I had a little taste of nearly pure unplugged life. I did have my phone on me and it allowed me some measure of awareness of the goings on in this sports world. Without TV or internet (I was moving) I had little or no idea of the craziness that happened. It wasn’t terrible and I can imagine a point in time where I don’t even look at the ScoreCenter app.
The problem with any vacation — even ones that are not really vacations but instead are necessary activities — is always merging with the flow of information. You took a week off of work? Feeling relaxed? Great now here are 1000 emails for you to wade through.
So it is for me. Basketball played two games. Volleyball won some things. Football got stomped on by Texas’ own Kolton Browning Gang. I have a stack of recaps and two pages of message board threads staring back at me, unread.
What does it all mean? Where does each victory or terrible loss place us in the universe that is Sports? The best answer to that is probably Nate Silver’s post on the Big Ten expansion.
While arguing that A) the Big Ten probably made a mistake and B) the SEC made a good choice with A&M, he also mentioned this post from last year. You’ll find his estimation of North Texas’ fan base size. Spoiler Alert: it is about 200K.
Compare that to Ohio State’s 3 million and you’ll get an idea of how few we crazies that care about Mean Green athletics are. There’s no doubt the university has done a tremendous job increasing that from the tiny number that it was in the 1990s. There are still relatively few people that give a damn if we trudge through another season in football or blow our chance at glory in basketball.
I came away from it with a renewed sense of excitement for Frankenstein Conference USA, though. You read that thing about distance?
Wisconsin Badger fans, for example, will now have fewer opportunities to see their team play against regional rivals like Iowa, Michigan and Illinois, replaced instead by more games against Rutgers and Maryland.
Many college football fans also travel to road games, which bolsters business for local restaurants and hotels. It’s about a three-hour drive from Madison, Wis., to Iowa City. But it’s 15 hours to College Park, Md., and more than 16 hours to New Brunswick, N.J.
We are going to experience the opposite. Less trips to the edges of the country, more drivable road games. Although older alumni and older fans can drop a couple hundred for a cheap flight there and back, for the casual fan a 3 hour trip means an opportunity to do something fun for cheap.
I mean, you weren’t under the impression that everyone wants to break down Derek Thompson’s progressions were you?
Then the craziness didn’t stop. I wrote everything to here before Thanksgiving weekend and the loss to WKU and the Big East getting the CUSA gang back together. College Football news waits for no blogger.
The future of our CUSA isn’t so fun anymore. East Carolina brought some kind of relevance and and east coast presence while Tulane brought and excuse to take a trip to New Orleans every other year. This won’t end anytime soon. That feeling of security we had from the announcement to now? That’s gone. Twitter has been spouting out rumors out all day. Here is a nice scenario for you to think about courtesy of UNTJIM on gomeangreen.com:
As it stands right now, with Tulane and ECU gone, and probably seeing Tulsa and UTEP leaving very soon, we are probably just a little better off. We got La Tech, Rice, and UTSA as close games and will probably get ULL and MUTS back as conference mates, which is just fine. If CUSA loses Marshall, USM and UAB, though, which is possible, and we replace them with Troy, WKU, and Arky State, then our big move to CUSA will really amount to the SBC adding Rice and La Tech, then dropping ULM, USA, and FAU.
I remain enthused about a reconfigured Sun Belt. Is that the worst case scenario, though? Depending on your level of cynicism, the worse case would involve n00bs UTSA and TxSt moving to some form of the MWC (remember UTSA apparently had their choice of MWC or CUSA in May) and North Texas having to choose between remaining loyal to the new CUSA, home to more FCS transitional teams, or go back to the Belt and the terrible officiating that lives there.
If you subscribe to the belief that this thing is all about the markets, then you have hope that any good conference would want some kind of team in the DFW, lack of Mean Green fans be damned. Really, that is probably the case. Now that the Big East has lost their auto-bid, everyone is just looking for a nice package to sell to TV networks to slice up whatever audience that isn’t watching SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and the Pac 12 on Saturdays. In order to get any kind of bump in ratings, we’ll have to play on weekday nights (not a terrible thing), and be a compelling product (should be the goal anyway amirite?). See? Hasn’t changed much.
The path to relevance and more ca$h money with which to buy more relevance has always gone through Winning Town. That is a douche way of saying that we’d get more notoriety and TV and the like by winning more games than we lose. This has not happened in eight consecutive years.
More on that soon.
I have email to catch up on.