With Massachusetts reportedly eyeing a move to the Mid-American Conference, leaving the Colonial Athletic Association and jumping from the FCS to the FBS in the process, one has to wonder: what will become of the CAA?
Already an ex-CAA coach has been quoted as saying he's "scared" for football in the northeast. And rightfully so. Boston University, Northeastern and Hofstra have already dropped their programs (1997, 2009 and 2009, respectively). Rhode Island, likely sick of getting beat up in the CAA, announced last week that it was leaving, effective in 2013, for the Northeast Conference.
"We are thrilled to welcome the University of Rhode Island to the Northeast Conference football family," said Noreen Morris, NEC Commissioner. "The addition of URI further strengthens the league and begins an exciting new chapter in the NEC's development."
If UMass follows through and leaves for the MAC, the CAA will look like this in 2013:
- Georgia State (joins CAA in 2012)
- James Madison
- New Hampshire
- Old Dominion (joins CAA in 2011)
- William & Mary
Of those 10 teams, just four (Villanova, New Hampshire, Delaware and Maine) would be above the Mason-Dixon line, with only two in New England. And there's already been much speculation about Villanova leaving for the Big East -- the Wildcats have been a Big East member for all other sports for almost three decades now.
The school's board of trustees will meet in December. But a vote isn't expected until at least February, and even as late as April. How the Big East feels about that timetable, nobody from the conference will say for public consumption. But the assumption is it would rather know sooner than later, either way.
On the opposite end, the MAC would then become a 14-team conference, with UMass joining Buffalo and Temple in strengthening the league's northeast's foothold.
But this isn't about what's best for the conferences -- it's about what's best for UMass. And according to Minuteman Nation, that's why it's a move the UMass fanbase will support.
The CAA is clearing out almost as fast as the student section at halftime. Last offseason Hofstra and Northeastern ended football all together and now Rhode Island has announced they will be moving to the NEC. Not to mention 'Nova considering an offer from the Big East. One would think New Hampshire could possibly receive some interest from an FBS conference though no rumors are out about that. UMass is too big of a school and too big of a program to end up in a weak FCS conference or worse - dead.
The only negative to joining the MAC is that it still won't bring the "name" schools to Amherst. I don't care who's playing UMass, I'm going. However, like it or not, UMass students do care. They might have friends at UNH, Maine, or James Madison which might get them to show up. On the other hand, odds are low they know people at Akron, Bowling Green, or Buffalo. I'm hopeful the fact that we are FBS, despite who we play, will create a big student turnout to either McGuirk or Gillette.
It's just rumor and speculation at this point, with a UMass spokesperson quoted as saying there was "nothing to confirm or deny" regarding its possible move to the MAC. And while the CAA has a "big announcement" scheduled for Tuesday, it doesn't involve the football side of things.
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