Hockey Realignment React
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What is going on? In hockey, everything. We are apparently not going to have two straight years of speculation about a WCHA/CCHA superconference because it already happened:
UND will soon announce it is leaving the men’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association for a new, startup conference in 2013-14 … At least five other teams will join UND in this league: Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth and Miami (Ohio).
Notre Dame and an eighth school — possibly Western Michigan — also could be added to this group by the end of the summer.
"At our meeting in April we voted to extend an invitation to Miami and Notre Dame," Cobb said, referring to a pair of CCHA teams. "That passed with 100 percent of the vote. Nobody said they were unhappy. We left the April meeting and basically some of them contacted Notre Dame and Miami and said, 'Don't take the WCHA invitation, we're going to invite you to join our super league.'
"I blame everybody for being less than honest with their own league members. It's a really sneaky back-door deal."
There's no way Notre Dame is going to stick in the CCHA without Miami; Western is now without a coach and has been terrible for years before their surprise tourney bid under Blashill. They would be signing up to get murdered year-in, year-out. They might prefer Hockey MAC to being a punching bag for five powers and UNO.
If Western does go for it, the smoking husks of the WCHA and CCHA are about to be down to five teams. In the WCHA, Bemidji, St. Cloud, Minnesota State, Alaska-Anchorage, and Michigan Tech are left. In the CCHA, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, Alaska-Fairbanks, and Northern Michigan remain.
The remnants are going to have to glue themselves together in some fashion to get to the six schools required for an autobid; the most obvious thing to do is for the WCHA to grab the UP schools and possibly Air Force to get to eight. That would leave the two remaining lower peninsula schools, BG, and Alaska in a very precarious position—they could grab two or four of the Atlantic Hockey schools that want to offer 18 scholarships but travel costs go up and revenues down and BGSU already considered shutting their program down.
THE COLLEGE HOCKEY TEAMS MOST SCREWED BY REALIGNMENT
- St. Cloud State. The Huskies were a solid middle-of-the-pack WCHA team that often grabbed tourney at-large slots, though they infamously never won once they got to the actual tourney. Now they get to be Boise State.
- Bowling Green. Thanks for saving your program, guys. Now let's make it even less relevant than the team that finishes dead last in the CCHA every year.
- Undetermined Superconference Eighth. Hi, random eighth team in unnamed superconference. At best you're St. Cloud or Western. The worst programs you are going to play on a regular basis are UNO under Dean Blais and defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth. You are signing up to be bludgeoned.
- Someone Else In The Superconference. There is not room for six or seven teams in any conference to make the NCAA field, especially in a world with two more autobids. At least one of the teams in the new conference is going to lose a coach or just be bad for while and fire a coach and all of a sudden they're the new Minnesota State. This will not be North Dakota. It could be anyone else.
THINGS MICHIGAN SHOULD DO
- Try to keep Western around by offering some scheduling guarantees.
- Play BG/Ferris/Lake Superior/NMU almost yearly, at their places sometimes, possibly for stuff.
- Get Michigan State to also do this.
HYPOTHETICAL NEW WORLD CONFERENCE RANKINGS
- Super Conference
- Hockey East
- Big Ten (Michigan was the only member to make the tourney last year)
- A Gaping Chasm
- Atlantic Hockey
HYPOTHETICAL MAIN BENEFIT OF SUPER CONFERENCE
You've taken the 35 teams jammed into three conferences (36 with Penn State) and turned them into five conferences of reasonable, or even smallish, size. Before, any teams looking to add hockey were looking at a forbidding existence as an independent or in the rickety CHA. Now there would be up to 24 extra spots for college hockey to gracefully expand.
HOW MUCH GUFF THE BIG TEN SHOULD TAKE FOR "DESTROYING COLLEGE HOCKEY"