Last year you had a post on why Penn State wouldn't go varsity in hockey, and why a Big Ten Hockey conference would not happen. While the economics have gotten harder, one of the central tenets was all the conferences were full - but the CCHA will have an open spot that they didn't want to give to Alabama-Huntsville after UNO's departure. Would the CCHA welcome in Penn State (and why not)? How much does this improve the likelihood that Penn State's hockey program goes varsity?
On a related track, if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, would it spell doom for the CCHA?
The main reason Huntsville was rejected from the CCHA application is that the small schools in the league are already in a financially precarious position and adding a trip to Alabama would have been a net loss. At least, that's my reading of the boilerplate:
“The CCHA will remain focused on maintaining and strengthening our existing members to ensure the conference’s continued success and long-term viability.”
Penn State is closer—about four hours by car for most CCHA sites—but not close enough that anyone is going to drive, so the financial drain is about the same. However, it's bleeding obvious that PSU brings a lot more cachet to the league than UAH. Would Ferris sell out for a game against Penn State even if PSU was terrible, as they likely would be for the first few years? Maybe or maybe not, but they'd probably draw better than any other mediocre-to-bad CCHA team. The Big Ten Network would televise more games and maybe the smaller CCHA schools could extract some money from that in exchange. Financially, it seems feasible for the existing members.
I assume Penn State's varsity hockey outlook is considerably improved by the opening, but that just means it goes from "no way in hell" to "very small chance."
Your Notre Dame question is sort of a question about a Big Ten hockey conference, which I don't think we'll see in the near future even if ND joins. You have to have six schools to call your conference the Big Ten, but you don't have to play in a Big Ten conference once you get to six.
HOWEVA, this offseason is going to be the most interesting one in a long time for college hockey. Some sort of Big Ten quasi-conference has moved past the realm of rumor and into things coaches are talking about directly. The announcement that the College Hockey Showcase was kaput actually came with the notion that Michigan and Michigan State would end up playing their WCHA Big Ten brethren more often, not less:
"We have one more year after this and that's it,'' MSU coach Rick Comley said. "I think it's run it's course. Wisconsin did not want to extend the Showcase. They want to get Ohio State involved and they prefer a Big Ten Conference.'' …
"My preference would be to play (Minnesota and Wisconsin) twice (each season),'' said Comley, who is not in favor of a Big Ten league at this point. "I think we could declare a Big Ten champion. It would require a reduced number of CCHA games, which I'm in favor of.''
Whenever I talk to the Big Ten Network people, which has been a few times now, I ping them about hockey and their response always is "we are interested in televising games between Big Ten schools." The network needs content but doesn't want Lake Superior; the BTN money then gives the big schools a huge incentive to play each other.
With the CCHA headed to 11 teams and the WCHA to 12, both conferences are going to have to adjust their schedules. I don't know how you could possibly make an 11 team conference work with the unbalanced schedule the CCHA has been running since they went to twelve, so a reduction to 22 conference games seems inevitable. If Michigan is going to play Wisconsin twice and Minnesota twice and maintain their four games per year against State, they might as well throw in a bonus series with Ohio State and call that a Big Ten schedule, right? If the WCHA goes down to 24, UW and Minnesota can do this too, but that will eat up every nonconference game in years they don't travel to Alaska or manage an exempt tournament.
How come our band goes to so few road games? It seems like the MMB only goes to MSU, ND, and OSU. The Purdue band and their big drum managed to make it to the big house. It seems like at every SEC game the visiting band is always there. How come our band never travels to non-rivals games?
I pinged someone formerly in the band and they pinged someone closer to the situation and this is what I got back:
More than money, I think it's logistics. It's hard to convince schools to give up 230-280 seats so that Michigan can have more of a presence in their stadium; that was the deal with PSU before. They'll give us like 90 tickets, or enough for a big pep band, but not enough for pregame or a meaningful halftime performance. At the time, the directors decided that it was better not to go than to send a group too small to really represent the MMB, and nothing's changed, more or less.
This seems sort of unlikely to me since Northwestern and Indiana aren't going to sell out when Michigan comes to down, and if opponents were unwilling to fork over seats for the MMB Michigan could retaliate by not allowing opposing bands to come. That's not the case: there might be one home game a year where the opponent band does not show, and that's homecoming. Virtually every band in the Big Ten shows at Michigan Stadium.
I’ll go on the record as being opposed to our new AD making comments that RR will be the coach for this season insomuch as it could be construed that RR could be done if they do not improve this season. With the sharks already circling the program, I see this as an unwise move by Brandon. Why give legs to the notion that RR is on the hot seat? If Brandon does not see the impending doom and downward spiral that awaits us if we push out RR too fast, then shame on him for not learning from the Notre Dames and Nebraskas of the world.
Thoughts? I am really concerned that we’ll jump the shark on this one. I don’t see a scenario out there that does not put us into a tailspin. Hire Les Miles/Harbaugh and you’ve got the revamp the offense to more of a traditional attack and we’re looking at least another year or two of development and recruiting. Yes, a Miles hire would be an uptick on your recruiting trail, but would it be enough to overcome the current perception of the program? Hire another spread guy and you’re limited to a crop of guys who are descendant from the guy who wrote the book and that you just got rid of. Where is the win in that scenario. Our best bet is to go on the offensive in support of our guy. Let’s not lay out there for interpretation anymore lame-ass ambiguous quotes for the Sharp’s, Snyder’s, and Rosenberg’s of the world to run wild with. Let’s go on the offensive with the media and boot the Free Press and their Guerilla journalism tactics out in to the cold and make an example out of them. Let’s go get these supposed Old Guard or Moles or whatever the message boards are calling them today and let it be none that you’re either on-board or off the ship, even if it means returning checks to donors.
I think leadership like that is what we need now and not the comments I read this morning, which are not the comments of someone convinced we’re headed in the right direction.
I mentioned this in UV yesterday about Brandon's stay on message moments in the press conference and with Generic Fox Business Jerko, but to reiterate: I think the explicit "Rich Rodriguez will be our coach next year" is not so much a threat that Rich Rodriguez won't be the coach in 2011 as a way to remove any ambiguity about Rodriguez's job security right this moment.
Unfortunately, Brandon has to live in reality, and in reality there is a chance that Rodriguez doesn't make it to 2011. If Michigan doesn't make a bowl this year it may be impossible to keep him even if you think he is a good coach just because of the brand damage. I sort of kind of felt that way about Tommy Amaker: even if he'd been extremely unlucky to barely whiff on NCAA tourney bids and suffer through that one year where the team was so injury-wracked that Dani Wohl started against Michigan State, after six years you can't really justify keeping him on. I was way less enthused about Amaker in general since his history was one Sweet 16 season followed by an implosion.
"Going on the offensive" with the media never works out. The hive mind perceives a threat and releases single-sentence pheromones that scurry to their defense. Why do you hate freedom, Mr. University of Michigan? Censorship, Mr. University of Michigan? For shame. Etc. The best thing is to be as explicit and boring as possible. And from what I've seen elsewhere, outside of the shrill yelpers in the local media the end result here is regarded as nothing. Self-imposed sanctions will be announced and then everyone will forget about it unless they're creating a spittle-flecked case to fire Rodriguez.
As far as a hypothetical new coach in 2011 resulting in a tailspin, I actually think there could be something of a Ron English effect going on here. After years of clamoring for Jim Herrmann's head, Michigan fans finally got it in the 2006 offseason. Ron English walked into Lamarr Woodley, Alan Branch, David Harris, Leon Hall, Shawn Crable, Prescott Burgess, Terrance Taylor, and so on and so forth, and promptly went on an all-crushing tear until Ohio State and USC realized that Morgan Trent was Michigan's second-best corner and linebacker Chris Graham was their third-best. English seemed like a frickin' genius… and then promptly went out the next year and got nuked in The Horror and the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon game.
It's evident now that English is not a frickin' genius, but getting back a huge number of excellent players disguised that. Jim Herrmann probably would have had a lights-out year, too.
This is what Hypothetical New Coach is going to walk into in 2011: 20 returning starters (including specialists). Everyone except Steve Schilling, Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, and Troy Woolfolk will be back. If there is a hypothetical new coach, Michigan will probably have had six or fewer wins in 2010. Bouncing up to 9-3 or whatever is going to be child's play, and Hypothetical New Coach will get carried around on a palanquin.
I'd much, much rather Rodriguez stick around because the last thing the program needs is another bowlless season, round of transfers and decommitments, and general inefficiency where square parts meet round holes. Obviously. But the roster agony Michigan suffered through the past two years (Nick Sheridan! Four scholarship defensive backs!) is not coming back in anything approximating that level of pain.
And now some Terry Foster pile-on:
wondering if you had heard this rumor that i just read on terry fosters facebook page:
Terry Foster I heard a rumor Michigan coach John Beilein was looking to leave for Rutgers or North Carolina State. The Michigan mafia swears it is not true. He still has their support.
i wanted to ask you first about this before i even thought about posting it on the site. but i wanted to put it on there before 2pm when his radio show starts and he leads off with it.
one more question, how the hell is this "michigan mafia"??? foster always references them when he talks about michigan.
Everything you need to know about Terry Foster's totally awesome rumor skillz can be found in this old post. Key graph from 16-year-old (who is now 21!):
Jayborne23 posted on 8/23/2005 9:53:28 PM
HOLY S***, WAS I RIGHT?
Is Sheed for Chandler and Nocioni a real deal? Cause I sincerely made that s*** up. That hoopsworld article mentioned it. WHAT THE F***?