Rest is unrest: Why conference realignment’s storm never ends
In the grand scheme, this set of trades doesn’t mean all that much. It’s not even a snapshot. It’s an exhibit, a side one at that. Big-time football doesn’t deal with the Colonial Athletic Association, but it does touch and affect it, meaning it touches and affects and changes what the league is known for, its basketball.So let’s look at what happened, why, and learn that it’s going to happen again: here, there and everywhere.Last week, the CAA as we’ve come to know and appreciate it ceased to exist. Change has been made, change will continue to come, and whenever the wheel of destiny stops spinning its heartless motor against this league, the Colonial will likely be reduced to a boilerplate amalgam of one-bid-worthy inhabitants. Those remaining teams, by nature of their display over there, far off, in the corner, show us again how Peter Piper’s pigskin siren gets its hooks into every enjoyable level of college basketball and reminds us that Darwinism is but a fallacy in college sports: There is clearly one God, and it is continually needing to upgrade the size of its shoulder pads.In 2011, the CAA sent a league-record three teams to the NCAA tournament. For another six weeks, it boasts having sent two teams to the Final Four. Then it becomes — for at least the time being — just another league.Virginia Commonwealth’s making the enviable, expensive upgrade to the A10 — immediately, becoming a full-time member next fall — and it doesn’t even have a football team. Meanwhile, Old Dominioncouldn’t hold its poker face anymore. Football is the very reason it’s going to be part of Conference USA, and it will align itself with the conference on July 1, 2013. Georgia State, a significant pawn in the proceedings, compounds the alarm with its bags packed on the way to the Sun Belt the same day ODU moves out. (GSU is making its for many reasons, one of them refreshingly, ironically enough being geography.) The nine remaining CAA schools are cordoned, but plenty could be the next Labrador off the leash making a lover’s leap to another conference.
The CAA isn’t dead or even dying (but when lower-tier schools in your league are putting out statements like this, things are anything but stable). It’s going to exist decades from now; we just don’t know the context of what that existence will be. And it’s a damn shame for the league that it couldn’t hold on to its prestige for more than two years once its second team reached a Final Four. It almost lost the first one (George Mason), too.
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