Here We Go Again
This past offseason has been no stranger to conference realignment talks, most of them being fans just speculating and debating on how the A10 should eventually realign itself.
As it would turn out, Oklahoma and Texas came out and decided they were going to join the SEC, a tremendous feat for any school, especially when it pertains to a primary focus to college football. When this became announced and real, all hell broke loose among the interweb. Everyone and their mother was now speculating on what should happen next.
Low and behold, a ripple effect would occur, and the Big 12 had a few openings to fill. Coincidently, the Big 12 decided to invite four new members, with a football focus of course, to join them out west. Those four are Cincinnati, BYU, Central Florida, and Houston. If you are keeping count at home, that is three schools from the AAC. Not only that, but those are the three big programs for the AAC, for football and basketball.
The ripple effect from this obviously being that the American is left with scraps for good football programs and barely anything for basketball. Their best college basketball program left is arguable Wichita St, who is a basketball only member. Oops. After that, it is a close second with SMU, Memphis, and Temple. What is left with basketball is a bunch of mediocrity to the likes of ECU, Tulsa, Tulane, and USF. Not great for football or basketball, honestly.
Here in the A10, we have non-stop talked about realignment of our own conference for years with so many varying arguments. With realignment happening yet again with the college sports world, mostly pertaining to football, there’s no reason that a basketball-centric conference like the A10 can’t benefit itself from this version of conference realignment. Let’s get to it.
Addition By Subtraction
Before this version of realignment began, the main consensus among A10 twitter was that the best way to realign the conference was to get rid of the teams holding the conference back. As much as we love everyone in the conference and the fans that come with it, we want our conference to thrive and be the best mid-major conference in college basketball. Plus, we want 3 Bid League Podcast to live up to its name.
First things first, we all know it has to happen. Fordham has got to go. I know they are starting fresh with a new coach in Kyle Neptune, but with Fordham not being relevant ever single joining the conference 25 years ago, it is now the perfect time to go. As much as I love our Fordham fans, I also want to see their team be successful. There are plenty of conferences that would welcome the Bronx Rams, and now is the time for the A10 to show them the door.
Is it Time for UMass to Take the Leap?
UMass has been a decent basketball program, and has had a good history in the conference, especially in the late 90s. Over the last few years, they have been trying to develop their football program by making the jump to Division I. With the big boys of the American leaving, UMass might be able to compete with the other football programs of USF, Tulsa, Tulane, and ECU. Even moreso if the American adds more football schools such as Coastal Carolina or Charlotte (I have no clue who they would add, for the recond, just guessing). If UMass wants to get better at football while maintaing its status with basketball, now might be the time for them to jump to the American.
What about La Salle?
I love La Salle, and Tom Gola Arena has haunted teams for years. But it is well-known that it has outgrown its university and the A10. La Salle isn’t a terrible program, as they are one of the 12 teams to make the NCAA tournament since 2010 (Duquesne and Fordham are the outliers), with that 2013 run being to the Sweet 16. But you have to think that if they do not make improvements like what Duquesne and other programs have done to their arenas, they may start to get outdated and passed up as a program in the A10. It would be sad to see the Gola Boyz leave the conference, though.
Any other teams?
If you wanted to get picky with any other school besides the three mentoned above, you could go with Duquesne, George Washington, George Mason, and Richmond. I’m not saying all these teams would leave, but there are arguments against all of these programs, but none would hold up.
Years ago, we would absolutely say Duquesne has to go, but they have invested so much money to beefing up their basketball program that they are now a prime A10 team for years to come. The Duke stays.
George Washington has the higest endowment among all A10 schools, and they put money into their program. It’s just been in a funk ever since the Mike Lonergan scandal happened. They should find their way out.
George Mason has had a tough time getting in the top half of the A10. But they are the right identity of a typical A10 school with a nice arena and a good fanbase. They had tough times with their previous two head coaches, but Kim English looks like the right man to right the ship in Fairfax.
Richmond is also a big endowment with some good success in the A10 and a nice home venue, but no tourney berths since 2010 with some talented teams questions the program a bit, but that has more to do with Chris Mooney than the program identity as an A10 school.
Adding from the AAC
With the ACC imploding and being poached by the Big 12, the time is now for the A10 to realign to make itself the premier mid-major conference in college basketball. The American has some good programs left to bring in and make the A10 even better. Let’s start with the most obvious…
Wichita State Shockers
WSU is a basketball only member in the American. With the best basketball programs leaving the American to go to greener pastures, Wichita State is a prime candidate to jump to the A10. They would be an awesome new rival to SLU that I’m sure would blossom in a matter of years. The Shockers just won the AAC regular season title last season, and would be a great program to add without worrying about football. The A10 should have them on the phone already.
Hello, old friend. Temple was a long-time A10 member before jumping to the AAC in the last round of realignment for football reasons. Well, football has not gone so well for the Owls, and their basketball program has taken some hard times as well (they went 4-10 in the AAC last season). It might be hard to get rid of conference football, but UConn just went independent to jump to the Big East, so it is not too far-fetched of an idea.
How many years have A10 fans talked about grabbing a Belmont, or Murray State (basically somewhere east but a little south). Here’s your answer with Memphis. They are a relevant basketball program with a good history that would be less risky to add on than Belmont or Murray State. It would be a good fit for the A10. The problem with them is they care a lot about football too, so I don’t see it happening unless they go Independent with football.
This is the most unlikely, but might as well mention it for shits and giggles. SMU is a good basketball program that also cares a lot about football. I highly doubt they leave the American, but even if they do leave, they won’t come to the A10. The geography doesn’t fit very well compared to the other programs. But they are the biggest loser out of all this, pretty much the only girl without a date to the dance. The Mountain West wouldn’t be a bad fit for them since they do have football and a basketball conference most like the A10.
Putting It All Together
When you take everything I put into account, you get something like this:
This looks like a really great mid-major conference right here. It probably won’t happen, but I would bet that the A10 does something after this is all said and done.
I usually get annoyed with conference realignment talk that happens all the time, but with actual realignment happening with the SEC, Big 12, and now AAC, there could very well be a ripple effect with the A10. I’m probably wrong, so feel free to tell me how wrong I am.
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