Thursday, October 15, 2009

Summer Talks of a BTHC and a move to the CCHA

I wasn’t going to waste my time, but for our one faithful Sioux fan reader Goon, I finished my thoughts.

On Sunday, I awoke to read the WSJ and saw that over the summer there were some more talk about a Big 10 Hockey Conference and even a move for UW from the WCHA to the CCHA.

There were several conference calls between the Big 10 schools w/ varsity hockey along w/ Big 10 commish Jim Delany to discuss the creation of a BTHC. There was support for the idea including UW in the form of UW senior associate athletic director Sean Frazier and AD Barry Alvarez. Joel Maturi (gopher AD) spoke out strongly against it, and for probably the only time in world history I agree w/ a ground squirrel.

The plan for the BTHC is to either convince Notre Dame to join as the 6th team (needed for a NCAA autobid), or incorporate Bowling Green, W. Michigan and Miami (OH) to make a eight team conference. The reason for the later? They are all D-I programs. Wow that would be awesome to have Bowling Green and WMU, two of the worst programs in the CCHA, come along and be tabbed “Big 10 Hockey Schools” and UW would leave behind the best conference in College Hockey for that? Sure Miami (OH) would be a great opponent to add, but UW plays UM and MSU already. Ohio State in hockey is nothing special. Maturi hinted that the real driver for this is the Big 10’s greed to get more games on the BTN. Why can’t they do that now? Is there a reason they can’t show UW vs Colorado College or Michigan against Notre Dame? They don’t even show the Big 10 games that occur now when they are played! Or interrupt one of them to watch a disgraced basketball coach quit at Indiana! The BTN could make a commitment to hockey now, showing more live Big 10 teams (no matter who they play) instead of replaying a review of Iowa’s 1942 football season.

One more thing that stuck out to me:

Alvarez believes the sport needs to be more regionalized, especially as it relates to programs in the CCHA and WCHA. Both leagues have schools that stretch from the Eastern time zone to Alaska.

So how do you solve that w/ a BTHC Barry? Are there 4 more schools in Alaska ready to play D-I hockey? What about the Colorado schools who just happen to be two of the best teams in the country year to year? Better pass those teams by so the Badgers can play Ohio State four times or W. Michigan, YES! The time zone thing is quite asinine since Michigan Tech is almost due north of Madison, not east, but happens to be in the Eastern time zone.

I read a post on a message board where someone said the College Hockey needs to wake up and follow the example of basketball and football. Put the small teams in their own conferences and the big boys in there’s, etc. Well I see one very obvious problem w/ this: the # of teams in D-I college hockey. D-I basketball has 300+ teams, football 200+ between DIA and DIAA. College Hockey has 58 teams at D-I and probably a similar # at D-III. College Hockey is not the huge monopoly that is D-I basketball and football. The small schools survive off hosting the big schools and the long developed rivalries, and some of them are actually pretty good. College Hockey is more of a family than anything. You move four of the biggest draws in College Hockey (not including Ohio State) into their own conference and the small schools in the CCHA fold. The WCHA marches on, but attendance would go down for every school other than North Dakota and Denver. So instead of growing the sport (which was the point of this message board post) the sport shrinks. Any small D-I school or D-II school looking to go D-I in hockey sees the greed of the BTHC and what is left, and they don’t make the jump (unless it’s a Big 10 school). College Hockey is never going to have 200 teams at D-I, maybe someday in the future 75 to 100, but that someday could be 50+ years from now. Pulling conference matchups away from some marginal programs will see College Hockey fall to 50 teams in ten years, how does that improve the sport?

The current alignment of College Hockey has some issues, no one w/ a brain will argue that, but the BTHC is not the answer. Personally, I get tired of the Big 10, and the WCHA schools are not only a nice break, but where the best of the best play College Hockey. While I criticize Coach Eaves for some of his recruiting practices, I’m very happy to see that he put his foot down realizing that leaving the WCHA would be utter stupidity.

Finally, as for Alvarez’s stupid talk of joining the CCHA, I’m now convinced that Barry has a contest going w/ Andy Baggot and who can come up w/ the worst idea to sink Badger Men’s Hockey. Barry is currently in the lead since going independent “might” actually be a better idea, w/ better being a relative word.

What value is there in joining the CCHA? Please raise your hand if you can think of one? No hands…what a surprise.

If Barry wants to have the athletic department lose money then join the CCHA. Attendance will go down at the Kohl Center, because these new teams aren’t going to draw the same as the existing WCHA. Season ticket holders have been watching WCHA teams for decades. Ferris State, Alaska Fairbanks, W. Michigan, Bowling Green and Lake State are arguably the bottom five in the WCHA. How do they compare to UAA, Tech, Mankato, Duluth and St Cloud? NOT EVEN CLOSE! Not close in interest, and not close in the quality of team that is playing the Badgers. Give up guaranteed matchups against Denver, CC and North Dakota? To gain Michigan (oops already play them), Michigan State (oops already play them), Miami (OH) and Notre Lame? How does this change UW’s relationship w/ minnesota? Are they going to spend four non-conferences on UW? Badger Fans who would you rather play each season? The gophers or Ohio State?

Travel isn’t a huge reason to join either. A trip to any of the MN schools is somewhere between 4 and 6 hours, probably about the same to Tech, and 9 hours or so to North Dakota. Sure you have to fly to CC, DU and UAA, but Fairbanks is still in Alaska. Notre Dame is the closest school about four hours away. N. Michigan and Lake State are even farther into the UP. Trips to WMU and MSU are 5 hours at least, and Ann Arbor is at least 6 hours. Then there is the teams in Ohio, same trip as North Dakota. Other than the one less flight to Colorado, I see NO gains, especially in “regionalization.” How many alumni live in MN, not to mention the relatively easy trips for UW fans living in Wisconsin who can travel quickly (4 to 5 hours) to half of the WCHA venues, which by the way are generally nice places to watch games. Has any other Badger fan ever been to Notre Dame? Holy s*** it makes the DUMP in Duluth look like a palace, plus Michigan as a whole is a dump right now. Is there any reason to get excited about a trip to Michigan other than Big Boy? You might lose your job in Wisconsin just by traveling to Michigan, its that bad.

At the end of the day, while the BTHC is a plausible idea, joining the CCHA is complete stupidity. Barry Alvarez is a moron who is actually dumb enough to think that getting to play three Big 10 schools (Michigan, MSU and OSU) in the CCHA would somehow be an improvement. Nice bluff to worry minnesota and the WCHA. Leave hockey decisions to someone w/ a clue Barry and go back to kissing the asses of all the big $$$ football and basketball donors. I realize football and basketball and the real cash cows at UW, but I’m still waiting for football to win ONE national championship banner, let alone catching up to the Men’s Hockey team’s SIX.