Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Money, Part Two About the author, Boyd Nation

Money, Part Two

Publication Date: November 11, 2003

Everybody's Moving but Me

I had a reorg once at the real job where the writing of the new org chart lasted for somewhere around fifteen months. The management team would go off for meetings for a couple of days at a time about once a month and hash out the issues, look for places to expand their territory, and complain to each other, then they'd come back, leak a few details, and get ready to go back and do it all again the next month. After a while, we finally learned to just ignore them and get on with the work we were doing, which wasn't really going to be affected in the short term by whatever decisions they made.

During the last round of conference realignments, I learned to accomodate that same attitude -- I just ignore the whole thing until it's almost over. However, I think this round's almost over (which is a brash thing to say the day after the latest announcement), and I think any remaining move won't be overwhelming, so I'm ready to look at the results. Keep in mind that at this point, I'm just speculating based on past performance, and that's not necessarily all that accurate. In the last round, the biggest single move (unless you count Miami not joining the Big East in baseball) was that South Carolina joined the SEC, and no one would have foreseen that; Arkansas was seen at the time as a much better acquisition.

The moves in this round have been well-publicized, but for those of you who, like me, have been just ignoring the whole thing, I'm including a chart below that has all the moves that I know about in it. In addition, there are a half-dozen or so moves at the mid-major or lower level each year, and I'm listing those for the 2004 season as well.

Year     School                        Old Conference       New Conference

2004     Jacksonville State            Atlantic Sun         Ohio Valley
2004     Samford                       Atlantic Sun         Ohio Valley
2004     Elon                          Big South            Southern
2004     Virginia Military             Southern             Big South
2004     Maryland-Baltimore County     NEC                  America East
2004     Centenary                     Independent          Mid-Continent
2004     Lipscomb                      Independent          Atlantic Sun
2004     Drexel                        Colonial             Dropped sport
2004     Morris Brown                  Independent          Dropped sport
2005     Boston College                Big East             ACC
2005     Miami, Florida                Big East             ACC
2005     Virginia Tech                 Big East             ACC
2006     Cincinnati                    Conference USA       Big East
2006     Louisville                    Conference USA       Big East
2006     South Florida                 Conference USA       Big East
2006     Central Florida               Atlantic Sun         Conference USA
2006     Marshall                      MAC                  Conference USA
2006     Rice                          WAC                  Conference USA
2006     North Carolina-Charlotte      Conference USA       Atlantic 10
2006     St. Louis                     Conference USA       Atlantic 10

The dominoes probably haven't completely stopped falling, of course. There are still ongoing negotiations, as far as I know, between TCU and the Mountain West, which would be a reasonably important move, since they are above the average in both C-USA and the MWC. Currently, the WAC only has five baseball schools left, although it has plenty of football schools, so it may be looking for a baseball-only affiliate again. Hawaii-Hilo is the most likely choice, but the rest of the WAC really didn't enjoy the travel that required the last time they tried it. The Atlantic Sun would apparently like to re-expand but isn't drawing much interest.

Finally, there are the usual numbers of teams planning to move up to Division I -- the ones I'm currently aware of are UC Davis, Northern Colorado, Longwood, Utah Valley State, and South Dakota State. This list is more interesting than usual because, other than Longwood, which is in Virginia, the others are all out West for various values of "West". Northern Colorado, in particular, seems like a possible fit for the WAC, although I don't know if they'll arrive in time to keep them from needing an interim solution for a year or two.

So, What Does This Mean?

In order to get a feel for what this would mean that was a bit more substantial than just pulling opinions from thin air, I took the last three seasons and re-ran the conference ISR's with the conference lineup the way it will be in 2006 as nearly as we can tell at this point. This also, of course, removes teams who have dropped out since the year in question, so the Big 12, for example, gets a small boost from the removal of Iowa State.

    Actual            Projected

 1. Pac 10            Pac 10
 2. SEC               SEC
 3. Big West          Big 12
 4. Big 12            Big West
 5. WAC               WAC
 6. Sun Belt          C-USA
 7. ACC               ACC
 8. C-USA             Sun Belt
 9. Southland         Southland
10. WCC               Big East
11. Mountain West     WCC
12. MVC               Mountain West
13. Big East          MVC
14. Big Ten           CAA
15. Atlantic Sun      Big Ten
    Actual            Projected

 1. ACC               SEC
 2. SEC               ACC
 3. Big 12            Big 12
 4. Pac 10            Pac 10
 5. Big West          Big West
 6. C-USA             MVC
 7. MVC               Sun Belt
 8. WAC               WAC
 9. Sun Belt          Big East
10. Mountain West     C-USA
11. Big East          Mountain West
12. Southland         Big Ten
13. Big Ten           Southland
14. WCC               CAA
15. CAA               WCC
    Actual            Projected

 1. Pac 10            Pac 10
 2. Big 12            SEC
 3. SEC               Big 12
 4. ACC               ACC
 5. WAC               WAC
 6. Big West          Big West
 7. Mountain West     Mountain West
 8. C-USA             C-USA
 9. Sun Belt          Sun Belt
10. MVC               Big Ten
11. Big Ten           MVC
12. Big East          Big East
13. Southland         Southland
14. Atlantic Sun      Atlantic Sun
15. WCC               WCC

The results are not really what I expected and are a good illustration of why considering conference strength based on just the top teams is a dangerous game. Both the ACC and Conference USA considerably increased their odds of winning a national championship by recruiting two of the last three champs, but top to bottom they didn't really strengthen themselves and indeed may have weakened themselves by a small bit. That's a reasonable thing to do given that these moves weren't made for baseball reasons (with the possible exception of Rice) and that from a revenue point of view a weaker overall conference with a national champion in it is probably preferable, but it points out that these guys still have to play Boston College and Marshall along the way. The big (or at least medium-sized) winner, surprisingly enough, appears to be the Big East, as South Florida represents an increase over BC and the other two appear to be a match for Virginia Tech.

As far as where the individual teams will fall out, that's a mixed bag. Miami will be a reasonable threat to win the ACC in any given year, but would probably not have won it since 2001. Virginia Tech will join North Carolina State in the middle of the conference, while Boston College will join Duke and Maryland at the bottom. Rice will be favored to win C-USA for the foreseeable future but could easily be challenged in any given year, while UCF will be an upper-division team and Marshall will be cannon fodder. Neither new team to the A-10 is a particular threat to Richmond in the short term. South Florida and Louisville are good fits for the top tier in the Big East in any given year, while Cincinnati isn't out of place.

Last Week

As an aside, I never know what material is going to draw the biggest response. Last week's column on coaches' salaries has drawn more attention than anything else I've written this off-season. I got pointers to a couple more salaries, including one interesting thing. Most private colleges are organized as non-profit organizations and have to make their tax returns public. Those are published online and make for interesting reading in all sorts of ways, but one interesting feature is that they're required to list the five highest-paid employees. There's only one school I've found so far where the baseball coach is on the list, and that's Baylor, where Steve Smith pulled in $216,141 in total compensation in 2001 to place fourth on the non-officer list (the university president was also higher). He was also on the list for 2000 but not for 1999, so there's a good chance that there are some incentive bonuses coming in to play here. Most schools have at least one coach from a minor sport like football or basketball on the list.

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Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Money, Part Two About the author, Boyd Nation