State football to the Big East while their other sports play...where?) for hours on end. The most frustrating thing is how there are so many rules put in place to "save" the student-athletes from themselves, yet there isn't much preventing the school presidents from messing things up. Pretty obvious that some of them could use a little more structure themselves.

Next question: What are your thoughts on the new recruiting rules that the NCAA has put in place? Sufficient or no, and if not what would you like changed?