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ZipsVoice

Winter Thoughts On Conferences

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As 2019 begins and Winter sets in, just thought I'd kill some time and think about what would happen if another team drops out of The MAC as far as Men's soccer is concerned.  We kinda dodged a bullet last year when we were able to snag SIU Edwardsville to round out the number to an even 6.  But let's say WVU or SIU-E decide the MAC isn't where they want to be, or NIU or BG drop their program...then what?  There are 24 DI Conferences out there....which one would be best for the Zips?  I ruled out The Western Athletic Conference, The West Coast Conference, The PAC 12, The Ivy League and the Big West as possibilities.  That leaves the America East Conference (8 current teams, U Mass Lowell), American Athletic Conference (8 teams, USF, UCF), Atlantic 10 (13 teams), ACC (12 teams), ASUN (7 teams, Florida Gulf Coast), Big East (10 teams), Big South (9 teams, Radford), Big 10 (9 teams), Colonia Athletic (9 teams,, James Madison), Conference USA (8 teams, 2 from the SEC), Horizon League (9 teams), Metro Atlantic (11 teams, Rider), Missouri Valley (7 teams, 1 from Southland Conference), Northeast Conference (9 teams, Robert Morris), Patriot League (10 teams, Lehigh), Southern (7 teams, 1 from Ohio Valley), Summit League (6 teams, 1 from Ohio Valley), and Sun Belt (5 teams, 1 from MEAC...sound familiar?).

 

What Conference would best suit our Zippers?  Which would offer us the best opportunities to continue our NCAA tournament success by offering an optimal number of tourney bids/conference?  Where would we fit best to give us solid competition to grow on, expose us to other markets and more recruiting (although I'd argue we are a top draw now)?  My choices would be Big10, as there are vacancies and we now play a large OC schedule against their teams already; American Athletic Conference with solid teams like Cincy, UConn, SMU, Temple, but we would be the odd team in; and Atlantic 10, which has 13 teams now, with Dayton, VCU and St. Louis to name a few).  I took into consideration the ACC probably wouldn't invite us in, and also considerations for travel budget and scheduling....

 

Share your thoughts, please.....

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Would B10 let us in? I don't know about that. AAC is really spread out and the southern leagues would require a lot of travel. If we did that then maybe  the OOC schedule could be mostly regional schools. But the MAC would probably try to acquire someone else in order to keep soccer. If it disbanded then the other schools would need a new home as well.

 

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I don't think the B10 would let us in so I thought about it two ways. One , the less likely is recruiting another school or two to help enlarge MAC men's soccer. Two what other leagues are having the same issue the MAC has so we could combine and hopefully fix the issue longer term. In addition to West Virginia and SIUE schools that operate men's soccer outside of their "normal league" include: Kentucky,  South Carolina, Belmont and Eastern Illinois. There are others but not good geographically. I don't see Kentucky coming back and South Carolina fits in well with the C-USA schools that do have the sport. Belmont fits in well in the Southern Conference and with 6 of the 7 teams being  normal league schools probably more stable than the MAC. Eastern Illinois is in the Summit League which is in about the same condition as the MAC. So... my second option of joining with another league as a group of MAC schools is making more sense to me. In addition to the Summit League would be the Missouri Valley Conference. Current Summit League teams are : Denver, Omaha, Purdue FW, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois and Oral Roberts. Current Missouri Valley teams are: Bradley, Drake, Evansville, Loyola, Missouri State and Valpo. I just wish the MAC leadership would be more proactive, 4 schools playing men's soccer is not enough to sustain a championship. I guess the other option  is to go independent. Not sure how that would work but if anyone should have the gravitas to get into the tournament as an independent it should be the ZIPS!

 

What do you all think?

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I've had this discussion with @fknbuflobo a number of times. Kentucky would be an awesome addition to the MAC if they could be convinced to return. If I remember Gaucho Dan's RPI conference ratings in the Fall, I think the MAC may have finished 3rd as a conference in 2018 Men's Soccer RPI. Now is the time for the MAC to look to lure some of these teams you mention. Kentucky had a great 2018 season and would be a nice geographical fit as well.

 

 

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