Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reaction to Coach Eaves and Alvarez's Comments

Lord knows that I've never been afraid to call out Barry Alvarez or otherwise claim that he's the puppet-master trying to mess with hockey for his own amusement. Sometimes I've done so fairly. Sometimes quite unreasonably and childishly. And sometimes to portray him as the Frankenstein about to turn the freshly deceased College Hockey Showcase into the lumbering reanimated undead corpse that we will soon call the Big Ten Hockey Conference.

The bottom line with Barry is the bottom line. He's the athletic director at our school, and if he wants to make his first priority to be to make sure that UW still manages to have an athletic department that stays in the black, then I don't know that any of us can really argue with that.

And if you were to get in touch with the cold, hard capitalist inside of you, it would only be fair to ask if it really is UWs job to prop up the smaller schools, or if it is Michigan's job to do the same to the CCHA schools. If the BTHC ends up destroying a program like Bowling Green, Minnesota State or Lake Superior State... well... who's to say that they were on stable enough grounds to last anyway? It's a harsh question, and it does divert our attention away from what a landscape-changer the BTHC will be, but isn't that a fair question to ask?

But even with that in mind, there are some things Barry says that probably reinforce the image many non-UW people have of Barry The Dictator Who Hates Hockey And Wants To Anally Rape It Whilst Pouring Sugar In Its Gas Tank.

Looking at his comments from the On Wisconsin show with Brian Posick, I end up with more questions than answers:

  • When you say that our fans will "recognize" teams like Ohio State and Penn State in hockey... are you aware that we don't have a rivalry with one and that the other doesn't exist yet?
  • When you say that "our fans" will choose that over WCHA rivals like Denver and North Dakota, are you talking about Badger Hockey fans or Badger Football fans?
  • What exactly do you mean by "regionalizing" hockey? You said it to Posick and to Baggot. Did you know that it's roughly the same amount of time to drive to Denver as it is to Happy Valley? That drives to Ann Arbor and Grand Forks are quite comparable? That its quicker to drive to Bemidji or Omaha than it is to go to Columbus?
  • The only travel distance that exists in the WCHA and not in the B1G Ten is Anchorage, Alaska, and UAA pays for part/most of that PLUS we get two extra home games out of that deal. Is that really an issue for us?
  • Let's assume that your comments about "regionalization" have more to do with college hockey as a whole. How does the BTHC help the WCHA and CCHA schools deal with it? Don't they now have more frequent trips to Colorado and Alaska? How are we helping them, if this is truly a move that is good for "all of college hockey"?
Honestly, I feel like Alvarez is just giving us the run around when he tries to explain how this is good for college hockey as a whole. I'm not buying this trumped up excuse that the travel budget is better off in the BTHC, and I don't believe a word that he's saying about "regionalization". Sure, his principle is correct: bus rides are cheaper than flights, but that doesn't really come into play when we start talking WCHA vs. Big Ten. He's better off being honest with us and just saying that its about money, because at least I can believe him when he says that.

When Alvarez talks about B1G Ten rivalries, I don't think he's talking about hockey at all. He's talking about the kind of fan who doesn't go to hockey games, specifically the kind of ignorant fool that would list the WCHA as the reason he doesn't go to hockey games. (How do you spot this person? They might think that Ohio State hockey is more important and relevant than Denver hockey)

To this end, I have to admit that Alvarez is most likely right: there are probably more people that will come to Badger hockey games because it's a Big Ten thing than there are hockey fans who will stop coming to games because they hate this move. In that regard, we might see even better attendance figures in the B1G Ten. Sure, that's speculative drivel, but it wouldn't surprise me.

And then there's this:

"Plus the BTN has committed to about 40 games right off the bat. so i think that it sells and it promotes college hockey and maybe educates a lot of people in areas where there isn't hockey about college hockey"

It is here that I can't argue with the man. For a network that once pre-empted a Minnesota-Wisconsin game with a press conference for Indiana basketball, the BTN is showing a commitment to put more eggs into hockey's basket. That specific element of the BTHC can do nothing but good for college hockey. No one should be complaining about being on TV more.

As for Mike Eaves' comments on the issue? I was mostly amused by them. Mike Eaves has that weird way about him where he just sort of rambles on and on. I still have no idea what he meant by "speak the same language". You can tell that he never rehearses what he's going to say, and even though it makes his comments harder to understand and not very well thought out, I like how honest he comes off when he does it. If you boil down the rambling to two thoughts, it's this: This was inevitable, and we really don't have any idea how this will turn out.

For all the questions that Barry Alvarez makes me wonder about, perhaps Coach Eaves is right. It's going to happen, we can't change it, and we can't possibly predict what will happen.

But it's not too early for us to lobby the Big Ten to make sure that they don't do shootouts, right?