After a week off, 5v5 is back in business. This week our five new panelists are debating the changes to college conferences across the country.
Tweet us your comments or questions @JC_TDS. With that said, let’s get it on!
Which best describes your feeling about college programs shifting to new conferences: Ruins conference history and rivalries; adds excitement to the game; it is what it is?
Patrick Murray, White and Blue Review: I think, in general, the realignment is a good thing for the game. The good conferences get even better, and that adds excitement to the game. Non-conference schedules in college soccer offer a lot of flexibility, too, so that rivalries can still be preserved if both teams are committed to them. I just read an article about the head coach of VCU – they’re trying to keep things going with in-state rivals like William & Mary and James Madison, but by moving to the Atlantic 10 they also gain a cross-town derby with Richmond. Everyone wins.
Scott French, ESPN: My feeling on conference realignment is that it is what it is. I don’t like it particularly, but it’s all about the big-money sports, so soccer just falls in line like every other “minor” sport. I’m rather sick of BCS schools and big-money programs and tend to follow only local schools (been a UCLA fan since growing up watching Wooden basketball), my alma mater (go Cal State Fullerton!) and rooting for small-conference programs over the big schools at every opportunity.
Robert Ziegler, Managing Editor of TopDrawerSoccer.com: It is what it is: If university presidents and athletic directors care less about their traditions than they do where the next football buck comes from, why should I? Most rivalries tend to be based on relative recent success of teams anyway, so I don’t doubt some new exciting matchups will materialize, right about the time when the conferences start another round of realignment for the sake of football TV money.
Joel Welser, College Sports Madness: I generally believe that it is what it is, but the rash of major conference movement does indeed ruin rivalries. There is certainly a place for conference realignment. It has happened a lot in the past, but it tends to be on a smaller scale and not as blatantly football-centric. The BCS has made its mark and every other sport has to follow. It’s hard to blame any school for doing what it has to do.
Charlie Nobile, United States Football Club: Adds excitement to the game. I think it creates more competition and keeps the game fresh and interesting.
Which program shift will have the most dramatic impact on the upcoming season?
Murray: Southern Methodist and Central Florida’s move to the Big East brings that whole conference up. They’re both programs on the rise, stacked for the next few seasons, and are coming off really close second-round NCAA losses last season. The C-USA was no slouch, but the Big East gauntlet is a whole new animal that these two schools will have to face. If they do well, and indications are that they can, they’ll have to knock off some big names to do it – Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame, and others —and that will alter the national landscape in a pretty huge way.
Ziegler: Texas A&M and Missouri coming into the SEC is a major change on the women’s side, as is West Virginia and TCU now joining the Big 12. West Virginia joining Akron in the MAC for men will make that competition more interesting.
Welser: I am intrigued by West Virginia heading to the MAC. It has been Akron and everybody else as of late, but the addition of the Mountaineers could really change that. The Zips have helped propel the rest of the MAC into the spotlight, but WVU could help the conference take the next step. For this season the MAC could conceivably have three teams in the top 25 at season’s beginning and season’s end.
Nobile: Cal State Bakersfield’s move to the Pac-12 will be interesting. They play a great style of soccer and get some very talented recruits. I’m interested in seeing how they stack up in the Pac-12.